Thursday, January 26, 2006

Where Life is Pork and Dogs Rule the Roads

So tomorrow I leave for Morocco for two weeks and I'm stinking excited to be on the next leg of my journey! I love all this packing and unpacking and meeting new people and traipsing around everywhere...this is definitely a calling!

I should be there for a couple of weeks but life is fairly fluid down there which means that I will have to fit into the flow of if it's the right time to leave in two weeks then I come back, but if it's earlier or later then I just adjust my schedule as my supervisors in the States, Spain, and Morocco see fit. The Arabic culture is about honor and shame, so the most important thing for me to do is not shame my hosts by leaving at a time that causes them to feel taken advantage of. Anyway, the adventure should be a blast and there will be more updates to come, however, I'm not sure how often that will be while I'm away.

As far as things in Malaga are concerned, life here is interesting. Here are just a few thoughts on what I'm experiencing...

Pork rules the nation...basically, if you are vegetarian (or Orthodox Jew) you're hooped. EVERY menu item includes pork in some shape or form and I'm pretty sure that animal fat is used to cook their meat in as much as the ubiquitous olive oil. I love this country!

And speaking of olive oil...WOW...i went to the grocery store last week (the one called Carrefour is about the size of 2 Walmart Supercentres (I think you may need to be living in the South to really understand the immensity of THOSE places) and really sells absolutely everything under the sun. Anyway, a row pretty much the length of a jetway was FILLED with various brands of olive oil. Are these people DRINKING IT???? If they are it's apparently quite the competition for the entire row of wine the next row liquor stores here...this stuff as available as milk is back home...

And why is milk not available here? I don't know, but maybe it's because you can't milk pigs. Seriously, milk here is not all that common...fresh milk that is. And most people don't buy it in the summer because it can go bad by the time you get it home if it's been sitting in a hot car (the due date is apparently just for kicks). So there's this milk in cartons that is called 'long-life milk'. I'm sorry, but those words combined really don't encourage me to Get Milk. I'm pretty wary of dairy past it's due date as it is.

Moving away from the topic of food...because we really don't want me to come back with a Spanish hind end...dogs. Everyone and their dog...well, has one. Behind gates, running loose, in the next apartment, on a leash, in the elevator....all shapes and sizes, many times clothed in sweaters...I'm surprised I haven't seen one yet in a matching track suit. And I'm totally fine with dogs, except for the fact that picking up after them doesn't seem to be the trend here and the sidewalks get quite slick with their trail markers. I'm sorry, but I'd prefer flagging tape to dog droppings if someone wants to leave a happy little trail for me to follow to and from work every day. And to top it all off, what I'm hoping was DOG excrement (and NOT HUMAN) was smeared ALL OVER our elevator buttons the other morning. I just about lost my entire breakfast and then proceeded to hurtle myself down eight flights of stairs at a very rapid speed. Needless to say I used the stairs for a couple days before venturing back into the coffin-sized elevator. It's all cleaned up, but I let someone else press the buttons now...or keep a very long fingernail on my right index finger.

Maybe I should say a bit about learning the language. If anyone has butchered Andalucian Spainsh, I have, and have almost begun speaking English in the same way: "I no good Spanish. Only English. I take photo?" Oh wow...just wait till I get to learn Arabic. Fabulous. But seriously, despite my broken Spanish, I've mastered (ie gotten to the place where my mouth will form words and I'll say them aloud) about 100 words and phrases in about a week and a half. That doesn't mean I can roll my r's properly or piece the phrases together in a way that doesn't sound like a 3-yr. old, but I'm quite proud of myself nonetheless. Oh, and I can 'lithp' like the Andalucian's and though I don't find it attractive (especially coming from men...they sound so feminine) it's the one thing I can do well!!!

Finally, as a good Canadian, and as someone who comes from a family where it seems the new default channel in our house is the weather network, I should bring up the weather. Pretty blatantly, I'm cold, but really, what else is new? I wear at least 5 lbs of clothes just during the day (double layers of socks, tights under my jeans, jacket & scarf indoors) and oh so many blankets and duvets at night. There's no central heat in most Mediterranean dwellings, and to top it off, the weather's been pretty cool. Coastal winds and rains one day and then it'll surprise us with beautiful sun for the next. Either way, the Spanish themselves seem to be cold so I am in good company. Everyone here is like, "But you're CANADIAN???!!!" and my response is that everyone back home thinks I'm crazy as well. Oh well, give it a month or so and it should be spring here...and hey, if this is winter, I'm doing all right!

Anyway, that's where I'm going to leave off! Hopefully you're all going to go home and slaughter a pig now...I'm actually going home to a rotisserie chicken picked up from a chicken place down the road from my apartment...seriously the best chickens ever!!! Don't you all just want to sink your teeth into a big chunk of juicy meat???!!! I can't wait till Morocco....lamb, kebabs....oh I'll be in heaven!

Catch ya soon!