Wednesday, September 29, 2010

La Huelga (The Strike)

It's no secret that the Spanish economy is in a quite deplorable state. A 20% unemployment rate in the country, with some regions experiencing even more severe economic downturn has left the people uneasy, and displeased with the current Spanish government. Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodiguez Zapatero is a man who is very much despised by a growing number of Spanish citizens.
The first strike I saw in Spain was two weeks ago, but seemed relatively unorganized, and passed by without much notice. The same cannot be said for the strike that took place, and is still taking place today. The CCOO, or Confederacion Sindical de comisiones obreras is organizing the strike, and has demanded, that all businesses close today to show their discontent with the Spanish government.
I woke up around 11 (school's closed due to the strike) and went about my usual routine, making breakfast and sitting around enjoying the day off.
A commotion began to stir outside, and as I stepped onto my balcony to see, the conflict between the protesters and those not observing the strike was coming to a head right before my eyes.
A Korean family runs a bar and restaurant just across the street from me, and opened their doors as usual this morning. As the group of some 200 plus protesters gathered around their business, chanting and demanding they close, the tension began to rise, and the elderly couple who run bar were visibly flustered. Sadly, they were even more flustered when the crowd began to vandalize their place of business. Chairs were thrown through the windows, and outdoor furniture was strew about into the street.As police stepped in to prevent the conflict from escalating further, and the protesters moved on having apparently accomplished whatever is was they were trying to, the restaurant closed its doors. The elderly woman stood crying,
This scene doesn't seem cohesive with the message of the strike, and the message of resistance by way of peaceful protest CCOO puts out. I was thinking about going out today to watch more of the protest, but have decided firmly that in a small show of defense for the family restaurant, I won't support the protest in any way.
Groups of rowdy, violent men and women who are willing to harm simple, working people like themselves, are more of a hindrance than an aid to resolution in any sort of conflict.
The protest is still escalating, thankfully though, not anywhere near my neighborhood. Sirens and chanting are in the air, and Spain is in a sense paralyzed today. The question remains as to whether or not any good will come of it.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

La Merce

Another few weeks of my study abroad experience have slipped by. The time is going by incredibly fast, and I now sit here a bit begrudginly, forcing myself to take a (probably much need) break from this weekend's festivities in Barcelona. The festival of "La Merce," Barcelona's most historic and arguably most fun, has descended upon the city. The city is afire with street performers, concerts, and both traditional and modern celebration. Barcelona is one big party this weekend, and there are masses of tourists who have descended upon the city to catch a glimpse of the revelry.
I've seen some wild sites, like the Castiellers or "human towers," which soar to over six stories tall as they tremble and quake waiting for the pint sized top of the structure to shimmy up the backs of their fellow builders, for just long enough to salute the crowd, and slide right back down the tower.
The opening ceremonies, along with most of the other festivities, include huge, dancing dancing kings, queens, and other plaster characters. Then for some reason people dressed as dragons and devils literally run through the streets blowing fire at the crowd. Children were screaming and there was general panic in the crowd, mixed with merry absurdity. The Spanish are thrill seekers to say the least.
I also went to a Goldfrapp concert last night (free-the best part) and a wild light show in a park that was a techno-lover's dream.
La Merce is still going strong, tonight involves people being lit on fire and running through the streets. We'll see how that goes.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The First Week

The first week in Barcelona has gone by so fast it seems like I haven't really had any time to think about it. Myself and the rest of my fellow Arcadia student arrived lat Monday to beautiful Barcelona and haven't looked back since. We've experienced the food, the architecture (Gaudi mostly), the people, and the night life, and it's all more then I could have imagined. Barcelona seems to have a pulse like nowhere I've ever been. The parties are late, and the clothes are tight. That's europe for you. I love it here, and really like my living situation as well. My little room mate Xavi is only 18 and has never lived on his own before. We call him the freshman. He's from Mallorca, and island off of Spain. My other room mate is from New Orleans and is named Jen. She goes to Loyola. I was looking forward to cooking, but many friends live close by, and so I've been to someone else's apartment eveyr night this week for dinner. Classes seem rigorous but on the all and pretty enjoyable. Here are some views from where we've been, including Parc Guell and the Sagrada Familia.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Adios Amigos

It's my last couple of days here in the You Knighted States, and I'm happy to report that I had the chance to go up to St. Mike's this past weekend to say goodbye to my favorite people up there. It was bittersweet for sure. Some of those who will be studying abroad in the Spring won't grace my presence again until the fall of our senior (what?) year, but it's a very exciting time for a lot of us. Packing and all that is well underway, and I'm leaving for Spain on Sunday. It's all happening pretty quick here.
I'll be sure to update within the first couple days of my trip.