Tarifa (Fragment #05)

There are several neighbours near where I live. Neighbours to the left, to the right and also across the street. Actually, some are further away, some are closer, but all are within my sight. Only some are allowed neighbours and others are forbidden neighbours. Who defines it is the human will of this society that imposes artificial borders. Old battles, and old agreements, decided that some imaginary line should separate one nation from another. That is why when I look ahead and look at my neighbour. I don’t know if I can consider him a neighbour. We live close by, to be sure, but we don’t meet outside, he doesn’t visit me, and I don’t visit him. We don’t meet casually in a shop or in the supermarket, no. I have my space, my neighbour has his space and those spaces don’t touch. It is not a question of will, but of impossibility. Yes, we live opposite each other. From my balcony, I sometimes see him on his balcony looking at me. Maybe with a dream of wanting to cross over to this side of the border. Or maybe not. Dream it or not, you can’t. There is a closed border and nobody crosses it. It is so by the will of some men, not by the will of men, and so this neighbour cannot come to my house, nor I to his house. But I look to the side and I can go to the next-door neighbour’s house or he can go to mine, simply because somebody said I could go next door. I can’t go straight ahead, so as I look straight ahead to his house, I ask myself, do I have a front neighbour or is the one in front of me not my neighbour? We can communicate, I can say goodbye to him and he can answer me back. I can even make light signals in morse code. I don’t know, maybe not, maybe the secret police think I am passing messages to the enemy. My neighbour became my enemy just because I live in this house and he lives on the opposite, but on different sides of the fence. If he knocked on the door of my house, I would open the door for him. I wonder if the opposite would happen. I have many neighbours, but that is my front neighbour. When I go to the balcony, I look straight ahead, I don’t look sideways. It is in front that I naturally look and it is the front neighbour that I regularly look at. Maybe one day this fence will go down. Maybe on that day, I can go to his house and he to mine. Or we’ll just meet somewhere and have a coffee or tea like good neighbours. Maybe we’ll even play a game of checkers or chess like you see neighbours doing in the movies. Today it is foggy, I don’t see my front neighbour. I don’t see the house, I don’t see anything beyond the fence. My world right now ends at the fence. Maybe that’s what happens with fences. They impose fogs that blind us. I don’t even see my front neighbour anymore, but I feel him. A neighbour or non-neighbour is the one in front of me, the one who is the closest.

Carlos Norton

Published on 24-11-2022

Technical file


Tarifa (03.10.22 ; 18:10)

36º 00′ 23,41”N ; 005º 36′ 30,49”E

Recording on the road that connects the Isla de Tarifa to Tarifa. Recorded facing south, it is possible to hear the sound of the Mediterranean Sea on the left and the sound of the Atlantic Ocean on the right.

To know more:

The Neighbour in Front (5 Neighbours in 5 Fragments)

Ficheiros audio

O Vizinho da Frente em Tarifa



LATITUDE: 36.006503

LONGITUDE: -5.608469