My library card arrived on Friday. I think I mentioned that in my last entry. Because I was in Málaga, and because Monday was a holiday (or rather, Sunday was a holiday, and here in Spain if a holiday falls on a weekend, they extend it to a weekday, too), I didn’t get a chance to use it until yesterday. And I successfully acquired a copy of Terry Pratchett’s Mascarada and an anthology of Spanish sci-fi. And I did it all by myself (besides asking where the library was). Well, that’s not entirely true. I did ask for help several times, but I asked Strangers, rather than people who are paid to interact with me – which, if you think about it, a lot of the people who I deal with are. Of course, if you really want to split hairs, the library staff are paid to interact with the library patrons, of which I technically am one, but we’re going to ignore that for the purposes of this argument. And unlike the time I tried to get a local library card at school, I did not need to go home at any point and get more identification; my passport was sufficient (though, mind you, I had about six other pieces if that wasn’t enough). And it was successfully delivered to my residence (when I applied, they asked for my domicilio. I have two addresses, the one where I receive mail and the one where I live, and since there were only two lines, and my receive-mail address is a lot longer than that, I gave them my where-I-live address. I later learned that they would send me the card through mail; if this had occurred to me I would probably have tried to fit my receive-mail address onto the two lines, because my name isn’t on the apartment mailbox, and I wasn’t actually sure that it would arrive. But it did. And I figured how to take out books (there is no browsing room for adult novels; you have to look them up on the online catalog and request them from the room behind the library desk with slips of paper. I would really have preferred a system where I could look at the books before taking them out, but a public library is a lot cheaper than bookstores here, so I won’t complain), and successfully managed to get the right two books (the librarian originally fetched me a sci-fi collection and La Mascara de la Revolucion, or something similar, which, while it looked somewhat interesting, was also giant; about three inches thick, and not actually the book I wanted). I’m still a little bit confused about the children’s section; there seemed to be a notice that only youth under 14 can take out books, but I only saw that after I gave the librarian a request for a book with an asignatura for a children’s book, and she told me that I could go upstairs and get it myself. But I didn’t see any books by that author at all. I’ll figure that out next time. Maybe I was accidentally searching the wrong part of the catalog.
As far as reading, the going is a bit slow, and I have the distinct impression that I’m not picking up on stuff, but I’m hopeful that this will get better.
I was in Málaga last weekend. It wasn’t actually warm enough to do beach things, although the weather was nice (albeit windy). Also, the sand in Málaga is a dark charcoal grey, which I found to be distinctly odd. I’ll post pictures later if any of them came out decently. At any rate, we visited with Pepi’s sister and brother-in-law (cuñado), staying in Pepi’s second apartment, which was right next door. I found this to be odd; while I had been told that having a second house is much more common in Spain, it hadn’t sunk in on the level that a single working woman with two children in their twenties would have a second apartment, but she does; apparently her father bought the two apartments years ago for his daughters. We spent a lot of time at the cuñado and hermana’s country house; a small house up in the hills with a small garden where they grow their own fruit and a view of the ocean (or at least, a possibility of a view of the ocean. I could tell that the ocean was there, but only after it was pointed out to me). There was a great deal of family, and I soon gave up any pretense of keeping track of names or relationships. I made the mistake or the smart move to ingratiate myself with the children; while I never lacked for company, I was never far from the cries of, “Miriam, Miriam, ¿jugamos? ¿La que nos enseñaste ayer, de esconditos?” I tried to teach them sardines, but since the four-year old wouldn’t hide or seek by himself, it was more of a slightly altered version of hide-and-go seek. I rediscovered the possibilities of Mother, May I? to occupy small children for hours, and was taught a game called “colores” which I played several rounds of before discovering that the overall goal of the game was to move forwards. This is liable to happen when you’re having a game explained to you by a seven-year-old, particularly in a language other than your own.
I discovered, to my displeasure, that there are mosquitoes in Spain. They live in Málaga, and Spanish mosquitos are larger, and fly with a whine like a bomber, or a dozen distant dentists drilling. It’s possible to sit in a quiet room and listen to the mosquito fly around, not just when it’s close to your head. There are a lot of flies in Málaga, too. (There are, of course, no screens in Málaga. Luckily the mosquitos don’t seem to be as adept as American mosquitoes, and I wasn’t aware of any at the country house (perhaps they’re too heavy to fly in elevations higher than sea-level?).)
While Málaga was very nice, it also made we aware of how lucky we are in our natural spaces in the states; while Pepi raved about how “muy de pueblo” the countryside was, I couldn’t help but notice how much smog there was (and it wasn’t just clouds; I asked, and she said that it’s often like that, at least in part because of pollution) – I could hardly see over to the other side of a valley.
I got along very well with the cuñado; we had a running joke about him being a Jack-of-all-trades, and the fact that there is no work in Spain because he’s doing everything. After we got back, I was surprised to hear Pepi describe her brother-in-law as “serio,” serious, to Ana.
They grow mangos in Málaga. I had the best mango I’ve ever eaten Friday night. (I also had some so-so mango later, and remembered while I sometimes think that I don’t like mangos.)
I’m taking a bookbinding course; I folded close to a ream of paper last week, and have my next class tomorrow morning. I hope that I’m done folding. While I know that the folding is important, it gets a bit repetitive.
I’m in the chorus, and taking individual voice lessons. I’m learning how to breathe properly (I’m told that we’ll sing actual music the week after next). It’s a lot of work, but I can tell that I’m getting a better sound already. And the teacher says that I have a good voice. I personally thought so, but it’s nice to have my belief confirmed by a professional.
I’m also taking guitar classes. Last week we played something that sounded almost like a song. Or at least, like it would sound like a song if we practiced another zillion times. I should practice a few more times before class tomorrow night.
There are no bagels in Spain, which makes me very sad. I didn’t particularly expect that there would be bagels in Spain, since there aren’t really any Jews in Spain, either (though I think that I saw a synagogue when we were driving back from Málaga), but I was hopeful. I mean, they do have cream cheese; what do they put it on if not bagels (and don’t tell me “rice balls,” I can’t imagine that they have glutenous rice, either)? It’s odd that the food-thing I would miss most is a bread product in this land of wonderful, marvelous bread, but it is.