Saturday, February 12, 2011

Semana Dos: Scary Eyes and Wandering Eyes

4 February ~ 10 February 2011

It was a Friday night and I decided to take a stroll through el centro (downtown). When I emerged from the narrow shopping calle (street) that connects the street I live on to the main drag, it was like Times Square, but stretched out the length of the entire street. I walked aimlessly down Calle Recogidas for close to fifteen minutes until my usual hunger pain struck me. I walked back to Plaza Real to eat at a fine Spanish eatery called Burger King. I was curious to see what the menu was like. It was packed. But first let me mention the fact that there were two, presumably armed, guards on either side of the doors as I entered. For the life of me I could not figure out why two guards were being paid too man the Burger King entrance. I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard of anyone trying to make a quick getaway with a Whopper and onion rings, but perhaps such is the case here. After all, this is a place where men wear jean capris in summertime. They are not to be trusted. Exhausted from all the guard pondering, I was ready to order: “Un numero tres sin tomate y una coca por favor.”  As I was about to enjoy my Steakhouse Burger, I noticed some hideous red object peeking out from my sandwich. Damn tomatoes. “Le dije sin tomate!” (I told him no tomato!) It is now a world-wide fact that fast-food joints, regardless of location or language, will screw up your order…Perhaps that’s why the guards were there, to prevent people like me who wanted to strangle the cashier with my tomatoes, if at all possible.

When I walked outside, I was immediately amidst a sea off “city rats,” not at all unlike our mall rats, minus the DDR machine. I have never seen such creative haircuts and style. They were swarming in the plaza, sitting on planter ledges and staring down everyone who walked by. After escaping the carnies, I decided to go back home and reward myself with another noxious round of Ron and Sammi. The walk home was fine, but I must say that I’m not at all accustomed to being a pedestrian here. I am pretty sure traffic lights and stop signs are non-existent here, not to mention their thrifty idea of combining sidewalks and streets in designated, random areas.  I’m fine playing Frogger in the comfort of my own home, but not on the street with real Smart cars and mopeds. Anyone has the right to be pissed if their life was ended by a Smart car. At least be a Suburban. I’d like to think I didn’t stand a chance.

I was sitting at home not doing much when Andrea messaged me and asked if I wanted to go to an Irish pub, Hannigan’s, to watch the Super Bowl. I didn’t plan on watching it since I hate the Steelers and the Packers, but I figured “What the hell?” Hannigan’s is quite the American hangout and many of the kids in the Spanish Language & Culture course at my school were there. It came down to who I hated more, which happened to be the Steelers, so I spent my night “rooting” for the pathetic cheese heads. We were rudely interrupted during the third quarter when we were told that the place would be closing, and if we wanted to watch the rest of the game, to go to their other location up the street, but to hurry because they were locking their doors at 3am. It was 2:50am. We managed to make it to the other Hannigan’s but this one was ass-to-elbow. At this point it was solely Americans as the few Spaniards who tried to tough it out and act interested, much like when America pretends to love soccer every four years during the World Cup, left to do something they comprehended, sleep.

I got home around 4:30am after the Super Bowl and had to be up at 7:30 for my first day of class. To my delight, I didn’t feel too bad when my alarm went off. I had already programmed class times and rooms to my iPhone calendar so I knew where to go.  I got to my first class fifteen minutes and early and was surprised I was the only one there so far. Now it was five minutes before class and I was still the only one there. “Damn, wrong room.” I walked out of the room as another student was entering the front doors. “I’m lost. Do you speak English?” she asked. Why you would ask someone for directions when they just emerged from a dark room with their book bag still on is beyond me. We figured out we had Political Systems of Spain and the EU together and I showed her to the correct room. Thankfully someone had the correct room number.

The day was was off to a great start; I loved all of my professors, classes, and fellow English-speaking peers. After my first class, I had a ridiculous three-hour break until my next class and I did NOT want to walk the twenty minutes back home. I decided to go on a walk around the area and eventually hiked Mount Everest to get to a pretty cool location:

 By the time I got to my last class, Geography of Spain, the previous night’s outing was beginning to catch up. I was fixed in my chair and spacing out at the wall having twilight zone flashes before I was awoken by some fiery peacock. Her name was Catherine. During my acid trip she must have come in and situated herself next to me because when she spoke it was to ask how to log-in to the online class website. I flinched when I turned and made eye contact. She had pale skin and short, auburn hair, all of which highly contrasted her crazy eyes. These were some of the greenest contacts I had ever seen. She was a gypsy, for sure. As we talked, I found myself staring back as wide as my eyes could go in an effort to match her eye intensity. I was exhausted after this exchange and needed Nutella and a silk eye mask.

When I got home from class, I didn’t even have time to nap as I was to meet Andrea to go grocery shopping, but for real this time. I completely bombed at grocery shopping my first time around. We went to Hipercor/El Corte Ingles. I’m not sure exactly which store we were in. After walking the roughly three-to-four mile expanse of check-out lanes to the entrance of the grocery section, which was also guarded, I needed one of those Hoveround’s with the attached shopping basket. I’m not exactly sure what exactly Andrea and I did, but we managed to be in Hipercor/El Corte Ingles for 2.5 hours. Side note: the Spanish do not refrigerate their milk or eggs, but refrigerate their peanuts and almonds. I also found these little bundles of joy at the grocery store: 

Those would be goat brains. During the arduous ½ mile walk back home with four loaded grocery bags, Andrea invited me over to her place for fajitas. At this point, I definitely didn’t feel up to whipping myself something to eat so I accepted the request.

I pretty much forgot that Andrea lived in a shared apartment like I did and wasn’t expecting to meet her three roommates. Unlike my compañeros (roommates), they greeted me and then left me be, not wanting to brush each other’s hair and swap life stories like mine. I walked back to the kitchen just in time to start bringing out the food. I did glance over and notice Andrea’s monstrous room which has a bed in one corner and a computer desk in the opposite corner and room for a regulation-size tennis court in between.

Dinner was very good and a welcome change to my past week’s eating habits. It’s worse when you’re not in your language element eating a meal with company because you are not sure whether to attribute the silence to the eating (which I’m totally used to) or the awkwardness of it all, but I just sat and observed—and ate. Promptly after eating, the one roommate whipped out his rolling paper and hierbas. I was going to suggest cheesecake and Scrabble, but I guess this was not my crowd. I helped Andrea clear the table and talked to her in the kitchen as we, well, she cleaned up. Soon after, Andrea’s “friend” came over. We hung out in the living room for a while shooting the breeze before we attempted to turn on the television. Three people later, the TV was on and we watched what appeared to be the Discovery Channel in Spanish, followed by a riveting documentary of a Panamanian Jail/Hotel/Market/temp organization.

 The rest of the week was filled with classes, watching movies online illegally, investigating travel opportunities to Morocco, Turkey, and Greece, and marveling at my own stupidity. It was late one night, and I was chatting with my Canadian bff Bisma, when I felt something on my head. Thinking it was my hood on my hoodie, I tried shaking my head side to side. Nope. I tried tilting my head back. Nope. I then resorted to thrusting my head backward. Nope. I then put my hand on my head and felt my beanie….

I also discovered Rosa has a lazy eye while we were having a chat one night. No wonder she could show me how the stove top worked while talking to me about it eye-to-eye. She’s such a sweetheart. I’m starting to feel more comfortable here in the apartment and have finally started utilizing the kitchen. I’ve made myself two meals so far, a Mexican pizza, and a lemon chicken pasta:

Another one of my favorite things is falling asleep to the sounds of my upstairs neighbors peeing and playing what I presume to be shuffleboard.

Un saludo,



  1. Your too Funny Bryce!!! <3 Jenny

  2. This is great Bryce. The lemon chicken pasta looks tasty. I am glad you are adjusting somewhat. I wanna know why everything has guards at the doors. ha. Be safe love and miss you!


  3. Wholly CRAP, he cooks! You kill me, I LOVE your sense of humor. So proud of you!

  4. Next you should attempt to make pastelon and apple crisp!!! You should really write a book while your there.


  5. You are turning out to be a true chef....very nice, makes a mama proud! I'm glad you're making the best of your adventures.

    Missing you! Mother