I tried to always go to the beach. It was so convenient. Hop on the yellow train and you’re practically there. I love to tan, and the beach was free. But with my luck, the spring I was there was one of the rainiest that Barcelona had had in a long time. My one professor really stressed this fact a lot in class:
“I feel bad that it is always cloudy and rainy,” she would say. “Usually its always 80 degrees, with no cloud in the sky.”
Whenever it was nice out, I’d pack my things and make as much a day at the beach as I could. I’d lay out my towel somewhere closer to the side of the W hotel. I would relax and sometimes take a nap. Except, about every five minutes someone would be tapping my legs asking me to buy stuff.
Everyone had something to sell and they wouldn’t leave you alone. The massages were the worst. I would repeat myself multiple times in any language I knew that I did not want a massage. But they would keep asking and start rubbing your feet and your hands and your arms. I just wanted to flick sand at them.
The men selling beer would usually listen to you right away and never bother you again.
Until the next day.
One of my friends said a man selling him coconut wouldn’t leave him alone. He was selling a small piece for about 5 euros which was an obvious rip off. She explained to the man that she did not want a piece of coconut, being that it was too expensive. He argued with her for a little and eventually let up. But before he left he said she could try a piece just as a sample.. She agreed and the man handed her a piece of coconut and as soon as she bit the fruit he said that she owed him five euros.
She was not happy.
The man obviously lied. But then she realized he had a knife in the back of his waist and she handed over the money before something worse happened.
The vendors, if I can call them that, appeared to be mystical, appearing out of nowhere most of the time. But they seemed to travel in herds and would be by the beach day in and day out. I would even see them at night in larger groups down closer toward the clubs if I ever went. They sold beer and cold water bottle, but also hinted that they had drugs.
Maybe it wasn’t such a bad thing that it wasn’t always that sunny:
She came in to visit around 3 on Friday, handed me her luggage off the bus and started talking about the clubs. She was ready for dinner at 6 even though it was early. By 8 or 9 she started to drink from the dollar wine bottles. She added ice cubes. She was dressed and ready to go in her dress by 10, bouncing in her heels excited to leave. I kept telling her it was early. But she was drunk enough to complain about not caring.
The clubs were lined up in a neon row by the beach. She said she wanted to take off her heels and jump into the sea as soon as she arrived. But she didn’t like the walk off the metro. She thought they would be right outside, in front of her. She thought she could tease the bouncer and get in for free, right away. She thought she would see someone famous, or have a boy buy her a drink.
We walked along the port, heading for the tip of the beach.
The W Hotel was tall, out in front, like a North Star for the city night. She just kept walking toward its distant spotlight.
She took off her heels when we got to the beach and she ran on the sand. The shore and water met in a black wade. The stars reflected off the sea and it looked like space was a mirrored wall that travelled up forever. She didn’t dip her feet in. But she found a palm tree nearby. She ran over and demanded a photo shoot. Her dress was slipping down her shoulders as she flung around the tree in different poses.
There were men wandering around the boardwalk with plastic bags full of beer. They started swinging over, whistling and begging for more of her attention. They kept shouting for our money.
“More beer? Hot beer? Cerveza? Beer?”
She got off her tree and went over to the packs of men. She hugged the one who was carting a bucket of coconut. I tried to pull her away before she got hurt.
“How much we talking?” she asked.
The vendors looked on and rubbed their fingers together asking for a lot. They stared at her chest and bare shoulders.
I grabbed her by the wrist, threw out some euros from my purse, and ran as we stumbled through the sand headed toward the W in the sky that still shown brighter than any other star across the sea.