Now that I am back blogging with a vengeance, I’ve noticed you guys aren’t!
So get to it.
This next post comes courtesy of Enrique Potter …who asked the questions, “CP have you been to Barcelona?”
I have. Is the short answer.
The Longer answer is as follows:
I traveled to Barcelona on what was supposed to be the middle of my Europe back pack adventure.
I can see the train ride now, CP with extra long black hair, red streaks that were slowly turning purple, a back pack so big, I would tip over with the slightest touch, a body firm and supple from hours of endless walking, and only being able to afford a good nightly meal.
I also distinctly remember holding my bible, the lonely planet and browsing through the section on Barcelona, and it is, “Watch out for Ralambla. Many a tourist have fallen victim to theft.”
There are two gypsy women with five children all bellow the ages of five, on the train. The children are wild. Hair and skin so bleached in the sun they had a golden tint. Clothes seemed to be a scarce commodity, or maybe they realized how unnecessary they are, and having the freedom to not wear them, have made the executive decision not to wear any.
One lil fellow, probably around 2, is a real terror. Naked and in all his glory, he first climbs up on the chair, next ‘Musketeer style,’ he hangs onto one of the curtains and begins to swing to and fro. The clincher is when he manags to get one of the food trays down, stand on it and begin to pee on the people in the next seat.
We arrive in Barcelona at midnight. We are tired. My girlfriend and I haven’t been getting along. She is French Canadian and it’s like I’ve accidentally brought along a separatist with me. She insists on calling me an Anglophone and repeating everything I said with a French accent. I say ‘sandwich,’ she says ‘Sandyweeech.’ I say stapler, she says ‘Staaapeleeer.’ It’s all getting to be very tiresome.
We meet an American on the train. He’s tall, and exactly what is meant by a strapping lad. I don’t remember his name. And somehow he links in with us and we begin the arduous task of finding a bed in a hostel, in the middle of the night.
Barcelona, like the rest of Europe is filled with winding lanes. Houses are multi storey and most of the hostels are on the 3rd floor. It’s a tiresome trek with a heavy back pack and small legs. Eventually I get tired, and tell them to wait downstairs whilst I run upstairs.
I see it now, throwing down my backpack, (and for a reason I haven’t figured out to this day,) my little money/important stuff pack on top. The American places his heavy strapping leg on it, and my Frenchie, stands over it. I run up, no space, and on my way down I see two fellows yelling their guts out and absolute confusion on my friends face. My little pack is gone; so much for the American and his strapping legs.
My passport, my contacts, my emergency money (supposed to be in my money belt), my mini journal, my camera, my film, all gone! Gone baby Gone.
I’m not a panicker, so I sit down, and stare. The Frenchie cries, and the American leaves. Frankly I don’t remember why the American left, and in all other encounters with American’s I have found them to be some of the more helpful citizens on the planet, so I withhold judgment on that one.
What now. We walk over to the neighboring square and hunt down a police man. Describe what happened, and energetically wave our hands, pointing in the direction of the robbers. The policeman looks at us indulgently, smiles and points us in the direction of the police station. It is now 2 am. The chief is kind. He allows me to make the dreaded calls, first to the embassy and then to my worried parents. Frenchie is bawling by now and I’m plain ole tired.
The Chief says not to worry, we aren’t the first, and we most decidedly will not be the last victims in his little town. He proudly shows us his ledger, since midnight he’s had five reported thefts, and the night is young!
We manage to get a place to stay and Frenchie holds my hand all night, telling me not to worry. By morning, the story has spread to fellow back packers. There are whispers and words like "How stupid do you have to be..."
Eventually we find a Canadian embassy where no one is Canadian. It’s a beautiful house in the middle of paradise. We also find a place called Hostel Goya, run by a brother and sister, which is more like a beautiful bed and breakfast rather than a hostel. It takes a week for my passport to be issued, and a few illegal rides on an out of city train. The week let us wander around the city, free, with little to lose. We see squares and houses that are almost fairytale/dreamline designed by Gaudi, crazy parties, and meet a ton of amazing and helpful people. I also soon realise that Spanish people in Spain and Spanish people in the Carribean are completely different. Please note there is o Salsa in Spain. Only techno, lots and lots of one line techno.
It’s in times of crises that you fully appreciate how evil and good people can be. For every door that's closed, a window or two flies open.
As it turns out getting robbed on Ralambla is a rite of passage. Everyone does it their first time. On the way to France the entire coach was packed with robbed tourists. Everyone had a story.
It actually is one of the greatest learning experiences I ever had. For one thing I realize how unimportant things like money and your passport are. Sure they are expensive to replace, but they can be replaced. Things like your favourite underwear, contact lenses, and memories be it on film or in a note pad are invaluable. Also nothing pulls two cranky people together like adversity. So for all those 'in love' or 'in doubt' with someone, take a trip. And if you can survive the week, get married, and get on with life.