Friday, April 29, 2011

This Post is Not About Me

Many of my posts up to this point have been a tad bit egocentric.  Since, on a daily basis, I find myself in uncommon situations of great confusion and general ridiculousness, it’s extremely difficult for me not to tell all of you, my faithful readers, each and every thing that happens to me.  I know you all enjoyed the little mixup with my use of the word “hombre,” and the detailed retelling of my surprise encounter with a herd of man parts on a nude beach, and how I tried to sabotage Easter with mouth-cementing pierogies.  And how a bird pooped on my shoulder.  Today.  Yup.  But I wanted to share with you some of the most interesting observations I’ve made and factoids I’ve discovered about Spanish culture because that’s really why I’m here!  So get those reading glasses on, warm up those thinking caps, and prepare for your daily dose of edumacation!
First, let’s talk about food (Really, did you expect me to start this off with anything else?).  In one of my earlier posts, A Few Words About Time, Food, and Thanks, I described the daily schedule here and the appropriation of quantity regarding meals.  Lunch, la comida, is the largest meal of the day, especially if you go out or are sharing a meal with friends and/or extended family.  There’s usually an apertif (slices of meat, cheese, cured fish, bread, and oil), a “First Plate” (a salad, quiche, or something else not-too-filling), and a “Second Plate” (the main dish: paella, spaghetti, etc.).  

Jose Antonio, my host father, and I, working a little paella magic.
Following all of that, of course, is my favorite: postre.  I’ll give you one guess what that is.  For most of the lunches I’ve enjoyed out at restaurants or at gatherings, dessert is a large assortment of all different decadent, delicious, and diet-destroying delicacies.  Please note the following crêpe-tastrophe that I had a couple of weeks ago:

I believe I’m still working that one off.  I think it’s also important to note that there is candy and chocolate EVERYWHERE.  They must have known I was coming.  Apparently, there’s a chocolate factory not too far from here where I am hoping the Oompa Loompas will take me in as one of their own and I can drink Fizzy Lifting Drinks, swim in the chocolate river, and chew Everlasting Gobbstoppers to my heart’s content for all of eternity.  If that doesn’t work out, I’m sure I can make myself comfortable in the gift shop.  
Previous to the now-famous Pierogi Incident, I had my first taste of the nightlife here in Alicante and it is hoppin’!  Early on in the evening, however, I learned one of the strangest, but most interesting, things about Spain yet.  We met up with friends in the barrio, the section of the city where all the nightlife is, and they were carrying big bottles of alcohol.  Confused, I asked if the bars let you bring your own drinks.  Apparently, as drinking is not allowed in the streets and drinks at bars are extremely expensive, you can pay a cover to bring your own alcohol and mixers and drink inside the bar of your choice.  I’m still perplexed by this whole situation but it is apparently the most cost-effective strategy, especially if you enjoy the bar atmosphere.  
Just a funny story because I can’t NOT write about it: After leaving the techno-blasting, strobe-light-flashing, people-dancing-on-everything discoteca (which was nowhere near as corny as I had imagined), a not-so-attractive young man struck up a conversation with my friend Nerea on the street.  After many attempts to flee the scene, the chico in question asked for Nerea’s phone number.  Me being the typical American girl, who is used to this tomfoolishness, appropriately answered for her with “867-5309.”  But since I said it in Spanish, and after I’d had a few drinks, it took me about 3 minutes to spit the whole thing out because I was thinking and giggling and I’m pretty sure all the numbers were wrong.  And apparently, no one in Spain knows Jenny’s phone number by heart like we do in the States so my hilarity went unrecognized by anyone but me (sigh).  

Here are some quick cultural tidbits for you, no additional story included:
-The cars are tiny.  Like babies of our cars.  I saw a Jeep here once and that’s about as big as it gets.  Borja drives an Audi and even he has trouble finding parking spaces because his car is too “big.”  Common makes are Renault, Ford (Yup!), Audi, Honda, Toyota, Peugeot, Mercedes, BMW, Seat, Kia, and Volkswagon.  I did, however, get a little treat a couple weeks ago with a Maserati sighting in the city centre.  Mmmmm.
-I had to explain what an automatic car is to Borja’s friends.  Almost everything here is manual.
-It is not unusual to have beer or wine with lunch.  I was at a café this morning, enjoying my most delicious café con leche (Lent is over!), and a couple at a table near me were just there for a beer.  It was noon.  On a Thursday.
-Many, many, many, many people smoke and they have the teeth to show for it.
-Food, in general, is fresher and cheaper than in the States.  For example, you can buy a dozen quail eggs at the supermarket around the corner for 1,50 € (a little over $2.00) whereas I found a listing for quail eggs on Rochester’s craigslist for $1.50...PER EGG.  Also, since the Mediterranean is right here, there are the freshest of fresh fish in markets all over the city and farms growing lots of great produce bring tasty fruits and veggies in all the time.  
-Clothes, in general, are way more expensive.  Believe me, my bank account and I are well aware of this little detail.
-You can walk most breeds of dogs without a leash, though you must carry a leash with you in your pocket.  Imagine my happiness the first time I took a stroll on the beach and there were all these puppies running everywhere!  They all need a home and they can come live with MEEE!!!  No, not true.  They have owners.  And they don’t really like it when you try to adopt their dogs.
As today marks four weeks in España, I really must say thanks for all of the support so far.  I love writing these posts and reflecting on my time here, but the greatest benefit comes after the post is up and the comments start rolling in.  Nothing makes me happier than to hear who is reading and what you think and whether or not that joke I tried to get juuusssstttt right made your day a little bit brighter.  So to all of you, wherever you are, thanks for commenting, for emailing, for facebooking, for skype-ing, and as always, 

Thanks for reading,


  1. Yep. Always makes my day :) In fact, your posts usually end up being part of our dinner conversation.

    Now I need to go find some chocolate...

  2. I, too, find a lot to chuckle about in your blog. It is quite interesting for me and there is that "living vicariously through your child" thing going on...but hey. I can't be in Spain and you can. So, viva Espana! (And I wish I could learn how to make that wiggly line above the n in Espana like you do.)I love the picture of you and Jose Antonio. It captures both of your personalities. Keep having fun! Mom

  3. I could not help but laugh at giving Jenny's number out in place of Nerea's, how sad that none of your friends were able to appreciate the hilarity of it

  4. Thanks for the support Jess!

    Mom: I agree with you about the paella picture. Jose Antonio and I have a great time hamming it up together here in Spain.

    Nicole: Thank you! I completely agree!

  5. You are great and you crack me up. Took me about 8 hours to get through between crying children, cooking dinner and Mark and I have become Glee fanatics now but I am so glad I did finish reading. You are beautiful and like your mom said...I too am doing a little vicarious living. Stay safe. Skype with you soon <3