I also struggle with finding photos from my trip, so all pictured below are courtesy of Google Image.
OK, here we go. This is unofficial report number four. I have moved into an apartment. I was excited that I would be able to resume my normal diet of home cooked bachelor food. Restaurant surprises were starting to stress me out. I went to the nearby supermarket and picked out a few items from the heat and serve section of the freezer. Frozen pizza hitting the top of the list. I hurried home and got set to chow. I opened the door below my stove and found that instead of an oven, I was provided additional storage space. Having neither an oven or a microwave, I am now in the process of trying to figure out how to cook frozen pizza on a stove. Fried pizza, my favorite. Well, this same night I was not to be thwarted. I had been brave and purchased heat and serve paella. Paella is a Spanish staple that is similar to gumbo, but without the spice.
Upon opening the bag, I discovered that I did not have a bag off heat and eat food, but rather a bag full of frozen seafood. It was straight off the boat and into my freezer. I looked at my food, it looked at me and I had potato chips for dinner. I have a new game I play. I call it Stupid American. I speak much more Spanish than I understand, but I can get by. I am not really embarrassed about going out in public and talking and take great sport in doing so. The game is played like this: Someone will say something to me, and I reply with absolute nonsense with a perfectly straight face. Recently I was in a cab and the guy could tell I wasn't from around here. He asked if I spoke French. I am an American, I replied. He then asked if I like Vigo. I said "My chair is cold". He looked at me funny but continued and preceded to tell me some long winded bit about a big ship in the harbor. I told him I have an apartment that is white and tasty. He looked at me strange again and concluded the ride in silence.
I talked my Spanish professor into teaching me all the words that aren't in my dictionary. The guys in the factory have taken great pleasure in supplementing this portion of my training as well. I may not be able order a decent meal, but I can sure curse up a storm when it arrives to my displeasure. So using this new list of words, I have discovered another way to play Stupid American. I will intentionally mispronounce words by drawing from my continuously expanding list of vulgarities. On the weekends I get a rental car. A Fiat Punto.
En Spanish, the word punta is a derogatory term applied to prostitutes.
With great pleasure I will tell people that I have a punta on the weekends that GKN provides. I am looking forward to going to a furniture store and looking at cabinets. The word for drawer, cajone, can easily be mispronounced as a term for male anatomy. All with a smile and a straight face.
My language skills also give me the ability to create havoc in busy situations. I recently went to the grocery to get some deli meat. After my run in with the frozen food, I was hoping to see what I was buying first. The deli was packed and when my number came up I tried to tell the woman what I wanted. I came very close to getting 100 slices of turkey. After we got that worked out, she sighed and asked if I needed anything else. I said no, and that I needed some cheese, 100 slices please. If the people shopped like they drive, they would have been honking at me. This weekend I went out on the town with an engineer from the factory named Alfonso. I called him The Fonz, but he didn't get it. He didn't like being called Al very much either. Al speaks just a little more English than I do Spanish, so I am learning a fair amount with him. Fonz, like me, can speak more than he can understand. Well, we are hanging out in a closed off street that was packed with people. Bars lined the street and the people were making great use of them. In this is a very homogenous society I stood out a great deal. Among the short, black haired, skinny Spanish dudes, I was somewhat of a spectacle. Unless I was wrapped in the stars and stripes, I couldn't have looked more American. As the night progressed, woman who had visited the bar once or thrice approached me and slurred some Spanish. I of course had to get Alfonso to translate. Most of the translations began with "She drinks much and...." I was asked to provide Gorbachev style kisses (that cheek-cheek thing).
It should be duly noted that the female Spanish populous doesn't much care for the way I wear my jeans either, and felt obliged to tell me. I responded with a general comment about Spanish woman, selecting the appropriate words from my alternate vocabulary list, and almost had an international incident in my hands. Apparently there are some instances when the Stupid American game can cause real trouble.
I do want to send a special thanks out to Vicky for so efficiently navigating the internals of Sanford for me while I am over here trying to make contact. Hello to the 7 gang and tell Benton that his long lost twin brother works on the shaft line here.
More later, Spain out.
27 junio 1997
Note: All photos displayed are courtesy of Google Image.