Mele Kalikimaka!

December 25, 2010

I’m dreaming of a blue Christmas.
Well really more grey than blue. But the day has been chock-full of Blue October, Jason Webley, American Movies dubbed in Spanish, and silly writing projects that don’t really amount to anything. Today hasn’t been very, special, I guess.
No great loss, it has been relaxing and lunch was very good.
I did give Carmen a small gift, that she seemed to like, nothing too serious, but I did think it would be a nice gesture since I’ve been living in her house and eating her food, and she does do my laundry and all.
It seems in Spain, “The Good Night” is a larger celebration

Good Night
Last night Carmen, Antonio, and I all went over to Carmen’s to John’s, her oldest son, flat for dinner. The dinner was very, very large with multiple courses, plenty of jámon and that fantastic lightly cooked salmon they have here.
John’s family is great, his wife is a doctor, but insists on being called a “Medica” which seems to be a humility thing, not something I’d expect in Spain.
His oldest son, Joshu I think, is 19 and uncertain with what he wants to do with his life, but he is a clever young man, and quite friendly. His parents give him a hard time about his long hair, which is somewhere between a mullet and an afro. They told him he couldn’t be full basque until he cut his hair (because John, Joshu’s father is half Mexican, as that Carmen is Mexican.)
John’s youngest daughter was nice, and could speak English, but was too embarrassed to talk with me directly, which is fine, she’s seven and can sing quite well.
John’s wife’s (I can’t recall her name to save my life, I’m so bad with basque names...Okay names in general) aunt was at dinner as well. She was very nice, but insisted that I should speak english with her, even though she didn’t quite follow anything I said. She was a little bit older, and very sweet, but a touch senile I fear. She had me translate the ‘menu’ of the meal to her in English, and ‘corrected’ me several times. She also kept touching the back of my head, which is a very basque thing to do, I tried not to show it when she accidentally bumped my new ear piercings.

The dinner was fabulous. Pâté, jámon, the salmon, bread, fancy salads that were made of their own lettuce bowls and contained avocado, white asparagus with mayonnaise, those little lobster/shrimp guys that are so popular here, the family spent a good 15 minutes teaching me how to eat them. Everyone here keeps telling me ‘Tranquillo’ but I never feel like I’m stressing out when people tell me this, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m a stresser, but I feel like I can be rather calm and easy going at times, and when I’m told to chill when I’m already chilling… I get confused.
Anyhow, after the shellfish, of which I must have had five, there was “caldo” a traditional spanish broth.
John’s wife insisted that it was a very traditional part of Christmas eve’s dinner, and was upset to see how many people didn’t want any. I, not wishing to miss out on anything, had a bowl of this as well. It wasn’t bad, broth with some hard-boiled egg bits mixed in.
After caldo snails were brought in, covered in a meaty-tomato sauce.
John asked me if I’d ever tried snails ‘caracoles’ before. I admitted that I had at a festival, and that I had not enjoyed them particularly, but I also mentioned that I’d be willing to try his.
He assured me that his would be better.
The sauce alone was very good, and the family, swifter this time, taught me how to remove the snail from its shell. These snails were better than the ones at the festival, which were, as my father expertly put it, like shoeleather. These were tender, and covered in meaty tomato sauce.
After caracoles we moved on the main course. I elected to try both the fish and the meat, which was heavily encouraged.
The basque love eaters.
I love eating.
It works out well.
A white soft flaky fish cooked in some mixture of vinegar and other…cooking… things, it was nice but I have a personal preference for the fish prepared by my grandmother.

The meat was as Antonio put it ‘very bloody’ and quite fantastic.
Now something I don’t think people stateside really get, is what ‘bread’ means here.
When I say I had bread with dinner, I don’t mean I had one or two slices of garlic or french bread.
I mean that there are several large loaves of freshly made European, Spanish to be exact, bread, that is softer and more delicious than any ‘french’ bread I’ve had back stateside. This food item is not a food item here, no, it’s a utensil (funny, not “an utensil”). Everything is eaten with a slice of bread. I could have easily eaten a foot of bread, if not more.
After dinner there was ice cream, chocolates, dried fruits and coffee.
Then we pulled out a computer, hooked up to skype, and conference called Carmen’s sister and mother, who live in Mexico. That was really cool.
Afterward we all stayed up late talking about what must have been a thousand odd things.
I’m really excited because I could keep up with a massive amount of the conversation, and could express some fairly complicated ideas with some proficiency.
Go go Spanish language improvement!

Merry Christmas Kishpike.
So I went ahead and spent a little more money after doing my Christmas shopping on a few things for my favorite weasel.
I sorely miss second hand stores, for their super (when I say super like this, I throw my head back and close my eyes) reasonable prices, and their odd assortment of clothing items that are unique and interesting. Not that spain is lacking interesting clothing items.

So here’s the Santa Swag:
~A Lilac Samsung ST60 camera.
Because I had lost my previous camera in Madrid, I purchased a new one. Cameras in Europe are painfully expensive. Don’t lose one while you’re here.

~ A pair of boomerang ‘speedmaster’ inline skates.
These were fairly… ‘reasonably’ priced. I’m overly spoiled with my $12 second hand rollerblades.

~ My first movie ticket in Spain. “Tron Legacies”
No spoilers here, but I was relatively disappointed with the movie. I was excited that I understood most of it, as that it was already dubbed over in spanish.

~ 1 spanish scarf. And only 1. I may purchase a Team ‘Athletic Club’ scarf and go see a football game next semester but for now this scarf helps me with blending in.

So merry Christmas to me!

I would have liked to do more traveling to some more exotic locations, but I’m afraid I don’t trust myself traveling alone too much anymore. Hopefully next semester I will get some friends to want to go to Morocco, or Venice with me.

So rollerblades. Something I should have invested in from the start.
There is so much freedom, so much expression of movement, so much I love about being able to rollerblade.
The faster pace makes it easier to travel about, and I feel less like I am unable to ‘get places’ when I have my rollerblades.
I look forward to the next dry day, so that I can try out the local skate park.

The next dry day.
So… thing about a skate park.
Filled with young skaters.
Children, who are everywhere, and teenagers, who have something to prove.
I’m not certain what, but I recall the feeling fine. (Or still feel it, or whatever.)
Other thing about a skate park.
I have never really skated in one.
After falling down three or four times, and making an ass out of myself even more, I decided for the (benefit of my own feeble pride) safety of the children, it’d be best to learn when there were less people about.

So my poor computer is dying. Slowly.
Every day it can only charge up to 1-2% less than it could the day before.
Right now I’m at 67% when she’s fully charged.
Running at low power consumption, I can squeeze 5 hours out of it before it goes south, which isn’t so bad, but the continual loss of “fully charged percent” does concern me.
I fear soon I shall have a lightweight desktop instead of a netbook.

Dead Horse.
So, I know by now it’s pretty much a dead horse on your side of things, but this is my blog, so I’m gunna write about it anyway, because I just can’t kill the beast.
There’s still lots of it.
I realize that that’s not going to change anytime sooner than my state of being foreign.
But it would certainly make leaving the house a lot easier.
A lot easier.
Maybe I’m just reading it wrong.
Maybe the scowl and the knitted eyebrows doesn’t mean “What the fuck is that kid doing here,” perhaps it’s a cultural greeting.
I mean I know smiling is a very American greeting, maybe I’m in the wrong here.
Mmm very pirate. I’ll toss in an “Arrr” next time I see someone scowling at me, and see if that works. (No, I won’t.)

Merry Christmas!



  1. Merry Christmas, Austin!

    It's 8:30 a.m. in Moscow. Your descriptions of the Christmas feast made me REALLY want to get up and get breakfast.

    Cheers, mate!

  2. I noticed that my charge is also not sticking. Of course, back state side you'll find more coffee shops with power outlets and less glaring to internet and charge at.

  3. eat as MUCH bread as you possibly can. No really. You will miss it stateside, and you might as well make yourself sick of it to dull the ache later on... :p. I miss Europe.

  4. Great Buddha's pants.
    You're right, the bread here is amazing... even if the bread back stateside gets this good it won't even be so for prices I can afford.