Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Carnaval!! Entroido!!

It's Carnaval!! Dia festivo!! No school!! Costumes everywhere since last Friday!! Dancing in the streets!! Filloas (crepes) and Orejas (like elephant ears) for dessert!! I LOVE IT!!!!!

Me-the cat, Melisa-elctrocutedOther friends dressed like Geisha...they were fabulous!
Portuguese Axel Rose-Slash was hanging around somewhere too.
Here in Santiago today everything is closed and kids have the day off from school to celebrate carnaval. What is carnaval? Well, basically for those of us from the USA its like Mardi Gras, the big party to celebrate and pasarlo bien before the beginning of lent 40 days before Easter. Where Halloween isn't really celebrated beyond trick-or-treating, school, and a few private parties, carnaval has been an amazing 5 day celebration bringing the old and the young to the streets in costumes. Here in Spain the biggest Caraval celebrations are in Cadiz and Las Palmas in the Canary Islands and in Galicia the biggest celebration is in Verín, Ourense. By luck of chance 5 years ago I went to the carnaval celebration in Cadiz, and this year I got to see Carnaval (Entroido-in Gallego) in Verín. It's most famous for the cigarrons, crazy dudes dressed in pom-pom shorts, huge wooden masks, and cow bells running through the streets with whips and causing a ruckus. They were great despite the fact the when you suddenly heard the bells start up a little fear was struck up inside me to get out of the way fast an not be whipped...hahaha.
Another tradicion they have in Verín is to throw flour at people (in another town close by they throw ants mixed in vinegar-to make them all the more excited) and little bags can be bought on the street and thrown at whomever you choose. My friend Melisa and I were floured while dancing.
The party started early and leaving on Sunday was still going, every every every one was dressed up, every was having a great time, live music playing in the plazas and when the band took a break small bands of friends struck up in song so the dancing didn't have to end. I do love halloween and trick-or-treating...but I have to admit carnaval was way more fun than any Halloween party I've ever been too.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Although I'm not really too eager to buy expensive ceramics and china, I do love to pick up a few pieces of whatever the local ceramics maybe when I travel. In Mexico I bought four lovely little mismatched multicolored patterned bowls that I love to use for small portions of whatever...

Here in Galicia the ceramics to buy are Sargadelos. Plates, cups, bowls, teapots, figures, etc, tradicionally painted with graphic blue and white patterns. They are far too expensive for my wallet, but I would love to have two little Sargdelos cuncas (bowls) to use for toasts on special occasions.

Elle Home discovered Sargadelos recently too. Read more about the history and production from their article here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I love Valentine's day.

Last year we celebrated in Mexico. Diego came from across the ocean and we took a day trip to San Miguel de Allende and ate tacos and ice cream on the streets.

This year being together in Spain and with a beautiful ring on my finger, the day was even more special starting with a bunch of beautiful tulips, breakfast of chocolate covered palmeras, and a delicious dinner in the city where we not only celebrated San Valentin, but also started making plans as we finally received permission from the town hall to get married!!!!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Come fly with me...

Arriving to Spain in August was a bit of a mess. My flight out of Detroit left an hour late, meaning I missed my connecting NYC flight to Dublin and thus my Dublin-Santiago flight. Due to the messed up schedule and the fault of Delta in all this I was rebooked on new flights: NYC-Paris-Madrid with Delta's partner Air France. I was relieved to finally be on my way to Spain, although still unsure of exactly how I was going to get from Madrid to Santiago. The flights were smooth, until arriving in Madrid, I went to the baggage claim, and of course I was the person whose bags had not arrived. Air France gave me a tooth brush and an extra large t-shirt to get by until my bags arrived. But the mala hostia passed quickly when D surprised me by picking me up at the Madrid airport...a 6 hour drive from Santiago..and even without bags, we happily headed off into the sunset, finally together again after a year apart.
As the days passed, I began to need things, and as I've noted before I was lucky to arrive in Spain during rebajas and bought a few new things for cheap, but in the weeks to follow I had to spend much more than I was expecting on all the bare necesities. I placed complaints with Delta and Air France. Delta washed their hands of the situation, saying the moment they switched me to Air France it was out of their control. Air France told me they weren't sure where my bags were. I later recieved a call from the Dublin airport saying my bags were there. Air France called the next day saying they didn't know where my bags were. In the end, weeks later my suitcase arrived destroyed, but with most of the contents ok.
Air Fance told me to buy a new suitcase and send them the reciepts for my expenses which I did with the help the Office of Consumer Affairs in Galicia. Finally in December after two months with no word I recieved a call from Air France approving the reimbursment of the money I had spent saying all they needed was the international code to send the money to my account. I sent the fax with the number, and waited and waited and waited, and sent another fax, and finally today I recieved an e-mail from Air France saying they are depositing the money into the account soon(not sure exactly how long soon will be, but at least it's coming)!!!
Sooo...the moral of the story is don't schedule flights with only 1 hour layovers, don't ever give up on getting what you deserve from an airline or any other company that screws you over, keep all your reciepts, and as much as the Spanish government and bureacracy has caused me headaches in the past few months in the end they do take care of business.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Let's go away for a while...

A city in GambiaCarthage, Tunisia
When its cold and rainy it's tempting to start planning vacations, so yesterday as I was walking to one of my classes in the Zona Nueva I stopped to check out the signs in the windows of a travel agency. Being in Europe travel to Africa is suddenly a very real and affordable possiblity! I found week long trips (flight+hotel) to Gambia, Tunisia, and Egypt for under 450 euros! Where should we go??

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


It's cooold and rainy in Santiago today, so I'm going to escape a bit from the cold with my warm and sunny Sevilla memories. While living in Sevilla in 2003 I took a class called about the linguisitics of flamenco. As any Spanish speaker can tell you, in Andalucia (southern Spain) there is an accent unlike any other in the Spanish speaking world. It is an accent that turns "Joder, qué calor" to "Joé, que caló" and "pescado" to "pecaó". But beyond the dilectal differences this class journeyed into the sounds, rythms and movements of flamenco, going far beyond the commerical image of flamenco It was easy to go to the class one evening a week, sitting in the University that was once the Royal Tobacco Facory where the opera Carmen was inspired, and listen as my Gypsy professor strummed his guitar and brought in his family to sing and dance for is as he explained the rythmic differences of a Fandago versus a Buleria. Although I don't remember much about the differences in the rythms, the duende spirit that inspires the sudden outburst of song and dance still haunts me. Camaron de la Isla is the king of this music and the gipsy culture that surrounds it. Enjoy this video.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Tennis, anyone?

It's a big day in the world of sports today. In the USA its the superbowl. In Spain, there will be coverage of the Superbowl, but today is more important for the historic tennis match this morning between classic rivals the Spanish tennis phenom Rafael Nadal and the swiss veteran Roger Federer. Did anyone in the states watch it? A five hour match, it was on TV all morning, and although I'm no pro tennis player I did get into the game and have quite the itch to get out and play tennis in a Lacoste polo. Nadal won the end of the match, and the classic rivals in the end shared kind words and tears. Nice guys. Tennis is so classy. Congrats Nadal!

Also, tonight another important entertainment event will be taking place, the Goya awards (Spain's version of the Oscars). It's cold and snowy in Madrid so the green carpet will be different than the red carpets I'm used to, but I'm looking forward to seeing the films and actors and the general scene that makes up the Spanish cinema. I've seen three of the films they have been talking about, Los girasoles ciegos, Solo quiero caminar, and Los crimenes de Oxford (Oxford crimes?? I can't remember what it's called in English). Hopefully one of them wins something! And maybe Javier and Penelope will show up too.
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