Day 23: Daily Life in Barceloneta

by Eli Hodapp

I realized a few days ago that I really don’t feel like much of a tourist in Barceloneta anymore. I’ve established these really awesome daily routines here, and in the process, I’ve learned the ebb and flow of life in this little microcosm of Spain. I remember how inconvenient the seemingly strange schedule that everyone keeps here used to seem when I first arrived, and now, it’s all just normal.

Most days I’ll wake up, roll around in bed a bit, then head down to the Baluard bakery to buy whatever pastry feels the most appropriate, which usually is some variation on a croissant. Recently I’ve discovered that their brownies could be best described as “life changing,” but that seems a little too decadent for breakfast. The first time I went there, I awkwardly ordered via pointing and a mixture of broken Spanish and English. Now, the people who work there know me, and joke around with me when I come in.

After that, I’ll wander around for a bit, either in Barceloneta or further out in the city depending on the weather and how adventurous I’m feeling. On the way back, I stop at the same incredible produce stand. Similarly, the first time I went there I could barely manage the transaction if they didn’t total everything up on the cash register first. These days, they recommend what I should buy based on what they just got in or is particularly good.

The drawback of being a “regular” at places around here is that everyone knows I’m American, which has made people really interested in just speaking English to me instead of putting up with my Spanish. The guy at the produce shop is really funny about it, as he has aspirations to go to USA some day, and always wants to pick my brain about where to go, what to see, what the job market is like, what people are like, everything.

The crazy revelation that has come from all this is that I always sort of just saw myself as an American abroad, just doing whatever I can to not annoy people being foreign and not speaking the language so well. But, more than a few people that I’ve met around Barceloneta genuinely seem interested in dealing specifically with Eli the American, and not Eli the tourist who is just trying to fit in. I didn’t expect that.

Another thing that’s really interesting living on such a large open Plaza is when you’re sitting on the terrace you can watch all the different phases everything goes through. It really reminds me of The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask because so many people seem to have such similar routines each day that you start to notice. Maybe there’s someone watching me on an opposing rooftop terrace thinking to themselves, “Oh, there’s that American going to get his croissant again.”

Anyway, I really like how ultra-local everything has started to feel here. I’ve never lived in a place like this before, and I think I’m really going to miss it. Thankfully, as of today I’ve got exactly three weeks left of it before I fly home, so, I’ll be making the most of it.