Mike and Nicole are my best friends in Barcelona. They used to live in the same building as I live in. She is from New Zealand and he is Caymanian. They have three children and a labrador called Chubby. Chubby is one of Boni’s girlfriends. Unfortunately for us, they recently moved to another area in town. We still meet frequently though, even in coronatimes. Sometimes they bring home-cooked food or pass by just to check on me. Due to my medical situation, visits of ‘care-takers’ are allowed. In exchange, Mike uses my terrace to shower Chubby and I assist them in filling out papers in Spanish, since their grasp of ‘Castellano’ is even poorer than mine.
Yesterday, Mike and I planned to go for a walk with the dogs but he turned up without Chubby. It was too hot for her to walk all the way. For Boni too actually so we agreed on a stroll in the neighbourhood. Before going out we exchanged our latest lockdown experiences and mocked the Spanish and Catalan authorities. Mike had received a message in Catalan from his insurance company and asked me to translate it. My Spanish is slowly improving but my Catalan is non-existent. I managed to sort out 25% of the text thanks to my French. We went down with Boni and walked towards the Cathedral. The city was deserted but, for the first time in months, behind the shutters of shops and restaurants we could hear people preparing to re-open.
Suddenly, in front of an office building a guy jumped towards us and started to talk to Mike. As quarantine weans one off social interaction and crime is thriving downtown, Mike was on his guard. When we heard the chap say: “tens foc si us plau?”, I saw Mike turning red. Just when he was about to make clear that, despite walking with a male friend, he is 100% straight and not amused by (homo)sexual proposals on the street, I figured out the misunderstanding. I quickly explained to Mike that ‘foc’ means ‘fire’ in Catalan and that the man was asking for a light. “Aahhh”, Mike sighed and handed his lighter to the Catalan guy, a smile of relief on his face.