Monday, September 29, 2014

And Then Along Came Juan

I can't believe I haven't told you yet! A couple of weeks ago, San Geraldo and I received our new residency cards. This is "Renewal #2" of our temporary residency permits.

Considering the big deal I made when we received our first residency cards when there was a parade (click here), and a year later when we received our first renewals and enjoyed a sweet celebration (click here), it's interesting we didn't think a parade or muffins were in order this time around.

I guess it's good that it's become for us like renewing a driver's license (well, like renewing a driver's license used to be... there will be Spanish stories soon).

2011:  THE FIRST RESIDENCY CARD PARADE.
2012:  THE FIRST RENEWAL SWEET STOP.


Not Taking Everything for Granted
Although our latest residency cards didn't carry the wallop our first and second cards did, I'm at least not taking everything else for granted about our lives in Spain. And I still have to use most of my self-control to not jump out of bed just about every morning to take pictures of the post-summer sunrises on the Mediterranean Sea.

Saturday morning, Moose and Dudo were a bit rambunctious, so I gave up on trying to sleep in and headed to the terrace with my camera. They were grateful for the company. (Click any image to enlarge.)






It was a cool and comfortable morning and I spent a long time outside snapping away. It was so quiet and peaceful. But then along came Jones, I mean Juan, and I expected to hear his dreaded gas-powered leaf blower (click here if you missed being introduced).

I was relieved to discover Juan had left the leaf blower behind. My peace was not disturbed... except for the song that looped in my head for the rest of the day.

AND THEN ALONG CAME JONES... JUAN.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

But I Get Up Again

Yesterday afternoon I was out on the terrace and I noticed we hadn't completely reattached the corner yucca (one of our three large yuccas) to the wall since repositioning it a bit during the summer. I thought, "We'd better take care of that before the cyclonic winds return."

Oops. I awoke during the night to the sound of a crash outside followed by the tumbling of stones. The cyclonic winds had returned and it sounded to me like the yucca had gone down again. I peaked through the bedroom window and, sure enough, it was not where it was supposed to be.

IT GETS KNOCKED DOWN...
MOOSE WANTS A CLOSER LOOK...
IT GETS UP AGAIN.
DUDO INSPECTS FROM A SAFE PERCH.
THE WIND IS NEVER GONNA KEEP IT DOWN... 


I headed to the living room, planning to go out through the slider to retrieve the yucca and move it to a protected spot until morning. But it was pouring. I began to open the door, but it was being buffeted so hard by the winds that it was actually difficult to slide it and the gust that blew into the living room would have blown the hair off my head... if I had any. So, I decided to wait until the calm of morning and I went back to bed. San Geraldo slept through it all.


This morning's sounds of the surf...
video


The yucca is alive and well ... and vertical again. We'll rewire it later today. It's amazing what that plant can survive.


With gratitude to our yucca for today's inspiration...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Driven Batty By Vodafone

Oh, the huge joke that is Vodafone customer service...

MY MOST RECENT SELFIE, TAKEN AT BIOPARC FUENGIROLA.
(CLICK ANY IMAGE TO SEE HOW BATTY I'VE BECOME.)

I shared our Vodafone saga with you back on June 11 in a very large nutshell. The nutshell has gotten larger... and nuttier. I won't go into all the details. You can get up to speed (or down to Vodafone's speed) by clicking here.


Why I'm Batty
We canceled Vodafone service (mobiles, home phone, internet) in Sevilla and switched to Movistar when we moved here February 2013. They charged us for 3 months. I called. They agreed it was their mistake and gave us a full refund.


Then they started charging us again. I called and called. We emailed. I called. It took a while until we realized we could simply block them from our bank account. So, they said we owed them money. I called and called. They said we owed them money. Our friend the Goddess Elena called and called.


Finally, in June 2014, they refunded us... except for one month they decided we owed them. We didn't but, at that point, I gave up.


After a series of imbecilic text messages from Vodafone (telling me our service was reinstated, our service was canceled, call if we want to reinstate service), I received a text message that we owed 36+ euros for our last month of service in June 2014. They've called and called. I've argued and argued. And now we're back with a Collections Agency. When they call, I simply hang up.

The Goddess Elena and I might go into Málaga to Vodafone's main office. Then again, I might just keep hanging up. For me, it's become entertaining.


Watch this brief video to understand our Vodafone experience...
video

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

(Sway) Dance With Me

Summer is over. Fuengirola is now filling up with non-Spaniards. And many of the talented musicians and street performers have moved on while many of the mediocre ones have come out of hiding. These are the ones who travel with their Karaoke back-up. Without it, we might have no idea what they're actually playing. Played badly, one version of "Guantanamera" or "My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" sounds pretty much like another... and another... and another... and another.

SOMETIMES, THE GUY ON THE PLASTIC MELODICA
IS ACCOMPANIED BY A GUY ON A PLASTIC ENGLISH HORN.
"GUANTANAMERA" WAS UP NEXT.
video


Although the street-walking (and bicycle pedaling) knife sharpener is here year-round, he's much more visible (and audible) now that the crowds are gone. The music he makes is not at all unpleasant. And the sharpening machine on the back of his bike doesn't make all that much noise.


A WELL-PRACTICED MUSICIAN.
video


The way the first song is supposed to sound...

Friday, September 19, 2014

You'll Never Know If You Don't Know Now

Today would be my sister Dale's 63rd birthday. It's hard for me to imagine Dale at 63; she died before even reaching 30. So, she has now gone from being my big sister — 2 years and 9 months my senior — to being more than 30 years my junior.

San Geraldo and I had planned to go into Málaga this morning to take care of some business. I really didn't care what I did as long as I did something. But before we headed downstairs for coffee, San Geraldo suggested that we instead go to Bioparc Fuengirola, our local zoo. A much better way to spend a few hours and a nice way to remember Dale, who loved animals.

(Click any image to get the big picture.)


SIBLINGS AT BIOPARC FUENGIROLA.
AND MORE SIBLINGS.

I'm pretty sure that when she was three years old, Dale said she wanted a pony for Christmas. (Although, my parents celebrated Chanukah and not Christmas; and we lived in a 2nd-floor walk-up apartment.)

DALE TOLD ME THE LITTLE ROUND THINGS
ALL OVER THE GROUND WERE BLUEBERRIES.  I BELIEVED HER.

During her first year of marriage, and living in South Yorkshire, England, with her husband, Dale was outside the house one evening and saw her first-ever slug (those things that are basically snails without shells). When her husband went to kill it, she yelled, "Don't! It's cute!"

1966: LOOKING AT HOUSES IN NEW HAMPSHIRE...
WITH A COUNTRY CLUB... AND HORSES!
(HAVING MOVED 2 YEARS EARLIER, THE DOWAGER DUCHESS SAID "NO.")

In 1962, we drove to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania for vacation. There was a fly in the car when we left Long Island. Dale named him Seymour and wouldn't let anyone swat him. He didn't leave us until we reached Pennsylvania.

Six years later, we drove down to Southern Florida (same 1960 Rambler station wagon with no air-conditioning). There was a fly in the car when we left Brooklyn. Dale shrieked, "Seymour!"

STILL IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: DALE SETTLED FOR A PICTURE WITH A PEACOCK.

Dale died five months before I met the incomparable San Geraldo. She would have loved him. I hope she finally got her pony.

SIBLINGS, 1956.


She'll never know just how much I miss her...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Every Honey Bee Fills With Jealousy

I'm in love. Well, I've been in love with San Geraldo for 33+ years, but I've found someone new. Her name is Martina... and she's 2-1/2 years old. Obviously, she's not replacing San Geraldo (no one could ever take his place), but she is simply irresistible.


Martina is our friend Jessica's little (obviously) sister. Jessica brought her by and we met for the first time. I had bought her a set of books (for ages 2 and up) so she can enjoy learning her colors (and words) in Spanish and English. The books were a huge hit.

HUGGING BIG SISTER'S LEG.

We tried to get the very talkative Martina to say my name, but Mitchell is not an easy one for toddlers, even English-speaking toddlers. (My friends' daughter called me "Ditch" for months. She eventually started to get the idea that the consonant "M" was pronounced by pressing the lips together. Unfortunately, it took her a while to not start off with a "B." So, it went downhill from "Ditch.")

Whenever Jessica would ask Martina in Spanish what my name was or who gave her the books, she would respond, "ése"  ("that," as in "that one").


I finally told Jessica that we should give Martina something to call me that's easier and more recognizable to her young Spanish ears.


I said, "She can call me Miguel," (which would be the Spanish translation of my name).

So, Jessica turned to Martina and told her my name was Miguel and then asked her to say it.

Martina responded, "Miguel." But she quickly commented, "Él no se llama Miguel. ¡Él se llama Michi!" ("His name isn't Miguel. His name is Michi.")


"MICHI!"

Oh, I almost forgot to mention: I told Martina that her hair was very beautiful. She agreed. Then she looked into my eyes and said very gravely in Spanish, "You don't have hair." When I responded, equally gravely, "No, I don't." She told me it was OK because, "... you have hair on your face."

This post is dedicated to Martina and other sweet things.

IN A BAKERY WINDOW OUTSIDE THE ZOO.
DESSERT AT MESON SALVADOR.

SWEET CREPES AT CAFE EL NOVENTA.
PEOPLE ARE ALWAYS GIVING JESSICA GIFTS, LIKE LARGE BOXES OF CHOCOLATES.
SHE COULDN'T EAT THEM ALL... SO SHE GAVE ME FOUR!
SAN GERALDO SAID IF I WAS HAVING CHOCOLATE, THEN SO WAS HE.
HE HAD JESSICA ADD A BIT OF ICE CREAM TO A BOWL OF SAUCE.
AND SPEAKING OF SAN GERALDO...

... He's confection. Goodness knows.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Touristmolinos

I haven't spent much time in Torremolinos, 18 kilometers away from us along the coast and almost to Málaga. It only takes 20 minutes on the local train. San Geraldo had an appointment Sunday evening, so I decided to take a ride with him and explore on my own a bit.

The word Torremolinos means "Tower of the Mills." The city was a mill town ruled by the Moors when the still-existing tower was built around 1300. (Click any image to enlarge.)

PIMENTAL TOWER BEHIND SOUVENIR SHOPS.
YOU CAN CLIMB THE TOWER FOR A MUCH-IMPROVED VIEW.

In the mid-20th century, Torremolinos became one of the first tourist centers on the Costa del Sol and that history, sadly, shows in the souvenir shops and ugly signage overwhelming some of the meandering and otherwise charming stepped streets that lead down to the beach.

When we drove to the beach to meet friends for dinner some months back, I saw a bit of the beauty of the city. On this visit, I saw a bit of the not-so-beautiful.

It's a mix of old and new, elegant and tacky. It also has the largest gay community in the area (I think the first gay bar on the Costa del Sol opened here in the early 1970s). We're treated wonderfully and respectfully in Fuengirola and, of course, there are other gay people around. But after living in places like Boston, San Diego, San Francisco and Palm Springs, with their vibrant gay communities, feeling a part of that again was very refreshing.

I was there at the wrong time of day for great photos, but you can still see some of what I saw — the beautiful and the kind-of-ugly. Now that I know how easy and convenient it is to get there, I plan to explore a lot more and share some of the best (and less of the worst) that the city has to offer.

ENTRANCE TO THE "BEACH WALK."
HEADING DOWN TOWARD THE BEACH.
A PEAK THROUGH THE TREES.
AND THE WALK CONTINUES.
YOU CAN TAKE AN ELEVATOR THE REST OF THE WAY DOWN
FROM THIS LARGE PLAZA (FOR 50 CENTIMOS).
I ENJOYED THE VIEW AND HEADED BACK UP
(AFTER HAVING A GREAT CONVERSATION WITH A YOUNG SPANISH COUPLE).
PLAZA SAN MIGUEL.
CHURCH OF SAN MIGUEL.
AN ALLEY NEAR THE TOWER AND BELOW PLAZA SAN MIGUEL.
STEPS AND SHOPS GOING DOWN...
MORE STEPS AND SHOPS GOING DOWN.
(SEA AT LEFT BEHIND THE ARCHES.)
AN AERIE?
AT THE TURNING OF THE TOURISTS...
AND STILL MORE STEPS AND TOURIST SHOPS.
BACK AT PLAZA SAN MIGUEL AS THE LIGHTS GO ON.
PLAZA DE LA NOGALERA.
BURGER KING IN BACKGROUND, (BUT MCDONALDS AND KFC ARE GONE.)
MORE OF THE PLAZA DE LA NOGALERA.
FILLED WITH RESTAURANTS AND PEOPLE.
WHILE I WAITED FOR SAN GERALDO.
A FOUNTAIN ON ONE OF THE MAIN AVENUES (AVE. PALMA DE MALLORCA).
ITS ALL WORTH ANOTHER LOOK.