Friday, September 11, 2009

Mr. Catalonia Had Pneumonia

This summer, I tried to photograph kids
reading. I managed to find some kids reading on
bikes and one on a hula hoop. But I must admit that
while my family vacationed in and around Barcelona,
reading was not the main activity I noticed. I would
say the north east coast of Spain, known as Catalunya
was all about the swimming. Alternating between day
trips to Barcelona and beach towns and coves in the Costa Brava,
our base was in a sleepy beach town called Premia de Mar.
It was six or so villages up the coast from BCN, and we used a
train to get to the city.

I began the trip reading Middlesex by Jeff Eugenides, and finished it half way through.
I read it on my iphone kindle,and read it obsessively.
It's not a perfect book, but the
narrator's gender switches around, and this detail makes the
book fascinating and unique. It reminded me a little bit of
The Danish Girl.
PLease read this book and then call me so we can talk about it.
Its theme of immigrant life in America was fitting for a stranger
in a new land--i.e. me in Spain.

Gus read the entire Septimus Heap series (4 books) very speedily.
He read whatever else I had. He read Half Magic, The Doll's House by Rumor Godden,
the second Benedict Society book, and many more. We are running out of books for him to read.

I picked up When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, who lives on the Upper West Side. But for the end of the trip I read The Family Markowitz by Allegra Goodman. She is a strong, interesting writer, but the voice reminded me too much of Middlesex, and that was confusing. Also, there seemed to be no child characters, and that seemed foreign to me.

While in Spain I never ran out of things to notice.
I kept making lists in my head.
And so I will try and recreate one of these lists below.

Things I noticed in Spain:

1. A lot of piercings, tattoos, and chic hippie clothes.
2. Muslims comfortably enmeshed in every day society.
3. Almost no artificially colore blond hair on women or men.
3b. The mullet is alive and well and stylish in Catalunya.
Also, long braids and many a dreadlock.
4. The "x" makes the "she" sound. Chocolate = xiocolate
5. Everything closes from 2 to 4:30, and from around 5 to 9 pm
everyone seems to be outside relaxing after the hot sun takes a break.
6. 30 to 50% of women are topless at the beaches, depending where you are.
And there are beaches up North with castles on them.
7. I never saw a childrens book store, nor did I see children reading.
8. The grocery store sells many types of sangria and bubbly spring water.
9. The salt is chunkier and very tasty. The coffee is stronger. Fanta tastes a bit like Orangina and is an acceptable beverage. Coke Light is very popular!
10. Donuts have replaced the fried dough Churros, known as xurros in Catalunya!
11. Most fashions can be found at the flea market and (some)clothing is inexpensive.
12. Cured meats are everywhere and delicious and addictive.
13. We (USA) wear more solid clothing, they don't. The big fashion right now is genie pants in all shapes with "t" back t-shirts.
14. Nacho chips are not easy to find.
15. The following fashion companies are from Spain: Custo, Zara, Desigual (new in Soho!!) Camper shoes. They have outlets similar to Woodbury Commons.
16. There is a Catalunyan national shoe we saw on hundreds and hundreds of people. It is a type of leather sandal.
17. In Barcelona, there are a lot of people in commuter train stations to help you.
18. You can swim in the Olympic pool which was used in the 1992 Summer Games and it's really fun.
19. The big artists of the area are: Dali, Miro, Picasso, and Gaudi. This combination makes for a very funky artistic p.o.v.
20. Barcelona is like Paris + Nice + San Francisco and more. It was really, truly, a beautiful city.
21. Instead of having Sponge Bob everywhere, they have the Simpsons everywhere!

Soon I will hunt for photos to add to this posting and write some more about the trip. In case I didn't mention, Henry had pneumonia while we were away. But that is a story for another day. Good night!