raval

The first day I walked around my neighborhood in Barcelona I was pleasantly surprised. I had never been to Europe and was not sure what to expect. This post focuses on one aspect of Raval-its diversity.

If Barcelona were Los Angeles, El Raval would be all the ethnic communities in L. A. meshed into one.

El Raval is a small neighborhood in Barcelona known for its large immigrant population and so-called sketchy streets. During the day this neighborhood is alive and vibrant with colors, artists, and multicultural restaurants. Walking around, one immediately feels welcome—and at times inspired—in this inclusive community.

For those familiar with Los Angeles, imagine all the ethnically diverse neighborhoods blended into one (i.e. the Indian community in Hollywood, the Latino community in Downtown, the Asian communities in Chinatown and Koreatown, etc). This new, blended community would be the equivalent of Raval.

One drawback about Los Angeles is that the multicultural neighborhoods are physically far apart from each other. A car is needed to go from Hollywood to Downtown, for example. In Raval, all the ethnic communities exist within a   3 x 1 mile area. People from Pakistan, Philippines, China, Morocco and Latin America live side by side in this densely packed space. This makes for an interesting stroll along its streets and for an interesting place to eat.

Since Barcelona is paralyzed on Sundays, due to closed businesses, many people relax and spend time with friends and family. On Sunday evenings in Raval, parents are seen playing with their children on the streets. During these hours there is an air of both joy and melancholy as the children play freely and carelessly, not knowing they live in the poorest part of Barcelona—and not knowing of the struggles going on around them.