Another countdown is on (Part Two)

by Evans Yonson

(Note: This is a continuation of Another Countdown is On, a series celebrating my four years stay in Barcelona as a scholar at the University of Barcelona.)

Barcelona – I’m finally back after a long summer away from my host city. But before the classes for the new academic year started, first the festival to end summer or as other may call it, the festival to welcome autumn. The celebration is called Festa de la Mercé (Feast of the Mother of Mercy; 24 September), the patron saint of Barcelona. This is the first time that I’m seeing the festival in its entirety. Giants go on parade around the main streets of the city. The castellers (the human towers) are a sight to behold. The locals and tourists really this grand fiesta.

In October, I enrolled in two complementary courses -quantitative research methods and sociological theories. Interesting but I have been through all these subjects before and the way things are in the university, this felt another 5 months of boring classes. I don’t know what’s with me and going to school during winter. I would rather be sleeping at home than attending classes, which I didn’t do anyway.

I turned 41 that year but since I have moved to a place near Sagrada Familia in April this year, I haven’t really thought of celebrating. It’s just short way of saying that I didn’t have enough money to spend on 2 scores and one.

While I was busy wishing for more years, one of my baby projects I left in Cagayan de Oro celebrated its second year. Estreno, the student short film festival is another year older. I have seen all the students’ works before I left in September. I was truly proud to have a good harvest of short and documentary films.

For the first time in my life away from the Philippines, I visited a cemetery. The Montjuic Cemetery of Barcelona is as historical as the city. It’s located in the rocky Montjuic hill, overlooking the city. Built in 1883, the cemetery boasts of classic, Gothic, art nouveau and modernisme monuments, a reflection of how eclectic Catalan culture is. I will never really get tired visiting this cemetery even if it’s not Dia de los Muertos.

Spain is probably the European country with the most number of national and local non-working public holidays. On December 6 (Dia de la Constitución) and 8 (Immaculate Conception), the Spanish population goes on a long vacation to signal that it’s the season to be jolly. As I have already known this before, I already planned of going to Copenhagen, Denmark to visit my dear friend, Marie, who recently got married. I also took time to get involved in the Copenhagen Climate Change Summit while seeing The Little Mermaid at the same time. I really enjoyed going around the city of Hans Christian Andersen.

When I returned to Barcelona, I invited some friends over for a pre-Christmas party at home. I prepared lumpiang shanghai (spring rolls) and bought two cases of Philippine San Miguel Beer (bottles) from a Filipino store. A wonderful get-together before everyone went to other places for their annual Christmas tradition.

I kissed a boy and I liked it.

I spent Christmas in Marrakech, Morocco. I love being in this north-western African country where majority of the population is Muslim. On December 25, I almost forgot that it was Christmas Day thanks to the map where I saw a Catholic church. I immediately went to church and the priest was very happy to welcome me to his parish. I was the first one, he said, to have visited the church that day. Our conversation was cut short when the mosque infront started chanting the adhan or azan (call to prayer).

The thoughts of the boy still linger.

On New Year’s Eve, I prepared another small party for Filipino friends (Arnel, Wowie, Nats and Kaye) and Aslan, the Australian guy I met in Morocco. We went partying in Las Ramblas to welcome 2010.

… to be continued.

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