Wednesday, June 18, 2008


The coca-cola here tastes different…

I normally don’t drink Coke at home, but I tried some from a bottle here, and it tastes like coke tasted when I was a kid. I like it.

I will not be working at all until July… I talked to my boss yesterday and there is really nothing for me to do right now. The majority of the contracts are ending with the school year and that ends this Friday. Therefore, I will be at the house quite a bit and tooling around on my bike that I just bought. (It is purple and orange and the brakes squeal horribly). I should be out and about fumbling around with my Spanish so that I might improve before I start teaching. I actually taught a couple of classes yesterday… or I guess I should say I helped. It is really very difficult to understand five-year-olds in another language. So they colored pictures with English captions and I drew pictures for them. Then I sat around in a room with another teacher and some junior high students for a bit, but since they had no homework to do there was really nothing to help them with. So we sat around and they showed all of us the various features on their “moviles” (cell phones.)

My roommate Katie from Australia and her boyfriend Mickey(Miguel) returned yesterday from a weekend of riding around the countryside. They went all over in Katie’s old Mercedes “caravan” looking at mountains and villages and beaches and visiting Mickey’s friends around the state. Someone broke into their van in Valencia on their last night out and stole their very nice bikes and Katie’s camera and a wallet containing about 40 Euros. Mickey planted the wallet in the glove box so in the case of a break in the thieves wouldn’t look for the real money, and luckily they didn’t. Mickey is from Sevilla. His business is importing silver and silks from India. It’s funny to me for some reason… very Marco Polo. He and Katie met in India actually. She is only here to be closer to Mickey, but she is considering going to London at the end of the month so that she might return with a valid entry permit. As foreigners, we are only allowed to be in Spain (,or anywhere in Europe for that matter) for 3 months on a tourist visa. Anything longer requires a special work permit or a student visa.
I would not mind finding a place to inexpensively study language here… a place where I felt ok fumbling around with prepositions and the proper way to say “I’m thinking about riding my bike down to the beach for a couple of hours and watch the sun set.” But honestly for now I am doing ok being a spectator as it were… I greet people as I pass on the street and exchange pleasantries with the grocery store clerk… and I eavesdrop on conversations and try to pick out the idiosyncrasies.
Crap…I just missed my ride to Burriana. I was in the middle of writing here in the inner patio and I heard something and then the shutting of the front door and the sound of a diesel engine starting. Meaning Katie just left for her classes at the wealthy beachfront condos this afternoon. Ah well… C’est la vie, or Esta bien, or whatever.
I have come to a realization about the attitude of the older generation here. I am not sure if I am spot on or not, but it seems to make sense. Civil War. The older generation here has lived through the reign of a dictatorship and a civil war. The blank eyes that look at unknown passers-by with nothing implied, the lack of response to a greeting in the street, the tranquility of an old man content to ride his bike two miles into town for groceries… all seem to imply a decision to let sleeping dogs lie. Keep your head down and nobody will notice that you live and love and sleep well every night… and tomorrow you will do it again… but as I write this, I am sure that I am not right, at least not completely. I do not fathom the depths of the history of this country. The oldest recorded history in the U.S. is at most 400 years old. The recorded history of this land goes back much further. Perhaps I am feeling the age of life itself in this place. A different take on existence that is content to be; knowing that this too, for good or ill, shall pass.

I believe that I need to do a bit more studying before I start theorizing…

My mother asked me what I was eating over here that was different than at home… I go to the grocery about once every two days… and buy only what fits in my pack for a ride home from town. Not much is different… except for the excellent bread and croissants from the local bakery that are still warm when you get them, the unbelievable olives (which they grow very near here), excellent local fresh tomatoes, oranges picked from the orchard behind the house, ``11… what else… very gamey cheeses, and lots of rice. Actually that is about what I eat. That and bacon and eggs for breakfast about every day, I’m not sure that is very Espanish, but we all make compromises.

No crazy stories today…

But I think you should know,

From where I sit I can see out the window to the fenced front courtyard and I can smell the freshly bloomed jasmine and roses filtering in through the screen; and families are walking by, strolling around the orchards outside of town as the sun begins to sink and the temperature begins to fall.

The weather gets pretty near perfect in the evening, here in this desert by the sea.



Jessica said...

Great description. I could almost smell the jasmine myself and could see beautiful artwork by five year olds. Must be a nice little place to be.

Anonymous said...

You are quite the wordsmith..the coke is different, they use real sugar, like Mexico.."Quiero cuba libre"..order that the next time you find yourself in an establishment that sells "social lubricant" No esta mal.

Anyhoo, I know now where it is you reside in Espana, and I can't stress this enough..take a bus trip to Altea. Its about 30-45 minutes north of Alicante by train. That town will change your outlook on life.