Hello all. Even after all of this time, I haven’t entirely mastered the art of the Spanish schedule. As I learned while trying to teach my students about meals and times of the day, here they don’t have a word for evening–it’s either afternoon or it’s night. Night is a time for sleeping or for going out. The day is separated clearly into morning and afternoon. So I work in the mornings–those are out. And then in the afternoon, many things don’t open (aka banks, offices, many stores). Others do, but not until 5, which is sometimes 5:30, which occasionally turns into 6. And then they close between 8 and 9, which sometimes means a bit before that. Despite the fact my list of things to do is pretty paltry here, I manage to not get them done, regardless. Then again, I can’t beat myself up too badly–Spain is not known for its efficiency.
Language has been on my mind lately. Maybe because I’ve been learning some really great phrases from Rosa and some of my other friends and colleagues. (who knew that “ser un trozo de pan,” literally, to be a piece of bread, actually means to be a good person?) Maybe just because I’m prone to notice such things. But they use solo/a (masculine/feminine) to mean both lonely and alone. To me, they are not the same thing. This also reflects the fact that a girl sitting alone in a cafe is a strange sight, one worth commenting on. It doesn’t bother me much anymore, but it does continue to surprise me. I think of Break Espresso, full of people this time of year with books and laptops, studying away. At the university here, sometimes you’ll see people studying alone, but even that is not as common. And clearly, la calle, a word meaning “the street” but also encompassing bars and cafes and most everything NOT home, is a place for socializing.
I touch on this whole alone/lonely bit because, for those who’ve had their noses stuck in books, the holiday season is upon us. Here, it’s considerably more mellow. It was 65 degrees here this weekend, Spanish Christmas music is seriously lacking (one contains the lyrics “but look how the fish drink in the river, look they drink because they see the baby born”) . Papá Noel (Santa) brings one present on Christmas Eve, but the big Christmas present carriers are the Three Kings, on January 6. So the Christmas season really only gets going, as far as shopping, AFTER Christmas. Disclaimer: I am not claiming Christmas=shopping. But no caroling party this year, no Christmas tree, no cookie baking (I don’t have an oven), dinner will consist of seafood–it’s a little different, to say the least. So far, I think I’m dealing pretty well. It’s been fun to see what presents my kids want from the Reyes Magos, to try Christmas candy and see the really lovely lights that now fill the streets–Spanish lights, quite different from the ones I’m accustomed to, but something they do really well. I’m hoping to teach my kids how to make paper snowflakes this week–having never seen snow, this is not a skill they learn in schools. My examples elicited way more excitement and cheering than I might have anticipated.
Tomorrow Pat and I head off for a (short) weekend in Cologne/Koeln/Köln, Germany. In addition to being home to possibly the most amazing cathedral in Europe, it’s also home to six Christmas markets (one of them on a boat!) Check them out here. We’re staying at the Station Hostel close to the Dom (cathedral) and the train station. We’ll be getting in late on Thursday night and will have to leave to come back to Sevilla, and then a train to Córdoba, on Saturday night. But the RyanAir flight was super cheap and I’m looking forward to being in a place, if only for a day and a half, that really feels like Christmas. Real, beautiful, warm, and slightly over the top Christmas. Then I’ve got a couple more days of class and I’m off to Murcia to celebrate a Spanish Christmas. I’ll be in touch before then.
Now go watch A Charlie Brown Christmas and appreciate how great it is. I was psyched to find it on my hard drive last night.