Barcelona Street

Barcelona Street

I was reading the Globe and Mail this morning and this story caught my eye: “Bullfighting ban in Catalonia seen by some as anti-Spanish“. According to the article, officials in Catalonia have halted bullfighting across their state and some view this as an affront to Spanish culture. However, after travelling to this region, this story did not come as a surprise.

The Catalans are a pretty independent people it seems. Sure, this has not necessarily taken on the violent nature of some Basque elements, but there definitely is a nationalism that runs through Catalonia. I experienced this in 2008 when I went to Barcelona (and hence the above photo). To begin with, I was surprised by the extent of the use of the Catalan language in the city – it comes first on the signage and a few simple Catalan expressions from a tourist can garner a free glass of wine. Beyond that, Catalan flags flutter across the city.

I sat down and spoke with the owner of our hostel (Mambo Tango, I think it was called) about the Catalan culture and he bristled when I brought up bullfighting, noting that that was a Spanish custom and not Catalan.

Of course, the Catalans are not necessarily afraid of dangerous pursuits. Said hostel owner quite excitedly showed me a video of the gigantic human pyramids they make, culminating with a child climbing to the very top. One of the problems with these pyramids is they tend to collapse and people fall on each other. My Catalan friend disappointedly sighed that children were now required by law to wear helmets.

It’s no bullfighting, but still…