06 September 2010

Things and Other Things

Today is September 6th which means it's day 4 in Spain. So far, I've taken two tours with my group, kind of eaten a few meals, and moved in with my host family. I have grand ideas, but right now I've still got jetlag going on so I'm sticking with something small. I don't even feel like taking pictures yet but perhaps they will appear eventually and this sentence will disappear.

Bag ladies and bag men
Everyone here has bags and no one even makes fun of men because you have to be stupid to not have a bag. This is bad new for me because I hate carrying things and would much rather stick my wallet in my pocket and pretend that I'm spontaneous and unfettered by worldly things (which is a total lie, although I did make it here with only 4 pairs of pants.) Desafortunadamente, pickpockets are a thing too. I didn't really believe the 3298754 warnings that we'd been given, but walking back to the hotel yesterday, we saw an 8-ish-year-old boy steal 200 euros from a woman as she was taking it out of the atm (aka "la caixa"). The woman and two of her friends grabbed him and pinned him up against the wall and we watched while he screamed, his brother halfheartedly punchslapped them, and they yelled for someone to call the police. I felt bad because this little boy was being pulled and pushed by three adults, but then bad for them for being robbed, but then bad for him because what if his family needs the money, but then bad for the people because, er, they were robbed. Out of three restaurants I've been to, two had boxes near the front that you could rent to put your things in so you don't have to worry about someone taking them while you eat.

Fashion for hot weather
You know what else everyone here has? Harem pants. I was going to be obnoxious and say that I totally called this 5 years ago, but the truth is that Becca had a pair and told a story about men having babies and so I made myself some.

Despite being so environmentally conscious--our house has garbage and three separate recycling cans--everyone here drinks bottled water like it's their job. Apparently Brita hasn't hit the scene here yet.

Have I mentioned I'm tired?
I know that this is the most insanely dumb/self-centered/ethnocentricifyouwantabigword idea in the world, but little kids and homeless men here speak spanish better than me (obviously) and it makes me feel stupid. Anyway, During the first 2 days, we wandered around in a giant, loud, English-speaking group of Americans so everyone automatically spoke to us in English. Today, we all moved in to our actual houses and the 3 hours I spent speaking Spanish with the couple, Jorge and Malena, and their 7-year-old daughter, Noa, were exhausting. I'm glad that I'm forced to practice speaking, but right now, the only Spanish I feel like working on is a siesta.

...Which by the way are real
I just tried to go to the grocery store, my favorite place, and was deeenied because it was 3. It's so hot here right now that it makes sense to go home or to work and do things until it cools down at night, but shopping is not going to be easy until I figure out how this works.

A break for feelings
A couple people in our group apparently came here for a semester-long spring break. I know I should have expected this but I did not because I came here to have a nerdy good time. On the bright side, this means I won't be stuck in an American bubble and will either spend a lot of time alone or meet Actual Spanish People. It wasn't like I was expecting to come here and find everything to be perfect, but the thing is I was. I like being alone, A LOT, but there's a difference between choosing to be alone--although I guess I did that when I decided to come here--and not having anyone to call when I want someone to talk to, eat lunch with, or meet for a walk. I've decided that time zones are more divisive than actual distance.

Big A, little a, what begins with a?
The apartment (which begins with a) is small, my key is big. Really, my house key is colossal and magnetic and costs $30 to get duplicates made. The plugs here are about twice the size of U.S. ones and look like someone from IKEA designed them. The streets in the area where I live are tiny but the buildings are pretty tall which makes walking around anywhere feel like being in the maze from the final competition of the Triwizard Tournament.

Nuria, the housing coordinator, said that "coexistance" is a hard word to say, but, on the roads at least, everyone here seems to have it down. The streets here change from actual road to cobblestone to brick all the time and cars (although way fewer than I've ever seen), bikes, motorcycles, and walkers are on all of them. The sidewalk isn't always very well differentiated from the street but when cars get stuck behind people walking, they don't honk at them! Bikes actually pay attention to stoplights, motorcycles go down the tiny winding streets in the Gothic Quarter, and people generally don't seem in a big hurry to get anywhere.

Wooley mammoth
Yesterday, we took a bike tour of Barcelona with our group. When we stopped in the Parque de la Ciutadella, someone pointed out that there was a lifesize(?) statue of a woolly mammoth across the pond. Today, we were walking to get groceries and Noa kept talking about something that's really fun and something something mammoths something something and then pointed to her right and HELLO there's a Mammoth Museum 2 minutes from my house. I don't know why they're obsessed with Mammoths, but I'm going to make up for this whole bookish post with and entire blog of photos from my upcoming visit to the museum.

More things
+The toilet has a chain that hangs from the ceiling to flush.
+When I search in Google, the default language is Spanish.
+There is poutine here.
+I brought Noa Sillybandz as a present and she is in love with them. I think Sillybandz should pay me for being a brand ambassador.
+I can hear Bollywood music and the church bell from Santa Maria del Mar coming through my window.