a wandering woman writes

Sunday, February 26, 2006

I could get used to this

What a difference a few hours make!

I read this week that, according to an MSN survey conducted in the UK, Holland, Germany and Spain, the Spanish are the "most communicative" Europeans. Yes, I know, after witnessing a roomful of my Spanish coworkers talk simultaneouly, EN VOZ ALTA, while gesturing wildly, stamping feet and nodding heads.... all of this for at least half an hour after the company announced they were moving our office to the other side (gasp!) of Salamanca, I too reacted to the MSN report with a bored - "And this is news?"

Still, your average Spaniard apparently sends 115 personal communications a day -mostly face to face, cell calls and SMS messages. Those strong silent northern Europeans? A measly 87.

But wait! I seem to have stumbled onto a secret benefit of all this Spanish communication, what with my blizzardesque birthday and all. You see, my Spanish friends communicate. A lot. What they don't do is spend time alone.

So after a swell pre-birthday celebration with Nomadita on Friday, and the resoundingly unanimous clamor to cancel's last night's official birthday outing to avoid the snow, it started.

The communication.

Me? I'm half hermit. I was settling in to watch Amelie, fluffing the comforter and cracking open the Christmas-basket cava.

When various communicative types began to wonder - was I was alone on my birthday? As they began to realize that they were home, alone or not, pretty darn early on a Saturday night.

First call. 5 minutes after we agree to cancel.

-But what will you do? Should we just go to some bar near your house? I'll come in autobus.

-No, no, I insist, eying the couch and comforter, hand on the DVD start button.
-We'll go tomorrow.

I hang up, lift my start button finger, take two steps toward that ever so enticing comforter...

-¡Feliz cumple! ¡Qué pena! But what will you do? Tienes a alguien? Do you have somebody?

-Yes, actually, Amelie and a bottle of cava.

If I can just get to the couch...

I disconnect. I have just reached the comforter-covered promised land, when......

Luis and I will be there in 15 minutes.

Which leads to me, dear readers, to a necessary aside about life in Spain.

You must ALWAYS be prepared for visitors. It is assumed that you are always dressed, with the house more or less in order, and with something, something you can feed them.

But you see, I am not Spanish. And I am engaged in a fierce battle with dead flourescent lightbulbs in two of the rooms in the my apartment. A losing battle. As in there was no light in those two rooms last night. Not to mention that I had spent the entire day trying to put together an enormous bookcase in the middle of my entrance hall. Unsuccessfully. And I'd done laundry. On a snowy day. (Seriously, anything, anything, for a clothes dryer.)

Picture neat little piles of sorted nuts and screws beneath lovely dripping clothes- curtains hanging from... well, everywhere.

In the end, I convinced Luis and novia to meet me at the neighborhood bar. Where they showered me with claras, gifts and a couple of tasty tostadas.

What a country.

One snowman, a midnight snowball siege alongside the Museo de Automoción, and an early morning photo walk later, I'm liking storms in Salamanca.

And it's not over! Not the storm, and therefore, not my cumple! After a brief clearing with just a peek of blue sky, it's snowing again. Hard. I've just received my first communicative "cancel" for tonight's rescheduled cumple, from a friend who would have to drive. We'll celebrate one night during the week, she tells me.

Apparently, by inviting people to celebrate a birthday, one sets in motion some infinitely postponable but never fully cancellable moral obligation that I find quite pleasing.

This could work out well....It might take me to week to toast this snowy cumple with every one of them.

What a country.



  • you sure it shouldn't be "cumple"? either you got it wrong (don't take it badly please!) or salmantinos use a weird word that I'd never heard about!
    Cheers... and Feliz cumpleaños!!!

    By Anonymous cristina, at 6:01 PM  

  • that wasn't their word, but mine..and don't know why but I always write it that way.

    Call it Spanglish.

    Now that you've commented, guess I'll leave it as it is........

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 6:13 PM  

  • OK, Cristina, I couldn't take it. I had to correct it. Thank you :-)

    I really now cannot spell in either language. And this from St Paul's school spelling bee champ, 1970 something.

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 6:21 PM  

  • HI wandering-woman! I am loving your blog, I am a spaniard who have lived abroad for 3 years, now I'm back to Spain, and as I use to notice how different are other cultures from mine, I love now to read about how foreigners see my country and our culture. IT is very interesting to read! And yes we are loud lol, my husband thought first time he came here that everyone was having a fight!:) I just linked you in my blog, I hope more people read yours from mine and see how you live in here:)Take care!

    By Blogger ayalguita, at 8:33 PM  

  • Welcome Ayalguita! ANd thank you...tell your husband I understand him! Thanks a lot for the link!

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 8:43 PM  

  • lol... your exactly like i'm when tackling spelling issues... :S i'm losing that "perfect spelling" i've always been so proud of...

    By Anonymous Cristina, at 11:28 AM  

  • Happy belated birthday! LOVE the pictures!

    I am hoping against hope (and my credit card's maximum, and the powers-that-be who control the schedule at work) that I can make it to Spain this summer! My boyfriend is insisting on coming along to protect me from the Spanish men. My Spanish mama said she is already thinking about what we will have to eat during my first meal back in Madrid. :-D If we make it to Salamanca, I'll look you up!

    By Blogger Angie, at 7:59 PM  

  • Definitely do email me if you head to Salamanca, Angie! (And if you are in Madrid, you have to visit Salamanca, says me (Honest! The madrileños do, when they want to escape the city.)

    Good luck with the powers...I'm rooting for you!

    By Blogger wandering-woman, at 10:09 PM  

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