Within an hour of arriving in Barcelona, we wandered the streets, waiting to be drawn into something wild. Down a quiet alley, I spotted an unassuming, crumbly sort of building. We peered inside the dirty windows and discovered a marionette workshop. The only guy in the building welcomed us inside and my entire world was carried away into this whimsical collective where anyone can come and build a puppet or put on a show. The artist in residence informed us that the place was founded by an anarchist sailor who began squatting in the building and refused to leave. He began the puppet collective and it still remains today, carried on by his students. Other than to say that my imagination might have conjured this place up, I can’t describe it. It just felt like I had made it up in the future for my current self to discover. We left, agreeing that if we tried to come back, it probably wouldn’t be there.
The week has been a long goodbye as my current sailboat crew prepares to scatter. We have made the most of each night in this wiry city but last night I got to see a master class in performance. Manu Chao played a free concert in a park and we somehow wiggled our way to the third row, slamming bodies with all the sweet Spanish kids who passed joints and pumped fists.The show was unlike anything I’d ever seen. Once he took the stage, he never ever gave it back.
The man smiled the entire time. Four hours of nonstop mosh pit light energy and power. King of the encore. There were so many encores that he became the man who cried “thank you, Barcelona!”
He hugged every performer. He let people from the wings come up onstage and sing with him. I could not take my eyes off of him and his horn section. Monsanto protesters carried banners and gave impassioned speeches in between bits from a ska performer and two rappers. We screamed and laughed hysterically- the way you only can when everyone around you shares a single thread of energy for four hours in sweat and dancing and the occasional rain storm.
I wore my hiking boots to break them in before my 40 day trek. They held me tight and will forever be my Manu Chao dancing shoes. They broke me down and built me up and somehow kept me standing when I wanted more than anything to lie down on the pavement and take a nap.
Willy, Steve and I finally Barcelona’d last night. We stayed up later than everyone, walking home on the beach and seeing this city that never sleeps get a little bit of shut eye. We watched people stumble out of clubs and loopily ride rental bikes home along the bike path. We wondered when we would ever drink water again or eat the pasta I’d made for dinner that night, awaiting our arrival in its giant ziploc bag. We bid farewell to our captain at 5 a.m. as he sleepily headed toward the airport.
A friend once told me “sometimes you have to sign up for a bad tomorrow to have this tonight.”
I feel like Barcelona has been a whole mess of great tonights.