|Fishing for colors (Pescando para los colores)|
|Eating a rainbow (Comiendo un arco iris)|
|Look at those colors! (¡Mira los colores!)|
Monday, September 11, 2006
Picados de España
|1. In Spain, nobody tips when they go out, therefore the waiters/waitress don't have to work for a tip, therefore they can be as rude or as pleasant as they like. It's been about 50/50 for me. One day I was eating in a cafe with Odalis my roomate. Odalis ordered, and as I was about to order, the waitress just walked away. Yesterday, we were at a chocolateria, and as I was ordering--like actually speaking, our waitress walked off. Nice huh?|
2. Spainiards don't eat breakfast. A normal breakfast for them is a glass of warm milk. And maybe a piece of toast. I'm starving by eleven o'clock. But at school, we have a break about then--because everyone is starving because they don't eat breakfast!! (to me it makes more sense to eat a heartier breakfast so that you don't have to pay for more food later!)--so for instance today I got a little bocadillo (sandwich) in the cafe at IES. And when I say little, I mean little. It was (cuesta) 80 centavos. Not too bad. But then I had to eat lunch later! They eat lunch here around 2 or 3pm. That is their biggest meal of the day. Then at night they go bar hopping hanging out with friends relaxing and eating tapas. Tapas are various foods in small portions that go well with vino or cerveza (wine or beer).
3. Spaniards are very formal. They have a very set way of doing things. For instance: in the house, they don't walk around barefoot. They have house shoes and a house outfit. My host mom wears a knit dress as she cleans or watches tv or cooks, etc. My host brother has this pair of plaid shorts (like the ones that are popular in the US now) and a t-shirt. He wears slippers too! Then they get dressed to leave the house--like nicely dressed--slacks, button-up shirt, dress, heels, perfume/cologne, etc. I feel very frumpy around the city! I just don't think I can walk around in heels! Although, the university students, whom you can spot are a little more casual--a mix of punk, emo, preppy--I can't explain it. Kinda of like Urban Outfitters style . . . yeah, that's it! They even have a system for when they go out as a group. One person is selected to collect money from each person, they are called la encargada (the one in charge). Then they pay at the end and re-distribute the money.
4. Madrid is not like cities in the US where kids are rarely to be seen. Neighborhoods are not really distinguished from a downtown area. There are many central spots that have developed for whatever reason (e.g. the Palace is there, the Parque del Retiro is there, or Puerta del Sol for example is the middle of town, etc.). Family seems to be very important here and kids are a large part of what goes on. It is so amazing to hear a little kid speaking better Spanish than me. But there is a very lax feel with the kids; parents do not restrict their kids from running off or playing far away from them even though they are in a busy neighborhood in the city. For example, Odalis and I saw a woman the other day pushing her baby daughter in a stroller. She was a beeeUtiful baby! The woman stepped into a panaderia (bakery) and left the stroller outside--with the baby in it!!! And she was like IN the store. Loco!!!
5. Spainiards stay up late!!! Restaurants don't open until 9pm or so. Street cafes, are always full--tables on the sidewalks have people sitting, eating, drinking, all the time. Odalis and I went for some cafe con leche the other night, and we sat there and talked with tons of people around until 1! We didn't even realize it was so late because, there was still tons of people going here and there. If people are going out, to a discoteca, the don't leave until like 1 or 2 am!! The discotecas usually stay open until 5 or 6 in the morning, when the Metro starts running again. It's hard to keep up with the Spainiards! Especially on their slim diet! I guess they take it slow in the mornings, with less food, then pump it up in the late afternoon until evening to keep going. Somewhat opposite of what I'm used to. For example, the mornings (when I say morning I mean like 9-10 not 7-8 like in the US) are very quiet with not many people around, but the afternoon (2-5) and nights--whew! People everywhere!!
6. Not many people are friendly here. They are cordial, yes. But not extremely loving or helpful. I think some are more open to foreigners than others. Some though, have a radar for the stench of new people and won't give you a second thought. If you open your mouth to let out that Spanish with an English accent--well, all I have to say is, enter that area at your own risk.
| 9. Bocadillos. If I never eat another bocadillos when I get back to the states, it will be too soon. First, let me explain what a bocadillo is--it's a sandwich. What's so wrong with that you might ask? Well, let me tell you. Everyday for lunch, that's what I eat. It's a staple of the Spaniard's diet. Bread for breakfast; bread for lunch; bread for dinner. Today, on the way home from Asturias, we stopped to get lunch. What were the options? Bocadillos. Don't get me wrong. They taste fine. They're just white bread, hard bread, just bread! You can get a bocadillo with queso (cheese), jamon (ham, that's cured, not cooked or whatever, like the ham we eat on sandwiches [by we I mean american]), chorizo (sausage), or tortilla (the eggy-potato thing. Yes, that's right, potatoes on bread--can you say starches-that-constipate-you-galore? Actually, for all the walking they do around here, starches don't stay around long enough to be turned into fat for energy storage). And do you want to know how much this cute little bocadillo (don't let the name fool you, they're not that cute) cost me? 3 stinking euros. That's right folks, a piece of cheese between to hard pieces of white bread cost me about five dollars. Give me some rice and beans please!! Or a salad (with GREEN leaves). Or even a cheeseburger (not from McDonald's or Burger King--I haven't gotten that desperate yet)!! But I mean, hey, I was prepared for this. I knew before coming here--since Cottey was so kind as to bring us here for a week--that the Spanish don't really know how to cook. |
On a lighter--and more tasty note--my trip to Asturias was great. We left really early from IES, and stopped a couple hours later for breakfast at a hotel restaurant. It was reeeeaallly good. It was a buffet, with tortilla de Espana, meats, eggs, yogurt, fruit, bread (of course), and cafe con leche (the best!!). Then we drove to Leon, where we took a tour of the Cathedral there--Carmen was my tour guide again (she's great)--and walked around the town. It was a small town, which was a nice break from the crazy city of Madrid. We ate lunch there in the sidewalk cafes, then got back on the bus and headed toward Posada de Valdeon. Let me explain a little. Spain is made up of lots of different autonomous communities like states. Castilla y Leon is one of them. Posada de Valdeon is a town in the National Forest of Spain which is between Leon and Asturias. We stayed at a cute little hostal in the mountains of the National Forest. They call the mountains "Picos de Europa." The hostal had A-mazing food! There was a creamy vegetable soup with--yes--bread, then some macaroni thing with clams and mushrooms, then a salad, then chicken and french fries, then desert. The soup was the best part--one of those soups that makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, like a hug to your stomach or something.
Anyways, the next morning we went for a hike through the mountains which was actually more like a walk down the road. It was SOO beautiful, I can't even begin to explain. But the sky was so clear, with perfect picturesque clouds. At the end was a little pueblo and then a taxi ride--more like a ride of death, skidding ever-so-close to the edge of the road that gives way to cliffs all the while Marc Anthony blasting from the radio (okay, so not Marc Anthony, but you get the idea--some pop music in Spanish)--to the top, where the bus was waiting for us to take us to our next destination. (By the way, if you navigated your way through that sentence, you are a pro.)
From Posada de Valdeon, we went to Asturias. Where there is ocean!! I believe it's the Bay of Biscay, but I could be mistaken. We checked into the hotel, then headed towards the beach. It was a small little beach with just a few people. We set up camp and pretty much just relaxed. I ate the rest of my--you guessed it--bocadillo from lunch, then laid there, then sat there, then laid, then walked to the water, then laid and sat some more. The boys played frisbee games and such, and some people were brave enough to actually swim. Later that night we wandered through the streets a while, until dinner. Llanes--the town--is a cute little fishing town that was actually built in like the middle ages. We went to the oldest part of the town, and by the architecture, it really felt like I had taken a step back in time. That night, there was a Potato Festival going on. The town has it every year, and the main even is a dance of partners who have to dance with a potato pressed between their foreheads. And they can't just move, they have to dance to the music, to the beat. It was great to get a taste of the local culture. The music was an interesting mix of Latino music and Polka. Not my favorite, but . . . So, we stayed around and danced for a while, then went to bed. Our hotel provided a nice Spanish breakfast in the morning, then we left for a 7-hour bus ride home.
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.
|Some of the awesome and energetic children we taught|
English to at Khipu.
|Fani, the English teacher for the High School students. She|
was so sweet and quiet, a constrast from the students she taught,
yet she never had trouble getting them to quiet down and learn.
|Cecilia, out host in Lima, Peru while we were going through|
out voluneer orientation and training. She introduced us to the
city lifestyle of Peru, a little bit different from the small town
rythym of Cuzco.
|Manuel, a taxi driver that also served as our tour guide while we|
were in Lima. He had a dangerous job, as Lima is a big city with crime.
When we stopped back through Lima on our way back to the states,
we found that Manuel had been robbed while working, yet he
was still driving his taxi, still smiling.