“I Left My Shoes in Los Angeles”
After a six hour plane ride to New York City followed by a 7 hour flight, my family and I arrived in Barcelona around 7am the next day. Exhausted and bleary eyed, we bumbled through the airport and made our way to the local bus stop outside. That’s when it hit us: we were in a different country with limited knowledge of the language and no real idea of how to get to our host apartment in the Poble Sec neighborhood. As directed, we took the bus to Placa Espanya and had to walk an additional quarter mile to our new home.
This entire time it was pouring down raining. I mean, non-stop. Puddles everywhere. And it was cold. I looked down at his feet and noticed that Jabari was still wearing his Stance socks and Nike slide on sandals. “Son, don’t you want to change? Are you Ok walking around like that?” Stoically, he nodded and mumbled a response, so I didn’t think anything more of it, figuring this must be some kind of trend at his college.
But Rob gave me the scoop later: J left his sneakers back home. Those Nike sandals on his feet were the only shoes that he had. Forget Las Ramblas and La Sagrada Familia. We were on a mission to find a pair of size 13 athletic shoes in Spain.
Ever the navigator, Rob identified 24 Segons aka The Basketball Store a few blocks away from our apartment. Feeling more confident in our ability to navigate the neighborhood, we trekked on over. Cerrado. We were puzzled. After all, it was Sunday, and the weekend is a major day for capitalist exchanges back in the States.
Undeterred, we returned on Monday–right in the middle of the day! Surely, the store would be open for customers then. We saw lights and an employee inside. Jabari put his hand on the door handle, but the clerk shooed us away. The hell??? He pointed to the store hours on the glass door. And that was our introduction to the Spanish siesta. Lo siento, los Americanos! Come back later!
So we turned our attention to the infamous Parc Guell, a park designed by Antonio Gaudi, and then we headed south and took a leisurely stroll through the Gracia neighborhood (one of our favorites), stopping once for churros and hot chocolate (yum!) and then again for tapas. We walked up steep inclines, across the rocky landscape in the park, and then back down major hills into the city. Overall, it was probably a good two miles, maybe more.
Throughout the city, we noticed groups of dark-skinned street vendors, most likely Senegalese immigrants, who hung out at the various metro stops and other touristy areas with their faux handbags and shoes.
As we walked by one particular group, a guy sized up Jabari and called out to him in a cool American accent: “What size you wear, man?” The guy had a blanket full of knock off sneakers. “Just $20.”
J paused for a minute, clearly conflicted about his options. Ultimately, he decided that getting off-brand Yeezy’s just wasn’t worth the risk. Apparently, he was trying to avoid the inevitable deep depression that comes with procuring rip-offs on the black market (no pun intended). Adidas before Falso. Street cred before Good fakes. Mental health before undermining capitalism. Sorry, bro. The search continued.