Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Day in the Life in Catalonia

Sam dons the Catalan flag proudly.  Copyright 2015, polkadotmagpie
It took me awhile to put on my Americanism breaks. I was in a hurry to go and do, and the world around me was not at all.  Coming from New Mexico I expected the pace to be the same. But NOOOO!  It is delightfully slower paced, which means more time for moments of joy.

Each morning I wake and make my one cup Italian expresso coffee in the little percolator pot.  I have something small and sweet, like a sandwich cookie stuffed with fudgie cream or an "angel wing" which I buy at the pastry shop in town. It's long and shaped like a wing, made of puffed pastry with a tiny layer of fruit filling, topped with sugar and toasted pine nuts.  Then a walk on the beach.  Part of my morning dressing routine is to spray myself with "au de Halley" which is a delightfully scented natural bug spray named Halley...but I call it the prior.  Screens are not used here, and mosquitoes love me.  Then down into the studio.

In the shop I am usually greeted by 3 turtles that are eating their breakfast that Jordi our Maestro has put out for them. Out the windows of the shop is a vast variety of green plants growing that Jordi's wife the other Maestro takes care of. Fuchsia Bougainvilla, orange trumpet vine, ferns, grape vines, purple callais, bamboo, and various other annuals that grow all year here.  I notice something new every day. One wall of the studio is all glass, which lets in a warm natural light.
The indoor market
At 2pm here and everywhere in Catalonia is "Siesta Time".  Except for a few food stores and cafes, all the metal gates are rolled down over the storefronts.  The shops don't reopen until 4-5:30, and stay open until around 8. Our studio is open from 3 to 5. Then I usually go into town to buy food or look around. Sitting at all the sidewalk cafes are 3 generations of Catalonian families.  This town is not a hubbub of youth like my neighbor to the south Barcelona is. But neither am I.  Having their coffees, ice cream, wine or drinks. And they smoke, making it look as glamourous as the 40's movies did. I am getting to know the faces. I have met a few artists from the UK who have come here for the light or to retire. Areyns de Mar is an ideal place for retirement.
The fish monger filleting for his customer.
On particularly hot days I have gone to the beach for a swim after work. One day the surf was really high, and  I was in the sea with all the kids. Being knocked down by breaking waves that cooled my soul.  At one point in my childish squealing with all the kids I looked up at the sand. All the adults were watching me like I was nuts (partly true).  My instinct was to look around to see if they were staring at something else. But no, all I saw were 100's of children playing in the water around me.  That evening when I went to bed I felt as if I had a piece of sand in my eye. I couldn't flush it out.

When I woke in the morning my eye was stuck shut with puss. So I asked Claudia to take me to the doctor or clinic in town.  Not only was I driven by the bubbly Claudia, but her daughter Adrianda came to translate. Again, as when I was in the sea if felt like a kid being taken to the doctor. The clinic was like stepping back to the 1970s. I was the only patient. The doctor put some numbing drops in my eye and was going to invert my lid to see if I had something under it.  Her nurse came over to help and in her hand she had a large paper clip.  Yes, an actual paper clip!!!!!  I reached out as it was headed for my eye and stopped her hand to get a look at it. Perhaps in my distress I was seeing things!  I asked: "Is that a paper clip?"  "Yes" the nurse said and shook off my hand. In seconds the paper clip did it's job, the doctor looked. Nah, just probably Conjuctivitis--pink eye, what kids get.  Like the ones in the sea with me.

On the weekends there is no studio. So I usually get up early and go to the Saturday open market in town. There again are the people who were in the cafes, talking, hugging, kissing cheek to cheek.  Women my age look different than I. They look me up and down, knowing I am a visitor. Some who speak English start a conversation while waiting our turn in line. Others fan themselves with beautiful fans talking the entire time to each other. They are incredibly social, as am I. Fresh fruits, vegetable, olives, fish, and cured meats are the general fair.  It's slow food 100%.  Mostly seasonal, and extremely fresh. I go to the market every day for a few items. It's not because I have to have them. It's because that is where the life is.
One of my favorite sellers at the market. She always has beautiful plants and flowers too. 
I do my laundry which gets hung out on my balcony on a portable drying rack. Dryers, as well as screens are not a part of everyday life here, and for most of Europe. No that is part of the daily routine. The dish rack is not next to the sink like in America. It is a double decker rack hidden in a 2 door cabinet above the sink. Perfect planning. IKEA sells these, I know.

This week was an annual town festival in Areyns de Mar. Celebrating  Saint Zenon who drove out the plague.  I have enjoyed lots of dancing, giant puppets, and music.  Women sat at the concert fanning themselves looking very elegant. The men don't get fans...seems unfair, they were hot too.  We had a BBQ at the church and stood at tables eating our sausage and bread rubbed with fresh tomato, and there were carafes of wine and water that people drain into their mouths like a watering can without their lips touching the spout. No cups. This is a Catalan tradition that takes practice and skill.  My roommate Arlene did it.  I took a pass. But I think I will bring one home to use in my studio for the vegetable oil.
The King and Queen in the town square.

Dinner is not until 9pm.  You see the tablecloths and candles being set at the cafes. People dine until 11 or midnight. Outdoors all together, it is very social again. Clinking of glasses and laughter can be heard all up and down the street.  I am usually home in my apartment by then. The magpies making their clicking noises as they are nesting for the night.  And so am I.

Each day is a gift, open now.

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