I’m a post behind, so I thought I’d compensate with a list of humorous anecdotes I’ve been jotting down and meaning to share for some time now.
1) At 4 p.m. everyday while we’re finishing up lunch, the sports section of Channel 5 news comes on with Sara Carbonero, a famous reporter and entertainer who is dating one of the players on the Real Madrid soccer team. My host mom, Carmen, is so blunt about how people look – she’ll say things like, “AY, look how bad Sara looks today! Look at that terrible shirt,” as if she’s on a first name basis with her. “Amanda, do you see his EARS? Poor thing, how ridiculously ugly he is!”
I was told that Granaínos have a stereotypically dry, blunt, sarcastic, ironic, and oftentimes racist or inappropriate sense of humor. They call it the “malafollá granaína.” One of my professors shared with our class that a street in Granada is named “Cuesta de los Chinos” (slope of the Chinese) because it was the path that family members would take to carry their deceased up to the cemetery. Given that a cadaver typically has a yellow hue and the eyes are either closed or squinted….well, you get my drift. “Chinos” actually refers to the rocks that make up the pathway, but he preferred this version. On a similar note, Carmen was telling Emily and I some horror stories of students that she’s hosted in the past. One of them, a girl from China, would not leave her room except to go to class. Carmen finally got so curious that she peeked through her window, only to discover that the girl did not go out because she watched porn in bed all day. The comments that accompanied this story were…questionable at best. She was kidding of course, but certainly did not shy away from what we would consider politically incorrect.
2) The same professor took us on an excursion for a class field trip. What we thought was going to be an uninteresting, leisurely stroll around the city resulted in a 5 hour hike literally up the side of a mountain. I don’t understand how such a little, chubby old man can move so quickly. At one point, he had to wait and individually pull each one of us up with his walking stick because it was so steep. The funny thing about me is that I love being active outside and I love nature, but I’m not much of an animal person. Correction: I can do furry, not slimy. Anyway, when we saw this frog/lizard-looking hybrid thing and everyone stopped to play with it, I started squealing (okay, screaming) and almost fell off of the path. I told them that they had better keep moving along, because if I plummet to my death in the Rio Darro, I’m bringing them all down with me. What amazed me was that we were not given any notice of where we were going. I feel like a parent consent form or something would’ve been necessary but regardless, I made it out alive. At the end of the trudge he told us, “Si yo no fuera professor, sería oledor de flores” – “If I weren’t a professor for a living, I’d be a flower smeller.” He then proceeded to break out into an opera song (very famous, about Granada! And here are the lyrics), walking the group along a cobblestone path below the Alhambra.
And to think that this is class. In my grammar course, my professor goes, “Okay, for this week’s homework I want you to write down 5 words that you are iffy about. Actually, no. That’s too much – how about just 1!” We then learned about 30 different colloquial uses and expressions with the word cojones (literally, testicles) and called it a day. What a broma (joke).
3) Granaínos, or maybe Spaniards in general, seem to me a lot more…how do I say this…open than we are. When you meet someone for the first time, you give them two kisses (dos besos). I’ve mentioned how I feel about the P.D.A. There is absolutely no shame in breast feeding out in the open. Guys are very forward and open with girls too, especially on the street. I went running one time and someone shouted at me (in Spanish), “Stop running! You’re perfect! You don’t need to change a thing!” Carmen asked me early on what I thought about the Spanish boys, and I didn’t know what else to tell her except that they are, “very open about their sentiments.” She said it’s normal for them to shout things to girls, but added that the really cute ones only come out at night – I was dying.
When I took my seat on the plane to Amsterdam a few weeks ago, there was a group of Spanish guys more or less my age surrounding me, I guess traveling there for the weekend too. One of the guys started making comments, some more vulgar than others, about me to his friends in Spanish (“AYYY look at this pretty American girl you’re sitting next to”, etc etc), and I am positive that they had no idea that I could understand perfectly every word they were saying. Halfway through the flight, there was another older man sitting across the aisle getting completely hammered – he ordered about 6 or 7 drinks from the flight attendant, and toward the end started yelling profanities and pouring vodka in his beer. He was completely drunk, and the group of guys around me started making jokes about him. I started laughing and turned around to nod my head in agreement. You should have seen the look on their faces when they realized that I also spoke Spanish, despite my US passport, and could understand all of the embarrassing remarks they had made about me before.
4) The other day, I went to the movies with Emily and some Spanish friends we made here! We went to see LOS CROODS! Apparently at some Spanish movie theaters, you can buy not only regular popcorn, but also ham popcorn. Not quite sure what that entails. Anyway, I am obsessed with Pixar movies, but I definitely wouldn’t have chosen this one to see. I ended up loving it and being high on life though, I think because I was just so happy to have been able to understand the entire thing. Sometimes it’s frustrating because I still feel like I goof up all of the time and sound like a child when I speak. It’s hard to measure improvement when I hear myself speak everyday. I know for a fact though that I would not have made it five minutes in that movie had I seen it when I first arrived in January; things like this provide an easy way to gauge my progress with the language.
Another example: The other day, I was leaving my apartment to go for a run, and a woman pulled me aside asking where the daycare center in my neighborhood was. I gave her perfect directions, and then broke down in a fit of giggling after she left because I was so proud of myself that I had not only understood, but had directed her somewhere other than the main plaza, the Alhambra, or gelato.
5) A friend was working on a project and accidentally wrote that the Catholic Monarchs expelled all of the seafood (mariscos) from Spain, instead of the Muslims (moriscos). Things like this happen all of the time. Over Semana Santa, my family came to our apartment to have some treats with Carmen and then watch Bea dance. Carmen gave us a sweet typical of Semana Santa called pestiños. I accidentally said, “¡AH esas pestañas son riquísimas!” - “AH, these eyelashes are SO delicious!” There’s also the classic mix-up between embarazada (pregnant) and avergonzada (embarrassed).
We’ve had some funny unit conversion stories as well. When I went to Dublin to visit Bucknell friends, I accidentally almost took out 150 pounds in the airport, thinking that they were not on the Euro. Also, a friend told her host family that she weighed 12 kilo when she was born (about 26.5 pounds). They were astonished, although I guess that would fit the American stereotype.
6) Carmen always jokes with me that I am despistada because I am so smart, but always forgetting to do things: turn off the lights, unplug my computer, bring my laundry up, tell her I need to pack a lunch, etc etc etc. I finally looked up this word and the first definition that it gave me was “clueless.” “Wow, that’s harsh,” I thought to myself. “Maybe there’s another meaning!” Nope. Despistada: clueless, absentminded, in your own world, daydreamer, scatterbrain, lost in thought.
The more I thought about it, the more it made sense, though. She watches me attempt to peel an orange at lunch and about dies because I almost injure myself daily (“Amanda y la batalla diaria con la naranja” – “Amanda and the daily battle with the orange”). I told her that last year I got 6 parking tickets and 2 tows in the span of a month and a half at Bucknell simply because I kept forgetting to look at the signs. One time we were talking about being ticklish so I shared an experience being a summer counselor, in which one of my campers tickled me so hard that I completely lost control of myself laughing and punched him in the face, breaking his nose by accident.
It’s no wonder she thinks I’m a mess.
Anyway, that’s all for now! The days are flying by, and I’m starting to make a bucket list for the final remaining weeks – what a scary thought. I just figured out that I will be living with one of my best friends in D.C. this summer and doing an internship on Capitol Hill, which I am beyond excited about. Still not ready to leave, though! Looking forward to sharing more soon.