BILBAO—If there is someone in this city who cannot sleep at all, that’s me. I am never alone. I cannot remember a day or night when the place was completely empty.
Yesterday, a girl came to ask me some questions, like an interview, and you know what, I loved that someone was interested in my stories. I hear at least 100 stories each day: grandmothers telling stories about their grandchildren, teenage girls suffering from unshared love or lovers with their future plans. Nothing impresses me anymore.
“Let me introduce myself,” I said. My name is Plaza Jardines de Albia and I live in Bilbao, Spain. I have always lived in this place, at the junction of Ibanez de Bilbao Street and Alameda de Mazarredo, more or less in between the Old City and the Guggenheim museum.
She asked me what I like about the people that visit me every day and I think it is the purpose of their visit, all unique in their ways. There is this middle-aged guy who comes every morning to have a walk with his dog, a cute brown fox terrier, and the funny thing about him is that he always takes the same way on the paths, with the dog following him. Three years, same directions. It is a ceremony of my mornings. Or the blonde girl, that comes at least three times a week during the summer to write. She is 22 years old and studies creative writing. Every time, she comes with a green notebook and spends around two hours, sitting by a tree, with a bottle of still water and fruits. Once, she started to cry while writing and it made me so sad to see her like that.
While during the day people come to rest, read or meet with friends, at night I am a total discotheque. Being surrounded by around 10 bars and a nightclub, it is impossible to keep the place quiet until at least four in the morning. Usually, young people prefer to buy alcohol from a nearby shop because it’s cheaper and then drink it on the street near other bars, or sitting on a bench in a square. Some of them don’t even go to club after. They just drink all night.
One of my neighbours is Café Iruna. Opened in 1888, the place is now known as the oldest café that is still open in Bilbao. On another side, Kafe Anztokia can be found, which is also a club during the night. When they start to migrate from one bar to the other, I have a free show, with music, police, and even clowns included (sometimes street performers stop here to try their luck). I don’t need TV or radio, although I have a guy who usually sleeps here and is very attached to his radio; one that plays only Spanish music.
I am also hosting someone else. Since 2003, the statue of Sabino Arana moved here, the father of Basque nationalism. We have a simple relationship; I give him a house and he makes me famous through tourists’ pictures.
Today is such a rainy day. No one sits. There are only people passing. I like Mondays because after the weekends full of parties the business men get back to meetings and money. In fact, apart from kids with grandparents, during the week from morning until the afternoon, I am all suited up and back in business. Once, I was witness to a handshake that entailed a lot of money.
OH! A kid just fell from his bike. I have to see that!