hola from Spain
This is my 4th day in Spain. Spent the 1st afternoon in Madrid wandering around the Prado museum.... Velazquez and Goya and... Bosch! "The Garden of Earthly Delights" captured me for at least 30 minutes. Then goodbye Madrid.
Juan - my couchsurfing.com host - drove me to his home in Valladolid where I met his wife Gabriella and their two ninos (a third is scheduled to arrive in one month's time.) They are very kind and generous to a fault, quickly making me feel right at home in their spare room. And the kiddos are seriously charming as anyone looking at my photos can clearly see.
What I have learned so far
A tortilla in Spain is _very different from one in Mexico. (Hint: trying to wrap fajitas in one of these omlettey things would be messy indeed.) Wine is incredibly cheap -- and if you can afford to drink the good stuff, you should do just that, hey? Little girls wanting to be princesses is not a strictly American phenomenom (I'm looking at YOU, Nancy) and little boys love spiderman everywhere you go. Urenua is a nearby walled city famous for it's bookstores -- and is a lot of fun to wander through even if hardly any of the books those stores feature are in any kind of language you can comprehend.
The last couple of days I have been wandering the squares of Valladolid solo - without the helpful coaching, care and translating services of Juan and Gabriella. Lots of older couples walking arm in arm, dressed in dark, conservative suits. (Gabriella - who hails from Segovia - tells me that she had to search high and low for a coat that wasn't black.) I am unsure what it is about my appearance that elicits sidelong glances and what sometimes feels like downright hostile stares. And though I really try to use what little Spanish my feeble mind can retain, I am encountering an (almost Frenchlike) disdain on the part of many locals regarding my (probably obviously Mexicana) accent and general inability to communicate better. Many of the store clerks and waiters I have met thus far have been exasperated, impatient and ...well, rude. It was a big relief to sit down to a meal with the other sculptors today - at least some of whom appear to be no more fluent than I. (Furthermore, our hotel is an expensive one very close to the square where we will start building tomorrow -- expensive enough that the staff know better than to insult the guests, no matter how shabbily they may dress.)
I renew my vow never to treat guests of SPI in this manner.