This past week has been brimming with sun, and I have been eating it up like chocolate. I have been positively glued to my Chacos, froyo, shorts, and the park. The Spanish do this odd thing where instead of dressing for the weather, they dress for the season. So even though it was sunny and 70 degrees outside, coats and scarves were everywhere, and my attire was met with choruses of “fresquitaaaaa!” (“chilly,” more or less). Because I care. Anyway, last week, I
Scandalized the teachers at my school by wearing Chacos in March. The temperature of my toes was of grave concern to everyone.
Cheered Escarabote on to second place at the Annual Boiro Primary School Smackdown (a.k.a. student foot race on the beach)
I would categorize yesterday among the oddest of days. Why now? Yesterday, I witnessed my first riot. I kid you not, I was photographing daisies in Belvis Park fifteen minutes before I was photographing burning trash cans. (And, speaking of photographs, what even is the protocol for posting pictures of riots to Facebook? I legitimately googled “wrong to post riot pictures to Facebook” and there doesn’t seem to be a strong precedent.) I followed a cloud of smoke up a street bordering Santiago’s parliament buildings, and found myself in a scene of heavily armed police, smoldering plastic, and wayward flying glass bottles.
So what was the issue here? From what I’ve gathered, it was a protest of marineros (sailors). The European Union has imposed certain quotas on how many of each species of fish sailors can catch. They left it up to Spain to divvy that quota up between the different regions. Galician marineros are unhappy with that allocation. It’s politics, people. The sailors say the Spanish government screwed them over and gave a much bigger cut to regions like País Vasco, which doesn’t have nearly the amount of shoreline as Galicia. If the amount you can fish is cut, so is your salary, and so is your ability to live. Spain in crisis.
It’s sad. People are desperate.
Tonight in one of my English conversation classes, we discussed the riots. Hearing the opinions of the students, who are Ph.D. and Master’s students, I am starting to come to terms with how shattering this economic crisis has been for Spain. Though the majority of them are against violence in general, several of them also expressed that there was no other alternative. The democracy, they explained, was not working for the people.
I came away startled. I’ve always, always accepted that violence is never the answer, and I assumed every other rational person was on board with me. It’s times like these when I realize how both insulated and blessed I’ve been. It’s one thing to see riots in the paper and on TV and judge violence from a distance. It’s another thing entirely to listen to your students grapple with and hesitantly accept violence as the last course of action for a very real situation.
Anyway, just so no one is worrying, I am fine, and Santiago is perfectly safe. Tuesday was an anomaly, but a weighty one at that.
Are you as confused by that as I am? This week, Santiago’s rain decided to cash in its vacation days. I had no idea so many people lived in Santiago until I saw them overflowing from the terrazas outside every restaurant, café, and bar in sight. I scrambled for my sunglasses(that antiquated word for the things you need when there’s, like, sunlight), and celebrated with a picnic in Belvis Park. There were bare feet and strawberries and even tinto de verano with lemon slices. And to cap it all off, last weekend’s rain meant Pontevedra moved their carnival parade, so a few friends and I headed there to catch the festivities and some rays on the beach (pics to come). It was a total contrast to Santiago’s umbrella-clad affair. Fingers crossed the sun is here for keeps.
I took this screenshot with the idea that a forecast of 100% for all eternity would be a novelty. Well.
This week’s biggest news is that I am drowning. It’s been raining for FIFTY-TWO DAYS. Did you get that? Fifty-two. Every day, Galicia wakes up and grumbles, “Today is going to be a bad day,” pulls the clouds over its head, and proceeds to cry. It is just.inconsolable. In the past week, the wind has also joined the fun, pushing the rain (and me) in all directions.
I am tired of being cold and I am tired of being wet. But Galicia compensates for its weepiness with incredible natural beauty, and for now, that is enough!
Don’t ask me where “Weeks 4-13” are…seek and ye will not find. We’re now running on 43 straight days of rain here in Galicia…not that I can complain from what I hear about the weather back home. But I’m pretty sure I’m not leaving my bed today.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of discovering a new park in Santiago. Too often I get stuck running laps in the Alameda, but it was refreshing to break out of my hamster wheel and see some new scenery. This is Parque do Monte de Almáciga, tucked just up the hill from the Museo de Pobo.
Oh and you guys. I have decided that I like running in the rain. No small advantage in Santiago 🙂
My stomach is shuddering at the Valencian orange and cup of coffee I have just consumed. Come at me, litmus test. (Sorry, that is not at all newsworthy. Just pressing at the moment.)
Anyways, I am writing from the airport in Madrid. A flight home, you might guess? To bask in the glow of family and friends and overplayed Christmas music and general revelry? Nay. This pauper cannot rationalize paying for a pricey ticket home, especially after having spent less than two months in Spain. So this is the first time I will be missing Christmas with my family, and it’s weird. I’m trying not to think about it. On the plus side, though, I’m spending winter break meandering through Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, and Belgium. So it could be worse 😉
So last week I moved to Santiago, right? I found a cheap apartment with two nice female Spanish college students in the older (prettier) part of town. As it turns out, these three positive qualities (price, roommates, and location) have been overshadowed by the true heinousness of the apartment. After a week here, I have come to terms with my own stupidity in housing selection, and have come up with seven rules to keep from making the same mistakes again.
Do not select an apartment:
1. Because the roommates call you “chulo” (cool) for being American and that makes you feel warm and fuzzy because you don’t have friends yet.
2. If you have only toured the apartment at night. Those shadows in the corner/behind the desk/around the window might be are assuredly mold.
3. If you there are so many spots in the wall that it is hard to tell at a glance which ones are holes and which ones are mold.
4. If the hot water is powered by a gas tank that you have to manually switch on before you shower. On Sunday, you will run out and the landlord won’t be able to bring more until Tuesday because Spain, and the last time you showered will have been on Saturday, and you will have to start taking sponge baths seventy years prematurely.
5. If the apartment does not have heating, and also does not have the ability to both run a heater and charge a laptop at the same time.
6. If the statement “yes, we have wifi” is followed by an explanation that includes the words “descodificar” (to decode) and “de nuestro vecino” (our neighbor’s).
7. If you cannot bend over the sink to brush your teeth without entering the shower.
Having learned these seven very valuable lessons, I feel both ill and well-prepared to begin round two of apartment hunting. Wish me luck!