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Heroes

Since little Julen had his tragic accident last week, and seeing the overwhelming response from the local community, I can't stop thinking about that David Bowie song that is also the title of this article, and its lyrics - "We can be heroes for just one day."

Malaga is a heroic place; it always has been. The city's motto talks of its people being the first in the fight for freedom, very hospitable and charitable and always dauntless.

Of them all I prefer this last attribute, which implies courage, energy and decision. The people of Malaga grow in the face of adversity, and this tragic January has brought with it one of the worst scenarios they might ever have to face: trying to save a child who fell down a hole as deep as a 30-storey building and as narrow as a hand.

It is at times such as this when heroes show their faces. In their normal everyday lives they live among us: they have engineering firms or sandwich bars. They are housewives, labourers, shopkeepers, bar owners, civil guards, firefighters, volunteers or gofers. They are ordinary people who grow in adversity, who put their homes, their jobs, their families to one side to camp out for days on a hillside in the Axarquía.

They are heroes, yes, but humble ones, as they don't hesitate to turn to others for help, so more heroes come from Asturias, from Madrid, from Almeria and even from Sweden. Only good people are able to spread such a wave of solidarity. And that in itself is a small miracle.

They are really not so different from the heroes in the comics. Just like Superman, Batman or Spiderman, these anonymous heroes spend most of their lives in camouflage so as to go unnoticed.

They disguise themselves, for example, as an elderly lady who, in the middle of the night, takes a bag full of blankets so that the rescuers working on the hillside are not quite so cold.

They hide behind a counter, and when no one's looking get hundreds of pork sandwiches out from under their cape. They apparently live a quiet life looking after their families, but then work the miracle of producing litres and litres of soup to warm the spirit more than the body.

They work in offices and builders' yards, yet overnight manage to bring the most imposing machinery to Malaga. They are metalworkers, but invent devices that will fly through a bottomless tunnel. There are many more of course, because, fortunately, solidarity is never in short supply.

On these sad January days, Totalán is hosting the greatest convention of anonymous superheroes ever seen. Let's never forget what we are capable of doing when we're all fighting together on the same side.