Venus and her Entourage of Hungry Ducks

Trip Start May 31, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Friday, November 3, 2006

Our time in Barcelona was up and after 10 amazing days of getting to know this Catalan jewel, there wasn't much more we could ask for. Now that our shopping was done, my hair was cut, our bags were made, and our hostel paid for, all we had to do was kill time before we had to leave for the airport.

There was one place we deliberately left for last since it made for a nice stroll which didn't take up too much time. Even though we had about 4 hours, we still needed to be careful with the activity we chose. So after our exquisite veggie falafel lunch, we headed towards Parc de la Ciutadella. We got off on the Arc de Triomf metro station where Barcelona's Arch of Triumph greeted us as soon as we peaked our heads out from underground. Of course, how could a great city like Barcelona not have it's own arch of only had everything else!

Past the red-bricked Arch was an avenue of autumn trees, palms, statues, and benches were people were jogging, roller-skating, having lunch. To the right was a small police station where a woman was crying like mad and a friend was consoling her. I could only imagine the bad news she had received. I tried not to stare to give them intimacy and walked off like any other stranger would, except I felt like I should have asked if I could help. The way she cried made me teary eyed.

Finally we came upon the entrance to the Ciutadella Park guarded by a male and female allegory I couldn't figure out, but very classic nonetheless. Their stone platforms were carved with beautiful leafy layouts that could very well be used for an interesting and unique tattoo design. I'm always looking for potential tattoo designs in art and sculpture and I always find inspiration for amazing designs which I could draw on my skin, but if I had my way, I'd probably tattoo them all. Someday I might decide on just one to match the one I already have.

We turned to the right to where statues of lions heads vomiting bouquets of flowers were placed in the corners of walls surrounding a children's playground. Past the playground lay a clearing and we could start to get a glimpse of a great fountain. It was a great pond of beautiful green water, crowned with marble statues high on top. But the statues lost my interest when I noticed that the pond was filled with ducks. Everything else from that point on lost my interest....including Ed.

I sat on the edge of the pond watching how people fed them bits of bread, and how they scattered together when they saw someone approaching with something in their hands. TO my surprise there were a few sea gulls in the pond, trying to violently steal the bread that the ducks managed to catch, and succeeding at it too. Ed said that we were close to the sea so the sea gulls's presence wasn't that insane. A few little ducks emerged from the water to explore the earthly domains. I chased one to get a cool picture without my shadow getting in the way (it was 1 pm so the sun was straight up) but it waddled and quacked back into the water.

Ed began to get insistent on me hurrying up, so we climbed the stairs that led to the monument to get a closer look. The pond was guarded by four fierce sea-griffins which Ed fell in love with. He said "See, THOSE would make cool tattoos!"

From the back of the pond stood a large mound of water plants from whence emerged some of the mythical figures and animals that made up this watery monument. The Birth of Venus was in the middle with her naked body glamorously arising from her oyster, guarded by two mermaids. Below them were four merhorses in pompous attitude, as if celebrating Venu's coming. Neptune stands proud and serene to the side, overlooking the celebration with his trident, guarded by a large walrus. To the side of the monument were other watery mythological figures such as Leda and her swan-lover (Leda was a queen of Sparta who was raped by Zeus who had taken the form of a swan). Medallions of water lizards adorned a door with the word AQUARIUM that seemed to have been sealed off. Ed and I grew instantly curious as to what this place might have been designed for.

We walked back down to explore the other attractions of the park. We discovered a lake filled with more ducks, from where water-cypresses grew. Suddenly, from behind a small bridge, a couple in a small rowing boat appeared. Ed and I instantly looked at each other, confirming what the other had in mind.

I bought a large bag of stale bread from the kiosk by the lake and we jumped on the little green boat which would be ours for the next 30 minutes for just 2€. Ed tried to maneuver the oars while I annoyingly sang "row, row, row your boat" to him. The ducks, which were my main target, were scattered all over the lake. But as I began to open the bread bag and start spreading crumbs on the water, they began to appear like moths to a bulb.

In no time, our little boat was surrounded and all we could do was surrender our bits of bread to the hungry ducks. One particular duck, whose green head was thinner than the others, was not at all intimidated by human presence and took the bread right out of my hands. While the other waited for the bread to hit the water, this particular duckie jumped from the surface, like a seal, to reach the bread for himself.

Suddenly a hoard of sea gulls came out of nowhere to steal the ducks's hard earned bread right from their beaks. We tried to scare them away with an oar but they were not intimidated either. A family of beautiful white geese decided to join the party and in a matter of minutes, not only all the ducks of the lake were upon us, but all the other ducks of the park and all the other parks in Barcelona. We also noticed that people passing by were amused by our show and stood to watch; some actually took pictures.

Ed started rowing around the lake to see what the ducks did, and sure enough, they followed us. We had a duck, goose and sea-gull trail behind us and we couldn't shake them. They knew we had more bread.

We finished off the bag and returned the boat, and noticed that thanks to our performance, more people were lining up to take boat rides in the, before lonely, boat rental spot. It was time to leave the park and start heading back to the hostel where we had left our backpacks. It was soon time to go back to the airport. We still had to say goodbye to a couple of friends we had been in touch with like Pablo, Leandro and Hector.

I had been dreading this moment for days. I had not been wanting to leave Spain, not because I particularly fell in love with the country or anything, but because what we were about to face, for some reason, I sensed was going to be extremely difficult.
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