I can’t hold it in anymore – I miss exchange so sorely, so very much. 😥
For now, though, I’m stuck behind the assignments and the deadlines and the laptop with the erratic trackpad. I know, I know, it pretty much ends next Friday, just a little short s t r e t c h now.
All I knew was that people were following the beats of the drums – somewhat reminiscent of the pied piper – children were holding lanterns and you could hear the festive excitement in the air. Everyone was following the parade and they were singing some song I did not understand. The girona – quiet, almost deserted Girona I thought I’d seen just afew hours ago was now so lively, so filled with some sort of magical hush of excitement.
letters to the kings :’) Their parents write it with them the night before so they can ‘mail’ it to the kings, and the kings would know what they want :’)
handmade lanterns made of eggshell cartons and empty bottles
Spoke to a random man and he told me about the lanterns and the stamps – the lights from the lanterns as a form of welcome to the festival and the stamps to collect all 3 meant the kings would come to your house!! But you had to be on your best behavior throughout the year, of course
Such tender kind eyes – if i were a kid I’d believe him too 😥
‘Have you been a good child this year?’
It was an amazing day, it felt magical and I was incredibly excited and happy to have been here
I wished there was someone here with me to witness the festival, but I know this is a compromise in solo travel so I’ll keep these in my memories 🙂
The man asked me what I wanted, and asked me where I’m from. Singapore, rich country, he nodded. I laughed and said the rich were rich but the poor can slip through the cracks. That was how we began.
It was one of those conversations that sent my heart pumping with excitement as I wanted to know everything, everything he thought because it was SO interesting. Some people are so intelligent and filled with such interesting and thought-provoking perspectives I hope he knows I meant that when I said that before I left. He was a political studies major in Pakistan before coming over to Spain (Catalonia) 25 years ago, he came without a word of Spanish but now he’s even more fluent than his own language. Urdu, English, Spanish, Catalonian and some Spanish dialect I cannot remember. He said he hasn’t spoken English for such a long, long long time now and he very clearly misses it. I asked him so many questions about Spain, this whole thing about the Catalonian identity and independence – language, problem resolutions and mindsets, cultures- Madrid. History of independence. World history, how we used to have only 50 countries and then with the world wars each split into more. Each country had their own reasons for desiring independence, be it religion, language, culture, problems, each country desired to be their own. It really blows me away to learn about THIS side of a country so touristic, to hear something so local. It just reminded me of Italy, how I had absolutely no idea of the whole north-south thing and suddenly I realised it’s like this in Spain as well. Apparently next year with voting Barcelona (Catalonia) wanted to not be a part of Spain. So strange to me, because Barcelona has always, always been “Spain” to me and yet to them they only saw themselves as Catalonian. Borders, countries, construction of political differences. It’s SO interesting I could spend the whole day just chatting with him about politics and political boundaries and “true histories” because he was clearly a knowledgable man (who under unfortunate circumstances, I felt, was now working in this minimart- I felt was a pity)
How colonial masters continue to control the colonized, “puppets” and “independence” and granted independence vs true independence
Unfortunately my train was due to arrive soon and I had to leave. I said a quick and reluctant goodbye because I knew I had so much more I could learn from him, and ran to the train station. So here I am, safely on the train now.
The thing is, this stranger is one of the reasons why my trip to Barcelona will be memorable. Strangers are mostly the reasons why my trips are memorable. What makes me happy is knowing that I made his day too, because I know this is probably the most English he’s spoken in years, having a conversation like that. The world is an amazing place filled with amazing people and amazing stories and I don’t want to forget that.
I feel like travel is about meeting beautiful people and carrying their stories with me back home.
Museu del cinema
Second favourite museum to date, after Utrecht’s
I thought I had enough of cathedrals but this, this really blew me away. Architectural ingenuity of Gaudi
I loved the integration of nature (advent of modernism as I later found)
My time with Paco taught me SO much, about modernism and Gaudi and even how to appreciate art. Romanic styles, Gothic and neo-classic – how to identify the buildings associated with it. We walked around the city and looked at the Roman remains of the old city walls, and for the first time I kind of realized the historical importance of these structures…? And could picture it – the colonization, the old city gate, the expansion of the city thereafter, and that’s why the streets are different in different parts of the city. Some narrow, some broad. This side of the buildings dull and sooty (remnants from the train), the other brightly colored.
I must say that this was one of the BEST and most meaningful CS experiences for me because I truly, truly learnt and truly got a very local perspective and guide and FOOD and cultural view. I had my reservations initially, and I don’t deny I was apprehensive and slightly worried. But I had 2 options – pick a hostel and probably roam around touristy places alone, or stay with a local and guarantee minimal interaction. None of the girls / students of Barcelona accepted 😥 (impending exams, i think) and I got an offer, so I went ahead despite that weighing apprehension.
I think one of the things I seek to do this year is to not see age as a barrier / border / restriction in any way. Age can create a distance (understandably) in friendships but at the same time why should it? I’ve always found it hard to befriend people who have a distinct age gap from myself but I feel like age shouldn’t be a constraint anymore. Think Harold and Maude, my favorite film! All the more reasons for this. I feel a little awkward initially but I’m working on this – age should NOT be a barrier to friendship and I hope I keep that in my mind.
Catalonian independence movement. I did notice the flag earlier, but now I know why there’s a blue star, and then I start seeing it everywhere. The ‘independence’ banner I saw at Girona now makes more sense. The graffitti.
It just stuns me that I have, with ALL my life associated Barcelona with Spain, and it never occurred to me otherwise – that they might not like it (??)
I could sense the strong Catalonian identity that emerges from Paco’s words, the ‘us’ vs ‘them’, and I wonder where / how they got this sense of identity. Nationhood, borders and constructed boundaries. How interesting, how fascinating!
What makes one feel so strongly as ‘one’???
What makes a nation a nation, what makes them want independence and how do they see themselves as ‘different’?
Hinda was a Somalian in Canada – talked about… guns (heh), TIPPING CULTURE (dude, 50% tip is craaaazy to me….), US vs Canada, crazy -40 degrees weather (because of the wind), Montreal’s first language as French (never knew!!), edu/healthcare, the whole notion of sexual relations, global warming (!!),
One in bed with a drunken friend
Two tears rolling, sniffing, crying – wordless
Three where we were huddled, squeezed (un)comfortably but warm
Four in a room
Five in a tent