March 31, 2012

 

A curly haired man in a dirty pink dress came running down the knoll.  He was swinging his arms and shouting at me.  “Stop! Stop!” he insisted as propelled towards me.  When he got near me he jumped in the air and upon his landing was planted squarely in  front of me.

When I arrived at the park with the knoll that afternoon my first sight was a group of performers on slacklines.  They tied the line between two trees to create a kind of lineal trampoline.  I was about to take a picture of one of them when the man in the dirty pink dress came running down the knoll.

“You cannot take that picture.  It is a waste of your time.  It is  a waste to have it on your camera.  You have to wait.  Wait for the man in the black pants.  This is his event and he is the only one worth the time and space.”

After this brief encounter the man walked away.  I stood watching the slackliners.  The man returned and asked if I would like to have a seat with him and his friend on the knoll.  He pointed to the knoll and a dark haired girl wearing a headband with leopard-print ears on top waved to us.

I walked with the man as he told me the first of what would be many interestingly difficult stories.  I sat on the hill where I was introduced to the girl with the leopard-print ears.  As we all listened to the man I got the feeling that sometimes even he was waiting to hear what he would say next.  I gathered that the man was from London and the girl was from somewhere in Sweden.

After watching the man in the black pants we all headed towards the pond so we could rent a boat to float around in for a while.  I took the oars and as I neared a small island the man tried to jump to it.  He hit the muddy side of the steep-shored island and fell to the shallow water below.  He pulled himself up to the dry earth of the tiny, tree covered island.  He tightened the bandages on his foot and tiptoed into the trees.

As he disappeared I heard the furious beating of wings, squawking of fowl, and screaming of the man.  The man jumped off of the island and into the boat as I passed by.  Once I had put some distance between us and the island that was inhabited by the nesting geese we began floating again.

Two old men laughed when the man in the dirty pink dress smiled and asked them if they were looking at him because they thought he was pretty.   He made no attempt to look pretty.  He looked like a guy with a hairy chest and unshaven face who put on a pink dress this morning.  The wound on his foot was badly infected and he often walked with a limp.  He not only walked with a limp, though.  He also skipped, danced, jumped, ran, swam and spun with a limp.  He seemed to know someone in every group of people we passed on the sidewalk and if he didn’t he would get to know someone.  Barcelona was a social event for him.

Before the sun went down I headed back towards my hostel to drop off my bag and valuables.  I was planning to meet my new friends at Placa Real after my brief stop.  When I arrived at my room there were five guys from Germany drinking beer and shouting to the crowds of partiers in the streets below.  As soon as I introduced myself they knew I was from America.  They all told me that they wanted to visit the United States some day.  They asked me a lot of questions about my home country.  We mostly talked about the similarities and differences between real Americans and Americans as portrayed in Hollywood movies.  Bruce Willis and the Die Hard series were a major focal point for the conversation.  I explained to them that almost everyone in America is like Bruce Willis in Die Hard, sort of.

Then they headed to the disco and I headed to the Placa.  Performers juggled and twirled fire.  Merchants did the same with their glow sticks.  I met a group of old women selling pottery to fund their travels and a team of Brazilian football players.  Shopping cart races were being held in one corner of the Placa while the football game was in another.

I stayed for a few hours and then I thanked my new friends for showing me a side of Barcelona I could never have found by myself.  As I left the Placa I thought about where this adventure had started.  I had been watching a few people jump on a rope when a man in a dirty pink dress came charging at me.  I spent the rest of the day making great friends and having great fun.  I was only a few miles from my hostel so I hopped on the open footpath by the water and headed off towards my room.

Oh yeah, then I got mugged by twelve unarmed prostitutes at the end of La Rambla.

Here are some pictures from this adventure…

On Gran Via

Fountain on Gran Via

Statue on Gran Via

Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf

The Castle of the Three Dragons in Ciutadella Park (the park with the knoll)

Sculpture in Ciutadella Park

The Fountain of Ciutadella Park

Looking out from the fountain. In the distance is the pond.

The man in the dirty pink dress.