Saturday, February 26, 2011

Semana Cuatro: The Ice Cream Thief

18 February ~ 24 February 2011

It’s hard to believe that I have been here for a month now. Life is great. Every morning I walk out the front door with my iPod jamming and enter the sun’s dancing light, I have a smile on my face. It doesn’t last too long as five steps later I have to maneuver around smashed dog crap, avoid getting hit by a car or, more irritating, veer into the street to bypass the elderly. They do deserve some credit though. Our elderly sit their lazy asses in Hoverounds or use walkers. They are spoiled rotten. So, the next time you see an elderly gentleman using his walker, take it. If he argues, you tell him, “If the Spaniards can do it, so can you.” Don’t worry. I’m sure he won’t whip out his cell phone and call the police on you. I’m also fairly certain he won’t run after you and beat the hell out of you either. The other daily danger is the pigeons, or as Andrea calls them, “the rats of the air.” They are everywhere. They also have no sense of personal space—none. On the way to class one day I nearly took two to the face because they don’t fly away until you are six inches from them, and with their wingspan added, it’s a close call each time. I think I may have even been hit by a wing, but it could very well have been my flailing hand—not sure.
                                                                Walking down my street

Classes are going great. I enjoy all of my classes except the grammar class, mainly because it’s kind of boring, repetitive, and I’m somewhat scared of the professor, Ana. I feel like she could snap at any minute. More importantly, I’m getting the chance to meet so many awesome people from all over the U.S.; people that align with my interests and personality. Tuesday I went for paella with a group of awesome New Mexicans. They are from New Mexico. I’ve never met anyone from New Mexico before, let alone five. Their town must be decimated without them. I wanted to ask if any of them have a pet coyote or are sheltering illegal immigrants, much like a modern day Underground Railroad, but I found this a bit much for a first lunch date. Next time. 
                                                           Restaurant where we had paella

After lunch, we went to an heladería (ice cream shop). We were all enjoying our ice cream (mine was coffee-flavored) when a homeless man/hippie/entrepreneur approached us. He took his time formulating, presumably, the only English phrase he knew: “Would you like to buy some marijuana?” While I admired this savvy business tactic, I was confused by his sense of judgment. Why the five well-dressed, happy-go-lucky students eating ice cream were in the market for some weed was beyond me. I later learned these types of filthy nomads are called pies negros (black feet) or perros flautas. I’m sure they’re nice people.
                                                                              Ice Cream!

In Plaza Real on the way home from lunch, I encountered a fully-grown man who fulfilled his life’s aspirations of working the corner in a Winnie the Pooh costume. Costumed figures are pretty sketchy to begin with, but this costume appeared to be the product of some local PTA mother for their abnormally large child in some riveting elementary school production. That costume was now in the hands of a child molester handing out balloon animals with invitations to the Neverland ranch inside most likely. I wanted to take a picture of him, not with him, or her, or if it really was Pooh, but I couldn’t figure out how to accomplish this discretely. The last thing I wanted to do was piss off Pooh and be chased through the streets of Spain by a raging Pooh. Those people have to be somewhat insane anyway to be costumed figures so, I’m sure their fuse is pretty short.

Speaking of Plaza Real, Andrea and I went shopping last weekend. It’s great being out in Granada on weekend nights; there is a palpable electric vibe that lights the city on fire. I can now spend a month undetected in caves and forests as everything I buy nowadays is black, grey, brown, or green. For the most part, the clothing over here is very different than back home so, it’s nice to have a whole new style available to you; however, some things just don’t make sense. I was in the probador (fitting room) at Pull & Bear trying on a pair of white, linen-like pants for summer. They were pretty nice, until I actually put them on. For some god-awful reason, each pant leg ended in a scrunchy elastic band. The person in the fitting room next definitely heard an audible “WTF?” Why? Why would I want my pants suction-cupped to my ankles? I ditched the pants. I have also learned I have a ridiculous obsession with jackets and hoodies. Due to this, I think it will be necessary for me to live in a cold climate in the future.

As we continued our assault on Granada, I had a revelation: César Milan is nothing special. An odd revelation to have, but it is not without cause. The fact is, all Spaniards are dog whisperers. On multiple occasions, upon entering a shop, I would see a dog sitting at the entrance of a store, waiting, as its owner shopped. The dogs here also walk along their owners without leashes, yet they don’t take off running to freedom like our stupid American dogs.

We capped our night off with an ultra-indulging dessert at Haagen Dazs café, something we desperately need in the U.S., albeit, a bit expensive, but it’s well worth it. I had a waffle with a scoop of chocolate midnight cookie and coffee ice cream with melted chocolate drizzled on top. Andrea has a crêpe with dulce de leche ice cream, bananas, and caramel drizzle. These are 9 euro desserts. We continued to gab until the place was closing for the night and the lady worker needed to clean our table. We left. The next morning as I met up with Andrea again to continue our store assault, it dawned on me that we never paid, or at least not that I could remember. I presented this question to her, and by the look on her face, I knew we had not. To our defense, the waiter never came back and gave us the bill since it is a sit-down café. Nevertheless, I’ll wait it out a bit longer before I return. A nice tip is in store.

By Monday, another grocery store trip was much needed. I thought by going at 8pm on a Monday night, an hour before they closed, would be a great time to go shopping in peace. I could not have been further from reality. I wasn’t aware it was Black Friday on a Monday, or what seemed to be so. I hate grocery shopping to begin with, let alone when I can’t think and constantly have to move out of people’s way. They are ruthless these Monday-night shoppers. The worst part about the grocery outings is the walk back with your extremely heavy plastic bags that cut into your hands and cut off circulation to your fingers. When I got home and regained composure, José decided he was going to show me how to use the lavadora (washing machine). I kind of understood what he was telling me, but washing instructions aren’t something you want to “kind of” understand. I knew for sure when I started my load that I was going to walk out to a flooded and soapy kitchen floor (they keep their washers in the kitchen here). Somehow, I managed to not flood the apartment. How embarrassing that would have been. 
                                                         Black Friday at the grocery store

There is one thing though that just takes the cake for the most inconvenient situation, the absence of a dryer. Apparently, these people like living in the stone age of dryer-free homes because nearly everyone does not own a dryer—like I want to work to dry my clothes—ugh. There is the option of line-drying your clothes out of the hallway window that connects to my window, but of course it was raining. Instead, I had to use a tenedor (drying-rack-type thing). It took forever. Never again.

Sitting at Dunkin Donuts last weekend writing last week’s blog, I realized how extremely social the Spaniards are. I was sitting at a table of four working as a lot of the Spanish youth were filing in and beginning their weekend with coffee, dessert, and a game of cards. After it had filled up a good bit, a group of three came over and asked if they could join my table and I told them of course. That would never happen in the U.S.—hell, we still have to have a one-seat margin when we go to the movies. And as I mentioned before, they were just starting their night. The Spaniards are machinesnot like Transformer machines, but partying machines. They stay up incredibly late ever single night yet are never late for work. Now, all of this is aided by the afternoon siesta, which actually does happen, from about 2 to 5. Shops and businesses close in these hours and then reopen and remain open until 9. Even more irritating, the entire effing country shuts down on Sundays—everyone!--even El Corte Inglés, the Spanish Wal-Mart. It’s amazingly boring.

Sometimes I go to the bathroom around 4am and I can still hear people up and about in the streets. Granada isn’t that big, the population is around 240,000, equivalent to Jersey City, New Jersey or Birmingham, Alabama. I’m sure no one wants to be walking around those cities at 4am, unless you want mugged, raped, or shot. The typical way is to ir de tapas (to go out for tapas) around 9 or 10. Once food service is stopped, they ir de cañas (go for a beer/drink) elsewhere. Once your equilibrium is shot, around 2am, the discotecas (clubs) open and close around 7am. How I learned all of this you ask? In class. In an academic environment. Our teacher in my produción oral y escrita class (oral & writing class) has taught us the correct way to get stupid in Spain. Awesome. I should also mention our grand, semester-long project for that class is to sample the bars in a certain section of town and then relate our findings to our peers. Happy drinking!

One last thing that has really been bothersome—the classroom seats. They are jammed side-by-side and the opening to squeeze your ass in is at most six inches. You have to maneuver your body in the shape of an “L” and then plop and hope you don’t knock your neighbor’s coffee over in the process. It’s the most awkward thing ever.

Un saludo,



  1. Oh Bryce, this one made me laugh a lot. Unfortunately I don´t own a pet coyote and I have never sheltered illegal immigrants.
    I´m not alcoholic, but let me say that I am super excited about our project lol

  2. So,Did you BUY any marijuana? Also, please let us know about the pet coyote's..and the modern day underground Railroads! LOL =]
    I love Reading your Blog entries..Makes me (pretty sure everyone else that reads these too) feel like I am there with you! Keep up the great writing! Can't wait for next weeks!!! <3

    Love ya,


  4. Stopping by to say you have a blog award waiting at