The third installment of my abandoned Granadino memoir, Flawed Abroad: Useless editorializing from an ignorant, close-minded American on his semester overseas.
11 Enero, 17:45
Despite the myriad of back roads, I actually managed to find my way to school—El Centro de Lenguas Modernas (henceforth, “El Centro“>—without a hitch this morning. Alex, the only other Bowdoin student in the program who coincidentally/suspiciously lives just a few doors down from me, will be my walking companion (in a completely macho, non-homosexual way) on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when we both have class from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. (i.e., 10.00 – 14.30). As for the rest of the week—Martes, Miércoles, and Viernes—I’m probably going to be flying solo, since everyone else who lives near me seems to be taking the Allah-forsaken 8.00 literature class. Maybe they’ll find it worth the a.m. anguish, but even new Spanish Trevor can’t abide by a 7.00 wake-up call multiple times a week.
As for the classes themselves, they were fairly uneventful—though I guess that’s to be expected, seeing as how it was only the first day. The professors merely asked us about ourselves for the most part, presumably so they could get an idea of what kind of dullards they’d be dealing with this semester. It’s too early to get a feel for how tolerable each of our maestros will prove in the weeks and months to come, but at least the history teacher looks like a Spanish William H. Macy, so I suppose that’s something.1
Mealtime, as usual, continues to be a…uhhh, learning experience. This morning, after explaining that I had to leave the apartment earlier than usual because I was meeting people in a few minutes, my señora still insisted on fixing my requisite cup of cocoa. She also pressed upon me two muffins and the rest of the fried chicken (!) from last night’s dinner, both of which I surreptitiously slipped into my bag when she wasn’t looking. However, I turned out to have eviscerated the roof of my mouth gulping down scalding hot Cola Cao for naught, since Alex was 15 minutes late meeting me anyway, having been out till 5.00 that morning drinking and carousing and dunking his head in the odd fountain or two. (Side note: I have taken it upon myself to photograph every fountain in Granada, from the filthiest festering water pump to the most majestic collaboration of man and Neptune. More on that later though. Maybe.) As for lunch, that was also less than effortless. I suppose you would call the brothy concoction fish soup, as it was comprised of—among other things—bits of salmon, shrimp, hardboiled eggs, onions, some unidentifiable brown thing, and what I’m pretty sure were actual scales. I sipped at it politely for a couple of minutes until one of my señora’s daughters (should I know their names by now?) took pity on me and removed the offending foodstuff from the table. Luckily, the second part of the meal (a Spanish tortilla made of fried potatoes and eggs and blessedly free of onions) was fairly palatable—Juan might even say yummy. (Then again, what the hell does Juan know?) In any case, I can’t wait to see what dinner will bring, though I’m guessing it will be something equally devoid of anything I’d ever eat in America.
22.00 – I’m not sure what my señora has heard about Americans and their apetitos, but she must think that we all come equipped with hollow legs and an internal woodchipper. After assuring her that I still wasn’t that hungry after our mystery fish almuerzo, she called me for dinner at 21.00 and presented me with a ham sandwich the size of a fútbol americano, along with what had to be at least half a head of plain lettuce. I suppose it was mixed blessing though, for it was during the long and arduous process of consuming the entire meal that my señora and I had our longest contiguous conversation to date, sparked by some news footage showing a slalom skier taking a nasty header during a race earlier in the day. I directed her attention to the image and recounted the first time I dislocated my shoulder in a skiing accident a few years back. She nodded knowingly and proceeded to tell me about the time she fell off the sofa and broke her wrist. Not to be outdone, I mentioned that my sister had once fallen off her bike and broken both her wrists, but my señora countered by relating how her daughter and her niece blew out their knees this past year, one while skiing and the other in a motorcycle accident in Thailand. I was getting desperate by this point, so I quickly made something up about my grandfather’s head exploding one day while he was sitting around playing dominos, but she took it like a pro and came right back with a story about how her mother-in-law once projectile vomited hard enough to kill three stray dogs and a gypsy. After that the conversation pretty much deteriorated into petty insults and a half-hearted shoving match, but suffice it to say, I was encouraged by the progress we had made.
Things I’ve learned today:
- Carpeting in Granada’s various housing complexes is virtually non-existent. There is not a shred of floor-covering in my señora’s apartment (a.k.a., her piso), nor can any of the other students in the program attest to even a single modest area rug in their living domiciles. Perhaps the tile and linoleum floors provide a cooling effect during the sweltering summers that make a chilled winter foot worth enduring.
- Spanish paper is not the same size as American paper. That’s right: 8.5″ x 11″ has become a thing of the past. I now bask in the far more luxurious (and far more rational) measurements of 8.25″ x 11.75″. As it says in the bible, “Blessed is the man with an extra 6.1875 square inches of papyrus.”
- At night, my bedroom gets colder than the refrigerator. Seriously. I left my Nalgene on my nightstand for a couple of hours and, when I drank from it, the water was colder than after having left it in the fridge for an entire day.2
1. Other celebrity news: The director of our program at the University of Granada looks like a Spanish Eugene Levy and I saw some Flamenco singer on el televisor who definitely resembled a Spanish John Travolta. Stay tuned for more of my attempts to relate every aspect of Spanish civilization to American pop culture!
2. Actually, this claim is not at all accurate. After carrying out an experiment with the thermometer on my alarm clock, I discovered that, at night, my room reaches a sultry 59°F, whereas the fridge maintains the borderline arctic clime of 54.5°F. My malo.