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March 2008, vol 4 no 1

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Morgan Earl

 

The Gaudi Guide

His name is Ferdinand Pedro de la Costa. My guess he's pushing well into his 80s, still robust with the ruddy face of a sailor. He tells me he came from near Barcelona and had worked the coastal boats most of his life. I ask him what he thinks of the famous architect, Antoni Gaudi. His face quickly darkens as if the name is painful. He looks away but doesn't turn away. Sensing a chance to engage him in a Gaudi exchange, I prod him with my view of la Sagrada Familia, the astonishing unfinished cathedral Gaudi began in 1884. He shakes his mane of silver hair slowly as if I am just another 'know-nothing tourist' and replies in a thick English " I was with him when he was killed. 1926. June 7."

the twisted towers
eyes raised
in spanish awe

His eyes water as I follow his finger pointing to the street corner. "It was raining hard. He was agitated, distracted. I was only 10 then. He was old and I was helping him cross the traffic. Neither of us saw the trolley – I was holding the umbrella against the rain. The trolley hit him first and then me. His body softened the blow. It was all over for him. A brilliant anarchist mind, almost childlike. "

He pauses in memory " It should have been me, a sailor apprentice, no schooling. I meant nothing, but him, he was a god!" He turns away repeating over his shoulder, " It should have been me." As he walks on, his shoulders lower, his sadness palpable.

I bump into him again the next day on the wide sidewalk outside of Gaudi's Batllo House. He is talking excitedly to a couple, his hands flying, pointing to a second story window. As I pass by, I overhear him. " .... and up there was his study where I delivered his plans for that Guell residence ... I was with him when he was killed."

a hungry boy
the city's heart
rains