It was evening when we arrived in Barcelona, which is a wonderful city. Gaudí helped design parts of it and it is a must, if you´re artisticaly inclined. Just the Sagrada Familia, one of the cathedrals is worth a visit. And the Parque Gaudí, a park designed by the great man himself is unusual. Don´t miss the Rambla, where if you´re lucky and the cops haven´t moved them, you can see the street artists at work. The Mossos de Escuadra(local police in Catalonia) are a nuisance to all who live on the street. We got a wonderful surprise: there was a magnificent music festival going on. Later we learned that in Barcelona, there´s practically always something going on, if you know where to look. We arrived to the cathedral and listened on the square there all night. We heard some lovely music. I remember one band from London, made up of Indians. Crazy guys who made excellent sounds. I can´t remember their name though. Pity!
Then all of a sudden Steve had disappeared. I wasn´t worried. I thought, I´ll meet him here tomorrow morning. I just slept on a bench, in a little park nearby. And the next day, yes, there he was. I asked him what had happened. He told me he´d met this stunning woman and had talked to her all night. I asked, yes and then what happened? She told him, right before leaving, that she was lesbian and ciao. I laughed my head off. We were both hungry and penniless, so I asked a policeman where the social comedor was(eating place for the homeless). He directed us and when we finally found it, we saw a lot of scruffy-looking types standing on a ramp, waiting to go in to the nuns´place to get fed. These nuns were very fussy about their spoons. You get no knife or fork, for fear of fights. Every time you go to eat, you can leave everything on the table. But you have to hand in the spoon at the door, before leaving. Make sure to keep an eye on your luggage. Barcelona is the number one city for thieving in Spain.
While we were waiting on the ramp, some black guy engaged us in conversation. He was dressed like a rasta pimp. To our surprise he came from not far from where we came from. It´s a small world. He promised to show us all the places of interest. No more need of asking our way around now. We had a tour guide, who had lived there on the street for four years already. He knew everything and everyone. His name is Dominic. First place he took us to, after eating, was the big park next to the zoo. All the hippies and rastas hang out there. He introduced us to all the people. We smoked some pot there and drank some calimucho. Then we had an obligatory nap. Next stop was Barceloneta, the beach. If ever you want to meet the street gang on Barcelona beach, look for the crooked tower. We call it that, ´cause that´s what it looks like. But it´s real name is ´El guerrero herido´or ´The Wounded Soldier´. And we smoked some more pot and drank some more calimucho. This was going to become a regular occurence.
Yesterday someone brought me a lovely pair of Timberlands. I was as happy as a pig in shit, for a while. When I looked them over I saw that they were one size too small. God wept and so did I. Being obstinate, I did try them on for a day. But i had to concede defeat. Actually, my feet did. They told me to either take them off or go and get a wheelchair, so I had to give in. A colleague of mine on the street was happy with them.
***This is a very important thing to know if ever, God forbid, you were to end up where nobody wants to go: the street. It´s important to share!!! If you have too much or even just enough of anything, share it with your mates. They´ll do the same for you, one day when you need it most.***
So I had to go back to my smelly international shoes, which are slowly disintegrating, not so say exploding. There are very comfortable, though. On the bottom, it says ´This sole was made in Italy´. Pity the rest of them wasn´t. I´ve had them for only two months and already they´re falling apart.
Funny, or not at all, how some people can annoy the hell out of you with just one word, isn´t it? This woman came by today and just said ´Hello!´. It made my blood boil. I was writing poetry and she broke my train of thought. The way she said it meant: are you STILL here? I´ve been trying ever since to calm down and haven´t succeeded yet. Never mind, I´ll get there. I always do. I was struggling a lot with the rest of the poem though. I posted it, but maybe I´ll change it later.
One day, we were lying on the beach, as per usual, when this older guy shows up. He looked scruffy to fuck, was staggering all over the place and singing a Beatles song badly. Meet Paul! He was to become one of our best friends. His one shirtsleeve was hanging down. We found out that was where he stashed his booze. Dominic introduced us. I didn´t like him much, at first. Well, he was pissed as a newt. We, of course, were stone cold sober. And not in the least bit stoned. Soon the four of us started hanging out together on a daily basis. We called ourselves the four beach bums. And we were. Our daily routine was as follows: first we´d wake up and try to get something alcoholic down us. Then we´d go and eat in the nun´s place. After that a nap on the beach and in the evening of to the Plaza Real. That´s off the Rambla, where all the tourists come and drink and leave copious amounts of booze behind. Good place to go if you´re an alcoholic.
Then, if we could manage to stay awake till three o´clock at night, we could go to Mahoz, where we got the leftovers that they couldn´t sell. This is a vegetarian place that sells falafel and stuff, nice food. About this nun´s place: we could go there two or three times a week to go and have a shower and clean clothes. You see, we didn´t want for a lot. In reality, these last six and a half years have been one big party. That was until our friends started dropping like flies, mostly from cirrhosis of the liver. But we´re not at that point in the story yet. Not by a long shot. As I mentioned earlier, there´s always something going on in Barcelona. Concerts and music festivals almost every day of the year.
It was elected ´cultural capital of Europe´one year and I must say, it truly deserved the honour. Only one very annoying thing for the street gang: the mossos d´esquadra are really a pain in the ass. They moved us from the Rambla ten times in one day. This happens often and then there´s the ´documentation?´business. They ask for your papers, sometimes calling you by your name. What´s it good for? They try, and succeed, to annoy you to the level where you get fed up and just leave Barcelona altogether. I must admit, there were an awful lot of us, crowding the streets and pestering the tourists for spare change. Hey, you have to survive somehow, you know. It´s certainly better than stealing, isn´t it?
Once and only once, we went to the red cross shelter at the end of the promenade in Barceloneta. You sleep in this enormous hall, filled with double army style bunks. At night, I couldn´t sleep for all the snoring. And there was this one junky who kept running around all night long, muttering to himself. We did manage to get a shower and a breakfast in but no, never again. We much preferred to sleep on the beach. There you have to be very careful not to get robbed though. There are these groups of Moroccans, who roam the beaches sniffing at everyone, looking for what they can rob. If it´s not nailed down, they´ll take it. Once, I woke up and saw this moroccan standing over Steve, going through his stuff. I shouted, what he thought he was doing. And he, cool as a cucumber, just asked if we had a light. They´re unbelievable!
There was a couple, who were living close to the first aid place there. Misha, a russian and his lady. I don´t remeber her name. The woman was swelling up. Misha told us she had terminal cancer and nothing could be done. He was devastated. They were down and out and had nothing but each other, but they were happy. And now he was going to lose her. We left before the final chapter of this saga was written. I wonder that happened to Misha, because the conclusion for his missus was inevitable.
Help! I´m sitting in my begging spot and not a soul sees me or hears me. Even dogs ignore me. Have I grown invisible. Have I fallen through the cracks of society into limbo, lost forever between two worlds? When finally evening came, I was sitting in my bank, reading a book. This is that part of the bank that is open all night for people to use the cash machines. They sometimes look at me with a wary eye. First of all I would never rob anyone. And secondly, let´s say for the sake of argument that I did want to rob someone. By the time it takes me just to get up from the floor and with my back being in the sorry state it is, whomsoever was there could take a leisurely stroll down to the next town.
A-ny-way, I was reading my book when this gentleman comes in to get some money. When he saw me, he asked if I had eaten dinner. I hadn´t, so I told him no. He immediately offered to go and get me something from the restaurant next door. I dined on spaghetti and drank lemonade. Thank you, Sir! There are some very good people, out there. Then the next evening the bank manager comes over especially, to tell me the bank will be locked up that night. Which is his prerogative. It is his bank, after all. I was nice while it lasted but now I have to go and sleep in the cold night air again. C´est la vie.
This morning I woke up and one of my socks was gone?! I distinctly remember putting both of them next to my backpack, on which I lay my head to go asleep. If I don´t, it´s gone by the time I wake up. I looked everywhere and no second sock to be found. Then I remembered something: I used to put my tobacco where I had put the confounded socks. And once I woke up to find my tobacco… you guessed it, gone. On impulse I had put it in my inside pocket yesterday. So I can only surmise, that someone who tried to steal my tobacco again, got away with just the one sock, for all his trouble. Isn´t it sad that although you have two times nothing, still people steal from you?
I was fantasizing earlier, about eating five lovingly prepared scrumptuous meals a day. And sitting in my easy chair, on my porch, fat and smiling like the Buddh. Arrgh, what I wouldn´t give for a nice juicy steak. I can´t remember the year I last ate one. Just a second, while I wipe the drool from my chin. Woahh! I don´t know which rock to crawl under, I´m freezing my tits off. There´s an ugly wind blowing. I think I´ll go into hibernation, just me and a load of hazel nuts. Wake me up in spring. Don´t forget the coffee though!
We´re back in the bank! The director of the bank probably thought that if he closed it once we´d stay away. We would at that, but it´s too cold, so he´ll have to bear with us just a little while longer. Come on spring, where are you? The other night, I was sleeping in the tunnels. Some junky that I know, was sleeping a little bit further up. He´d asked me for a swig of Cola before we went to sleep. Around six in the morning I was awakened by a prostitute who was doing her job. I was thirsty and needed a drink. When I went for my bottle it wasn´t there. Surprise, surprise! The junky had esconced himself under some tables. After he´d left, I saw what was left of the bottle next to where he´d laid his head. I don´t understand these people. They think: I need it, I´ll take it and it´s mine. No consideration for anyone. That´s why I went back to the bank. I don´t want to start an argument over a forty-nine cent bottle, that could get me knifed.