Friday, August 18, 2017

Barcelona: When Terrorism Hits Home

This is not the blogpost I wanted to write about Barcelona.

I wanted to write about the fantastic museum my son and I saw yesterday morning, just off the end of Las Ramblas, (yes, the same street as the terrorist attack)  the Maritime Museum of Barcelona (MMB), which features an amazing exhibit about one of the galleys that was built there, and a full length replica of one of the amazing galleys(you can't go on it, but you can view it from a number of angles.  The exhibit is interactive, has computer games for kids to play (when you build a ship, where does the raw materials come from?  A game about all of the trades needed to build the ship, and an explanation of the process of building a ship)  It also has 6 other exhibits,  as well as a great cafe, a submarine in its courtyard, a historic ship on the harbor, and is housed in a building that has been there for 2000 years.

I wanted to write about the Bjork exhibit that I saw yesterday afternoon, at the Center for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCB), a VR tour into Bjork's mind and discography, where I and 20 other strangers were led into her strange, sometimes overwrought, strangely optimistic world. It features a collaboration with David Attenborough, an explanation of her app about her last album, and a new way of thinking about composing music.  Here in Barcelona, I've worn an Oculus Rift at a museum about 10 times in 4 different exhibits.  Barcelona is state of the art when it comes to museums.

I wanted to write about how much my family and I have been loving our 3 week sojourn in Barcelona, of having the luxury to explore a city that is so full of culture and architecture and food and life that it would take another 9 weeks just to get to know, and we probably wouldn't even see everything then.  About how we were leaving in 2 days, but we are already planning our return.

I wanted to write about all the fabulous adventures that we are having, and how I am so far in the weeds about writing about this stuff.

But as a rock and roll icon once explained, over bass and drums,

"You can't always get what you want."

Instead, I'm writing about how close we got to what was clearly a terrorist attack, and how we had to explain to my almost 9-year-old child why the store closed down and no one was allowed on the streets.

Las Ramblas, the street where it happened, not only runs through the center of Barcelona, it runs through the center of our Barcelona experience   We are living in an apartment about 1/2 mile away, up the same street (Ramblas de Catalunya)  The subway line, our bus line, even one of the supermarkets we shopped in were right there at the Plaza de Catalunya.

The day of the attack my son and I traveled under the street where s we the attack occurred at around 12 noon.   We have walked the stretch the van drove countless times in the 3 weeks that we have been in Barcelona.   Out of the 20 days we've spent in Barcelona, we've touched Plaza de Catalunya and Las Ramblas on about 17 of them.


When the attack occurred, I was in a museum 3 blocks away, and had walked on the street where it happened, trod on the Miro mural that is now marred with victim's blood at around 3 pm that same day.  I went into the Boqueria, just off the strip, to buy a juice and a snack to take to the museum.

My wife and son were out shopping on Las Ramblas, getting treats and gifts for family on the way home.  They had eaten at the McDonalds on Las Ramblas (my son's first McDonalds in 3 weeks, a near miracle!) at around 3:30 pm.

It is not quite a miracle, but incredibly fortunate that we weren't there when it occurred.  We could have been.  If I had left the museum early, I would have probably walked over there to walk home (or if I were feeling really tired, pick up the subway and go 2 stops.  My wife could have easily been on Las Ramblas getting ice cream or candy instead of the Gothic Quarter, two blocks away.

I wasn't with my wife and kid when it happened.  They were in a candy shop when they heard a lot of yelling.  They said there was an accident on Las Ramblas.  They went to an ice cream store nearby, and that's when they closed the shutters and told people to wait.  If you have to be locked in somewhere, an ice cream store is a pretty good place to be.  While they were in the ice cream store, my son cried twice-- once while in the store and once when leaving.  My wife was freaked out also, but stayed strong for him.  My wife was in NY during 9/11, so she knows about terrorism.

My watch kept on buzzing during my VR time (I had joined the museum's wifi) and when I had a moment, I noticed I had some inquiries asking if I was OK.  I checked wifi, texted my wife, and that's when I learned what had happened.  I got ready to leave the museum when I was told we couldn't leave yet-- the museum was closed   I finally got to leave, and gave Plaza de Catalunya a wide berth, ended up walking up a street I hadn't yet walked up.  My wife and son did the same, but on the other side of Plaza de Catalunya, stopping at a friend's house along the way to get a cold drink, take in the news, and check in with family and friends.


When we were all finally home together, (AROUND 8 PM) we had a nice big long family hug and a chat about what was going on.  My son was rightfully scared, and I explained to him that people do bad things to get attention, to wake people up a little, to scare people into not living their lives.  But it's important that we continue on with our lives because if we don't, that means that their bad tactics worked.  And we can't let that happen.

I've said similar to him before when I've had to explain some of the sad state in our world, (9/11, Donald Trump, London Bridge)  but I've never meant it more.

Today, my son asked me if there was another attack. We opened the windows, and it's a bright sunny day.  Many of the museums, and the big festival that we were going to go to has been cancelled to mourn for the dead. We'll spend the day packing, and eating, and walking around this great city.

 It's our last day in Barcelona for a while, but we'll be back.  
Selfie of the 3 of us near the top of Park Guell

PS- while writing this blog post, I asked my son to write his journal of yesterday.  He's cried a couple of times more and doesn't want to write about what happened because he doesn't want to remember, so clearly, this isn't over for him.  I'm okay with him not writing today, but I want him to remember, because I want him to remember what you do when cowards and bullies and bigots and racists and crazy people try to terrorize you.

Stand your ground, continue onwards, and persevere.

Our hearts are with all those families who were less fortunate than us and were affected, injured or killed during this tragedy.

1 comment:

Paula Kiger said...

I just don't even know what to say. Thank you for sharing. I'll be thinking of all of you as you process this. And I, too, would plan to go back. We can't let the terrorists win through fear.