Friday, 19 July 2013

Barcelona - Expat interviews II.

For my second Expat interview I asked somebody who has been a great teacher, a master chef and above all, a very good friend, Juan Carlos, to answer my questions. He came to Barcelona from the Canary Islands when he was 18 so he's been living here for over 30 years. I have known him for three months now and during our intercambio sessions we got to know each other very well. This is why I was really looking forward to this interview. He didn't disappoint! See it for yourself.

Describe Catalonia in three words
A sound: The sound of a gralla: I don’t like sardanes. but the gralla (the main musical instrument of the sardanes) has a sound that if you here once, you’ll never forget it. It’s like a deep cry, with a very high volume; you can hear it from miles!!. It’s like if somebody wanted to say, Hei, I’m here!!

A flavor: El pà amb tomàquet= Bread, scrubbed tomato, olive oil and salt: The simplicity of 4 natural ingredients with all the flavor of the Mediterranean. There are two schools of thought when you speak about the pà amb tomàquet,; the one that says you have to put the salt before the oil, and the one that says the salt is the last thing you have to put on. I’m still thinking which one is the best

A smell: Well, we can speak about de “DNA of Catalonia” telling typical things as “El Barça”, “Els Castellers”, “The Montserrat Monastery”, “la Caixa”, “The 92’ Olympic games”…  But one of the things that shocked me my first years in Barcelona was that the city smelt roasted chicken on Sunday mornings, at that time like 12 in the morning, the vermouth time. If the smoke of the chicken steakhouses had the roasted chicken color, a big roasted chicken cloud would cover the entire city every Sunday, at that time between 12 and 1 o’clock
Why did you move to Barcelona?
At that time we had not many Colleges in Gran Canaria, and my parents asked me to choose between Barcelona and Madrid for doing my studies. I’ve always asked myself what would have been my live if I had chosen Madrid…

Where is your favorite place in Catalonia?
One of my favorite places in Catalonia is “El Camino de Ronda”, in the Costa Brava. The summer sun touching your skin, the smell of the pines and the aromatic plaints as rosemary, thyme, the sound of the waves hitting the rocks… And the seagulls that come to say hello and remind you that in the other side of the sea there is another path with people also walking and saying hello to the same seagulls

Tell me one thing that you love in the city but most of the tourists don’t know about it.
Down the doric columns, in the Park Güell, there is a big tank for collecting the rain water. I had the chance of getting inside one day, when they were restoring the Park. At that time the Park was closed and the workers had gone. We went into the tank; it was enormous, it’s extended for all the doric columns room. It was like a secret cave. They say that Gaudi was a mason. I think I could see his spirit going around inside the dark and silent cave… Nowadays, every day thousands of tourist’s steps do the echo walking over this closed and unseen cave.

Is there something you don’t like in Barcelona?
The short time that the traffic lights give to the pedestrian to cross the streets. It’s especially serious for the elderly, when they are crossing big streets as Diagonal, Aragón… I see these streets as wild rivers that old people can’t cross; they have to wait until the Sunday, when the city is quiet and the cars are resting. That’s the moment in which the elderly can go to the other side of the city to visit their families

Tell me about a funny cultural misunderstanding you were a victim of.
One friend of mine that came to visit me in Barcelona went out to take a walk. He took the metro, and to remind in which underground station he went out, he thought that writing the name of the station could be a good idea. After a couple of hours walking around, he asked somebody for the station which name was “SORTIDA”. It was hilarious, because “SORTIDA” simply means “EXIT”.

Special thanks for Juan Carlos for participating in my questionnaire.

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