Donde pongo el ojo pongo la bala.
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Category — travel

Wheels, wheels, keep on turnin’

There are certain images that just spark something in me… and today, it was one that Beca posted on Facebook.

I know that some people may say, “A car can fit four or five people, that’s an exaggeration.” However! The fact that cars CAN transport 4 or 5 people doesn’t mean that they DO. Next time you’re commuting to the office in the morning, look to the left and then to the right of you. Cars usually have one passenger in them at any given time. More people are in them when you’re on a road trip or when the whole family is going somewhere, but since when do you go to your office with your whole family?!

George provided a useful link to the U.S. Department of Energy’s website which states, “The average number of persons occupying a car is 1.59 and has not changed much since 1995. The largest increases from 1995 to 2009 have been in the occupancy rates for vans – from 2.07 to 2.35 – and sport-utility vehicles – from 1.70 to 1.92 persons per vehicle.” (For additional data, click here.)

Additionally, the cost for the infrastructure necessary for these different types of transportation is proportional to the “space” needed. Maintaining bike lanes is never going to cost as much as adding lanes to highways and building overpasses. (Not to mention that you’ll end up paying $15-50 to fix a bike, but potentially thousands to fix a car… and crash with another bike at full speed, you might have a broken arm, crash with another car at full speed, and good luck to you.) And let’s not confuse the REAL issue here: more than a matter of “space”, it’s a matter of energy efficiency and how using these different types of transportation affects our overall well-being and the future of our planet.

Whether you believe in global warming or not is not even an issue. Fact is, fossil fuels are huge contaminants and in the long run, are not an ENDLESS source of energy. So it doesn’t matter if we disagree on climate change or not, I think we can all agree that the contamination caused by emissions and leaks in the air and in the ground adversely affect our health… not to mention the fact that driving makes stress levels rise and reduces human interaction. Public transportation and bikes are not only good for your health, fitness, clean air, but you end up at least saying hello to people you cross paths with more often. And riding bikes more often would lead to developers having to take it into account as a form of transportation when planning cities… Can you imagine the advantages of having to travel shorter distances to take your children to school, to get groceries, and the additional time you would have for leisure if you cut your commute that much shorter? We’re talking huge improvements on so many levels, and drastically better quality of life…

I’ll keep dreaming and posting. :)

October 17, 2011   1 Comment

We are family… I’ve got some of my sisters and hub-by!

Over the course of the next two weeks, I get to see a lot of this:

and this:

I’m kiiiiiiind of a happy camper.

There will also be plenty of this:

Mommy food!

And this, but hopefully less disdainful:

At least until he abandons me a few days before I go back (boo!).

I think that when I am not actually IN Cancun, I forget how much I miss it and how much it hurts to be away. Kind of like when you start getting used to a splinter under your skin, the pain is just there but dulled by familiarity and you don’t realize how uncomfortable it was until you pull it out and feel that total relief.

*Sigh* And here I thought I’d never consider Cancun “home”.

May 7, 2011   5 Comments

I’m dreaming of a White… what holiday is it again?

This year, we took it upon ourselves to drive up to Tennessee to spend Christmas with George’s parents. The drive, in and of itself, was an adventure… Since lists make everything better, I will bullet-point the highlights of the trip for you:

  • It’s a 12 hour drive without counting stops. We agreed to set out at 8 or 9am so we’d be here by 11pm, latest.

  • We actually WOKE UP at 11am.
  • We decided it would be a good idea to rotate the tires before the trip.
  • This took four hours.
  • We finally finished cleaning the house, prepping the cars, packing, packing the cats (yes, all three), picking up snacks for the drive, and setting out at FIVE PM.
  • Five minutes after we got on the highway, Leo Tolstoi pooped all over himself, forcing us to either pull over, or smell cat poop for the next four hours.
  • Obviously, we pulled over.
  • I felt pretty proud of myself for lining their carriers with puppy pads, as this made the cleanup quick and easy.
  • Four hours later, George gets sleepy…
  • George is a brave man, because he decides it’s a good idea to let me drive his GTi… two days after I managed to get not one but TWO flat tires in the ghetto in Cocoa.
  • Clearly, he does not love his car very much. Or he loves and trusts ME a WHOLE bunch. I’m thinking it’s the former.
  • I drink two Red Bulls and feel immortal, invincible, and ready to drive.
  • I drive five-odd hours, and start feeling like I’m going to murder someone. Red Bull does funny things to my brain.
  • George takes over driving duties while I try to sleep.
  • Spartacus (yes, we have rather grandiose names for our cats) decides he’s had enough of being locked up in his carrier in the car and decides to have a meltdown, scratching and howling the rest of the way to Franklin.
  • Leo pees all over himself. Again, thank goodness for puppy pads. Princess, who is usually the basket-case in our house, has not complained or pooped/peed ONCE this whole time, by the way.
  • We arrive at nearly 6am.
  • I am in a Red Bull haze and can’t sleep.
  • I kind of hate life at this point.

The next day we were complete zombies, but it was nice to be here, especially since Caroline (George’s sister) and her husband were spending Christmas with her in-laws and Liz (his other sister) and her husband and kids can’t make it here until Monday night.

We fell asleep last night and woke up to this:

George’s dad said it’s the first time it’s been a White Christmas in about 29 years.

All in all, although I don’t really celebrate Christmas, I’m grateful to get to spend the holiday with our family members who do. I’m grateful I got to speak to my family on the phone last night, I’m grateful I am married to the kindest, most patient, and gentle-spirited person I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. I am grateful for every person, friend, family member, that I have encountered on my path through life, whether they’re still part of my life or not, whether they’re still on this Earth with us or have already passed…

I’m not really sure how this became a Thanksgiving post, though. :)

December 25, 2010   No Comments

In which a big company makes a little woman get enormously annoyed…

After the initial letter of complaint and reply, the Mexicana representative and I exchanged a couple more emails. I explained how my interest was not receiving the reimbursement at all, but the fact that I understood that was not their policy for a couple of different reasons and I was concerned that an employee would commit to something contrary to company policy. The response was a very short and slightly rude email requesting information about the employee (a name, where she dealt with us) in order to “handle” the situation.

Some time later, the representative finally got back to me. This was his response:

Dear Mrs. De la Vega:

Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to process your request. On behalf of Grupo Mexicana, please accept our sincerest apology for any inconveniences you may have endured due to the delay of your baggage.

We would like to inform you that according to Grupo Mexicana policies and procedures for delay baggage, in order to be liable for reimbursement of passenger’s emergency expenses it is necessary to meet the next requirements:

* The baggage delay must be longer than 24 hours.
* The final station in which the passenger files his initial report for the delay baggage must not be in his country of permanent residence.

After de corresponding evaluation of your documents, it has been confirmed that your permanent residence is in the country in which this report was filed; therefore, Grupo Mexicana must respectfully decline your request for compensation and/or reimbursement.

On the other hand, in regards to your complain expressing again your concerns about your recent travel experience, please be advised that after a thorough assessment of our internal records and statements, it has been determined that MEXICANA personnel acted upon Mexicana established policies and procedures.

Additionally, our findings also confirm that Mexicana flight attendants onboard provided you assistance at all time and we ensure you that the incident you comment to us is not characteristic of the high standard of service we strive to provide. All the remarks you have kindly sent to us, have also been forwarded to corresponding flight attendants Operational Chief Management in order for them to be reviewed and actions can be taken to prevent this kind of incidents.

This concludes my evaluation as an analyst and closes your case. I thank you for the opportunity to work on your behalf.

Grupo Mexicana holds its valued clients in the highest regard and we trust our efforts have ensured your satisfaction. We hope to maintain your trust and we are eager to welcome you onboard in the near future.

Cordially,
Sergio Gomar
Customer Relations Analyst
U.S.A. & Canada

Wow. Basically, no, you’re wrong, shut up, the end. “This concludes” it, not “if you have anything further to say”… And YOU KNOW ME! If you’re nasty, I’m not going to let you get away with it…

Dear Mr. Gomar,

Your email is completely appalling. Whatever happened to “the customer is always right”? Clearly, Mexicana Airlines doesn’t respect the age old adage, which is probably why, on conducting a Google search of just the name of the airline, the result is hundreds of articles regarding your poor service and poor customer service.

First of all, I never REQUESTED the $100 reimbursement. I simply informed you that this is what had been promised, contrary to your terms of service which I had already checked, and advised you to educate your employees as to not making promises they are unable to fulfill simply to soothe the ruffled feathers of upset customers.

Secondly, “our findings also confirm that Mexicana flight attendants onboard provided you assistance at all time”. How interesting! Did you have a hidden camera on board? Did you contact the passengers seated around me? Because they were just as appalled, with one gentleman even interceding on my behalf.

For future reference, when apologizing to a client (or anyone in general) you do not say, “I’m sorry, BUT…” The moment you include an excuse, it ceases to be an apology. And as for the “high standards” you claim characterize your company, well, this entire experience is proof that THAT is a bold-faced lie.

You most certainly have not maintained my trust, nor have you even managed a modicum of contrition. I will be sure to take this matter to other sources, as you are completely incapable of even apologizing for poor service and promising better in the future. How difficult would THAT have been?

Have a superb day!
Lorenia de la Vega

I was holding off on posting it ALL over travel sites before (only a couple) but now I’m just going to have at it. Annoyed!

March 19, 2010   7 Comments

“We’re sorry, BUT…”

So… I actually (very surprisingly) got a reply from Mexicana…

Dear Mrs. Lorenia de la Vega:
 
Thank you for allowing us the opportunity to process your request. On behalf of Grupo Mexicana please accept our sincerest apology for any inconveniences you may have endured.
 
My name is Sergio Gomar and I am in charge of the evaluation to your case. Please allow me to inform you that the Management in Orlando international airport has received your comments for their assessment.
 
On the other hand, in regards to the delay of your baggage, please note that according to the guidelines established for such events:
 
“You must not reside in the destination city where the delay of luggage delivery occurred. You must provide receipts from the emergency purchase of clothing and personal hygiene items up to the amount previously mentioned a copy of the airline ticket and a copy of the initial delay of baggage delivery report after a 24-hour minimum period of being without your luggage. If you fly Executive Class, payment will be made as soon as the previous requirements have been met.”
 
Therefore, please submit to this office required documents in order to review them and apply it corresponding outcome.
 
Our first interest is to understand your needs and we are at your orders for any additional information that you may require.
 
Best regards,
Sergio Gomar
Customer Relations Analyst
U.S.A. & Canada

I’m sorry, how is that a sincere apology? Also, I completely don’t care what the established guidelines are, I am not even ASKING for a refund (did they even read the letter I SENT?), what I am doing is informing you that your customer service reps LIE and that is NOT OK. They lie to get people of their backs, make promises and guarantees that the company will not comply with, and that is just ridiculous and messed up. UGH. I replied. The saga continues!

March 3, 2010   3 Comments

Tsk, Tsk, Mexicana

I’m not big on writing complaint letters to Customer Service reps when I am mistreated or when service is just plain shoddy. I am pretty understanding about the fact that one employee of a company is not an accurate representation of all that the company actually stands for. However, after my experience this past weekend, I decided to not only write to Mexicana and all their listed customer service reps, but I also wish to post this here, on Twitter, and everywhere someone might stumble upon it. I may not be Kevin Smith, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to warn people against poor service.

To whom it may concern,

My name is Lorenia de la Vega. I recently flew on your flights MX340 (Cancun – Mexico City) and MX317 (Mexico City – Orlando). I fly to and from Cancun/Orlando quite often, and decided, as a Mexican citizen, to try out the company despite the poor things I had heard. I figured if I was going to give my money to a company, I might as well do it to a national one. Big mistake!

I arrived at the airport at 5:00am on February 28th for my 7:00am flight from Cancun to Orlando, connecting in Mexico City. I assumed that the ticket counters would be open at 5:30am since it is stated on the Mexicana website that passengers should arrive 90 minutes in advance for international flights. Incorrect assumption: ticket counters were not open until nearly 6:00am. Once I proceeded to check in, I was detained at the counter for over half an hour: problems with the software did not allow the check-in clerk to check me in to my flight, because I had a passport and a green card number. Surely, I cannot be the only passenger in Mexicana history to have flown with a Mexican passport and a green card! Once I was checked in, I was asked to rush to the gate, as they were already boarding.

Not so!

I arrived at my gate, and my flight was delayed approximately 30 minutes. I was already a bit worried about my connection in Mexico City being only one hour, but figured if Mexicana sells “connecting” flights with one hour between arrival and departure, they know what they are doing and have accounted for small delays.

My flight landed in Mexico City with 20 minutes before my flight was scheduled to take off. On stepping off the flight from Cancun nearly ten minutes later, I was advised as to which gate to go to: gate 32, from gate 12. I inquired about my luggage, and was told not to worry, that it would be in Orlando waiting for me.

Now, here I will insert something I didn’t insert into the letter: an actual map of the Mexico City airport. They expected us to comfortably walk from one end to the other in ten minutes. Please check this out:

MCIA

Arrival gate, where the first set of stairs are. Departure? The very, very last gate of the airport. I’m not even kidding when I say I have blisters on both heels now!

Now, surely Mexicana personnel are aware of the size and distribution of the Mexico City airport. The passengers needing to make that connecting flight had ten minutes to walk from one side of the airport to the extreme opposite, with their carry-on luggage and, in the case of other passengers that were in the same situation as I was, with small children. We arrived at the gate as they were shutting the doors, flushed and out of breath. When I took my seat on the plane and requested a bottle or glass of water, I was denied one, since we were about to take off! I explained how we had been running, and how I was already dehydrated from the previous three hours of flying, and again, the flight attendant denied me a glass of water.

The service of the flight attendants was appalling. All of the men seated around me were promptly served meals and drinks with smiles, while my meal was tossed at me and I didn’t receive a drink until I rose and requested it.

Upon arriving to Orlando (at 2:25pm), my luggage never appeared on the carousel – not surprising, though, if we barely had time to get ourselves to the plane, I can imagine how it would have been impossible to put the luggage through extra security and then onto a plane that was about to take off. I was very upset, though, that I had been assured it would be in Orlando. I felt as if through my entire trip, responsibility had been passed from one person to another without ever receiving a straight answer from someone.

I reported my missing luggage to a Mexicana representative at the carousel. I was assured that my luggage would be delivered at the address I provided within 24 hours, and that before those 24 hours had passed, someone from Mexicana would contact me to tell me about the location of my luggage and what time to expect it delivered. I was also assured that upon its delivery, if more than 24 hours had passed, I would also receive $100 USD for my troubles, something done routinely to reimburse passengers for any expenses they may incur for delayed delivery of their luggage.

The next morning, March 1st, when it began to near noon, I became worried no one had contacted me. I dialed the numbers provided to me by the Mexicana representative at the carrousel, (407) 825-6002/6003, to no avail. No one ever answered and when the call was sent to voice mail, I was given a notification that the voice mail was full and no further messages could be recorded.

I then dialed 1-800-531-7921 (the 800 number provided me by Information). The party who took my call was belligerent and treated me as if I were mentally retarded for not giving him all of the “numbers” necessary to trace my luggage. The only two numbers on the document provided to me when I filed the report were my Flight Ticket Number and my Claim Check Number, which he deemed insufficient. He proceeded to give me two phone numbers, (407) 825-5047 for the Manager of Customer Support, and (407) 825-5022. The first number no longer exists in the Orlando airport when dialed, and the latter is a number for a Delta liaison, both clearly useless. I would like to make note that it may be in Mexicana’s best interest to update the first number in the information they tell Customer Support to give clients. It’s a bit troublesome that not even Mexicana knows what numbers are no longer useful.

As I was not able to contact anyone, I again called the 800 number and was transferred to the first person that was able to give me any information about my luggage. However, he clarified that the information I had previously received was not correct. You do not give $100 USD checks if the bags aren’t delivered within 24 hours (again, information Mexicana may want to tell their reps not to give) and they are still uncertain when my luggage will actually arrive. All of this after four hours of locating phone numbers, two hours of which were spent on hold.

I finally received the luggage that Mexicana representatives promised I would have within 24 hours “at the very latest” nearly at midnight on March 1st. Not the most pleasant time to receive something when you have to be up at 5:30am, and when the information that accompanied the luggage says that it landed nine hours earlier.

My husband and I both travel multiple times a month and I can guarantee you that after such a poor quality experience and such generally rude and incompetent service, neither of us have the slightest desire to ever fly with Mexicana again.

I am publishing this letter on my personal and professional Websites, Facebook groups, Twitter, and Trip Advisor (and any other pertinent travel Websites) as well as encouraging everyone I know not to use your services.

Thank you for your time,
Lorenia de la Vega

And to anyone who may have had the patience to read the letter the whole way through, I sincerely advise you never to fly with them. I have never had a more exasperating, uncomfortable, and unpleasant experience with an airline, and you all KNOW how much I fly! And it’s not even how long the luggage took to get back to me — as far as lost luggage goes, it took a relatively short time to make it home, it was the constant excuses and lying and the overall crappy service. Ugh.

March 2, 2010   8 Comments

Do you remember when 21 years was old?

This summer, before hanging out with my bigger-little sisters (Marianna 19 and Andrea 21, as opposed to Regina 12 and Samantha 14), George and I were trying to pick out a gift for Andrea. “Get her this CD,” George suggested. “She’ll be into it.”

Turns out, not only was he right, but we both loved it. Phoenix was new to me, though he’d already heard of them.

So, when the opportunity came to see them live October 1st at Tipitina’s in New Orleans, we jumped on it. The tickets were a bargain, we got a nice hotel for ridiculously cheap (Priceline, how I love thee, and not just for your William Shatner commercials), and the venue was tiny (ensuring a wonderful spot for enjoying the concert, no matter where we ended up), historic and picaresque: besides having been a juice bar and currently being a live music venue, it was once a brothel!

We decided to make a road trip out of it, both to be thrifty and because we love road trips. We love picking out CDs, stopping at quaint or backwater locations along the way that most people would never think to go to – a real adventure.

The day before we took off, I started feeling a little sick. Headache, sore body, tired. No big deal. Maybe something I ate? But the true proof of how I felt came the day of the road trip: I kind of slept most of the way there, my eyes burned with a fever, I had a sort of cold and cough, and general malaise. Add to that that George’s car is basically, well, a race car so the suspension is incredibly stiff. Basically, if you run over a pea, you’ll feel it. We made the 693+ mile drive in about eight hours (with stops, uh… with stops, that’s an average speed of 87mph, folks… I’m glad I was asleep), by the end of which I wanted to die, kill someone, or both.

I almost didn’t make the concert. My fever was crazy by that night, my eyes were red (making me fit right in with all the hipsters, I guess), and my body felt like it wouldn’t be able to handle it. But I braved it, all for Phoenix. And oh, was the show ever worth it…

IMG_0044

The next morning I felt tired, but oddly invigorated: I wanted to experience New Orleans and enjoy the day and a half we had left in the city. We ventured out to the famous Café du Monde for some beignets

IMG_0106

I have to say, after trying them, my life will never be the same. I dream about these things, y’all. Their sugary sweetness elevated my glucose level, and gave me the tiniest bit of energy to walk around a tiny bit and find a cute little place to have lunch. I wanted something “typical”: we had gumbo, jambalaya, and étouffée. But not for loooooooooooong!

Lunch remained in my stomach all of ten minutes. The minute we rushed to the hotel, the nightmare began. Chills, sweating, delirium, fever. Pain, everywhere intense pain. I wanted to die. We spent the rest of our mini-vacay holed up in the room, George taking care of me while I vomited or sang or laughed like the crazy person that the flu had turned me into.

We drove back home, and George had a trip for work that he ended up having to cut short to come back and care for me for a week. By the time I went to the doctor, the flu was gone, but I had developed a nasty case of bronchitis. The cure, the doctor promised, was hydrating, TLC, and antibiotics/cough syrup, which I took religiously… to no avail. I started feeling better, but the cough never went away. I figured it’d be gradual, maybe that was the way it was supposed to be, or maybe as a one time smoker it would take longer for me to heal than a “normal” person.

Heal I did not. About a week ago, I started feeling horrible all over again. Stabbing pain in my chest, sore body, the cough back with a vengeance, blood in my phlegm (I know that’s the kind of tidbit everyone dreams of reading in a blog entry), wheezing, slight fever, nausea, etc. When it continued getting worse and worse, to the point where I was no longer sleeping at night, we went back to the doc.

After listening to me breathe, SEEING MY PHLEGM (being an MD is a glamorous job, people), and checking everything else out, my doctor left the exam room THREE TIMES, came back, sat down, and the first words out of his mouth were, “I don’t mean to scare you, but…”

MEN: Do not ever begin a conversation with these words. These, or, “Promise me you won’t get mad… but…” Seriously. Never. If you knew the kind of crazy that resides in our brains and you could see the millions of directions our thoughts go upon hearing this… you’d think twice. But I digress.

“I don’t mean to scare you, but I recently had a girl in here with your exact symptoms. She was taking the same medication you are (which is known for causing clotting). We did a chest x-ray; nothing showed up. Then she had a pulmonary embolism.”

“I am faxing the Cape hospital right now. I want you to go straight there, be examined by an ER doctor, and have a CT done immediately.”

I couldn’t even really react. I just nodded, we walked to the car, a couple of tears slipped out, and we were on our way.

Blood was drawn, chest x-ray was done. The ER doctor said all the tests with my bloodwork came back normal! “Except one.” What the HECK does THAT mean? So he ordered a CT.

Amusing side note: when they inject saline solution into your IV, you can taste it in your mouth. Did you know that? I did not. It was hilarious and weird. And when they inject contrast dye into your IV, you can taste the disgusting metal, your body is drowned in a wave of HOTNESS (preview of what menopause shall be like, I assume) and then you feel like you just urinated yourself. CHARMING!

Five hours in the ER later, I have acute bronchitis and asthma, folks. Asthma at 27. With George’s ginger genes, our four-eyed-ness, and our allergies/possible asthma, there is just no hope our children will ever be cool. Ever. We might as well teach them to enjoy swirlies when they’re toddlers.

So, yeah. We went to a concert. It was super fun. The end!

November 1, 2009   9 Comments

Salamanca

A couple of days ago, I was gchatting with George while he was at work. He was having his Zone afternoon snack, and he mentioned how delicious and juicy the Valencia oranges we bought were. The mention of those juicy, sweet, tangy and perfect oranges brought on a whole flood of memories from Salamanca… And here they are, in a stream of consciousness I threw at ‘im in our conversation. Le sigh.

Every bar and café in Salamanca has this machine: you put whole oranges in it (at the top) and it slices them in half and squeezes the juice out, so when you put a glass in the bottom part, you get fresh squeezed orange juice, always served in a glass much like a champagne flute. My favorite part of living there was waking up before class, running to the bar downstairs with a view of the Cathedral, ordering my croissant with cheese, ham, tomato and lettuce — fresh baked, still so warm — my cup of café con leche (basically milk with a TINT of coffee) and my fresh glass of OJ. Sitting there on the terraza (the tables out on the sidewalk), reading the paper, with doves gathering at my feet waiting for a little croissant crumb. Pigeons and doves, cooing on the rooftops. Delivery boys rushing to get all the merchandise to the shops. Shop owners sweeping the entryways to their souvenir stores. People rushing to work. Looking up at the sky and watching a stork fly five feet above your head to his little nest on one of the turrets of the cathedral.

Every morning was like this.

Well, except for the mornings I ordered a cream cheese and raspberry jam (made fresh there) croissant, instead of my regular ham and cheese. The owner of that café would always have my two pastries ready for me, one for brekkie and one for lunch/snack, along with my coffee and my juice. And when I moved, the last two years, to an apartment that was a 30 minute walk from there, I’d still go. For the familiarity. The comfort.

After morning classes, there’d be a break for lunch. The sidewalks are steamy hot: stone warms up a lot in the direct sun. And all of the big umbrellas on the terrazas are open to give shade, and the waiters are leaning listlessly against the frames of the doorways to the cafés, fanning themselves with the notepads they use to take orders, waiting for people to get out of school and work.

Lunch was all tapas: a tiny slice of tortilla española, a slice of bread with jamón ibérico on it, patatas bravas. Nestea iced tea with lemon wedges or grape juice mosto with an orange wedge. And the waiters take your order with their faux, yet very convincing, disdain. They’re glad to have something to do, but they don’t need to earn your tip. They do, however, need you to like them so you’ll keep coming there every day… so they’re a bit abusive with the right dose of flirtatiousness.

People watching and seeing the little old Spanish men with their five layers of shirts in 85º weather, a remnant from the “hard” days, the days of Franco, when they’d wake up in the morning and it would be cold out, and instead of spending hard earned money on turning the heat on, they’d layer their clothing. So there they are, with their layers and their wool, V neck vests and sweaters and their little hats, starting with the drinks a little too early, talking to the young University girls, polite and sweet and sarcastic conversations… with lecherous eyes. And what I loved was that after only a couple months of living there, everyone knew you and said hello. Asked you how your sisters were doing with their cold, or your mom after her surgery. Because they remembered things like that, pieces of random conversations, snippets. They paid attention, they liked showing their concern. Completely unnecessary, but kind, and appreciated.

And it’s amazing: the buildings on those pedestrian streets are hundreds of years old but sparkling clean. Some stained glass windows, some windows that still somehow look original. Some windows on the Rua Mayor with the ironwork in the shape of the Star of David… a remnant of a Spain very long forgotten, intentionally forgotten. There are shoe repair shop on every block because only shoes with pointy heels are fashionable, but cobblestone pedestrian streets are most unkind to them.

And all over the Plaza Mayor, always, always, always? The hippies juggling or the living statues posing or the mediocre violinist who craves attention and acknowledgment playing La vie en rose over and over and over because that’s the only song he ever learned by heart. Or the group of Brazilian boys break dancing to pay their travel around Europe because all they saved for was the plane ticket there and home. Open air art shows along the downtown pedestrian streets. Culture and color everywhere. And there are always mischievous children getting in trouble… for dropping water balloons down on the street during the warm months; they toss them over the balconies and you’d never be able to figure out where they came from if it weren’t for the giggling and the peeking over the railing to see the person who just screamed.

I think I kind of like (and maybe miss) Spain…

May 6, 2009   7 Comments