Friday, August 8, 2008

1 Week in Europe

Yep. As I am writing this it's 4 am in Bermuda and in two hours I will have been in Europe exactly one week. What have a learned so far? Well ...

  • Europeans aren't the shit, well French and Spaniards (haven't been in Britain long enough). So far I've seen nothing that makes them more spectacular than the States. It's not that I'm looking for things to push the States up, but some things are always the same and attitude is everywhere, bias, whatever. White people will be white people - scared of the great big black unknown. Save for perhaps Britain, the people in the countries I've visited have this weird relationship with Blacks and I've seen it in the States too, only more pronounced here since here really lacked Jim Crow laws to show Black folk that "hey white folks really loath us so". I get this feeling that Blacks are encouraged to mix so their kids can be seen as beautiful and accepted (but isn't it like that for Black people everywhere, save for some places in Africa). I know our population is so minute in Europe, but damn still. If one is going to diss the US and then turn around and be a punk when it comes to color in their own country, that's a flying shame (Canada floats to mind, well Ontario anyhow). In fact, perhaps these countries are just too old. So much culture and history and mold, that in these changing times the views of the people get left in the dust. I actually like that aspect of the States - that push forward into the future. I think Barcelona was like that at one point in the early 20th century when its buildings of modern art went into the sky, but now I thinks that aspect is dying off. Then again, I've only been to three cities, so this view only reflect people in the city. For example, a friend of mines said French people to the south in the small towns are friendly and curious. This brings me to ...

  • Feminism? What's that? I find in the countries I visited, female roles are more traditional than ever. In Barcelona you see people breaking out though with the whole tribal scene - earing stretchers, women with close crop hair, black hair with rockabilly bangs, tribal tattoos, guys with locs, etc ... A friend of mines put it this way whenever he saw people into the tribal scene - they're trying to rock what they lack. This crew seems to be the exception in a fashion ruled, skirt wearing Western Euro world. I wonder how it's like in the small towns dotting the countryside? To further this, everything is too neat in appearance but not much else underneath. Should I dare say the countries I've been to are shallow? On some levels, yes, but then I think the whole damn world is shallow and my thinker and prover just found evidence. lol. Okay, well perhaps not everywhere is shallow and since I lack the language skills I can't as of yet find the right scene of independent thinkers and freedom fighters. They are out there. I've seen some of them, perhaps I am just too limited by my family and myself. Plus, there are other countries in Europe to explore more thoroughly - the Eastern bloc, the Nordic bloc, Britain.

  • Raw foodism. It's all about the meat, meat , meat , meat, meat! It's hard to find a good veg restaurant, even harder a raw food restaurant. There seem to be none in existence in any of the countries I visited. Spain was somewhat into the vegetarian scene, but the raw food scene has yet to grace these shores. In Paris I was saved by the fresh fruit sellers and the many many cafes which included vegetable dishes, even if they were cooked, or had cow cheese or meat in the salads. Barcelona has plenty of bigger US chain restaurants, but that is because it more touristy (cruise ships right on the Medi). The local places seem to be focused on either the sea or traditional Spanish food - meat. There's even a ham museum in Madrid. Saving grace though is that grocery stores here pack some spectacularly ripe and delicious produce. Avocados are inexpensive considering the price of the Euro to the US dollar.
Okay, I gather I come across sounding like a bitter old traveler hag woman. I'm homesick and I appreciate my home environment a lot more. God, I could have grown up in some of these cities! Imagine what that would have done to my sense of Blackness if I lacked the right parents and guidance?!? I also wish I had better travel companions. There are so many things that I want to explore, but I am still treated like a child, even more so here on these strange shores, and thus cannot explore. Maybe it's a psychological weight of knowing where these countries came from. Every monument or palace I saw in Spain all I could think about was South America being raped to make such grandeurs. In France, I couldn't help but think about how the Kings abused its people and stole from other lands; or what they did to Africa at the end of the 19th century. When my family gets to Italy, I'm sure I'm just going to be thinking about facism a lot. Part of me says, just relax and enjoy, the other part of me says BS this is the world and the world is not a happy land, it is a dark fairy tale whose grossness is perpetuated into the dark halls of the future . How can I "just" sit back and enjoy things covered in blood of the unwillingly sacrificed. Engulf another spoonful of comatose and fall back asleep or smell the salts and sharply wake up to its bitter smells. I appreciate the beauty, but I force myself to see the daggers underneath and not get caught up in the fantasy that such beauty came without high costs.

I enjoy learning about the world, but this is no vacation.

But to sum up what I've been up to in the last two days.

Weds I was in Barcelona. Didn't go bike riding but did do a long troop through the tourist centers of the city. By troop I mean it must have been close to ten miles. We were just walking to walk and take everything in. We shortcut through local sections of the city that smelled like open sewage to get to a main tourist area with museums and parks and stuff. This is a city made for walkers and bike riders, that's for sure. Once there, we walked through alleyways filled with interesting shops and people. I got myself two books in english by Neil Gaiman since I read through those that I brought with me. My brothers were with me and we got to check out some clothing stores. Stuff that would have been hundreds of dollars in N.America are just a couple of Euros - all under one hundred US dollars. Soon, we were on this square where there were mimes. Now these guys, they're not your typical black and white wearing, face painted, beret wearing mimes. These guys were done up to look like statues. One guy was painted all white and sitting on a crappers; another guy had himself painted like a bronze statue. There was even a guy painted all in blue and bald. He looked so surreal and consequently was very popular with the tourists. These men and women probably have 9-5 jobs and afterwards make a little extra from the tourists by doing the mime bit. I am sure the pay must be good. A one or two Euro coin from a few of the thousands of tourists in the area = sweet money. I like artsy fartsy things like that and wonder ifI could pull something off like that in Bermuda with a troop of folks. :P

On our way back to our apartment, we took the long route along the Mediterranean. Being a Bermudian and experiencing Bermuda beaches daily, I must say the beaches of Barcelona are bland. I don't think I would swim in the waters here in the city. Perhaps further out in the rough and bushes I would where I can see the true bueaty of Spanish beaches. But ah, so as we were walking people were dressed nice and out for a good time on the beach front. We walked by hotels built atop of cool pools of water, giant glittering casinos, beachside restaurants and bars, more modern art (Lobster McPhee - you'll see when I upload pictures after I get back home). I liked it, but I was smelly and my feet hurt, I just wanted to get back home and rest it up for a few hours. Eventually we did get home, and immediately went back out to look for grub. We walked to a mall at the end of this huge diagonal avenue that runs from one end of the city to the other - Diagonal Avenue it was called :P. There was a group of restaurants and each one we approached told convenient closed as we got there. We did get there right at their closing time, but still, we were miffed. Eventually we were herded to a McDonald's since that was the only place still open. I ate nothing but did watch some Spanish music videos.

The next morning, while still operating on Bermuda time, which is 5 hours behind, we woke at 6 and left for Madrid. Ah but, time is precious so I will continue this later ...


Shel said...

there's no reason to carry the weight of europe's history on your shoulders. just enjoy the sights, absorb the experience, and come home in one piece.

europe's as old as any place on earth. the difference is that their influence in west has all about ran it's course.

Obsidian Punk said...

I know you worry about me. It's good for me to experience such negativity. In fact, I open myself to such because it makes me stronger. I will come back as a piece much harder to destroy.