First, I must clarify. It´s not like they don´t like “us” per se; it´s that they don´t like Bush and his policies of distruction, greed, hatred, blah blah blah. And they wonder what is up with Americans, is it that they agree with Bush or is it because maybe they´ve been brainwashed? And why do they seem so apathetic? These are things that are hard to understand, and so you can tell them, Well, most Americans live in the middle of America and they can´t picture what it must be like in other places. This sometimes works, but it is mostly met with blank stares, even though it is almost true. Yet, despite this, Spain seems to like us. They´ve all been very warm to me, even though I speak with an accent, and should I add, badly. I think they feel sorry for me, like it must be so hard to come from such an oppressed country. I remember feeling this way about Russians growing up. Russians themselves never scared me, but the Soviet Union did. And so they seem to embrace us, and admire our curiosity as we explore another country and way of life. Maybe we´re different than how other Americans seem on television.
Tomorrow we leave Barcelona and head back to Zaragoza. I have more cousins there. Thanks to my cousin Ray, in our Bay Area headquarters, I´ve been able to contact several relatives here and in France. All while we´ve been traveling, Ray and his sister Joan have been working diligently to notify these relatives of our existence and arrival, and we are being met with open arms. It is a wonderful feeling.
After Zaragoza, we´re going to Bilbao, to see the Gugenheim museum. But enough of our plans, let me tell you what we´ve seen. Today we spent at least three hours if not four in the Temple Explatori de la Sagrada Famila, Gaudi´s final work before he was hit by a tramvaj (Czech spelling, sorry, that´s the way I learned it) in 1926. It is a huge cathedral that was perhaps only a fraction of the way finished when he perished. To this day, work is continued through donations by the public. The best way that I can describe the work of Gaudi is to say, imagine Gothic meets Dr. Seuss.
I´m very sad to leave Barcelona. We´ve been here since Saturday, I think. We set up camp in a hotel room that is more like an apartment, complete with a seperate bedroom and even a kitchen. We´ve found our favorite coffee shop around the corner, Il Cafe de Roma (it´s a chain, but better than Starbucks), we found our local pool, and we´ve established our regular routines, and I have to say, whenever my routine is upset, I feel a bit unsettled. I´m just speaking generally. I feel like we´ve finally established a homebase, and for this reason I don´t want to leave. I want to stay in Barcelona and learn this language they call Catalan. It´s a bit of a blend between Spanish and French, banned during Franco´s time, and is now the predominant language here. I never realized our noticed just how stressful traveling can be. I´ve never enjoyed moving, and now here I am moving every couple of days. It´d be much better, I think, to “move” somewhere for three weeks, create a pattern, relax, and then go home feeling refreshed, then to live this vagabond life.
Scooters, motorcycles, and bicycles are three of the most popular modes of transportation here. I´ve seen more women on motorcycles here than I´ve seen in my whole life in America. Bicyclists here don´t wear helmets, which I´ve found unsettling, but I´ve also found a higher respect paid towards bicyclists, even though drivers here are more aggressive than in the States. It´s just that unlike the States, they don´t seem to aim directly towards bicyclists.
Miguel and I´ve also figured out it´s much more comfortable to get around by Metro. It´s downright easy, in fact. They come every two minutes. The hardest part is the long walk down to the metro. I´ve been wondering if it might be faster to simply walk to your desired destination.