On the top of the mountain of Montserrat, it smells like rosemary. The sun is shining and it feels nice to breathe something in other than cigarette smoke and diesel. Sometimes you just need to climb a mountain. Living in the city is exciting, however lately I’ve been missing the wide-open spaces that I’m used to.

Montserrat is about an hour from the city but it rises up on the horizon from a distance with its distinct shape.  The length of the trip is actually getting up the mountain on a bus, which looks like it is about to dive off the edge of the winding road with every turn. The bus driver yells and swears at each car we pass, even though I am pretty sure he should be the one slowing down. Buses are not a friendly vehicle to drive around Europe in for a lot of reasons, this being one of them.

No matter how many mountains you have seen, Montserrat can be compared to no other.  It is most famous for it’s formation of rock pinnacles that shoot up into the sky. They look like huge rock people who could come to life and march all over the earth upon command- or at least that’s what I like to imagine. The pillars actually have a lot of names, one is called The Elephant, another The Mummy, and as an overly inspired companion pointed out, one should be named Homer Simpson.

In the 12 century, the first chapel and later a monastery were built on the mountainside. Those who discovered it said the beautiful shape of the mountain could have only been created by divine hands, which made it the sacred religious spot it still is today. Thousands of visitors come to the tiny town, which is built off of the side of the mountain to hike and climb and also pay homage to a famous religious figurine.

In Spanish she is called La Moreneta, or the Black Madonna. It is a statue some say was created in Jerusalem in the 700s, and people come from all over the world to see The Virgin sit on her throne of wisdom with the child in her lap, as she holds in her palm an orb that represents the universe. Held in the basilica in the center of the town, a line of people stretch through the chambers of the church to reach the statue and touch the orb she holds.

Meanwhile, Catalonia is in the process of making more history in their defiant effort to separate from Spain. On Sunday, Catalonia’s president Artur Mas announced that the referendum for separation would officially be held on November 9, but on Tuesday the Spanish central government called it unconstitutional and illegal and that preparations for the referendum should be suspended.

Despite this, Catalonia is still determined to hold this referendum in November. Beginning tonight, (Tuesday), and in the following days, a protest is being held in Plaça Sant Jaume, in front of the Catalan parliament building, demanding the right to vote. Pro-independence supporters are flooding the streets of Barcelona, if they aren’t flooded out first by the abnormally intense rainstorms this week.

When the rain began on Sunday, I thought it might be the perfect time to see the Picasso museum- apparently everyone else in the city had the similar idea-  I found a line that extended the length of the street. But sometimes the best discoveries happen when unplanned. As I walked back in the now pouring rain, which seemed to be mocking me, I heard music coming from one of the small side streets and followed it.

Looking through the big glass windows, I saw women working away at old-fashioned typewriters, all wearing similar 1950s style dresses. Behind them was a small music lounge where it was coming from. It was called Expendeduría Poética. After being given a postcard like paper, I was instructed to choose three words off of a huge wall of stamps, and stamp them on in any order. After handing this to the first girl at the typewriter, with those words she would start a completely original poem and then hand it off to the next when she finished her thought.

I chose the words “beauty”, “tree” and “love” and with that they gave me this poem(translated from Spanish).

“There are times when the beauty is not in that moment want. In that look at the crossing of legs (roots). In a forest, full of green, leafy trees and full of possibilities. Beauty knows no wait, has one foot after the other, forgotten, inert. If I knew what lies in the bark of the tree, would insist, serious growing cell, the biggest blunder I could remember. Your greatness of the forgotten past.”