Lockdown Day 43: Losing Ones Marbles / Encierro Día 43: Perder Las Canicas

La versión español está después de la versión inglés.

OUR BUILDING IS TIRED. I suppose I’m dwelling on that fact because this is my 43rd day of seeing not much more than its interior. It was built, badly, in 1973 about 10 years after Franco’s Spain had opened up to tourism thanks to an agreement with the United States. I will not provide any political commentary about that agreement. To meet the immediate demand, the government apparently created poor-quality but beautifully located tourist destinations like ours, which had been primarily a quiet fishing village until the 1960s.

My parents’ co-op in Brooklyn, New York, was built in 1964. Corners were cut, quality was poor, and officials were bribed. So, no need for an international incident.

Our building here, like many others, was slapped up in a hurry. Interior walls are the width of one brick covered in stucco. Improvements have been made over the years, but not enough. A few of the apartments are solely holiday rentals. Others are holiday rentals part of the year and then used by the owners during peak season and national holidays. Most apartments sit vacant except for rare visits. Perhaps 5 of the 45 apartments are occupied year-round. So, many of the owners don’t really care what the building looks like. Some of the apartments have been renovated and are quite elegant. Even the smaller terraces are larger than the norm around town, and everyone has breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Marble is a common building material here. Often, the stone is called marble when it’s really granite. The original apartments had red marble floors. The lobby is a collection of stone: Floors are brown, walls are beige, risers on stairs are the red of the apartment floors, and the stairs themselves are a beige marble filled with fossils.

Any stone alone might be interesting. All together, they don’t do much for me. And they could use a good washing and restoration. The fossil-filled stairs (which are fascinating), in combination with yellow textured-stucco walls, brick landings, and red risers, just look dirty.

I don’t know specifically what each material is called but I’ve been told most of it came right out of the Mediterranean Sea, and the marine life captured in it apparently lived from 65 to 435 million years ago. I suppose that’s something.

Yesterday, I walked up to the 11th floor and back down again. Click the stairway images for a glimpse of the ancient world. And, by the way, I love it here.

Children under the age of 14 are allowed out of their homes beginning today for accompanied walks. It’s not much, but it’s a start. And, if all continues to go well, as of 2 May, those of us over the age of 14 will be allowed to go out for walks and exercise, and maybe even together!


NUESTRO EDIFICIO ESTÁ CANSADO. SUPONGO que estoy pensando en ese hecho porque este es mi 43º día sin ver mucho más que su interior. Fue construido, mal, en 1973, unos 10 años después de que la España de Franco se abriera al turismo gracias a un acuerdo con los Estados Unidos. No proporcionaré ningún comentario político sobre ese acuerdo. Sin embargo, para satisfacer la demanda inmediata, el gobierno aparentemente creó destinos turísticos de mala calidad pero hermosamente ubicados como el nuestro, que había sido principalmente un tranquilo pueblo de pescadores hasta la década de 1960.

La cooperativa de mis padres en Brooklyn, Nueva York, se construyó en 1964. Se cortaron las esquinas, la calidad era deficiente, y se sobornó a los funcionarios. Entonces, no hay necesidad de un incidente internacional.

Nuestro edificio, como muchos otros, fue abatido a toda prisa. Las paredes interiores son del ancho de un ladrillo cubierto de estuco. Se han realizado mejoras a lo largo de los años, pero no lo suficiente. Algunos de los pisos son únicamente alquileres de vacaciones. Otros son alquileres de vacaciones parte del año y luego son utilizados por los propietarios durante la temporada alta y feriados nacionales. La mayoría de los pisos están vacíos, excepto por visitas poco frecuentes. Quizás 5 de los 45 pisos están ocupados durante todo el año. Entonces, a muchos de los propietarios no les importa cómo se ve el edificio. Algunos de los pisos han sido renovados y son bastante elegantes. Incluso las terrazas más pequeñas son más grandes que la norma en la ciudad, y todos tienen impresionantes vistas del mar Mediterráneo.

El mármol (y el granito) es un material de construcción común aquí. Los apartamentos originales tenían suelos de granito rojo. El vestíbulo es una colección de piedra: los pisos son de color marrón, las paredes son de color beige, los contraheullas son el rojo de los suelos de los apartamentos, y las escaleras en sí son de mármol beige lleno de fósiles.

Cualquiera solo puede ser interesante. Todos juntos, no hacen mucho por mí. Y podrían usar un buen lavado y restauración. Las escaleras llenas de fósiles (que son fascinantes), en combinación con paredes de estuco con textura amarilla, aterrizajes de ladrillo, y contrahuellas rojas, se ven sucias. No sé específicamente cómo se llama cada color, pero me han dicho que la mayoría salió del mar Mediterráneo, y la vida marina capturada en él vivió hace 65 a 435 millones de años. Supongo que es algo.

Ayer, subí al piso 11 y volví a bajar. Haz clic en las imágenes de las escaleras para echar un vistazo al mundo antiguo. Y, por cierto, me encanta aquí.

Los niños menores de 14 años pueden salir de sus hogares a partir de hoy para caminatas acompañadas. No es mucho, pero es un comienzo. Y, si todo sigue yendo bien, a partir del 2 de mayo, a los mayores de 14 años se nos permitirá salir a caminar y hacer ejercicio, ¡y tal vez incluso juntos!

NOTA: En inglés, la palabra “marble” se usa tanto para canica como para mármol.

Looking up from lobby to 11.
Mirando hacia arriba de 0 a 11.
In the rain. We’re second from top in photo. The gray extensions were intended for plants, but the winds don’t allow it.
En la lluvia. Somos segundos desde arriba en la foto. Las extensiones grises estaban destinadas a plantas, pero los vientos no lo permiten.

Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

32 thoughts on “Lockdown Day 43: Losing Ones Marbles / Encierro Día 43: Perder Las Canicas”

  1. A virtual museum you have there…..interesting.
    I am thinking all that marble keeps it cool inside during summer?

    1. Jim:
      The marble does keep it cool. (It was cold, unforgiving, to walk on in winter in the apartment.)

  2. From what you have shown, you have done nice things inside your space, and you view is amazing. Keep pushing for a nice power wash, harder to do if most of the owners are not there most of the time. My condo fee is high, but the association is professionally managed with good vision for the future. I worked for building companies for 15 years, the things we got away with would keep you awake at night.

    1. David:
      The former president of the association (they live here year-round) hired an architect and had a plan for renovation of the entire lobby and access to the pool. Very elegant. It was agreed to and then her term ended. She didn’t bother offering to lead again because battling with some of the out-of-towners could be a nightmare (some are wonderful). The new president is only here in summer months and I think took over to ensure money is only spent on maintenance. So, no new lobby. And given the state of affairs now, people will once again not be able to afford improvement. Oh well. It is at least well maintained. And our personal space is a pleasure. AND… we can’t beat the neighborhood and location.

    1. Bob:
      I didn’t mean to sound like I was complaining. It’s a pleasure most of the year and many of the out-of-towners are wonderful and we enjoy seeing them. We lucked out when we found the place and are really grateful. And having it mostly to ourselves much of the year is a boon.

  3. interesting fossils in the stair steps. and a wrap-around balcony; no wonder all your plants thrive!

    1. anne marie:
      The terrace and views are amazing. We have views and light from three sides. Uplifting even on dreary days.

  4. You can take comfort in knowing you’ll always be among the youngest life-forms in your building! Forever young, boys, forever young!

    1. Debra:
      I first thought, ‘no, lots of the owners are young or youngish’ but then I remembered the OTHER fossils we were talking about. Yes, we will NEVER be the oldest.

  5. I think that was about the same time buildings and architecture took a spill every in creative work and craftsmanship and quality. and not just in building, but clothing as well. These days everything is just disposable. As the Dowager Countess Crawley said to Isabelle , ” Once high craftsmanship, and high standards are gone, they will never return.

    1. Mistress Maddie:
      A friend of ours in Sevilla told us when he was shopping for his condo, he would only look at buildings pre-1960. He completely renovated his place, which was exquisite, but the bones were perfect.

    1. bethbfromindiana:
      SG is the same way. I love those kids of views. I really enjoy heading to the top of dramatic open stairways and looking back down. I grew up on the 16th floor and loved looking down from the balcony. I had an uncle who, when he came to visit, wouldn’t even step outside.

  6. I can see that all that stone would be overwhelming, especially if not broken up with textiles and furniture. As you say, each stone individually is fascinating. Our house is all wood – floors, walls, ceilings – which also would be (is?) a bit much if we didn’t have other materials like granite countertops and lots of textiles as a counterpoint. Our views are’t bad either.

    Hope you can get out a bit more soon. Belize is also going to lift some restrictions in some districts next week. It has been 10 days since there was a case of covid19 diagnosed here.

    1. Wilma:
      What great news about covid-19 cases there. There was a PBS series in the 70s called Hodge Podge Lodge. That’s what this reminds me of. When we redid our apartment, we considered refurbishing the red granite floors, but they were so tired, cracked, dark, cold, and hard on the feet that we decided to put in wood floors (which is what everyone that has renovated has done here). It’s softly bleached oak and transformed everything. New tile on the terrace similar in tone to the wood floors inside really connected it all. We didn’t do anything to the kitchen because it was redone (to some degree) before we moved in. We don’t like it but it’s not hideous.

    1. Judy:
      We always had aprons. Even were gifted a couple when we moved to Spain, which replaced the dozens I brought to Goodwill before we moved. But I brought the most recent ones to the thrift store! Might have to buy myself a couple of really quirky ones. I DO love odd aprons.

  7. I am so happy for you – now a count down until you can walk freely again my caged bird friend. That is something most other countries did differently was let us out to walk around freely, no restrictions here on how far you can walk although some countries have a specific km radius. Spain has been so hard hit, I can’t even fathom it. The US I understand but Spain? My heart breaks for Spain. Anyway, walks for you – and maybe even together with SG will bring a bit of quality of life back!

    1. Cheapchick:
      I read that parents with kids weren’t supposed to walk more than 1km from home, which isn’t much, but I know that rule isn’t being followed. However, as long as people are being careful in terms of personal contact, I think it’s fine. I just hope things continue to improve. My heart breaks, too. We’ve been so fortunate. None of our friends have had the virus… as far as any of us know.

    1. Urspo:
      I love that. Do you also have one that says, “If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother.” I’ve noticed I’m more content without my marbles.

  8. It’s funny we live in a house that was built in 1840 with an addition put on in 2008-9. The 1840 structure is in good shape, the addition not so much – two ceiling leaks so far, one crack around an outside door frame and one of the windows doesn’t seal properly. Hearing of your parent’s condo and your building…. well what more can I say?

    But as they say in the real estate business – location, location, location. And boy do you have location!

    1. Willym:
      Yes, boy, do we have location. I’m still surprised by it when I come home some days. Well, when I used to come home some days. Now it’s all I see. And I’m even more grateful. My parents apartment was large, also had wonderful views and lots of sunshine, and did at least have beautiful parquet floors. As for the walls, I don’t think there was one perfect right angle in the entire place.

  9. Spain has been on a building spree for some decade as it became more and more popular with tourists and as a destination. Building cheaply is the curse of modern times.

    1. larrymuffin:
      Spain was suffering through the financial criss when we arrived in 2011. Many construction projects were partially done and stood empty. In the past couple of years, things had really begun to pick up again. And the construction had started all over. After this pandemic, I think we’ll be back to where we were with a whole bunch of unfinished projects. Quality here is much better than it was in the 60s and 70s, but things are not looking promising.

    1. Parsnip:
      I do love the fossils in the stone. Some pieces would make great wall art. The only apartments with plants (or any signs of life on the terraces are those with year-round residents. So, very few.) One of these days there will be sun at the right time of day for photos from the street and beach. One of these days.

  10. We’re still in lockdown (or “confinement” as they call it) until May 11. Then the president and the other powers that be will decide if and what and when some things can open. Like schools, markets, non-essential businesses. And who decided that haircuts are non-essential? Not that I’m jumping for the chance to sit in a salon with people coughing and sneezing…

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      I cut SG’s hair the other day. It’s an improvement, but I won’t quit my day job (oh, don’t have one to quit). My head gets a buzz cut every few days. That’s a breeze.

  11. Well, all those generally empty units must help to keep the building quiet! I wonder if you could grow some low-to-the-ground, arid-environment plants in those gray extensions? Like saxifrage or something like that…?

    1. Steve:
      The winter and fall (especially) winds can be so vicious and constantly change direction, nothing will hold in those spots. People have had furniture blown off their terraces. That’s why we added the glass curtain. Before that we had our 8-foot-tall yuccas chained to the wall and one time the wind was so strong it pulled the huge anchor out of the brick. SG calls them los ciclonicos.

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