So this is where we started our honeymoon trip to Barcelona — at the Port de Barcelona. Our hotel was actually near the port, so we would always end up passing by it. There’s a suspension bridge that leads to a shopping mall — the Maremagnum Mall. We took this picture from the bridge, actually. The mall’s got some pretty great restaurants, especially if you’re interested in having some tapas. My husband and I had lunch there a couple of times. We also had dinner there once, too. That was when we noticed something quite interesting about Barcelona.
You see, Barcelona is a very safe city — you can walk around at night and not be afraid to be attacked by a robber in the middle of the street or something like that (which is a kind of a weird sensation for me, since I live in one of the most violent cities in Brazil). The only thing you need to be aware about is always paying attention to your bags, wallets, purses etc., especially when you’re at a crowded touristic place, because you may find a pickpocket here and there. You hear the firefighters’ car running around every now and then, but it’s hard for you to see a police car with the siren on.
Nevertheless, while we were heading to the Maremagnum Mall that night, we saw a lot of people along the suspension bridge selling souvenirs and other gadgets. Most of them seemed to be African immigrants and were all standing, holding on to a few strings, which were ties to the four ends of the rags they would put their products on, so that when the police showed up they could pick up their stuff as quickly as possible and hide.
This is quite common here in Brazil — 25 de Março Street was actually famous for its street peddlers, which would always shout “Olha o rapa, olha o rapa!” whenever the police showed up. But when you go to Barcelona (and especially if you’re from a developing country like myself), you don’t imagine that this kind of thing can happen in a city so organized and 1st-world-like city.
Still, it does.
But the funny part was when the police finally show up. The street peddlers picked up their things, just like we had imagined they would, and slowly moved, in line, to the back of the Mall and waited until the police went away. After a few minutes, they did, and then we were able to see the street peddlers all slowly coming back with their bundles on and later spreading them onto the wooden floor of the bridge and continuing on their attempt to sell their not-so-cheap-as-I-though souvenirs.
That scene repeated itself a couple of times before the policemen finally told them something that really must have scared them, and so they eventually went away for good. But at no time did the police officers use of any violence. They didn’t even make a scene, as far as I can remember. No one even saw anything. We just saw the police car coming, and minutes later the street peddlers slowly going away, one after the other, and not coming back shortly after, like they had done before.
If it were in Brazil, things would have been quite different. I’m not saying that it’s because it’s an European country, or that they’re better than us in any way. I know that there must be many circumstances in which the Barcelonan police practices violence against people, but it just made me think that… People — in Spain, in Brazil, in Switzerland, in Mozambique, everywhere — could be more reasonable, you know? If everyone knew how and were willing to simply communicate in an efficient way, I think we would have a much better world. Even if it demanded a little bit of patience/persistence/willpower, like it did from those police officers in Barcelona.