No one has ever visited the great walled city of Buleria Madrugada except in early morning before sunrise. The Arabian scholar Alhazan computed the mathematics required, and has suggested in his treatise on the geometry of eccentric culture that such cities can only exist ante meridian and by candle light not to exceed the number five hundred.
According to travelers the city gates operate in response to sounds in the minor key and played in sequences of twelve beats counted in twos or threes, depending on the season. The inartistic are barred from entering the city except in the company of local guides. There is a famous story concerning six Germans who entered the city unaccompanied; three lost their hair, two lost teeth, and one went mad thinking he had been rendered human. The women of the city leave only during daylight and return before sunset, and they never fail to say appropriate prayers for all whose misfortune it is not to be a native of this, the most splendid city ever built by man.
The streets of the city are narrow and winding. They are more like membranes, and seem as alive, especially so when, at night, they fill with the human pulse that issues this way and that, ever carefree and happy; the word for it is Alegria. There are no motor vehicles permitted, especially after dark; this is tradition, and the citizens are firm about its application. Donkeys and bicycles are the favored transport for long distances.
The people are magnificent in every respect. When it comes to style (whether walking, standing, sitting, or reclining) the native of this city cuts a splendid figure. The average Bulerian will spend a whole lifetime perfecting a look, a pose, or a gesture. He calls it art. And, in fact, he calls everything art.
Music and dance, for which the Bulerians are known the world over, are but extensions of getting up in the morning. But they will claim that it is not they who are responsible for the music or dancing. They blame it on the spirits that hang around the city during those late hours when people get to feeling good and forget they are their own masters. They even have a word for it, though no one has ever been heard to use it.
Curro de Vaca, a local expert on causes and effects, wrote somewhere that the most perfect people are those who have reduced everything to its essence and have become it, whatever it might be. I, for example, like my coffee, but I do not think of myself as a coffee drinker. No, I am [coffee itself] (he uses a word that roughly translates as coffeeness). He goes on to say that his wife is not fond of coffee, but prefers the more traditional mint tea. She takes the good herb six times a day, he writes, a schedule so predictable that my neighbors have no need of clocks. Her true name is Consuelo.
The city is closed to all but natives during the months of October and December.