Different Strokes for Different Folks (in different countries)

The fifteenth installment of my abandoned Granadino memoir, Flawed Abroad: Useless editorializing from an ignorant, close-minded American on his semester overseas.

Martes, 25 Enero ’05, 18.30 (Tuesday, January 25, 2005, 6:30 pm)

I finally figured it out: My señora is fattening me up to eat me. For breakfast this morning, she prepared two cups of leche con cola cao, three magdelenas (a shortbread-type pastry the size of a twinkie), and four slices of buttered toast—and this is my smallest meal of the day! But I’m hip to her plans now. The next time she demands to feel my fingers to see how plump I’m getting, I’m going to secretly offer her a chicken bone that I stole from dinner the other night. As long as I can keep anticipating her cannibalistic tendencies, I’ll be able to continue having my magdalenas and eating them too (even if they are kind of dry and crumbly).

In other news, apparently Europe (or at least Spain) refers to the day the stock market crashed as Jueves Negra—“Black Thursday,” whereas in the States it’s known as “Black Friday.” At first I assumed the discrepancy was due to the time change, but then I realized that Spain is six hours ahead of the U.S., so it would have been well into Friday here by the time the markets opened on Wall Street. Flippin’ Europe. They can’t get anything right.

Well, okay, that’s not fair. The Swiss make good watches, after all. And the Germans have very precise automobile engineering standards. Plus, France has its food and its wine, Iceland’s got some cool fjords, and Portugal’s got…uhh…Portugal’s got….a pretty flag. As for Spain (or, at least, Granada), well, she’s figured out a way once and for all to keep kids from smoking in the school bathrooms. The plan is ingenious really, and so far I haven’t seen or heard of a single breach of protocol—and I go to the Juan a lot. So, do you want to know why nobody smokes in the bathroom at my school? It’s because you’re allowed to smoke in the goddamn building. Apparently, lighting up in the classroom itself is frowned upon, but one need merely step outside the door to have access to a convenient array of smoking benches with ashtrays thoughtfully located next to both armrests. Spaniards are so considerate that way, never dreaming of infringing on your right to breathe second-hand smoke. Good for them.

Miércoles, 26 Enero ‘05, 18.15 (Wednesday, January 26, 2005, 6:15 pm)

It took me a few minutes to realize what I was witnessing, an admission for which my New England forbears would have tarred and feathered me. At first I thought it was dust wafting through the air from the myriad construction sites located all over the city. But then I decided the particles were too large and complicated for such a composition and theorized that perhaps a gust of wind had stripped a nearby tree of its budding blossoms. I realized that was an imbecilic thought as well, for there were no budding trees in Granada this time of year. Finally it hit me though: it was snowing. Yeah, I know, another E=MC2, right? But perhaps you’ll be a little more sympathetic to my deductive incompetence when I tell you that it was a beautiful sunny day at the time, with temperatures in excess of 40°F and only a few fluffy cumulonimbus clouds floating merrily above the fringes of the city. Whaddaya say to that, jerk?

It was pretty cool actually, watching this snow fall from nowhere. Of course, nothing actually accumulated, and the milagro de la naturaleza (as I heard one hombre refer to it) ended within the hour. I guess even Granada’s bad weather is good. Hopefully this is a sign that the drought is coming to an end, though the city would probably benefit even more from turning off all the bloody fountains that seemingly run day and night around here.

One of Granadas more impressive fountains in Plaza Triunfo

One of Granada's more impressive fountains in Plaza Triunfo.

There are hundreds—if not dozens!—of these foaming fuentes, ranging from the grandest aquatic fireworks displays in eye-catching, landscaped plazas to the sketchiest single spout spewers ornamenting the various stoner hangouts. And yet, despite their water-wasting ways, I love them, which is why I will have photographed every single one of them by the time this semester is over.

Or not. I’ll keep you posted though.

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