Barcelona on Saturday morning is lively. It’s difficult not to bump into the tourists who stop suddenly in the middle of the walk, rubbernecking around with slack jaws and Jansport backpacks hanging from their chests. Apparently theft is a big problem in this city, or so everyone keeps telling us. Thieves or not, you wouldn’t catch me dead wearing a backpack the same way Kris Kross wore their jeans in the 90’s.
There’s a farmers market of sorts selling all types of expensive jams, almonds, figs, and spreads of every flavor. Everything is neatly packaged, expertly labeled, and suspiciously clean. It lacks the subtle charm of a handwritten description on bargain bin sticker paper and the thrice used jars that are recycled by a community that cares deeply for the plight of the beekeeper. There are no pastries and no hot sauce to be found here so we keep our wallets where they are.
There are artists of every ilk pedaling their portraits, landscapes, surrealist copies of Dali, and a mosaic of conceptual vomit to anyone looking for that piece of art to perfectly match the tile in their bathroom.
Sadly, some of the best artists get overlooked by the line of people willing to pay for a hastily drawn caricature of their own gawking faces. My favorite was the one of Whoopie Goldberg. I’d like to think that Whoopie actually came to Barcelona, had that particular artist draw her likeness but then decided that it was a terrible representation and never took the picture home.
In the cathedral square where we first met Isaac, there’s a group of ragtime buskers blaring a trumpet, banging on keys, and strumming the banjo. A crowd has gathered around them. Unlike most pedestrian-paid musicians, people are actually sticking around for entire songs, sometimes two. That’s because these guys are good, really good. People toss a few coins into the case between songs, take pictures and video, and tap their feet. A little girl runs over to the pile of coins and starts dancing.
Her mom seems embarrassed. Every time her daughter runs to the center of the crowd mom calls her back again. Everyone is getting a big kick out of it, even the trumpet player can’t help laughing in between his solos. The girl can’t help herself, she just wants to bust out some kicks, skips, and spins every time the guy in blue blows a note. What’s crazy is no one else is joining in. What kind of world are we living in when we’re all too shy to dance when the music moves us? I’d like to think that at some point, somewhere down this road, I won’t hesitate for moment to leap up in a mad, ecstatic fury to dance until I drop, regardless of who’s still standing still around me.