Michaela Merz

Nice one year on

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728973_web_r_by_florentine_pixelio-deI have been fascinated by the history of Egypt since I was a child. Years ago I had booked a trip to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings with my then two young daughters. A month before we were due to leave many tourists in a travel group from Switzerland were shot in a targeted terrorist attack near the Hatschepsut Temple.
A terrible event with indescribable sufferring. I didn’t know any of them but now and again I think of them. At the time I didn’t think for a second of cancelling our trip. That plunged my mother into great despair. My view was that such an event can happen anywhere and we cannot allow ourselves to live in fear. Back then, I felt no fear.

 

Now, a year after the terrorist attack, I was at the Carneval in Nice. I am very fond of Nice. The far stretching bay, the airport, where one has the feeling of landing in the sea, the numerous street cafés and restaurants, the bustle in the old town, ice cream stands, the harbour, the unending vitality. Here too a year ago people were killed senselessly and grief was sown.

Now I wanted to visit the Carneval with my youngest. Before, it took place on the seafront, now it has been relocated to a park in the centre of the town. The site reminded one of a fortress. Everywhere metal bars, barriers, road blocks, soldiers with machine guns. Entry to the festival area was possible only through metal detectors after a bag check. Too many people and not enough entrances. It was crowded, unpleasantly crowded, a real crush.

After queuing for three quarters of an hour, we succeeded in getting in. Inside there were also barriers, police and machine guns everywhere. And it became even more crowded. Yes, the parade, the flower decked cars, that was great and my youngest was thrilled. Everything started an hour late, because the checks took a long time.

After an hour the parade was over and now the people accompanying the beflowered vehicles began to throw the flowers into the crowd. I wanted to get away, but it was difficult to impossible. The passes were narrow and everywhere the metal bars blocked the way. Sometimes we could move neither backward nor forward. In the midst of the immoveable mass of people my youngest became afraid and, although I too didn’t feel comfortable, I tried to calm him. If panic had broken out there, anyone who fell down would scarcely have had a chance of survival.

Somehow we managed to get out. In the town there was a state of emergency and at every corner the police or the military was on patrol. I found it oppressive and depressing. I didn’t feel in a festive mood but by chance we were standing in front of the museum of modern art and that was a wonderful place of refuge.

Although there too one first had to pass through the metal detectors, without the military, the police and weapons the museum was wonderfully empty. The colourful statues of Niki de Saint Phalle remind me of the Carneval. It was soothing and refreshing. If in future the Carneval takes place behind bars and barriers, then without me. I don’t feel really comfortable.

Image source: Florence / pixelio.de

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