Friday, March 13, 2009

Open windows, bright clotheslines, pollen

Buenas dias, family and friends. We Are Here.
We are here, after two exceptionally pleasant airplane trips, four bottles of wine of two servings each, one Cadbury candy bar, one long and perfect view of the Pyrenees from a window seat, two train rides, one bus ride, and a walk to where I sit, a wonderful apartment in the Carmel neighborhood of Barcelona. I hear construction across the street - sawing scraping sqeaking. Children, vespas, buses, birds. The loudest, most frantic birds, thrusting out tightly curliqued phrases over the roofs. Buildings are girdled by the tshirts bedsheets washcloths pants baby clothes pillowcases and towels of everyone. There are flowers in pots on windowsills and pots on balconies, blossoms in overgrown lots, sides of sidewalks and the swaths of parks.

Isabel and Fernando (and their cured pig leg) live here. When we arrived Isabel kissed our cheeks twice, offered us everything (the keys, the drinks in the fridge, a clean well lighted place) and then we sat down and ate sausages of the countryside, cheese, and wonderful oranges. As we ate, she and her son, Marc, told us the history of Spain, recounted their trip to America when Marc was small, asked us about America, discussed politics, descriped Catalonya, suggested places for us to go, gave us a map, unfolded it and introduced us, and pointed us on our way to el Parque G├╝ell, which is perfect and surprises you everywhere you look. I could stay there all day. I could write a dozen novels there and so many books of poetry. It is perfect, with columns and cupcake chapels and benches made of rocks and stalagtites and mosaics.

We came back to Isabel and Fernando's expecting to stay up until dinner, but Fernando didn't finish work until 10 (rather, 22:00), so Isabel offered us food that Fernando had prepared earlier, and we ate (wonderful vegetables, fabulous chicken), and then we slept through the night.

Some things that I have learned: Barcelona is so very Catalan, and not so much Spanish. In fact, the idea of Spain itself being "Spanish" is ludicrous, according to Isabel, as there are so many cultures in this country. This also means that my puny amount of high school and college Spanish aren't getting me especially far, here. Also, Barcelona is officially anti-bullfighting, according to City Hall. It still happens, though.

Matt just woke up, so I'm going to join him for capaccino and buttered toast in the kitchen, and then we're off to explore the gothic quarter, old town, bakeries, and hopefully a market. I have posted more photos at my facebook page, and you can see them even if you do not have an account.

Con amor,

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