It is ironic that my travel blog on Barcelona posted a few days after the terrible events there. The irony is that I was on holiday in Spain at the time, and without computer access. The blog was a scheduled one.
We had had a pleasant day in Arrecife on Lanzarote, the atmosphere was laid back and we sat in a sunny park overlooking the Playa Del Reducto before getting some mocktails and smoothies at a seaside restaurant. We returned to the ship, no worries no problems. Then the news. It was shocking to turn on the cabin TV to see what we recognised as Spanish police cars. Barcelona was breaking news.
At this point most of the news was jumbled. Casualty figures, “lone wolf” theories came and went. No link had been made to the “bomb factory” explosion the day before. And we sailed on to Gran Canaria.
Things had changed. Not massively for US, but changed. Our ship moored alongside two Spanish warships. There were more police at the port gates and checkpoints. But again, life went on. We caught the Hop On Hop Off and toured the city. On the main avenue, having a very similar layout to Las Ramblas,we could see police vehicles parked at the visible access points for traffic to the pedestrian section. We also saw notable police foot patrols through out the city. As we had a snack and a drink in the old town of Las Palmas helicopters flew over alleys and byways nearby.
The striking first impression for me, however, was the the two navy vessels had dropped their colours to half mast. This was repeated throughout the city at all government buildings and police stations. It was to me moving. Here in a place heavily caught up into the season’s tourist rush, those few moments of tribute seemed admirable to showed an appropriate sense of the national mourning overlooked by many tourists.
I have written of terrorism, and of memorial in the past. These are themes which are important to me. The first as a negative which requires action and demands dialogue to promote understanding. The second as a human duty to remember, celebrate, and mourn those who have come before. Let us hold tight upon the words, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Let Barcelona, Spain, and the world be find that comfort.