Important Notice

Special captions are available for the humor-impaired.


Friday, July 13, 2007

Bikes and Books

I have been busy trying desperately to improve my Spanish via reading so I guess you could say that I’ve been boring. It is also too sunny and hot to do much bike touring right now. I’m not apologizing, that’s just the way it is.

Tour Update

If you haven’t been paying attention to this year’s Tour de France then tomorrow might be a good time to start as the Tour moves into the first mountain stage. This is usually where they separate the men from the boy, or at least it separates the guys who can compete at this torturous level through brutal mountain passes and those who are better at other cycling disciplines. One of the heavy pre-Tour favorites, Alexandre Vinoukorov, took a nasty fall yesterday 25K before the finish. Not only did he tear off about half of his ass and required stitches in his knee after the race, he also lost over a minute to the leaders. A tough break for the Astana team.

Even with all of the recent doping scandals in the sport I’m still a huge fan and the Tour de France has been a sacrament for me every year since I was still in high school. I don’t even need there to be a Lance Armstrong superhero in the race to spark my interest. Hell, I’ll even watch it in Spanish. Just call me hardcore.

Out of something like 190 riders in this year’s race, I counted over 50 Spanish participants. Last year’s winner was a Spaniard, if you forget about the hijo de puta, Floyd Landis. Interest in the race is pretty high in Spain but I haven’t found a cool place to watch the race. I just watch at home. It comes on at 15:45 every afternoon.


The rather bothersome task of learning Spanish is always with me. It’s like a boarder that I have taken on and follows me everywhere that I go. I have not sought out English conversation and I avoid the places where Brits and Americans hang out like the plague. I would like to have recorded some of my conversations in Spanish at different periods of my stay just to see how I have progressed (I assume that I am progressing). I am quite sure that my reading ability is improving greatly but I still find some novels that are too difficult for me to read. I am at a loss to fully explain why it is that I can read some novels almost without the use of a dictionary while with others it seems like every sentence is a struggle.

At this moment I am in the middle of two books. No Es País Para Viejos by Cormac McCarthy is his most recent novel in translation (No Country for Old Men I believe is the title). I know that it seems silly to read a translation of a book in English as there is so much Spanish literature to discover but I saw this at the library in the new books display and couldn’t resist. Anything that I read in Spanish is a great help to me in adding to my vocabulary and understanding of Spanish grammar besides that fact that he is one of my favorite contemporary authors. I have already read Spanish translations of The Crossing and All the Pretty Horses. He used so much Spanish in the originals in those two books that I think that they would be very irritating to read in English if you don’t have a fairly sizeable grasp of Spanish.

No Es País Para Viejos is set in Texas and for some reason it takes place in 1980. I have yet to figure out why he chose this particular year for the novel but I’m sure that will be revealed to me with time. The good news is that the book is not any sort of linguistic challenge for me in my adopted language and I have been reading 40 pages a day. The library has wireless internet so I can use http://www.wordrefence.com instead of my Spanish/English dictionary. I can type with one hand with the book in the other so I don’t even have to put it down while I search for an unfamiliar word.

I read the McCarthy novel at the library and at home I am reading Son de Mar (1999) by Manuel Vicent for which he was awarded El Premio Afaguara. I was wandering through the library stacks when I happened upon this novel. I read that the author is from these parts and after reading a few pages I quickly decided that I wanted to keep reading and that it is a novel that I am able to read—two important requirements. I was able to pick up an inexpensive paperback copy at the bookstore. My budget doesn’t allow me to buy every book that I want to read and the Cormac McCarthy novel on comes in an expensive hardback edition. I can’t get a library card so I have to read that book while I am there. I don’t mind going to the lovely library and it keeps me out of the scorching, mid-afternoon sun.

No comments:

Post a Comment

If you can't say something nice, say it here.