Roads appeared at the start of the mountains. A solid path of tarmac cuts into the sand, not a drop of gravel out of place. For the first time our posse of motorbikes travelled on a surface designed for their wheels.
Today I considered how our motorbikes are powered. We’ve been travelling for nearly a week, and we haven’t needed to refuel once.
On the surface we trek between gigs using train, or in a real tightness of funds, coach. One of these bikes up there would save me thousands. Jean-Michel refuses to tell us how the engine works, but I am sure there’s something like a bunch of flowers riding a miniature bicycle inside.
Talk about extremes. Today The Kandinsky is a skyscraper. The vessel squeezes for space on the edge of the harbour. From my position in Tzara, a cocktail bar on the fifteenth floor of a an actual building, I can still see the window of my cabin, now a square pane of corporate glass.
The design of Tzara is up to you. A group of older woman sit on battered leather sofas and drink champagne. A man in a white suit and cowboy hat stands at a trestle table, sipping beer from a plastic tumbler. I chose a window stool, the metal legs curved into unweldable patterns beneath a blue seat cushion.
My drink started as something like a Whisky Sour, but the spirit was a too bitter for me, so the glass got taller, and the colour turned red. The current form of a Bloody Mary is a lot more suited to my needs. The Butter Mouse sits next to the cocktail. I pointed her to face the window, and we watch this world go by.
Our journey pauses here in Lozowick for a couple of weeks. This gives me the chance to get some writing down. We should complete our first interview this month. In the meantime, time to let you know about our arrival.
I want you to remember that what happens next is a substitute for baggage checks, passport control, and form filling. Why is it only Nadada that offers this service? Why don’t airports invest in this new stratosphere of invitation?
Everyone who arrives in Lozowick goes through a tunnel. You get so close to the city, then at the last moment head towards an opening on the seafront not much bigger than a supermarket door. We all had to leave the ship, a process that takes a good few hours. Not that you would want to stay inside. For a brief period The Kandinsky was the size of a suitcase, carried under the arm of our captain.
Lighting runs along the ceiling of the tunnel and orange neon covers the walls. When the last passenger is offloaded, the illuminations flickered between red and green on no regular pattern, like pound shop Christmas lights. The music kicked off at the same time, even though no speakers were visible. Two Nadada stewards dressed in lime green suits stretched our their arms, and lock hands. One is in her seventies, and I am sure she has been doing this since all of her ‘working’ life. The other, a blonde woman in her early twenties, winks at The Butter Mouse, and becomes my hero.
We had to pass under their human bridge. My fellow passengers went through range of emotions. For many this is a business trip, and crouched under like someone throws a parade for them every day. Others smiled, but uncomfortably, like when carollers come to the door.
Only the Nadadians joined in the celebrations, even if I could not tell who was born here, and who has lived in this world long enough to count as citizens. All have their arms outstretched, identical grins on their faces.
We walked further. Mixed in amongst the music the words “Welcome to Lozowick” repeat in dozens of different languages. Holes appeared in the neon walls, small patches in the brickwork at first, then whole missing panels that defy structural integrity. The the town surrounded us, from the staff walking their tigers after ‘work’, to the commuters hovering through the air. The ocean is already a long way away.
My Bloody Mary is finished, and we are on stage in an hour. The Butter Mouse twitched last night. Perhaps my experiment is working already.