Help yourself to a second serving of Spanish photographs! This time I’ll document some of the food of my trip! Click any photo to start a slideshow, and look at the captions for descriptions and interesting stories of my experiences!
As a small child it always confused me that Spanish was the language of Mexico. Despite being raised speaking English in the United States of America, it seemed disappointing that I would always see and hear the Spanish language, but never any Spanish people. Well, that all ended this week. Persona de España, árbol de España, restaurante chino de España, gato blanco de España, y más! I got to see them all! With all the experiencing I’m doing, I have very little time to document besides taking pictures, so this entry will be a collection of picture galleries. I’ll start with a few easy ones while I’m in Spain, and finish up with some more detailed storytelling after I’ve gotten back.
¡Graffiti de España!
The first thing you notice in Madrid, at least if you’re near the university instead of in the tourist area, is graffiti. There’s graffiti everywhere. Lots of colorful, artful graffiti, but also, especially on campus, simple messages in black paint. Most of these appear to be pro-communist or anti-fascist messages, but I also saw some that praised the prevalence of Catholicism in Spain. One graffiti was an elaborate full-color portrait of a woman surrounded by a bicycle chain. There were a few messages written around the edges as well, maybe some Spanish scholars reading my blog can translate them. One picture includes the proud artist, who told me in proficient English precisely what he was aiming for when he tore off the metro poster to reveal the poster beneath. “There is another face. Half man, half woman!” he beamed.
¡Flora y Fauna de España!
The Spanish foliage was generally beautiful. The birds were exciting, but difficult to capture on camera. The bright green birds were monk parakeets, I believe. There were also large black birds like ravens but with white spots that I dubbed “orca birds,” and small birds that always seemed to be flying around in swarms. They seldom stopped for long enough to clearly make out, let alone record, any features. One got trapped in a huge cathedral I visited and just flew around and around in wide circles the whole time I was there. The pigeons were docile, though. They seemed to be asleep on their roosts on top of the statues near the royal palace. The area that looks like an arboretum was on the way between our hotel, AC Hotel Los Vascos, and the university.
Despite years of diligent questioning by some of the world’s top stand-up comedians, we still have not answered the age-old question, “What is the deal with airline food?” In my metal tube high above the Atlantic ocean, I could have sworn my “cheddar” cheese was American cheese, and my vinaigrette dressing was a grey, gelatinous mass in a tiny plastic cup. Fortunately, I had fudge my grandmother brought from Maine and baked tofu sticks I made from an Eastern NC Barbecue sauce. The TSA had to take extra precautions with the fudge, but after what they assured me were necessary tests, they proclaimed it both safe and delicious.
Upon arrival in Madrid, I had my first Spanish conversation with an actual Spaniard! It went like this, “Su habla ingles?”
My second Spanish conversation with a Spaniard went like this, “Su habIa ingles?”
This Spaniard was the concierge at our hotel and she told us that “Gracias” is pronounced “Grathias” in Madrid. She also told us that we wouldn’t have to wait until the afternoon to get into our room, which was good news. In our room, some cards written in English and Spanish took an anti-nihilist approach to getting us to conserve water and energy.
The room itself had a clever design to conserve energy as well – in order to use electricity you have to put your room key in a slot in the wall. When you take it out, all the electricity to the room is shut off. No more leaving lights on when you wander away.
We wandered away to a supermarket, where my roommate, who prefers to be known only as J, explained that the greatest place to experience a country’s food is in its supermarket. So we bought some chorizo and serrano and various cheese for easy meals when we weren’t eating out. J was particularly impressed with his semicurado, which he said was made from goat,sheep, and cow milk mixed together. Maasdam is a dutch cheese in swiss style. It looks and tastes like swiss cheese. I bought some “bananos” and “zanahorias” too for good measure.
J also bought bottled water to avoid drinking Spanish water, since he’d had a bad experience in Switzerland. I decided that a risk of a little short-lived intestinal discomfort was a small price to pay to at least give the first-world municipal water supply a chance before caving to stolen, overpriced, plastic-wrapped water.
J was very proud of his Spanish conversation. It started when we didn’t know that the cashier wanted us to get a pen for her. Another Spaniard behind us grew tired of waiting for us to figure out what she was pantomiming, and went and got the pen himself, rolling his eyes and mumbling something to her about “Americanos.”
“Si, Americanos,” agreed J.
Then we returned to the hotel, AC Hotel Los Vascos, and I finished writing this entry. After all this speaking Spanish, it’s fun to think back to when my girlfriend thought one of the most interesting things about me was that i didn’t know Spanish. Well, if she thinks I’m so ignorant, this is what I have to say to her. “Guten tag, Alice! Guten tag straight from Spain itself!”