Barcelona (cont.): Strange
On our train from the airport we encountered a fellow American. He was the first of many interesting people that I met on this trip. His name was Will and he was from Georgia but had worked in Germany as a civil engineer for the air force for two years. I don’t really understand where his brain was, not that I’m one to judge. He had randomly decided to meet friends from the States in Barcelona for vacation and brought with him the address of his hotel. Nothing more. He had no idea how to get to the hotel but didn’t want to take a taxi so he left the airport and got on a train (which he thought was a metro) to just “start doing something”. He had not gone to the tourist information center and the only map he had was of the metro. He spoke no Spanish.
We decided to help him out seeing as he was more than a little bit lost. I still don’t completely understand how he has lived (and travelled) abroad for two years and has not learned to plan at least a little bit more. Granted, he had lived in Germany for two years and could only say all the curse words and the phrase, “How is your wife and my kids?” in German. We helped him out and then went to find our hotel. Unfortunately I didn’t get a picture of him.
While wandering Saturday night, these guys tried to sell us discoteca passes by first asking us to take their picture. They tried convincing us by saying, “Obama, do you believe in change?” Funny, but we kept walking, we wanted to sleep!
These two guys also asked me to take their picture. I think the trend is because of how excessively large my camera is. They were from Ireland but were celebrating St. Pattie’s Day in Barcelona. They were celebrating extensively seeing as it was early afternoon on Sunday when we talked to them and they were already drunk. My camera had distracted them from their previous amusement which was the flashing light on the truck behind them.
As Cassandra and I were walking along talking (in English), someone called out to me in French, “do you speak French?”. I turned around and responded, “No, I speak English y tambien hablo espanol.” The rest of our conversation proceeded in Spanish (with me translating for Cassandra). He was a 27 year old from Senegal who had spent some time in France, Italy and Spain. He was currently living in Barcelona and he really liked my friend (Cassandra that is).
He asked for a picture and asked if he could take us out for coffee in about an hour. We agreed and exchanged phone numbers.
Now, I recognize that my Spanish is not perfect BUT I do know the difference between tomar un café and ir a la discoteca. IF he had originally expressed interest in taking us “out” I probably would not have been keen on going but he said coffee and this wouldn’t be the first time I have sat at a table with a near stranger and drank coffee (and yes Spaniards do go out for coffee at 10PM if they aren’t keen on alcohol at the time). When he called us to arrange a meeting place (we didn’t tell him where our hotel was) he said he was bringing a friend and that we could go to a discoteca. We turned that location down and agreed on a bar.
To my dismay, he took us to a bar as in loud music, flashing lights, pictures of naked women and drunks. I have to admit it was a curious evening. He wanted to talk to Cassandra but couldn’t without my help. By the end of it my head was dizzy and my throat hurt (I was also getting sick at the time). I was able to translate everything but at times it was difficult because the cultural differences made it more complicated. “Ok” in Spanish is not the same as “ok” in English. All in all it was an interesting evening although I’m not sure how their friendship will develop without a mutual language to talk in.
My time alone in the bus station was the end of my travels but had to include one of the few uncomfortable situations that I have had here in Spain. Most people (aka males) are very respectful and nice here in Spain. Holding doors isn’t something that is done here but overall I am more impressed by the male population here. Santander bus station guy was an oddball to say the least. He sat down next to me and introduced himself (that’s normal). He then proceeded to try to talk to me, while I was on my computer. I wouldn’t have minded but he also pet me – my hands, my arm, my leg. He also tried to lay his head on my shoulder (I quickly jerked away). He invited me to go drink coffee with him or come back at some point to eat with him. I soon got way too creeped out and fled. I looked at my watch, told him I had to meet a friend and walked away quickly. I relocated to the train station to work on homework and read in peace. I also checked to make sure he wasn’t following me.