Taking a break, pressing the brakes

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I´m sitting on a bench near the Bicing bicycle parking waiting for  someone to return a bike that will take me  home when I catch a father trying to teach his son how to ride a bike a few feet away.  The boy, around seven  can already balance himself on his bicycle.   Perhaps father and son have been practicing  for some time now. He just wants his dad to walk behind him.

The path is going downhill.  The  father signals the boy to turn around and avoid the way down. The boy wants to drive downhill.  His father  gives in and gives his son  a reassuring nod. Off pedals the boy. At first, hesitant but later on, having  the right rhythm, the boy  bikes down smoothly.

The boy seems pleased with what he is doing.  He pedals and pedals.  Faster and faster until he can no longer  control his speed.  He is going down quicker than he is supposed to be.  His dad  panics and immediately runs after his son.   The boy starts screaming. Calling his father´s name.  He is losing control of the bicycle, the boy  is going to fall.    His dad, doubling his pace,   finally gets to grab the saddle  with his right hand in time before the bike falls to the ground.

The bike skids a bit.  It doesn´t fall.  The  boy doesn´t fall off his bike.  Now he is sobbing. The boy´s dad tries to console his son. He points to the brake of the bicycle.

“Use this if you want to stop.”

He doesn´t want to ride his bike anymore. The boy runs to the bench where I am sitting.  He sits on the edge of the bench with arms  crossed and head bowed down, sulking like a seven-year-old  kid who has just had a not so pleasant bicycle incident.  His father smiles at his son, leaves the bike unmanned, walks towards the bench and puts his arms around the boy.

“It´s okay to go fast.  Just use the brakes.”

The son looks at his father and nods slowly. He wipes his tears away,   walks to his bike and gives his dad a wide smile.  He is ready to roll his bike again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another morning, every morning

 

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I hold on to the blanket as tight as I can.  I fight the urge of opening my eyes.  Not because I am still sleepy.  Well, yes I still am.  But  because it is coming to me now, just like every morning.   It is attacking once again.

Yet I don’t have a choice.  I need to open my eyes, get out of bed and get out of the house.  I slowly open my eyes.  In an instant,  my heart jumps, my pulse skips.  I am catching my breath. I close my eyes again.  The trembling stops.  It´s pitch black but my world is peaceful once more. I wait for my breathing to get back to normal.

My brain is begging  my heart to calm down. I need to be brave.  I open my eyes again and as if on cue, everything is back. All the shaking and  trembling. Heart pounding, pulse racing. The attack is overwhelming. And  I am no match for it.  It´s overpowering. It absorbs all my energy. I want to shout.

My stomach tightens. All the food I ate last night wants to go up and  out. I am going to throw up.  I race to the toilet. I catch my reflection in the mirror. I hardly recognise myself.  I look horrible. Having only slept  four hours or even less.   My stomach  tightens again.  I lean on the toilet bowl and attempt to vomit.  But nothing comes out. My stomach tightens a little bit more.

I sit on the toilet bowl with my head resting  on both hands.  I stare at the blank space in front of me.  I reach for my mobile phone lying on the small table in the corner.  Play some music.  A happy one.  A fast one.

As soon as the music starts playing, my heart slows down a bit.  I try to calm down.  I close my eyes.  When will this stop?  I hate this every morning. I can’t  have a morning like this everyday.

I stand  up and rip some sheets of toilet paper and wipe my bottom.  I take off my shirt and my  shorts and step inside the shower.  I feel the cold water splashing against my back, then my head.  Drowning myself under the sound of the music and the water.

I can stay here. Forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh Moon, where are thou tonight?

 

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Where are you Moon?

Sitting on the same bench.  Same spot.  Same time. Almost everyday. Five days straight except yesterday.  Were you here Moon, yesterday? Sorry I wasn´t able to come.  For  days now, I have been looking at your spot.  Same bench. Same  time.  But today, you are not around.

Mr. Guitarman´s plucking is soothing.  The waves waltz with the sand.  The wind tangoes with the sailboat from afar.  Oh, where are you Moon?   I miss seeing  your silhouette peeking in the sky hurrying Mr. Sun to go hide behind the clouds. Are you shy today?  Don´t wanna show your face? Are you blue today?  Don´t wanna show your tears?

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Sitting on the same  bench.  People walk by. Mr. Guitarman  plucks, strums.  I close my eyes.  I´m swimming deeper in the labyrinth of melodies of each song.  Trying to forget that I´m missing you, Moon. I´m drowning. Down. Drifting. Lost in  the  sublime euphony of Mr. Guitarman´s strings.

Oh Moon, where are you?  Soon, Mr. Sun is saying goodbye too. I will have another one song, Moon. Mr. Guitarman is about to begin another one.  And then, it´s time to go.  I hope to see you tomorrow.

Same bench. Same spot. Same time.

But for tonight, it´s going to be a moonless night.

 

 

 

 

Barcelona, Spain

 

 

 

The mystery of the missing farm fly wings

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I was once a fly. Yes, that famous insect of the order of Diptera. That eeky and intrusive creature you run after with a swatter. Voted as one of the most disgusting insects on earth.

A long long time  ago, I was a fly in a play.  Which play was it?  Oh, never mind.  It was a forgettable one. But surely,  it was not about a scientist who went inside a capsule sort-of-thing and became a monstrous two-winged insect. I think the play was about a grandmother who had lots of animals on her farm. Sort of a female version of Old MacDonald. Maybe it was her wife or lover. Or was it  the old grandma who lived in a shoe?  Whatever.

Anyway, I was her fly. Why did I have to be a fly, you might wonder. There are a lot of animals in the world, right? Why a fly? What was our teacher thinking? Why did I even accept such unglamorous role?

Okay let me see. I was just eight back then and kids at that time were taught not to question grown-ups who considered flies as farm animals. Neither did my mother. It  didn´t occur to her that it was her parental obligation to be bothered by the thought that her child was cast as a hideous insect in a play full of lovable farm creatures. I was expecting her to storm my teacher´s office, wring her neck and demand a credible explanation. What in the world was  a fly  doing at Mrs. Donald´s farm?

It turned out that my mother had other things in mind. If her son had to be a fly, he would be the cleanest fly ever. She bought me a neat pair of black tights and a plain body hugging black shirt. For my wings, she hired somebody to sew them. Not ordinary-looking wings, mind you. She saw to it that they would look like real fly wings with thick black wires forming the shape of the wing pattern and transparent plastic with thin black strings intricately sewn in a zigzag fashion for the wing cells. It was awesome. I was the fly with cool wings.

As I said, the play was yawn-worthy. I can´t even remember how it went. Did we sing? Or dance? Did I have speaking lines? Or did I get swatted halfway through the play? Not sure. But I knew that my mother was very pleased by my performance. Until she saw that something was missing.

“Where are your wings?” My mother was eyeing me suspiciously sounding like a real mother bird shocked to find out that her baby bird´s wings had disappeared and that her offspring was totally clueless about it. I heard her all right but I didn´t dare reply nor wait for her to repeat her intimidatingly unanswered inquiry as I immediately dashed back  to the auditorium. Back then, I was not supposed to curse. So I just swallowed my saliva that was as thick as a yarn ball and prayed to God that nobody had taken interest in my wings. Where did I leave them after our performance? I nagged myself. It was a blur. Like in a film where the character is totally wasted and wakes up in a total stranger´s bed, completely spaced out. I could have absentmindedly dropped my wings somewhere. Perhaps, somebody might have nicked them. After all, they were nice wings.

Expectedly, my mother didn’t waste time giving me an earful as soon as we got home. Like I said, I was brought up not to answer back at a furious parent nagging me about lost wings. Deep inside though, I was fighting the urge to ask what the fuss was all about. Those were just wings! I could still be a normal person without them, right? Like, I still have my legs, haven´t I?  I didn’t dare answer back of course. I shut my mouth that not a single fly could enter.

The next day, I asked my classmates about the lost wings. Nobody saw them except one: the cow. From the play, that is. My heart jumped for joy. Finally, I would be reunited with my wings and would be able to fly again.

But the cow turned out to be a shrewd one. Dreadfully wicked! Exceptionally heartless. A shameless devil that smelled of dung! “Your wings are mine now! Finders keepers!” Finders keepers my ass. I didn’t say that, of course. Everyday, I would bug the cow to give me back my wings. And everyday, he would tell me the wings now belonged to him. I reasoned out. It was okay to reason out with somebody your age, especially with someone who stole your wings. I bargained. I negotiated. I begged. I threatened. But the cow proved to be a real pain. Such a stubborn schmuck, this fucking cow. On second thought however, what if this scumbag was just pulling my leg? Just his way of getting on my nerves. Maybe he didn’t have my wings after all. But that was beside the point.

One day, he offered another revelation which eventually dashed my hopes of finally getting my wings back. “You can have your wings but you can no longer fly in them. I undid the strings and ripped the plastic. And oh, I used the strings to tie my shoes.” The cow said with a sinister smile. I wanted to see the strings, I demanded. He refused. I stared at him contemptuously,  smelling blood. I studied the cow wondering to myself how I could turn him into a can of corned beef.

I told my mother about it and she too couldn´t believe such an evil cow could exist in this world. She told me to forget all about my wings and move on. Soon, the fucking cow would be in an avatar, she consoled me; chopped and ready to be served on a beautiful plate with sauce and spices. I smiled at the sordid thought. “Who needs a pair of plastic wings?” Certainly not me. I wouldn´t be a fly in the future play anyway.

Definitely, not a cow.

Dear Universe,

 

 
I thought I have moved on already
But I haven’t
Two and a half years seem like yesterday
When we said goodbye to each other
blaming the distance was getting in the way
We parted ways
without a tear and sorry voice
I regret that
I could have said something
I could have done something
But I didn’t, we didn´t
Two and half years and no closure
I still see your face everyday
Hear your voice
Smell you
God knows how much I miss you badly
How could I let you know that I miss you terribly.
That yes, I am still in love with you. As I have always been. Really.
I don’t know if you know it. Or if you also feel it.
I miss you very much and telling you I love you is just an understatement.
I want to kiss you. To smell you. To hold you. To listen to your voice. To see your smile. To touch your skin.
They say good things come to people who wait. Two years and a half.
I will wait here. Until that time comes.
But until when?
Love,

 

Me

A hell of a hostel

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The guy enters the  room  and  hides under  a cart filled with   severed human limbs.  He then takes a sledge hammer and bludgeons the  butcher who is in the process of incinerating the corpses.  He drops the sledge hammer,  grabs an ax and starts to…okay, before I get  carried away, I have to stop.  This is just a scene   from the   crappy B-movie I saw on the bus coming here. I try not to scare myself with creepy thoughts as I enter the room.

I close the door,  put  my rucksack on the wooden chair and  look around. No sledge hammers, no severed limbs  ready for cremation.  I am standing in front of  a big brown   door-less   wardrobe with nothing but two sad-looking  plastic hangers.   I can hear conversations coming from the rooms downstairs  blending   with  the sounds of cooking pots  clacking and  tap water gushing  from the  restaurant   two floors below.

So here I am in a rundown  hostel  in  Santiago de Compostela for an overnight stopover before catching an early bus  to the beautiful town of Tui tomorrow as there are no trips that go  straight to Tui from Madrid. The problem began when our arrival in Santiago got delayed  because of  a  huge traffic jam in Leon and instead of arriving a couple of hours before midnight, I got off the bus at quarter past eleven.  The only place that has a room and is willing to admit me close to midnight is this   hostel.

I  lie down   and try to  whisk  away the graphic scenes from the stupid movie the bus driver made us watch during the ride.  I am about to doze off when I am  distracted by  loud voices   outside my room.  Shouting  in a very thick Galician  accent, I  can easily tell that the two are arguing about money.  The angrier voice,   demanding  the other  to pay  his two-month unpaid rent, I assume belongs to the owner of this hostel.   The receiver of the accusation is equally fuming too.  He is  insisting that he has already paid his dues and even  accusing the owner of overcharging him.  Their voices get louder and piercer, getting more intense by the second. I try to cover my head with the pillow but I can still hear their heated wrangle. I get up and  reach  for  my CD player.  As the music starts booming into my ears, I   drift into deep slumber.

Then I wake up.  I check my watch. It says three  a.m.  Everything is pitch black. I perfectly remember that I purposely left the lights on. Who turned off the lights?  Much that I don’t want to scare myself, I just can´t avoid thinking of  the  gory movie on the bus.   A mad killer is  on the loose inside a motel and goes on a  killing spree and spares nobody in the place.  I suddenly  recall  the two men arguing outside my room. Could  the owner be the one  who turned  the lights off? Instead of getting back  at his tenant, he  decided  to punish the entire hostel for the unpaid rent!    All I see is the stark darkness of the room.  Everything is quiet. No footsteps. No cooking pots clacking. No toilet bowl flushing.

A  power  interruption  perhaps?  A faulty wire maybe?   Then I realize that the entire room is freezing.  Even if I am under a  thick winter blanket, I can feel my teeth  grit and my feet  shake.  I don’t have to go near  the heater to  know that it has been switched off as no trace of heat breathes inside the room.  The owner of this shitty  hostel must  be  really desperate to recoup the lost money from the uncollected rent that he has   turned off the central heating and electricity at midnight.

I calm down. My heart obeys my mind. I brush off any  mad killer-on-the-loose thoughts.  I curl up into the fetal position and doze off.  I open my eyes  with a funny feeling that the whole room is shaking in total darkness.   My alarm clock is hysterical as it screams: “Seven o´clock! Time to keep your  bum going!  You have a bus to catch!”   With the little light coming  from my mobile phone,   I grab my rucksack and shoes. I  lean against the door and listen to the sound outside  before opening  it.  Sensing that I am the only person already up and awake in the entire hostel, I slowly open the door.  I am welcomed by a blanket of darkness  as I start my pace.    I tiptoe up to the bathroom with the guide of my  mobile phone,   switch  the lights on   and yes, no fucking lights!  More upset than  frightened, I remember the second floor.  The  bathroom is separated from the toilet and  maybe,  the lights work there as there seems  to have more occupants on that floor.

I gently walk downstairs careful not to stumble.   I  try the hall lights.  Not a chance.  I find the bathroom.   It´s closed. But the lights are on! Somebody is inside. I head to the toilet instead. The lights  are on too!  I am about to finish brushing my teeth  when I   hear someone  coming out of  the bathroom.  I put down my rucksack and pull down my pants. I place  pieces of toilet paper on the toilet bowl seat  and close  the door.  The door doesn´t shut tight,  leaving  a space open  just enough for a would-be murderer  to peep in and start ramming the door with his sledge hammer.  I  push it hard but  it  just creates a loud squeaking noise against the floor.  It´s not  budging!   I give up.  I am about to start to do my business  when suddenly the lights go out! This is what I call a one big mierda!

I sit still. I don’t know what to do.  Here I am, about to relieve myself in this  shithole of a hostel, inside a  toilet so small my knees can even touch the slightly opened  door that anyone can just pop his head  in and say hi to me.  In complete darkness.

It really boggles my mind why the  only place in the hostel where the lights are on is the  bathroom. Is this where the killer is supposed to trap his victims?  I immediately check the door. It closes tight. Relieved and  ready to have a nice shower, I take  my toiletries out of my rucksack and take off all my clothes. Standing under the shower,  I study the red and blue knobs in front of me. I expect  warm water to touch my face as soon as I turn the  red handle.  I nearly yelp when a   very  chilly sensation hit my face. I feel  the  shivers down my spine.  The water is   unbearably freezing! I  reach for the red and blue knobs again trying to mix the two with  my body away from the shower. Fucker!  I hear myself cursing as I put   my clothes back  on. I reach for my rucksack, put all my toiletries inside, fix my shoes and get out of the bathroom. I no longer tiptoe once in the hall. I don’t care if   my footsteps have become hard thuds now.  I mentally check my things. All accounted for. No need to go back to my room to  lock it.

I march down the ground floor and open the main door. The cold air hits my face instantly sending chills to my whole body.  I arrange my scarf well enough to cover my neck and half of my face.   Still foggy and dark,  I am the only one out. The murderer can be  just lurking outside for all I know.    To hell with the  killer, I  am  so out of here. I am about to close the door when I remember the key.   I fish inside my pocket and place it on top of the drawer  beside the main door.  I stare at it for a while.  I can actually take the key with me; for the dead heater, malfunctioning door,  its self-imposed blackout and for depriving me of a hot shower! But I change my mind.  I place the key back on top of the drawer then step out to the street. I tap myself, first my head, my arms, then my legs.  All accounted for.

A trip to the most boring place on earth

“Brace yourself for the most boring place on earth! Welcome to  Mordor!”

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When my friend Jordi jokingly claimed that his hometown easily resembles the Land of Shadow and nest  of Sauron in J.R.R. Tolkien´s Lord of the Rings, boring was the not the word that first came to mind.  Eerie was  more likely the apt adjective.   So when   we  get off the train after an hour-long ride from Barcelona, I instantly expect Orcs, or Easterlings and Haradrim or even Trolls to pick us up at the  station. But no hideous  creatures marched down  to fetch us.  Instead, a smiling  Jordi and  an excited Sofia  give us a sunny welcome. A huge   contrast  to the real gloomy state of the weather which  threatens to spoil our trip to the most boring place on earth.

Perhaps Jordi is  right. Sant Celoni might really be  the most boring place on earth.  Gazing outside  their  big attic window, dark clouds and gray mists hover on  the horizon. The sight is just about to make me  pack my bags and hop on the next train back to Barcelona where the sun seems to be hardly ever under the weather.

The walking tour

But  drawing a conclusion without exploring  this small  municipality in the comarca of the  Vallès Oriental  is  not giving it a fair play. So at around eleven o´clock on a lazy Saturday morning  under depressed skies and  the sun is still too sleepy to stretch its rays,   we traipse  towards  Sant Celoni´s famous bridge, El Pont Trencat. Built between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the  bridge was destroyed during the Peninsular War in 1811 to hinder the passage of Napoleon´s invading troops.

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We follow the narrow path going down the river Tordera and explore the  green patch of land below.  So narrow is the river that  it can be mistaken for  a stream. Gazing up, the bridge   easily resembles the dragon  from  Sant Celoni´s famous  legend that was slain by a local gentleman named Soler. The 11-century-old chapel of St. Martí de Pertegàs,  believed  to be the chapel where Soler heard mass first  before heading  to the dragon´s lair, is not far away.

Light raindrops quietly start falling as we  stroll  down  the path leading to the  sad looking chapel for cover.  The door is closed.  We take some photos and continue our tour oblivious to the slight drizzles. As we amble  through the narrow streets of the town, it is hard not to ignore the nationalist flags hanging  on several balconies  alongside colorful  pots bearing  newly-bloomed flowers of  spring.

We stop  in front of what is left of the ancient Roman wall or locally known as the Força de la vila  which  was built in 1154.  Only a chunk of it  has been conserved.  Carrying on,  I admire the beautifully-decorated windows  and doors of the  brick houses. Some of them  date back to the 15th and 16th centuries.

Taking several turns and corners, we bump into  one of Spain´s first  restaurants to be awarded a Michelin star,  the world famous El Racó de Can Fabes owned by the late Santi Santamaria. His death in 2011 led to the  eventual demise of the highly regarded restaurant.

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The municipal hall  stands proudly in the middle of the main square.  The sun has slowly come out  summoning the locals to bask under its  rays. The plaza mayor  is teeming  with senior residents.

Pushing their grocery carts, several grandmas  stop in the middle of the square to have a short chat with  a friend  or  neighbor.  With only 17,000  inhabitants, it gives me the impression  that everybody  knows everybody in Sant Celoni. Pastry shops are busy with families queuing to buy fresh from the oven  bread and sweets.  A number of  grown-ups  are heading to their favorite bars to grab  their first meal of the day.  We enter a friendly looking coffee shop to have some sip of hot drinks  before carrying on  with our walking tour.

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As we  step out of the coffee shop, the sun has gone into hiding behind the clouds again, stealing some nap I guess. We pose in front of the  17th baroque  Parish Church  of Sant Martí before heading for the parking area. A solemn funeral mass greets us as  we enter the massive church.  Constructed during the second half of the 17th century, the church boasts of its portada which bears stunning  engravings  of figures that are  allegories of virtues and representations of   saints, angels, archangels  considered to be one of the  most important engravings in Catalonia.  Looking at the entire  200 year-old façade seems to be like  staring at a giant altarpiece that is  so  breathtakingly magnificent.

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Jordi recalls that during their  teenage  days,  almost everybody in town owned a motorbike and every afternoon,   he and his friends would drive all over Sant  Celoni and its neighboring villages.  He laments that now,  it seems that nobody in town   owns a  motorbike anymore.

“You are bored now, aren´t you?” Jordi teasingly asks us from time to time.  Well, as a matter of fact, the thought of  packing my bags and head back to Barcelona hasn’t crossed my mind since the start of  our walking tour. Though not as stunning and  charming as the other Catalonian towns like the medieval  town of Bésalu or  the famous  Figueras,  Sant Celoni is not as bad as I have imagined. Maybe Jordi just wants us to expect less of his town, nicknaming it Mordor, calling it boring,  just a ploy to jack up our curiosity of the place.  Sort of  a tourism marketing stunt, isn´t it, Jordi?

Where  witches dwell

As part of the “ploy”, Jordi and Sofia have  come up with  a plan   to complement  Sant Celoni´s “beauty”.  We drive out of  Sant Celoni  and snake  through the long winding road that  makes all passengers on board feel nauseous.  We finally reach the site more popularly known as the Dolmen de Vallgorguina.  Also known as  La Pedra Gentil, it is consist  of seven  vertical megaliths that hold a big block of megalith  lying horizontally in a form of a table.   Although there hasn´t been a scientific research to verify the truth behind the stone formation, some estimated that it was between 3,500 and 3,000 A.D. that La Pedral Gentil  came into existence.

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Many considered the place as the valley of witches.  Many years ago, fishermen from Meresme reported  that every Friday night,  evil sorceresses descending from their brooms would convene around the megaliths to  perform a bloody ritual. If one of the witches had been behaving in an un-witchlike manner and was found   not worthy to be a witch,  she would be  condemned to death by hanging.  The rest of the  broom-riding necromancers would brew a big storm complete with lightning and thunder  to  distract  the neighboring towns  from discovering  this satanic activity.

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I don´t see  any blood-stained cups  though, nor feel an  creepy sensation of the place. Instead, I imagine  our winged Filipino witches, with their lower extremities separating from their upper bodies  taking selfies with their Catalan counterparts in one of their witch conventions.   Despite  the scary stories that hound this place, curious visitors come here  to admire the stone formation and  the  spectacular view below. There is even an organized walking tour  of the place leading up to Corredor which turns out to be  the next destination that Jordi and Sofia have cooked for us.

Something exotic and familiar

We have to endure the  short dizzying  drive up to the top of the Sierra de Corredor  which  takes us  to the Sanctuari de Corredor, a 16th century hermitage dedicated to the Blessed Virgin.  It was in 1524 when a group of peasants built a small hermitage  dedicated to  the Holy Virgin Mary  on top of the mountain.  Sixteen years later, the hermitage was taken down to give way to the construction of a much bigger three-sectioned  chapel.  The former location of the hermitage became a place of refuge for pilgrims which would later be converted into a restaurant.

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The restaurant is very  popular among the locals especially the   bikers. So it is not surprising to see the place packed to the rafters.  Without a vacant table for five, we first  get inside the chapel to have a look. The only light that illuminates the  place  is the sunlight coming from the open door and the three lighted electric votive candles. The chancel too is covered in darkness save for the little light behind the  small statue of  Our Lady of Sorrow on the altar piece.  I  take the last pew and contemplate at the simple beauty of the chapel and say my little prayer.

A few feet away from  the chapel  grounds is the  sprawling   Montnegre i el Corredor national park.  The park  is also busy with  families munching bocadillos  on the grass.  Still no table for us, we take a short walk into the woods, following a path  full of cork trees.  I look back at the restaurant and it looks like a small castle with soldiers wearing red shining armors from afar.

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Several kilometers later, we are so peckish we can no longer walk any further.  Finally, a table for five is  waiting for  us once we get inside the restaurant.  Joan, Sofia´s brother-in-law who happens to be one of the owners of the place comes out of the kitchen to greet us.   For apéritifs,  we have the  traditional pan con tomate,   scrambled eggs with mushroom, breaded artichokes, chicken croquet, salad with big chunks of goat cheese and snails bathe in sauce.  The table falls silent for  a while as everybody is busy wolfing down the heavenly dishes.

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For  the main dish,  the food ranges from  the familiar to the exotic. Roasted pork, baked chicken, botifarra, steak and  baby goat legs flood the table.  For dessert, we have crema catalana, with chopped strawberries and slightly  burnt caramelized sugar on top.

After lunch,  Joan  gives me a tour of the kitchen. He introduces me to his staff and one of the cooks pulls me aside  to show me  a big pot full of quails he is deep frying.  Joan takes a stoker and  shows me how they caramelize the crema catalana.

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Before we bid goodbye, Joan takes the key of the sanctuari and  guides us to the second floor of the chapel  all the way to the bell tower.  An  enormous ancient bell greets us as we get out of  the old wooden door. We stay there for a while digesting the amazing view of the sea on  one side  and the mountain ranges on the other.  Such a  picture perfect scenery.  Looking down the bell fry, cars sit quietly under the gaze of  the  giant mountain ranges as  dark fogs  still loom above.

Moving the  giant

We still have an hour  to catch our train back to Barcelona but we can´t leave Sant Celoni just yet.  We  have a mission to accomplish.  After lunch, we drive  to  Jordi and Sofia´s nest. As soon as we get to their house, we find ourselves standing face to face with  the 2-meter tall and 20-meter wide mahogany cabinet  in  the living  room.  The massive piece of furniture looks  like a stubborn bully trying to intimidate  the whole second floor.  Jordi wants it moved to the garage and be put on sale. He needs some helping hands.  Arnel, who is the mathematician of  the group, starts calculating  the geometric size of the figure in question.  Mentally formulating   the algebraic equation to solve the problem, he begins assigning  who holds which part or  which side to lift  first.

I hate lifting heavy stuff.  At first, I  plan to fake my part. I will just pretend, work on my facial expression. I mean, the three of them can manage it, can´t they?  Wearing  a “pained” face, I look like I am shitting in my pants. Seeing the grimace on  my fellow      lifter´s faces however, guilt sets in.  Sofia  is  busy cheering us on and snapping  photos   while we sweat our ass  off  lifting the big  monster down the stairs. Taking the first flights is like walking towards death.

The monster is really  heavy. As heavy as one whole house itself.  Are the dead bodies of the dragon   and Señor Soler  inside this  darn thing?  After a couple of attempts, careful steps and measured paces, we progress, slowly but surely  from the second floor to the first floor and then to the  garage.

Driving us back to the train station, we thank our  gracious hosts for  the delightful tour.  Sofia invites us to visit them again while   Jordi  recites his gratitude  for  helping him move  his cabinet before  asking us his parting line:   “So how did you like your trip to Mordor?”

Tolkien described   Mordor  as surrounded by several mountain ranges and the river Anduin.  Sant Celoni is surrounded by  the mountain ranges of Montseny and Montnegre and the Tordera river flowing in it. With witch conventions  happening nearby and a big dragon buried somewhere, Sant Celoni can easily be  Catalonia´s version of Tolkien´s  Mordor. But spooky, it is not.  And boring, neither it is.  On the contrary, it may  not  be spectacularly beautiful but visiting a place is not always about the place itself, is it?  Sometimes, it is more than that.  And in Sant Celoni´s case, it is the company,  the food and the legend that made our trip  far from being a big fat yawn.

And  yes, that über heavy cabinet too.