Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Getting to know people and places.

I am making a determined effort to have what used to be called a "nodding acquaintance" with the people I see on a regular basis as I run around the area. Back in the UK it's accepted as fairly normal that when you are out walking in the countryside, you greet the people who cross your path, even if they are complete strangers. I have tried this here in Spain. It doesn't work quite so well. In neither country does it work as you walk around the streets. Here, it's fairly normal to greet the people you cross going in and out of the block of flats or the lift. Around the pool, you gradually get to "hola" and "hasta luego" but it takes a while to get much beyond that. 

However, running up the hill towards San Joan do Monte and round the back of our area, there are people I see every day who are gradually getting used to seeing me and quite literally nodding as I run past. The man who walks with a couple of orthopaedic sticks has got as far as "Hola, buenos días". There's a little old lady who walks a little old dog. As our paths have crossed on the threshold of the breadshop on an almost daily basis for a few weeks now, we have taken to exchanging a nod and a smile. Yesterday her little old dog was making slow progress across the road. I commented on this and she told me she, the dog, suffers from the heat. She has to put the fan on for her. "She's getting fat, the dog", she told me, "and she's grown old. As have I. Somos dos viejecitas." Two little old ladies, out in the morning, quite early before it gets too hot. 

Today we were coming to Pontevedra by train for the chess event. So my plan was to swim before breakfast and I stopped off to check the situation on my way back from buying breakfast bread. There was a padlock on the pool gate and a notice: Piscina cerrada por tratamiento de fluocación. So that was that. I have no idea what fluocación is but it put paid to my plans. 

Coming to Ponters by train was, on the whole, more pleasant than coming by car. Less sticky as the train was air-conditioned. I know you shouldn't look gift horses in the mouth. When someone offers you a lift, it is meant with the best of intentions but sometimes you need to find an excuse to turn it down. The tournament organisers have sorted out a bus to ferry people from the station to the posh school which is the playing venue. Very efficient. 

Phil is playing an Indian International Master today. In their pre-match chat the Indian IM told him he rarely plays in India any more. He ends up playing against promising youngsters who then steal his rating points if he loses to them. Phil explained he has exactly the same problem, at a rather lower level, here in Galicia. Such are the problems of chess players! 

It could be worse. I read about a Chinese tourist in Germany who had his wallet stolen. When he went to report it, speaking no German, he ended up filling in an application for asylum instead of a stolen property report. He ended up spending two weeks in a refugee centre. The mistake was discovered only when the German authorities, in desperation, asked the people from a local Chinese restaurant to interpret for them. 

A completely different way of getting to know a country! 

Later. Much cooler today both inside the chess venue and, as the afternoon wore on, outside. Phew! What a relief! The chess player put up a valiant struggle but eventually lost - said he messed up the endgame. So it goes!

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