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Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I’m Done but I’m Not Leaving the Frying Pan

A corner fruit and vegetable shop.

I have been thinking of that story about frogs which may be apocryphal for all that I know, the one that says if you put a frog in water and then raise it to a boil it won’t notice the gradual rise in temperature and it will cook. The same sort of thing has happened to me as far as integrating into Spanish life. I think that I am thoroughly cooked without really ever noticing. I think I am a goner as far as ever being able to go back and live any sort of normal life in the USA, but it's not like I ever had one of those anyway, a normal life, that is. I am quickly coming up on my third year in Valencia. It seems like the blink of an eye and a lifetime all in the same thought.

It’s not like I take my life here in Spain for granted, quite the opposite. I marvel at so many things every single day. The problem is that I am used to the state of marvel and I don’t know if I could live without it now. Just try and take it away from me and there could be trouble. Take the corner green grocers here (but don’t take them from me if you know what’s good for you). These fruit and vegetable shops are found on almost every block here in Valencia and I have grown quite fond of them. I can’t help but look into every one that I pass as I cycle around the city. I compare produce and prices and I am always on the lookout for good tomatoes or anything else that looks interesting. Right now we are entering the mushroom season. When I get a bit of free time I will make a risotto with these great mushrooms called revollones.

I have taken my Spanish a little for granted and haven’t been working on it as diligently as I normally do. I did find an audio book of Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth in Spanish. Although it is read in one of those funky computer voices, the story itself is marvelous for an audio book. It is just great story telling and I understand about 98% I would say. I don’t know how I have learned so much of the vocabulary necessary in a story about a medieval stone mason but I have somehow, I even know the vocabulary for all of the esoteric tools—I doubt I know the names for many in English. I have just begun doing a language exchange in which I teach English and Spanish and in return my Moroccan friend teaches me French and Arabic. My French is pretty good these days as it seems to have improved simply because my Spanish has improved so much. I am reading Alex Garland’s The Beach (La Plage) in French and it is pretty easy going. I wish I could say the same for my Arabic.

Whenever someone asks me ¿Cómo estás? I usually tell them that I don’t have a lot to complain about. These days I should say that I don’t have a damn thing to complain about. If you are thinking about ditching everything and moving to Spain I have a few words for you. Jump right into the pan; the water is perfect.