So, I’m in the middle of my second week in Catalonia and my research project is coming along very nicely. I’ve gotten some really great interviews, in terms of what I’m looking for and also it’s interesting to me to see the wide variety of opinions I get when I ask the same questions. For example, I ask every participant what the significance of FC Barcelona’s slogan “Més que un club” (more than a club) is. From my experience over here last year, I came to view the phrase as an expression of Catalan nationalism, which is to say that FC Barcelona represents Catalonia as a nation since their own national selection team is not officially recognized when they play in international matches. However, some participants have been telling me that the phrase is in relation to how FC Barcelona represents Catalan values such as hard work and humility, while others say that it’s because those who support Barça are part of a family, a community of people who come together to support a common cause. I’ve gotten 14 interviews so far, with about 10 more scheduled for later this week, so I’m going to have more than what I need :)
For sightseeing, I’ve done plenty of that over the last few days or so. I stayed in Barcelona for the weekend and just did some re-sightseeing of L’eixample and the Gothic Quarter. I also went to a few of the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc show’s, which in the summer is when the fountain is set to music and lights. This year, one show was set to Disney songs….en español (I got a good laugh out of that). Also, on Saturday I went to Las Arenas mall in Plaça Espanya, which was not finished when I was in BCN last year. Basically, the city took an old bullfighting ring and converted it into a mall (since you know, bullfighting has been outlawed in Catalonia as of the 1st of this year). The mall had some pretty nice shows and a great view of Plaça Espanya at the top level (I also got a great buy on a FC Barcelona t-shirt here, only 13€!)
As for going outside of Barcelona, I did so on Sunday and Monday. On Sunday I went out to Lleida, the capital of the western providence of Lleida (naturally). There wasn’t really much to do in the town (I was joking with one of my friends that it’s like the Toledo, OH of Catalonia). For this reason, I was surprised that they actually have a tourism office in the town. The only thing to really see was La Seu Vella, which is an abandoned cathedral on top of the city’s hill, a monument you could see for miles away. One thing that really surprised me about the city was the amount of immigrants (mostly Africans and Muslims). They definitely seemed to outnumber the Catalans in the city and I found out from one of my participants that they come here to work in the fields.
On Monday I went to Girona, which is again the capital of the Girona providence. This city was definitely a lot more interesting than Lleida as it was so much more beautiful. A river divided the city and for a few blocks on each side there are different colored houses lining the river. It’s better for you to look at my pictures than for me to describe it because unfortunately I don’t know much about the history of all the buildings, as I didn’t take a guided tour of the city. The coolest part was that you can walk on top of the old city’s wall and it gives you great views of everything.
Yesterday, I went back to see my old host mom (Lita) and it was an incredibly surreal experience. She greeted me with the traditional petons (kiss on each cheek) and then we went to the living room to talk and catch up. Her mom is also staying with her this mom and José was there too, so it was great to see them again too. The first thing my host mom commented on was how apparently I look thinner than the last time she saw me (that or my large shirts give the impression that I’ve lost a lot of weight, hahaha). When I was talking with them it was just like old times, my Spanish was flowing perfectly and I could understand everything they were saying. José even brought up our old inside joke on how I my tongue gets tied when I try to say “A reveure,” Catalan for “see you later.” Lita remembered that my favorite dish is tortilla española, so of course she made that for dinner. I also meet the new girls who are staying with her this semester and gave them a little bit of advice and told them about my time studying abroad.
After dinner, Lita told me that she had a problem with her laptop and asked if I could look at it. She told me that I was going to laugh a lot when I saw her problem and I did…apparently, her background is a picture of me and my sister on my birthday, with stupid expressions on our faces and Lita didn’t know how it got there nor how to get it off. What’s even funnier is that the picture is zoomed in mostly on my sister’s face, with her eyes bulging out at you. I laughed quite a bit, it’s funny to think that for the last couple of months every time Lita starts up her computer she has to stare at that picture of my sister and I.
Shortly after that I had to say goodbye to everyone and this is where everything quickly turned bittersweet. It was tough saying goodbye to all of them again, especially since one year ago yesterday was when my roommate and I moved into Lita’s apartment. So needless to say on the metro ride I was feeling a mixture of emotions.
I feel better today and since I have no interviews scheduled I think I’m going to do some more sightseeing and get a tour of the Palau de Musica Catalana, a modernist-style music hall that is famous as being a staple of Catalan architecture. Next week, on Sunday I’m going to be with my Catalan friends celebrating La Diada, the National Day of Catalonia and then on Monday I’m off to Lleida again to do some more interviews. Hopefully I should have some pictures of Barcelona up this week by Friday, and pictures/blog about La Diada on Tuesday/Wednesday of next week.
Until then, “a reveure”