Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The other civilized

As we walk down the street holding hands, and i can feel the hint of rotten food on her fingers.

"Your mother would be horrified if she knew you were dumpster diving." As would mine.

Barcelona is not used to people looking for treasure in trash. Especially people who dont look like they are starving or destitute. But their we are, over educated, nicely dressed, presumably affluent white people digging thru other peoples garbage.

Barcelona is the other kind of civilized, the southern european version to bookend what Am*dam does.

It starts with an assault on time. Siesta is not just an abstract worker entitlement, it is a defining aspect of life here. Walk down the most fashionable or most crowded streets of this town at 1 PM and almost everything is closed. In December this is not because the heat of the day is unbearable - it is pleasant, in fact. It is because living is more important than working, a notion so radical it can't be embraced by most of the industrial world.

The other thing about siesta, is that it changes peoples expectations around time in general. 5 PM is not a significant closing time here. Lots of stuff, including banks and city services stay open later than that.

Caroline took Ethan and i to the big open air market this morning, we bought some forks and a blanket for the charming flat she has invited us into. It was crowded, cluttered and relaxed. There did not appear to be haggling going on, prices mostly seemed quite low, there were vendors hawking all types of things, but it was a different pace than the street markets of Am*dam. Caroline and i were constantly walking around people on the street.

The legal system punishes poverty crimes (black riding, squatting, vagrancy) less than most western countries and instead of the city drifting into lawlessness - it operates as a second level of social welfare net which reduces the number of beggars on the street and redistributes wealth.

It is not paradise, but they have chosen a different set of problems.


Anonymous said...

"But their we are, over educated..."


karen marie said...

*sigh* I am there with you all in spirit. A bit saddened that it's not tangible, though.

I'm so glad you're all together though, and having a lovely time :)