Part 2: CouchSurfing Meetup

This is a continuation of a different post. Click here to read part 1

Rachel and I hung around with Kathrin after the bike tour ended and together we walked to the waterfront. I was unable to convince either of them to go swimming with me, it was windy, we would have frozen when we got out. Maybe if there was a warm car with heated seats ready to take us back to a cozy room with a fireplace. Instead, we lied on the beach and watched a couple surfers frolic around in the waves.

beach01

Barcelona is a pretty spectacular city. I am impressed. I love being able to walk or bike anywhere, and there’s a beach and mountains close by. It reminds me a lot of Toronto, since the waterfront is to the south and everything north slowly slopes uphill; makes it easy to navigate.

Kathrin left to go to Sagrada Familia, including a tour up the towers. (I messaged her later and she said that compared to El Turo de la Rovira, the view wasn’t that good) She’s back to Germany tomorrow so we said our goodbyes and left. We went back to our place and relaxed for a bit. Siestas really are fantastic, especially when touring because you end up waking everywhere all day and night.

I managed to convince Rachel to join me for a Couchsurfing meeting / Meetup group for tapas and a language exchange. It was at Bar Txirimiri and for 5.50 euros we got a drink and five tapas. The tapas really did not look very good; they were all served on bread and it was really hard to guess what each one was. We weren’t even that hungry anyway. I’m pretty sure we just put the plate down somewhere, and maybe ate one or two of them between us. Actually, I think we ate one and then got hungry a couple hours later and just ate the bread from beneath the questionable topping. Ha, we are adventurous aren’t we. 

We walked into the back room of the bar, where the event is held, and were immediately greeted by a somewhat older Catalonian guy. He started off by saying, “oh the young people are at the back, I’m sure you want to talk with them.” It was said in a friendly manner, but I just laughed and said well what’s wrong with talking with old people? So we talked a bit before he had to leave, and introduced us to another Catalonian on his way out named Jordi.

Like a few other people there, he was attending to practice his English for work. He was saying that in terms of business hours, things in Spain are slowly starting to change. He seemed almost frustrated by the fact that businesses shut down for two hours in the day. Following the Spanish Civil War and WW2, the country was really poor and it forced many people to work two jobs. A person would finish their first job at around 2 or 3 o’clock and have lunch before heading to their second job. Hence, creating the late lunch and even later dinner that is the norm in Spain. I don’t know if this is the actual reason or not, but it’s what Jordi’s grandmother had explained to him.

When Jordi was born, his birth certificate stated Jorge, as Jordi is a Catalonian name and was banned from use at the time. Many people here are named Jordi, after Sant Jordi (Saint George), he being the one who slew the dragon with his sword. I will write out that story in a later post.

Jordi had visited Eastern Canada that year and was scrolling through photos when Rachel was approached by two men who tapped her on the shoulder and said, “English?” It was really cute, Rachel got pulled away and chatted with the two eager Italian men.

Jordi said he had to work the next day and was obviously hesitating to leave because he wanted to ask me my contact details; it was funny. The Barcelona FC were playing against Germany that night, so he stalled by remarking on the game. Apparently Messi had gotten injured a couple weeks earlier and everyone was all concerned about it. They play in 3 different leagues, and last year they won all of them. It’s always fun cheering for a winning sports team.

After Jordi left, I joined Rachel and the Italians, Emmanuel and Fabio. Fabio seemed far more comfortable speaking in English, though Emmanuel would join in every once in awhile, listening intensely the whole time.

I kept getting asked what I do for a living, to which I would reply that I was a mold maker, which produced blank stares. I thought perhaps saying that would be shorter and easier than saying I work for a company that builds animal simulators that we sell to veterinary schools all over the world. Turns out, most people who have learned English as a second language don’t learn the world mold. Sculpture they do understand, so I  described making copies of sculptures by covering them with rubber.That would then be followed by questions about the animals and the simulators and ultimately horse vaginas and other animal parts.

I was speaking with Andre, another Italian guy. He was dressed in a button up shirt that was far too form fitting for his body, and had the funkiest eyebrows, I couldn’t stop looking at them they were so distracting. Mind you, I usually notice if people have horribly bad eyebrows and am often distracted by how bad I would love to fix them. The makeup artist comes out in me on occasion. He seemed really impressed (with my occupation), and said that I had one of the most interesting jobs he had ever heard of. He himself worked in IT and could therefore work anywhere in the world, which was the same story I had heard earlier from Barbara.

She joined the discussion and the three of us were all talking about horse vaginas. A Korean girl came to join the conversation and was utterly confused by the subject matter she had walked in to. I had to repeat my work shpiel (how do you spell that? Schpiel? Spiel?) again, starting with what a mold is.

Barbara offered me some bread, as the entirety of her bag was filled with a big round loaf. She had found a vegan bakery around the corner and was all excited about it. She’s actually vegetarian but said she will eat things here and there. She said it was hard in Spain to be vegetarian, as a lot of the food and almost all of the tapas are quite meat heavy. It was no problem not eating cheese here though, as the cheese is nothing compared to other places, such as in her country, Germany.

Vegetarianism became our conversation topic and Andre was being argumentative about it, bluntly stating his opinion as fact. He eats as he knows to be the healthiest way, which is according to research, and that includes eating meat. Barbara listens to her body, and for her that meant not eating meat. I was kind of amused. Andre kept going on about it and Barbara was getting really flustered by him totally disregarding her opinion. Oh, but science proves it! Yes, except that science continuously changes its opinion as new information comes to light. Multiple times she said she wanted to punch him, which I later learned probably would have been a significant jab since she’s into muay thai and brazilian jiu jitsu. Barbara and I opted to change the subject and Andre took his fucked up eyebrows and his dinky wine glass elsewhere.

Just as an aside, I heard someone say the other day that vegans are some of the most hostile people in the world. I think I understand what causes that opinion, as I’ve been a part of or heard a number of vegan / vegetarianism conversations. I think that a lot of the reason that vegans/vegetarians are so guarded is that they constantly get harped on for something that is their own personal choice. Often, as soon as it comes up that someone is vegetarian/vegan they immediately are asked why and end up having to defend their own personal reasons.  Mind you, there are also those who preach or try to shame people into not consuming animal products, also disrespecting another’s choice. 

Barbara and I chatted about drinking and about how it seems like the whole world has a bit of a drinking problem (functioning alcoholism). It seems to be prevalent in almost every place that I have visited in the world. She is from Munich, the home of Oktoberfest, which begins in September and ends the first week of October. There are tons of people, loser drunk, walking around everywhere. If someone passes out, the police come and cover them with a blanket to ensure they stay warm throughout the night. I was like, what!? They just leave them?! There are so many people littering the streets that it wouldn’t be feasible to transport or house them all for the night. EMS are on the streets looking after people if they are seriously in trouble and/or to make sure people are ok. That seems absurd to me. Oktoberfest brings in about 6 million people every year. Whooooa, that’s a lot of drunks and a lot of booze.

I overheard Rachel talking about moose, trying to explain how big they are to some disbelievers. They are between 1.4 and 2.1m (or 4.6 to 6.9ft) tall at the shoulders, and are apparently also found in Scandinavia, Latvia, Estonia and Russia. The British call them elk, which is rather confusing because to North Americans, elk are a completely different animal. Rachel was saying that her listeners did not know much about wildlife, big game in particular. She recounted her story of being chased by a moose on her bicycle out in the woods one day. They also went over bear safety and basic wildlife knowledge. Cougars are scary!

 

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