In My Birthday Suit

        Early in the morning, I'm on my way to meet Mike and Riad as we try to get information on what sites to see (travel guide was stolen) and I notice some old guy running that coconut game, 3 shells and a ball underneath. This guy's so unsophisticated that it's not even coconuts: just carrot tops carved into the shape of shells. I watch for a few minutes and this chick is just taking the geezer to school as he shuffles slowly; even I can tell which shell the ball's under every time. I withdraw money, planning to change my bad luck of the previous day.
        My luck hasn't changed: I'm out 60 euros ($60) in 2 shots. The cash machine giving me a 50 and overconfidence in my gambling abilities were a costly combination: I bet it and lost it right away. Assuming my luck had to change, I gave it a 10-pound go and lost that, too. Now that I think about it, there's no reason the lady winning so much money couldn't have been an assistant for the coconut shuffler... yeah, I'm an idiot.
        Barcelona's all about Gaudi. This famous architect's left a huge mark on the city, with tons of commemorative memorabilia in addition to Guell Park and the Sagrada Familia. We didn't make it to Guell but did hit up Sagrada, which looked like a huge sandcastle with cranes adding bricks instead of kids dripping sand. We're walking towards the beach and my luck plunges bizarrely low: I drop a plastic water bottle and it breaks. Didn't even know that could happen...
        Most importantly: being naked. Yes, I went to a nude beach and loved it. Riad and Mike stayed clothed, cheating the system by gaping without showing. Nevertheless, my white ass participated fully. It felt a little awkward at first, but swimming around butt-naked definitely felt very liberating. I did manage to have a bit more bad luck: opened my eyes underwater a little too long and my contacts swam out to sea. Unfortunately, no elimination of tan lines occurred; luckily, there wasn't any painful sunburn. I could definitely deal with being naked all the time.
        During more of the obligatory wandering around a new city, I manage to buy replacement contacts, not even getting ripped off in the process. We then head to the airport. If I am somehow allowed on this flight passportless, then my luck will be about even for the day. Stupid international law gets in the way and the American consulate has closed hours ago, so I'm gonna be beached in Barcelona for an extra day. I assure Mike and Riad that I won't get mugged or gamble with any carrot shufflers then get back on the train to the city, not entirely disappointed that I'm stranded somewhere that feels a lot like paradise.
        Then again, maybe it's not so perfect: Las Ramblas is definitely dodgy by night. Drifting down the street, I'm relieved to see a police car drive by every few minutes but still nervous. I keep my distance from the many locals who are hanging out, in my mind ready to part foolish tourists with their money. Fellow tourists walk quickly here, en route between hotels and clubs. Sad old women in skimpy dresses blow kisses at anything that walks by. I'm not flat-out scared, but I'm definitely alert.
        I head into an easyeverything internet cafe and I'm without location. Aside from Spanish translations for the logon screen and a keyboard layout that makes it difficult to type the @ symbol, I could be anywhere in the world. It's full of English-speaking tourists, all plugged in to their own world. I email friends and relatives, feeling like I'm somewhere a lot less exotic than Barcelona. The net really is a worldwide web: log on and you're practically worldwide, regardless of where you actually are.
        I leave the cafe around 4 after a security guy informs me that I can't fall asleep there. Reasoning that there's really no reason to get a hostel so late and with a beautiful beach a few blocks away, I begin walking to a sandy bed. On the way, I debate with myself about whether sleeping naked on the nude beach would ward off thieves or result in my clothes getting stolen. When I get to water, the argument's settled: seeing a stack of those huge reclining beach chairs locked up facing the water on a clothed beach, I climb atop and fall asleep watching the waves roll in. No hotel could compare.

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