Monday, November 14, 2005

First weekend in San Sebastian

I’m still rather put off by the way business is done in Spain. The flat that I’ve rented is clearly ill-suited for the casual tenant (no microwave, kettle or blankets; and a weird collection of kitchen utensils, including a bunch of teaspoons that seem to have been operated on by Uri Geller, and are no longer up to the stresses of stirring a cup of tea), Solved the blanket issue for now, by layering my unzipped sleeping bag between two thin bed covers, but missed a day of classes due to cold from one freezing night.

Shades of UK credit card restrictions: local branch of French department store FNAC won’t accept non-Spanish ID such as my driver’s license, as photo ID for credit card usage.

The weather has been highly variable this week. Wednesday wind gusts en route to school were enough to blow a new umbrella into a twisted mess of wire and fabric. Thursday looked fabulous (from my blanket-free bed, see above), and then Friday afternoon was pleasant enough to take Bondi down to La Concha beach. He’s become a whole new dog here, much happier, and definitely more playful, perhaps due to our new less-confined living quarters.

The constant Seattle-like drizzle has a Euskara (the Basque language) name, txirimiri exemplifying their love of onomatopoeic and jokey words. Similarly Kukuxumusu "the kiss of the flea", a Pamplona-based clothing company with a hilarious range of clever Far-Side-ish cartoons. One of my new classmates, an Israeli-American chef, worked for a spell in Seattle, and is not too impressed by the possibility of similar winter weather here.

Strolled around the Old Quarter on Friday evening. Bondi drew a crowd outside one bar, with his “little match girl” begging routine, while I supped on tortillas and tinto. Since returning to the north of Spain, I have frequently been asked if I’m on mescaline … or at least it sounded like that, until I worked out that I’m being asked if Bondi is a mezcla (mix / mongrel; or as we say in Australia, a bitzer: bits o’ this and bits o’ that).

That morning (Saturday), we drove down to the Gros neighbourhood, near the Playa de la Zurriola, the beach east of the river. A few surfers were braving the rough conditions, which saw large waves crashing up the river mouth and over the wall near the Kurzaal concert hall. I’m waiting for another sunny day to walk to the top of Mt Urgall, betwixt la Concha and the river, for a view over the city.

The weekend has been pretty relentlessly rainy, so aside from a few long city walks, have been concentrating on my homework, and finishing off Philip Roth’s The Plot Against America. It’s a very well-timed work (or polemic), but even though written in the first person, I didn’t think it was very successful in pulling me into the narrator’s personal world. I definitely got the ‘larger’ world but was pulled along more by the turn of events than any close empathy with the protagonist.

Next off the shelf is Jonathan Coe’s The Closed Circle, sequel to The Rotters’ Club. I found it in the English lit section of FNAC which is much larger than any other domestic bookstores (not many of those of any size in San Sebastian) and thus not as confined to Dan Browniana and Harry Potter tomes.

Still very cautious crossing roads here. I’m used to American or Australian soccer mums in 4WDs looking the other way (or dialing in a third party on the cellphone) as they plough through a pedestrian crossing…but here… Here they are looking for the whites of your eyes, either before impact or later when scraping out their tyre tread.

Also having a bit of a DVD binge, catching up on a few unseen flicks (do they have a name for chick flicks here? chica plicas perhaps? pelicula = film) like Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Desayuno con Diamantes = Breakfast with Diamonds), Billy Elliot (Quiero Bailar = I Love to Dance), Will Smith’s Yo, Robot, and the very funny Shaun of the Dead (Zombies Party = Bernard’s Dinner). I saw that the local name of Rosemary’s Baby is Seed of the Devil, an immediate plot giveaway. I wonder if The Sixth Sense is called Bruce Willis is Dead Too! ? Posted by Picasa

1 comment:

  1. Well, your dry sense of humor is a joy to reconnect with. Bruce Willis is Dead indeed.

    Much love,