Thursday, July 31, 2008


Banking in Spain is a real treat. They open at 8:30 and close at 2:00, except for Fridays in which they close at 1:30. There is always bankers shuffling papers and hustling around and I wonder to myself, "What could they possibly be doing?" With virtual baking in place and the innovation of the ATM what is there to do for so many people. Especially since they never seem to know anything. I was waiting for a transfer into our bank account and decided since this was the fourth day and it still had not arrived that it would be best for me to ask if they could determine the status. Nothing like brain surgery just looking on the computer and seeing whether it was pending.

-Can you see if there is a transfer pending on the account?
-Of course, just a minute. I see nothing pending.
-Okay, how many days does it usually take?
-How long did your last transfer take?
-Four days.
-Well then it takes four days.
-I have waited four days and it still has not arrived.
-It could post this afternoon. I would check in the morning if I were you.
-Wait a second. You just looked and said nothing was pending. How could it post this afternoon?
-Well if its about to post I can't see that.

What?? You would think that a modern country could figure out its banking. Now, at this point due to various banking hurdles. My programs need money. I asked my Italian equivalent to Western Union me some money. I go to the post office which is also a Western Union office.

I enter the post office. There is no one in there. I go the counter and the gentlemen tells me that I need a ticket to determine my place in line. I am the only person there. But okay, I follow directions. There are 3 choices: send mail, receive mail or other. I select other. I wait for a few minutes until the gentlemen changes the digital sign for it to have my number. I go the counter, again, and he asks me what I need. I explain that I need to receive money from Western Union. He says, oh well that is at that counter over there. He points to the other side of the room. I go to the other counter. A few minutes later the same guy walk around from the original counter to this one. He says, hello (as if this is our first interaction) what can I help you with? I repeat, I need to receive money from Western Union. He says, oh, okay and he leaves.

Time passes and a woman comes from out of nowhere and says, hello what I can I help you with? I state my business once again. She hands me a form and asks me to fill it out. I have already filled it out so I present her with it. She looks at it and says well you have put the city and country in the wrong places this form has to be done again. Okay. I refill out the form, in triplicate. Sigh. I hand it to her. She at this point decides that she should start her computer. We wait as it boots for another five minutes. She seems to be filling out the online access information. Things print. And then she looks at the amount and she says, I don't have this much money.

What???? Who does that! She looks at me as if I can help. I am not sure what to say, so I just stand there and look at her. Until finally, she says to me that she will need to go to the safe and get more out. This will take any where between 10-20 minutes. I have no other choice, I say okay. The next thing I see is that the same lady is sitting behind the first counter changing the numbers on the digital screen. She spends at least 10 minutes over there doing who knows what.

Eventually, I do receive the money. When she gives it to me she tells me to stick it far into my purse and go straight home. I respond, "Of course, thank you."

I can't wait to be in a country where I can't even remember the last time I went inside a bank. God Bless the USA.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

En Cadí se está muy bien

Reporting from your local Spanish paradise city is yours truly. Clear skies and a very moderate 25 degrees celsius which means about 77 degrees US. Not a drop from the skies, which would be really weird because rain isn´t common in July. This is my third year visiting this city and, man, the weather is out of this world for southern Spain in the summer. The breeze is simply delightful. I have been hesitant to write about the weather because it seems fairly lame but it is seriously unreal. Usually one is hiding in a square inch of shade in hopes that your sweat will stop running down your leg.

In other news, clearly I am still in Spain. I have a mere 8 days left before returning to the States. The last couple of days have been fairly low key. On Sunday we headed to a bullfight in Puerto Santa Maria which is across the bay from Cadíz. We took a rough little boat over. Since I am not a big fan of violence in general I opted for sitting out of this fight. Once you have seen it, you´ve seen it. I went on a hunt for a dress that I have been scoping out all summer but was sold out on the Cadíz side, forgetting clearly that the smaller the town the less is open on god´s day, afterall it is the day of rest. So I wandered the empty closed streets for bit until I found a small little Columbian place (apparently no god in Columbia) to sit and have a drink and snack. After chatting with a lovely Ecuadorian gentlemen for a bit (also no god in Ecuador I guess) I headed to see if there was anything else to see or do. This town is known for its night life. It is a party place and considering it was early afternoon on Sunday, I figure most people were resting off their hang overs (at least the Ecuadorian was.)

As I was walking near the Bullfighting stadium which are always amazing in terms of architectual design, I noticed a small crowd near a door. I figured I have nothing going on, so why not check it out. There were several trucks parked right on the edge of the curb between the staduim and the street. Everyone was looking down so I followed their sight and got a peek at the entertainment. The excitement was a dirty sidewalk. Upon closer investigation, it was a bloody sidewalk; bulls blood that is, ntohing like black gold. This very door is where the animal is dragged out in its death onto a truck that then takes it somewhere. Hopefully, some where it can be consumed properly by orphans or poor elderly people. In that moment, I was pretty glad that I hadn´t seen it suffer to its death by the hands of silly man in tight pants and goofy hat.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Average Day: Bocadillos and Laundry

The word for sandwich in Spain is bocadillo. But it's more than just a sandwich because it is not on regular whole wheat bread it's on a kind of panini, or a small sized baguette. Anywho, it is delicious. About two blocks from our apartment on the beachside is a great place for a bocadillo. Not only is it ridiculously tasty but really cheap. You can get a grande for 3 euros and small one for 1.50 euros. When we feel particularly crazy we pick out a couple different small ones. I am a tuna fan and I think the last time I was in Cadiz I ate so much tuna that I got mercury poisoning. Of course its not like a average tuna sandwich, its fresh tuna, not made into a crazy paste, placed on the perfect bread, with lettuce, tomato, and mayo. There are over 60 different options on the menu and it's local owned and run which when it comes to sandwich places isn't always the case. Here are David and Staci enjoying their bocadillos.

We are living in quite a spacious apartment with 3 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, no air conditioning which is normal but there is no need with all the windows open, a kitchen with all the latest and a washer. Per usual in Spain there is no drier. So we have to hang our clothes out on the line which is located outside of the kitchen and bathroom windows. Since we live on the fourth floor it is a bit of a challenge but our neighbors don't seem to struggle at all. The laundry line is a mechanism that works like a pulley. Or maybe its because you pull it that I think that, which is an awful joke. You hang things and then you pull the cord and the clothes move away and you get the next free space. It's quite genius really. It's really interesting to look at peoples' laundry. You can figure out so much about them like the folks with the 5 cartoon printed towels clearly have kids, the ones that always do a load of blues or reds or yellows are simply OCD, the ones that always have beach gear up must be on vacation. Most of the time we drop stuff from the fourth floor and we have to go down to the common area and pick it up. The problem is we don't actually know how to get there so our neighbor that David befriend has made the trips for us. The view in the picture is actually from the front of our apartment which goes out into a separate corridor in which some persons have their own porches. The view from the back of our apartment is a large common area where you can see everyones laundry. Hence why I am still writing about laundry, it's always in my face.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Ana Salazar

Last night we went to a Flamenco concert. Admittedly, Flamenco is one of those things that I would throw into the category of poetry. You either encounter it and it is apart of your soul or you can maturely begin to appreciate it. Last summer I saw a Flamenco show that was life changing. I got it. For the first time I understood the excitement of what everyone is always raving about, so I am a little more willing to see more. If only for the hope of experiencing that same rush.

Ana Salazar is a singer from Cadiz. The concert took place in El Castillo de Santa Catalina; Europeans and their castles. It was a great venue. The air was so crisp that I had goose bumps the entire time. With an amazing setting this Gaditana (a person from Cadiz) dressed in all white took the stay and instantly her beauty radiated. It was more than just her appearance, it was her. You could feel her presence. Her music a fusion between Flamenco and Jazz. It added a certain modernity to the sound that was engaging. Most of her family was at the concert as well which also provided another dimension into her. She took time to preface her songs with history, experience and emotion. Everything seemed to have a context which I think is awesome when you are participating in something for the first time because it gives you a place to start.

Salazar is a dancer as well. That was her first love and after a terrible accident that left her leg in shambles with many years of physical therapy ahead of her, the opportunity to sing fell in her lap. At this point she can dance again. Once again a nontraditional Flamenco style that worked perfectly with her music. The balance she was able to maintain between dancing and singing was impressive. She would literally rock out on the dance floor and as if she didn't lose a breath she would transition to singing.

The only downfall of the evening was that she didn't sell her CDs at the concert. I tried to look her up on ITunes today and only two songs appeared from special complications she was invited to do as tributes to famous Flamenco singers.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

March 14 2009

My wedding date! The planning has already begun. It is much more fun than I had anticipated it being. The internet was genius! Good work Al Gore! I have been able to do quite a bit of work from this part of the world because of it. We have a venue, The Sirata Beach Resort and a church, First UMC Gulfport. We have designed and ordered Save the Dates, selected place cards, and invitations. We have a photographer, a DJ and almost a florist. We are well ahead of schedule for the wedding check lists.

While in Spain of course I haven't been able to help noticing every wedding shop on the planet. They all look really intimidating and pricey. They all have displays in the windows of a dress sometimes two dresses but when you peek in behind them you can see that there are no dresses actually hanging up. So they are the type of places you make appointments to and sit around while someone you don't know tries to guess what dress you will like. It seems so impersonal and to be honest not my style at all. I don't even like it when regular sales people hound be but the gowns are beautiful nonetheless. Mostly I am looking for ideas. What do I want in a dress? What would look the best on?

Sunday, July 20, 2008


The last week we have spent in the capital, Madrid. Madrid is hot as hell. It is summer and it is landlocked but really its has been hotter there, so we lucked out. The first program ended and the next program started giving us only about 36 hours rest in between the two. Shelli's husband came to join us and we have spent many a night at a variety of delicious eateries around the city, as seen below. Having been to Madrid (normally I refer to it as where my heart is but my heart is in other places this summer) several times, I didn't do much site seeing. The museums, the plazas, the clubs, really...been there done that. The great thing about Madrid is the shopping, which I did do. I even managed to track down the rest of the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer and I devoured the last two books joyfully this week. Now I am eagerly awaiting the release of the 4th in August. It was a nice laid back week in comparison to others and tomorrow we return to Cadiz.

Here is Shelli and Mike at El Mario Parilla. Where the food was tasty and when you walk in you think it will be much more expensive then it really is.

The last two pictures are of us at a Mexican restaurant in La Latina district which had great decor on the inside. The food was touch and go, but it was a cool atmosphere.

Friday, July 11, 2008

The Rain in Spain

There is no actual rain in Spain and earlier in the week we returned to Cadiz to a lush hotel (Hotel Barcelo) so there is no rain in my room either. I just like rhyming. To be honest it is 5AM, Spain time and I can't sleep. I have decided that its the tuna. I have eaten a LOT of tuna lately and I can't help it. It tastes so good. Shelli and I have found the best bocadillo place. It is literally a block from our hotel and we go there everyday. Its cheap and good and now since we regulars we get the satisfaction of ordering without the menus. I digress. The tuna. Spain puts tuna on a lot of stuff, starting with your average garden salad and ending with stuffing it into olives. Combine no sleep with some periodic headaches, you would think I was the pregnant one. So I did research which means I googled eating too much Tuna. Low and behold, guess what? Too much mercury in your system can cause headaches and insomnia. There are two things to consider here. One, most ailments or sorts will end up causing headaches and insomnia. The second is that it really may not be the tuna at all, it could be lots of things like the dehydration or homesickness.

In just a couple of days we are off again (you are lucky I ranted about tuna because there is a precious airport story about our trip back from Valencia but I will spare you all) this time to Madrid. Madrid is one my favorite cities in Europe for various reasons and I am really excited about spending an entire week there. I didn't have much time in Valencia to properly rave about the cool vibe, the historic architecture, beach life and overall goodness of the city. One could stay in Valencia and never be bored. It is the 3rd largest city in Spain and this month they were celebrating the city with the Valencia festival, meaning tons of free shows, art exhibits, and interesting events. I mean The Police were there and so was Juannes.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A River Runs Through It

My Valencian apartment that is. Christelli (our new name defining all things that are Christy and Shelli) arrived on Monday to Valencia. We will be here about a week and since it was not only more economically but infinitely more convenient we rented an apartment. It is actually a lot of space for just the two of us. It is very modern and it has three things are super special in Spain: laundry, internet and air conditioning.

Each room has an air conditioner that is powered by a remote. As air conditioners do they drip sometimes. Normally, they drip outside because units in the US hang outside of windows, not in Spain. The river running through my room and now Shelli's room is evidence of such an occurrence. The thing is a little water is no big deal. 5 blankets filled with water is a whole another story. The other issue with the river is that we have all marble floors which makes us feel like we are barefooting down the Caloosahatchee. I have never been a good skier.

The keep saying they are going to fix it but it is Wednesday. That is life in Spain. An entire country that only works 5 hours a day, between late mornings, siesta and early evenings, especially in a 98 degree weather, surely there is something to learn from them.