In Barcelona, you see that rarest of creatures, the unleashed dog. Dogs everywhere. Large and small. About half on leashes. You walk along and see a dog, untied, patiently waiting for an owner. Just like these.
You see them in the metro, in stores. And one evening, I watched about eight of them playing and madly running on a medium sized green space in between the ocean front and a busy six lane road.
And despite the canine liberty, dog shit is rare (and I suppose it would be a grave concern in perhaps the leading world city of fine footwear).
The dogs, which also generally appear to be unneutered, seem to be just another aspect of a less paternalistic culture, a more humanistic and democratic way of being, that pervades this remarkable city. The dogs are everywhere, and the smokers are everywhere and they all get along. Off the main roads, the streets are shared by all.
This picture is quite misleading. Though a typical street, it is atypically empty; a rarity in this densely populated metropolis. This street would normally have people on it, perhaps some dogs, quite possibly a motorcycle, and also a car slowly making its way through the narrows. Everybody shares, and the drivers are not impatient.
Here there seems to be an agreement that the roads are for all, and if anything the drivers are the third class citizens, and the same rule seems to apply to police vehicles as well. And it works; the same courtesy is evident on the main roads as well, with everyone on the lookout for pedestrians.
How sad my city seems in comparison. Dogs locked up as if they might rise up, form packs and gobble us up, smokers sent far away as if they would infect us by their very presence, and walkers regulated to crosswalks and sidewalks so that their betters, the auto armored knights can speed unmolested and unsullied (and yet angry), through the city that has been given to them.
Its all part of the same oppression. Keeping things in their place. We have vast wide open green spaces that the Spaniards can only dream of but somehow this coexists with a spiritual straightjacket, a capitulation to commerce and an institutionalized will to eradicate individual expression.