Monday, July 23, 2012

Elephants In the Street (September 13, 2006)

Here is another throwback post from my blogging abroad.  Enjoy!
Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Elephants in the Street

Spanish culture is saturated with a history of royalty and in a sense all Spaniards hold themselves with an air of being part of that rich legacy. Just as well, Spain is a very colorful culture. People dress in vibrant, showy clothing not lacking in any hue. It is completely normal to see women tossing air about with abanicos (hand-painted fans, like the Chinese kind, but Spanish). The heat seems to boil the Spaniards and accentuates their colors. They are not afraid to express themselves--whether it is with clothing, hand motions, hairstyles, or boisterous voices. They take life seriously but as something that really must be lived with great expression and precision. Spaniards like to taste, smell, see, hear, and feel life to the fullest extent--like grapes are squeezed and fermented to get the strongest, fullest flavor--that is how Spaniards live. And I have a feeling that if I stick to it they will be more than willing to add me to their tapestry of color--as long as they know I'm serious about it. None of this standing on the sidelines stuff.
I have more to add to my list of observations . . . (am I on 7??)

7. It's been an adjustment living in an apartment. It's very confining feeling not being able to take one step out of the door to the outdoors. My room here is dark like the one at home, but they're into enerygy saving, so I only have one little lamp on my desk. We do have a flourescent light, but you know how I feel about flourescent versus incandescent light! We have a window, but it faces other apartments, where everyone hangs their laundry, so the sunlight is indirect sunlight that filters in from the top of the building. If I really wanted to, I could lean out of my window and hold hands with my neighbor, or ask them for a plate of food. Not a bad idea actually . . . they are always cooking something that smells pretty good.

8. Speaking of energy saving, Spaniards are very concerned about saving water. They actually are in a drought, and the water reserve is down by 40%. So they are serious about not using too much water. I have to turn on the shower to get wet fastly, then shut it off to suds up. Same with brushing teeth, washing hands. Basically, you better not be running water unless it is in a glass to drink it. Yesterday, Odalis and I were exploring the Old Madrid, where the palace is. Somebody was watering flowers on their balcony, but they forgot the hose was on, or poured too much water and it was leaking out of the planters, down three floors and watering the sidewalk. You should have seen what a spectacle it was!! People were coming out on their balconies, peeking their heads out from the shops, stopping on the street, yelling at them to quit wasting water. It was probably the equivalent of an elephant wandering around the streets by itself--that's how much it stirred up the neighborhood.

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