Un Paso Detras – A Barcelona Tale

So I recently thought of an interesting little situation that occurred during my stay in Barcelona. I know I haven’t written anything on it yet, so I’ll likely remedy that in the near future. However this incident is one mildly worthy of note.

I went traveling with a fellow “auxiliar” from my (now former) teaching program in Spain. Our first stop was Barcelona, for which I arrived in the beginning throes of a particularly ill-timed illness (it actually began on my birthday, but that’s a gripe for another time). Our hostel was actually quite pleasant, though a decent distance from the city center. It was extremely well-staffed with an assortment of young adults from quite a few different countries, so communication was never an issue, and being travelers themselves, knew exactly how to help at almost any given moment. I realize this almost sounds like a shameless plug for this place, but as I can’t even recall the name, I say the equal parts pandering and total ambivalence to recall level themselves out.

However, upon our ultimate night within the hostel, we had a spat of bad luck. The weather became particularly severe, and being in a rather tall building, quite susceptible to high winds. Oh and how those winds indeed were blowing. There was even a tangible rocking sensation at irregular intervals- just often enough to be unsettling, but not enough to be worrisome. A fine line, you understand. No rain, just stubbornly strong, persistent winds.

Eventually, we start noticing some water. A dampness. Small damp puddles, expanding outside of the door of a neighboring room. “That’s fine,” we thought, “just some water from the roof, anywhere can have little leaks.” But as day turns to night, what comes up must come down, the mere drops of water became a deluge. There soon was an actual puddle. Then we notice that the sink in our bathroom became getting… soggy, changing the ecosystem in our bathroom from appropriately speckled to soggy to downright swampy, with alarming rapidity. Soon there was yet another puddle outside of our own room; the drizzle darkening our doorway. Suddenly our neighbors were being relocated to another floor-their room had become an impromptu swimming pool. We were given the option to relocate as well. Channeling the wisdom of the Atlantians, we decided to attempt to ignore the mess.

An hour later, with more seams splitting and more water cascading in the halls, we were then told we had to, in the most polite manner, “seriously get the hell out right now just go leave this place.” The floor was being evacuated, and some poor worker was being sent up into the ceiling with a spanner and a prayer to try and fix the mess, if at all possible. The owner was conspicuously absent, as well as any sort of maintenance crew. Just some 20-something desk clerk with a spanner.

The tragic part of the tale is that while we were equally happy to stay in the room or get moved, there was also a family being relocated. A nice German family, consisting of one mother, three children, and a niece. The oldest was no more than 11, maybe 12, and they were being awoken past midnight to get shuffled into another room. The youngest, a toddler at best, didn’t make the transition and awakening very well. They were all in their pajamas, apparently moved out too quickly to change into any other clothes, and almost without any blankets at all. We entered the elevator with them, with their bleary, exhausted eyes and tears still staining the cheeks of the youngest two evacuees.

The workers were trying to figure out where to put us without any manner of management present (or seemingly inclined to involve themselves past noncommittal assurances over the telephone) and solve the mystery of the weeping ceilings, so our ragtag group of sleepers and shamblers were told to sit in the lounge until the problem was solved.

It was a nice lounge. I’ll give it that. The only downside to this night was that there was a party. As no other floor was experiencing its own respective Biblical occurrence, business went, as it was, as usual. There was drinking to be had, merriment to be made, shouting to be done. The presence of whimpering children, cowering under rented blankets did nothing to melt their inflamed party passions, bless their hearts, and if nothing else, cranked the music even higher.

This went on for a while, likely not that long of a time, but when you’re tired or bored of sitting in a lounge with nothing to do but make small talk and ignore party-goers, the relativity of time does become a little more apparent to you.

Finally, after some time of confusion and slight misunderstanding (we never saw the poor chap who was sent into the ceiling again), we all were relocated to another floor- one totally normal, totally benign, almost dismissively so- almost if to excuse or politely draw attention from the incontinence of its fellow floor.

My friend and I left early the next morning, not before inspecting the aftermath of the prior night’s excitement. It was still damp, the carpet had that disconcerting “smoosh” or “smesh” or “squish” or “squesh” that is so particular to wet rugs.

We left the storied streets of Barcelona, boarded the plane to our next destination, and immediately ceased to give this night the slightest significance.

…Still sounds better than “there was a leak in a hostel that made us change rooms,” I think.

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