AKA Abraham Bacoln

Oh yeah I also saw a statue of Hans Christian Andersen
July 7, 2007, 4:23 pm
Filed under: Spain

I looked in the mirror the other day and was pleased to see that I have lost weight, as desired and expected. I was by no means fat but my abs weren’t as well-defined as they used to be. Now I’m a little bit back towards the shape I prefer. Perhaps – just perhaps – walking more than usual and eating less junk food has something to do with it. More on that in a minute!

This place is crawling with scooters and Vespas and little waspy-sounding two-stroke motorcycles, dirt bikes, and even the occasional 4-wheeler. It makes me sad almost every time I see one of them. I want Mark and Matt to be here with their real bikes and their leather jackets. I want to have the best parts of American culture here with me.

I got a haircut yesterday. It was a strange and wonderful experience. I have never had my hair cut in a foreign country. Normally it’s the kind of thing one takes care of before departure – which I did, kind of, but it was too early and I like to keep my hair short. There’s precious little I can do to defend against the uglies, and haircuts are one of them. Without haircuts I’m lost. I scouted out a location … let me interrupt myself here and say that Málaga is just smothered in peluquerías (hair salons) but an honest barbershop is hard to come by. I mean I can’t throw a rock without hitting a salon or a pharmacy but a place where real men can show up and just sit in an empty chair and read the newspaper while other men in white coats with immaculate hair take care of the earlier patrons (all men) with just the right amount of small talk … that’s a rare thing. A rare thing indeed.

It was with great pleasure I spotted this barbershop downtown. I even wrote the address down in my notebook, that’s how sure I was that I’d be back. The time came the other day and I was of course apprehensive – we’ve not been studying words related to haircuts in class, ha ha. Anyway, I sat down and apologized for not speaking perfect Spanish. It was hot in there, no air conditioning, and in the still air I felt like I could smell everything in the room. It didn’t take long to describe what I wanted done. It made me realize that with all the pantomime involved I didn’t even need to try to speak. Because of this when I next get my hair cut in the States I’m going to speak to my stylist only in Spanish and see what kind of cut I get.

The electric clippers on the sides and back of my head were first, of course, and then that’s when things diverged from normal. He picked up a pair of old scissors, ones that went klik-klik-klik and he became a machine. His hand never stopped opening and closing the scissors. Even when he would stop actually cutting my hair to look at what he’d done and make sure it was right the scissors kept going – klik-klik-klik – almost as if he wasn’t able to stop. Then the scissors got switched out for some with a much older, more metallic klik-klik-klik. He asked me if I wanted my sideburns shortened – sure, why not. Klik-klik-klik. The best part, hands-down, was the point in time in which everything else was done except for the trimming of the neck. I hadn’t noticed any very tiny electric clippers sitting on his counter. I realized why after I saw him open up a straight razor (with a disposable blade, but a hand-held single-blade razor nonetheless) and start in on the neck. I don’t think I’ve ever felt the desire to sit more still in my life. It wasn’t even that I was afraid – it just felt like if I moved and got cut it would be disrespectful to this artist of a man. I would have felt completely at fault.

Snnnch-snnnch-snnnch went the razor all over my neckline, around my ears, and even taking care of what was left of my sideburns. When it was all done I stood up, admired the amazing job he’d done, and paid him his well-earned money. It took no longer than a usual haircut – maybe even a little bit faster than Tommy Trisdale (God rest his soul) used to do. But it was the best haircut of my life. I only wish I were here long enough to do it all over again.

Last night I once again ate dinner with my friends Ludivine and Yuri. The restaurant was a disappointment so I won’t bother with its name. We decided to return to La Paloma for dessert and I managed to get my hands on my panqueque with dulce de leche. It was everything I wanted it to be.

Today was going to be my excursion to Granddad’s house. Once again I woke up and consulted the maps, checked the route (but not schedule, as I have no timetable) for the No. 10 bus out of Málaga towards the airport. I got downtown and walked to the block where there was supposed to be a stop for the 10, and it just didn’t exist. At all. All the other buses that were supposed to stop in that block, or the next, or the next – they all had their stops. The 10 just wasn’t there. I eventually went a block or two over to the buses that number in the 100s, the non-standard buses. There is a bus 110 that goes to a similar area, but no one had a detailed map that could tell me if it’s the same streets or not. I decided I was not about to take a one-hour (more or less) bus ride to a neighborhood that I don’t have a paper map for, on a bus that may not even go to the same area of the neighborhood that I have researched, and try to find my way another kilometer or two off the bus line to Granddad’s house.

Now I’m torn on what to do. I guess I’m just going to have to take the train to Torremolinos and get a taxi. That seems ludicrous as the conversation would have to be something like, “Can you drive me out here so I can take a picture of this one place, but wait for me, because I don’t know where there’s a bus to find my way back?”

And man, I know I’m studying Spanish here, but I can’t find any decent information online about buses and trains. So much of interpreting search results is the ability to scan information, and I simply can’t just scan in Spanish. I have to read every word, and check every link, and there’s the damn good possibility that there’s not even a site for the train from Málaga to Fuengirola, and if there is a site there may not be a detailed map, nothing that’ll show me if there’s a closer stop where I can walk, blah blah blah. It’s all very frustrating considering all I want to do is see the house where he lived. At times I think, “I only met this man a handful of times in my life – why am I obsessing about this? I hardly even remember what he looked like.”

But I’m here. And it’s here. So I think it must be done.

So instead I spent my day walking around downtown. All told from the time I left home to the time I got home was 5.5 hours on my feet which explains why I’m so tired.

I finally went to the Cathedral today. It’s very big and very ornate inside, as is to be expected. It’s unique in that it has only one tower though its floor plan is a two-tower design. During construction they couldn’t raise the funds for the other tower. Later the town took a vote, or so I hear, and they decided they like it the way it is. Its nickname is La Manquita, which translates more or less to one-armed woman. As is to be expected it was built on the site of a mosque. That was a very hip thing to do back then, don’tcha know?. Work started in 1528 and finished in either 1719 or 1782, depending on what online source you want to quote. For 3.50 € I was able to spend as much time as I wanted inside, taking the following photos: (my photos tagged with Málaga Cathedral). I didn’t really want to edit the photos like I usually edit things. I figured I’d rather present them as they were, so (most of) those pictures are rather raw with the exception of straightening and sharpening. I believe, if I’m not mistaken, that I did some color correction on one.

After the cathedral a homeless man mistook me for a Belgian. I don’t really know what that means or how I should feel about it.

I needed something else to do so I walked over to El Corte Inglés which is the only actual department store around here s’far as I know. I strolled through there for an hour and a half mainly because it had air conditioning. I looked for gifts for all of you and found gifts for none of you. I’m so sorry. Also, speaking of sorry, they had a camera section with lenses and everything but it was really heavy on Nikon, and if that ain’t sorry I don’t know what is.

Okay so here’s where we get back to the food and weight and all that from the very opening of this post. Every time I take the No. 11 bus into town it goes past the only McDonald’s I’ve seen here. Every day I’m tempted to be an utter tourist and eat there. Today I gave in.

MIND YOU this was done under the guise of Science, wherein I perform an experiment and compare the taste of the Spanish Big Mac to to the American Big Mac. Consider it quality control for the ghost of Ray Kroc, I dunno.

Short answer: uncanny. Exactly the same. Even the ketchup (delivered in packets) tasted the same, which is odd, because the ketchup in the fridge here sure doesn’t taste like home. Okay, so the Coke was different but I think that’s ’cause all the Coke here is different. I’m assuming they’re still using cane sugar instead of corn syrup, because it’s different in the “sure tastes better” kind of way.

McDonald’s here serves beer too, which almost messed up my experiment. In the end I decided to stay true to the American vision of Mickey D’s and not let the prospect of beer tempt me. ‘Course they serve San Miguel products, so it was a lot easier not to be swayed.

Afterwards I felt like an exploded toad, and realized that McDonald’s food may actually be poison or assembled out of styrofoam, take your pic. It sure wasn’t a pleasant kind of full.

To help myself help myself I took a walk through the kilometer-long park that runs by the beach. It’s full of a blue million trees and is spotted with fountains and flowers and people making out. If you walk slowly enough and stare very hard in the opposite direction of the action there’s one of those three things (fountains, flowers, people making out) that you can make uncomfortable.

Finally I ended up at the bus stop beside the bullring. I decided to walk around the ring before catching the bus, just to make sure I couldn’t find entrance. I didn’t, but I did find a lime tree and I picked and cut open a lime just to have something to smell. It was fascinating, wild and intense, halfway like citrus and halfway like black walnut. It made me almost indescribably happy.

Now I’m home. Tired. Ready to sleep.

The only real food of note today was A.) the usual awesome sandwich that the Sra. makes for Saturday lunches and B.) my dinner of a few chunks of Manchego cheese topped with a touch of peach marmalade. Can’t beat that.

See you soon. I think about you all the time, all of you. We should go get a drink sometime.

4 Comments so far
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The pictures of the cathedral are gorgeous. From the handful of cathedrals that I’ve been in, I was never able to take pictures that didn’t turn out as a dark mess. Good luck on finding an easy route to your Grandfathers.

Comment by stacie

thank you for posting about the Barber shop! How wonderful!
I know of the techniques you described… very cool

you better be careful about speaking to your stateside Barber in only Spanish….
good thing i wrote down how i cut it last time

Comment by Kyla

Please post a picture of your American haircut ordered in Spanish! (For comparison sake, of course.)

Comment by Mel

Mel: it’s right here.

Comment by Kevin O'Mara

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