El Dorado (Golden)

To write this article about an international memory while being locked here in the Netherlands almost 3 years after this trip and while the Covid-19 restrictions are in place makes me restless and helpless (insert dramatic emoji here… but seriously). On one hand, I think the lockdowns have eventually pushed me to resume into blogging but on the other hand, it gave me so much time to browse into older photos and just makes me realize how badly I want to roam around the World again. At the time of this writing, the last international travel I did was through Spain and Andorra in August 2020. It actually comes full circle to resume writing about the places I visited by starting off with Spain.

I went to Barcelona in summer 2018 to attend the concert to support Latin superstar Shakira’s 2016 album, El Dorado. It was a perfect opportunity for me to finally meet one of the musical icons which have shaped my teenage and 20s years with the compositions which she made that mirrored a number of my life experiences. I always thought of going at least to one of my favorite artist’s concerts and here I was, being able to realize that one artist at a time with Shaki. Also, it was a great opportunity to revisit Barcelona. I’ve been realizing this a lot of times and I must have said this to a lot of people and maybe even wrote about this somewhere in my blog, but Barcelona was my favorite city since the 2000s until 2018 (and it could still be as of this writing, though I have not thought so deeply about this question recently). And just like committing myself to visit at least one concert of my favorite artists, I also committed to visiting Barcelona annually one way or another.

One of the things I loved about the place is its gastronomy. It’s like that always going back to your hometown – you just have a list of cravings you wanna satisfy. In this case, I had a list of taking a small box of churros con chocolate as well as taking a diner and finishing it off with crema catalana (crema cremada or burned cream, which is identical to crème brûlée but has a burnt caramel top). Of course, wouldn’t you wanna take a bite of one of these while parading through the Las Ramblas? haha, I did! And oh, it always feels so awesome! It’s like just parading through my hometown street.

Finally, it was time to watch the concert at the Palau Sant Jordi. The familiar architecture starting from the impressive roundabout where the Plaça d’Espanya, towards the columns of the Fira up to the Font Magica de Barcelona and further up the site where most of the ceremonies of the 1992 Barcelona Summer Olympics was held; the familiar sound of people speaking both Castellano and Catalan; the seemingly familiar spirit of togetherness and youthfulness; and finally, the familiar background music running through Shakira’s catalog. Almost 3 years later, writing this blog and reminiscing everything during that weekend feels so fresh and vivid in my mind. Starting her intro with “Estoy Aquí” (“I Am Here”) and through 20 more numbers later to the finale “Bicicleta” (“Bicycle”), it was a night full of magic – running down memorable moments of my early years in one night; channeling my inner Latino; and lip-synching my way whether through some of the outrageous choruses of “Whenever, Wherever”, “Chantaje” (“Blackmail”), and “La Tortura” (“The Torture”) or through the serenading lyrics of “Tú” (“You”), “Amarillo” (“Yellow”), or “Nada” (“Nothing”).

Finally, Shakira ended her tour with of course, nothing short than the legendary soundtrack of the World Cup in which Spain won its first football cup in 2010 – “Waka Waka”. Sung interchangeably in both Spanish and English, singing the whole song through with new-found friends. By the way, I went to the concert on my own as I usually just wanna get lost with only myself as a witness but eventually, I left the Palau with a handful of young professionals who we will forever cherish the moments captured in our phones. It was an awesome night, that even in a place where you went on your own, as long as you have the people’s soul, you will be one with them. They just grabbed me in, welcoming me into their circle while we lip-synched through the song while we all took selfie videos to remember that night.

In the end, the night lived up to the whole spirit of Barcelona – the memories, the magic, the food, revisiting the place – it will always be golden… el dorado para siempre!