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Tuesday, February 10, 2004


I guess that it's Tuesday. It is around noon; a good time to catch up on this thing. Since my last post we have visited the palace of El Escorial and a huge monument built by Franco to honor those who fell in the Spanish civil war, went to the stadium in Madrid to watch Real Madrid beat Málaga, had a Mexican dinner at Marta and Jacobo?s house, took the bullet train from Madrid to Seville, and walked all over hell and back here in Seville.

This is shaping up into one of the best trips I have ever taken. As soon as Jacobo mentioned that there was a bullet train to Seville I knew that I would have to take it. We mentioned that we were planning to visit either nearby (to Madrid) Segovia or Toledo. Jacobo and Marta said that they were nice but Seville is the true treasure. I am glad for their suggestion because the train ride alone was remarkable. It cost 104 Euros for the round trip. The train covers about 538 kilometers (334 miles) in two hours and twenty minutes with one stop in Cordoba?that is 230-kph average speed. The train is so smooth that there are no ripples in your coffee when you let it sit on the bar.

Our Spanish hosts also scored us tickets to the Real Madrid match. The Madrid team is so stacked it isn't even funny: Zidane, Raul, Ronaldo, and David Beckham. Ronaldo had his goal (es una maquina "he is a machine" a barman told me). On a penalty kick Beckham, the usual choice to take it, stepped aside to let Roberto Carlos fire a torpedo that went in the goal. People in Seville are talking about that goal three days later. Madrid plays Seville tomorrow night so it will be fun to watch the game here. Call this my soccer hooligan vacation.

My Spanish is improving by leaps and bounds. Sunday evening at the dinner party I felt relaxed and actually made a lot of jokes in Spanish. I think it is OK to plagiarize myself so I used my joke about Vicente Fernandez, a Mexican folk singer. As I said, the dinner party theme was Mexico so Jacobo was playing a CD of Vicente. I am a huge fan of Vicente and I told the guests that all of his songs are sad. Women are always dying from stray bullets in shootouts defending their honor but an even bigger tragedy is when a guy?s horse dies.

The biggest reason to follow soccer while we are here is that you have something to bullshit about with the restaurant people. I see it all as part of a cultural literacy I have to catch up on when I travel. I have also watched a lot of TV in the hotel when I get in late every night. Last night I watched the very retarded Shallow Hal dubbed into Spanish. I would never watch a dumb ass movie like that in English but I can justify it as a learning aid in Spanish. Just about everything I do here I can justify as a learning experience.

The train has its own magazine and I came across a great article by a wonderful Spanish writer, Susana Fortes. The article, Trenes de Memoria, said that the world is divided between two kinds of people: those who wave back at little kids who wave at trains and those who don?t. The only problem is that when you are going 230-kph you can?t even see little kids waving at you. I picked up Susana?s (a total babe from looking at her picture on the jacket) first novel, Querido Corto Maltes, which I have begun reading.

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