10 FEET IN THE PYRENEES WITH A DUSTING OF SNOW!
20.10.2007 - 27.10.2007
10 Feet in the Pyrenees with a dusting of snow October 20, 2007 to …October 27, 2007
~I used to hate walking, says the woman who used to drive daily the 2 blocks to work! But hiking in the mountains isn’t really walking, is it? It’s more like doing stairs, meaningful exercise in disguise and if you can take your eyes off the path long enough to suck up the vistas, you forget about the blisters, sweat, weight on your back and distance remaining till the peak. Of course, like anyone with still functional knees, I much prefer the return trip, downhill and usually a cerveza or 2 as a reward!
~When…who knows when WHEN will be…I return home, I will have compiled a collection of WAY too many digital mountain photos, but I promise, in advance, that no one will be introduced to the Pyrenees peaks one by one! I still have 400 photos to prove I was at my first bullfight in Madrid 3 years ago…thus, on October 12, 2007, my second and probably last corrida de toros (the bull never wins), I have saved 10 photos worth viewing.
~Teaching is teaching, I have learned. And kids are kids, everywhere, I have learned. I still love teaching, as long as I’m rested ‘cause they’re a tough species!
~I am back to being my own Spanish teacher! I have 2 new books to work with. My fees are cheap (free) and I never assign homework (to myself)! It takes self-discipline, but I am dedicated and like learning at my own pace. I have concluded I will never be fluent in Spanish, but who cares! It’s all about survival and the challenge of learning and growth. Although I would never push my lifestyle on anyone, I do recommend learning and growth to everyone! It’s really stimulating!
~We’ve been receiving visitors in the middle of the night as of recent! Spanish architecture is such that the roofs all connect at different angles and levels, a stray cat labyrinth! And as Jaca is a smallish town, word’s out that there are “dos gatos canadiense living at number 9 Calle Del Barco and follow me I’ll show you a shortcut”! But angled clay tiled roofs are slippery, I’m suspecting, as frequently a stray or two slides and plops into our terraza during the wee hours making a lot of noise en route. And then how does one help these wild, undomesticated and scared critters to escape, after one puts some clothes on. One guy cleared a stonewall in one leap that I can’t even reach fully extended on a chair! I named him Supercat! Then of course Carb must investigate and “mark” every centimetre of territory which has been contaminated by stray paws! Oh how I love the smell of baked pee in the hot summer sun of the next day! It’s hard to get a consecutive 12 hours of sleep around here!
~I love my toilet! Can you say the same? It has two special separate buttons for “BIG flush” or “LITTLE flush” (no, they are not labelled). All you have to do is decide what’s what!
~Let’s return to the concept of clothes dryers, or lack of, for a moment. I used to believe people were simply being tight by not drying towels and I realize these are big consumers of energy. The exfoliating quality of a stiff towel is quite satisfying after a hot shower. But sometimes I miss fluffy! Especially in my clothes which can stand up by themselves after coming in off a clothesline in brisk temperatures. And I always counted on my dryer to get what the washer missed, i.e. cat hairs. And I refuse to “do” the ironing thing. So I’m one crisp and hairy looking Canadian broad walking these Jacian streets.
~I have learned how to use Jaca not just as a proper noun (Jaca, Spain) but also as an adjective (a jacian day), adverb (he spoke jacianly) and verb (to jaca or not to jaca). I have also used it as both a gerund (jacaing) and past participle (jacaed). It’s not legitimate vocab, but it works…and where else could I ever use it?
~Halloween is a North American word. I’ve seen only 2 stores in Jaca pretending to know what it’s about. Commercialism at it’s best. It’s one of my favourite celebrations and I will miss it this year. I admit I love it for the candy, although I ALMOST gave up trick or treating when Kraft stopped making caramels, almost! (Can’t remember what year it was…but not that many ago.) I think it’s one of the reasons I became a primary school teacher and a parent, an excuse to dress up retardedly justifiably. Still deciding if I just go for it and freak out the locals, or hold back and pretend there are only 30 days in October. I have such a limited supply of costume-producing-stuff in my apartment, but then I know the best creativity always comes from less. But I don’t want to get arrested and some costumes just don’t translate well or are not culturally correct. Contemplated dressing up as a bowl of Paella-too messy. If I lived in Italy I could do the spaghetti and meatballs one again-I could move. I’ll let you know my final decision.
~My fridge has lost the battle, given up…it works now, finally, without beeping! It’s been beeping since the day I moved in, August 1st, 2007. For 2 ½ months it’s been playing head games with me. It only stopped beeping because the Spanish fridge repair guy, Jose Miguel, had been notified, so it was the phone call that stopped it from beeping! Kind of like going to the doctor when you’re sick but you feel great when you get to his/her office! I have absolutely no idea what changed it’s mind to stop beeping, but it did. It stopped. Now every day I wake up and pat it…good fridge…Buena nevera…it’s a bilingual fridge.
~I’ve decorated my apartment in Early…how would one label it…Garbage! Every time I go out for the evening, usually in pursuit of beer and tapas, I spy with my little eye some good garbage! This one Beautician store is always throwing out the coolest of glossy billboards advertising make-up or skin care products. Of course, I then drag these monstrous sized advertisement boards into the bars with me…creates for good conversation amongst the patrons, I’m sure. Lauren would be soooo embarrassed! They now hang where there were once the tackiest of wall-sized paint-by-numberish paintings, the Spanish version of velvet Elvis’. I kept one 18 x 24 inch framed photo hanging in the kitchen, circa 1950’s, featuring hunks of raw meat, tomatoes, a decanter of oil (I suspect it’s olive oil), and a chunk of half eaten bread. It’s a keeper! And so many walls, so many maps! I’ve also kept almost every bottle of wine I’ve consumed since my arrival. I’ve clear-cut a few fields of wild dry flowers, stuffed my bottles and they garnish every household surface…when they collect too much dust, I’ll chuck them and harvest more, but I’ll buy work gloves before I cut any more teasels. My windows and sofas have been draped in sarongs and my bookshelves are stacked full of cool rocks and stuff-of-nature collected on hikes. A touch of incense, candles and recessed spot lighting and I have the funkiest digs in all of Jaca! When visitors enter they always gasp and say, “Que (with an accent) precioso!” Which means lovely, beautiful…I looked it up just in case!
~Bleach/lejia is a worldwide clothes wrecker! Just lost a pair of pants, or as the British would say-trousers, to the wretched stuff. I’m now down to 4 pair, makes for an even duller wardrobe. The problem is the washer…blame it on the washer. All front loaders here, which makes you dependent on that little drawer to distribute the toxic liquid evenly…guess what, it didn’t…guess what, won’t use it again! They were cream colour and now they have psychedelic splotches…do I detect a potential Halloween costume here?!
~OK, something’s up here…I most definitely have possessed appliances…just after I wrote of my haunted (pardon my language, mind-fucking) fridge, I discovered my non-sucking vacuum suddenly sucks! Like magic! Was cleaning the clumping littered cat box, for the tenth time today, and I always use the vacuum-like appliance to SLOWLY remove the sand that never made it into a clump from the carpet I have strategically placed at the end of the box, like I’m going to teach these cats to wipe their feet after pooping…Gas, is the typical guy cat slob who scatters the gravel absolutely everywhere, digs like he’s headed to China. So it’s like God has answered my prayers and has pumped more voltage through my electrical sockets or something! OK, so now I believe there is a God!
~Ever tried talking on the phone in another language? You’re at a great disadvantage without the assistance of sherades or lip reading and you can’t pretend you know what’s being said because usually, as in most conversations, you’re expected to say something intelligible back! Almost as difficult is watching a dubbed movie with no subtitles, but at least here you have moving pictures to help you guess the main ideas and you don’t have to respond! No, most definitely foreign phonecalls are my biggest nightmare! That and forgetting where I live.
~The Weather! Let’s talk about it? I try to avoid this topic for 2 reasons, 1. I don’t want the majority of my readers to be envious and 2. It’s such a typical Canadian thing to do, talk about the weather. I’m not sure when it happened, a couple of weeks ago maybe, but the weather changed. Mostly, it’s still sunny, blue skied and warm during the days, but nighttime lows are gradually dropping. We’ve had some rainy and grey days, a nice reprieve, but that’s what makes this area green as opposed to all but the northern regions of Spain. It’s Halloween and the leaves are still on the trees (I don’t mean the conifers)! See, talking about weather is dull, another reason to avoid this discussion…there’s just nothing funny about it. No mistakes or oddities about it.
~Just made Rice Pudding Soup! Made it just as I would at “home”, measured carefully, and I’m a measurer…and I got soup! Ingredients are simply different. It generally takes me 2 or 3 attempts to make most things right here. So by Christmas I’ll be able to eat my pudding with a fork!
~I have discovered, while watching the street cleaners (I watch everyone) that there is a secret foot pedal on the garbage dumpsters…I no longer have to open the dumpster by hand, yay for foot pedals!
~You know you’re getting old when…the hot flashes begin! A few times during my precious sleep, I’ve awoken in a serious sweat…unless it’s erotic dreams I’m having and just can’t remember them…memory loss is also a sign of aging…darn!
~#1 reason to shave your armpits…according to Gas, it’s where the fur mats most!
Muchos besos y abrazos (that’s many kisses and hugs in your language) xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo dana y gasolina y carburador