Finalmente! I have found and secured an allsome apartment. More amazing than finding that such a place actually exists is that out of 20 people I was chosen as the rightful inhabitant. Here’s a google-mappage of where it is. Yes, it’s across the street from the football stadium. And it’s also right where all the fan-bars are, three minutes from the metro, and ten minutes walk to the university, and five to ten to the “river park” and beyond to the old city. Which is nice.
Ah, the things which have and have not occurred since my last blizz-ogging. Notable in my own personal vision and development in the medium-term I shall relay in this anecdotal story.
Friday evening was the Erasmus dinner, which was to celebrate the end of the two-week intensive language course (which I passed, gracias por Dios!) at the slightly early time of 9:30. In an interestingly AIESEC-like fashion, everyone was to bring a dish from their own country and complete a banquet of international tastiness (complete with two provided barrels of sangria and “agua de valencia.”) Now I cannot cook, and there is not even an oven in the apartment in Gandia, but I had a great and simple idea to bring these Europeans the taste of the South: I would fix up some sweet tea.
So I checked a recipe online and I got the necessary ingredients from the store (sugar and tea). And I followed the instructions as they were written (or so I thought – realize that there are no measuring instruments in these apartments): I put about three or four cups of water on to boil and I put a cup and a half of sugar in as well. Threw in ten teabags, left it to boil for an hour (like I thought the directions said) and went to someone else’s apartment.
How the apartment smelled and was hazy when I returned an hour later. Smelling of burnt glucose. When I opened the pot of boiling sugar water/tea, it was no longer boiling. I was reminded of the scene in Terminator 2: Judgment Day in which Sarah Connor visualizes the nuclear attack on Los Angeles, and sees the parents and children at the playground turn into black casts of themselves from the heat before the blast blows them away like so much ash. Well, that’s what the pot looked like. Everything was blacker than Mordor, and burnt sugar was all that was left. It even overtook the teabags, which crumpled to the touch. That pot is still not wholly clean after three washings with boiling water.
I was extremely frustrated and disappointed after that, but I just realized that I had to take the pot off the heat when I threw the teabags in and let it steep for an hour. I still had an hour and a half and ten more teabags, so this was easy. I just did it again with the crucial step of removing from heat. After an hour, I poured the syrup into a container and poured in a right amount of water (just like the recipe said!) and got barely, barely sweet tea. Not even worth bringing to represent Arkansas, much less Alabama. So I didn’t bring it.
And on the walk to the university, I came to the conclusion that one of my great challenges will be to become a “master” chef by the time I return to the land of the free. I’ll have to start out slow – my first victory will be successfully completing a pot of sweet tea – but by the end I’ll be able to cook for eight guests so well that they will all have to remark about it in between mouthfuls. Of food.
The other thing I will challenge myself with is starting AIESEC in Valencia. This way I can meet Spanish people, stay involved in AIESEC, and keep challenging myself, as well as bring AIESEC to this amazing corner of the world.
The other day in the metro I saw someone reading a book with the title La conjura de los necios and then I saw this picture on the cover:
The glory of A Confederacy of Dunces has been brought to Spain! I doubt that all the linguistic jokes can translate well, however.
I’ve been meaning to type this for some time, but I always lose time, but now I have time. A week before this past Friday in the language class, our professor was asking for adjectives that were negative about things or people. I proffered “fascista,” the professor said, “SI! SI!” and threw it up on the blackboard. A few minutes later, one of the Finnish dudes said, “comunista,” and she looked confused and said, “por que es mal?” I experienced a few thoughts and emotions at this time. Of course I was glad at her appreciation of the real meaning and good things of socialism, and more so that she would be able to counter that it was not a bad thing at all. Almost immediately afterward, I thought about how that could never, ever be uttered in the United States – yet our societies are both Western European derived societies. Why is it universally hated in the United States while it is taken seriously and debated seriously in Spain?
The answers lie in several places, most of which do not include the Cold War (which is the most recent reason for U.S. outright dismissal of that kind of society). One of the most interesting and influential clashes of ideology ever was the Spanish Civil War, in which the left fought the right. The right won. But during the war (especially in Catalunya) the left proved that its system worked for real. Which is glorious. The point here is that after the dictatorship of Franco, the people of Spain recognize a socialist society as both the democratic alternative to Franco and as the thing to achieve after what they have experienced under dictatorship.
Anyway, tomorrow is the day of matriculation and settlement. Cheers to all from Valencia.