Voyages: La Rambla of Barcelona

by Morgan Smith

It’s hard to imagine the horror and devastation of this attack on La Rambla, Barecelona, one of the world’s most fascinating walks. In the five years that my wife, Julie and I lived in Barcelona, we would stroll down La Rambla at least several times a month, always stopping in the restaurant, Pinoxto’s to talk with Juanito, the owner and enjoy whatever he might recommend for lunch, and always chatting with the mimes or human statues who made their living posing for hours on end for the passing tourists — Andrew, the human paella, and Juan Sabate juggling his soccer ball, for example. The little chihuahua with the glasses was the inspiration for the two chihuahuas I own now.

With the death of Julie and the weight of all those memories there, I thought that I would never be able to return but this murderous attack has changed my mind. I am going back to say thanks to Juanito and all those mimes and others who give La Rambla its special flavor. Here are some photographs of them.

The first is Juanito in the Bar Pinoxto near the entrance to La Boquería, Barcelona’s largest market, full of the freshest fruits and vegetables, and rows of shiny, silvery fish, all dispensed by immaculately dressed women in white smocks and caps. Pinoxto’s is the best place on La Rambla for lunch and, instead of offering a menu, Juanito simply describes what’s available that day. Everything is “muy bueno”, he says, and he’s never wrong. My favorite dish is “changuetes,” tiny fried fish but often I will simply ask him to give me whatever he recommends.

In addition, human statues or mimes are all along the route. Bobby from Brazil paints one side of his face because “we need to develop the left side of our body … so we may become healthier and more sensitive.” Andrew, the human paella from London carefully paints his face every morning before crawling under the table and sticking his head through the paella pan. Juan Sabate, the Maradona of La Rambla claims to have tapped his worn soccer ball in the air 8,700 times in one hour. Ivana is from Argentina. Erwin, a Brit, goes through an elaborate routine of pulling his pants down and pretending to be sitting on a toilet. The little chihuahua is named Benjy and his owner is Paco. They work hard and deserve every tip they receive.

They were betrayed by these terrorists. They were betrayed by the city officials who ignored safety precautions like barriers to prevent a vehicle from careening unimpeded block after block down this obvious terrorist target. I plan to go back and say a word of thanks to all of them.

Morgan Smith is a former Aspenite, served in the Colorado House of Representatives, as Commissioner of Agriculture and can be reached at