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Friday, November 24, 2006


I couldn’t find a place to live so I had to go the more expensive route and extend my stay where I am now. I hate to be rushed when I am apartment shopping. I usually try to look at no less than 15-20 places to make comparisons and find the best deal. I have a couple more weeks to look.

It doesn’t get completely light here until after 8 in the morning so it doesn’t really pay to get up any earlier. I get up, make a little pot of espresso, turn on my computer, turn on the TV, and sit down to write and learn Spanish. I try to overdose on listening to Spanish, every day, all day, to the point that I won’t even listen to music unless it is in that language. I haven’t spoken a word of English since my brother left last Sunday. My listening comprehension has improved noticeably in the two weeks that I’ve been here.

I am already addicted to a couple of morning cooking shows. In two different programs I like how they get ordinary people to participate. They either teach them a dish to cook or let them whip up their own favorite. Not only do they show the cooking process but they also film the people as they go to the market to do the shopping. Daily shopping is such a big part of people’s lives here that it would seem disingenuous to leave out this essential element to dining.

After the shopping and cooking is completed, they show the ordinary person’s ordinary friends show up for the meal. My dream is to be featured on one of these programs. I could cook something Mexican and blow these amateurs right out of the water. The menus that they feature have been fairly simple so far, but I find the shows to be a gold mine for learning Spanish.

I have been shopping at the Mercado Central in the downtown whenever I am in the area. I still haven’t dove into the huge amount of seafood available here in Valencia but that will be my next big dish. On one of today’s programs they made seared bonito (I first learned the name of this years ago in Spanish and don’t know the exact translation. It is some form of tuna, I believe) with a sauce of onions, honey, and tomato. Easy enough but I may have to try a seafood paella next.

I watched Y Tu Mamá Tambien last night without the benefit of subtitles. I first saw this movie at a theater and was fairly blown away by the rapid-fire Spanish spoken by the two central male characters. I have since brushed up on my Spanish profanity and this time around I understood probably 90% of the movie. Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of movies in Spanish. The dubbed films are a lot harder for me to follow. Los Simpsons is also kind of a ball-buster at this point in my learning curve.

It has been raining to the point of flooding in most parts of Spain while this part of the Mediterranean coast has enjoyed day after day of sunshine and warm weather. I was starting to feel a little rundown yesterday, but after spending the afternoon running around doing errands I think that my flu bug—or whatever it was—forgot all about me. You could get away with wearing short sleeves—even at night.

It’s time to head out and go look for a place to live. Right next to my bus stop there is a café where I will have a café cortado (espresso) and read the paper. To be truthful, there is a café next to damn near everything here in Spain. There must be a thousand of them in Valencia. It is hard to imagine that you could ever be farther than a single block from a place where you can stop to get a coffee or a beer.

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