Tuesday, May 20, 2014

time to say good-bye

The Noordam is on its way to sea -- and so am I.

I am writing this at 11 PM on Monday as we pull away from the dock in Barcelona.  My visits to this town are always rewarding.  It is vibrant place. 

Not in the way that some cities are -- vibrant in the sense that they suck the energy out of you right through the soles of your feet.  This is the vibrant in a “we’re happening” way.

That make seem an odd description for a big city in Spain.  The country is one of the Euro zone’s current fiscal car wrecks.  And I suppose that some of that must be reflected in how the people of Barcelona live.

For instance, I have trouble imagining how they afford to buy food.  I wandered through two of the city’s traditional markets -- with fresh chickens selling for the equivalent of $7.50 a pound and leg of lamb at $14 a pound.

There are several possible answers.  The obvious one is that most people do not shop in these markets.  After all, they are in the center of town.  The second is an economist’s answer: if the supply is too expensive, switch to a different protein source. 

I also stopped at a downtown super market.  The prices were far more expensive than what I pay in Mexico.  Of course, it is for a far different mix of food.

Expensive or not, the food is delicious.  For lunch yesterday, I had a fruit and vegetable picnic lunch from the Boqueria market.  A juicy tomato we would call heirloom in Oregon.  Just under two pounds of sweet, black cherries.  And half of a dragon fruit.

Yeah, I know.  There are plenty of dragon fruit in Mexico.  It took me traveling thousands of miles to finally try one.  This one was a little disappointing.  Much blander than I expected.  But the cherries and the tomato easily made up for the dragon fruit’s less-than-spectacular showing.

And they were probably not a wise choice for my last day of walking in Barcelona.  If a mother had fed that lunch to her child, her advice would undoubtedly be: “Now, don’t leave the yard.”  But all went well.

So, it is good-bye, Spain -- hello, high seas.  And then France.

But, tomorrow you will discover what there is to do on sea days.  I am looking forward to finding out myself.

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