Monday, December 28, 2009

Spain (and loving blogging with Zemanta)

Image representing Zemanta as depicted in Crun...Image via CrunchBase
Before, I begin, if you are are reading this and are a blogger, please check out Zemanta - it's my new FREE blogging buddy that makes it easier and faster to blog. It takes my hand and leads me automatically to related online content and creative commons picture. Please make your blogging life more enjoyable and check this out!
(Thanks to Greg Stock at goyestoeverything 
for this recommendation).

Paul and I have been in Spain since arriving on December 22, 2009. We spent our first few days in Barcelona before moving on to Granada.  We are now in Algeciras (southern tip of Spain) and came here with the intention to go from here To Tangier, Morocco. We will finish off our trip in and around Lisbon, Portugal before flying home on January 2, 2010.

An enlargeable basic map of Spain
I am writing this post by the light of my MacBook screen. In other words, in the dark.

Poor Paul is trying to sleep in the bed on the other side of the room here in our hostel. 

Paul has been suffering since we arrived in Spain.  I'm afraid I take responsibility for triggering the string of events that has landed him in this most unfortunate state.

I unintentionally gave him an unwanted Christmas gift - the cold I brought with me from Canada.  At first it wasn't so bad, but then it seemed to ramp up his jet lag, and so he hasn't been getting much sleep at all. Which of course is intensifying the cold symptoms.

All that was manageable until today.

This morning we woke up early to get the 7:15am train from Grenada to Algeciras (the pronunciation of which I have almost mastered - al-hhcchhh-theee-rrrr-uh-sss - the /h/ is a throaty glottal sound).

When we got on the train, a map was given to us and then, before rushing off, the train employee said many-beautiful-Spanish-words-which-I-didn't-understand. He concluded with "Ronda" and with that, he was gone.

I look at Paul. "Ronda?".

We look around the train confused, and a man who spoke very little English marveled me with his use of gestures and body language.  He communicated that because of construction, we'd have to get off the train at Ronda and take a bus.

A bus. Ok, I can handle it. I have no choice. You see, I have motion sickness.  Thankfully I've managed to adapt over the years to cars, planes and trains. But buses (and boats) still make my stomach turn.  Even the word 'bus' stirs a little bit of a Pavlovian nausea in me. Yet I know that if I keep my eyes closed I can tolerate it.

About 20 minutes into the bus ride, we begin a curve-hugging ascent up a mountain. So far, my stomach is fine. Paul is not. I open my eyes as he says, with great distress, that he is going to the back of the bus. In his hand is a plastic bag.

I think 2 things:

1. Oh my. Emesis is near.

2. The back of the bus? Man, he's gonna make it worse.

And as empathetic as I am, if I don't keep my eyes closed, I will be in a similar position. So I stay where I am.

This is a surprising twist. When we traveled by bus through New Zealand in 2000, I was the one with the barf bag handy in which I had to spill my gastric contents on a regular basis.

When we arrived in Algeciras, I had to leave him in the bus station while I found us a hostel. Upon locating one through the tourist office, we got a cab out front of the bus station. Although our cabbie was dressed very nicely, and was proud of herself for being strong enough to lift my suitcase into her trunk, she didn't seem to have a clue where we wanted to go. The map I gave her with the hostel location circled on it didn't seem to help...

After stopping to ask another cabbie for directions, she dropped us off somewhere and indicated that our hostel was down the street. 

It wasn't.

I hope the rest of her day was better and she didn't get lost on her way back to the bus station to get more fares (!).

Meanwhile, Paul is ill. I'm starting to hear faint whimpers and he explains that not only is he nauseous and dizzy, but now stomach cramps are setting in. I feel badly as I try to get us oriented to find our hostel.

Finally, after walking around asking a good half dozen people where our hostel is (and showing them the map), we finally find it. Paul makes a bee line for the washroom in our room, and I take care of getting us signed in.

And the rest of the day involves him sleeping, puking, moaning, and me hunting for a supermercado (supermarket) to buy him "sick food".  

Despite the above reported drama, we are having a good time!

I'll go back to the beginning.

We arrived in Barcelona after a 24 hr journey (we experienced delays in T.O., Philadelphia and Frankfurt due to a bad snow storm in the Eastern US the preceding weekend.  I was SO stoned from fatigue that at each of the 3 lounges we were waiting in,  I slept on the floor, desperate to be horizontal.

Ronda Tapas
On arrival in Barcelona, we gorged at a Tapas Bar before sleeping a good 14 hours.  Tapas are small dishes of shareable snacks. We sat in front of what was like a cafeteria display case and pointed at what we wanted. Yum!

The next morning, I learned what a tortilla is here in Spain.
Tortilla de patatas    (tortilla espaƱola)

When I think tortilla, I think of those chips that you use to make nachos.
Actually, in Spain, it's like a fluffy omellette with potatoes or peppers or spinach. (I'm not exactly sure what makes it rise like cake though...).

Las Ramblas
  Our first day, we  toured Las Ramblas (a pedestrian only zone where, in one area, they sell pets - mostly birds, turtles, bunnies and hamsters; in another they sell flowers and had holiday decorations).

Shunga Arte ed eros in Giappone nel periodo Edo

We also visited the Picasso Museum.  I was amazed to learn that Picasso was not only a lauded visual artist in the abstract cubist style, but that he also worked with bronze and ceramics. 

But the best is this: Picasso owned a large collection (like many of his contemporaries) of Japanese Shunga Art (erotic prints). Not only that, but he fashioned some of his work after this style.

(Is it inappropriate to say that this special exhibit we were lucky enough to see, entitled "Secret Images: Picasso and Japanese Erotic Prints", was my favourite part of the whole museum, and that I lingered there for quite some time when Paul was ready to move on?).

Whew, now I'm a getting a little tired.

Must sleep (cross fingers that Paul is ok enough to go to AFRICA tomorrow!).

(Wish me luck sleeping, there's a human chainsaw on the other side of our paper thin hostel room walls!).

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. Thanks for sharing your experiences; I feel like I was there (without the nausea :-) I hope Paul is feeling much, much better!

  2. Wow, that's what I call an adventure. You are living life to the fullest! Thanks for stopping by my blog.