If you're a Swedish girl or a gap year student, Barcelona might well be the best place on earth. It's like Cancun, Bermuda, and Neverland rolled into one. Eighty percent of the people you'll interact with will be exactly the same as you, but with slightly dumber tattoo stories. The nightlife is just retarded enough to remind you of what people were listening to at home six months ago so you'll never get homesick, and everybody speaks English. Barcelona? RADcelona more like.
I guess if you're not into having the same conversation about graffiti/French house/ trainers 50 times a day, it could be a bit of a drag. Even more so if you're an Algerian immigrant who's been reduced to squatting the roof terrace of an inner city apartment block for somewhere to sleep. But you don't know anyone like that, do you? The people you hang around with spend their days painting faux outsider art portraits of dogs and figuring out how to pull off the perfect drop in to fakie switch (or whatever, skate terminology bores me) at the Macba. Wake the fuck up people.
This is the entrance to the apartment building where I stay in in Barcelona.
This is the staircase. As far as I know no one has ever fallen down and broken their neck, but I do know that the 77 steps up to my friend's flat take an awful long time to climb on acid.
This is the roof terrace. Pretty nice, eh? I bet you're splitting up with your special someone and booking your easyjet flight as I write this.
And this is the other side of the roof terrace, where an Algerian kid called Saleem has been living for the last few months.
Saleem didn't let us take any pictures of him because he's understandably ashamed of living on a fucking rooftop. But he did invite us in for a cigarette.
Er, how long have you been living on my friend's roof? I've been here for two months and a week. I cant wait to go back to Brussels. There I've got a house and friends. But here--look at this. It's disgusting.
Wait, you live in Belgium? Why did you come here?
When I first left Algeria five years ago, the first place I went to was Valencia. I was there for two years, and then went to Belgium. If you're in Spain for more than three years you can claim papers, so I came back to try and do that. But I'm not sticking around, I'm going back as soon as Ramadan's over.
Oh, it's Ramadan. How's that going?
I hate it, man. All I want to do is sleep during the day, but you can't 'cause by three o'clock it's too hot up here.
How do you cook up here?
We can't. We go and eat at Arabic bars, or sometimes at friends houses. But I don't have many good friends here.
How about the people you live with?
They're older than me. They've only been here in Spain for two weeks and don't speak any Spanish. To me they seem kind of stupid.
So how did you find this spot?
The first guy here was a Moroccan dude. He's the guy who changed the locks, but he's moved out now.
So this place is for people to arrive to. Before they can find somewhere else?
Yeah, that's right.
How old are you?
Yesterday was my 23rd birthday! I almost forgot, but I was talking to one of the guys and he mentioned that it was the 26th. I was like, "Fuck man, it's my birthday today."
Happy birthday! This view is kind of amazing. People would pay thousands for this.
Ha, I know, But for me it's all free. At least that's something.PAUL GEDDIS