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Contents / The sultans of the sky

Seagulls on the loose, fishoholic cormorants, joyful sparows, reticent shearwaters... Right there beside us, they are equally remote. Shall we follow them all the way to their source behind the mountain? They’re sitting on the shore, and for sure they don’t know how to swim. Their pantlegs are rolled up to the knees, while on their feet are plastic slippers. Crouching on stools with plastic basins in front of them, these men shelling mussels look like women on a doorstep shelling peas. Using dull, rusty knives, they throw the shells into the sea and the mussel flesh into the basins.

Beside the mussel-shellers there is a kiosk selling government monopoly spirits, with stacked rows of empty soda crates outside its door. The regulars, the lushes, use these crates as seats as they take swigs from the bottles they have wrapped, for concealment, in newspaper. When the beer is finished they dip quickly into the kiosk for another, then resume their seat on the crates. Suddenly, three shoeshine boys appear: One big, one small, the other tiny. That tiny one starts shining shoes while the other two,

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