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dreaming about change while on vacation

Many people try to visit as many places as possible during a vacation. We are far more boring than that. We go to the same places, and stay in one place long enough to get a feel, no matter how limited, of what it is like to live there. Of the two places we visit in Southern Spain, we spend the lion's share of the time in Nerja. It is here that we get to know the man who runs the mini-mart across the street, and the waitress at the café where we often stop for breakfast. We get the illusion of being residents, and sometimes we fantasize about living here after Robin retires.

But vacations are not the same as daily life. Vacations are where you escape from daily life. So no matter how many times we stay in Nerja (six and counting), we don't really know what it would be like to live here.

On vacation, we can eat out two or three times a day. On vacation, we can splurge on an apartment with a deck that overlooks the Mediterranean, and listen to the waves at night. On vacation, we forget for a few weeks about bills and work and the things that stress us out. Yes, they will be there when we return, but until then, it's all good. (And It's a sign of our privileged life that we can afford this in the first place.)

So I'm not sure that vacations are an accurate barometer of how it would be to live where we now only visit. It's not the basic things ... seventeen years ago, when we first came to Nerja, I thought the hardest part of being there would be the language barrier, but I seem to have overcome this, at least well enough to get by. No, the hardest part would be having a daily life in Nerja instead of a vacation. I still don't know what that would be like.

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ancestors

Yesterday, we made a day trip to Estepona, about 90 miles down the coast west from Nerja, which is where our Spanish grandparents were from. Between the traffic and the problem finding parking, it took us about two hours to get to the Oficina de Turismo, where we thought we could perhaps access digital records to find information, particularly about our grandfather, whose life in Spain is largely unknown to us. A woman there directed us to El Archivo Municipal de Estepona, where a man named Alfredo Galán could help us.

It was a hot walk at the wrong time of the day, so we stopped halfway there for some food and beverages. Eventually we arrived at the archive, where Sr. Galán was well known ... I barely got through my explanation for why we were there when the woman at the front desk said we needed to talk to him. He came out and led us back to his office.

We sat down at his desk, and I said my grandparents were from Estepona. Before I could continue, he interjected, "Hawaii". Apparently all those stories about  the migration of the Andalusians to Hawaii are true! Yes, I said, the first place they went from Spain was Hawaii, to live and work.

I told him my grandfather's name was Miguel Rubio y Peña. He said both names, Rubio and Peña, are very common in the area, so finding Grandpa's parents might not be easy. The bigger problem is that they have good archives from the middle of the 19th century (can't remember the exact years), but there is a big chunk of time between then and early 20th century where there is nothing. He kept bringing up the Civil War, but I don't know that there is a connection between the war and the missing archives. His English was close to non-existent, and he thought highly enough of my Spanish that he happily jabbered on, assuming I knew what he was saying. I did ok, but I wouldn't trust me on the Civil War stuff.

Ultimately, we learned very little, but at least now we know who The Man is for Estepona archives. He was extremely nice, and as helpful as possible under the circumstances. He gave us his work email and phone number, saying if we ever dug up more info, to let him know, because it would all add to the possibility of tracking down our family.

I've posted these before. Here is the front and back of the ticket for the ship that took my grandparents from Hawaii to San Francisco in 1917.

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time zones

For some reason, I am noticing the time zone differences more on this trip than I have in the past. (Now that I say this, I imagine if I looked through blog posts from past vacations, I'd find myself saying the same thing.) This is most notable in two areas, real-time communications and sporting events.

The former is affected by the way we have come to communicate in our ordinary lives. Simply put, we do a lot more real-time conversations than we used to, not just texting, but also video chats and the like. It barely matters any longer that phone calls are prohibitively expensive. Sprint now gives data and text from other countries for free (they do offer faster speeds for $25/week, and while the extra speed isn't exactly overwhelming, it's worth the price). But it's one thing to go real-time when you are in the same time zone, quite another when there is a nine hour difference. (Spain is also an hour different from much of Europe, which creates a similar problem.) If I want to go real-time now, I have to figure out what time it is back home. There's no use trying to start a chat if it's 2:00 AM where the other person lives.

As for sporting events, European soccer is odd precisely because I'm in the "right" time zone. Yesterday, I watched Liverpool live at 6:30 in the evening, which seemed weird, because at home in Berkeley, that same match was on at 9:30 in the morning (I think... it's confusing). Baseball works in the other direction... a Giants day game begins around 10:00 at night.

None of this is particularly important, of course. But it all points to the ways a vacation in another time zone discombobulates long past the time jet lag is over.

I'll add a photo, one of the better ones I've taken here. Because Spain is on their own time zone, things don't always happen when I expect them to. It stays light out until a time that would seem odd in Berkeley, which matches the way people eat here (if you start dinner before, say, 9:00, you give yourself away as a tourist). It also takes a long time for morning to arrive. This picture was taken at 9:38 in the morning:

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still in nerja

We have made this Ronda/Nerja trip many times, now ... 2000, 2003, 2007, 2009, 2013, and now 2017. We love it or we wouldn't do it, but neither of the cities have changed much over the years, so if I took lots of pictures, they wouldn't look different from all the ones from the past. We've also done the usual touristy things multiple times, and eventually even the Alhambra and the Caves of Nerja lose their appeal. So I check in on Facebook when we go out to eat, and post the occasional photo. Like this one, the view from our balcony:

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And this one, of our street, Calle Carabeo:

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music friday: willie and lucinda

On this date in 2004, we saw Willie Nelson and Lucinda Williams. We'd seen Lucinda many times, but this was the only time we saw Willie. I wrote about it at the time, and since I'm in Spain, I'm going to cheat and just offer a link to that post, along with a few excerpts.

Her set was sloppy in a good way ... I don't suppose she was drunk, but she was so much looser than we'd ever seen her that the thought crossed our minds. You see, Robin and I love Lucinda Williams and have been going to see her for many years now, but what carries her concerts is her songs ... she isn't exactly a dynamic performer. But tonight? She talked before every song, she seemed to be making up the setlist as she went along, she told stories, and she really tore into the songs, especially "Still I Long For Your Kiss." At the end of the night, after closing with "Get Right With God," she planted mushy kisshugs on each of the band members, even climbing through the drumset to get to the drummer. Meanwhile, she wore a CBGBs t-shirt, showed off her tattoo, and generally had a raucous good time, which I never thought I'd say about Lucinda Williams. ...

It's kinda odd seeing a legend ... I spent the first few minutes just staring at him, thinking "man, there he is, Willie Nelson, it's really him." Actually, even before he came out, we were staring at a legend: his guitar, which sat on its stand as the roadies set things up. If you've never seen it, it's the damnedest thing  ...

Willie played for about an hour and 45 minutes. Never having seen him before, I can only go by what I read, but it seemed like a standard set, with most of the classics. At one point he did an extended medley of "'Funny How Time Slips Away/Crazy/Night Life," and I yelled at Robin, "it's like he wrote every song in history!" But then he did other people's songs, songs that we identify with him, like "Always on My Mind" and "Georgia on My Mind," and you realize if there's a song he didn't write, he's probably sung it at some point, anyway. The weird thing was, he did songs across a wide variety of styles, and every time you thought "he fits right in" or "he makes this his own" or "I think he invented this." So there was the countrypolitan "Crazy" and a rockin' version of "Me and Bobby McGee," there was the gospel of "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and the vocal classics like "Always on My Mind," there was a handful of Hank Williams songs and "Milk Cow Blues." And Willie Nelson always sounded like he and the song belonged together. I'm not saying he was bringing something new to the table tonight ... he's sung most of these songs literally thousands of times. But they fit him like a snug hemp sweater. ...

When Lucinda was done with her set, she gave a pretty long speech about what performing meant to her. I swear, I thought she was gonna cry ... we really have never seen her like she was tonight. She said she'd been doing this for 30 years, and she's finally figuring out why people like Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan and B.B. King keep playing and playing and playing, no matter how old they get. She told us that you can't put a price on the gratification you get when you can perform your songs for an appreciative audience. She just seemed so thankful to be able to do what she did. And her words resonated with me as I watched Willie Nelson sing "On the Road Again" for the three billionth time ... this is what he does, and you can't put a price on it.

As a bonus, here's Lucinda and Willie singing her "Over Time":

 


throwback thursday: once more with feeling

Ten years tonight, we went to a public showing of Once More, With Feeling. In the spirit of "I'm in Spain, right now", I'll post some excerpts from what I wrote at the time.

We went in a bit before midnight, got some popcorn, and were given our “goodie bag” (Sara, I got an extra for you!). In the bag was: a kazoo (I forget what it was for), bubbles (for Dawn’s ballet), vampire teeth (no reason, they just thought we should have some), a finger puppet (so we could hold it in the air and move it across the sky, while singing the “Grrrr Arrgh” part), and one of those poppers that shoot streamers and make the air smell like cap pistols have gone off (reason to be explain in a bit). Robin actually got half-a-dozen of the poppers, for no reason we could figure outside of luck. ...

The crowd had a great time, although audience participation wasn't as goofy as I'd expected. I think this might have been because there was a group acting out the scenes on stage in front of the screen, Rocky Horror-style, which was entertaining but may have encouraged us to watch more than act out ourselves. The highlight of this came in the notorious "Under Your Spell," the video to which I linked yesterday. This is the song Tara sings about her love for Willow, which concludes with Willow off-screen, apparently performing some juicy acts between Tara's legs. The actresses playing the two onstage had quite a lot of fun showing us what didn't make it to the screen, as "Willow" pulled one piece of undergarment after another from "Tara" to wild screams of delight from the crowd. At the precise moment (can't say "climax," that's kinda the point) when the screen cut away from Tara, as instructed, we all shot off our poppers. Streamers filled the air as we celebrated Tara's sweet release.

The rest of the episode was more of the same, people acting out the parts on stage, us in the audience singing along. Whenever Dawn said anything, we all yelled out "SHUT UP, DAWN!" The highlights from the onstage actors were what you'd expect, the hottest numbers from the "real" version: Anya's heavy-metal "Bunnies" interlude and her dance with Xander in the middle of "I'll Never Tell," Buffy trying to dance herself to self-immolation in "Something to Sing About."

The latter song was in some ways the most interesting of the night. Despite the aggressively campy nature of the sing-a-long, when "Something to Sing About" arrived, I was sucked in as I always am. Sarah Michelle Gellar isn't a singer, not the way Anthony Head is, or Amber Benson or James Marsters or the surprising Emma Caulfield. She can carry a tune, but her flat voice lacks projection, which makes Buffy more hesitant-sounding in this episode than is usual. But for this big number, Gellar uses that flatness to great effect, forcing us to listen carefully to her big revelation, that her friends had pulled her out of heaven when they brought her back to life. I'm just a sucker for that moment, or rather, moments: the way she talk-sings "I think I was in heaven," the looks on the faces of the Scoobies as they realize the import of what she has just stated, the death-wish dance that follows, Spike the vampire stopping her to sing "Life’s not a song, life isn’t bliss, life is just this, it’s living.... You have to go on living, so one of us is living." I always get choked up, which isn't quite the point at 2 in the morning at a goofy sing-a-long.

Here's a picture of us in line before the show:

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cop car (john watts, 2015)

Robin wasn't feeling well, so I found the one channel that is in English on the TV (Paramount). One bad movie after another. I watched Cop Car with her. Kevin Bacon is a bad cop, Shea Whigham is a bad guy, and there are two young boys who are goofing around and take the titular cop car on a joy ride. The beginning, when the boys are having fun, is lightly entertaining, but once Kevin Bacon turns up, the tone fluctuates uneasily between fun and more serious matters. Since I'm writing this on my phone, and since the movie was nothing special, I'll keep this short. 6/10.