Monday, October 18, 2010

En el País de las Maravillas

I just got back from an hour of watching/teaching two little Spanish kiddos and they are so crazy cute I can't stand it. Monday evenings the professors at my school (excluding me) have a meeting and a couple weeks back one of them asked if I'd spend the hour-long meeting with her 5-year-old son Carlos and another teacher's 4-year-old daughter Leyre so that they could hear some English and I could pick up some extra cash. Back to back Monday holidays, however, meant that I had a bit of a wait until I began, and I didn't realize how much my older-kids classes had starved me of the young ones until I walked in the room today and saw those charming little muffins.

While the three of us drew pictures of dinosaurs, vampires and princesses, they asked me if I had a boyfriend and when I returned the question, Carlos happily said yes. "Her name is . . . how do you say 'Paula' in Spanish?" Carlos also assigned names to the two wolves I drew for him and the smaller one that trailed behind, which was the work of Leyre. Mine were "Sangre" (Blood) and "Muerte" (Death), and Leyre's was "Torpe" (Awkward). Ceeewwwt!

I was exhausted in Colegio today though because last night was the "First Official Dinner of Piso 5B", which obviously since we're in Spain started around 10 and ended Dios sabe cuando. I think we weren't allowed to do this until we were all on speaking terms or something, and this wasn't actually happening for us with the recently departed Marta. To be fair: I did talk to Marta on two occasions. The first was two weeks after I moved in and walked into the living room to find her there. I knew there was a mythical third roommate but I assumed she must be traveling or something because I hadn't seen a trace of her since my arrival, so I assumed this girl was perhaps a friend of Henrique's? Surely she can't be a tenant because my apartment listing had said "No smokers" and the living room . . . and the kitchen . . . and the hallway . . . and my bedroom were drowning in smoke. But alas, the girl was Marta, and she said so.

Episode two of conversation: The doorbell rang while she had a friend over and she told me it was for me. (It wasn't for me).

This is idle mean gossip until . . . well long story short our landlord came in from Brussels to tell her she had to leave the apartment and she did so, not nicely, and then she came back with four of her big male friends and harassed the doorman and the new girl a bit and then we changed the locks. One of these guy friends now wants to hang out with me and I'm thinking maybe we'd better not.

So anyway we all sat down to tarta de tomate and wine last night and I think we're going to try to make it a weekly thing, which is great because two of them are French and aside from knowing French recipes they're also good at picking out wine.

One of the French girl's family was supposed to be in town but it ended up only being her dad because of the strikes in Paris. They're protesting the same kinds of things as did the Spanish a couple weeks ago - the raising of the retirement and pension age - but theirs has been going on for quite awhile. Some of the oil companies, for instance, have halted work for two weeks running, so gasoline is getting more and more expensive throughout Europe. Luckily it's Europe. I read a travel forum awhile back where someone was asking for the best walkable cities, and this was someone's answer: "Typical question from Americans who see walking as some kind of sport whereas for Europeans its a mode of transport. Europe is not LA." It's kind of worrisome to see how they look at us sometimes; the walking thing, that's not that bad, but people are not exactly fond of our politics and it's in the papers daily. This morning I read an article in ABC about the Tea Party movement that likened it to "the 'Mad Tea Party' de Alicia en el País de las Maravillas." (And you know Alice in Wonderland was some mad crazy shit).

Is that to scale?

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