Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So, what made you come to Barcelona?

It's a question I often get ask, and one that I find impossible to answer.  It's a long story you see. One that began as a youth with dreams of white sandy beaches and dark hair beauties in red flower dresses, me, and a dog.  Where these images came from - I can't tell you.  As a child, I was lucky enough to visit many cities and countries in the world, but we never spent any significant time in Spain  My sister said we came to Barcelona once in the early eighties, but there were no rooms available, so we headed back to France. I don't remember, so I'm not sure if that counts as a visit.  Perhaps it's the British blood that drew me to the country, but my old man was more of a Francophile and a lover of the Greek islands than the Iberian peninsula, so I don´t think that explains it.

As I grew older, the visions of white sandy beaches, dark hair beauties and a dog faded as the everyday life of an American teenager became more of a concern (making friends, passing exams, and partying) and I didn't give much thought of Spain until after graduating from high-school I learned an old friend from when we were ten and living in England had moved to Madrid.  What a life - I thought, only contemplating it for a second as I had my own plans - two years at a community college followed by two more at a four year university where I'd get a degree in something that'd lead to a good job that paid lots of money.  It didn't quiet work out that way, and by the time my mid-twenties arrived, I was living in Los Angeles and working in technology, making a living.  I had a great group of friends and my family around me, but still something was missing, so to clear my mind I took a trip.  I thought about my old friend in Madrid, but heard Barcelona had a beach, so I went there instead.    

It was a far cry from the white sandy ones of my dreams: brown with shards of broken shells embedded in its rocky grains, las playas of Barcelona were nothing but the dredged up sand from the sea bed that were sardine packed by two in the afternoon.  But I didn't care.  It was like no other city I had ever seen.  The buildings were twisting and melting works of art, the parks had carved stone statues of the gods and the streets buzzed with life.  I met people of all ages from all over the world and partied till the crack of dawn and not once did anyone ask me what I did.  I had forgotten that there was so much more to life than earning enough money to buy a big house and a nice car, and I returned home refreshed and pensive.

Back in L.A.: I took stock of where I was.  In two years I was to turn thirty.  I still had my friends and family; although many were marrying or settling down, while those of us who hadn't were becoming jaded to the Hollywood scene.  Professionally, I had found my niche in on-line advertising as an account manager for a major search engine and earned high praise from my boss and a decent salary.  Still, there was this nagging feeling that I was destined to be that rung in American society that managed to get by as long as they worked hard and never fell behind on their credit card/mortgage/car/insurance/utility payments, or lost their job in a downsizing.  The thought of spending my entire adulthood worrying about getting fired, while paying off things I needed to buy and not enjoying life made me realize: there had to be another option, so I came to Barcelona.  That was over six years ago, and other than a six month stint in Cadiz, I've been by the brown rocky beaches ever since.  As for the dark hair Spanish beauty and the dog?  She's a blond from Andalucia and in three years.

So now that I've told you, tell me: What made you come to Barcelona?


  1. I first went to spain when I was 15 with a church to help a struggling fellowship just south of Barcelona. We flew across the ocean not knowing where we were really going to stay, figuring we could just sleep on the floor in the church. We landed, boarded a bus and arrived at the church to be greeted by warm besos and enthusiastic hospitality. The families would not hear of us sleeping on the floor so they lined us up and we were picked out by the members to be their American children for the week. My "parents" were very young and had two boys.

    I loved the two week stay in a country town outside of Barcelona but what I loved the most was the awe that there could be family away from home and so much more culture behind what I had learned in school.

    The next year I signed up to go again, and again I stayed with the same family. We built a strong bond and I knew I had found my new home.

    A took a year off, not traveling to Spain, but I applied to be an exchange student my senior year of high school. I got in and got placed right above Barcelona and two hours away from my church family.

    This year abroad I lived with a Catalan family for four months, then an Argentine family then a Cuban family.

    My first family was terribly distant as a family was not the loving, caring family I wished I had. To find this familiar bond I was lacking I spent time with a friends family in Fabra i Puig.

    My friend and I would skip school and wonder through the windy streets and explore Borne and Raval. We would pick something to look for, like a red door, and then who ever found the red door within the city first would win and the other person would have to buy the cafes amb llet.

    I miss my city, my home. The pastor at the church told us that part of our heart would always be in Spain and he is right. I am incomplete when away from Barcelona.

  2. I echo your thoughts on escaping the rat race, it is far too easy to become wrapped up in the false needs of modern life. People become far to frustrated and stressed about things that are not really important, reflection is a good thing but most do not take the time to measure their lives and ask why they run the rat race.

    I really enjoyer reading through you blog and I am grateful for the specail Spanish phrases which will no doubt prove useful in the future!

    I just voted for you on The Expat Directory - Welcome to our site, don’t forget to update your profile and if you have time complete the expat questionnaire and help us build up a picture of expatriate movements

    Please feel free to delete this comment, I have posted a message as I couldn't find a contact link.

    Kind Regards,