The wishing wells of the world will forever captivate people with their
offers of hope and fortune in exchange for pocket change.
But what of those who live next door to the fountain, who see it
collecting the money every day, but do not see any wishes granted?
For them it is in a different way that it offers them a happier future.
Outside Nice France are several little hilltop
villages to which tourists go year after year.
These communities live by the money the tourists bring, and they preserve
the look of their homes and township for all to enjoy.
The cobblestone streets invite pedestrians rather than cars, and the
floral arrangements in the stone work offer a Kodak moment every few steps.
The stores are full of pretty postcards and
everything a good tourist knows they must buy, and yet the daily necessities
seem missing, as if the locals run these shops that sell things they have no
need of. They chat with those who
pass by, curious what they have to say about the small village, and the world
beyond... their safe sheltered world is just how they like it.
Our tour guide laid out the brave history of the region, and spent the
day telling us in great detail about the rulers of Monaco, the next stop on our
all day tour. As she spoke I tried to get a feel for the place we were
exploring, and yet it felt as if they creating an image for our benefit, rather
than letting us see the world they loved. Try
as I might, I could not see through to the real village and the life of these
We quickly passed a fountain outside an old hotel
on the main pedestrian walk way as our guide led us to another of her favorite
photo opportunities, but the fountain kept my attention which she had long since
lost. I watched as a small five
year old boy crept around the edge of the fountain, staring into it in search of
something great. The stone wall was
a foot wide, and offered him plenty of space as he finally found the perfect
location and knelt down on his perch.
His back was to me as I reached for my camera and took a quick picture of
him. I walked around until I could
see him better and realized that while I had been playing with my camera he had
been playing with a piece of white string that he was now dancing about in the
water. I took another picture, and the sound of my camera caught his
attention. But the string won out
as he played with it a few seconds more, before yanking it out of the water and
running off. Behind him, a coin
flittered in the air, stuck to a piece of bubble gum at the end of the string.
On the way back to the bus we passed the fountain
again, and the boy was gone, but this time the tour guide explained that for
years people had thrown coins into the fountain and wished for a better future
full of good will and fortune. As I tossed some of my pocket change in I knew that even if
it did not bring me fortune, there was at least one youth who found his fortune
in the fountain.
Copyright Kay Kellam, 2000