A Shabbat worthy of my visit to Barcelona

I sat outside the Museum of Contemporary Art, watching the horde of skateboarders make use of the concrete slabs of its plaza. There seemed to be more women skateboarders than in the states which was encouraging. My feet throbbed and I kept on delaying my walk to shul each time I checked my watch and the map. A couple of drops of rain fell and a chill came in; today had been the only day I left my jacket at home.

En route I stopped into each store to look over their hoodie selection. Each place was expensive, but I eventually budged on a €25 hoodie having few redeemable qualities besides it not having distressed graphics.

The walk was much longer than the map led me to believe and with each step my feet grew more and more tender. Figuring I was running late, I picked up the pace of gait but had to bounce off the balls of my feet. Huffing, puffing, and walking like a moron, I looked like a frankenstein.

As I drew close, a probable sabra woman crossed me at an intersection and gave me a scowl. I only took note of this because there´s something mildly attractive about people who look like they hate you immediately. A few feet before I reached the door to the synagogue a young woman slipped out.

“Hi.”
“Why are you here?”

Like the week before, a question and answer session started. I laughed when she asked if I could speak Spanish since I was born in Mexico.

“No, it´s New Mexico. It´s a state.”

During this period the woman from the intersection came over and checked to see what the deal with me was. I realized that they were both wearing inconspicuous microphones and ear piecesw–I had been a victim of reconaissance!

There were just two other people in the shul: an old man fiddling with the Torah and David, originally from Mexico. He was nice, but I was out of breath and things to say after a few minutes. Shlomo, from Israel and visiting, came over and talked with us. Then a slew of regulars came in, all men.

When the service started, I realized I was at another Sephardim congregation. Yet again I became lost as to what to do and what was happening around me.

“You go to Ashkenazi services at home, don´t you,” Shlomo asked.

What can I say? I have a bad poker face.

Why are we saying the Mourner´s Kaddish 400 times?
Why are there kids running around?
Why is everyone talking during the service?
Why are there no women?

I thought all of these things in between damning my toes silently.

I looked up and discovered that there were woman, they were on a different floor. Intense.

Midway through the service I went into the bathroom to see if my feet were bleeding or had exploded. Shockingly–and almost disappointingly–they looked completely fine. “Oh toes!, why do you trick me so?!?!”

The kiddush consisted of the hitherto foreign combination of potato chips, nuts, raisins, and liters of Coca-Cola and Sprite. I took a little sampling to appease my stomach, but then slipped out. No one really seemed interested in talking to the weird foreigner with a grimace on his face and I had to get a start on my long walk home, and so I bid adios to the Jews of Barcelona.


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