2003-01-22

Walking out of Barcelona

"(11pm Under bridge near Platja Gavamar)I walked out of Barcelona today. My pack is unbearable heavy but every last thing is either in it or on it. My guess is that it weighs close to 50 pounds. I can barely lift it . Once, after sitting on rock to rest, it pulled me over backwards and I practically fell on my head. I walked from the hostel off of Barcelona‘s famous Las Ramblas toward the water and headed south. Following my map, I should have been able to follow the water but it was closed to all but commercial freight traffic and was forced to double back and forth across the Park Montjuic. Finally, after two hours, I reached a lookout on the far side and found a secluded spot for lunch. ‘Skinheads‘ was spray painted on a wall here making me wonder what I was getting myself into. I wasn‘t sure what I would do if I encountered a situation like that. Hopefully, they‘re too smart to be wandering around the coast of Spain in wintertime. I continued down the hill into the industrial shipyards and walked for several hours. Here there are no pubs and people. All is hidden behind large fences and stacks of shipping containers. By early afternoon I was in a constant battle with my pack which insisted on leaning heavily to the left with all of the weight landing on my left shoulder. As dusk started, I was still far from even reaching the airport. The problem was also that there seemed to be no easy way to walk to the coast south of the airport. All of the roads were major highways and not good for walking. Not wanting to be stuck in Barcelona‘s outskirts, I took the L95 bus from the little town I had entered to the first coastal city shown on my map ? Gavamar. From the highway bus stop I walked to the beach and arrived shortly after dark. From what I could see, there were quite a few condominium communities but there was no town, no stores, no restaurants, no hotels. For the most part, all was deserted for winter. The beach was large with Pacific size waves running endlessly north and south. The stars were out and it was warm ? at least in comparison to say Germany. Famished, I made a dinner of an orange, and few granola bars, some trail mix, some bread, chocolate and water. It sounds bad, but when you‘re hungry enough it tastes great. To avoid getting chilled, I put down my foam mat and sleeping bag and climbed inside. I watched the stars, listened to Natalie Merchant, and though about home while watching a stream of aircraft take off from the Barcelona airport ten kilometers to the north. I was asleep quickly and didn‘t have the energy to fret about my safety or where I would go if it rained. If it rained? I was awakened by raindrops although only light. The sky had grown dark and I wondered if I could make it til morning. Looking at my watch, I realized it was only 9:30 in the evening but I was at least more refreshed. This was good because the rain was strengthening. I kicked myself for not bringing a tent but I couldn‘t have carried it anyway. I had gone in the morning to buy rain poncho but the store was closed and I didn‘t want to wait. Fortunately I still had the umbrella from Florence although it was a bit ragged with three of the tines broken so that the edges hung raggedly rather than taughtly. ‘Better than nothing‘ is what I thought while repacking and moving from my beautiful beach spot. I walked about looking for any cover where I could discretely make a place for the night but all was fenced in and secure so I headed down the road. I looked over the bridge I had first crossed from the bus stop and noted it as an option. A half hour later and a bit further south, I decided on another bridge. It is here in the light from the highway lamps, that I am recounting the day‘s events. There‘s something to be learned from sleeping under a bridge. It‘s not to suggest that its comfortable of course. Still, to have experienced it, it‘s a reminder of how durable we are and how much we can do without.
With various philosophical thoughts running through my head, I return to my interrupted slumber.

January 23, 2003 Wake up Call
I slept relatively well. In fact I was in a deep sleep when the light of day had begun. My sleeping bag was of the ‘mummy‘ style and I had it zipped up all the way to the top. I also slept in my clothes and had a cap keeping my head warm. In the middle of my sleep, I was awakened by someone poking me in my side. In a panic I tried to orient myself and to get free from the constraints of my sleeping bag. Finally, getting my head out of my bag and expecting to find some kind of gang, I found only a ten year old boy with a stick. He was on his way to school and saw me under the bridge.
- Mister, are you ok?
-Yes, but I couldn‘t find a place to sleep.
-You can find a hostel in the next town
-How far is it?
-You need to go by bus. Do you have money for the bus?
-Yes, thanks.
-You‘re sure you‘re ok?
-Yes.
And he was off. I sat and watched as the sun slowly came up from behind purple skies and pink clouds and then I caught the bus into the next town.