…Feliz Cumpleanos!

Whew! So much to do and tan poco tiempo. Since I last left off, I attended the first two hours of Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg, a Richard Wagner opera, with Anais and her friends at the Gran Teatre del Liceu. It was rather stark and rigid and sung entirely in German. There were subtitles on the screen above the stage in Catalan and a tiny screen in front of each seat with a language option. I set my screen to English and did my best to view the stage and screen simultaneously. Not easy. Anais later told me that she made it through all six hours of the performance. Impressive, to say the least!

I moved hostels after abandoning Anais and Richard Wagner. I had wanted to stay at Somnio Hostel upon my arrival in Barcelona, but they were booked for the first two nights. So, I lugged my heavy bag (which, I’m proud to report, could fit very snugly into the overhead compartment on a plane) onto the subway, back up to the streets in the center of the city and to Somnio. Lee and Lauren moved from the US to Barcelona over two years ago to start the hostel of their dreams. They are friends of my friends in New York. I put my bags down and immediately felt at home. Lee and her friend Andrew were heading off to a birthday party for their friend Todd, who is the Consul General of the U.S. in Barcelona, and so kindly invited me to tag along. Porque no? So, off we went. The party was a “Surpresa!”, thrown by one of Todd’s many local friend’s at her apartment. One table was filled with homemade picoteos (tiny bites) and another with wine and cosmos. Alejandro was in charge of the cosmos. He told us to call him “Bar Man”. “Cosmos a la Sex and the City”, he told us. Yes, indeed! Bar Man knew what he was doing, because the cosmos were delicious. As was the Cava. And the picoteos. I was the loca Americana, taking photos of the food – homemade tortilla de patatas, jamon, queso, olivas, pan con caviar y limon (surprisingly good – the lime cuts the fishiness of the caviar completely). I never would have thought I’d find myself in that little apartment in the middle of Barcelona that Saturday night. A “surpresa” on more than one account, and a very welcome one at that.

Sunday involved Bicing along the Mediterranean in Barceloneta. I almost fell off my bike when I hit the curb at the wrong angle, but I caught myself at the last second. It could have been ugly. Bicing cards take a week to acquire, so tourists don’t use them. Anais was so kind to lend me hers, but as a result, it was assumed that I was a local. More than a couple people approached me asking for directions en espanol. I really wanted to know what I was talking about. Of course, I didn’t. I usually responded with, “Ahhh si, hmmm. Donde? Hmm. No se. Lo siento!” Smile and pedal off.

That night, I met Anais and her friends (one from the U.S. by way of Belgium , another from Switzerland, another from Argentina) at a bar to listen to live music. The guitar player/singer was really good. He’s from Sweden, but sang in English and Spanish. I sat there, sipping red wine, so content to be a part of this international pocket of people for a few hours.

I stayed up late emailing WWOOFing contacts. I’d received an email from the first farm I was planning on working on earlier that day. They canceled. They needed irrigation experience and had found an American guy to help them out. Irrigation experience? That’s getting technical. My romanticized vision of picking ripe oranges off the trees in the southern Spanish sunshine has withered. I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I checked my email tonight and many farms had replied to my plea for work, so there is hope. Although it turns out that the jobless rate in Andalucia has hit 22%. An article from today’s International Herald Tribune reports that the locals “are competing with the migrants who replaced them, fueling resentment that immigrant representatives and farmers worry could become explosive.” (Read the full article here.) Granted, I’m not sure the work that WWOOFers do is in direct competition with local farmers, because WWOOFers aren’t paid, but still. Potentially explosive farming scenarios don’t quite coincide with my sun kissed, orange picking dreams.

After searching the neighborhood for affordable dental floss this morning and not having any luck – it all costs over $5. Really? Lauren and I had lunch at Pinotxo in the Mercat de la Boqueria. It’s the tapas bar that inspired Andy Nusser, the part-owner (Mario Batali is the other guy involved) and chef, of Casa Mono and Bar Jamon in New York City. We ate croquetas, snails, grilled venison, garbanzo beans with blood sausage and grilled artichoke. And drank Cava, por supuesto. After lunch we walked to the Movistar cell phone shop, only to find them closed for lunch. Oh well. Mas Cava? Si! We found a bar with tables in the sun and drank another glass of Cava – I popped a raspberry into each of our glasses that I’d bought from the mercat. It was lovely. Then back to Movistar. Lauren helped me navigate the treacherous waters of purchasing a cell phone abroad. I ended up getting a phone for 29 Euros, complete with a shady plan that charges me ridiculous sums of money every time I place a call. I’ve since saved the numbers of my three new friends in Barcelona on my new phone. I’m feeling more like a local every day. Now I just need to work on my Spanish, start on my Catalan, get my own Bicing card and I’ll be all set.

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3 thoughts on “…Feliz Cumpleanos!

  1. Fun blog, Annie. Make sure to get recipes, so you can impress us all with these little gems when you get back home.

    And are you sure you think that providing free labor doesn’t put you in direct competition with the locals looking for work? I am guessing another minute or two of analysis would lead you to a different conclusion.

    Keep up the good blogging.

    -P

  2. And now for something completely different: I can’t wait to find out how you packed for your trip!

  3. Annie! I love your blog! I just noticed your link tonight and can’t stop reading – you ARE going to write a book about this time in your life, aren’t you?

    I love your pics and vivid descriptions – and your appreciation of the best things in life. đŸ™‚ I’m hooked, I’m already looking forward to your next entry.

    xox, s

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