Saturday, March 14, 2009

Buenas Noches Barcelona

Some things we have fine tuned, like finishing the day with a piece of sweet pan pain and a cup of hot chocolate. The city rushes by, and we savor the warm drink... the consistency is like liquid silk, smooth, soothing, luxurious.

The train ride from France was longer, slower, than the ride to France. Have I mentioned this already? Pardon. It took a toll, and the rest of the day we allowed to be a bit slower, a bit easier on the feet. We walked to Las Ramblas, seeking out Golum, but he has gone back to his cavern. We did find the very street where mom saw a scarf she wanted, and we found paella... the best meal of this journey... a seafood and rice paella and with cold beer and pain normal, I could see coming back to eat there again. We meandered some more, until we found our way to the little toy store that is within view of our room. I found a few treasures there, while mom went inside for a rest. I continued my gentle explore, making my way back to @, the Internet cafe where I have had good luck... it's on a small street parallel to the Picasso Museum. So, I posted a long and rambling account of our trip to Avignon, deep thoughts and other musings. My cup of chamomile tea was a nice touch.

Finally, my internalized GPS is functioning... I found the same funky hole in the wall where I can call home for eighteen cents a minute... my call home only cost 3Euro, and I am finally caught up with my family. The robot is only in our home during the school day, so that Geoff can resolve some programing issues and better mentor the only programming student in the robotics club. Robotics has continued to be an all consuming activity, something that will probably last until Phoenix next week. Maria asked me to please come home. She told me I have been gone too long... she broke my heart... I so want to be there with her. I love you Maria. The passion that I lack for going away, for adventures abroad... that passion is very strong for my children, for my husband, the things we share and do together, the stories we tell, the songs we sing. I passionately, dearly, look forward to being in their company again.

The boys were in school. I miss them. I miss bringing them home from school and our conversations and observations. I miss seeing them in the evenings, reading, drawing... sigh. I love you William. I love you Alex. I love you Max. Let's make pizzas when I am home... the one with all the chopped veggies and garlic, olive oil and a bit of cheese. We make good pizza.

Hearing from home was good, and I stepped out of the shop feeling bolstered and curious. Curiosity led me to something fated and fun. A childhood friend, Peter, grew up to be a world traveler and a neurosurgeon. I remember his amused assertion that adventures abroad are always highlighted by meeting someone from home... from your country or state or best of all, from your own hometown. In spite of our efforts to immerse ourselves in foreignness, it is the familiar that can be delightful and strangely reassuring when we are out of our element. My moment came tonight when I was drawn in to a yarn shop... All You Knit is Love. Isn't that a clever shop name? Oh, the yarns! The colors! The textures! The possibilities! And the brightest, softest bundles of wool, so inviting and so tempting. And the shopkeeper, as friendly as could be, was bright, cheerful and full of encouragement... she found me tutorials for making those clever little wool balls. She had that certain light and presence that makes me think kindred spirit, so I introduced myself... she has been in Spain for many years, but Jennifer is American, like me, and recently returned from a visit to Tucson, Arizona. Arizona is where Peter lives now, where we will be next week. It's nothing and it's something... it's the connecting that makes life brighter and sweeter. Now I will always think of the lovely yarn shop in Barcelona, where a blogger lives and works, where I made a happy connection and confirmed for myself, Peter's belief about what makes us happy. And one more thing, I think I will go back for more wool... it makes me happy too.

Dear Geoff, try to get some rest, real sleep. I know the pressures, the deadlines for robotics, are real and demanding, but you need to last for the long haul. And while I do dream of some day having a clean home, order and balance... none of that matters as much to me as being in your arms again, with the children near and sharing our songs and stories. I love you. Buenas noches mi amor.

Wool on the Brain
Saturday, almost 7 AM here.
Friday, almost 11 PM there.

So, I imagine Geoff and Alex are up, maybe at the metal shop, trying to stay awake and trying to get the turret camera to function. I imagine Max is sound asleep, his homework complete. William, you are probably adjusting one more texture in 3D StudioMax... diligently playing at perfecting your graphics. I hope Maria is asleep, but you never can tell with that little owl... her initials are MOV, which is fittingly close to MOVE and move she does!

We are waking up a bit later everyday. Barcelona never goes to bed. I hope they have some kind of consensus about sharing the shifts... they cannot all be walking, talking, drinking, shouting, laughing, singing, and buzzing 24 hours a day. It's Big City Energy in Barcelona, like San Francisco, like Mexico, DF and like I have heard about New York City.

We took a taxi from Barcelona Sants, a main train station, to our hotel... and remind me sometime to tell you how naïve and ignorant and gullible I am. In the cab, we were introduced to talk-radio, Espana style. Wow. It makes U.S. talk-radio sound like a recording at a state dinner. There were three, maybe ten, commentators talking at once... it was like rapid fire cuetes shooting off in a stand-up comic death match... ceaseless talking, interjections, crossfire and banter, dirty jokes, rhymes, mockery, songs on the fly, and all of it while our cab was whipping across town like a black and yellow pinball. Traffic-high-speed pinball, matching the pace and brusqueness of the radio personalities, narrowly missing obstacles. We paid, not for the ride, but for the relief of getting out.

Alright. My Chicken Abroad Naiveté Admission: Taxi drivers see me coming and they say, Gracias a Dios. I am the Christian, and they are the lions saying grace... for what we are about to receive, may we be truly grateful... Some walks are too long to make with luggage. Our first cab ride was to the train station. The meter said 4.50 Euro, but he demanded seven, explaining the extra fare was because we called him. I have not confirmed the BS factor here, but this would be a cultural point of contention if it proves to be true, that us hiring him means we are penalized. Seriously. Our second time in a taxi I was real smart, not. We joined the other legions of tourists and got in to one of the hundreds of cabs in queue... by not “calling” the cab, I figured we were in for huge savings. The cab ride, like an E ticket at Disneyland, landed in front of our hotel and I pulled out 9 Euro for the clearly lit up 8 Euro fare on the meter. Presto-chango! He pops a button and a 16 Euro fare appears. You see, he grabbed our luggage from our capable hands and flung them in to his trunk and even though he wasn't lifting his a** to unload our luggage he figured his services were worth doubling the fare. Right there in front of his Santos and Jesus, he bilked me big time. ***Note to self: Comfortable shoes, half as much stuff and luggage with wheels. Imperative.

Is it any wonder that today, when faced with navigating the metro and purposely stuffing as much culture, sights, statues, architecture, museums and vistas in to our day, I am thinking of going back to All You Knit is Love? Jennifer was wearing a beautiful green shawl that she probably knit herself, and I keep thinking how wonderful it would be to sit and chat with her, maybe get a few yarn and knitting pointers, definitely enjoy her insights on local culture. Museums and plaques have their place, new sights and taking in significant historical monuments can be worthwhile... I think of those as the bones, the skeleton, of a place and it's culture. They are the lasting remains, the solid and tangible evidence of history and events of the journey of a people. I am drawn to the spirit and the marrow. I am content to listen and observe, to witness the daily lives, the domestic comings and goings... the gardens, and the house pets, the school children on field trips, the rush to work, the lingering in cafes. Meeting people, talking to the locals, discovering that in France taking home leftover restaurant dinner is very wrong... these are the things that I enjoy. I do not want to take home a FlamencoT-shirt, or a toro shot glass,or to read the entire history of Catalunya in one afternoon, but if I can learn how to make a local dish, or understand why the Jaume chef wore all black, even his toque, then I would have a meaningful, lasting and informed impression. If I could learn a new crochet stitch or the words to a new song, I would have a very nice souvenir to bring home and share.

We saw sights and found goodies, and walked and walked and walked and we conquered the Metro. The Metro is good... efficient, affordable and fast, but it does have the Labyrinth theme that is recurring, and there are a lot of stairs, both up and down. It's not that we are lazy, but
please consider where my Mommy was just last summer... I think her body is still in recovery mode, so it's not nice to impose undo strain. We agreed to be gentle today and I think we made a good start, but we kept adding one more stop, one more sight and now we are pretty whipped... whooped?...pooped? We are tired.

Sagrada Familia: Amazing. Massive and unique. An artistic vision that I felt depicted the emotion and spiritual beauty of the Nativity, and the anguish and pain of the Crucifixion.

Barceloneta: The 'working class neighborhood with good seafood.' We went to see the Mediterranean, the yachts and sand, the vibe. Very crowded, very full of European tourists, very good people watching and cultural awareness opportunities.

Is there such a thing as Quixote's Revenge, or something like that? I am feeling... mmm... a bit urpy... kind of queasy-wheezy... it may be too much second hand smoking.

Not to end on a downer, but I think I need to lie down.

1 comment:

Anna Banana said...

Hi there, Natalie and Delia,
I'm fascinated by your travel tales, love the idea of going into a yarn store. Exactly the kind of thing I wouldn't notice on my way to another museum. I KNOW you took a photo and I am looking forward to it and to all of them. Missing you! See you soon, AnnaB