ayo has big paella pans
like i'm still on vacation

cross-cultural alphabet

Let’s see, what can I dump into this catchall post featuring “highlights” from our time in Nerja?

Language is always interesting in Spain. I don’t know why … it’s not like I practice speaking Spanish between visits, and it had been four years this time around … but I’m mostly comfortable speaking now, comfortable with my mistakes, and thus far more fluid than I used to be. Sometimes one of my family would ask me about a specific word, and I would usually fail to be of assistance, but when I was talking, words just flowed without my actually thinking about them. It wasn’t perfect … I spoke to the immortal Ayo, told him my wife had been on Spanish TV with him in 2009, and said she was “famoso”. “Famosa”, he corrected. More often, problems would arise when the two parts of my brain got in each other’s way. As long as I was locked into Spanish, things were fine, but when my American roots showed, anything could happen. Once, I stopped in a tourist assistance office, looking for a pharmacy. “¿Dónde está la farmacia cerca de aquí?”, I asked, and was told “Calle Pintada”. I replied, “Oh yeah, we just passed it.” (The pharmacy was interesting, as well. I was looking for chewable Pepto Bismol, and had brought a couple along as samples. I wasn’t getting anywhere with “para el estómago” or “para la diarrea”, but then I said, “como Immodium”, and that turned out to be the magic word. “¡Immodium, sí!, and off she went to get the medicine.)

We didn’t have wi-fi at our apartment in Nerja, and maybe it was the regular posts I’d made the week before from Ronda, where we did have net access, but people seemed to be unaware that I’d be checking online sporadically, at best. I’d get online for five minutes at a café, check for important emails, maybe leave a quickie message on Google+ or Facebook, and people would ask where I’d been, as if I’d disappeared forever.

Food … I could write all day about the food. Lots of pork, nightly ice cream cones, Fanta Limón (it was hard to find Fanta Limón Zero, but I did come across Fanta Limón sin gas, which I didn’t try). I discovered a new-to-me tapa, masita de chorizo, little chorizo burgers, which were yummy, but I only saw them in Ronda.

We walked around a lot, which we always do, but this time, we had my sister, who was wearing something that counted her steps. She informed us that we walked 14,000 steps one day.

I made a note to myself to say something about “Johnson”, but now I can’t remember what that refers to.

I’ll finish with probably my two favorite stories from Nerja. One afternoon, we went to Cochran’s for drinks. It’s an Irish pub with a gorgeous view … I get the feeling it’s popular with the British ex-pats. We’re sipping our beverages of choice, looking at the Mediterranean, while piped in music played fairly softly in the background. I heard a song I recognized, although it threw me off for a bit, since it sounded like a remix rather than the original. It was Cee Lo Green’s hit, the one that had been edited for radio and TV as “Forget You”, but which before the editing was the much more emphatic “Fuck You”. Remix or not, it was “Fuck You” that we were hearing. The word “incongruous” comes to mind … sitting in an Irish pub on the Spanish Costa del Sol, hearing “Fuck You” as we drank.

But my favorite of all moments on this trip came when we were at El Pulguilla, which was a tapas bar in the front and a restaurant in a huge outdoor eating patio in the back. Our waiter was quite charming … and here I should stop to note that whenever the whole bunch of us was together, there would be a mélange of halfway-decent Spanish, English-with-a-couple-of-Spanish-words, and the occasional effective use of pointing at the menu from our crowd, while the waiters generally had enough English to get by. This waiter’s English was pretty good, perhaps better than he realized, although, as would be seen, he also took some pride in his English. We asked for the wi-fi password, and he said something that sounded like “bah-tee-cah-no”. I told everyone it was spelled B-A-T-I-C-A-N-O, and we went to work, but no one could get connected. He repeated the password, but still nothing. So he wrote it down … and in Spanish, the letter “v” is pronounced very much like a “b”. The password he wrote was “vaticano”.

Now everyone was connected, and we all had a laugh at our expense. At which point he smiled, and proceeded to recite the alphabet to us in English: “ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ!”

It was delightful. We enjoyed our meal, and later, when he stopped to check on us, I said, “un momento”. And then I added: “a, b, c, ch, d, e, f, g, h, i, j, k, l, ll, m, n, ñ, o, p, q, r, rr, s, t, u, v, w, x, y, z!”

The waiter and I then congratulated each other for doing our part to improve international relations.

Here we all are at the end of the meal, photo taken by our waiter:

seven at la pulguilla