Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back In The USSA

All transactions are done. The prepaid security deposit on the apartment in Málaga was returned. The unused healthcare was refunded. All funds have been transferred from my Spanish to my American bank account. Permission to use photographs has been given. So it is time to wrap up this Web Site Story (West Side Story pun intended, as is the Beatles’s Back In The USSR).

The return flight was long and tiring. The first leg of the flight was from Málaga airport to Gatwick. Then, a 45 minute bus ride to Heathrow. No flight activity occurs between midnight and around 7am. My flight to Houston left at 10am and got in late. The next flight to Austin required a 2 hour wait. But, I'm finally back home.

The first few weeks were spend setting up house: getting an apartment, taking my stuff out of storage, retrieving my vehicle from storage, updating registrations, getting internet service, getting back in touch with my friends, etc. BTW, I'd like to extend an invitation to anyone coming from Spain to Austin, Texas, USA. Traveling can be expensive so eliminating the cost of lodging and transportation while here helps. Just contact me ahead of time at RonGarza(arroba)hotmail(punto)com.

What a great time I had in Málaga! I really recommend it. Spain is more expensive than the US but not that much more and, in my experience, it was safe, clean, and modern -- and that is worth the extra cost. There are plenty of things to do and see and lots of people to meet. Here is a picture of (right-to-left) Margarita, Nacho, (I think I've forgotten his name so I'll call him) Anders (sorry), and María at a going-away supper they gave me and Anders, who speaks pretty good Spanish, English, and Dutch and was returning to Holland. The food was great and included champiñon, empananda salmorejo, and tortilla española. Margarita hosts a Multi-Language Intercambio called Truequelengu. It can be found on Facebook using truequelengu in the Search box.

What impressed me the most about Spain was the civility. Spaniards would rather starve than rob you and go to hell. When people are done eating, they reset the chairs. A person on the bus gave a 10 euro note to the bus driver saying, "I don't know who this belongs to, but I know it doesn't belong to me". Women can (and do) lay topless on the beaches without anybody harassing or even gawking at them. The cops "don't take no shit from no one"; they are proud to be policemen.

The transportation system also impressed me. Buses run all day and night, exactly on time. The electric trains -- wow -- that was impressive. I counted to 35 going through a tunnel on the way to Sevilla; that's a very long tunnel! The ride was smooth and quiet.

Of course, no place is perfect. I disliked the store hours (closed on Sunday and for a few hours in the afternoons). I hated the noise that some (uneducated) people make, like yelling from the street to people in an apartment. Seriously, get some class. That and dogs pooping on the sidewalks and the owners not picking up after them. They may or may not have been Spaniards, it doesn't matter. You're in Spain. Don't do that. You'll turn this place into a ghetto, and then leave to find "a better place".

Given all the pros and cons, I would return to Spain. I would not, however, attempt to get a visado again. For as advanced as Spain is, it is still mired in bureaucracy. I feel pretty sure that a visa was granted, but it got lost somewhere between Manilva, Estepona, Málaga, and Madrid. An American can stay in Spain legally without a visa for up to 90 days. I would do that again.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experiences. Please feel free to comment, but since I may not check comments in the future, if you want an answer, feel free to write me at the email address listed above, using the "at" sign for arroba and a period for "punto".


Sunday, September 18, 2011

Oh, we're not done with you yet!

It's Sunday, September 18, 2011, at 1am. The neighbor next door has the radio playing at full blast. You remember my neighbor? She the one that specializes in cooking food that smells like yesterday's road kill (lo que piso un coche ayer, for my Spanish friends). I need to find out what country she is from so that I can scratch that one off my list of places to visit.

Here's an interesting way to get the neighbor to turn her radio down! In the distance, I hear the sound of drums. They are getting louder. It sounds like what I heard the first week I was here. And it is! Coming 'round the bend is a procession. Jesus Christ! No, I mean Jesus Christ. Cross and all. Lead by clergy with incense burning (cough), and followed by a drum and bugle corp, with the faithful sprinkled here and there.

Anyway, it only lasts half and hour. Here's some pics with my cheap Brownie camera (actually expensive FujiFilm camera). What a great Going Away present.



Wow, a lot of people are going to be very upset if all this religous stuff has been blown out of proportion. And, there's no sense in calling the cops (la pasma) about all the noise; they're in on it.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Swimming with the Rich Fish

15 minutes after deciding I'd go to the beach, I was packed and on my way. Which beach? Hmmm, let's try Marbella. And, there I was. The water was the same. The air was the same. Not much to see or do, except act rich (I guess). Boring. Anyway, I did take a picture of the famous ¨Hollywood¨-type sign ... from the bus! LMAO

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Museo Picasso, Málaga

A man goes into a hardware store and asks the store owner for a ¨$%()/¨. The clerk says ¨What?¨. The man says ¨a $%()/¨. After a few tries, the store owner calls his college-educated son over. After just one hearing the son says ¨Oh, yes, we don't have any¨ and the man leaves. ¨Wow¨, says the store owner to his son, ¨What did he want?¨. ¨I have no idea¨, says the son, ¨but I wasn't going to waste all day on him¨.

The Pablo Picasso museum has a lot of really nice art. There was one painting that kept me coming back for a second, third, and fourth look. What was so special about Picasso's ¨Owl With Chair¨? I kept reading the label and looking at the picture. Nada. Then it hit me. It was painted on my birthday, January, 17, 1947! Wow! What are the odds?

There was a lady nearby. ¨¡Este cuadro fue pintado en mi fecha de nacimiento!¨, I exclaimed. She smiled and shook her head sideways. ¨This picture was painted the day I was born!¨. She smiled, shook her head sideways, and lifted and lowered her shoulders. ¨Je naté en c'est jour!¨. She smiled and shook her head up and down. Ah, finally.

I did a goggle search for ¨naté¨. It is not a French word!

Owl with Chair [NOTE: click on browser's left arrow to return here after viewing]

On the subject of accomplishments:
¨Lo que cuenta es lo que se hace y no lo que se tenía la intención de hacer¨.
¨What counts is what is done and not what one had intended to do¨.-- Pablo Picasso.

On the subject of learning art in school:
¨When making love to a woman, you don't measure her limbs¨. -- Pablo Picasso.

¨You don't?¨ -- Ron Garza

Monday, September 12, 2011

Winding Down

One week left. I should be back in Austin, TX, USA on September 21, 2011. It has been great! No regrets. But, I'm not going to spend anymore time and effort to force Spain to take my retirement money.

A few By The Ways, wildfires are raging outside Mijas and Marbella, just south of here; 3,000 people have been evacuated. Ándale is not used here; they use Vale. Platicar is not used here; they use Charlar. Auto- = Self-, as in autoestima (self-esteem) and autodefender (self-defense).

July 2011 home sales are 35% less than they were in July 2010, but a condo still sells for around 200,000€ (multiply by 1.5 to get $300,000); who is going to give you that kind of money in this economy? Get serious. Greece is about to get booted out of the EU due to its economic problems; Spain seems to be okay for now. 911 TV programming ran all day here. 

Pics of Málaga at night.

Great new tile being laid downtown.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Gibralfaro Castle

In Saudi Arabia, a river is a wadi. In southern Spain, there are the Guadalmedina and Guadalguivir rivers, to name but two. Is that the same whada? Gibr (Heeber) seems to stand for hill. Al Faro means The Lighthouse. What does Gibraltar mean? The hill of the tar (Pillar of Hercules)? Anyway, I toured Gibralfaro Castle in Málaga today. Whew! Come on guys, nobody is going to invade you this high up the hill. Chill out!

[ Sorry folks, the Blogger system is going crazy on me so the captions may not line up with the pictures]

17th and 19th century unforms

18th Century uniforms

A 20th Century uniform and some 10 foot poles.

The fortress and the castle.

Two watch stations.

Two watch stations.


Catwalk (George, this is what happens when AutoCAD goes bad. LOL)

City view from way up here
And, finally a view of the gardens.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Málaga Train Station.
ELECTRIC TRAINS. One of the best technologies  ever. Why don't we have them in the US? The short distance train tops out at 160 km/h (100 mph); the long distance, at 250 km/h (155 mph). 2 1/2 hours from Málaga to Seville. Going uphill, no problem.Also, long tunnels through mountains. Arrive and depart exacty on time. Assigned seats (no seatbelts though). All luggage onboard in overhead shelves.

Cliffs and Orchards along the countryside.

Sevilla Train Station. 

Big churchs for big sinners or big worshipers. 
Reales Alcázares (Royal Fortresses)