Thursday, September 1, 2011

Week One Update

First blog post from the field!

The plane ride over was not very good.  There was a pair of children 3 seats ahead of me who would randomly start crying, I’m guessing because their ears were popping.  Also, I had this old guy next to me who was insistent on putting his knee/leg on my side…even though I was taller than him.  Of course the kicker in all of this is that I didn’t really get any sleep, maybe 2-3 hours max because it’s really hard for me to sleep on planes.  So after an 8-hour flight, we arrive in Barcelona and I realize that I haven’t spoken Spanish since my last Spanish class, which ended in June.  Joder.

After waiting in the exchange line for an hour, I take the bus to Barcelona, transfer to the metro and go to my hostel.  The hostel is in a very residential area of Barcelona, on the opposite side of town from my old host family.  As I’m walking through the neighborhood I start to feel this really weird sensation, like I’m in this surreal dream (and not in a good way).  I didn’t really feel excited to be back.  I think it’s because I was sleep deprived and dehydrated because after that Sunday and Saturday of rest and getting everything set up (phone, internet, scheduling interviews for that week) I felt much better.

So far I have interviewed 8 people, which is more what I thought I was going to get in the first week.  Only 3 of those interviews were in Barcelona so for the other ones I had to travel outside BCN to other towns to interview the people: one in Reus (Monday), two in Figueres (Tuesday) and two in Tarragona (Wednesday).  The interviews have been going very well so far, the people are very happy to sit down and share their beliefs and opinions on Catalan culture, politics and language.  I’m also finding what I came over here looking for so that has been a big relief for me.

Needless to say, I’ve had some bumps along the road so far.  A major sticking point has been my Spanish.  As I said, as soon as I got off the plane I knew that it would take awhile for it to come back to me.  I went to Vodafone to set up my Internet and phone on Saturday and literally my mind could not form a coherent sentence in Spanish.  Furthermore, my mind couldn’t process anything the guy at the store was saying so I left frustrated and defeated.  However, my Spanish is finally coming back to me, not to the level I was at when I left but it’s getting there. 

One good thing is that I’m starting to feel like a Spaniard/Catalan again.  When I first got here on Saturday I felt like a fish out of water again.  This feeling started going away yesterday, when I had a very successful day of interviewing three different people and thinking “hey, I was able to navigate myself through three new cities I’ve never been to, without any problems; that’s pretty cool.”  So, por fin, I feel comfortable again walking around the city and confidant that I can blend in with everyone else to the best of my ability.

Now, on to the sightseeing!  I didn’t do any in Reus because I was more concerned about getting my first interview and making sure everything went ok than about checking out the city.  The first sightseeing that I did was in Figueres, which is home to the Salvador Dalí museum (which the artist actually designed himself).  Although the museum didn’t have some of Dalí’s more famous works, the place still had a very interesting collection: a combination of drawings, paintings, sculptures and jewelry.  I did also see a little bit of Girona that day because I had a scheduled interview there but unfortunately I got lost in the old part of the city and didn’t make it to the interview; also, as I was very tired and frustrated, I left the city without taking many pics.  Yesterday I was in Tarragona, which was the old Roman capital of the Hispania providence.  My last participant for that day gave me an informal tour of the old part of the city as well as the city’s history museum, which was in the Roman city’s walls.

Tomorrow, I’m going to do some sightseeing around Barcelona; even though I’ve seen all these places it’s still really cool to go back and visit them.  Then on Sunday I travel to Lleida and on Monday I will be in Girona to do some more interviews.  Hopefully that means I’ll have more pictures up by next Tuesday/Wednesday and maybe even another blog post by then, ¿quién sabe?

Speaking of pictures, the ones I’ve taken so far are up on the side bar under the title “Catalunya ’11.”  ¡Qué los disfrutes!

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