Monday, 29 August 2011

What the locals say

What do the locals do to keep cool in this heat? Some stay in their apartments in their underclothes and emerge occasionally to lean on the balcony and look down onto the street. Many go to the beach. There are several stretches of beach heading north along the city's coast. Yesterday I left home early and was at the Marina end of Barceloneta beach by 9am. It's one of the nicest times to be there as it's practically deserted, save a few leathery abuelos out for a swim and some gentle stretching. I'd been there for about an hour when two regulars arrived and settled down a few feet away from me. They were both women in their late 60s and they seemed to know lots of other people on the beach. They talked constantly, to each other and to the people around them. I tried to concentrate on the book I was reading but eventually closed it and rolled over. The women had started to talk (very loudly) about immigration and their opinions about some of the newcomers in their neighbourhood. The Chinese, Indians and Pakistanis, they agreed, were hardworking ,decent people. Various (flimsy) anecdotes to support this opinion were shared. They also had nice things to say about some Venezuelans living on their block. Peruvians, however, and Africans, oh, they were totally different. I'd rather not repeat what the women said, but it was not complimentary. Some of what was said did not surprise me, given the women’s generation and the fact that there is still a lot of suspicion and ignorance around immigrants here, despite optimistic campaigns by local government to encourage harmonious living. Time will tell how Barcelona's increasingly diverse population gels together, or not.

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