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The Iberian Horseshoe — A Journey

Part IV. North East

The Medieval Market

Steve Porter
Smaller text sizeDefault text sizeBigger text size Add to my bookshelf epub mobi Permalink Ebook MapOporto, Ponte Dom Luis

Half of Barcelona province has crammed into Vic. Robed monks are lost in clouds of smoky medicine. They claim these herbs cure everything from tobacco addiction to urine infections and period pains. On the steps of the Roman Temple a jester strums on a lute and sings like a medieval Donovan. Black-toothed urchins in rags sit at the side of the road eating barbecued butifarra sausage.

We are chatting at a food stall when someone behind us says: “Hey, you guys speak English, right? Where you from? Scotland? You up for the day from Barcelona like us?”

“No, we live here,” says Mary.

“Great. Nice place. But what do you do for a living out here?”

“We teach English.”

“You’re Scottish and you teach English? Say, excuse me for laughing but that’s quite funny, right?”

Mary and I look at each other and half-smile. We’ve heard this one before but are still trying to work out the joke.

“Okay, what would you like?” asks the stallholder in English. “Pita bread and vegetables? Sure, no problem coming up.”

As he puts one together the pita collapses sending hot vegetables all over the counter.

“Oh no. It’s falling,” he says. “Like an American tower.”

Tired of crowds, and badly timed idle chat, we go to Costa Llibreter, an antiquarian bookstore on Carrer de Sant Sadurní. I soon find a Catalan edition of The Name of the Rose but resist buying it as it would probably sit on my shelves unread. Mary peruses black and white photos of unknown individuals in the Pyrenean foothills. Meanwhile, I find a bargain 1932 Catalan translation of Proust’s Amor de Swann. I purchase it for a time when my knowledge of the language has improved and I’m more in the mood for love.

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Copyright ©Steve Porter, 2004
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Date of publicationJuly 2007
Collection RSSGlobal Fiction
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