The last place I lived in Barcelona was right on the edge of Gracia. The view from my balcony looked out over Upper Gracia and from the rooftop terrace I could see right down to the seafront.
I shared a huge flat with a Catalan guy who I interviewed three times before agreeing to move in. He had shifty eyes which put me off, but seemed a genuinely nice guy. Eventually I asked him if he was shy, and he confessed to being painfully shy, and very uncomfortable with social situations – so much so, he was unable to do the job he was qualified for as a tennis instructor, and instead hired out his services as a cleaner.
Albert turned out to be just about the best flatmate I’d ever had. He was vegan, ate nothing but raw food, and had rigged up a water purifying system. He used the ‘waste’ water to wash the floors. He washed the floors everyday! He also did my dishes.
Otherwise he stayed in his side of the flat and I in mine. We only ever met in the kitchen.
To say Albert was eccentric is an understatement. He was odd, yet extremely kind and gentle. And generous.
He went for walks late at night and would come home with all kinds of things he scavenged from the street and present them to me as gifts. One day I said: “Oh, I want a juice extractor.” The next morning I woke up and there was a juice extractor on the kitchen counter.
“You ask, you receive,” he said. “You are an amazing manifester. I’ve never seen one of these on street before. But you asked, and there it is. It’s yours.”
It worked perfectly.
Albert was into that kind of esoteric, new age thinking, and so was his mother. She was a holistic healer. I might have liked her had she not interfered so much. But that’s another story.
A Catalan friend had given me a sewing machine she never used, and I was making and redesigning clothes for mayself. Albert was enthralled with my handiwork, told me I should just do that and nothing else, then one night dragged a huge box of clothes up the four flights of stairs.
“But wouldn’t your mother like some of them?” (They were really good quality clothes, and mostly my size.)
“She has plenty of clothes. You can start a business.”
By the time I moved out, there were enough clothes in that flat to open a shop. I was sad to leave, but the Spanish economy was collapsing, I’d lost my job, Albert’s mother was driving me nuts, and had rented the third bedroom to a woman from Valencia who was studying fashion design. She also ate meat. Then one day Albert came home and said he’d eaten his first BigMac. I left Barcelona 2 weeks later. I’m sure the Valencian woman – who got along famously with his mother – was able to use Albert’s finds.
- Mr. Adelson Plays With Catalan Politicians About Eurovegas (trenhoteleuropa.wordpress.com)
- Fiesta Major de Gracia (jesseve.wordpress.com)
- Casa Sotogrande (raquelhern.wordpress.com)
- “Vaga General!” – Spain’s national strike and tear gas tourism (azurecow.wordpress.com)
- Corner stories (cutesuite.wordpress.com)