Barcelona La Marcha

Picnic and Games at Ciutadella Park              Photo: African Press Club 

Dateline: Ciutadella Park, Barcelona, Spain

My headline this week is cast in the Spanish language because it appropriately captures the story. La Marcha means living life to the fullest or as described by a friend –  hard socializing Barca style.

Last weekend, I received a picnic invite from a friend Rachel at Ciutadella Park referred to as Parc De La Ciutadella in Spanish. The park is an absolutely gorgeous, vast, green area with a lake, fountain, zoo, and the Catalan Parliament. When in Barcelona, do visit Ciutadella. Kids will love it. There’s more than enough ground to play, run around, lie down, relax and just be lazy! The closest metro is Arco de Triunfo on the red line.

The picnic invitation heightened the suspense by declaring that: “it’s going to be epic.” Rachel did not fail. Adept at social organising, she had everything well planned. It was eight hours of non-stop engaging activities – eating, running, jumping, dancing, several competitive games between groups, etc. It was truly “epic.”

As we were packing up to leave in the evening, Rachel informed me that the program for the day was not over yet. Ok, girl, tell me. The day will be crowned with a reunion at 1am, she said. What? I rolled my eyes in exhaustion. I already knew it was going to be a very long night! 1am met me tucked in bed, still struggling with the decision: “should I, should I not?” I dozed off in that state.

Spaniards love life. People are active, spirited and energetic. Late nights on a daily basis are normal.

My initiation into La Marcha began a few months ago when I met two vivacious Catalan ladies. One in her late forties, the other in her early fifties, they were by no means spring chickens. At the time, I confided in one of them that I was actually bored and overwhelmed with studies. She giggled with a response: “Don’t worry, I’ll fill up your schedule. Tomorrow, I’ll send you a list of upcoming events.” I didn’t take it seriously. When that message hit my phone, I sensed my life was about to change. Boy oh boy, I had just entered a high-speed train.

Keen to make friends, I welcomed most of the invitations. On a particular Wednesday, she brought it to my attention there was free dinner at a restaurant called Shoko, which turns into a dancing ground at midnight. Who doesn’t like free food? Wuhuuuu! Sign me up sister!!

We arrive Shoko at about 10pm all nicely dressed up. There is a queue outside. We politely wait for our turn. Once in, we dive to the food table. The food was the main attraction for me, so I was not going to waste time. For a free meal, I was pleasantly surprised the plate of rice garnished with seafood was tasty. I wiped out the plate and went for a second. As if that was not enough, drinks were free with unrestricted top-up until midnight. Soon, we were laughing, dancing, and talking. Yours truly lost count of time.

We left Shoko around 1.30am. Still chitchatting jovially, we walked to the bus stop. Have you ever waited for the bus during the winter period after midnight? Lawwwd! It took forever for the bus to come. It began to dawn on me that I was unprepared for La Marcha.

By the time I waved goodbye to the bus, my legs were crumbling under me, in addition to the fact that I got off farther from home than previously thought. The trek felt like an eternity. I was walking in zigzag motions. I reached my house at almost 3am half asleep, I leaned on the door, and ransacked my bag for my keys. I dragged myself in, collapsed on my bed and passed out.

The next morning, I crawled out of bed just before 11am looking utterly finished. I was overtaxed especially because this was a continuation of La Marcha of the previous weekend. I sat up dazed and then asked myself a question: “Nne (Igbo word for my dear), did you come to Barcelona for Shoko free dinner, party or studies?”

Believe you me, I started laughing at myself while responding to that question in my head. I laughed, and laughed and laughed, smashed my body backward on the bed, laughed, rolled over and laughed. Satisfied, I crept out of bed and headed to the shower.

This sums up how I crashed out of weekday La Marcha. It was difficult to keep up. However, I’m aware it’s necessary to balance work and social life, so I join the ladies during the weekend. As the saying goes: “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The ladies are absolutely wonderful people who work hard, go out, wake up the next morning and go to work again. I have no idea how they do it. Hats off to them!!!

If you’re looking for an escape, try Barca. These people are not joking. While you’re at it, knock yourself out! Don’t forget to write to me detailing your peculiar experience.

Ok. Question: do you find time to go out or are you a workaholic? What do you think of La Marcha? Enjoy!

15 Comments

  1. I imagine if you pre-plan your late weekend nights by finding a bus timetable and a bus at a suitable time that leaves you reasonably alive the next morning I think you’ve achieved the perfect balance between work and play 😂😂😂. Knowing the right exit bus stop would help. 😂 That just leaves the question as to the optimum alcohol level you can sustain. 😂😂

  2. Ian, you’re laughing? This is not a laughing matter. I mean, i’m no match at all and it has nothing to do with alcohol. I don’t really drink. The interesting thing is that you rarely find people here getting drunk even if they’re out for many hours. They prefer to be conscious to enjoy the conversations. Compare that to the UK, where it seems the ultimate goal is to get drunk! La Marcha is something.

  3. Back home it’s not easy to find a work-life balance. In Barca, they have it down!
    When I first got here I had a hard time adjusting to the vibrant life but I’m learning 😂
    Finding the balance especially when you come from a different culture takes some getting used to but I love it here. This is my sixth month and I wouldn’t trade my experience for anything.

  4. Lol @ …nne,did you come to Barcelona for free drinks….?
    Sounds so much like what a Nigerian mum would ask.
    Glad to know you are having fun in the midst of all the book work.
    Lovely piece!
    Walking in ” zig- zag” motion? Oooo! I do that sometimes too!!!
    Enjoy life ! Have fun!!

  5. I enjoyed reading your post. And yes, life is not about being working all the time . It’s good to “ir de marcha” sometimes.

  6. Really nice piece.. It is good to be able to find a balance between work, studies and your social skills before one eats out the other. Keep it up

  7. I know drink is not an issue for you Constance. My comment was more of a uk-type joke added on at the end. Unwisely, I now realise 😊 given what you believe to be the UK predilection for alcohol; which for me is too much of a sweeping generalisation.
    Actually, the essence of my comments was an encouragement to enjoy the La Marcha experience albeit in a humorous manner. Or maybe nor so humorous for some. 😊

  8. I think you’re just experiencing European life, for the first time perhaps. Or better to say the Latin European Civilization. This life rythm is what you’ll find in Italy, Portugal, France, but not Germany or the UK. ThisEuropean sphere was influenced by the Roman Culture of blessed antiquity, right from their Languages to their Lifestyle. Can you now see why the Island Europeans feel and begave dufferently? Can you now see the Logic of Brexit? I am sure there are other aspects that your write up cleverly avouded mention. Like the ferociousness of feminism in these societies. Keep up. In sociology, it’s called Conformity. Do as they do.

  9. Good spirited writeup. A balance between work and social outings is very necessary as one keeps learning on both sides.

  10. Dr. Okon, you’re right in that it’s different from Northern Europe and yes, the Brexit logic. With all the Brexit confusion, my friend living in London says they may never get out. Who knows? People did not understand what it will entail. Well, let’s see. To your point on feminism, I have encountered men here who are absolutely enraged at the feminist movement. I did not understand their anger at first. My thought was: well there’s the feminist movement in other parts of the Western hemisphere too. Now I know better, it is “ferocious” in these parts.

  11. Loved your story!!! What Fun you had 😃 I’m such a workaholic, but I’m changing this habit…the more loving friends and family you are blessed with, the more fun you have in life! Im in Nigeria now, and seems much more intimate than when i was in the US. Not suprised! And it’s not always about spending money to have fun. I must visit these places youve mentioned😊 Thanks for sharing this, we gotta live to love! Nmadili

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