Ex-pat this and that

Lisa started working this week which leaves Mary friendless during the day, but not without complicated social interactions.

At the market:

Plus: Mary doesn’t know how to say raw almonds in Spanish, but her reward for saying datilos (dates) is a regalo (gift) of dates from dried fruit and nut purveyor.

Minus: Mary doesn’t remember the Spanish word for onion but can point and say “no patatas” (not the potatoes). She asks pointing to onions “como se dice” (how do you say?) and the verdura seller says “[something] en Catalan!” and with slightly pursed lips: “[something similar] en Castillano,”  Thanks, because now I can’t remember either name, except they both have Cs and Bs in them.

Google translate helped later: ceba in Catalan, cebolla in Castillan/Spanish.

At the bike shop:

Plus: successful conversation in Spanglish with bike seller about Bromptons (folding bikes): hay muy popular en Gracia? Yes, he says, in all of Barcelona because of narrow stairs and vandalismos, bad people. Bikes aren’t exactly safe parked outside, even with multiple locks. Folding bikes are convenient to store in your 5th floor walk-up apartment.

Another plus: American and Dutch people work here, but they are on vacation now.

Minus: unsuccessful repair of tubeless tire, even with thorn removed, and Stans sealant squirted inside. Note: Mary has yet to ride her bike in Barcelona, due to this flat tire. Thorn is gift from the Tucson desert.

At the apartment:

Mary waters plants on balcony, not caring that the water slightly overflows from pots onto balcony and drips to street. Mary soon meets downstairs neighbor Monce (mon-thay).  She says her name is “como Monteserrat es nombre muy popular in Catalan” with gesturing of tears on Monce’s face like the crying Virgin Mary of Montserrat. Monce asks that Mary use “platos” (plates) under the plants so Monce’s balcony–and perhaps Monce –do not get wet. Mary drops her mad metaphor skillz and says “como lluva, lo siento mucho, perdoname” like rain, I am very sorry, pardon me.

An overly long involved discussion follows about the shower of our apartment leaking into her apartment so we need to wipe the tiles/tub after every use.  Mary shows Monce the bathroom—which at this point, Las Chicas have not even used! “En los rincones” says Mary remembering that the word for corner is “Rincon” like Tucson’s Rincon Mountains. “Si,” says Monce.

Mary has spoken too well. Monce continues in high speed Spanish with Mary catching every 7th word.

After work fun at the Festa Major de Gracia:


Good picture of Lisa with new friends from South Dakota: Jere and Julie on our roof deck!


Bad picture of Mary, vibing on the Catalan Pride Austin Mini Cooper. Thinking of cebas.


Evening view of Verdi block–the blue banners of the sea,  green coral reef, illuminated fish, etc. The trees hide the mobs of people below.

More photos from Festa coming soon!

© 2013 by Lisa Howells and Mary Reynolds. All rights reserved

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