Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To A One-Year Old

Dear Juju,
I always try to answer, but I don't always know what you are saying.  Poor Grandma, listens to your wonderfully complex sentences, and wonders what you are thinking after one-year of breathing air.

Grandma chases you at a snail's pace, as you scoot around the floor.  She changes smelly diapers for you, not because you ask, but out of our own comfort zone.  You discover something new everyday, with or without Grandma's help.   What a joy it is to discover 2 plastic cups that fit together, and doubly fantastic that they have lids!

Do you know about the word "no"?  You look at little piles of dirt, or the plants, or the computer cords, give us big people a questioning look, and shake your head.  How cute is that?  You seem to wait for the "no" word, and then choose to go elsewhere.

Grandma has renewed her interest in Norwegian "barnesanger", teaching clapping, and hoping for a sound from you that is similar to singing or saying a word she can recognize.

Your big smile with four teeth, your fine blonde hair, your peek around objects or corners to make eye contact, your own coded language that you use everyday (sometimes we give in and join you with the babbling), and the swaying to music, make this one year a bright one for me.

Let's go for a walk... stroller or back carrier?  Beach or pavement?


Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Who knows Flowers??

Here are some of the beautiful flowers in our garden in Spain.  I don't recognize them.  If anyone knows what they are, let me know!
This first one has lots of colors on each stem, and reminds me of a spirea flower.
The next ones have been bent over to form an archway.  I love the feeling of walking through it, and having the greenery and flowers above.  They are the ones I know:  Bouganvilla, but I wasn't aware that they had tiny white flowers in them, nor that they come in colors other than red.

The big yellow flower in the lower left opened soon after we arrived, and lasted no more than 2 days.  

And this is a new bud like the yellow one above, that I hope will miraculously open on the last day I'm here.  It will be the third flower of my entire 16 day stay.  

Monday, June 28, 2010


The fun of shopping!  Finding foods that are interesting, and not necessarily appealing.

I'm going to treat everyone to fried green tomatoes even though these on display are "salad tomatoes".
I was surprised to see the "green-ness" of the tomatoes, but after buying and having them on the kitchen counter for a day, they are turning red.  And the green-ish tomatoes in the restaurants have a great flavor!

The larger the supermercado, the better!

However, we managed to hit the largest supermarket on two Saturdays, and it was wild (with people):

And you are SO lucky that I didn't have my camera with me yesterday to photograph the rabbits.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Can't Stop Geocaching!

I have been geocaching for 4 years and even though people think I do it ALL the time, I've only found my 192nd cache on Friday.  I was especially proud to say that I understood enough of the description in Spanish, that I had a good idea of what I was looking for.

Because I had relatively good luck on Thursday, I stopped along a beautiful stretch of walkways along the beach to see what else I could find. 

 Some local Spanish geocacher hooked me by placing 5 caches in a row along the coast, right between Alicante and Gran Alacant (where we are staying).  I did numbers 4 and 5, and knew I had to continue.  So numbers 1 and 2 were logged without much ado.
Here's what made them relatively easy:  I had to find this mark to tell me I was at ground zero.

It helps a lot that there weren't a whole lot of people around.  Sometimes I could reach the cache from the walk and other times it involved climbing through the fence... very attractive to watch I'm sure.

The bag is mine.  The pill bottle is the cache; just big enough of a rolled up log and tiny bit of pencil.

This is what my activity log looks like for the past month:  (My geo-name is "Felles".)

Found it06/25/2010Felles found  1 - PASARELA ARENALES DEL SOL (ALICANTE) TO LISBOAComunidad Valenciana, SpainVisit Log
Found it06/25/2010Felles found  2 - PASARELA ARENALES DEL SOL (ALICANTE) TO LONDONComunidad Valenciana, SpainVisit Log
Dropped Off06/24/2010Felles placed  Treble Bug in Playa del CarabasiComunidad Valenciana, SpainVisit Log
Retrieve It from a Cache06/24/2010Felles retrieved  Bull's Suncompass Geocoin from Playa del CarabasiComunidad Valenciana, SpainVisit Log
Found it06/24/2010Felles found  Playa del CarabasiComunidad Valenciana, SpainVisit Log
Found it06/24/2010Felles found  4 - PASARELA ARENALES DEL SOL (ALICANTE) TO BERLINComunidad Valenciana, SpainVisit Log
Found it06/24/2010Felles found  5-PASARELA ARENALES DEL SOL (ALICANTE)TO REYJKAVIKComunidad Valenciana, SpainVisit Log
Found it06/03/2010Felles found  The Bergen Code #2          Hordaland, Norway

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Geocaching at the Beach

Geocaching in a new country!

Before I leave home, I try to locate any possible caches that might be in my path.  There are 5 or 6 that are close enough to get to by driving along the coast near our "villa".  This is one of five which was placed along this walkway.  A nice, leisurely, not too difficult to find cache.  The most challenging part is to try to be secretive about crawling around under the walkway.  

I've been obsessive about many things... and this is one of them, so I've learned to let the others ask about it first, then I'm ready to go.  I've been here for 11 days and FINALLY H mentioned that we hadn't found a geocache yet, and he would be willing to go with me early in the morning.  It wasn't so early, but C and Juju joined us.  These caches are quite small and don't hold any trading items, just a log and pencil.

Later in the evening, T went with me back to another area of the beach, and another walkway, and the picture would look the same except the container was larger.  There I traded a Treble Travel Bug (a treble sign attached to a numbered tag) for a GeoCoin.  Here's the coin at the break of dawn looking at the Mediterranean Sea.
Next stop: Maine!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Driving Skills

We rented a car here in Spain.  A friend who has been here before assured us that it was a necessity.  Although not a necessity, it certainly subtracted 2 hours of travel for C & H to and from their Spanish classes.  I became the official chauffeur, making 2 round trip excursions along the coast (about 20 km each way) each weekday.

I learned some new rules of the road, have gotten a little bit bolder about entering traffic from merging lanes, managed to drive on streets without the help of passengers, park in amazingly conservative spots, and get the car spattered with muddy beach sand.  With extra insurance purchased, I'm hoping I will escape unscathed.  Additionally, the standard shifting has been a factor.  I think there has been one of the entire 10 days that I can say I haven't stalled.

My most recent accomplishment was parking in front of our "villa" in a spot where many cars have used the sidewalk for two tires. (Four tiny spots are designated for our quad-plex villa.) The street where I usually park is exactly 3 mid-sized cars wide with zero tolerance. When I announced my intentions of parking there (there have been only a few times there was a free spot and out of 3 attempts I had been successful once before), H volunteered to get out and... save his neck "help".  However, all passengers remained, and with only one backing up, and a clearance of 1 inch from the curb, I squeezed our VW Golf into the spot, and squeezed myself out of my driver side door.  There was at least the distance of 2 side mirrors between me and the next car!
The picture isn't at all as exciting as the "performance".

Thursday, June 24, 2010

A Night Out

To have the complete story (and a little history behind it) of what's happening on this part of the coast of Spain for the past week, check this out HERE.  It is culminating tonight (or not) with miles of beach parties... party tents with drinking, dancing, bonfires, noise, and people being soaked with high pressure water hoses.  I know this because C & H were told NOT to take their baby to the party, and because I can hear it from my bedroom and "muy" loudly from the roof.  It's 4 AM.  I'm tempted to get in the car and drive down to the beach, however, I'm a chicken driver.  I don't need a winding cliff road of revelers along with the occasional siren for excitement.

Heck!  I jumped at the chance last night to stay home.  Today is a Local Holiday, with everyone sleeping off the night.  We were invited to party about 15 miles south of here, on the beach, with friends from Norway. As C and I were doing our last minute shopping to cover the holiday we got a text that our ride and guide wasn't coming due to a semi-catastrophe of being locked out of car and house with his wife and 3 children.  After a grueling day of Spanish class, and the completion of my second trip to and from Alicante, we quickly decided the best plan would be to go out for a leisurely meal.  I poured myself a glass of Sangria from our stock of 6 x 2L bottles purchased at Aldi's (you'll enjoy the consumer comment on this one!) on Day One, no more than took a sip and was ushered out the door.  I hastily set my poured glass in the fridge for later.

A short walk away there are numerous restaurants on Avenida Escandinavia (I kid you NOT), however, because of the impending holiday, some were closed.  We chose "International Cuisine" and a pitcher of Sangria.  Halfway through my "first" glass of sangria, it hit me.  Yep, the sangria "hit" me!  I suddenly was fluent in Español among other distant languages of my past, and I realized that THIS was not the sangria I had waiting at home... and the words floated back to me from my friend and Español afficionado, D:  

 Supermarket sangria is fine, but make it yourself sangria (or sangria at a local bar/restaurante) can really get you smashed in no time. You think it's kool-aid, but it ain't. It has vodka in it.

So, I asked:  "whatzinthizzangrrreea?" (The waiter was British, so he understood me perfectly.)  He wasn't sure but after asking at the bar, he came back with a list written on the back of his order pad.  A list of ingredients that I only heard a few, and understood that I might not be able to walk home if we finished the pitcher!  Things like peach liquor, brandy, Martini rossi, and of course, red wine and fruit juice.  I didn't hear the vodka word mentioned, but it was probably there.
Need a pitcher picture?

I still have a glass of Sangria in the fridge... (breakfast, perhaps?)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The view!

We enjoyed a great evening on the 21st.
The festival of bonfires is at its height: We stumbled upon a wonderful tapas restaurant, with very creative tapas.

I very nice mostly English speaking waiter translated the components of each dish.  I thought he was doing very well until he corrected himself by first saying it was "duck" and then "cod".  I lost a little confidence in his skills at that point, but no matter!  Both duck and cod were wonderful.  The "creative" part was the unusual combination of foods.  One was a cookie with a flat slice of apple, brie, and sugar glazed with a torch (I saw it being torched in the kitchen through the open door). Another was the smoked cod in a tortilla, with brie, raisins and nuts, some kind of sauce, and topped with a drizzle of sweet syrup.

 There were hot tapas and cold, sweet and savory.  We kept pointing and they kept coming.

Meanwhile, next to our table (on the street), there were chairs lining the street, and NO traffic.  It was blocked off for the parade.

NO one was seated, and no one seemed to know when the parade was expected.  One of the wait staff thought it would be around 10 PM, and since it was 8 PM when we were eating, our expectations weren't high.  As we were paying the bill, I suddenly noticed a few people sitting down, and a band in the distance, and several blocks away, I could see the police motorcycle escort, and the parade had begun. 1928 the fiestas of the Bonfires of San Juan were formally constituted. For several days, Alicante celebrates this great homage to fire, a relation of the “Fallas”in Valencia, where the main characters are genuine works of impermanent art: the bonfires and the enormous cardboard and wooden figures which go up in flames on the night of San Juan.

Every street corner had lanes blocked off for the "figures" that will be burned.
A street entertainer who sat quietly and unexpectedly scared the bejeebies out of passers-by.

Pretty hair decorations watching the parade.

And all kinds.  (The Simpsons were also featured.)

If you expected to see traditional dress and customs while in Spain, this was the perfect time.

 I snapped lots of pictures and hoped that a few would work.  Besides all the pretty Spanish dresses, and the men in knickers and jackets,

 and banners, and cute young girls and boys dressed up...

there was a very interesting, unknown to me, instrument that was used instead of the normal band instruments.

There were a few bands but there were more often 3 to 6 horn players, playing from music, in parts, on what looked like a toy oboe.

They were short, looked like a double-reed, and sounded like one too.  These instruments were accompanied by drums and percussion of some kind.  I got a kick out of the coat rack with pieces of metal hanging on it,

 and another band with tympani being pulled along!

This will undoubtedly be the most exciting thing we'll do while here. In a few nights I'm going to try to stay up until midnight to see if I can spot the bonfires and fireworks in Alicante from our roof patio.


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