Burning cigars, random gun shots, revolution, running thieves, hiding criminals, police cars, flying fire, secret sex, dark wine, darker rice, and lots and lots of charred meat. My dinner last night.
Connie, James and I sat down for a warm evening’s outdoor supper. We chose a charming little Argentinian café with nice, open flamed outdoor heaters and an impressive view of a large, covered marketplace.
We ordered the Paradilla, a traditional mixed grill platter with skirt and flank steak, Argentinian blood sausages, sweetbreads and ribs, nicely charred and served with chimichurri and a gorgeous olive and onion relish. Riso Negro, made with squid ink, mussels and shrimp and generous pours of dark Malbec. Muy delicioso!
I looked up to see a second moon, a lovely sky lantern floating above the Marketplace. As we were served our giant platter of carne, the two gentlemen at the table next to us lit up fat cigars. Clouds of smoke rode a gentle breeze aimed directly at our table, filling our unaccustomed nostrils with the acrid aroma of the club room.
To distract ourselves from the smoke and to just get through dinner (there were no tables we could move to) we shared stories of coming out, women’s lib, hippies, counter culture, and early sexual adventures. As we reminisced and laughed, the huge street festival that had been going on for six days was in its death throes and was not going down without a fight. We could hear the booming gunshots of antique muskets called Trabuco being fired off in Placa de Sant Jaume (my home for a week) a few blocks from us.
(Echoes of the Spanish Civil War, being as this very weekend is an historical revolution of sorts. The country is voting on whether or not Catalunya is allowed to declare independence from Spain. The vote happens Sunday.)
Finally, we could not take the smoke anymore and skipped dessert and coffee. We opted instead to wander the spiderweb of streets in search of gelato. As we walked, Connie spied one of the many street merchant’s little “shops” on the sidewalk (a shop is a sheet covered in merchandise, so that when the authorities show up, they can gather up the corners and run, only to return when the coast is clear and lay everything back out again).
He was selling delicate scarves in various shades and patterns and she wanted to pick one out for a friend back home. The young man kept looking down the street and at one point just left us standing there as he walked rapidly down the sidewalk, only to come running back, quickly bundle up his shop and take off running down the alley. A police car was coming slowly up the street.
Connie, who was left holding the evidence, tucked the scarf under her arm as the cops slowly drove past. Once they were a half block away, the young merchant returned and quickly laid his store back out onto the sidewalk. Connie fished three euro out of her purse and paid the man.
I slept last night uneasy. What will the weekend portend? Come Sunday, will guns once again be shot in the political square? Will I have dreams of being pursued by the police, or by the spirits of the animals I just consumed? Will my nightmares include a fiery moon, or perhaps…lesbian sex?
Barcelona, you are a sultry minx.