Monthly Archives: November 2012

Last night in the heart of Malaga

The last day and night in Malaga. I spent all three times: morning, afternoon and evening on the open broad mall-street. In the morning, just a few restaurants were open, and by noon, there were more, and then, as usual, night time brought the hoards of people to the street with shop doors wide open.

That’s not all the night did, for it brought out the old folks, young lovers, parents and children and solo folks like me.

There were weirdos, classy looking people, and just normal folks. There were fat people eating fat food, and skinny folks smoking cigarettes.

Then there were the street entertainers; and that included a holy looking man.  I guess he was supposed to be Jesus. He wore a long white robe, sandals and long hair.

When someone put a tip in his basket, he gave them a hug and blessed them.

It all looked so beautiful and sweet, until…Jesus took a break,  pulled a cigarette out of his jeans pocket, leaned against a light pole and lit up.

Then there was the couple who defied gravity. While one held up the other by just holding on to a thin pole, the other sat suspended in the air. That was amazing and drew more of a crowd than Jesus.

 

A newspaper man was totally covered with newsprint, and simply sat on a chair that was covered with newspapers, wore a newspaper hat and read a newspaper. I’m not sure what he read, but he was on the same page when I went back to look again: definitely emerged in the news, this man.

The bull fighter was the funniest. He was dressed in a toreador outfit; hot pink and bright blue, with tights and a traditional red, bull-fighting cape. He waited behind a sign until someone got the idea that he would begin his schtick whenever he got a tip; so since I saw his performance earlier, I dropped a tiny coin – really unworthy of the performance – and he began to fight the bull. Oh, the bull was a tiny stuffed toy that, of course, didn’t charge, which made it funnier. Then toreador would stop and wait again for a tip, and he’d continue until another stop and another tip.

So this amounted to my time in Malaga. I didn’t get to see much really because of my illness. But I’m grateful for what I saw and experienced and happy I recovered.

 

 

another idea

…or I could dress up like a very old Mother Goose, whose memory is fading and cannot remember the end of the rhyme. Then I’d get help from the people standing by after they first put a coin in my hat.

What I would do

I observed humanity inside a coffee shop this morning. It was around 10 a.m., close to the time Spain begins to wipe their eyes, stretch their limbs and make plans for the day. I was out on the streets early and did some major window shopping before going into the only opened establishment I could find.

Inside were five busy men, all dressed in white shirts and black bow ties. One very loud and smiley guy waited on customers in the general area, joking and taking orders, another up at the bar, and one large man squeezed churros out of a machine as fast as he could. Churros are like donuts only they are slender, and a hot item.

Two other guys must have been the cooks.

All five kept the place alive with their teasing each other and talking with the customers.

A small tyke about three years old, wavy, brunette hair, wearing a blue raincoat and a fashionable red scarf around his sweet neck, sat at the bar with his doting grandmother. She held his glass in the palm of her hand while the little guy dunked his  churros.

Two elderly couples sat in the general area drinking and eating and laughing it up with the waiter.

A beggar came in and went around the room asking for money. One of the couples was about to give him a coin when the churros man told him to get out.

That seemed a bit cold, but they are an annoying bunch of people, and as long as I’ve been here, I’ve seen the same people.

There are also those unfortunates that at least do something; sing, play and instrument, pantomime or get people into a discussion for a few coins.

I’ll tell you later what I’d do if I got caught with no money (won’t happen….don’t worry).

The laughing waiter made some loud comments that I think referred to the man as a nuisance, and then he motioned toward his own pocket as if it was loaded down with coins. So, it may be a scam…who knows, and who is to judge?

I’m afraid I over did my hunger this morning. I saw on the menu, potatoes, broken eggs and ham, and after I asked what was meant by broken eggs and learned they were friend eggs, and came with fried potatoes. I ordered that without the ham. I was disappointed, but it was okay, that the potatoes weren’t country fried but just plain French fries. Then, when I saw the little boy dunking his churros, it made me wonder if he was drinking hot chocolate.

I waved the jolly waiter over and ordered chocolate con leche, thinking I’d get hot chocolate. Well, it was chocolate, all right…chocolate pudding in a cup. The first time I experienced this was years ago in Mexico, and now I know where that idea originated.

Then I asked for a small portion of leche and went about making my own hot chocolate.

I started back to the hotel and within seconds, a downfall of rain poured out of the sky and when I got back I was soaked. It was time to rest anyway.

A few hours later with dry clothes I went out again to look for a restaurant with wifi, and found the place where I was earlier in the week. The manager had given me a free drink to help my stomach, and I asked him if he remembered me. “Yes,” he said and smiled.

I told him I was feeling much better.

“Did you order anything yet?”

“Yes, this.” I pointed to the menu of a fruit tart.

“No, you cannot have that. That is not good for you. You need to have this.” He turned to the waitress and told her to stop and wait.

“But I’m feeling better.”

“No, you need this.” He pointed to white rice and some kind of meat on the menu. “And this drink…with lemon and ice.”

“Okay,” I said meekly. Actually, I admit to enjoying the attention.

I still wasn’t too sure what I’d be served and when he brought it to me, there were three small pieces of meat with rice.

“Oh, the rice looks good. But I don’t want the meat.”

“Yes, the meat is good for you. You eat the meat, too.” He gave me a look that was meant to make me feel guilty of something.

I ate it, and drank the drink. Both were good, and as he walked past me once in awhile, he put his head down and looked sternly into my eyes, like I was the child, and he, at probably thirty-five years old, the parent.

So back to the hotel again to rest and I’m so full that I hope my stomach doesn’t yell out.

Now, here’s what I’d do if I got stuck in a foreign country without means: I’d make a sign that said, ‘ASK ME ANY QUESTION FOR A COIN AND I’LL DO MY BEST TO ANSWER IT.’

Then I’d try to be funny. Would this work?

 

 

 

Picasso and grotesque exhibit

 

The rain in Span fell mainly in the Picasso Museum courtyard, as I ventured in to see the Picasso collection, El factor grotesco, which featured grotesque art in characterizations of people, either solo or in groups, and the archeological findings that are located beneath the buildings that give evidence that the city has roots in  Phoenician, Roman and Moorish life.

 

Picasso Museum courtyard in Malaga, Spain

The museum is only steps away from where Picasso was born and within eyesight of the cathedral of his baptism.

Picasso’s  artwork has always fascinated me because I wondered what he was thinking when he painted people showing both the front and the side of their heads with eyes off center. How could he not see that eyes are side-by-side?

His own interpretation of his art is that he wanted to shake people up and make them get out of their comfort zone.

Writer Gertrude Stein, one of his ardent supporters and patron of his work, explained his work might demonstrate how a baby looks at his mother. A baby will see only part of his mother at one time. He’ll see one eye, and perhaps her nose, and all very close. This is a summarized statement as I didn’t have pen and notebook with me to get her exact quote, but it made sense to me.

After I thought about what she said, I began to look at the work a bit differently.

If you close one eye, you will not see all that the other eye sees, as an example of seeing things in another way.

One work that stood out for me was the “Woman With Raised Arms”. It was a painting inspired by Dora Marr, his companion (one of many throughout the years, I might add), and is made of circular motions in blues and yellows.

The museum had rooms full of Picasso collection, both from his early work and the later work, as well.

The other temporary collection made me laugh. It was all about grotesque and humorous interpretations of art. A sculpture with a few men hysterical laughing while sitting on stair steps, and, with one man completely falling off the steps on to the floor with his feet up in the air, really caught my attention. I wanted in on the joke.

I wasn’t allowed to take photos inside but I picked this one up from a website.

Then one that really and truly caught my attention reminds me a bit of my family reunion  and our games of charade, where we make up the rules as the game goes on.

by Boilly: reminds me of our family playing charades

I enjoyed the time at the museum, even though I felt very weak, and luckily found the coffee shop that sold fresh squeezed orange juice.

I came back to my hotel room, and Monica, the woman in charge of rooms, came in with fresh sheets and pillow cases. She’s a dear, sweet lady from the Czech Republic. She has been in Malaga for sixteen years and considers it her home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still trying to get back on my feet

I’m still under the weather. What an expression that is! It rained here all last night. My room is a tiny space next to a small open court yard. I can hear birds chattering away. One sounds like a baby crying. And another sounds like the boss of a gang crew.

I hop out of bed all night long to take care of the problem belly. The belly doesn’t ache like it did, but sure wish I could limit the trips to the bathroom.

My stomach growls like a family of bears having a picnic in the forest.

I tried to find a restaurant this morning where I could get just rice. It didn’t happen, instead I had chickpea soup with spinach. That was so delicious. Later I had an urge for mashed potatoes and gravy. Didn’t find that, but did find rice in a noodle restaurant.

Again, Picasso awaits for me.

Picasso can wait

I haven’t felt up to the Picasso Museum yet, but maybe I’ll get to it tomorrow.

I have a feeling that my face probably resembles a Picasso painting right about now.

I spent 2 1/2 hours looking for soap to wash my clothing in and also a place to buy liquids and bananas for the potassium.

Restaurants line the streets, but where do people buy food and laundry detergent?

I ate breakfast at a place from  off the menu, but nothing looked good to me. First there were all kinds of sea -critter food, such as octopus in in’s own ink. Barf.

Then there was that item of fried baby fish.   Double barf. And beans galore, fried meat and that traditional breakfast with tomato scrubbed on top of bread, and other things that made me gag.

I found two items; one with fried potatoes and bacon, and the other with two eggs and hot peppers. I asked if I could have the potatoes without bacon with two eggs without peppers.

That was fine with the cook, but when I went to pay, I was charged for two menu items. I also had mineral water con gas. With gas is what is meant by sparkling water. That turned out to be my best choice.

Now, I’ll rest up and see what I can do later this afternoon. By the way, there’s very little activity in Spain until 10 or 11, and then everything closes down around 2 for a couple of hours, then stores are open late in the evening.

I took photos of the clinic and some surrounding narrow streets. I’ll post later.

Hoping all is well wherever you are, dear readers.  By the way, I have had over 16,000 ‘hits’ on my blog from the day I began.

Doing a bit better

Today was the first day after the medicine treatment, and after a wakeful night, I think I’m getting better, although it is slow.

Being hungry is a good sign, but food doesn’t look that good. From my hotel room, in a tiny alleyway, I have to walk down a wider alley and past a Moroccan restaurant to get to a main courtyard and to the clinic where I got treated. Yuck!

I went to the clinic again today because I had promised Dr. Slater that I’d get a health review in six months. Well, glad I didn’t do that in Morocco! I got some lab work done today, and one hour the report was ready….everything in that area is good.

The clinic is a hospital, as well, and they were all very kind to me. Then I went back to my hotel room, where the lady in charge of rooms said I could wash my clothes in the washing machines that are close by, so I went to look for some soap.

Couldn’t find anything, but most stores were closed anyway, due to an impending rally against the current government. I saw groups of four and five cops walking around together.

So I did find a place where I could buy some water and went back to the hotel and slept for three hours. A few hours later there was noise outside and I went to see what was going on and it was just a few people waving flags and signs, singing, chanting and blowing whistles. Then it was over.

By now I was hungry and looked for something open, but just the drinking part of restaurants were open, with kitchen closed. However in one place, the manager spoke a little English, and with my Spanish, I told him I just wanted something light. He brought me a small casserole of mushrooms in sherry with olive oil – I’m in olive oil country again. Ate some of it. Then he brought me a liquor for free that is from the north of Spain, and would help my stomach.

People, as I’ve said before on this blog, are basically kind hearted.

I hope to feel good enough tomorrow to check out my surroundings. I’m just a few foot steps away from the Picasso Museum and some impressive cathedrals.

The streets are narrow and very clean.

I hear chimes from the cathedral.

 

 

 

Addendum to the post before this one

I took the advice of many people on Facebook,and went to the doctor this morning. Got meds and a shot in the behind.

Worst day ever!

Yesterday challenged me more that any day on the seven month adventure. I’ve been sick with, I think food poisoning, and slept one whole day and night two days before  my trip to Malaga, Spain where I am now. I took it easy the next day, but since then I’ve had very little to eat; just to look at food makes me nauseated.

However, this morning I went to a restaurant and had rice pudding.

Two taxi’s, two trains, two planes, and confusion in the airport: kept getting different directions from different people,  couldn’t find my luggage, until I was the last person inside the airport, and all the while needing to use the restroom – immediately! Restrooms were always inconveniently located and my luggage was heavy for me to lug around. Carts were available until you get to a certain area then you cannot take them with you.

At a place where I could get a cart from a man, he said they were going somewhere else.

Go over there, go down there, I think it’s way down that way. These sounds were in my dreams last night.

Then at the airport, someone at a change window opened it up just for me to change Moroccan money to euros, and it amounted to 20 euros.

I got a taxi from the airport to the hotel (had a distance to walk again with heavy luggage) and I didn’t have enough money to pay the driver. He let me go on anyway. Got to the hotel and it was closed. I was past checking in hour.

What to do? No place to spend the night and now it was after 11 p.m. I heard some voices at the end of the narrow street and asked two young men to help me. They are both from Denmark and are working in Spain for one year as part of their education.

Rasmus and Casper agreed to help me. We went back to the hotel and called them on Rasmus’ phone. No answer. We rang bells, knocked on windows. No answer.

Casper told me about a hotel that he was sure to have a room, so they took my luggage in hand and we walked to a hotel and there was a room. I praised the Lord for that bed.

I am one hour from checking out and the big adventure to try and find the hotel where I’m registered. They will get a piece of my mind for not opening the door after checking house to someone with a reservation.

Tired, not well, frustrated, but glad I’m now on the European continent.

 

A day in my life…

The day began with a stomach ache.

I’m leaving Morocco on Monday morning via the train to the city of Casa Blanca airport with one change over.

Then at 3 p.m. I fly to Madrid on Iberia Airlines and change in Madrid to Malaga, Spain. I’ll be one week in Malaga, and from there I’m flying to Zurich, Switzerland where I will stay with a woman (couch surfing) for a few nights.

I made the flight arrangements on-line and therefore I needed to print the the tickets.  I found an internet cafe, where the gentleman agreed to print out the flight from Malaga, Spain to Zurich, and that was accomplished.

But I still didn’t have the flight ticket from Casa Blanca to Malaga and time was running out. The itinerary had a note that said, this is for your information and is not the ticket. You cannot board with this. You will receive an email ticket and that is what you need to print and take with you to the airline.

 

Bright and early this morning, I went to the Internet office and it was closed.

So I went on to the second thing on my list; purchase my medicine. All that I had to do was just tell the pharmacist what I wanted and pay for it.

The third on my list was to purchase a lock and key for my luggage. All airlines have their own rules and I read that Iberia require locked suitcases. I’ve stopped locking them because the airlines since 9/11 have been breaking locks to look inside.

The man who helped me asked another man…a very old looking gentleman if he had any locks. He found a lock with a key and I tried it but couldn’t get it to work, and neither could the first man. But he kept working with it and told me it was okay.

But I asked if they had another one and the old man handed me another one that worked perfect.

 

Then my stomach ache became unbearable, but I went back to the internet that was opened. The young man there spoke Italian and French..no English. We went round and round until he finally called his boss to find out what I wanted, and he explained it to the young man. I now have my tickets!

 

I walked a different way that usual and found the French district and streets lined with upscale shops and classy people walking around. The French are so easy to spot. They beam ‘class’ with men wearing their sweaters over their shoulders, women in high healed boots and both men and women wearing fitted leather jackets.

 

My stomach ache continued and I stopped in a coffee shop and ordered tea. I told the lady I had a stomach ache and she walked down the street with my notebook and pen and had someone she knew to speak English, write down camomile tea.

I drank some and it seemed to help, but not too much, so back to the hotel and my room where I laid down.

 

The maid knocked on the door to make the bed and clean the bathroom. She saw me and asked if she should clean the room. I told her I just wanted to sleep that I had a stomach ache. She told me to drink camomile tea.

I will do that I told her and laid back down on my unmade bed. She quickly told me to get up for a minute and she pulled back the blanket and sheet and told me to get in bed. I did. She then pulled the blankets up to my chin. Now, that is going above her job description, but I thought it was very sweet and I thanked her. When she left the room I kicked the blankets off because it was too warm.

 

After awhile I went down stairs to work on the computer, but the stomach ache was still there, so I planned to take it easy the rest of the day.

People in this neighborhood are beginning to recognize me and now wave and smile, and do that touch-the-heart gesture.

Waiters are professional and skilled, and it doesn’t matter if it is serving coffee, tea or a four course dinner; they do it with grace. They all either wear all black or a white smock. Last night I walked across the street to a restaurant that has a beautiful outdoor garden. I looked inside but decided it was too cold. A waiter told me he would take me to a nice place indoor, so I followed him through the building until we came into a room with tables all set up for dinner. The walls and ceiling are covered in white stucco that is so thick it looks like whipping cream.

The food was served in a pottery dish with a cone-shaped lid.
The waiter lifted the lid with flourish and inside it was the vegetarian dish I ordered. I’m not certain what the herbs and spices were used, but those made vegetables come alive. …And should I add here, that may be to blame for my stomach ache?

 

The next day: I slept all day yesterday and all night. The stomach ache is a bit better.

I have a feeling it was food poisoning, but not certain. So another day to take it easy so I can leave early tomorrow.