Across Spain, tough questions about what binds a nation

The jokes arrived on cue: As a high-speed train from Barcelona, the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, crossed into the autonomous region of Aragon just hours after Catalonia declared independence, one woman quipped: “We have just left a foreign country.” Behind her, another piped up: “But I don’t have my passport.”

Behind the nervous laughter, however, lies a great sense of uncertainty across Spain, including Catalonia, after regional authorities voted to break free Oct. 27 and the central government in Madrid quickly voted to impose order.

It is an extraordinary moment here. Spaniards are jumping on every news alert as the first workweek with Catalonia under Madrid’s control begins. Yet beyond the play-by-play, Spaniards are pondering tougher questions about what binds a nation, about what Spain is, and what a nation called Catalonia might mean.

Nicolas Liendo, a chef…

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