Friday, November 21, 2008


My Catalan class went off on a field trip!!!

How good is that?!?

We went to Refugi 307 and it was utterly fascinating.

During the civil war the Italians took up bombing Catalonia...Mussolini felt like giving his good bud Franco a hand. The Catalans ended up building over a 1300 refuges in Barcelona.

They were built almost exclusively by women, children and old men. All the other men were off fighting for one of the six or seven sides there were to fight for.

There are photos of seven and eight year olds with shovels, and five and six year olds carrying baskets of earth and dirt. It really was built by kids.

The designs were passed around and community groups, like your local neighbours association, or scout group got the funds together and started digging.

Qualified engineer or architect types - or at the very least experienced builders - would go around once a week and check things over, and I am certain that some of the older men would have had decent skills they could have taught to some of the women as well.

They were really well built.

They used roman barrel arches on the ceilings as they are so tremendously strong, and bricks for the walls rather than rocks as they flex better with the shock loading of bombing...apparently they spall...shed the outer layer and remain strong. None of the ceilings were cracked, though there were cracks in the walls; as you would expect.

They had electric lights, bathrooms, and this one even had a water source, as they tapped into a natural spring by accident, bricked it to a controllable level and then built a cistern, complete with an overflow drain to the street.

Apparently folks would come running with whatever food, water and wine they could lay hands on. The tunnels had several right angle turns as you go in to defuse the bomb blast and catch any shrapnel...and then zigzagged throughout...again to defuse blasts, from bombs outside and any collapses that may happen inside as well. It also meant that the ceilings worked separately so that if one area collapsed, the next would be unaffected.

The workmanship was most impressive.

Then we got to the sections that Franco's men worked on while he was still worried about Hitler invading. Noticeable difference in workmanship. Then again, they weren't going to be hiding in them with their babies and grandparents......

Motivation makes a difference.

I kicked myself about a thousand times on my walk back...I forgot the camera!!!!

There were SO many things I wanted to take a picture of...what was I thinking.

I'll just have to go back.

Hope your all doing really well...oh, and a health update? I think maybe, just maybe, we are all well.

That's a good thing.


Beth said...

wait a minute.....YOU FORGOT YOUR CAMERA????

you're dead to me now. ;)

how can you forget your camera??? and that is some facinating stuff!

dawn said...

Wow, that is very amazing history. It is awesome you are able to visit the places and how interesting the ones built by the men were not as secure. On the other hand, they may have been in more of a hurry.

Mar said...

You did what?? forgot your camera????? remember you are a "guiri" for the sake of your blog and readers :)
Coffee sounds won-der-ful!! check your e-mail!

Carla said...

I will let you off the hook. After all, I forgot my camera when I took that snorkel trip to the volcanic place near kauai.

Your trip sounds interesting. I love visiting history sites.. it come with living with a techno-dweeb, I mean engineer. LOL

swenglishexpat said...

Amazing story, but it is so easy to forget. Not only the 30's and the war, but also the junta in Portugal in the 70's, Greek dictators, Franco, Franco, and Franco and then later old Yugoslavia. Europe feels just a little safer these days.
BTW forgetting one's camera is almost a hanging offence! ;-)

oreneta said...

Beth...please...please...forgive me....mea culpa....I'll go back again, m'kay? Just for you....

Dawn, they were in less of a hurry actually, the bombs weren't landing around their ears, but they were a lot less motivated as they wouldn't be hiding in them.

Mar, I am sorry, but I am always a guiri....what can I do. I did check my e-mail, and I will also check my calander...

OMG Carla...I too am married to a techno-geek. Gotta love them. qute Franco and hanging offences in the same comment! I'm going to be running scared!