Friday, June 20, 2008

Wrapping up

Here we are preparing for the changes next week will bring. Lily and I will fly to England on Tuesday and spend the night with Oli's family. On Wednesday we'll fly to Chicago where we'll stay until July 30. Then on the 31st we'll be back in England.

Four girls from Boston who have just graduated will rent our flat in July and August while they work on their Spanish here. Oli will spend July renting a room elsewhere in the city while he works a teaching job with a great schedule (10:00-1:30 M-F) and takes a Spanish course. Then he'll rendezvous with Lil and I in England for August.

Yesterday our friends Leeann and Violet stopped in. We hadn't seen them for a while since they've been moving and setting up a new house, so we wanted to get a visit in before we took off next week.

Violet and Lily were on top form:

It's notably summer now and has been hot, humid and still the last few days. Schools are letting out, everyone's going on holiday, tourists abound. Lily had her last day at nursery today and we received her class photo:

We didn't know we were getting this (or that it cost €10) so it was a great surprise when we saw it, although it would have been nice to know the day they took the photos since I'd have cut Lily's bangs. Esquitxos is the name of Lily's class. It means 'sprays' or 'sprinkles' in Catalan. This goes along with the Xip Xap theme, which means 'splish splash'. Hence the school mascot being a sun wearing rain gear.

Otherwise, just waiting around.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Furgo Fest

Last Wednesday was Oliver’s birthday and every day since has held a bit of extra fun.

Thursday afternoon we went to the Daydream festival and saw Clinic, Liars, Bat for Lashes and Radiohead. It was all pretty fantastic, especially Radiohead, of course. We met up with a new friend Siobhan (pronounced Shi-vaughn, it’s Irish, even though she’s from Liverpool) and her brother Kieran who was visiting her for the weekend (He caught a glimpse of Thom York wearing his sunglasses and dancing wildly backstage to Clinic.) Oli met Siobhan and her boyfriend Paddy in a pub while watching a Champions’ League game a while back and they’ve all met up a few times since. Good fun was had by all, even though the event organizers had introduced a new ticket currency one needed to obtain before any beverage or food could be purchased. We had to figure out how it worked, find the right line, get tickets, then join a different line (the right one!!!) to get the type of beverage or food desired. We spent most of Liars’ performance working this out, but luckily all the booths were in front of the main stage….a bit exhausting and Spanish bureaucratic.

Friday night Oli went out for a curry dinner with his colleagues, which was paid for by Oxford House. Noice. Our friends Georgia and Mirce had stayed over the night before to watch Lily and stayed over again Friday because they had to catch an early train to Neme in France to see Radiohead, and we live next to the train station.

Saturday morning we also had to get up to catch a train up the coast to Figueres as part of our journey to the VW van fest happening at a nearby campground on the beach. When Mirce went to buy their tickets, he found out there was a train strike in France, so they would have to go to Figueres to catch a bus into France. They caught an earlier train than us and we wished them well. As we exited the house an hour later, we realized we had five minutes to catch the train (we already had our tickets) and ran like hell to the station. As we entered the platform, our train pulled up.

Lily was very good on the nearly two-hour journey.

Figueres was a very pleasant town. The train station opened onto a shaded plaza with a play park and fountain. On the opposite side of the plaza was the bus station from which we would get a ride to Sant Pere de Pescador, the location of the furgo fest, in an hour. We ran into Georgia and Mirce when buying our tickets; the one daily bus to France was completely booked, so they would catch another to the border and make their way from there. We parted ways again, wishing them good luck, and walked through a market and to the central plaza to play and eat crepes.

Then we caught the bus. Lily’s first ride on a coach ('autocar' in Spanish).

In Sant Pere we stopped in the tourism office for a map and found out that the campsite was actually about 3km away from the town center. We caught a ride in a passing VW camper thinking they would be going to the fest, but the young German couple were unaware of it and took us as far as their campsite. The man at the reception to their site directed us on how to get where we were going: walk down the beach for 2km. We did and it was beautifully fun.

We finally made it.

Lily helped us to set up camp and made a new friend whose parents had a cool vanagon (80's camper).

Then we got down to the business at hand: checking out VW’s. That first one is a Samba, a unique type of van (not camper) with 21 or 23 windows (count those little ones over the main windows) and a giant sunroof. Note: Lily was happy but tired so I engineered a sling out of a very unstretchy blanket we had with us. It was perfect and she had a nice little sleep while I enjoyed feeling like I was carrying her in the womb again.

VW threw a big barbecue on the beach after the van meeting in the field was finished. We danced to the great music the DJ played and watched old test footage from the VW vault on the big screen; it included high suspension 1970's vans riding over sand dunes and through small-town America. Then a musical group comprised of three almost middle-aged women from northern Spain and France performed, in English, various songs like I'm So Excited and Moulin Rouge. They were actually pretty good. Lily fell asleep on the beach.

We were still alive in the morning. We had only brought Oli's big rucksack and another bookbag with snacks and diapers, so neither pillows nor padding were brought. While laying on the hard ground with clothing under our heads, we were able to put aside any minor discomfort by reasoning, "If we were on a transatlantic flight, we'd be thinking 'Jeez, I'd kill to just be able to lie flat.'" We were lying flat, so what more could we ask for?

On this day another event would take place in the next town down the coast L'Escala. We had been there before (the weekend of the famous Havana Club Club Challenge) and thought it'd be good to spend the day there and then catch the bus from L'Escala to Figueres so we could take the train back to Barcelona. We hitched a ride with a VW participant who took us in his camper, with his mom and dog. Then got a lovely lunch and ice cream in town.

Waited a million years for the bus to Figueres, then got the train home. Tired. Content.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Three-blog day

OK, quickly in response to Colin's Barak-Obama-centered series of blog posts (See Taylor Street blog linked in the sidebar):

A recurring theme in my intercambios lately (mostly because they ask me about him) is Barak Obama. I attempt to explain his awesomeness and how the American electoral system works in Spanish. Vocabulary so limited. Task so difficult. But if even one Spanish person gains American citizenship before November and votes Barak, I will have done my part.


27 years of Oli

It now makes 27 years that he's roamed the Earth and Lily and I suprised him with afternoon tea and cake when he got home from work.

First we threw a water balloon at him from the balcony as he approached the building entrance, then we left him a note and hid in Lily's bedroom with tons of balloons.

When he found us, we played with the balloons.

Then we had cake and tea and opened presents (a box of his favorite Kinder chocolates and three mini Spanish mysteries for beginners, for reading in July when he's taking his language course).

Later tonight, I will regale the man with a loooong back and leg massage. I was supposed to buy him one, but it was massage or groceries on the funding scene this week. Tomorrow we attend Daydream fest and see Radiohead, Liars and Bat for Lashes while Lily stays home with our Romanian friends who, by the way, are very pregnant (two months 'til Baby Igor arrives). All in all, a simple but sweet birthday, I think...but we should probably ask Oli.

PS - Thanks to everyone who sent him birthday wishes today :)


For months Oliver and a workmate Matthew Watson Jones (aka Matt WJ) have been trying to organize a group outing to Castelldefels, but something always got in the way: the weather, paychecks being given out late, holidays, etc. Finally, it was all organized for this past Sunday....and two people turned up in addition to we Seeleys. Well we, Matt and Dan had a great afternoon, so great that we invited the boys back to ours for pizza and had a lovely evening out on the balcony watching the sea change colors. Nuff said.