For all you voyeurs out there, today I thought I’d throw you a bone with some random thoughts on Spain. It has been quiet here, as most of the country takes the month of August off. We have not met one neighbor although a soccer ball has made its way into our yard and the English we heard over the back fence is intermittent at best. The kids start school on Friday so I am guessing this is our last week of quiet. Truly, there has not been much to report but here you go, then:
*sticker shock is extreme. When Mr. Understanding and I dined at Piu de Prima last week, we dressed up a tad, per the Luxe guide’s “smart” rating. The regulars, however, come in flip flops and jeans, on dates with paramours and friends, and yak on cell phones. A special anniversary dinner for us is a regular meal for them. Where do they get this money???? Hmmm? Lunch out at the Plaza Mayor on Sunday cost us $175 – granted we ate a lot of tapas and later had sandwiches for dinner but still …. I will be talking a lot about this in the weeks to come, in a First World v. Third World compare/contrast kind of way. Let’s just say that if you have ever dined on picanha, farofa and caipiroskas, in my favorite dive restaurant Cenario in Campinas, Brazil you’d know what I am talking about and feel my pain.
*you don’t have to wear makeup to the grocery store but accessories are essential, preferably a stack of bracelets on one arms, composed of primarily silver or silver and leather. If you can wear a maxi dress, no bra, and heels, so much the better. The grocery stores are clean and you can get nearly everything you want. But you cannot go into the store the wrong way or the cashier will yell at you, as in, “SENORA! No se peude! No se puede!” I walked into the Hipercor store through an open turnstile and the cashier four rows over nearly had a heart attack. For a moment I thought I was in Germany. But no, she kept speaking Spanish to me like I understood her (which I did), her eyes sternly furrowed under her brow, like she was going to get up and beat me around the head. I kept standing there thinking, “You have got to be effin’ kidding me!” and deciding whether to pretend I didn’t understand her, giving her the infamous deer in the headlights look. Finally, I reluctantly retraced my steps, thinking it would be bad for Mr. U’s business if his wife was arrested during their first week in-country, and went back out and then down to the formal entrance of the store 10 yards away.
*the sky has been blue for two weeks. Seriously. This fact alone makes me love this country. I can’t write too much about this because I don’t want to depress the girls in Seattle or Shanghai. My tan is achieving a healthy glow and we have used up nearly all of our imported spray on sunscreen.
*my “worker bees”, as the Radish calls them, are learning the value of the Euro, as Mr. Understanding and I are no longer in the cell phone purchasing business. Mop the floor = 1 euro, hang the laundry and fold it = 1 euro, clean the kitchen = 1 euro. Thing 3 has mastered the $300 steam iron (see item #1) and, in conjunction with the $200 ironing board, necessary to support the 20 kilo iron, spends hours glued to the TV ironing away. I supervise from the next room. Having learned the secret of multitasking, she has called “dibs” on this form of income. One shirt = 1 euro. The investment is already paying off (and here, a shout out to Radish for actually teaching Thing 3 to iron a man’s shirt).
*travel tip —> there is parking under the Plaza Mayor, good news for the elderly tourist. We got a late start but headed to the “El Rastro” Sunday market near the Plaza Mayor. (More on the market in a later post.) The GPS, however, does not account for the construction in the area (Madrid is making a bid for the 2016 Olympics) so keep your wits about you and take a map. Most of Spain is closed on Sundays except the touristy Plaza Mayor. As we were leaving for the day, I saw a nicely dressed grandmother, clutching her toddler grandson, go behind a garbage can en plein vue of the Plaza, where thousands of tourists gather at restaurants ringing the square to drink beer, gnaw on olives, and contemplate the fates of those burned at the stake centuries upon centuries ago. “Oh no!” I thought to myself, “Say it ain’t so!” But yes, she pulled down his pants and you know the rest of the story. Some things never change. At least we didn’t hear anyone hawk up a lung and spit out the contents.
*For the month of September, I will be giving you a Spanish word a day. Use it in a sentence today so that when you come visit me you will be well-equipped. Today’s word = casa, meaning house. Mi casa es tu casa. I am an ama de casa (housewife). There, that’s two words. We’re starting off slowly.
Happy Birthday to Baltimore Sue and Davanna! If you feel the need to relax with some yoga in Puerta Vallarta, do yourself a favor and check out www.davannayoga.com for a class.