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Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Veraneando ( Summering)

It isn’t nearly as hot as it was only a week ago and I can actually hear the summer starting to wane just a bit every evening. There is a Mercadona grocery store across the street from my apartment and I can hear them close the shutters on the windows every evening promptly at 9:15. As we move into the middle of August it is almost completely dark at this hour when last month there was still almost an hour of daylight after they closed. These are the cues that the modern day urban naturalist picks up on to gauge the seasons of the year.

You can tell that it is summer by the faint amount of laundry that cycles through my washing machine. I think that I may have done one load in the last three weeks or so. The summer dress code in Valencia—at least for me—is decidedly casual: flip-flops, surf trunks, and soccer jerseys which usually follow me into a cold shower when I get back from a bike ride to the beach. There’s a bit of a water shortage so I’m just doing my part by killing two birds with one stone.

The few neighborhood cafes that have remained open in August get pretty full in the evenings as not everyone has left town. It seems that everyone that has stayed now has more idle time than usual so café card games flourish, dominos take on an added seriousness, and the extras chairs that are usually stacked against the wall are all in use.

Now that the heat has backed off considerably it has turned into fine reading weather. I have just started on my second spiral notebook as the first is now completely filled with the words that I had to look up in the dictionary. I already have three pages of new vocabulary and the list is growing rapidly as it seems that I am now reading faster and faster in Spanish. I read everything that I can get my hands on and this week at the flea market I got my hands on four new books. One of them is a lovely guide to the Valencia Community. These books go by the name of Eye Witness Guides in English and I have guides for Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, and London in English. They are called Guías Visuales in Spanish and I found this one for 4€, a real steal as they go for $25 or so new.

I also picked up a book by Yolanda Garcia Serrano called I always fall in love with the wrong man (Siempre Me Enamoro del Hombre Equivocado). I don’t make any apologies for what I read in Spanish as I think that I have to hit the language from as many different angles as possible and if I sometimes have to read a girlie book, then so be it. I am actually breezing right through it and enjoying it thoroughly. I do think that what I enjoy in Spanish is related to my ability to understand the work. I enjoyed the Pedro Almodóvar film, Todo Sobre mi Madre, but I don’t think that I would have sat through a film with a similar topic in English. I didn’t like Sex and the City but I’d probably watch it in Spanish in the name of learning. Beside, it’s summer. You are supposed to read lighter fare and watch silly movies.

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