Friday, July 24, 2009

Approaching the End of Spain Trip

We haven't posted much because we have been doing a whole lot -
recuperating from being busy and being sick. We have also been
relaxing and enjoying the beach. Thursday night we saw the sun set
shortly followed by the moon set. Saturday is the big day to fly to

Figuring Stuff Out and More Cultural Revelations

One of the needs for the Internet was to get the bus schedules to get
us back to Seville for the airport. The bus schedules seem to be a
state secret. They are not posted at stops or even at the station in
Huelva. Asking a ticket agent for a schedule just produced a lot of
anger as he tried to keep us from slowing down his line. But Lara
checked and the schedule is not on the web site either. A few days
this week, I have gone to the bus stop and just waiting for the bus to
observe times and how to pay. Then on Friday, I'll take the bus to
Huelva and rent a one way rental car to the airport. This option gives
us more predictability than taking 3 back to back buses and still
costs about a third of the taxi. This time we aren't splitting the
taxi four ways and we have a better feel for the area, so we can
explore other options.

It takes a really long time to figure out how a community works. Some
of this exploring is exciting, but a lot of it is frustrating -you
feel like you should know it or be able to look it up easily, like at
home. So much of the important information is undocumented - this
store is closed on Sunday, while this Internet café takes siesta even
though most don't, coffee shops and baked goods places aren't
necessarily open in the mornings (and hours tend not to be posted),
posted speed limits are wildly different from what the driver behind
you wants you to drive, etc.

Also difficult is to politely signal the waiter to bring the bill.
They don't just drop off the check and you pay whenever, a la Chili's.
They let you stretch out dinner to its second or third hour. Oh, how I
long for Panera Bread, where you pay up front so you decide how long
you want to stay and just disappear when you are done.

TV Revelations
The/Los Simpsons
Marge's and Lisa's dubbed voices are good but everybody else is horrible.
"To alcohol, the source of, and solution to all of life's problems."
Classic lines like this come back to my mind when they are spoken in
any language and any bad Homer impersonation.

I am not now much into Jean Claude van Damme(sp?), which is
unfortunate since his movies are not dialogue driven and are played

Other observations:
We overlook four tennis courts, which are next to the pool. Tennis is
most interesting to watch when the players are skilled enough to host
a robust back and forth game. Most players aren't that good.

The sunset is different from night to night and from time to time
within the night. Describing it in prose or poetry is beyond me, and
capturing it in photography is beyond our cheap digital camera. Like
many sites, the size and less than bright light limits our abilities
to bring the memories back.

Spanish roads actually have yield and stop signs, a major improvement
over the continuous flow of Roman roads. However, the obsession here
with traffic circles is unhealthy. The road to hell is slower and more
confusing than it ought to be because it is paved with traffic
circles+. When a road has no intersections, a traffic circle
anticipating a future road and intersection seems silly. When the GPS
tells you to take the fifth exit in the circle, did it count that
small driveway this time? And who has time to worry about that when
someone is exiting from the middle of the circle while cutting you
off? When a circle is so busy that you have to put multiple traffic
lights around it and in it, you've missed the point (and try crossing
that circle as a pedestrian). But they circle away, like a middle
schooler taking a pre-scantron test.

Many people here know no English, but more importantly, many know a
little and are willing to try, with some gesturing. We greatly
appreciate this hospitality.

Love of Ham
Andalucia is a big ham region. So is North Carolina, with more pigs
than people (roughly 10 mil vs 9 mil, I think). But we don't go crazy
in NC and put entire salted legs of ham, including the feet, around
every turn of every grocery. These legs can cost €300. Who needs that
much meat? Jenny* pointed that some centuries-old salt preservation
methods have run their course and can be replaced by refrigeration.
But the love persists: the Museum of Ham is a large store, featuring
you guessed it. Ham sneaks into many menu items. Usually with a lot of

Seaweed makes a regular appearance on the beach. Wednesday's super
high tides pushed 10 yards of it, shoreline to dunes, 4 inches thick.
It makes quite a slippery, squishy-noise impression. Some people pay
for this treatment; I'd pay to have it removed. It does not smell bad
yet. I had feared the smell would be unbearable, but it wasn't very

The mosquitoes have made an appearance. Raid makes a Glade-like plug
in that could be popular here due to the unpopularity of window

The pool and play areas in the complex courtyard mean children make an
almost constant din of joyful noise. This is very enjoyable to have
close to home. Half the fun of the beach is the sight and sounds of
kids as they play in the waves and sand%.

+How fast and unconfusing the road to Hell ought to be is a regular
topic at Duke Divinity School. Enroll now, mention the coupon code
"Global DanPark, " and get 5% off tuition. Use the DanPark Platinum
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lecture seating. Note to CA consumers: this is not an offer nor a
guarantee of credit; it is instead a guaranteed credit offer.

*So she's the racist ham hater, not I

%The other half is Sodium Benzoate, used as a preservative, and 3% juice.

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