Romanian In The Basement

There’s an old Spanish saying that goes “Sometimes you have a Romanian man named Luigi who secretly lives in your basement.” Okay, not really, but there should be because that’s what happened to me today. Luigi is the assistant to the catering business the family has. What I failed to realize is that he lives in the basement (It’s a really big house, okay?). What with two Americans, two Spaniards, one Romanian an Egyptian living here, not to mention the minimum of 5 different people the visit every day,  I kind of feel like I’m living in a hostel. Or, as the hairdresser (who is a close friend of the mother’s) put it a “casa de putas.” 

Until you have to explain yourself in another language, you don’t really realize how silly your conversations are. For example, Renee and I were discussing the differences between Mrs. Butterworth and Aunt Jemima syrup and, if we had the option between spending time with Mrs. B. or Aunt J. who we would choose. Explaining this in broken Spanish to a 9 year old was a really grounding experience. I don’t think I will ever have an existential conversation about Pancake toppings without being 100% sure I can explain myself in my native language. 

We both said we would prefer to kick it with Aunt Jemima

Yaya and I took a 30 minute walk today. It was actually only from the pool to the dining room but it took 30 minutes because she would stop to tell me a story, (she can’t (won’t) walk and talk at the same time) walk another couple steps, start speaking in French, we would clarify that I was American, and then she would start telling me the same story over again.

T-2 days until I’m responsible for the lives of 11 children who don’t speak my language. 

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“I Am From The Tits”

I’m pretty sure my luck is about to expire. There’s no way it can go on this great. I’m probably destined to die at 30 in some really lame way (see: tragic segway accident). I mean not only am I here in Spain with my sister but I’m living in the house of a bona-fide master chef. La madre of the household has her own catering restaurant and cooks a breakfast that makes Paula Dean’s finest dinner look amateur. Today I found something curly with lots of little suckers all over it in my soup. I didn’t even think twice before I ate it. The woman could boil rocks in bathwater and I would still eat it.

The patriarch of the house reminds me a little of the scene in My Big Fat Greek Wedding where the dad is trying to prove that every word has a greek root. Except his version is inserting Spanish history into everything. It’s impressive really. Tonight we started talking about the fourth of July and ended up discussing how Ferdinand and Isabel were viewed by their subjects.

He encouraged Renee to just put herself out there and speak all the Spanish that she can. He told us that, one time in French class, he translated the phrase “The family ate a batch of cookies” to “The family ate dry cats”. It’s nice to hear other people stories of mistranslations. It makes me feel less embarrassed when I say “I’m from the united states” and Yaya thinks I said “I am from the tits”. She only asked me if I was French once today.

"The family ate dry cats"

They have added the 11 year olds to my group. May God have mercy on my soul

Scare Tactics

Renee and I made it to Spain safely, we didn’t do anything illegal or kill each other. Great success! We played “American or European” on the airport, you have to categorize people based on how they’re dressed. I won almost every time, all you have to do is keep an eye out for man-pris and pumas.

When we arrived yesterday the entire family was at the house to greet us. This was wonderful except for the fact that, after 23 hours of traveling with less than 4 hours of sleep, we were both in states of semi-conscious delirium. We would have slept more if it were not for our unusually chatty plane companion, Patrick, who only wanted to talk right when you were on the verge of sleep. Ah poor, sweet, annoying patty cakes. I probably wouldn’t have been able to sleep anyway because they showed blockbuster films like Bride Wars & Just Go With it, needless to say I was on the edge of my seat.

Anyway, the main source of entertainment alternated between reminding me of all the embarrassing things that happened last time I was here, commenting on how much Renee has grown since she was 6 and scaring the sweet old grandma (or “yaya”). It’s not very difficult…mostly because she’s an Alzheimer’s patient. All you have to do is stand really close to her and wait for her to turn around. She screams and smacks your arm and tells you to “get lost” but she’s a pretty good

An example of what Yaya's face looks like...

sport about it so it’s not as cruel as it sounds. Every 20 minutes or so she would turn to me and say “you’re French right?” and asked Renee if she was Italian a couple times. Uh, no grandma. Also BOO! Good times.

What with me being out of practice and Renee’s spanish vocabulary not stretching much further than “fajitas” we have been relying pretty heavily on the 9 year old granddaughter of the woman we are staying with. She is missing most of her front teeth, has ran through 3 cats in the last 2 years and has a hamster named after the prince of Spain. She taught me the spanish version of BFF (MAPS: Mejores Amigos Para Siempre). Needless to say we are totes MAPS.

We met our boss, who lived in the US for the first 16 years of her life, moved to Columbia, got her degree in IE (!!!) and then moved to Spain where she nows lives with her kids, husband and dog (Giggles). We bonded over our affinity for things like Quality control and art museums. I like her very much.

We start work on Friday! I have the 9-10 year olds. May God have mercy on my soul.

Forgot the Lawry’s

#ThatAwkwardMoment when you’re sitting in the airport and realize that you forgot the ingredient around which the majority of your Spanish 4th of July party dishes are based. Seriously, I don’t understand how anyone eats chicken (Also eggs, spaghetti, hamburgers, tomato sauce… etc) without it.

The holiest of all seasonings