Melilla - A Thought Provoking Place

Sometimes when travelling, it isn't so much what you see that is noteworthy, but the thoughts it evokes. Such is the case of the Moroccan-surrounded Spanish exclave of Melilla. While the town itself is nice (highlighted by a well-maintained fort/castle* and an elaborately tiled city park strewn with dozens of fountains), the concept of a tiny autonomous territory separated from its homeland by a vast sea is what really interest me.

Melilla is about the size of central park in Manhattan, i.e. pretty dang small—smaller, in fact, than Fidalgo Island. I walked from one side to the other in search of a geocache*. And with a population of around 80,000, I imagine you'd get to know your fellow countrymen pretty well in no time.

But for all its tinyness, as far as I understand, it pretty much does its own thing. So, for example, on taxes, it decided it didn't want to have any, so everything is "duty-free"*. Does it allow casinos? Sure, why not? Legal driving age of 12? Sounds good!*. And that's just the issue of laws. What about national identity? Economy? Interscholastic sports? And what about the whole thing from Spain's side? "Hey, let's fight oodles and oodles of battles just to maintain this tiny chunk of land that we essentially have no claim to! Huzzah!" My mind chugged along on overdrive weighing all the ins and outs of a tiny territory such as this.

In reality, I'm sure it's all much more bland than I think. With close ties to Spain, they use Spanish currency, the Spanish mail system, and very likely many Spanish laws. That also probably answers the question of national identity. And with Spain just a 4 or 8 hour ferry ride away*, I'm sure people pop across just to buy a new couch. Surprisingly neat, simple, easy, and boring.

But the probable reality of it all doesn't hinder the intrigue for me. I'm sure disconnected territories such as this* will lodge themselves and the thoughts they stir in my memory of my travels just as much as any cathedral or beach. Yep, just another fun facet of the exciting world of world travel!
Sunday May 5 2013File under: travel, africa

Toggle Comments (1)comment?
on Thu 09th May, 2013 11:14 pm PDT Horge said:
About identity in these places, it sort of depends on a person's background. I suspect that the European-ers (those feeling more European than Moroccan) feel Spanish, while the Moroccan-ers feel mixed. In Madrid, I met a guy from the other enclave, Ceuta. He was of Moroccan heritage, but considering he'd moved to Madrid because his family didn't approve of his being gay, I bet he feels fairly Spanish now...
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