Aug 29, 2009

Something i need to work on

Photo collage by me. i've been discovering patterns that hurt me and i've decided it's time to do something about it so i've taken the plunge into lectures and articles on breaking unhealthy behavior patterns. more on this topic later.

So this is what i've been spending my afternoon doing - making collages instead of packing up my stuff. "packing?" you say. yes, packing because i've finally found a home. pheeeew and woohoo! i'm moving back to the street i left 2 months ago. it's like the rental gods (after bountiful sacrifices and offerings) have decided in their infinite wisdom to allow me to return after a period of exile. i'll share more about my new place and the adventures i had in my relentless search once i've settled in and have more time to string together a narrative.

happy weekend!

Aug 23, 2009


Photo collage by me. Click on the image and the link will take you to flickr where you can click on the "all sizes" icon to see a bigger version.

So this is how I've been distracting myself from my unlucky house hunt... I've been fascinating and exhilarating my brain with TED videos and comic theorist, Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art. I've been experimenting with ways of combining photos and text to create stories or capture moments/feelings. I'm still in the infancy/experimental phase but so far I'm really enjoying the ride. It reminds me of how important it is for creative people to fight for their creative space, even during the times when life crap looms large. Perhaps we especially need to create in stressful times. Creating for me is both my fuel and my salve and I'd be lost without it.

Aug 21, 2009

A Weekend Sojourn in the Huescan Pyrenees

We leave Madrid in the late afternoon, drive through the night, stopping in Jaca for a couple of beers before arriving at our lodgings in the dark. On Saturday morning, we wake up to this pleasant view of Escarrilla:

After breakfast, we drive, weaving along the mountain roads with the top down and the wind in our hair. Ahh... the fresh air is sweet and my lips curl into a smile
We stop to here to hike a little and look at the slim waterfall and the lake.
We drive to Lanuza to swim and get our ankles nibbled by little fish.
We bask in the sun and soak up the picturesque landscape.
We visit Sallent de Gallego, a charming mountain village nestled in the Pyrenees.

Saturday night, we drive to the touristy town of Jaca, half an hour away, and drink hard in a rock bar with a foosball table, iconic rock posters, framed fuzzy handcuffs and 'an altar' to the gods of rock 'n' roll (think Elvis dolls and skulls) behind the bar. Our indulgence in Jaca leads to resaca (a hangover) and so we are slow moving and sore in the cabeza on our return to Madrid on Sunday.

On our way back, we visit the mountain village of Piedrafita and despite my resaca, I am charmed by the pretty doors, stone buildings and streets.

All photos taken by me.

By the time we arrive back in Madrid, I am exhausted and my head still hurts. Although the trip was absolutely worth it, I think it's a bit far for only a weekend sojourn. I wish I could have stayed a week! Oh well. It was still a wonderful trip with wonderful companions, a lot of laughs and more Spanish spoken than I could possibly understand. That's right, this trip consisted of 3 Spanish people and me and so it was an intensivo immersion for me and my terrible Spanish! Apparently, there are no language barriers in the pursuit of fun. Fortunately, they could all speak English so my head didn't explode from Spanish overload and my inability to express myself in Castellano.

On a side note: one of the girls on the trip asked me how tall the Rockies were in comparison to the Pyrenees and I was ashamed to tell her that I didn't know the answer. Some Canadian eh?! Rest assured I googled it when I got home. As I suspected, the Canadian Rockies are taller (highest elevation: 3,954 m) than the Pyrenees (highest elevation: 3,404 m). The highest point in the whole Rocky Mountain range however is Mount Elbert in Colorado at 4,401 m.

Aug 14, 2009

Mid-week day trip to Chinchón

As we walked into the town we were greeted by a couple local big heads. The men attending the heads were disarmingly friendly and accommodating.
The clock tower
Chinchón's famed rounded and green balconied Plaza Mayor with a bullring installed centre stage in time for the fiesta.

Photos of matadores and bullfights lined the walls of the restaurant where we enjoyed a meal of chulettas de cordero - a rustic lamb stew.
The portico walk way surrounding the plaza.
An old door in the plaza.
Chilies, corn and garlic hanging in a quaint shop that seemed to belong to another time.

Local señora selling produce on the street.
An entrance mural to a restaurant.
Vista of the town's tile rooftops and a castle in ruins on the hill.

All photos taken by me.

Chinchón is a medieval town 50 km southeast of Madrid. Goya and Orson Welles both loved the place. Goya spent time painting here and Welles filmed scenes from Chimes at Midnight and The Immortal Story in the town. Word has it that Welles liked to have his anis shots in the morning with the locals, and enjoyed the food and the bullfights. Chinchón is well-known for its Anis (aniseed liqueur) which, unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to sample. Ahhh, next time. Chinchón is a popular excursion for Madrileños who want to spend the day strolling and having a traditional lunch and I can see why - it is a friendly and pleasant place with plenty of rustic charm.

Aug 9, 2009

Escape to Atazar

Views of Embalse de Atazar, also known as "the sea of Madrid," near the town of El Berrueco, which is north of Madrid. Built in 1972 during the dictatorship of Franco, this is Madrid's largest reservoir.

We find our spot away from the crowds

and enjoy a siesta.
Later, we head to the town of Atazar to enjoy the miradores and have a chat at a local bar. Below is a photo of the bell tower of the town's the old church.
All photos taken by me.

I've had a crazy week looking for a new home. My male underwear model landlord has returned to the flat unexpectedly and despite our verbal agreement that I was going to rent the room for a year, he has decided to kick me out 3 weeks after I've moved in and use my room as an extra closet for his things! "I'm very sorry," he said, "but I have many things... I need the room for September..." Qué chungo! Qué mala leche! So since Monday, I've scoured rental ads on 3 websites 7x a day, I have posted want ads on 3 websites, I've let all my FB friends know I'm looking, I've sent and received 60+ emails, I've sent and received dozens of text messages, I've made and received many phone calls, I've seen 10 places... all have been unsuitable for one reason or another. Needless to say, I was exhausted and really needed to get out of the city. Very lucky for me, a new friend happened to be going on an excursion and invited me along so I got my much needed respite. Thanks Amaya, you're an angel!

Once I have an ending for the story of my search for a new home, I'll write a post about my adventures.

Aug 5, 2009

Fiesta de Lavapies begins earlier than expected

Photo of the dragon sized bbq grill, a posh newcomer to bohemian Lavapies's San Lorenzo Fiesta, taken by me.

Celebration of the barrio's patron saint, San Lorenzo, usually begins the weekend before the 10th of August, the actual saint day. So I was quite surprised to see the trucks and stalls being set up as I walked down calle Argumosa on Saturday (Aug 1st).

The smell of cooking churros and meat flooded me with memories of 1 am jaunts for churros dipped in chocolate, skewers of bbq meat for dinner and drinking mojitos on the street with someone who is no longer available for such spontaneous outings and that filled me with sadness - sorrow once again climbed on my back and took me for a trot around town.

Fortunately on Sunday, a girl friend and I went to the fiesta together and we had a very lovely evening talking about men, art, life and spanish idiosyncrasies over sangria and skewered bbq meat. I formed new memories to layer over the the old ones and soften the sting. And I suppose that's one way to cope with living in a place that's haunted by people who have left. You make new friends and new memories so that a new collage of a place is created.

Scenes from last year's fiesta: An August night, Dancing in the streets of Lavapiés

Aug 2, 2009

after enough beers, someone inevitably ends up with flashing blinky glasses

Photo taken by me at the Gato Verde in Lavapies on one of many farewell drinking nights with my friends who left us for the land of kangaroos.

It common for wandering hawkers to bar hop with their wares in bundles. Some of them are quite pesky! Usually it's roses, sometimes jewelry but recently blinky neon glasses and blinky lights of all types have been making the rounds. Bruce, featured in the montage above, decided it would be very amusing indeed to sport a pair at 3 am. I thought it very amusing indeed to capture the moment. I think it highlights the spirit of lightness we enjoyed that night. ja ja.
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