Six Strikes, You’re Out

We have been sleeping in our apartment since Sunday night.  It’s bliss.  Our “stuff” is supposed to arrive from California via England via Madrid Thursday.  We can’t wait for that to happen. 

We now have wireless connectivity for one of our laptops.  Via Vodafone.  I finally gave up on Movistar after phoning Monday morning and being told that someone would call me Monday, and then going into the store Monday afternoon to be told that if someone didn’t call me Monday night, they would probably call me Tuesday. 
Since this had been going on since Thursday; and since this was my sixth visit to Movistar and I still had no contract; and since I had stopped off at Vodafone in the morning and learned that if we signed up with them for internet, we would have immediate wireless connectivity even though the hardwire installation might take more than three weeks; and since I found a cable company that could give us more channels (also immediately); and since when I told the sales rep at Movistar all this, she just shrugged her shoulders… I said thanks but we wouldn’t be signing a contract with them and I moved on.  Movistar struck out.  But, in case you don’t know, it’s really only three strikes and you’re out in American baseball.
LOVED THE UNIFORM BUT, AT THE AGE OF 5, I COULDN’T HAVE TOLD YOU THE RULES OF THE GAME.
Vodafone was true to their word.  The only problem is we can’t seem to get the modem to work for us both.  So, Jerry has connectivity.  I share his computer as needed.  And I go over to Starbucks for a Frapuccino and 45 minutes of free WiFi.  That’s where I am right now.
On Friday, I bought a new permanent smart phone to replace the cheap, temporary, basic phone I’ve had for the past few weeks.  But, because I kept my number and changed service providers (from Yoigo to Vodafone), my smart phone and my internet connection that comes with it will not be live until Friday at two. Government regulations.  I didn’t realize that and couldn’t understand why I had no service on my new phone.  Miguel at Vodafone explained it to me.  I’m sure the sales rep who sold me the phone last week would have explained that to me, as well, and it was simply lost in translation.
WHICH BRINGS ME BACK TO BASEBALL
Several years ago, our Norwegian cousin Jon Olaf asked Jerry to explain the game of baseball.  It’s not an extremely complex game, we thought.  It would be fun and simple to explain, we thought. 
EXPLAINING BASEBALL, IN NORWEGIAN,
TO BONNIE THE DOG.
Jerry began by telling Jan Olaf that there are two teams with nine players each.  There are nine innings in a game, with three outs per inning. 
“What’s an inning?” asked Jon Olaf. 
Jerry attempted to explain an inning.  That wasn’t too difficult. 
But then, “What’s an out?” 
Jerry tried to explain that one way of getting “out” was to get three strikes.
“What’s a strike?” 
Jerry discussed the very basics of strikes — the swing-and-miss kind and the strike-zone kind — and that if you got four balls before you got three strikes you would walk. 
First, Jan Olaf laughed at the idea of anyone having to walk anywhere with four balls. 
But then he wondered where one would be walking… And… “They use more than one ball?” 
Explaining Spanish phones, internet, and TV to me is kind of like explaining American baseball to Jan Olaf.   
Except that Jan Olaf was fluent in English.

Hurricane Irene and the Dowager Duchess Face Off

JERRY AND I WITH THE DOWAGER DUCHESS ON HER 80TH BIRTHDAY IN 2007.

Jerry and I just watched a live broadcast via MSNBC.  The reporter was standing on the Coney Island Boardwalk just down the street from my mother’s apartment.  The view was from the exact location of a photo in my 5 July post.

MY VIEW IN JULY.  THE FIBERGLASS GUY WITH HIS FIBERGLASS BURGER
HAS A WHOLE LOT OF SHAKIN’ GOIN’ ON TODAY.

My mother’s neighborhood has had a mandatory evacuation in anticipation of Hurricane Irene.  My mother and many of her neighbors, however, stayed put.  They usually feel invincible from the weather, living in their high-rise apartments.  My mother could go further into Brooklyn to stay with her sister who has had home care for a few years, living with the advanced stages of dementia.  My mother loves her sister but didn’t think she could cope with staying with her.  Her other option was to go to one of three shelters designated for people in her neighborhood.  That was even less appealing to my mother, the “Dowager Duchess.”

SIMILAR VIEW THIS MORNING.

Many of my mother’s friends are staying home as well.  Her next-door neighboor is 89 and is in poor health.  She refuses to go to her niece’s home away from the ocean.  Too many impossible stairs to climb.  My 84-year-old mother is going to take care of her, if she should need any help.  They live on the 17th floor and the winds are supposed to be worse up high.  The central hall is completely interior with no windows.  My mother says they’ll just drag chairs out there if they need to. But, my mother is not at all concerned.  She worries my brother doesn’t eat enough.  She worries Jerry and I spend too much money.  She worries she won’t get the self-defense class she plans to take this semester at Kingsborough Community College.  But she doesn’t worry about earthquakes, hurricanes, or any other natural disasters. She’s a New Yorker.

The Shortest Distance Between Two Points… Does Not Exist in Sevilla

There really are very few straight lines in Sevilla.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  There are many straight lines in Sevilla.  Each one, however, is brief and connects with another straight line going in an entirely different direction.

PUERTA DE CARMONA.  ONE BLOCK AWAY FROM OUR HOTEL.

STATUE OF THE ARTIST FRANCISCO DE ZURBARAN.  PLAZA DE LOS PILATOS.
IT TOOK US 25 MINUTES TO FIND IT IN JANUARY.  WE WERE ALWAYS 5 MINUTES AWAY.

Adding to the confusion of the crooked streets is the fact that streets change their names constantly.  It’s no wonder we keep ending up at the Metropol Parasol when we think we’re heading to the river

PASSING THE HOSTAL ATENAS.  CARS AND PEDESTRIANS TAKE TURNS.

AFTER DODGING THE CARS, FOLLOWING THAT ALLEY ON THE RIGHT.

I finally, four days ago, figured out a shortcut when walking between our hotel and our apartment.  It’s only taken me the better part of a month.  It’s a much more pleasant walk and cuts out quite a bit of ground.

AT THE ENTRY TO THE ALLEY.  IGLESIA SAN ILDEFONSO.  BEGUN IN 1794.

ONLY PEDESTRIANS DOWN THIS ALLEY.   CHURCH OF SAN PEDRO BECKONS. 
BUILT BY THE MOORS AND MODERNIZED IN THE LATE 1300s.

I thought I had it all figured out a few times in recent weeks by studying the map before leaving  the hotel. But those shortcuts always doubled my travel time. The photos taken on my walk today clearly illustrate why it takes so long to get somewhere.

I WAS HOPING THAT THIS STREET MIGHT TAKE ME SOMEWHERE.

Four days ago I decided to head down the tiny pedestrian alley that I always knew for certain would not take me where I needed to go.  And there I was!

SO NARROW AT ONE POINT, MY SHOULDERS NEARLY TOUCH BOTH WALLS.
AT THE END OF THIS SHORT “STREET” IS THE METROPOL PARASOL.
AFTER THAT, IT ALL MAKES SENSE… TO ME AT LEAST.

Coming Out of the Dark

My friend Carole thinks this should be designated a holiday.  So I’ve decided that from this day hence, 26 August will be known as the “Dia de la Luz” (Day of the Light).  Jerry and I will have to get ourselves a paso so we can be processed through the streets of Sevilla every year on the backs of eight (at least) burly young men.

In case you’ve missed my point, we have electricity in our apartment!

ONE OF THE BANDS WE SAW ACCOMPANYING ONE OF THE VIRGINS IN JULY.
I MIGHT HAVE THEM AUDITION FOR THE FIRST ANNUAL “DIA DE LA LUZ” IN 2012.

Now, I’m waiting — for two days — for Movistar installation to phone.  I’m learning what “very quickly” means in Movistar-speak.  No landline.  No internet.  No TV.  But we have luz!!!  And there’s a Starbucks a few streets away with free WiFi.  We’ll manage.

Less Strange, Still in the Dark

THE KEEPER OF
THE PAPERWORK.

We were back at the Foreigners’ Office again this afternoon.  Our bag-on-wheels was filled with our passports; our visas; and every single piece of paper (in duplicate, triplicate, or quadruplicate) we have filled out, signed, had translated, notarized or apostiled, and then stamped by the Los Angeles Consulate, Customs, or one or two places in Sevilla.  We were told last time that we would only need four items for this visit, but we weren’t taking any chances.

We also brought the form (one of those aforementioned four items) we were given two weeks ago by the Foreigners’ Office.  We went to a nearby bank the other day, paid our 15 euros, and watched as the form was stamped, scanned, and registered.  It was a tremendous relief when the woman at the bank went online to look us up using our NIEs (Numero de Identidad de Extranjeros, our Foreign Identity Numbers) and easily found us in the NIE database.  We thought that was a good sign.  We figured we were ready to face La Rubia, Thing 1 or Thing 2 — or even Thing 3 again if we were allowed direct access this time!

DONE!

Our appointment was during a range of time, from 3:30 to 6:00 this afternoon.  So, we taxied over and got in line at 3:21 and waited for the doors to reopen after siesta, this time fully understanding the check-in process.

We were given our numbers.  They began distributing with ticket #10.  We were 18 and 19.  We sat in the waiting room for less than 10 minutes until our numbers were called.  We then waited in the next room (where Things 2, 3, and 4 worked) for about 3 minutes.  And then we met Thing 2.  He didn’t look up.  He didn’t smile when I said, “buenas tardes,” but he did at least return the greeting.  I gave him our forms that indicated we had appointments and we were there to continue the residency card process.  He didn’t look at me and muttered in Spanish.  Well, what are you here for?  I told him we had appointments to continue the process of obtaining our residency cards.  Without another word, he began taking documents from me.  He only needed four documents (we had been correctly informed and we were overly prepared).  He took two of our new photos and trimmed them to the correct size in a nifty little contraption.  I commented on how much I liked the contraption and we then became friends.  Before I knew it, he was done with my paperwork, handed me a receipt and began to work on Jerry’s.  I joked again about the contraption (telling him how much I love contraptions) and he was then truly my friend.  He showed me Thing 3’s contraption, which was much more contemporary and he complained that his was an antique.  I told him I was an antique, so I liked his better.  He laughed out loud.  He told us we would receive notification (an official appointment letter) within about 25 days when it was time to come pick up our cards. He then bid us both a very warm good-bye.  We were done in about 35 minutes and went to Starbucks to celebrate with Frapucinnos and large pieces of expensive and stale chocolate cake. But we ate it anyway.  Because we were happy.

IRONY. THERE IS “LUZ” IN THE REST OF THE BUILDING.
BUT THE BULB OUTSIDE OUR DOOR NEEDS REPLACING!
ABOUT THE LUZ

I had a funny conversation with the lawyer at 11:00 this morning.  It made me appreciate that, although he may not work with our same sense of urgency, the “luz” company (Endesa) is not entirely innocent.  The lawyer said he phoned Endesa yesterday and was told he couldn’t call again until Friday.  This was because on Monday they informed him it could take up to four days for them to get back to the apartment to turn on the lights, and Friday will be four days.  They had committed to turning on the lights no later than Friday, and therefore (he laughed as he said this) they allowed him the right to phone Friday and not before.

But, the truly exciting news is that the lawyer phoned me again at noon while I prepared a draft of this post (before heading over to the Foreigners’ Office).  The man from Endesa will be there for the “luz” Friday afternoon at 4.  Is it possible we will be home this weekend?!?  Let’s hope this light at the end of the tunnel is not just the headlight of an oncoming train!