Day eigth: Inscrutable and, sometimes, wonderful roads

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Translation: Teresa Galarza

(Versión en español aquí)

Shortcuts. On the shoulders of a country at war

Fotografía de Ricard García Vilanova.

We were at the front of Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State in Syria, when the terrible events of Barcelona took place. We found out when one of the fighters with whom we shared mess and a flat roof where we slept every night conveyed his condolences to us. We knew there had been an attack on Las Ramblas, but we did not know the details until a day later, when we again had access to the Internet.

Expressions of condolence and sympathy were issued from that battalion of Kurds and Arabs, and a handful of Syrians. We thanked them, as could not have been otherwise, but not without acknowledging that it was them who were in the first trench opposite the monster. Most had lost family, friends or workmates; their homes and, ultimately, the possibility of enjoying a life in which seeing the sunrise again is not a victory.

We have had twenty days of coverage in Syria, long enough to take the pulse of one of the arteries from which the world bleeds today. We have seen on the front line how you fight an enemy capable of globalizing terror to the street where you live, to the kiosk where you buy Jot Down Smart every month. It is precisely in the next issue where we will spread out our work on the ground. We will talk about the cave where the monster lives, but also about the revolution that is taking place in the very heart of the Middle East, just when 100 years have passed since the drawing of these borders, which today evaporate on the sand of the desert.

We close this first shortcuts series with a photo that probably nobody expected, mainly because that is how it was for us. The shortcuts we have been through for the past three weeks can take you from a city where house-to-house combat is fought relentlessly, to a wedding, just in a few hours, those that passed between that last breakfast in Raqqa and the last dinner in Syria.

It was fantastic because of the unexpected, the brutal contrast between both scenarios but, above all, the incontestable realization that not even the most abject horror is able to bend the will of people determined to regain their lives.

Whether it be on Las ramblas or the lost roadsides of Syria.

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