Wednesday, September 15, 1999

Valladolid, Flies, and of course, dogs


Hi Everybody!

Bon dit from luverly Barcelona! I'm firmly in my fifth month here, and I've finally gotten around to ordering furniture. Considering that I haven't had my own furniture in almost five years (okay, I had a bed, but you get the picture), this is a big deal. I take shipment on Thursday, god and IKEA willing.

Yup, there's an IKEA here. And really, it's just exactly the same as the one in Dale City or Oostende or Uppsala. It's the McDonalds of furniture, and it's not even American.

Anyway, last Wednesday, I was sitting around at work, working, when my partner on the project announced that he had hurt his foot, and had a presentation of our product in Madrid and Valladolid the next two days. The presentation was for the autonomous government of Castilla-Leon. And he couldn't go. So I had to go. Fuerte, ¿no? So he showed me the presentation materials, which included an hour and a half demonstration by Gerard Chiva (his name), which now was going to be given by Tim Allen (my name). In Spanish. Yikes. I immediately broke out in a cold sweat.

Well, today's Tuesday, so I must have survived it. There were salespeople involved, and lots of changes, and more than one embarrassing pause. But I think the client bought it. We finished the presentation and the sales folks dropped me off in the center of Valladolid to wait for my flight and do some site-seeing.

Valladolid is about 200km northwest of Madrid on banks of the river Duero. As a site-seeing city, it's not all that great. There was a Cathedral (big surprise) and a Plaza Mayor (again, big surprise: even if you don't speak Spanish you probably realize this translates directly into "Big Square" and every city in Spain, Guatemala, Panama, etc has one) and I guess if I had looked hard enough I could have found a jail and a graveyard. However, Valladolid has one thing that makes it famous: the Prime Minister of Spain, Jose-Maria Aznar, supposedly grew up there.

Except, maybe not. A taxi driver assured me (if I understood him, and there's a good possibility that I didn't) that Aznar grew up in Madrid, and had lived in Valladolid for a few years, so he claimed Valladolid as to appear a bit more a man of the people. To which I thought, hmmm, George Bush.

The taxi driver dropped me off at the Airport of Valladolid, which is actually smaller than the Airport of Beaumont (I know, I didn't believe it either). There's one flight a day between Valladolid and Barcelona, daily, at 5:30 pm. At 5:40 pm I was still in the airport, drifting off as the zillions of flies in the airport tried to be friends with me. I came up with a charming little theory that maybe flies aren't the hateful little creatures that we imagine them to be, but instead they hang around us because they really love us, but don't know how to express it. So they fly around us telling us how great we are in flyese (which amounts to landing on our noses and the like), and are bewildered when we suddenly kill them. Then I started wondering if this is in some way like our relationship with our creator. Then I realized that I hadn't eaten for a long time and I was getting kind of funky. I went and got some peanuts and waited for the flight.

Back in Barcelona I dumped my stuff in my apartment, took off my suit, and headed down to Avenida Gaudi to people watch. Avenida Gaudi, or more properly Avinguda Gaudi in Catalan, is a wide pedestrian sidewalk lined with outdoor restaurants next to Templo de la Sagrada Familia. The Sagrada Familia is lit between 9 and midnight each night, and there are usually hundreds of people in the street until late at night. Fortunately my flat doesn't face the street, because it gets pretty loud with all the folks riding their scooters, yelling at each other, and walking their dogs. When I say I people watch, I really dog-owner watch. The great thing about dogs is that they're too stupid to realize that they're really love slaves, when you boil it right down. I mean, when you're out working in the office, they're locked up at home, fantasizing about licking your face while you run your hands over their furry bodies. Something to think about next time you leave the dog to watch the kids while you're doing quarterly reports. It all seems so innocent, but imagine if, for instance, you were on the Avinguda Gaudi, watching the Spanish ladies out walking their husbands on their chains, the women chatting while the men pull against their chains and try to sniff each others' rear ends. Hmmm.

This Sunday, one of my best friends on earth, Allison, is coming to Barcelona from Seychelles to visit for a week. Yipee. So I'll be taking a well-deserved (well, well-desired) rest to show off the city. Take care until next time. -Tim

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