Months of Schengen-visa uncertainty ends with my arrival at Barcelona’s El Prat airport, flying in from the US, where I live. I’ve been invited as the opening Plenary Speaker at the 19th International Conference of the Utopian Studies Society of Europe in the port city of Tarragona. The title of the Conference is “In Search of New Harmonies”.
Excited American tourists in their fluorescent tee-shirts swarm alongside me towards immigration. One young man dumps his backpack on the floor beside his section of the zigzag queue to avoid carrying it the extra distance. The bag is instantly snagged by burly security guards: the boy has now to lug the burden for twice the distance. But the sun blazing outside these bland white walls affects even the black-clad immigration officers locked behind their bullet-proof glass booths. They barely glance at passports, before stamping them and waving us through.