Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Safe and Sound

Back on the farm now after a busy week-and-a-half in Barcelona.

The turnouts for the big events (i.e., the ones we focused on the most on the PokerStars blog) of the PokerStars Championship Barcelona series were all quite big, which meant a lot of long days strung together. That in turn meant not a whole lot of extracurricular activity outside of the casino or hotel during my stay, although I did get out a couple of times.

This was my fourth trip to Barcelona, and having spent some time sightseeing on earlier visits (including once with Vera Valmore), I didn’t feel too much urgency to get out this time, even if I had wanted to.

The day before leaving I did manage to make the walk over to La Rambla, which would have been 10 days after the attack there that occurred the day before my arrival. It was a Sunday. A couple of police vans were parked at the end where I entered from the roundabout, the opposite end from where the attack began.

As you might have seen on television, there’s a wide pedestrian walkway in the center with two narrow streets on either side. As it was the weekend, portable stands and tents were set up throughout selling paintings and other locally-produced art along with other souvenirs -- the Fira Nova Artesania flea market where tourists frequently pick up items to take home.

There had been a big memorial at the location the day before, and a lot also happened at the site during the three-day mourning period the previous weekend. This Sunday, though, there was little evidence of what had taken place before. Life had gone on, as it does.

Walking back out I saw a few the “human statues” getting ready for the day, including the first three featured in this video another visitor made a few years back. They weren’t quite set up for the day just yet, and as they readied themselves there was something uncannily business-like about their preparations.

Walking back through the streets of Barcelona to the Hotel Arts for the last day of play, I found myself doing more people watching than usual, occasionally caught off-guard by short though intense bursts of melancholy over the cruelty and horror that had been perpetrated there (and elsewhere).

That photo above (taken by someone else -- I am replacing my old phone soon, as the camera has been worthless for a while) shows where someone had written in Catalan on the base of a La Rambla street lamp “Tots som Barcelona” -- i.e., “We are all Barcelona.”

Truth be told, the great majority of the human race is good and looking out for one another. They might be motivated and/or encouraged differently to feel that way about others, but I think most of them know (perhaps instinctively) that helping and loving each other is what gives our meaning. Perhaps the only thing.

All ended well poker-wise. The Main Event winner Sebastian Sorensson, a Swede who was quiet and wrapped up tightly in a Miami Dolphins scarf throughout most of the tournament, turned out to be a gregarious (and hilarious) winner, delivering a fantastic post-even interview with Joe Stapleton that’s worth checking out.

The trip back home was smooth and without incident. Was good as always to reunite with Vera and the several four-legged friends with whom we share this small, pie-shaped slice of the world where we all take care of each other. And where I’ll be staying put for a while.

Photo: “Todos somos Barcelona - We are all Barcelona - El mundo es Barcelona - The World is Barcelona | | 170827-8851-jikatu” (adapted), Jimmy Baikovicius. CC BY-SA 2.0.

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