Barcelona (city, album and song)

I left home hoping I would “disconnect” as much as possible on this vacation. Anything from a computer to a tablet (I didn’t bring any) to work (I deleted Slack, my work-related WordPress app, and my emails last Friday after calling it a day). I bought a thousand-page book (Paul Auster’s 4321) and haven’t watched much TV (a 20 minute documentary on the consequences of overfishing in Senegal). I still have my phone, of course, for directions, taking pictures and, the occasional Instagram scroll (so that means I haven’t fully disconnected, have I?)

As we are speeding through Catalunya, I wanted to take a moment to remind anyone reading this blog of the importance of giving to those in need. Not everyone is born lucky and I believe we should help those who aren’t.

In 1987, Freddie Mercury met with Montserrat Caballé whom he admired. Their friendship developed quickly and the opera singer, a native of Barcelona, who was asked to create an anthem for the upcoming Olympic games, asked her new friend for help. Out of this collaboration came out a wonderful 8-track album (both the album and the song are called Barcelona), a perfect mix of Freddie’s sound and opera.

If you’re interested in learning more about their story, I really recommend watching the documentary on Freddie’s life called The Great Pretender. There’s a full section on their work and relationship, genuinely told by Mrs. Caballé herself.

So why am I telling you all this, you ask? Barcelona (the song) came out in 1987 and Freddie Mercury sadly passed away in 1991, about 10 months before the opening ceremony of the 1992 Olympics held in Barcelona (the city). This morning we went to Montjuïc (where the Olympics were held) and walked up from the Plaça Espanya to the castle of Monjuïc, avoiding buses, escalators, and cable cars. As we walked up I thought to myself (I’m assuming most people hike and think up existential questions) that it’s a shame AIDS is still a thing and that people keep dying for no reason (whether it’s war or illnesses) when we’re lucky to be alive, (mostly) healthy, and have more than decent living conditions. I carry a lot of guilt, if you hadn’t noticed by now. I certainly can’t fix all of this but I can give to those best placed to help fix some of the problems. So as I while climbing the stairs up to Montjuïc, I set a goal: I’d give 10€ per kilometer to the Mercury Phoenix Trust.

I track my hikes and rides on a very useful app called Strava so figuring out how many kilometers I walked wasn’t an issue:

5 kilometers. That’s how long it takes to complete the route, starting at the massive Venetian towers on Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina up to through the laces of the Montjuïc hill. I went through with my idea and donated 50€ to the Mercury Phoenix Trust, to help them with their fight against AIDS.

As always, ending blog posts with a well written closing paragaph is not my forte, so instead here are a couple of ideas:

– Give, if you can, to a charity. It doesn’t have to be AIDS-related, it can be anything close to your heart (girls education, fighting hunger, poverty, etc.). Every penny counts!

– Listen to Barcelona (the album) and improve your musical knowledge. I recommend Barcelona (the song), Guide Me Home, How Can I Go On:

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