Tuesday, May 11, 1999

My phone, flat, and the Persianas story...

Hey Everybody!

Bom dit from luverly Barcelona. It's the prettiest day for a long time here, it's starting to get hot, and the tourists are coming here from everywhere. Yay.

My flat is almost liveable now. The water company has assured me that I will have water in a day or two, and I should have electricity and gas soon. I also got a phone, a mobile. One of the great things about living overseas is the english-style stuff that have here. For instance, my phone is from the line "Movistar". I had a choice between "Movistar" and "System Joc", which is for sporty types (y'know, Jocs). Almost as good as when I was in Japan and the popular car stereo system was the "Lonesome Car Boy" (I assume a take off on "Lonesome Cowboy").

Speaking of lonesome carboys, I put on my cowboy boots and my Stetson yesterday and played guitar in the Plaza de Pi, and made about 2300 Pesetas in just under an hour ($15.54 US). Hell, maybe I'll quit my day job. I even made a couple of Deutch Marks (Germans and Italians being notorious for tipping in their own currency).

Oh, hey, big news. My Permiso de Trabajo came in. I have to take a physical and then go to Paris to get the stamp put in my passport (they can't do it here in Spain). That sounds like great news, except that I was kind of hoping to do some more site-seeing before I started working. It looks like I'll be working in less than two weeks. Dang. I was kind of looking at the 4 month wait as a good time to chill out and see the sights, but it looks like my efficient paperwork handling (learned in the arduous processes of getting into Annapolis and the Peace Corps) allowed the Spanish government to process my request in record time. The good news is that all the money I had piled up to survive on is now unnecessary, so I can spend it on some vain frivolity like flashy clothes or a pension scheme or something.

¿Qúe más? Ah, I have good Spanish days and bad Spanish days. I won't bore you with that, except to say that it's surprising how much you can accomplish with hardly any words at all. Oh, I promised the Persianas story. Persianas are a popular type of window blinds here, popular since France and England weren't friends (well, were actively enemies). There were a couple of ancient Persianas hanging in the windows in my flat, and as part of my rental conditions, I got a break on my first month's rent (YES!) if I fixed the Persianas.

If only I had set up a video camera, I coulda won "America's funniest home videos" (or at least "Catalunya's funniest home videos"). I got to know the guy at the hardware store on a first name basis (a feat here, as everyone has twenty first names). The old Persianas weighed about sixty pounds each, and I was perched up on a ladder six stories up removing these things. Every few seconds I imagined myself years from now telling the story, "and that's how I went blind/became crippled/fell screaming to my death in Spain". There was a lot of banging and dust and dropping things. I felt foolish several times. I finally removed them and carried the whole 120 pound mess four blocks to the hardware store. Anyway, I got the new ones in, and it'll be a great apartment as soon as there's water and light.

Oh, hey, I'm reading "La guía del autoestopista galáctica" (you guessed it, "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" in Castellano). Great news: Douglas Adams is funny in Spanish, too.

Well, enough of that. I hope everyone's doing well, I think about you all very often. I'll be here for a minimum of two years, so please come visit whenever you can. As a Spanish worker, I get 30 days a year off (how damned civilized is that? why can't we do that in the US? sorry, sorry) so I can definitely take some time off. Take care, I'll write in a few days. Love, Tim

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