Barcelona - Day One | 22nd April 2013
Departing the plane in Barcelona, the sky is pure blue that descends into a hazy brown of filth from air pollution, a signature sight that’s unique to Spain.
For some unbeknownst reason patience is running low for the Spanish passengers around me which considering the fact that our plane was 20 minutes ahead of schedule, seems, well, slightly odd. The lady in front of me is most frustrated and lets her feelings known to the passport officer, though she’s probably passing on praise passionately for a lovely flight.
I take my turn. The officer, grabs my passport, quickly analyses it and throws it back to me and without a smile tells me to go. I can only assume he doesn’t like hearing about people’s positive experiences and has somewhat irked him.
As my flight is early, I’m forced to hang around the arrivals hall waiting for my friend. In amongst the short conversations of constant refusal for a taxi with the local salesmen, I get a good look at the people arriving home to Spain and I can’t quite put my finger on what’s not normal about the situation.
I continue to observe and dissect the evidence in front of me to find a conclusion to this abnormality. A lady wanders the concourse wearing the skin from every animal featured on Noah’s Ark with a man looking like a reincarnation of Bob Marley as a white geography teacher. I could criticise this, but I imagine somewhere in London there’s a Spaniard criticising on how everyone dresses like they’re from Buck Rogers.
It then comes to me, what I’d failed to put my finger on, what short arms the Spanish have.
Arriving to my place of temporary residence, off the main street through an inconspicuous door, into a dark narrow stairwell up to a small cosy flat, I decide that getting groceries is the adult sensible thing to partake in at this very moment.
As I approach the local supermercats (or as I like to call them, Sperm Cats) I’m greeted by a homeless lady with a pot asking in the Spanish equivalent for spare change. Not knowing Spanish, I say no by giving a half smile and a shrug, she seems fine by this and I enter the store with no further hindrance.
The store is amazingly foreign and seems to only sell 4 items; croissants, sliced meat, toilet paper and wine, cheap wine, €1 for a bottle. Naturally distracted by this, I fill my basket with Spain’s finest rocket fuel pick up some croissants and pat myself on the back on a successful shop.
Leaving, the homeless lady, again, grabs my attention and instinctively I half smile and shrug. She seems upset by this until she spies my bag of groceries and her emotion changes. “Ahh, you’re English, eh? So obvious.” I’ve never been mocked by a tramp for buying alcohol before. Unsure how to cope with the situation, I simply extended my half smile/half shrug turn to full versions and casually walked off, dragging along with me load heavy bags making the soft sound of tinkering bottles and my own sadness.