La Môme

Last night we went to the movies to see La Môme, which I think was translated to La Vie en Rose – The Apassionate Life of Edith Piaf in North America. It’s one of those movies that leaves you wanting to clap at the end while you stare at the credits on the screen going “wow!”. I have to go out now and will leave the comments for later, but I’ll leave you with the trailer…

Marion Cotillard does a magnificent job as Edith Piaf. I’ll never forget the scene when an older Edith collapses on stage and wants to go back on stage. Her manager says there’s no way, it would be suicide. She begs him saying “Je dois chanter, je dois chanter… j’ai pas de choix!” (I have to sing, I have to sing… I don’t have a choice!). Very powerful…


Time to change the blog…

I was a bit naive when I first created this blog. Since the main purpose of the blog was to chronicle our year in Barcelona and keep in touch with friends and family, I named it Our Great European Adventure. Not very creative, I know, but then, who said I was good with titles. The idea was that the blog would exist only as long as we were in Europe, I didn’t really think it would continue after we got back to Canada. But as any person who blogs knows, blogs are a bit organic and grow and change with time. I became more involved, started reading other blogs, met a lot of amazing people in the blogosphere, reconnected with a lot of my compatriots, and now I can’t think of not having a blog. I also didn’t want to change the address since that is a bit annoying…

So, since as of wednesday we’ll no longer be in Europe, Our Great European Adventure has been renamed building bridges. Living in Canada had already opened my eyes to the world and made me realize how small it actually is but living in Barcelona really brought that to an entirely new level. We leave Barcelona after one year having made very good friends from all over the world and with many plans to visit them and to have them come and visit us in Canada. We introduced people to Canadian and Brazilian customs and all that made me see that there isn’t anything as gratifying as building bridges between peoples and cultures. So this blog will now continue as a place where I will talk a bit about the world around me as well as a place to introduce our friends abroad to life in Toronto, the meeting place of the world.

Welcome to building bridges.

More goodbyes…

Today was my last day at the archives… After stopping at the post office to mail yet another box to Canada and then at the bank to close my account, I finally got to the archives at about 10 AM. I worked until about 1:30 pm when I just sort of hung out with Quino, Virginia, Paco, Felix, David, Jessica, all the wonderful people I’ve met in the year I’ve spent here. Some are archivists, others are security personnel.

I remember the first day I got to the archives. I felt overwhelmed. I didn’t know the procedure and I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted to order. After one year, I’ve become more or less like a fellow employee. I’ll miss the random chats I used to have with all the wonderful people I’ve met there… The long chats about Catalan history and culture with Quino, about the neighbourhoods of Barcelona with Virginia, politics with Felix, and of course, about football in general and Barça in particular with the security guards (with whom I bonded during the world cup).

Hasta pronto amigos!!

Quino, Virigina & I:

Quino, Virginia, and I

In the reading room:

Felix making me chocolate flowers:


After having lunch with Naomi at Wushu’s (our last meal there for the next while, sniff), I went out to meet a fellow blogger here in Barcelona. Fernanda is Brazilian, married with a Spaniard and lives here in Barcelona. She’s trying to conciliate a tough MA in Comparative Literature with family life and raising a child. So far she’s been VERY successful and I’m certain she’ll continue to be so. Her little girl is adorable – only 4 years’ old and already able to take a picture of us:

© a cometarista

We had a great time meeting for the first time in person after several exchanges through the web, visiting each other’s blogs. As a parting gift, she bought me a book. Fernanda, MUITO obrigada, viu? E parabéns pela filhota…


Argh! it seems like the more we pack, the more there is to be packed! When we moved from our apartment on Rosselló to Jacquie and Sebastian’s house we sent three boxes to Canada. We thought we could fit everything else in our suitcases but guess what? We sent two boxes this morning and have two more boxes to send tomorrow and I’m considering getting one last box to put the remaining photocopies and books I have. Oh well, one gotta do what one gotta do…

Only 5 more days!!!! eeeeeeeek!!!!!!

Kinda scary, actually

I first created this blog, about 13 months ago, mainly to keep in touch with family and friends, and to post pictures and stories of our year in Barcelona. I had a choice or password-protecting the blog but decided not to. There would always be a friend or family member who lost the passport and couldn’t get in and I would have to administer the blog more closely to make sure everybody I know had the access code. Since I didn’t have anything to hide, I decided to leave it open. For the most part everything has worked fine. WordPress does a fine job in filtering spam and I’ve got to meet some amazing people in the blogosphere. Since the blog doesn’t attract that many people – a maximum of 213 per day so far – I never thought it would attract the attention of the media. Well, now I have to think again. Remember this post? Well, these guys read it too:

Radio canada banner

Radio Canada Text

Wow… freaky really… five people have visited the blog from that news report page. If you are one of them, welcome to this very random, idiosyncratic blog!

Saying goodbye to amazing friends

Our year in Barcelona was truly amazing. We traveled around, visited many places I have studied, I collected thousands of documents for my thesis, my cooking has greatly improved, my Spanish improved dramatically and I now understand Catalan well. Barcelona is an incredible city, so creative and alive that kept us buzzed with ideas all the time. Yet, the most important thing we got out of our year here was the number of incredible friends we have made. We feel we have made friendships that will last our lifetime… It was really a life-changing experience for us. The people I have met here really broadened my horizons, made me think in new ways, gave me so much that I’ll never be able to repay them.

Today we had a lunch party with about 15 of our closest friends here. They hailed from all parts.

From Catalunya: Pau & Mireia, Eli & her boyfriend; Mexico: Jesús, Citlali; Uruguay: Andres (who taught me to make mate! more on that later…); Germany: Sebastian, Sylvie; India: Jacquie; Canada: Joy; Australia: Zephyr; Chile: Francisca; Andalusia (Spain): Carmen; Brasil: Carmem

I was very proud of all the food we made. For starters Sebastian made a cured Salmon filet, and I prepared some fresh veggies with dip. Lunch consisted of Chicken Marbella (a recipe I got from a professor in Canada),  Basmati rice,  Gratin de Chou-Fleur, Fennel salad with red peppers & green onions, Spinach salad with pinenuts and honey-balsamic dressing.  Desserts were completely Catalan: Flam de Mató, Mel i Mató (both from Granja Viader, the oldest dairy house in Barcelona and home of the best mató in town), Musik (dried nuts), all served with heaps of dessert wines (Muscatel in a porrón, icewine, orange wine…). Pau has made Alan an honorary Catalan citizen for his expertise with the porrón and will be sending him a Catalan ID card soon ;)

In usual fashion, we sat down to eat at around 3 pm and the first ones left at 8:45 pm while the rest trickled our around 11:30 pm.  We had an amazing time with everyone and will hold each and everyone of them in our hearts when we leave…

[note: tomorrow I’ll post pictures here] 

Chicos, espero veros todos en Canada un dia!!! Volveremos a Barcelona pronto!!

Messi: A star is born!

I couldn´t let this pass without saying something about it. Yesterday Barça beat Getafe 5 x 2 in a semifinal match for the Copa del Rey. So far so good… not that surprising to see Barça beat Getafe. Bu the match went into football (soccer) hall of fame. Why? Because of this brilliant goal by Leo Messi, a 19 years-old Argentinian prodigy. The goal is almost exactly the same as the one scored by Diego Maradona in a match between Argentina and England, considered one of the best in the history of the sport.

Update: the match was shown on pay-per-view and the company that holds the rights have been removing the videos from youtube… I’ll try to find one that’s more permanent… OK, found a new one. The music is annoying but it is a good one because it shows Maradona’s goal so you can compare. 

It looks easy but what Messi did is extremely difficult; some would say even impossible. Former Spanish football player Pep Guardiola has said that Messi is the only player he’s ever seen who can run faster with a ball than without one.

Unfortunately, Bernd Schuster, Getafe’s coach, has shown himself to be a sore loser and has shown a great deal of lack of sportsmanship when he said his players showed too much fair play and that they should have brought Messi down before he got that far. His words (in Spanish): Quizá nuestro error fue no parar antes la jugada. Fue un pequeño error. Hay que frenarlos antes. Hemos sido demasiado nobles. No hemos dado ni una sola patada. Si frenas al jugador ¿que pasa? Una amarilla y basta.

People like that make me mad! That’s why we have teams like Italy winning the world cup…

25th Anniversary of the Charter

On April, 17th 1982 Canada repatriated its Constitution and issued a Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Charter guarantees the right to vote, the right to life, liberty and security, and the right to be free from discrimination. It also enshrines many important democratic freedoms, including freedom of conscience, expression and association, and freedom of the press.

As many have said in the celebrations marking the anniversary of the charter, it is difficult to imagine Canada today without the Charter of Rights ad Freedoms. It has been used by many Canadians to fight injustice and lead to many social changes such as equal rights to same-sex couples and the end of Abortion law.

Before acquiring Canadian citizenship I had to learn about the rights and freedoms enshrined on the Charter. I particularly liked learning that among my responsibilities as a Canadians are the need to help others in my community, and the obligation of fighting injustice and discrimination. I was given a copy of the Charter with my Canadian citizen certificate during my citizenship ceremony and I used to have it hanging in my carrell at the library. It speaks of the core Canadian values of inclusiveness, equality, and justice, values that I have learned to cherish as my own.

It’s a shame Prime Minister Stephen Harper didn’t join on the celebrations today. I really wish we could have another election soon to get rid of him… The man really unnerves me!

Click here to read the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom in many different languages…

We need more people like Jaume

Yesterday I read on the newspaper here the story of Jaume Sanllorente, a Catalan guy from Barcelona who worked as a journalist for a financial magazine. One day he walked into a travel agency wanting to book a vacation trip somewhere, he was open to suggestions. The travel agents suggested India. What looked like a vacation trip, changed his life and that of many others forever. In India, Jaume was shocked to the see the situation of the hundreds of thousands of children who lived in the streets, abandoned by their families. Unable to take care of them because of poverty, many families abandoned their children or worse still amputated a leg or an arm off the child so he/she can beg for a living. Many sold them to brothels. Local mafias took children and amputated a limb or two to exploit them as beggars or took girls to local brothels. During his trip Jaume visited an orphanage in Bombay. The place was falling apart and in danger of closing leaving all the children on the streets. Jaume noticed a black jeep parked in front; they were men from a local mafia waiting to get the kids.

Jaume went back to Barcelona, got together all his savings, sold everything he had, borrowed from friends and family, collected favours, went back to Indian and bought the orphanage. He opened an NGO called Sonrisas de Bombay to collect money to finance both the orphanage and a school for abandoned children. The children at the orphanage are placed either with local families or bungalows in the care of a couple of tutors so they can grow in a family atmosphere.

In the interview Jaume says he couldn’t be happier with choice in life. He says he’ll never live Bombay and will care for the children till the day he dies. Jaume has received many death threats from the local mafias but says he’s not worried. If they kill him, he says, no pasa nada, he’s set everything up that the orphanage will be able to continue without him.

We need more people like him in the world.