Several days ago, I found myself walking down Passeig Circumval·lació, blissfully happy to have returned a rental car and to be a pedestrian yet again. It was a quiet evening in Barcelona. A wintry sea breeze tossed about the trees and made the yellow mercury light dance in the early evening.
There, sitting on the step of some back door to the Barcelona Zoo was a fellow who looked like he’d tossed around by one too many sea breezes. Seemingly homeless in appearance, he was rabidly fixated on a small battery powered radio the likes of which I didn’t think had been produced in the last decade. But from this radio, this little portal to a greater world for him, issued the telltale commentary on some football game. I can only assume it was Barça vs. Someone-Less-Than-Barça (perhaps Real Madrid) because as I neared home, it was a similar scene.
While not sitting on a stoop with an aroma of lion shit floating in the air like the homeless radio listener, others were packed in to cafés along Passeig Picasso, all eyes on the large flatscreens propped up in windows for the evening. No one was being served as the waitstaff were watching the TV as well and praying that the breeze wouldn’t knock it over lest they miss the almighty “Goal!”
But such is how it is in Spain when the game is on. Time stands still. In the United States, not even the Super Bowl can cause the nation to freeze in this manner–perhaps only something on the scale of 9/11 gets near it, but here, this happens often and it’s one of the few times, you taste true conviction and devotion in the air.