By Johan Galtung
Alfaz del Pi, located between Mediterranean beaches and a couple of majestic mountains, Campana-Aitana (Man and Woman) 1500 meters high. Today this small town generously accommodates 21,500; surrounded by fertile soil, orange and olive trees, vines. Benidorm – the famous tourist resort – and Altea, more for artists, are at hand stretching distance; on the Costa Blanca – white seen from the sea – in Spain.
So far nothing special. But that little town is home to close to one hundred different nations; 57% are foreigners. The English and the Norwegians are the most frequent; the Norwegians arriving already some 45 years ago. Close to half a century of peaceful coexistence; and not only absence of violence but also positive, cooperative peace.
We, a Japanese-Norwegian couple, arrived June 1969. First time in Spain was in 1951, hitchhiking to understand fascism better. Franco had evolved from dictadura, dictatorship, after a brutal civil war, to dictablanda, the softer version. But the basic aspect of dictatorship was there like a nightmare draped over the country: fear, fear, fear; so many listening, so few talking. But some said, if you only come for the beach, stay at home. Bring books; we are isolated, not knowing what happens. Franco will not last forever, we must be prepared.
Books were brought. Customs people hardly knew how to read but quickly identifying more copies than one; hence, one of each. Books were handed over, to the right – in this case left – people, for instance at a conference in Madrid in June 1969. And the books were read.
The summer heat was unbearable. We drove to the coast to visit a friend, officer in the Norwegian army, with years of dialogues behind us. They lived in an “urbanización” that looked like a Scandinavian ghetto, making us exclaim: Never for us! In the evening we had made the downpayment for a house. How come? The beach, the mountains, the roof terrace, a depository for books in transit: Yes!Read More »