At Mercat de la Sagrada Familia I always attempt to speak Spanish. this women was friendly enough to accept a picture with me after I asked in my not-so-good Spanish attempt.

At Mercat de la Sagrada Familia I always attempt to speak Spanish. this women was friendly enough to accept a picture with me after I asked in my not-so-good Spanish attempt.

If there is anything that has shocked me the most in Spain is the lively and colorful atmosphere I find at the local fresh markets. Mercat  de la Sagrada Familia and Mercat de la Concepció are two markets I have visited that embody all things local- from the food to the people. The vendors here give off a welcoming vibe and are proud of the food they sell. When I ask about certain fruits they not only tell me what it is, but when it was picked and where. I may not speak great Spanish, but it is obvious in the facial expressions that they appreciate when I try. Another market is La Boqueria, located on the touristy street of La Ramblas. The minute I arrived, I felt crowded. The market was infested with so many tourists who I heard did not speak Spanish. I saw many of them taking pictures and walking around. No one seemed to actually buy any food, they were more interested in getting a good picture. In a documentary about tourism in Barcelona, called “Bye Bye Barcelona“, one of the residents mentions that La Boqueria has changed over the years that and there is a “loss of enchantment”. Recently, they have banned large tour groups coming in at once. The facial expressions of the vendors were unhappy, different than what I saw at the other two markets. I was curious to see if the vendors would be happy to see a local (or someone who spoke Spanish) so my classmate Lynn and I decided to do a mini experiment. I went first asking the vendor where the kiwi was farmed (in English). The vendor seemed hesitant to answer the question, providing little eye contact making the experience feel awkward. After five minutes, Lynn approached the same vendor to ask the same question in Spanish. Lynn reports that the women was unwelcoming at first but then opened up to continue the conversation using eye contact. With these observations in mind, the facial expressions of the vendor gave me an interpretation that she could not connect with me because of the language barrier. I understand why my immediate reaction to the market felt tense, because a majority of the customers cannot make that connection. The disconnect between the vendor and customer is clear as statistics show for every 5 tourists there is 1 local in Barcelona and continues to rise.

Arin buying some pastries from a vendor at  Mercat de la Concepció. The vendors here are very friendly and happy about those who try to speak Spanish to them.

Arin buying some pastries from a vendor at Mercat de la Concepció. The vendors here are very friendly and happy about those who try to speak Spanish to them.

This picture is during the mini experiment Lynn and I conducted. Here you can see the vendor opening up to Lynn as she asks the vendor a question in Spanish.

This picture is during the mini experiment Lynn and I conducted. Here you can see the vendor opening up to Lynn as she asks the vendor a question in Spanish.