Friday, 29 June 2012

Spanish Practices.

Well, the intrepid explorers made it to Portonovo and just a little beyond this morning, without mishap and without climbing over or sliding down any rocky places. Quite a relief really! We gave up walking much further than the Playa de Caneliñas because in the end one pretty bay is much like another and besides we wanted to be back in time for lunch. The water was a very nice shade of turquoise though. 
Just above the Playa de Caneliñas was this statue of a working woman, carrying a tray of something on her head. Whether it was meant to be fish or bread or some other kind of merchandise I have no idea. There was no explanation. She is certainly striding out very purposefully and I do know that until not too long ago it was fairly standard for the women of this area to carry stuff around on their heads. 

On the way back I spotted this sign announcing ice for sale. Now, this is not an old, decrepit sign. It looks fairly recent and it’s not the first I’ve seen this summer. Do people still buy ice in this age of electronic devices in every kitchen? Perhaps they do. After all many people still have gas delivered to their houses in great orange canisters, as this lorry full of such canisters shows. 
I include this photo as well for my friend Colin who likes to point out the odd parking habits of the Spanish. The lorry on the corner spot is yet another example. These are just things that you don’t usually get to see in the UK. 

I also saw a cafe with a notice stating: "Prohibida la entrada sin camiseta" - No entry without your T-shirt.  This reminded me of all the men sitting outside pubs in the Uk or in pub gardens with their T-shirts off and their tattoos on show. Not acceptable behaviour here in Spain.

Every so often you get reminders of just how foreign Spain still is. This afternoon I went to buy aspirin. What I hadn’t noticed was the sign outside the shop was for a “Parafarmacia” and not a “Farmacia”. The “parafarmacia” can’t sell you medicines, not even aspirin or paracetamol. I find this strange in a country where everyone’s mother knows a remedy for just about every ailment going. And so I had to hunt around until I found a “proper” chemist. Goodness knows how the Spanish react when they go to England and find you can buy painkillers in the supermarket or even in the corner shop. 

I am reading more Isabel Allende, this time one of her long novels, “Hija de la Fortuna”. At one point one of her characters, Tao Chi’en, a Chinese medicine man (for want of a better way to describe him), is in San Francisco in the 1850s, at the time of the gold rush. He comments on the immigrant population: “Allí nadie era lo que parecía, el estibador del muelle podía ser un aristócrata latinoamericano y el cochero un abogado de Nueva York”. Roughly translated: “There no-one was what they seemed, the stevedore at the quayside could be a Latin American aristocrat and the coachman a New York lawyer”. So the situation of immigrant workers hasn’t really changed much! 

Tonight we have a “cena especial”, a special dinner for the chess players. I will report on what wonderful food they give us. Then at the weekend we get to watch Italy and Spain hammer it out in the final of the European Cup. Spain had better win; after all Rafa Nadal has just been knocked out Wimbledon! Who would have expected that at this early stage? We watched Italy make fairly short work of the Germans last night. The Germans fought hard but didn’t make it. I almost feel better about the English team losing to Italy on penalties now. At least we didn’t actually concede any goals UNTIL the penalties. 

On the subject of penalties, I am going to have to ask someone to add the word to the Spanish dictionaries with an accent on the E so that the Spanish commentators, professional and in the bar, can stop mispronouncing “pEnalties” as “penAlties”. Normal Spanish rules of pronunciation put the emphasis on that next to the last syllable but its beginning to annoy me. I know the English have no room to talk. It annoys me just as much when I hear an English person say “no problemo” or pronounce “machismo” (ch as in church) as if it were an Italian word “maKismo”. And then there's Picasso's painting Guernika which the English often pronounce with the emphasis on the first syllable!

That’s it. Rant over. Time to go and get dressed up for the “cena especial”.


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