Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sabado en Sandalias

Today´s word of the day is ¨barkatu¨: sorry

Today I ambled around Bilbao with the goal of getting a feel for the city and finding some toilet paper. A river runs through Bilbao, so I followed the board walk North as I knew I would eventually run into the Guggenheim. Snapshots from my explorations:

1. Team kayakers who chanted ¨E-T-A¨ followed by something in Basque. Terrorist kayakers? Hmm.
2. A man playing a gaite . . . the Basque bagpipe. I don´t know whether it was him or just the way it sounds, but it sounds more like a duck than a bagpipe.
3. It´s just plain disorienting to hear English music here. There was a man playing ¨Amazing Grace¨ on a trumpet outside the Guggenheim. Likewise, I heard non-descript 80s music, Simon and Garfunkel, Santana, and Lady Gaga while shopping.
4. I love Spanish children. I saw several over the course of the day and they are somehow universal in their kid-dom and thus less intimidating than adults. I walked behind this little boy who was making ¨vroom-vroom¨ noises as he glided a tin-foil car along the side of a building and it made me smile.
5. I´d be an okay gumshoe. I was sitting on a bench eating a snack when I saw one person and then another walk by with an ¨El Corte Ingles¨ bag. So, I went in the opposite direction. Then I saw another person with a bag so I imagined where they had come from and worked my way to ¨Gran Via¨ or Broadway. Jackpot: Zara and ¨El Corte Ingles.¨
6. The quest for toilet paper is an awkward one. I found the bookstore version of ¨El Corte Ingles¨ and while in the restroom I suddenly realized that I should just take some toilet paper incase I coudn´t find any. I was very proud of myself. I also figured the big ¨El Corte Ingles¨ had to be near . . . and sure enough it was a few blocks down. Once in the store, however, I didn´t see it in the pharmacy area and then realized I didn´t know what it was even called. I settled for asking for paper towels . . . I figured that would be in the same area, but that only led me to tissues in the¨perfumaria¨ section. I finally found the grocery store on the 6th floor and almost did a little skip when I found the aisle. I was down right giddy.
7. Packaging in Spain has a cartoonish character. Especially the candy.
8. Mr. Clean is ¨Don Limpio¨ . .. and you better believe I bought it.
9. I am intimidated by restaurants, especially the neighborhood-looking ones. I haven´t eaten at one yet. I´ll make this a goal for tomorrow.
10. Without people to talk to, my interior voice has become very loud.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bienvenidos a Bilbao

Today´s word of the day is ¨bilatu¨ : search

I arrived in Bilbao yesterday after the run around in the Madrid airport. In short: My flight out of DFW was delayed so I missed my connection from Madrid to Bilbao. My shoulders are still sore from lugging my carry-ons, one of which was a lovely 25lb and sans wheels, all over that airport. I now know way more about the Madrid airport than neccesary. Anyway, I finally got a plane and was bumped up to business class which had the added bonus of 3 bocadillos and water out of a real glass. Classy, right?

As I glanced out the window as the plane into Bilbao landed my thought was ¨its so green.¨ This may only mean something to those of you who have been to Madrid and know what a dry wasteland it is. As I came around the curve into Bilbao I was suddenly greeted by the Guggenheim cresting infront of city. The thing that gets me about Spanish, and I supposed all European cities, is that all the building are equally tall and squished together. So it´s like . . . no city, no city, no city, BAM city.

I am staying in a so-so area of Bilbao. There are a lot of Afircan and Arab immigrants, who, whether rightly or wrongly, are considered trouble makers. I wouldn´t have thought to brush up on my Arabic before getting here, but it might not have been a bad idea.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Nada en la Naderia

Today's word of the day is "the day after tomorrow" : biharamun

I leave tomorrow morning for Bilbao. I arrive in Bilbao around one p.m. on Friday. My one checked suitcase is fifty pounds on the dot . . . so there will need to be some shuffling. I feel pretty good about getting everything into one, all be it large suitcase, and two carry-ons.

Tonight I went to a show at the Uptown with Brigid to see Blind Pilot + The Decemberists. I can't believe I got away with going out the night before I leave. It was worth it--the best show I've ever seen. Pictures and limited video available on my facebook. Best acoustics--surround without deafening. Plus the venue, a refurbished theatre is perfect with its bright colors and statues. The best part was when Colin Meloy asked the crowd and members of the band in the crowd to reenact a confrontation between the British and a sultan. The result was those on the floor riding piggy-back with one side on horses and the others on camels. I rode a camel named Brigid.

It's funny that I've known about this trip for months now and yet have no better grasp on the fact that I am leaving home than I did before. Sure, it is coming along the horizon, but it will never actually get here. It's this asymptotal relationship. You'd think it would become more real . . . it has been just the opposite. The packing process was oddly impersonal. I know I've been getting someone ready to go, but that someone is not me. For this reason I am not really concerned because I don't understand the implications. Perhaps I should be scared. I wonder how long it will take me to realize I am going to Spain for the whole summer. I don't think it will be real even once I am there. I'll let you know if I ever have a light bulb moment.

What an adventure this will be.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Vacilando al PaĆ­s Vasco

Today's word of the day is "amaze": harritu

It is finals week, so what better time to make a blog for this summer?

This summer I have an eight week internship in Bilbao, Spain where I will be working for the Association of Basque Municipalities (EUDEL) which works to support the autonomy and interests of towns in the Basque Country.

I have a lot of packing to do in the next month. From dorm to home and home to Spain. The fun hasn't even begun. I type this now as I look around at my thoroughly lived-in looking dorm room with baskets of clean laundry at the foot of my bed, books stacked jenga-style, and three umbrellas that have collected at the base of my desk due to a weeks worth of rain. Very soon, however, in a whirlwind of activity, I will fly from this homey little nest to the resounding silence of cinder block walls. The echoes at the end always get me.

Words cannot express the prospect of being home. I haven't really had time to think about it until just now and I suddenly get a dopey smile at the thought of the Plaza, the Park, and most of all, my people. I get two weeks and then it is off to Bilbao. After my internship I plan to travel to Paris and London for a few days before coming home in early August.

I think I will blog some in Spanish and some in English . . . but I don't quite know how that'll work out. At the very least we will all learn some basque together.