Friday, June 26, 2009

Monday Morning in San Pere

Monday morning all of our children were begging for mercy. We put Joss down for a nap and plugged the other three into the laptop and two video iPods (thank you, apple, for providing entertainment on this trip), and went on an Expotition around the neighborhood. It turns out that we were staying in San Pere mes Baix, which is catalan for Lower St. Peter street. There is also an upper- middle- plaza and church of the same name. It was a fantastic location -- a geographical wonder -- a ten minute walk from the Gothic quarter, the Ramblas, Plaza Catalunya, Passeig de Gracia, the Ciutadella, and Born district. It wasn't hip like Born, with boutiques and museums, and it wasn't as touristy as the Gothic Quarter, it was more authentic, with working class types and a lot of small stores.
We went to the market and bought fuet (small salamis) and jamon serrano and fruit and bread and lots of fun stuff. We wandered the neighborhood and visited the church. We meandered over to the Arc del Triomf at the entrance to the Ciutadella park (more on that later). Rob was thrilled to see the old men out in the park playing boulles (petanque, bocci, lawn bowling, whatever language you like). We only saw one guy out airing his bird, and he wasn't really authentic because he was a. too young and hip, b. only had one bird cage, c. wasn't smoking. Usually all the old retired guys will walk to the park carrying their bird cages (as many as five or six) in fabric cases, and smoke and set the world to rights while they give the birds some 'fresh' air. I was also looking for old ladies wearing only cardigans with safety pins at the neck, but it was out of season. Instead we ran into this lady coming back from her shopping who caught us looking at a map and would not let us go until she was absolutely certain that we knew which way she thought we should go. She reminded me so much of my mission. The good people of Catalunya will never use one word where ten will suffice. They emphasize things by repeating them: "todo recto, recto, recto!" (straight ahead) or "pequenito, pequenito" (little, little). They've always got an opinion, and you had best pay it heed. She and everyone was concerned that we knew pickpockets were on the rise -- we probably heard it a good five times, and were relieved that we made it out without incident. I guess we just looked like such a jaleo that we weren't a good mark. Even the cab driver we used, Antonio, made me so nostalgic telling me a story about shopping with his wife. Just the way that he told it was so spanish.
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