Lost in Translation

Online blog of life in Barcelona for a English guy making a life for himself out here and trying desperately to have a good time, become fluent in Spanish, and most of all - not be constantly mistaken for a tourist!

Friday, January 05, 2007

Jurassic Park comes to Barcelona

After spending a really relaxing Christmas in England, it was back to Barcelona with a bump this week - literally in fact as the plane hit the ground with a fair old smack! A friend who works in an airport joked with me once that some budget airlines must get a discount for only using part of the runway, and that was certainly the case here! We hit the ground in what I suppose we could class as an “approximate” straight line and then immediately hurtled off onto the taxiway while still travelling at God-only-knows what speed. I’m surprised the goodbye announcement wasn’t something along the lines of… “On behalf of Captain McDuff, we would like to thank you for choosing Monarch for all your travel and whiplash needs. Please leave your neck-braces on the seats ready for collection”. :-)

Also, the taxiing takes forever at Barcelona airport these days (almost longer than the flight in fact). If I remember rightly, one of the runways here is new, but the only problem is that space clearly must’ve been limited as they’ve curiously decided to build it somewhere just outside Madrid, so we were trundling along for quite some time before we reached the remote stand that the airline obviously gets another huge discount for agreeing to use rather than park up directly beside the terminal building. Basically, to give you an idea, I think you’re out somewhere just passed where they park any hijacked planes in case they suddenly blow up! Jeje. How delightful. Thank goodness I’d only paid about 20p (slight exaggeration) for my flight otherwise I might’ve had half a mind to complain!

It’s good to be back in Spain again if only to escape the constant rain in Manchester over much of the Christmas break. The first few days were lovely, with clean blue skies perfect for walking with the dog, but after that, it was normal service again. Here today, the sun is shining and it’s a respectable enough temperature for January, so I’m not complaining.

My flatmate’s sister is staying with us at the moment, so she was at home to welcome me, which was nice rather than coming into an empty flat. When my flatmate himself came home later, he told me the bad news that our cleaning lady had demanded a 50% rise (I knew we should’ve bought her a Christmas present!), so he quite rightly told her to eff off, which she immediately did, so now we were without a cleaner and faced with the distinct possibility of having to clean our own toilet. Now, this isn’t a problem for either of us at all, and we both like to keep the place spotless, but I don’t suit the Mrs Overall “look” and after having a dedicated cleaner since I arrived here, I’ve become pretty lazy. I always keep the place completely tidy, but I never actually “clean” anything. Basically the rule of thumb is that, if it involves a cloth and some chemicals, I’m not interested. The good thing is that my flatmate managed to find a new cleaner the very same night so the panic was soon over and I could put my feet up again (well, I could’ve if I’d ever actually put them down in the first place!). This morning as I was getting ready, Char number 2 (I don’t know her real name yet) arrived with her “minder” (although he seemed more like a pimp if you ask me). I hope all is well, as she’ll be alone in the flat now and is probably riffling through my things as we speak. I hid my laptop under my dirty underwear pile, so she’ll be a brave soul if she dives in to retrieve that little nugget. And luckily, washing clothes is not in her job description so I don’t expect to arrive home to find my laptop in the middle of a rinse cycle. The good news about this little story is that Char number 2 is prepared to work for the same pay that Char number 1 turned down, so we’re all happy campers!

What else has been happening since I came back? Well, my ongoing fascination with the hairstyles of elderly Spanish ladies continues unabated. I went for a walk during lunch and saw that about 50 old dears were being taken out for a breath of fresh air from the local old folks home. They were all coming towards me in various states of consciousness in their wheelchairs (pushed by their carers) like a slow-motion version of that flock of Gallimimus dinosaurs in Jurassic Park - the ones where the kids have to dive behind that old log as they run by, remember? By the way, I’ve just had to look up how you spell Gallimimus on the internet and discovered that the description given is uncannily similar to the actual old folk coming towards me…

“Gallimimus was bird-like dinosaur with a toothless beak; the bottom front part of its beak was shaped like a shovel. It had long legs, a long neck, and hollow bones. It had short arms with three clawed fingers on each hand, and long legs with three clawed toes on each”.

The likeness is frightening! Jejee. I half expected Richard Attenborough to appear on the scene asking Sam Neill if he could be so kind as to fetch a gas jeep and go and collect his grandchildren! Anyway, my original point was that all these women had immaculately coiffured hair so I was genuinely pleased to see that the standard of care in Spanish old folks homes seems, on the face of it, pretty high. Either that, or Vidal Sassoon is a resident too nowadays, and passes his time doing French twists on his fellow inmates. In England of course, we like to treat our oldies with slightly less respect, normally treating them to a "standard" pensioner special haircut once a year, and sitting them in front of an un-tuned-in TV while convincing them that the fuzz on the screen really is Ready Steady Cook and that Ainsley Harriot always does look like that, while the "carers" nip out the back for a crafty fag!

This weekend in Spain is the Los Reyes holiday, which is traditionally the time that the children open their Christmas presents (although, more and more, this is moving to the 25th December so that the little darlings have more time to play with their toys and then get back to pestering their parents again etc). There’s a parade in the city which I want to go to, as they throw sweets to the crowds and I wanna fill my boots! Jeje. I don’t want to go on my own though, so I’m going to trawl through my rag-tag bunch of contacts and try to drag someone out at short notice.

OK, that’s all for now. If I make it to the parade, I’ll do another post shortly. Although, if I lose an eye in a freak “flying chocolate éclair” incident, my next post may be delayed!

‘sta luego :-)