One morning, on the way to Hoffman to get one of the few good croissants to be found in Spain (really, they’re terrible in general), I was presented with a most wonderful cat perched atop a parked moto. He stared at me. I stared back. He said, “meow” and I couldn’t resist petting him. But, pettery and general appreciation of his cuteness wasn’t the goal of his moto perch as he quickly hopped down and trotted over to the closed entrance to an apartment building. He meowed again, looking at the door with the assumption that all two-legged beings were capable of letting him back inside the apartment from which he “craftily” had escaped. I expressed my condolences which were met with another “meow” steeped with annoyance, and walked on.

Upon my return with a bag of warm, “butter croissants” he was nowhere to be found. I assume he most likely found his way back inside where life was a good deal fatter than in front of the Mercat del Born construction.

One evening, I was walking down to a wine tasting that I was hosting for the Empordà guide we’ve just finished. Along the way, scattered about on the sidewalk were the damp and smoky innards of a small Pakistani-owned convenience store. Hopping about the remains and loss was a swarm comprised of friends and family of the owners. As they picked through what remained I crossed Passeig d’Isabel II on my way down to Barceloneta amidst beach tourists running from less the un-beach weather that had come up in the afternoon.

Upon my return, several hours later, the family that owned the store were alone. The patriarch was sitting on a blackened chair, staring in to the maw of his store of which there are so many like it in Barcelona–the store, not the maw. His wife stood next to him, her pink and gold sari fluttering in the evening breeze and a hand on her husband’s shoulder. Undoubtedly not in the possession of fire insurance, they sat there without tears or cries or anything other than a look that painfully said, “What next?”