I´ve really begun to like our neighborhood. Far from Barcelona´s bustling city centre, Les Corts is lively but tranquil, and our little street, Jaume Roig, has a personality all its own.
The back of our apartment overlooks a strange courtyard strung across with laundry lines and the remains of fallen clothespins. The buildings are a bizarre mixture of tin roofing, brick, stone, and concrete, with an ancient-looking staircase that leads to an empty yard overhung by a large but dry and sad-looking palm tree. I never see anyone out there, yet the clothes on the lines change every so often, my only sign that there is life in this strange apartment of ours.
Across from our apartment is a tiny bodega, really more of a mini mart than anything. It´s owned by an older couple who spend their time wandering around their store or chatting with their customers, many of whom visit every day. As I open my windows in the morning to let in the early light, the woman will glance up toward my balcony and wave her hellos. I will wave back.
Next to the bodega is a cafe and restaurant which only seems to be open when I don´t have time to visit. Nevertheless, every day I wake up to the sounds of dishes clinking, and every day I ty to decipher the elegant daily menus posted in Catalan outside the door.
Next to the cafe is the elusive Bola de Oro pasteleria (bakery). It had been closed for vacation since I arrived, but reopened a few days ago with Chocolat-esque window displays. Their chocolate croissants are well worth leaving the house a few minutes early for.
There is also Paul, who works in the repair shop next to the bodega. Rachel and I found him preening, shirtless, outside the shop one night in an attempt to impress us, having seen us in our room laughing. We found him a little ridiculous, but he is nice enough and greets us whenever we see him, even when he scolds me for mopping the balcony.
Around the corner is the locutorio which has been out saving grace since we arrived. It´s a small hot place with a few phone booths and a few computers and a Pakistani-French owner who seems to always be there. We decided we should take him out one night, since he sometimes gives us discounts and we feel bad that he spends his entire life in that tiny place.
Though I´ve been told that our neighborhood is seething with prostitutes, I haven´t seen any of it. Generally it´s filled with the sounds of cars, motos, and people passing by. It took me forever to get used to the noises, and I am still awoken every morning by the shop windows being rolled up and the delivery trucks bringing their goods. There are dogs that bark and animals that howl and a strange assortment of music – I´ve heard everything from Coldplay to Britney Spears to Barry Manilow to tradition Gallega music played right outside my window. It´s a strange place with strange sounds, but for now at least, it´s my home.