It was ever-so-slightly harrowing getting to Barcelona this time, not because anything went wrong per se – no lost luggage or bad weather or terrible delays as has happened to our family before – but because we were delayed on the tarmac at Reagan National Airport in Washington DC, where I reside, due to some problems at JFK airport in New York, where I was to meet my parents and catch our flight to Barcelona. My flight left the gate at Reagan and headed out to the tarmac, but we then sat there for an hour as many other planes landed and took off, as we awaited the go-ahead from JFK that we could head up there. If we had waited much longer than that I was worried I would miss my flight to Barcelona, or that I would make it but my suitcase would not.
Seated behind me were two pilots who were hitching a ride to New York as they had other flights to take that evening for work. They were surprised about our being unable to fly into JFK due to an alleged fire somewhere in New Jersey. One of them noted that the smoke from such a fire would not harm or effect the plane’s engines, and as to visibility, this is what instrument panels were for; I suppose this is a type of flying blind, or semi-blind, but it did seem strange that the decision could not be made to simply go around the smoke from this building fire.
Barcelona-bound, I sat behind my parents in what was a surprisingly comfortable seat for cattle class, and I certainly had plenty of legroom. Unfortunately we had a screaming baby about three rows ahead of us, and the projection screens for the in-flight films – neither of which I watched – seemed to alternate almost exclusively between pitch black and super-bright. Being on the aisle, as a result I would try to sleep and end up having a bright light from the screen shining on my face like someone had just walked into a darkened room and switched on the overhead light. So no sleep was had, at least by me.
My seatmate ended up being a young fellow who grew up in Barcelona and was studying English in the U.S. Miguel was heading home for Christmas break, and we talked for quite a fair amount of the trip. He is studying to be an architect and as regular readers of these pages know, that is a pet interest of mine. However we did not talk about architecture so much as we did about the economic crisis which Spain is presently undergoing, as well as the 11-M movement, which puts Occupy Wall Street in the U.S. to shame.
We also talked quite a bit about social media and, specifically, Twitter, which is not as popular in Spain as it is in the U.S. It is also not as popular, it seems, with young people in their late teens/early 20’s. Miguel told me had an account, but had tweeted a few times and then stopped using it, because he did not see the point when he had a Facebook account as well. I tried to persuade him of the benefits of Twitter, but we shall see whether it has any lasting impact. Still, we exchanged contact information and I can always try to persuade further on Twitter’s usefulness in the future.
On arrival at El Prat airport there were no problems getting our luggage, and we had to wait for a bit for my siblings – who were coming on other flights – to arrive. I was looking around at a news agent’s and spotted a disposable mobile phone – by Bic, of all companies – that you could activate right there in the airport and immediately start using, at a total cost of 19 euros (about $25) to start. I have been using it regularly since.
The only bad thing is, unfortunately one cannot tweet from SMS messages in Spain, which I should have checked on Twitter before I left. I knew I should have looked at that before I left, but of course made the reasonable if ultimately false assumption that Spain would be one of the countries that would allow you to use this very handy feature. So unless I can figure out some way to accomplish it, my tweeting will be limited to when I am in front of a computer.
Because of jet lag and the lack of sleep by the time we got to the flat I was pretty much exhausted. I intended to only rest my eyes for a few minutes but ended up sleeping for over three hours. When I woke up my Dad had brought me back a flauta – a baguette rubbed with tomato and olive oil, filled with serrano ham – and a can of Lemon Fanta, both of which I had been dreaming about for months in anticipation of this trip. I am not ashamed to say I shed a little tear upon consuming both items. Simple though they may be, they are a reminder of this place, far more lasting on the senses than photographs or souvenirs could ever be.