Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ouch! I Experience Barcelona Nightlife in Ways I Never Expected...

Welcome back...back to the time where I'd update more than once every 3-4 weeks. I'm a bit dissappointed in myself that I haven't been updating much lately...just chalk it up to half the time being a bit lazy and the other half being too busy..but either way there's no excuse for the delay. So, I'm sorry. Unless some of you were letting out a sigh of relief that you don't have to suffer through my crazy ramblings just to find out what's going on in Barcelona. So, I guess I'm sorry you folks too...'cuase I'm back.
I hate to come back on an ugly note (literally and figuratively as you'll find out), but I feel like it's necessary to tell everyone this story, because I know there's some people at home who only know some of it or half of it or none of it all. It was quite a horrible occurrence, quite possibly the worst I've experienced, but I made it out alive and I'm far enough removed from it that I can blog about it at this point. For the first few days I was pretty down and out about what had happened, but I turned that frown upside down and try to look positively at the rest of my trip. I didn't want an already awful experience to ruin the rest of my time here in Barcelona.
So, this was Friday night, February 6 I believe. It started out like any normal Friday night for me in Barcelona. I took the Metro to the Residencia Del Mar, where a few of my friends live and many others congregate to do a little pre-gaming and hang out. 1.50E for a litre of beer and 1.09E for a litre of Sangria sure beats going to a bar and paying 3.50-4.50 so it works out nicely...good times and monies saved. But anyway, we hung out there for a bit and then stopped in at our favorite or most regular spot (I don't want to speak for everyone when I say favorite), Travel Bar Port, a mere 10 minutes walk from the Residencia. So we do the norm, hang out, get a few pints, shoot the breeze, all is well. At around 2:30 or 3 in the AM, word is going around that people want to hit up the cloob (Spanish for club, nightclub, discotecque, what have you).
I almost went...bad decision in retrospect...but I decided to do the more responsible thing and head home, because we had a program day trip the next day. I ended up missing this trip, as you will learn, which was basically an all day food fiesta. I missed 5 or 6 courses of legit and delicious Catalunya (the region the Barcelona is in) food and a ton of wine. I've heard its about 50E per person too so you can imagine how much/how awesome the food is. But anyways, I decide to head home because the day was going to be long and start early so I wanted to get some sleep...and boyyyyyyyy did I get some sleep.
So, on Fridays the Metro is only open until 2AM, so I was forced to take the NitBus home to avoid the large cab fare. I almost did take a cab because I was flying solo, but I made the choice (another regretful one) to take a stroll up La Rambla, a long, wide street that is a tourist hotspot by day with shops, restaurants, museums, a market, etc. and apparently a hotbed for shameless criminals at night. Unfortunately, yours truly ran into one of those shameless criminal...except not really because he snuck up on me like a little Sally...and then proceeded to grab me by my coat and slam me down on the pavement. This is really the last thing I remember until two hours or so later, but I can only assume that my forehead/right eye smacked the pavement and I was immediately knocked out. This immediate knock out turned into +/- 2 hours lying unconscious on the sidewalk of La Rambla and I'm pretty sure no one gave a care about me...although I'm sure a few other people rooted through my pockets to find they had already been picked clean by my attacker.
It is a bit scary, but this part doesn't anger me so much. I've been thinking, and I feel like if I was someone face down on the sidewalk of La Rambla I'd mumble something like..."freaking drunk" and keep walking, although I may change my tune after this. So anyway, at some point I must have woken up, although I don't really remember much the actual waking up. The first thing I remember is stumbling (literally) upon Plaza Catalunya, which is more or less the Times Square of Barcelona...except more literally a square. So at this point I was still pretty hazy from the blow to the face, and all I can remember is feeling really overwhelmed by everything, and it seemed like the whole plaza was kinda spinning around me...looking back it kinda reminds me of the Times Square scene from Vanilla Sky, but in a more upsetting way I guess. But either way, I made it there and was still really hazy.
I had no concept of time..my cell phone was gone..but my first instinct was to go to the Metro and try to find a way in..although I had no money..and my MetroCard was long gone with my wallet. I made it down there and was wandering around trying to figure out a way in when a group of kids who seemed a bit older than me happened upon me and I'm sure were a bit horrified by my appearance..I can only assume I was pretty bloody and the right side of my face was quite swollen. Despite my pleadings to just give me a Metro swipe, they thought I should go to a hospital and they took me to the office inside the Metro station. From there I got picked up to go to the hospital, but I passed out almost immediately on the way. What this meant was...I arrived, an American, at the Spanish hospital, unconscious and without any form of ID whatsoever. To make it worse, I ended up being out until about 2pm the next day and I just remember waking up with an IV in my arm. I'm not even sure what they did to/with me, but I assume not much because I didn't get any stitches or anything like that.
They kinda rushed me out of the bed a half hour later, and I began the awful process of trying to contact my senora who was not listed and find a way home without any money for a cab or a MetroCard. Well, let me tell you...if you think hospitals are depressing in general, you do not want to be stranded for 2 hours in a foreign hospital after being attacked/robbed without knowing how you're going to get home. But it was OK, because a magic unicorn showed up...and some butterflies and leprechauns and teddy bears and rainbows..and I rode him home while eating a giant lollipop. Well, not really, but I thought after that awfully depressing hospital description I should try to pick everyone's spirits back up. What actually happened is after a while the nurse got tired of me asking her to look up other numbers and other names for my Senora because I thought maybe I was spelling it wrong..she just gave a single-ride Metro card to get home.
So that is more or less the end of my sad, sad story. When I got home (about 5 PM the next day, Saturday) my senora was a wreck, as you can imagine. She called the program at some point during the day to see if I was on that trip and she just missed me coming in and leaving, but no one there had any idea where I was either. Apparently there was quite a phone chain going on, but no one really knew what had happened, so I caused quite a stir I'm told. Oops.
Well, I've learned that I should never walk alone up La Rambla alone in the middle of the noche. Stupid! I had heard this before, but I think living in the Bronx and coming home myself some nights sort of desensitized me to the reality of theft and violence in big cities. I was also told that mostly in Barcelona there's theft but no violent crime...boy, was my program wrong. Alot of people are saying, though, with the economy the way it is every country is feeling from the bottom-up, and people are getting more and more desperate. Desperate enough to bash someone's face against the pavement (this is not conduct becoming of a police officer...haha old Mock Trial joke just leave it be..I hope at least 1 person gets this though) in order to rob them.
So I ended up losing about 180E or so, with the amount of cash I had and this 3 Month Unlimited MetroCard that cost me a pretty 112E as well as my driver's license, student ID from here, and other assorted things that go in wallets. There's also a good chance I could get some or most of it back with Theft Insurance..apparently that exists.
But all in all, I made out sort of lucky (although the pictures I'm about to post...oh yes I'm forcing you to look at my ugly right eye...may make you think otherwise). For one, I didn't die. I survived, so I can't take that for granted. Also, no damaged/chipped teeth, no concussion, no stitches, just a big ole swollen black eye. I'm also kinda glad he came up from behind me and took me out all in one fell swoop...if I had seen him or had still been conscious after the first hit I probably would have fought back...and most of these dudes carry knives..sooooooooooooo yeah. Well done, me on minimizing the amount of damage.
But I guess the part you've been waiting for or dreading or both is the pictures...I wish I had taken them the day of but the only think I was thinking was...1 not really that straight and 2 give me something to eat god damnit and 3 i want to murder that goddamn (insert bad word here) 4 let me talk to everyone and let them know im alive and sleep forever. But these pics are from the next day I believe. Added bonus...they're sweet MySpace mirror pictures. I am no longer a virgin to this phenomenon. Oh, the things Barcelona does to me.

The next day...the bad bruising began the next day..you can almost see it starting.

This is how I kept the ice pack on my head...by tying a big pillow case around my head like a bandanna. Pretty badass, right? I don't know if any gangs wear orange but if so, I'd definitely be running the ish on that block.

One week later...getting better. The Little Eye-ngine that Could, if you will? Haha..awful.

Well, there you have it. This will hopefully be the only post I'll have to make on a negative note. Wish me luck with the rest of my trip, and I've learned my lesson so I'll stay safe. AKA I'm trying to find a way to register my 9MM in Spain. It's harder than you'd think. Ever since Charlton Heston died, the NRA's foreign influence has really been lacking. Oh well, there are other ways.

But like I said before, expect more posts to come, I promise to stay up on it. I want to. Although these aren't all stories I should tell my grandkids, I might want to have them around when the 'ole memory starts going...you know, to remember the glory days. When I was getting accosted by prostitutes and violently robbed..those kinda days. I think that's what Bruce was really singing about.

Ah, to be young.

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