“Heat, humidity, palm trees, sea, “Despasito” everywhere, and what does Barcelona have more than my hometown?” was my first thought as I landed on a hot June day in the Catalan capital.
It is my first time in Spain, but the country seems very familiar to me, like home. Perhaps this is the feeling that most European coastal countries give me. Spanish is not a foreign language for us Albanians of my generation who grew up with Spanish and Latin soap operas. The food is similar to Mediterranean cuisine, the architecture is similar to the Italian one of the old part of my hometown. I didn’t suffer any cultural shock.
Wait! Are you a human? Please confirm you are not a Robot
As for the apartment to rent, we chose one right on the famous street La Rambla. I share it with two Bosnian women, one from Bosnia and the other from North Macedonia. The first one originally from Srebrenica who lives in Poland and works at the immigration office, the other from Sarajevo but lives in Skopje and works for the refugees. Tough women. They both have seen war with their own eyes and are not afraid of anything. They also are not easily surprised. While I get excited as a child when I see the sea from afar, when I taste the black rice La Paella or as I run my hands over silk fabrics imported from Morocco, my homies continue their deep discussions of great importance. Nothing more than simple talks about some plan to save the world. While the surreal events that pass before our eyes, are ignored by both of them, as if they were ordinary episodes of such trips.
The dawn floats into our apartment carrying the scent of iodine, just as all dawns in coastal cities have the ability to float. In a state of hypnagogia, I gaze across the balcony at the silence of a city that wakes up late. The narrow alleys between the buildings remind me a lot of the alleys of Istanbul, especially those in Taksim and Beyoglu.
On one of the long summer nights, after returning from the seaside walk, two local women with fast martial arts moves manage to unzip my backpack in a split of second to take my wallet and laptop. My two bodyguards, aka my Bosnian homies, skillfully managed to prevent the possible theft while it took me a while to understand what was happening.
Wait! Are you a human? Please confirm you are not a Robot
I decided to be independent and become my own safe guard by taking a walk alone through the streets of Barcelona. I decided to visit a museum. There is a mother with her little daughter, maybe two or three years old at the most, who has not yet mastered the art of speaking but babyishly stammers a few words that are barely understood. Mother with fiery hair and an Andalusian dress with motifs of bug lady, like The Witch of Portobello. I write down on my app “generate image: Spanish woman in Barcelona” and it showed me exactly the same more-radish-rather-than-ginger women, with a similar dress. Wait! Is she a human, or a robot from my app?
She explains to her daughter the story behind what they see. First time I see a mother-cicero. “Surely it must be a local profession, and of course she is a human, not a robot“ I think. Tiptoeing, like a private detective, I started following the duo mother and daughter. I was so attracted to this natural landscape of this wonder called motherhood rather than being interested in the museum itself. A miracle that holds in itself art, history, literature, compassion, patience, and above all the passion to convey this fascinating experience to her daughter. Even though she was completely convinced that her daughter neither understood nor would remember a thing. But surely the footprint of this day, the memory of this visit would remain marked in her mind and soul. And I, who could perhaps understand from the mother-cicerone’s explanations a little more than the girl in the baby stroller, I again paid attention more eagerly to what she had to say. The information she shared could be very simple and easily found with a quick internet search, or I could ask the intelligent guy who knows almost everything. It will ask me first: Hi! How can I help you?. I would have answered: Please, tell me everything you know about this museum. I’m a tourist, so forget about the boring part, and give me the essence and the most fun part of what I need to know.. It will answer again: Sure, I am very happy to provide you with this information…and bump to me a bunch of historic information like explaining it to a teen not to the adult I am. My bad! I asked in the wrong way.
Instead, there was something wonderful about this mother and her explanation that was amazing: explained with passion and love. The love to raise the girl with art and history, the impatience to talk to her about the world around her, the burning desire to impart knowledge, but maybe even just talking to her in a conversation that will shape her thinking, and her soul in the future.
I imagine mother-cicero as she grew up in two parallel worlds: in one, her mother once brought her to a similar exhibition when she was still in a baby stroller. The great desire to pass on to her daughter this extraordinary experience that has left a deep mark on her memory, even though she does not even remember which museum or which part of history she explained to her, has motivated this mother to take her daughter for such a walk today. In the other, her mother never gave her such an experience, or maybe she never had a mother at all, and the lack of such memories in her childhood prompts this mother today to give her daughter what she herself could not get.
While I, apart from the architecture, the urban order, the pineapple-shaped palm trees, above all I remain amazed by the women of Barcelona, with martial art skills, and with the mastery of motherhood like nowhere else in the world. Wait! Are they human or robots? I verify by clicking on this box that they are more than humans. They are super humans!