Blog News: Due to recent complaints, mostly from my little brother, the blog will stay focused on Spain, my travels and observations. I’m also leaving behind the political journalistic tone of my last entry. From this point on you’ll be getting my personality for better or worse.
Let me first apologize for not having anything new for nearly a month. To make up for it, this entry is going to be a long one. Do you think you can handle it? I think you can. Take a deep breath, dive in.
Excuses: One reason for the lack of entries is I got caught up reading Blink by Malcolm Gladwell which is an interesting page-turner that I would recommend to anyone interested in social psychology. Another reason is that I haven’t spent a full weekend in Granada since the weekend of February 6th.
Ronda: Above is a picture of the mountainous Spanish town of Ronda. It is a town built on a cliff. As an acrophobic, it was a frightening experience crossing the Puente Nueva (New Bridge) which was built in the 18th century. Navigating our way across the bridge was difficult with cars zipping by in both directions and the looming 390-foot drop to our left and right. Our tour guide added to my anxiety by casually adding that several Spaniards have fallen or jumped from the misnamed bridge. The bridge was also used during the Spanish Civil War. A number of fascists were thrown from the bridge by Nationalist troops. Ernest Hemingway used the accounts of the killings in his classic For Whom the Bell Tolls. The horrific images serve as a painful reminder to the citizens of Ronda of the brutality of the Spanish Civil War. After overcoming my fear, I clutched on to a New Jersey acquaintance and fellow acrophobic, I could truly appreciate the spectacular views that Ronda had to offer.
In Ronda, our ISA group visited an Arabic bath dating back from the 13th or 14th century. At the Alhambra last month we also got to explore an Arabic bath and I must say I find them strangely comforting. I could picture men and women wandering around, towels of some kind around their waists, steam rising through the star shapes in the brick ceiling. I’m a guy who loves a nice, hot shower (more about this later) and I feel like it’s one of the few things I have in common with Spaniards from centuries ago.
I’m proud to say I’m now a veteran of two carnival festivals; a small one in Malaga and the carnival of carnivals, or so I’m told, in Cadiz. Carnival is like a big party in the streets. People dress up in costumes and party all through the town. One Virginian Mardi Gras veteran in my program described it as a combination of Halloween and Mardi Gras.
Cadiz is located on a thin strip of land coming out of the southwest corner of Spain underneath Portugal. It is considered to be located on both the Atlantic Ocean, the beach on the north side of town, and the Mediterranean Sea, the beach on the south. The beach was the first place I went after the bus arrived and I took in some views and that salty sea smell. It was February and surfers in wetsuits were out catching waves. My costume consisted of shimmering blue hair, one of those glasses-nose-mustache masks, and a bright orange boa. I looked ridiculous but, in Cadiz, most people do.
We ate some delicious food and saw a band play. They played pop music with a little bit of a rock sensibility. The lead singer had all the girls swooning. He was a Taylor Lautner lookalike. I must admit he did have some stage presence and I enjoyed the show.
Cadiz has the highest unemployment rate in all of Spain at over 20%. Despite the high unemployment, Gaditanos are known as being some of the friendliest and funniest people in all of Spain. People flooded the narrow streets in costumes of all kind including…
(Post AVATAR picture here and delete this text please)
Our first eight hours in Cadiz were fantastic. We ate, drank, sat on the beach, saw live music, got lost and met some interesting people. The last six were horrendous. Rain started coming down around midnight. At first the light drizzle didn’t bother me but by 12:30 am, it started dumping and didn’t stop the rest of the night. The bus we rode in on was taking us back to Granada at 6:00 am. For the next five hours, Kristen, Katie, Renae and I shuffled to different bars, restaurants, cafes, overhangs, lobbies, and entryways, getting booted out of several in the process. Our goal for the night turned from have a blast to survive. I must say, I’ve never felt more like a homeless person. To pass the time we played Desert Island, a game where you make lists of the top-5 things (books, films, bands, etc. etc.) you’d take with you to a desert island.
Note: During Desert Island you have to be very careful what you pick. You’re going to have to watch and read and listen to these things over and over again for the rest of your life. You want them to be timeless. One member of our group chose these 5 films to watch for the rest of her life:
1. The Notebook (Nice choice)
2. Dirty Dancing(a bit of a stretch but..)
She then paused and took a moment to think about her next choice and said,
3. Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (WHAAAAT?!)
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights?!? That garbage sequel! I couldn’t believe it. I’m trying to figure out what her brain was thinking during this time and figure out the logic: The Godfather – “Nah,” Shawshank Redemption – “Not for me,” Forrest Gump – “Not quite,” Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights – “Nailed it!”It’s baffling. The worst part of the whole session was she didn’t even pick her last 2 movies. She simply said, “That’s all I need.” 67% of the movies she’s going to watch for the next 60 years are about Dirty Dancing. I’m still flabbergasted.
TERRIBLE NEWS: For a while now, other tenants of our apartment complex have been complaining of water leaking into their homes. The leak appeared to be coming from our apartment but after 2 or 3 examinations, no signs of water damage were found. This led to several multiple-hour dinner table rants from our senora protesting her innocence and complaining of the hassle. Out of the blue, the superintendent comes for one last clean sweep. This time he checked Murphy’s and my room and, sure enough, under my desk, he found crusty and wet drywall scattered on the floor. For the past two days our room has been completely ripped apart. The old pipes are being removed and new brass pipes are being placed inside the wall and being dry-walled over. Note: I’m not a plumber or have any expertise whatsoever on this matter, but I definitely feel my senora is getting taken for a ride. A little leak and you have to rip apart the whole house and replace all the pipes? Come on. Do any plumbers read this (or anyone for that matter)? Thoughts?
Showers and hot water are out the window. We have a bucket to brush our teeth. The pipe to the toilet is also being replaced. I had to go about an hour ago (midnight), I’ll leave it to your imagination what I did. This has all led to this… I stink. I stink to high heaven. I smell worse than Penn Jillette after a jog. If Portugal reports any unusual odors, please tell them what has happened and apologize profusely for me.
More Personal Hygiene Notes: I haven’t shaved or cut my hair since my trip started January 26. I’m starting to look like Vinnie Chase during his Mexico sabbatical, only with fewer girls around… and no Turtle.
NEXT TIME: Brussels, Amsterdam, Ty meets a white Finnish rapper, why Spaniards are like Don Quixote and why I hate mushy pea soup.