I am settling into my life here in the little apartment near the Reina Sofia museum. I had my first Spanish tutoring today, and I fear I will not have too much time for anything else! I was not totally lost, and this is due solely to my introductory lessons in Italian many years ago. (the verb “essere,” anyone?) I have been trying to understand people’s conversations but it is impossible. The only thing I understood today when eaves dropping was “pan con mais.” (Cornbread.) If everyone could just speak in food terms I would probably be OK.
I’ve also been trying to learn from watching American movies and show on the TV but I think this is not the way to go. I think that a big part of understanding is reading lips, and obviously you cannot read lips this way.
Tomorrow I will meet my tutor in another part of Madrid. Apparently the area near the river Manzanares used to be kind of ghetto, or merely boring but now it is kind of cool and hip. My tutor is maybe 20 years younger than me (maybe more) so I will take his word for it. Though if you take the teacher/student dynamic into mind, I am eight years old, while he remains the same age. Cool.
My first lesson did not help me with the minor plumbing problem here in the apartment. Last night I was doing dishes and the floor was suddenly all wet. Like, uber wet. So I wrote to the owner because lord knows I do not want the people downstairs to get flooded out. (Remind me to tell you how, just a few days ago, the rains in DC created a whackadoodle situation in my guest room at Casa Fischer. Suffice to say, am a bit freaked about rain, and water right now.) So today the owner sent a plumber but of course, when he is here there is no problem. As soon as he leaves, I wash dishes again and of course, vwoosh, a bunch of water coming out of the wall. Anyway I think I figured out the problem. I have a better command of plumbing than Spanish, that is for sure, and I know eff all about plumbing. But try, just try, to explain, in Spanish, a flood besides saying “mucho aqua.” Not to mention I got Suelo (floor) mixed up with Sueno (sleep? Dream?) Argh. The dude just didn’t believe me. Honestly it is kind of funny this happened the very day I started trying to figure out Spanish. There is water in the dream! No kidding, Sigmunda.
I like it here, this neighborhood. My long morning at the Carrefour is just a distant nightmare; turns out, just down the street is an indoor market with all manner of fresh seafood, meat, veggies and fruits. And I have been looking for a wine shop – the other day I hauled three bottles from the freeking Mercato San Miguel. Friday, and also Saturday, and of course Sunday, everything was closed due to the holiday of Friday. I just knew there was a cool wine place right under my nose, but if something is closed here it is like it does not exist. There is a blank where the shop would be. A metal shutter, no signage, niente. OOPS. I mean nada. Today, walking home from getting a glass of overpriced verdejo and doing my Spanish homework at some cafe near the Prado (I’ll let you know how that went) I pass this little tiny store. It is not a wine shop per se, but an alimentari with a killer wine selection. A wall o’ bottles, with little tags with the regions, grapes, etc. Of course I spent some time in there, and while I was there people from the neighborhood were coming in to buy their evening pan (bread) plus quizzing the owner down about the wine for the evening. Seriously, we are talking AGUJERO EN EL MURO. I bought two bottles and the owner put a flyer in my bag, a sort of magazine called Mi Vino. This is my new favorite store. I am only going to stay here in this apartment when I am in Madrid so that I can shop every day there. I can also get crackers, water, and detergent, along with my fab vino de Bierzo.
And this is what I love about staying in one place for some time, you may never know a place like that is even there, unless you are around for awhile.
There is a channel in my apartment that shows non stop Sex in the City episodes. I am watching trying to figure out what the hell they are all saying. “Si. Vale.” (coughs.) I am a bit scared that I went a little overboard on my homework. I was suppose to say stuff like “my plant is green” but I went a little hardcore “mom and I are traveling here 3 weeks, we love Spain and enjoy our time together.” I truly hope I was maybe 50% close to the actual Spanish.