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All content copyright 2010 by Chelsea Biondolillo. Seriously.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Day 7: Barcelona la ciudad de ciencias y los artes

Do you remember that black and white Twilight Zone where they put this crazy mark on your forehead if you break the law that means no one can acknowledge you? The mark burns through hats and can't otherwise be hidden. The "prisoner" can go anywhere and do anything--but no one can talk to him or even act like they can see him. He's stoked at first--he goes into the women's spa and sits in the sauna with them--no one can stop him. But the novelty wears off when he realizes they all look scared out of the corners of their eyes.

That's extreme. But not being able to speak Spanish very well has its distinct disadvantages. Today involved several difficult conversations, first at the botanical garden and then at the ornithological institute. I recorded the interviews, since I had to work so hard just to listen. I'm not sure if I got more dead ends or if there is a good story in there or not. There are lizards, pine trees, and dragons. Who knows. There's the idea of island adaptation and successive migrations. There's the interesting story of Colonial Spain's influence and the trouble with goats and the benefits of fire. Are any of these interesting enough for an essay? I have no idea. But everyone today seemed to know someone else who could help me much more than they, someone who was, so sorry, nowhere nearby or available.

I did have a fantastic lunch at a wonderful non-touristy restaurant. I asked the office manager at the ornithology institute--who spoke no English--for a recommendation, and she did not disappoint. No one at the restaurant spoke English either, but the bartender was very theatrical in his explanations of my options. I had a fantastic black rice and mussel paella and fried white fish of some kind. Also amazing olives and lots of vino tinto y agua con gas. Ultimately though, the day beat me. I am exhausted and frustrated with my research. I usually have too high of standards for my work product, so I am hoping that's the case here. I'll only know for sure after I get back.

I'm not sure whether or not I'll have internet from here on out, but my fingers are crossed. In the meantime, some highlights from today...

View from the MNAC (museum of Catalunya art) on the way to the Jardi Botaníc

The Strawberry Tree (endangered on Los Canarios)

Several small Dragon Trees with a couple of large Phoenix Palms. The Dragon Tree is actually a monocot, rather than a tree--a grass with a fat stem. Since it has no rings, the age of individual specimens was often grossly overestimated.

The best goddamn paella ever. Seriously. I will dream of it.

Casa Batlló in the super fancy part of town, with Louis Vitton and Prada shops. The line was long and the cost to enter, high. In other words, this is the only view I got of Gaudí. Next trip will be an art trip.

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