When people ask Uge and me at a party how we know each other — the underlying question being, what relationship did I have with this family that resulted in my living with them for two months — we usually look at each other quizzically and then laugh. Because the reality is that Uge and I had no idea who the other was until my father and Agustín corresponded with one another via email. Dad and Agustín knew each other through business, and when I expressed interest in traveling, Dad offered to contact Agustín to see if I could maybe land an internship in his company. Agustín very kindly granted me the internship and very, very kindly offered to let me live with the family, which honestly came as an enormous relief as at that point we had been discussing the feasibility of me living in a hostel for two months and surviving on cereal.
But there was a little something in it for Dad, too: namely, he had an excuse to take a vacation. He had always been interested in doing business with Spanish airports. Now that he had a daughter in Spain conveniently working for a fellow telecommunications consultant, Dad had a strong enough argument to ditch the less-complicated video conference and hop on a plane — something that I imagine is a near form of blasphemy for telecommunications experts.
The Argelichs are truly wonderful, because they insisted that Dad stay here instead of book a hotel. To say thank you as both a father and a businessman, Dad brought over one of the marketing goodies that his company has been distributing in the US: chocolate. The wrappers have the name of his company, Inspired Data Solutions, and announce his partnership with Agustín’s company, Argelich Networks. The businessman side of the gift was obviously the blatant advertisement of both his and Agustín’s companies. The father aspect was the fact that he brought over a butt-load so that the whole family could munch for a week.
And it was a really fun week! We retraced some steps and went to places I had already visited, which was nice, because I didn’t feel pressured to document the experience in photos. We went to the same restaurant I went to on my first day here, where I first tried paella: Salamanca. It’s actually amazing. This was Dad’s first time trying paella, and he loved it! We took some pictures of the group (with the guest of honor, of course . . . the paella). The next day, we went to Montjuïc again to see the fountains, and afterwards to get drinks atop Tibidabo. Dad loved it, and it was nice for me to go back and see these places. We also paid a second visit to Montserrat, only this time, we took the train up the mountain instead of hiking. We didn’t get to see the singers, which was a shame. But we had a wonderful time, went to a lovely restaurant, and actually got to kiss the statue of the Virgin!
We also went to see the Olympic Park from the Barcelona 1992 Olympics, an event in which Agustín played a major role by overseeing the telecommunications of the Paralympic Games. It was so cool because the stadium, used now for concerts and the like, is essentially what I imagine Mount Olympus would look like. It’s a giant sports stadium built of a light-colored stone with a wide set of steps leading down to an attractive, column-lined park. There’s no arguing with the fact that it’s a modern adaptation of the ancient Greek venues for such athletic games, so it’s not so much the architecture that makes it look like it’s straight out of Disney’s Hercules as it is the fact that it’s built square on top of a mountain. It overlooks everything. That same day we went to visit Old Barcelona for a bit, and we returned to la Basilica de Santa María del mar. Lo and behold, what did we stumble across but a wedding taking place! The basilica was open to the public, so we actually stood in the doorway and watched the bride alight from her vehicle and take her first steps down the aisle. I think that was Barcelona’s way of making up for the fact that we didn’t see a second proposal at Montjuïc.
And at the end of the week, the Argelichs graciously opened their home in Bigues to my father, inviting him to spend an afternoon there, meet some more of the family, and enjoy dinner outside in the garden. It was great because it was a nice, non-touristy way for him to enjoy the Spanish culture and a way to get to see the family in its element. The Argelichs, as always, pulled out all the stops for Dad, making the week as accommodating and entertaining as it could possibly have been. For a week they gave him a place to sleep, fed him, and took him around to the best spots in Barcelona — essentially providing for my dad the same package that I’ve had my entire time here. I’ve been very lucky, to say the least!