a wandering woman writes

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Bon Jour.....cést va?

Greetings from an absolutely glorious village in the French pyrenees....where the food is sublime, the surroundings breathtaking, the people, French and British expat alike, warm enough to invite a visitor to dinner within a one week visit, the morning mountain walks inspiring, my pottery mentor brilliantly patient..... and my access to the internet not the least conducive to blogging..... til soon, with lots of trilingual tales!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A wandering woman, by any other name...

Well, it's official.

Leave it to me to have to keep up with the Garcías and los Fernández.

I am proud to announce I now contar con not one last name, no, not one measly anglosaxonized Irish surname but a full fledged double-appellido Spanish moniker.

At least in the depths of the Spanish Social Security administration's data system, that is.

I owe thanks to the shockingly persistent staff of the Social Security office in Salamanca, who spent much of Tuesday morning attempting to give me online access to the administration's web system. I urgently needed a document for my residency renewal, and getting web access to print any report I'd like any old bureaocratic day of the week seemed the best solution.

Until we asked the system to grant me digital permission to access data.

The problem showed its face quietly at first.

I began to pick up barely audible rumblings from the far side of the desk.

Pero sólo tiene un appellido.
But she only has one last name.

The rumblings soon grew in urgency and volume.

¡Pero ES que sólo TIENE uno! ¡Bueno!

The database that so cooperatively registers the euros it extracts from my bank account every month flatly refused to recognize a social security participant with one last name. It folded its arms and stuck its tongue out at us. Two last names or the database wasn't playing.

Of course I couldn't be the first extranjero with one surname. But the system had decided I was. What were we to do?

My now fully committed funcionaria quickly typed "no consta" in the field for the second surname, which would have christened me "Erin Corcoran NotApplicable", more or less. I could live with that.

No luck.

I suggested we simply grant me the surname of our choice, leaving
a small clue to its questionable origins.

My suggestion? "Erin Corcoran Ninguno".

The funcionaria then offered me García, far more elegant, until we remembered that the social security payments the system tracked for Erin Corcoran García wouldn't be mine. Which was the point, after all.

After a call to another office for help, we entered the symbol stage.

And after noble attempts with X's and dashes and a brief dalliance with the asterisk, a new social security paying Spanish resident was born.

Erin Corcoran ~~~

But you can call me Señora Corcoran TresGuiones.


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Optimism and a poem


More and more I have come to admire resilience.
Not the simple resistance of a pillow, whose foam returns over and over to the same shape, but the sinuous tenacity of a tree: finding the light newly blocked on one side,
it turns in another.
A blind intelligence, true.
But out of such persistence arose turtles, rivers, mitochondria, figs--all this resinous, unretractable earth.

Jane Hirshfield


It's not what you look at

It's not what you look at that matters. It's what you see.
-Henry David Thoreau

I've spent the last few days roaming Spain behind this faceless roving photographer. Round Salamanca, Cáceres, La Alberca, Mogarriz.....to roadside churches, wells and well, you-name-it in the Sierra de Francia.

And, ah, I was blessed with a driver whose diabolical grin grew wider with every hairpin turn on two lane roads, through Las Hurdes to Las Batuecas, to La Alberca and Mogarriz, then back to Salamanca along the twistiest road I could deliver. One lane bridges were announced with glee.

There was people watching in Plaza Mayor accompanied by the Cervantes' stunning jamón ibérico, and there was the discovery, finally, of what will now be "my" restaurant in Cáceres (may I recommend the venado, or the recinto ibérico, ah, or the secreto ibérico stuffed with dates, gasp, slow exhale, and served with a pumpkin puree....). There was chocolate, a tankard of drinking chocolate mixed with hot rum and coffee at La Regenta, and the best morcilla picante with caramelized onions I've yet to taste, at El Sorportal, in the plaza in La Alberca. There were Salamantinos and Extremadurans and La Albercans who couldn't say enough, couldn't share enough of themselves and their lovely towns, and there was the old man in Mogarriz who refused to turn and face us, afraid the Rover would snap his picture. There was Avila, and wise words of Santa Teresa, and thick black honey from the sierra and lavendar, lavendar everywhere.

It was a week wandering this little corner of Spain.

The visit ended with fireworks, hours after my visitors had boarded a train for Madrid. Salamanca celebrates her patron saint today, San Juan de Sahugun, and so I ended a stellar little vacation with my usual front row view of fireworks over the Roman Bridge last night.

Reason #992 for living in Spain? Sharing her with visitors.

And now, a long overdue mea culpa:
Yes, I have been gone far, far too long. Spread too thin, I have been, and wandering-woman has paid a high price. I still have more clients than I meant to attract, my annual bureaucratic journey to be completed before my residency expires at the end of June, and looming tax deadlines in two countries (reason #1 NOT to live abroad....double tax filing....)

But if you've not yet wandered so far I can't coax you back with photos of the stork guards of Cáceres and tales of beautiful and wise campesinos, stick around, I've still got a few stories to tell....


and a lone piper in Cáceres

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a rooftop in Cáceres

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a balcony in La Alberca

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