| Carrer Jueus,|
Back in mid-July I had driven to nearby Peralada to see what the village and the famous castle looked like. That was the last time I drove the car. Since then I’ve gone on two outings, but both were to France and by train. It’s rare that I need the car for my errands which is one of the great joys of living in a European city and one of the things I disliked the most about where I used to live, where you need a car to do anything.
I went to use the car on a recent Sunday, thinking I would go to Castelló d’Empúries, a very pretty village that I visited soon after I moved here. This time I would go to attend their 22nd annual Festival of Troubadours, dedicated this year to Temps de Sefarad. Maybe there would be some bagels.
Some Catalans seem to take an active interest in the Jewish community that once lived here before it was thrown out in 1492. Those Jews were a colorful blend of Middle East and Europe, a blend that can be heard in their lovely music. There is really very little that remains in Catalunya of that community. But many towns take pride (or an interest) in at least identifying the former Jewish neighborhoods and some of the streets where Jews once lived. Perhaps a case of absence making the heart grow fonder. Or a way to attract tourists.
|Plaque in Castelló d’Empúries|
where the medieval synagogue used to be
Outside the museum but within the former call, you can find, in some of the surrounding buildings, a small indentation in the portal of some of the houses where a mezuzah once hung. It gave me goose bumps being there when I visited a few years ago, and seeing those indentations, still there in the same doorways to the same buildings that had been hurriedly vacated more than 500 years ago.
The Catalans have an odd relationship with the people of the Middle East. They dislike Arabs but are great supporters of the Palestinians; they pretend to like Jews (easy enough since there are essentially no Jews living here) but despise Israel. Like most of the world, they feel compelled to choose sides but don’t really care enough about those they support to offer ideas that would help arrive at a resolution to that long-standing conflict.
I walked down to the car the next morning and called for road service. Damn. I should have brought a book. Who knows how long you have to wait on a Monday morning for road assistance. I sat myself on a nearby bench under the shade of a tree and watched and waited. The truck came in twenty minutes, connected cables from a portable battery, and the engine started up immediately. I signed a paper and that was it. The service comes free with my car insurance.
Not wanting to take the chance of getting stuck somewhere, I drove straight to a garage near my house to have the battery charged. The good part is that I now have a neighborhood mechanic. The bad part is that I had to pay for something I could probably have achieved for free (well, the cost of gas) just by driving for twenty minutes. But hopefully I have learned my lesson and will start the car up a little more often. Maybe even today. Or tomorrow.