Sunday, April 3, 2011

Spring pt. II !

It is the beginning of April and although my time in Baza has not come to an end, all the planning and talk of next year and the upcoming summer brings me to reflect on my time here.   I go to Madrid in less than a week to pick up my mother at the airport. !!!! It’s difficult to sit still and be calm. I am SO EXCITED!  It’s the longest we’ve been apart and it will be the first time in our lives my mother stays at my home and I can care for her, a nice little role reversal.  Our Andalusian road trip and week in Barcelona with our cousins will be a wonderful adventure indeed. 

 This summer I will live outside of Madrid to be an au pair for the Ruiz family. I met the family in Granada, under the biggest full moon I’ve ever seen, which hung right over the Alhambra.  Three-year-old Ana was holding my hand and four year old Luis was skipping in front of us. I pointed to the moon and told them, “See that? That’s the moon. And you know that I am the moon too. How lucky, tonight to have two moons!” I am so excited to spend time living with a Spanish family and laughing and taking care of the children. 

After two months in Madrid it’s home to Reno for a visit in August.  My brother’s wedding, Burning Man (the theme this year is Rites of Passage… fitting) and the beginning of my 24th year. The slow movement of time and the relaxed lifestyle has brought me so much time to think, grow, and heal.   I’m coming into myself.
The sun gives me an energy and a happiness, a coming out of the dark feeling. And it feels so good.  The journalism student, waitress, girlfriend, Reno daughter is dying and someone new is coming through.  

Things Spain has figured out

The following is a list of small cultural differences I have found to make much more sense than the way I've seen it done before. 

1. Bedside light switch! Genius, no having to get back out of bed to turn off the light.
2. No obligatory tipping. Also meaning the waiters aren't at your side every minute begging to better serve you.
3. Braseros--small heaters put underneath a table, which is covered with a large tablecloth/blanket, promoting warm toes and a sense of community. In winter everyone sits around the table, wrapped in the large blanket, conversing, having tea or a sweet.
4. It is acceptable and common to date someone for 7 or 8 years without constant questioning of marriage or the need to have a ring on the finger.  Spaniards also tend to wait to have children. 
5. The cupboard above the sink is also dish rack allowing you to put away wet dishes and they drip into the sink as they dry. Genius. 
6.  Most Spanish people turn off the shower while they lather, shave, wash their hair, and turn on the hand held device when needing to rinse, thereby saving MUCH more water. Although 20 minute scalding showers are often missed, the environmental aspect outweighs my selfish preferences. 
7.  Small dinners and bigger lunches/breakfasts.  This has changed my life.

 .....more to come......


Spring seemed to come overnight.  In a matter of days the weather changed from cold and windy, with dark grey clouds, to clear and warm: Springtime Warm.  Previously absent birds returned to the pink blooming trees and the loud, aggressive construction that made its home in Baza before I did finally finished, unveiling newly paved sidewalks and streets, large Arabic style fountains, and a tree green park in the center of town.  The Spain the Spaniards had told me about—people out walking their dogs, children playing soccer in the street, the sunset beginning at 9 pm—has finally arrived, and not a moment too soon.  There is a tangible joy and newness in the air. My bug bites are healed and after an intense spring cleaning/disinfecting (see previous post) Spring is here!

This winter has been good, long, hard.  The cold days in Baza were all contrasted by small trips to the beach:  a day watching a fisherman hook a purple octopus right out of the sea (which I touched and got suctioned!), a trip to the Canary Islands, and participating in one of Spain’s most famous beach parties.

 I took myself to Lanzarote, the Northern most island of the Canaries, which due to its volcanic origin, reminded me much of Kona, Hawaii.  Now more accustomed to traveling alone, taking the trip wasn’t the big leap—renting a car was.  I spent three days driving all over the small island, singing at top volume and driving at top speed with the windows rolled down.  I watched the sunset at the Southern point of the island.  The large cliffs and the forever ocean made it look like the end of the world.  I watched the sunrise from the Northern part, where the tall dirt mountains eased slowly into the sea and the jagged volcanic rock at the bottom welcomed the waves.  The simple joy of non rushed driving, shifting up and down with the changing terrain…..ahh, driving is a freedom I have missed.   

My other beachside experience was visiting Carnival in Cadiz.  Cadiz is a small old beachside town in the South of Spain, famous for its Carnival celebration (Carnival is what we would call Mardi Gras in the States).  It is the time to dress up and party—eat a lot, drink a lot, dance a lot.  My friend Francisco and I went as Mafioso, and our group included a priest, a pirate, and my friend Leti who went as bubble gum on the bottom of a chair.  As we mixed drinks in plastic cups and danced to the car radio in the parking lot, putting on our accessories and costume makeup, I was reminded of The Playa.  The energy of everyone—excited and happy, ready to take on the night.  Carnaval was a good time, fun to see the costumes, creative ones, silly ones, but of course cannot compare to Burning Man.  The Playa has the art, the music, the surreal setting, and a magic that no place, even for a foreigner in a new country, can ever match.   
The night of cobblestone street stumbling, Michael Jackson tribute dancing, and fried shrimpfishcrabcalamari eating made for a good night.