Thursday, July 7, 2011

Austin to Málaga July 2011 week 1

For my non-Spanish-speaking friends Calle (KAH-yeh) means Street. Calle Larios (I call it La Rambla, nobody else does) is actually Calle Marqués de Larios (mahrKEHS DEH LAHdeeohs). Calle Victoria is actually Calle de la Victoria. Life is too short for the long version of these names.
Here are some pictues of Málaga´s Rambla, Calle Larios.

The internet cafe is working great but I want to be able to access the web whenever I please. Marsea (María), my lady friend in Palma de Mallorca, had told me about I went there looking for an old computer and found one for 100€. The young man and his wife selling it were originally from Czechoslovakia. They have been here over 5 years. Their daughter has moved up to a laptop (portátil). He spoke pretty good Spanish and answered a phone call in Czech (I guess). He wanted to come to the US but never got a visa and eventually gave up trying. Yep, I know that tune.

I´m having a fun time typing this on the computer with its Spanish keyboard. Now, I´ve got to break myself of the habit of using hotkey combinations. Here, Ctrl+A (select all) is Ctrl+E (Seleccionar todo). Saving is done using Ctrl-G (Guardar), not Ctrl+F, S (File, Save).

I found a real grocery store near El Corte Inglés. It is called Eroski, the same name as the smaller neighborhood grocery store near my apartment. I bought a radio/CD player and a bunch of little things (razors, cologne, and the like). Eventually, everything costs the same, that is, some things are more expensive and some less expensive. If you get there with a bag, you have to seal it inside their seal-a-meal type bag. Good idea. No charge for this bag.

The apt building has A – one – clothes washer. It’s free. I had to go on the web and find out how to use it! It is a Bluesky BLF 1009/1 (I´m not making this up, folks, it could be the engineer´s license plate number). It is a front loader and has 20 programs, and no where does it say what any program does! Or, how long it takes. The washer turns the clothes clockwise, stops, turns them counter-clockwise, stops, and repeats. It took 2 hours! There is no clothes dryer. I had to hang my laundry outside. BTW, those are my 3 balconies in the pictures. I ¨americanised¨ the clothes lines; they zigzagged originally, now they run parallel. This should have been done once and the benefit reaped thereafter. Das ist the American Standard, or maybe I´m Obsessive and Compulsive.

A sign was posted in the lobby regarding trash disposal. The building will be fined if garbage is left out in the street. Great idea! Dogs and cats could tear into it and spread it around. No mention of where to discard it though. I found 3 bins (trash, glass recycling, and organics) 2 blocks away. I couldn´t help it, so I added that info to the sign. Das ist the American Standard – no, I´m definitely OC.

Sanitas, the medical insurance company, said they would reimburse me the unused portion of my prepaid one-year medical plan by payment to a Spanish bank. I opened an account with no problems at all, didn´t even need to seed it with any money. I declined the credit card. But now I can put some money in there and have Sanitas debit it to pay for a dental plan for 3 months (9€/month, $13/month). Too bad I had to have a wisdom tooth pulled before I left (at $350), it would have been done here for free.

Here´s a new term: Vado Permanente. Keep Clear. Vado means Ford, like the landing/loading zone on a river (I guess?). So this means No Parking In Driveway. Also, Blue Jeans are Vaqueros (cowboys). I´ve only heard the Vosotros used twice, when ladies were talking to kids; I know it is more common up north, where the people have a higher education level in Castillian Spanish. Speaking of education levels in Spanish, I was considering buying a fan – the store clerk showed me that the shop next door carried ´abanicos´ (handheld fans that ladies use in church and at bullfights); next time I’ll ask for a ¨ventilador¨ instead. Also, Derecho is Right and Recto is Straight.

I have seen a few minor ¨building code violations¨, but nothing major (like missing manhole covers in Ecuador). Here, an occasional brick has been dislodged from a street or sidewalk. The street cleaning machine comes by every night and the city sanitation department has people out all day sweeping up. HOWEVER, people walk their dogs, let them do their business, and don´t clean up after them. Damn. I wish someone would jail them.

Ojos borados. I´m not sure how to translate this. Pale colored eyes? I´ve seen these in blue, green, and brown. It’s like water colors. You know it is not possible, but you get the feeling that they are looking right through you. Almost half of the heads at any given time are light brown or blond. Also, almost half of the people here smoke; I think a pack of cigarettes costs 8€; wow, man that´s $12! I quit last October, not because of the price, I was getting out-of-breath easily.

Non-stop shopping (versus one-stop shopping). My latest quest is to get a modem for home internet access. The local cell phone company, Movistar, provides the USB plugin antenna for free but requires an NIE (Número de Identificación para Extranjeros, i.e., Foreigner´s ID#) for the 15€ basic month-to-month, no contract service. I hoofed it to the Comisaría de Policías and got the 2 forms to fill out. Tomorrow I have to pay the 16€ at my local bank (why there? dunno), and return the forms along with a copy of every single page from my passport to the Comisaría. Then I can return to Movistar and get my modem and start my service. How many stops was that?

I fill out the forms and make the copies. Now, I wait until my bank opens tomorrow.

The lady at my Unicaja bank branch can´t accept my 16€. I need a NIF to get a NIE. Crud. Back at the Comisería, the man says to use the Unicaja bank branch next door. The lady there got it done without a NIF. Ay. Okay, where´s my NIE? The Comisaría´s system is showing me living in Manilva since May; I should apply for my NIE in Estepona. (WHAT? Nooo. I gave up waiting for my visa in May) Well, okay, I guess we can give you your NIE here. Come pick it up next Thursday. (God grant me patience, and hurry!).

Here’s a picture of a tree and a huge steam engine. Both are on the walk to the Comisería de Policías on Avenida Andalucía (an extension of Alameda Principal). The police station is on the street that intersects this Avenue, Virgen de la Cabeza. I´m biting my tongue to keep from making an off-color remark. I think this means The Lead (or Foremost) Virgen.

Why is it so humid here? Oh, because we are right on the Mediterranean Sea. Here´s a picture of a cruise ship just off the Alameda Principal and Calle Larios (my Rambla). BTW, right behind me is a McDonalds and next door is a Burger King. I didn’t come here to eat American food. The local food is terrific!


  1. It's fun to read about all your first impressions of Spain! I agree it is a shame that American fast food chains and Starbucks have taken over just as much over there. And the food is even worse! Are cigs really 8 euros? They were between 3-4 euros when I left. Glad you were able to open a bank account, for some reason I was denied one! You should go to Mercadona if there is one near you, it was my favorite grocery store/place to get toiletries.

  2. Good info. Thanks, Sarah. (Hmmm, it looks like one has to sign in at the top,right before typing in a comment in order to post it)

  3. Correction: a pack of cigarettes is 3,80€. That´s still over 5 bucks.