Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Last day in Barcelons, Fomentara tomorrow

I'm off to Fomentera tomorrow to stay with Eva Eckhardt in the solar home she built in the 1970's with her then young son. Eva and I go back to my Koln days throughout the 1980's and before the end of the Berlin Wall when it was ever-prospering as West Germany. I'm ready to fly with my carry-on, and will leave my suitcase with Carlota and Jose until back for an overnight in Barcelona at the HMV Hostel on April 3. I'll leave for Tel Aviv on April 4 via El Al, hoping no Israeli bombs will be raining on Iran.

I walked down Carrer de Verdi today. My apartment sits at its very top. As I descended the long hill, the atmosphere grew livelier with Brazilian, Argentinian, Japanese, Spanish and Middle Eastern restaurants and pastry shops lining the way. The offerings are way beyond the limited menu of the cafe/bar Montreal across my street. That's a favorite haunt of smoking/drinking macho men (likely long unemployed) from daylight to dark. 

A Middle Eastern dish caught my eye, Palestinian Moussaka. I had to try it and was lured in as well by the friendly greeting of the proprietor. I sat in the outside courtyard near a brick oven, two rain barrels, and a fledgling tree rung by a circular depression in the dirt to assure it be well watered, I was drawn by the seductive shadow cast by the sun shining through overhead vines in the early afternoon light. The Spanish sun in that still warm part of the day is soft, not as it would be in relentless summer. It's nothing like the sun in India that claims you, takes ownership and never lets you go no matter the years. Perhaps there its the aroma(s) that heat up in the warmth and washes over you. Here's it's a lazy light and no wonder the Spanish seem to come to life later in the day as the sun begins to disappear.

My salad was perfect: finely chopped lettuce, cucumbers and tomatoes with minced parsley. I needed the veggies as this is another heavy carbs country. When the Palestinian Moussaka arrived, I vowed to cook the simple dish when I get home again. It's just sliced eggplant well cooked with red and green peppers in an oil and lightly tomatoed sauce. It was accompanied with a mound of delicious yellow rice with small rounds of carrots peeking out and hidden within as if blackbirds cooked in a pie.

This most satisfying meal was topped with Spain's wonderful cafe con leche. Not normally a coffee drinker, I've come to love it here. 

It's the angle of sun in that peaceful courtyard, the afternoon shadows that captured me. Already not yet 3PM, there was a cooling breeze coming by. My light bag had a sweater and shawl for later when the cool set in. I was still set to walk on.

I gave it try to find the HMV Hostel where I'll be staying in on April 3. Lo, with the help of the Barcelona map, I found it. Asked at the desk about accepting my suitcase even before I’d arrive, I was told, it’s no problem. I then walked to Diagonal Avenue and the Passeig de Gracia where I found a bench to view the passing scene. It's a fashionable part of town, at least the shops tell you so, Feragamo, St. Lauren, and on. The folks who pass by are a mix of locals and tourists. Only the rarest fashionista appeared. I randomly took photos of passers by. These are the pic treats for the day.

It may be at Eva's solar house won’t be on line and that I may not be able to power the IPhone or the battery in my camera. More news will follow when time permits and there's a web connection. Meanwhile, do remember that I consider you all my traveling companions and think during the day what you might like to know about this artist's journey.

My pics end with a motto on a tile that’s embedded on the wall by the escalator on the way home from the Valcarca Metro stop. Good advice, you’ll agree, for all.

Sending lots of love from this sun filled land, and here are the pics of the day:

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Studio Art, La Pedrerer, from my metro stairs, Parc Guell

After taking studio art pics yesterday, I took the Metro to see La Pedrera. It's a Gaudi architectural wonder. More on that further down this Post.

Today I closed my studio, packed my Fomentara carry-on for Thursday's flight to Ibiza (then a ferry to Fomentara). I'll check my suitcase with El Al, April 4 to Tel Aviv. Art supplies weigh down the suitcase. It weighs 49 pounds, just under the 50 limit.

Parc Guell is a short walk (and six escalators and many stairs) from my Carrer Verdi apartment. After freeing myself with overweight baggage concerns, I sought a Gaudi orchestrated space for quiet contemplation. Amid his labyrinthian Parc Guell where parrots, pigeons, and people cavort, I found a perfect bench to listen to pigeons cooing, watch the evening sun fade, and journal write. Excerpts follow:

Yesterday, at Gaudi's Pedrera, also labyrinthian with disorienting angles of pathways on its famous roof, and again a spiral dizzying down staircase, a diminutive reminder of his great cathedral's inner spiral that I climbed in 1998 and vowed never again. The Pedrera staircase deposited me into a period apartment. The vistas are stunning (as you will see) from every window, every angle, yet it felt invasive to be walking through this kept-intact time-warp, an intimate apartment of a long-dead family.

Not so with Parc Guell. It continues as a vibrant space attracting young and old. There are joggers, and many school children of all ages, chattering groups that love to enter and be photographed in the crevices of his arched and rough rocked world.

At the Pedrera, I was happy to take the elevator down from the apartment and escape. It fed my need to again walk the paths of Gaudi's magical and mysterious Parc Guell, and to contemplate those vistas, not only of the park, but also the panoramic city of Barcelona. It surely was a mere fragment in his time. Would he have imagined it would grow to its present proportions? At its founding it must have been in the midst of forested hills. Now almost all the hills are inhabited by buildings that he might abhor. Yet, because of the hills, it is still magnificent.

He staged nature for us in ways that comfort and enhance. Not to say the grotesque is forgotten. It is not, and can be found in the variety, almost wild "diversity" of his roughhewn rocky byways and arches that  carry you to the heights of the park.

There is peace here, like the uncanny peace I felt in the "House of Eight Mezuzahs'" in the Girona Jewish Quarter. Is this the Spanish experience that led medeival Sephardic Jews to hang on even after persecutions ran wild? Was it the same in Germany? Is it strange to say that I felt comfort in Koln even while making 29 masks on the theme of the  Holocaust in 1983. How else could I have done it?

Do pigeons coo to comfort each other? It's a sound one hears on waking in the morning (in India, and St. Petersburg, FL, here, and many elsewheres), or after an afternoon nap, and now at 7PM with the Barcelona sun now low on the horizon.  Quiet times awaken our ears. Have I come to bench sitting instead of exploring what still its in front of me in Barcelona? Another trip to the Ramblas? This evening is best used to consider all that has come before, my trekking about demanding a life lived to the fullest. Now, I enjoy watching the young travel about together, and alone. Some are nervous, others confident, others just being here now.

I've become attuned to the daily movement of the weather these two weeks in Barcelona. Chilly in the morning, getting ever warmer until 3PM, then slowly cooling until near 7PM, as now,  a chill begins again to take hold. I'll wrap my turquoise shawl over my russet sweater.

Time to walk back to my apartment. So many stairs here and hilly inclines, and just one more Barcelona evening before heading out of the city. Making ready for change is centering once the path is strewn with done deeds. I had the barest plan for my time here. It's worked out with the art making, visiting with friends, making new friends, and the magic gift of the unexpected. Truth to tell that the unexpected is not always so grand. As it happens, on March 29, the day of my flight to Ibiza, a General Strike has been called by the unions. Many things will stand still, especially transportation. My flight was cancelled. I spent hours yesterday trying to contact Vueling Airline to get another flight. Finally, finally with Jose and Carlota's help, it's happened and all is well again. As Carlota says, "That's what happens when you travel, you never know."

Now to retrace my steps to my little apartment on Carrer Verdi.

Here are the pics: