It began with a bell chime, and then one by one, clanging, metal against metal, repeatedly switching between the various hollow melodies of sauce pan acoustics. I walked out on my balcony and realized I was not alone. I glanced up at the various silhouettes of all shapes and sizes on the other balconies. Each unrecognizable by the darkness of the streets with only the light of their apartments glowing around their deliberate metal drumming arms. These unified, yet unique sounds, so representative of the diversity of Cataluña, played a different tone yet they all came together, organized, unified. Each stroke came down to make contact with the metal objects and was more thoughtful than the last. I locked eyes with my neighbor who stood 6 feet from me on his first floor balcony as he used his wooden spoon against a silver platter. Our eyes locked for a moment, but his hands never wavered as the spoon remained at a steady pace. The echo bounced off the apartment facades and car horns and whistles rang from below the luminescent terraces. After minutes of listening I could almost make out the syllables of vo-tar-em, the chant I had heard in the streets before. Whether that was intentional or not, the sound would not let up. They were going to be heard.
Nothing I have experienced in Barcelona has been on time. Dinners start late and last for 4 hours, lunches are 3 hours past noon, and I have become more flexible when attempting to make any type of “plan”. But every night since that night, I have waited until the first bell chime telling me it was 10 p.m. and I have listened to the metal orchestra of sorts on my street for what seems like 15 minutes.
I won't begin to explain the entirety of the situation because I myself do not know all the reasons and am attempting to understand it each day with new information and new questions. We are in the middle of a very important time for Spain and Cataluña as the events surrounding this vote take place. We are walking down the street each day and seeing these various flags and Democracia signs hanging above us. We are hearing the clanging each night out our windows, and not just witnessing this on CNN or an American platform. We are in it all. My professors have been so willing to explain to me the situation each time I ask, without a second thought, always providing me with the latest from each side.
Tomorrow is October 1st, a day many residents of Cataluña have been waiting for as a chance to vote to secede from the country of Spain. For some, this has been a desire since the Franco regime, for others, long before that. Now in 2017 that desire is rang out through the streets each night as those in favor of the independence prepare for tomorrow.
Tonight in Girona, around an hour away from Barcelona, I waited until 10 p.m. once again. “Hurry you’re gonna miss it!” my roommate yelled from the other room. I knew I wouldn’t. I opened the hotel window and waited for the first clang. Then another, and then 5 or so together accompanied for the first time by a voice cheering from the room above me. Using their hands this time as their instrument, the anonymous arms clapped along.
I wanted to hear this in case it is the last time. Like many, I don’t know what will happen tomorrow. An isolated clang rang out longer than the others and after three final beats, the “vot-ar-em” I had formed in my mind was hit one last time. I looked at the clock as it read 10:11. And then, silence.
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Mary Katherine Prehn
<p>I grew up in San Antonio, Texas and by the 3rd grade I knew I loved speaking Spanish. While my skills have come from learning the colors of the rainbow to reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Spanish culture and language has always been a part of my education. Both English and Spanish have been clear interests of mine throughout my adolescence, and both allow me to communicate in different ways while stretching to understand what is around me.</p>