I haven’t posted in an extremely long time and I apologize.
A Catalan Day:
I have discovered some kind of time vortex that is hard to explain. The days here are long. I wake up around 7:30 to get ready for my classes and eat breakfast if I have time. It seems that the morning is the only time that I have to rush. My classes are simple and pass by quickly, and then my friends and I meet to get lunch. We take our time walking around downtown trying to find a new, cheap, Spanish place to eat and sit down to talk. We order sandwiches and wine or beer and talk and eat all together before we head different ways to our evening classes. After lunch some of us will go to a café to get café con leche and a pastry and continue talking. In between classes I take photos, walk around and explore, and sit in the park. I usually come home in time to take a short nap before dinner, and then after I might meet some people for drinks. Everything is so leisurely, slow, and with intention. At the end of the day it feels like you’ve done so much and that the day was so long, yet it passed so quickly. Everything is slow, you have time to observe and talk, but then suddenly it’s time for bed.
It’s easy to understand the Catalan sentiment for food and taking the time to enjoy it when you start to learn the language. In English we use the same verb for every meal and the nouns change: eat breakfast, lunch, dinner. In Spanish, there are four different verbs: desayunar (to eat breakfast), almorzar (to eat lunch), merendar (to snack), cenar (to eat dinner). And in Catalan, I don’t even know all of the words related to eating and taking your time to enjoy the food and conversation. Desdejunar, esmorzar, dinar, berenar, sopar are all the verbs for five meals during the day. Even the conversations during different meals have different names. The conversation while drinking coffee is tertùlia, and during dinner it’s called sobremesa.
I believe that this passion for food and drink and conversation and especially never eating alone would explain why people are so happy here and why there is so much life even with the “crisis.” There is always fresh, local food to fill your stomach, coffee to relax and elevate your mood, and wine to loosen up. I have noticed that everyone believes in a good balance of caffeine and alcohol during the day. A coffee in the morning, a coffee in the afternoon, wine or beer with lunch, merienda, and dinner, and after dinner. Sometimes they even mix the two together with a carajillo – espresso with cognac. Never does it go too far though, you drink alcohol with food and do not get drunk, and you spread out your coffee so you’re not jittery. They have mastered the system.
Here are some photos from taking the time to explore the neighborhood Gracia, and drinking my afternoon coffee. More to come hopefully soon.