For Times Long Past

Wow, do I ever have a lot of catching up to do. We had a wonderful, too-brief, trip to Sevilla with our friend Judyshannonstreetwhat — click here if you haven’t been keeping up — to visit with some friends and to catch the Three Kings Parade. We had the inspiration to travel computer-less, which had me out of touch with everything.

Tuesday morning, I woke up — in time for the 2-1/2-hour train ride home — with one of my allergy attacks that feels like the flu, in time for the train ride home. (Could I be allergic to something in Sevilla?) So I spent much of Wednesday and Thursday lounging and/or sleeping. And whining. But I’m back with over 400 photos to sort through.

Today’s photos are from the Three Kings Parade (Cabalgata de los Tres Reyes), which occurred the day before “Epiphany” (Three Kings Day). Our friend Miguel met us in front of our hotel for a birds-eye view.

I made a number of new friends during the parade, most under the age of 10. Two girls, Julia and Marta, who had been studying English for a year and were doing exceptionally well. Adorable brothers who just smiled at me… a lot (the first photo). And, Adrian (pronounced ah-dree-AHN), a boy who knows a little English but is shy about using it. We practiced “thank you” and “your welcome” when I caught air-born candies and gave them to him.


(Click any image. You can almost taste the candies.)

EARLIER IN THE DAY… AT PLAZA DE ESPAÑA.
AN APACHE IN FRONT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SEVILLA (AT LEFT).
(NEAR WHERE THE PARADE STARTED.)
LIKE GOING BACK IN TIME… EXCEPT FOR THE SNEAKERS.
MARTA (RIGHT): “I HAVE A PET RABBIT.”
JULIA (LEFT): “I LIKE TO EAT RABBIT.”
A MATCHED SET.
TWO CROWNED TWIZYS LED THE WAY.
JUDY WAS SO EXCITED TO RECEIVE AN OFFICIAL CARAMELO (CANDY) BAG.
MY PAL ADRIAN WHO CHASED VERY AGGRESSIVELY AFTER THE CANDY.
HIS MOTHER HAD TO CONSTANTLY PULL HIM FROM BETWEEN THE FLOATS… AND HORSES.
BLACK-FACE, WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO SIGNIFY THE MOORS.
IT’S ALSO SUPPOSEDLY NOT OFFENSIVE, BUT I HAVE MY DOUBTS.
THE SKY WAS FILLED WITH FLYING CARAMELOS.
COLORFUL…
MIGUEL DISPLAYING HIS SIMULTANEOUS CATCHES.
JUDY (RIGHT) HAD HER MOUTH FILLED WITH CANDY AND MADE ME
PROMISE TO CROP HER OUT OF THE PIC…
BUT, IF I CROPPED HER OUT,
YOU WOULD MISS SEEING MIGUEL’S WHISTLE…
AND IT’S A VERY NICE WHISTLE.
REY #1:  MELCHOR
FORT APACHE?
THE PIRATES OF BETHLEHEM?
NICE UNIFORMS.
IMAGINE THE BOTTOMS OF OUR SHOES.
OK… MAYBE IT WASN’T JUST A BIBLICAL THEME.
LOS CAMELLOS (CAMELS) PLODDING THROUGH THE CARMELOS (CANDIES).
REY #2:  GASPAR
I CAUGHT THIS FOAM RUBBER TOY CITY BUS (FROM THE BUS FLOAT).
I GAVE IT TO ADRIAN AND HE SQUEALED, “YOUR WELCOME!!!”
BEWARE OF GREEKS BEARING GIFTS.
IF ONLY IT WERE FILLED WITH CANDY.
SEVILLA HAS 2 FÚTBOL TEAMS. HERE’S CARLOS MARCHENA FROM “REAL BÉTIS.”
HE SAT BACK-TO-BACK WITH A PLAYER FROM “FÚTBOL CLUB SEVILLA.”
MADRID, WHICH I THINK ONLY USES BLACK-FACE FOR BALTASAR,
RECENTLY RECEIVED A FORMAL PETITION TO STOP THE PRACTICE.
REY #3:  BALTASAR
MORE MESS.
BALTASAR WAS IMMEDIATELY FOLLOWED BY THE STREET CLEANERS.
INCREDIBLE CLEAN-UP.
AFTER THE PARADE PASSED US BY, I TRIED TO GET ACROSS TOWN TO VISIT A FRIEND.
I CUT THROUGH THE OLD TOWN AND GOT STUCK.  I HAD TO WATCH THE ENTIRE PARADE
ALL OVER AGAIN.  HERE’S BALTASAR… THIS TIME WITH LIGHTS.

And I leave you with the voice of Minnesota’s own, Erin Schwab, San Geraldo’s god-daughter — a singer, actress, radio personality, teacher, and all-round exceptional human being.

Confusing Camisetas

Camiseta is the Spanish word for T-shirt. Especially popular here are T-shirts displaying the names of American destinations, universities, and teams.

Most of the T-shirts are made in China. Printed in English. For a Spanish audience.

New York City — Manhattan, Brooklyn, [The] Bronx, and Staten Island are commonly featured. But rarely correctly. (The fifth borough, Queens, doesn’t get much play.) 

(Click the images. Some will get bigger. None will make more sense.)

WHOA. THIS MUST HAVE BEEN A REALLY TOUGH GANG…
THEY HAD THEIR OWN 100% COTTON, PRE-SHRUNK T-SHIRTS. (I WONDER WHAT THE CITY CREW DID.)

Just the other day I passed someone wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the name of that great American university, New York City State. Although I myself have never heard of it, I’m sure it must be huge. After all, someone made T-shirts.

THERE’S AN ADDRESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS “1978 BROOKLYN” SHIRT,
I DON’T KNOW WHAT WAS AT 235 MYRTLE AVENUE IN 1978,
BUT IT’S NOT THERE NOW.

One morning, while Judyshannonstreetwhat (click here for that post) was still here, we were having coffee downstairs at Cafe El Noventa when a little boy walked by with his mother. As you may remember, Judy is from Seattle, Washington, and so, apparently, was the little boy’s T-shirt.

JUDY HAD NEVER HEARD OF A ROAD NAMED ROUTE 306,
I QUICKLY GOOGLED IT;  IT’S NOT A ROAD BUT A CITY TRANSIT BUS LINE.
AND IT DEFINITELY WON’T TAKE YOU TO LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA,
WHICH IS 1,828 KM (1,136 MILES) SOUTH.
A VISITOR FROM MOROCCO, WITH HIS PARENTS AND BROTHER.
THEY HAD NO IDEA WHAT “CONEY ISLA ND BEA CH” WAS.
(NOR HAVE I EVER SEEN PALM TREES AND AGAVES GROWING THERE.)

DAVID (Dah-VEED), AT CAFE EL NOVENTA,
WEARING ONE OF HIS FAVORITE OLD T-SHIRTS.
I ASKED DAVID WHAT “WATCHING UPPER” WAS (OTHER THAN AN “HONOUR”).
HIS RESPONSE: “NO TENGO IDEA.” (“I HAVE NO IDEA.”)  HE ASSUMED I WOULD KNOW.

I don’t get it…

Your Spanish Friend

A few weeks ago, I told you about my long weekend in Madrid staying with Guadalupe (click here for the last of several posts on that trip).

Guadalupe and a few of her friends can communicate fairly well in English. Other of her friends are fluent — and probably have a much better academic knowledge of English grammar than I do… than do I… than I… In addition, some are also fluent in French, German, and Italian. One friend is even fluent in Hebrew. All I could remember how to say in Hebrew was, “What’s this?,” “I go to Hebrew school,” and “Koopy is a good monkey.” Phonetically, that’s “Koopy cove tove,” if it ever comes up in conversation.

Putting Koopy aside… The core group of five professional women started a business together called “Your Spanish Friend.” They host people in their homes and offer a few days or more of immersion in Spanish conversation while sharing the city of Madrid from an insider’s view.

This all sounds like an advertisement and I don’t mean it to be that. I just thought I’d let you know about it in case you’re interested. Although Guadalupe and I had recently become friendly, we weren’t close friends and really didn’t know each other very well. I agreed to go up for a visit and was kind of nervous about staying in someone else’s home (not my favorite way to travel) and spending so much time in such close proximity to a fairly new acquaintance. I also love to travel independently, so didn’t know how I felt about being taken around Madrid by someone else.

The entire visit was a revelation. First, the homes are large and elegant. I had my own beautiful room and private bath. I know people with apartments smaller than that. So, staying in Guadalupe’s house was like staying in an elegant B&B — with the added benefit of feeling part of a family (and being able to eat whenever I wanted). We spent the entire weekend speaking only Spanish. At times, my Spanish was comical, but I can’t believe how much I improved, and how relaxed I was the entire time.

YOUR SPANISH FRIEND(s).

You may remember the photo I shared of Guadalupe and her friends. They are all gracious, fascinating, classy, relaxed, warm, kind, funny, knowledgable. I could go on an on. I fell in love. I told San Geraldo even he (yes, even he) would have had a great time.

This is not a shameless plug since it’s not about me. Check them out at www.YourSpanishFriend.com and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/YourSpanishFriend. (You may recognize some of the photos. I sent all of mine to Guadalupe.)

AND JUST THINK, AFTER YOUR TIME IN MADRID,
YOU CAN VISIT THE COSTA DEL SOL AND WAKE UP TO THIS.
CLICK THE IMAGES TO FILL THE SCREEN WITH SUNRISE (AND FRIENDS).

Koopy
During your next trip to Spain I know you’ll be asked about Koopy the monkey (he comes up all the time, as you can imagine): When asked, all you need to say is:“Koopy es un buen mono,” because Koopy is a good monkey.

Speaking the Language

I’m immersed in Rosetta Stone Spanish for Spain.  I studied Spanish for 7 years starting when I was 12.  You’d think I’d be passably fluent, but it’s been a really long time since I’ve used it beyond a very superficial level.

I was in Spain on business about four years ago.  During that trip I spent an hour in a taxi with a driver who spoke no English.  We spent the hour in conversation… in Spanish.  At the end of the hour, the cab driver told me I did really well.  I said, like a 2-year-old.  He said, no, 5.  Trust me, he was being extremely kind.  After completing Level 1 (of 5) of Rosetta Stone, I feel like I now speak and comprehend Spanish like an at times slow and at times gifted 2-year-old.

I look forward to fluency.  I’m not very patient.  I’m no perfectionist.  I’m quite good at slapping something together and saying, “That’ll do.”  But I don’t like not being able to do something perfectly immediately.  The big difference between me and a perfectionist–in those situations when I can’t immediately do something perfectly–is that I might just throw in the towel.

But I love languages and I do pick them up quickly (I hear them as music in my head).  So, although I’ll get frustrated with my lack of fluency I won’t stop working at it.

Jerry speaks Russian.  We don’t expect that to come in very handy in Spain.  So, he’s counting on me to be translator (everything is relative) when we visit Andalucia in January.  Jerry’s sister and her husband rented an apartment in Nerja on the Costa del Sol last summer.  One day when they were out for their regular morning stroll, they were greeted by the owner of the local grocery.  As they walked by, she waved and said, “Buenos dias!”  Our brother-in-law waved back and said, “Aloha!”  I don’t think he’s going to be of much help.

Once we move in May, we’ll both immediately enroll in language immersion programs.

In the meantime, we are also trying to understand everything (well, a lot) about Spanish history and culture.  Jerry is the academic in this household.  He can get himself lost in any, dry, non-fiction tome.  And he can then quote information and statistics for years after.  I barely got through one academic hard-cover on Spain and I returned two others to Jerry after the first chapter.

I keep hoping to find a historical novel to give me all I need to know in a format like Michener’s “Hawaii.”  Michener did actually produce one book on Spain. Unfortunately, it was a work of NON-fiction.  In the meantime, I’m reading every travel guide and have just found a book “The New Spaniards” that holds my attention.  Surfing the web provides an endless source of info in as small or as large a bite as I’m interested in at any given time.

So, now it’s off to Peet’s for a newspaper and a cup of coffee.