Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Mano Blanco

It was always the same at the end of every harvest, the last days rituals and the almost deflated feeling of finality. Manu tossed old rotten fruit crates on the fire, just like he's done so many times in his home country, where he'd farmed his families land.
He headed down to the  coast line for one last time this year and bought barbecued sardines from a vendor, he could see his countries coast line in the distance and watched the lights come on one by one as the sun went down.  A half hour ferry trip home but culturally and economically a thousand miles apart.
  As he mooched back to his temporary caravan home, he reflected on how the sands had shifted and how glad he was he'd always treat migrant workers with respect.
   The economic meltdown had left it's mark on Spain. Now increased taxes and export duties had rendered his farm in Spain no longer viable, his fruit crop going to waste, a victim of the vanity projects like the airport in Valencia where they forgot to allow enough space for the runway, projects which effectively bankrupt his country.
  And now Morocco, his salvation, one of many Spanish migrant workers finding work in North Africa, the world turned on it's head. If he was careful the money he earned would just about see him through winter back home.  He'd heard the Moroccan authorities were tightening up on the working visa regulation for next season, if it turned out to be true it would be the ultimate irony. The world going well and truly mad or had it already gone mad and this was the period of redressing? What goes around comes around. He was just glad the Moroccan farmer who employed him was returning a favour from 20 years ago when Manu had employed him as migrant labour. He'd like to think he was employed for his experience or organisational skills. But he wasn't, he was the hired help, the Mano Blanca.


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