Sunday, October 20, 2014
“You can’t go back to the ole’ swimming hole.” Harry Hedrick
I regret to say, not much going here worth a photograph. I’m fairly certain that my father did not come up with this and many of you heard it expressed in different ways but my first recollection of hearing this was when my dad said it to me as a young boy. His point was simple enough. Once you grow up the joys and excitement of the former places and experiences are significantly diminished with age, travel and so forth. When it comes to my revisit to Carpentras this is the case and proves to be true. I came here about fourteen years ago with Jeanne. We walked the streets and sat under the trees watching the southern France, Provencial style unfold. After watching the BBC series, “A Year in Provence,” I was enthralled to be here. Everything was so enchanting, the enormous, leaf filled Eucalyptus trees threw their speckled shade on the sides of the old, weathered buildings making a sun dappled glitter of gold.
It is 8:15 Monday morning and I am on my way from my second excursion to Marseilles for the train to Sestri Levante, Italy where I will meet Emile, Francesco and Giacomo.
My dad was right.
I arrived here yesterday on a Sunday in the mid-afternoon. The stores were closed up and streets were empty except for the Muslim men sitting in the outdoor cafes drinking coffee and smoking cigarettes. There was a market in town but I didn’t discover it until they were packing up their wares and heading home. What I did see was again, North Africans and Muslims taking down their shops.
Carpentras is not what it was fifteen years ago. In my memory the village was what one should expect when visiting the south of France and quaint, charming Provence. Instead, even with the danger of appearing discriminatory, the city feels like something out of Algeria or Morocco. Fifteen years ago (perhaps I was never in this part of town) this cultural shift was hardly noticeable. Now, however, many stores are closed up. The streets are lined with empty shops except for the occasional Hallel meat market, barber or Kabob shop which appear to be numerous. In fact there is an absence of decent places to eat and I finally found an Italian restaurant after walking for almost an hour.
Say what you will but…
Since it’s days of Imperialism, France has little choice but to take North Africans as immigrants but the truth is this. Wherever they live will change the atmosphere. The streets will be covered with trash as no one picks up a thing. Large groups of less than industrious, Muslim men will fill the streets and cafes doing little else but loudly talking. To me this ghettoization is a tragic reality and a pariah of Arabic immigration in Europe.
Sweden and Denmark finally admit to this with the influx of crime associated with ethnic groups coming from the Muslim world. Statistics prove what people have suspected all along. The numbers to support the claim that Islam is largely the washing of the outside of the bowl while the inside is covered with corruption.