Monday, January 12, 2009

Carnaval, water water water everywhere, and MotoGP

Thursday, 29 January: Time passes so fast when you don't want it to, and so sloooow when you want it to be fast. grrrrr Cannot believe that I'm on my last days in Rota. The last few days have been very cloudy, so much that I've skipped watching sunsets and will wait till next week before I'll pass by the beach again. Yuppy, you read that correctly: I am on strike till next Monday!!!

I've spoken here a few times about the spanish Carnaval.... If you haven't seen or heard the Cadiz Carnaval, you're in for a grand, though pleasant surprise. The streets are filled with small performances, and these are spread to the small town and cities around Cadiz; Rota is no exception. It consists of a group chorus, or a smaller quartet, or small groups which fling satire on anything and everything; nobody and nothing is spared. It can be political, the weather, global warming, some silly incident that earned national news coverage, or just the whim of the musician who writes the lyrics. The melody is always the same but the costumes and lyrics are unique and judging of the best is based on costume, lyrics, background, and more. It always amazes me how so many people participating can memorize so many lyrics and sing in harmony all at once! The accompanying images were taken with the cell camera again to capture actual live performance off the television screen, to show you just a bit through the Cadiz local channel:
The music and lyrics flies very fast, and when you get the people/groups of Cadiz then a lot of spanish slang is used... your spanish should be in excellent form or close to it, or you'll miss the bulk of it. But it's all in jest, fun and the audience love it. One can even watch it just to marvel at the performance, the costumes and the comedy of it all.... people come from all over Spain for the final performance when only the best fight to earn the biggest and final prize. There is nothing like it in the world that I have seen or heard. I've been in Cadiz very few times during Carnaval as the streets are so crowded and the bars/restaurants even more so. So, if you're ever in southwestern Spain about the end of January and through the end of February, then you're in for a special treat as carnaval throughout Spain, if celebrated at all, is not the same. In the Cadiz province carnaval takes on a special emotion and it's all for a good {great} time! Another site to read and see carnaval is please remember these above two links are spanish links, therefore, your knowledge of the spanish language should be very functional.

Read today in the newspaper how the Hurones water reservoir had its storm gates opened last night for the first time since 2001. This reservoir supplies water to most of the Cadiz province in cluding Rota. Due to a somewhat "normal" winter start and especially the last few weeks of rain, it's at its highest capacity in years at 91% and when the storm gates were opened to allow the waters to flow... but not to waste, as it will be flowing downstream to a smaller body of water to fill that.

Interested in the european style of motorcycle racing? Like the MotoGP and planning to buy tickets online to watch the Gran Premio de Jerez in early May? Well, many others are also but beware: the Jerez de la Frontera racetrack officials have released information today that illegal FAKE tickets are being sold online. This weekend events draws thousands to the Cadiz province - my province! each year and they are warning those interested in attending to be sure they buy only from authorized vendors. Never seen MotoGP? Please pass by my friend's flickr site to see some past images captured during previous MotoGP races.

Sunday, 25 January: It's yet another cloudy day in Rota. The north of Spain suffered through the night with high winds, reaching over 190kph in some areas. I had my bed comforter hanging on the clothes-lines and when I awoke in the morning, it was gone. I looked below and it was in my downstairs neighbor terrace. I was trying to figure out how to explain to him I wanted the comforter back when I saw his big dog sniff at the comforter a few times, circled it then curled into a ball and rested his head on my comforter. Well, at least he could use it because as I am allergic to dog, cats and women, I won't claim it now. At the next gypsy market this coming Wednesday, I'll pick up a new one... or at I have so few days remaining, maybe I won't!

Another weather low is blowing through in a few more days, though luckily the southern region - as usual - is starting to warm up again with sol.... Across the bay in Cadiz, the spanish Carnaval has begun and it's again a great time. While I lived here, I'd watch the try-outs in the Theater Manuel de Fallas on the television, and listen to it at night on the radio. While in the states, I'd listen to it by internet radio, happily enjoying the satire and lyrics. Over 300 groups have signed up to compete in this year's edition and it's going to be another great Carnaval. The Obama theme has already appeared in the first day of the festivities and performances and am sure the name will reappear. In fact, the other day I read in the newspaper how a service vessel in Cadiz has been renamed Obama..... it seems more than 6 million spaniards tuned in to watch the swearing-in ceremonies on the small screen, which is a lot of spainish eyes. It's almost as if Spain were watching a European Cup Soccer finals playoff; that's how many people were watching! The streets would be deserted, and the shopping activity would be very mininal except for lost tourists.

My eyes are steadily improving. With the high winds of recent days I've been using my eye drops even more than back in SF, and though there have been instances of street junk blowing into my eyes, I've been fortunate to not have any real damage. I am surprised how so few people have even noticed that I am not wearing glasses. Of the many people I know and have greeted since my return, I can count on one hand the few who noted right off that I am without glasses.... sigh.

Not always running with good luck nor fortune, I've been often thrown a curve ball, and seems I have been dealt yet another. Luckily, my decision to return soon to live in Spain won't be too far in the future and I'll easily forget the few good times had in the states, the beautiful scenery seen while traveling to and experienced, and the very few friends I knew will soon forget me. I always wonder why I am alone and though I know there's a reason for it, I wish someone would tell me why because it's a miserable feeling. sigh.....

Last night was a gray sunset, and am glad I didn't go out thinking there might be some color, because right now my Life looks so empty and gray. But, nobody knows and even if someone knew, who would care? We already know nobody reads this blog..... except for two persons outside the USA. Lucky them!!

Looks like the only bright points in my life now is getting back to SF so I can start packing my stuff to somehow figure out how to get my stuff back to Rota, plus a possible artnudes exhibit in a small downtown Rota bar soon after I return ~ at least I will be back in a place where I can "afford" framing. Last trip to Rota I brought with me five 8"x12" images with me of SF scenes to be framed. I had them framed at a friend's frame shop, but
ran out of money and so left them there.... a year later, I might have money to finally pick them up. All five framed pictures won't even cost me 90€ {though recomputed at 2009 costs}, so I am so happy at that end result that he didn't sell them to someone else thinking I wasn't returning......

Seems like all my life I am packing or unpacking, or living out of boxes. If only I could pack myself into a small box and send myself to Mars. Sure it'd be a long journey and I'd probably die, but that actually isn't a bad idea. Perhaps I'll get lucky and will get my life snuffed out in a flash of flames enroute SF.... but I know I would never be that lucky!! sigh....

It would make everything so much nicer and easier.... if one did not exist.

I cannot believe I am at a public wifi terminal with my laptop and for the past 30minutes it has been pouring down rain with even thunder!! grrrrr

Thursday, 22 Jan:
Another overcast day but I like the overcast and cloudy moreso than the hot clear skies that is usually so typical of this area, even in winter. Last January 2008 when I was here I could've worn tee-shirts all day, but this year the winter has been very normal for the season. Southern Spain needs the rain and when I bussed from Sevilla over a week ago, that's the first thing I noticed: the very green fields and the very moist ground - it's strange to see this part of Andalucia - or any area of Andalucia for that matter - so moist and growing, instead of a dying brown. Unlike California, there are NO fires here to pamper with the weather but the past few days when the sunset was able to be seen, it's been flaming, just downright gorGeous red and orange!! I couldn't believe how beautiful it was, and as usual, people were on the boardwalk, not looking... just talking and walking, their eyes blind to the sights that Nature offers us each and everyday, if we chose to see and to enjoy it. sigh....

I finally departed the beach and rushed home to see the pictures.... seeing them on a small screen is nothing like seeing the brush strokes of colors splashed in front of your face for 220-degrees, but I managed to survive again the glorious sight of the sunset but this time through the miracle of digital images.

During my few days in Rota, I've been bumping into faces and people (more people than faces) and getting the same reactions: Where have you been? Haven't seen you in so long... the few americans I know here have been warm except for a few (too) businesslike persons who put on an expression like they were even bothered to lift their hand to shake mine, and instantly I had the sensation that I shouldn't have entered their place. I have been trying to return to all of my spanish and american friends' place of business to have a drink, a tapa or a meal. This person... well... I should have stayed away. He was cold before and even colder now. It'll be a cold day again before I stop to greet this typical american. It's funny how some things change, but other things and attitudes never change....

I've decided not to buy the furniture and other big money items for my apartment as with the new presidency in motion, the dollar is already gaining strength,and am hoping that in a year's time when I return to live here, the dollar will be strengthened enough where I can safely buy the items and services required and not lose so much in the conversion between dollar and the euro. The other day I deposited a goodly amount of american greenbacks in my spanish bank, and instantly lost money, and then they levied a commission for that conversion of another $75 for a total loss of $900USD. In my two years in the USA, I have been frantically searching for a bank that would offer me a refinance or a personal loan so I can pay off my meager remaining amount and kiss this stupid Banco de Santander (they have NO concept of client relations and are very RUDE, plus in the past even with complaining clients they would smoke in their opened-door offices), and I contact them on a regular basis to inform them that their services and tact are lacking. The first opportunity I get to drop them, I will do so happily even though a pre-payment fee of 3% is imposed. These stupid bankers at Santander are the worst business people I have ever dealt with.

Only thirteen days till I reboard another plane to head west. ..... just so many sunsets, clouds , tapas and squid, and cafe con leches that I have to take before leaving again.

The other day was reading in the provincial spanish newspaper how one immigrant from south Africa has jumped to his death in a sad story of suicide. There's not even enough jobs here for the spanish let alone the illegal immigrants that come from the other side of the straits... this is just one more sad story of life gone bad. The investigating police didn't even thought it important enough to warrant a news release; the newspaper devoted a whole half page to this story of misery. sigh

Wednesday, 21 Jan:
I avoided watching the swearing in... it was all over the newspapers and spanish television. How could anyone avoid it? I went out earlier to search for a wifi-equipped cafe/bar in my little town and eventually even found one... just one in the downtown area. In fact, the owner is someone who, in my final months before moving to the states, asked me repeatedly if I would show some of my fotos in his bar. I couldn't as I didn't have any funds to print the pictures, plus no time with all the packing, cleaning, etc. When I saw him, he repeated the question and I replied to reserve me a date for a show of my newest artnudes created in oregon and SF about a year and a half from now... hahahahaaaa

The spanish news has been crazy about covering the american Obama craze, down to all the possible combinations of Obama souvenirs one can purchase. I photographed the sunset, then slowly walked back to my apartment, but not before I stopped by the cafe/bar to see the interior and to talk a bit with him. It's ben two years since my last time inside and I wanted to see how many photos I could hang, etc. The cold streets were almost empty of people, I imagined everyone was watching the tele for that insight into the historic american moment, and how everyone was hoping for his success, as his success was to create more hope for the world... wow, what responsibility!

I watched the bits and seconds on the late evening spanish news, then was amazed that they were to show also the George Bush movie by Oliver Stone: "W". I hadn't seen it yet so decided to stay up to watch it at 10pm. Of course it was dubbed into spanish so once again, everyone on the tiny screen spoke better spanish than I. At the end, I could imagine this to be a more dramatic version of his life, and how it shapen his life and presidency... it sure does describe and explain his behavior though.

The weather here has been cold and northern Spain has been beaten by high winds and surf, and rain, plus snow all the way down to the 400meter elevations. In Rota, the wind has been a very cold, biting hug at the sleeves, and my ears and wrists are falling off frozen when I am out snapping the clouds and sunsets.

Here's it's Sunday the 18th already and again am at a public terminal typing this. It's been a slow relaxing first week and more in Rota.... been meeting friends and it's good being back in the "swing" of things but saddening at the same time, to think I need to close up my apartment once again and leave this place. Rota might not be the best place in the world, but to me it's the greatest and living in San Francisco is nice, but there is no comparsion whatsoever.

The other night I was at the beach shooting the glorious sunset - as usual - and as I am shooting, there are people on the boardwalk behind me. I hear a voice in spanish: "Nobody would be out on the beach without a camera unless it was Tony...." and I turned around to see a friend and his lovely wife. We chatted for a few minutes, me turning around all the while to watch the sun, then they excused themselves politely seeing my attention was elsewhere, so I could continue to capture the golden spanish sol....
Another night I was in the tiny hole-in-a-wall bar where a friend makes the greatest chocos a la plancha (grilled squid). I went early this evening intentionally so I could read the spanish newspaper.... an older man comes in - about in his 50s but looking in shape. He looks at me while talking to my friend, taking a seat a good distance away from me. He talks then switches to the "old days " and continuing - this is all in spanish - then starts to relate of how he knew this one man about so many decades ago who walked into his office.... intently looking at me with a smile.... he adds: . . . and I remember this young man to this very day... and then he says MY name! What a surprise and what a pleasant memory! This happens often while in Rota, and I think it will continue long after I leave or return to live again. All of my memories in this location are good, unless it deals with the photo studios.

And this is why I am here, why I love this place and though there are several fake "photographers" here who continuously steal my image ideas and TRY hard to copy my style - always failing miserably, I still want to stay here. This is as close to paradise as I will ever get. . . and I will not allow it to escape or let some other stupid people ruin my idea of this splendid place. Now, if only I can find someone who will accompany me back to this place I call "home", who can watch the sunsets and travel with me? sigh.....

I have the long-awaited ceiling fan and a good Jerez friend is kind enough to loan me his ladder and drill. I should be installing it now but the spanish lifestyle is already taking over, and I feel like I should finish mounting both today.... but heck..... I'm on "vacation" and it can well wait. My soccer team Real madrid plays tonight and I'll watch them win again tonight as they did last week.

While I have been walking a LOT and thought I was losing some of that SF weight gained in the last few months, I've been starting to cook again, and eating a LOT and now am even heavier than when I was back in the Bay Area!! grrrrrrrrr I will just have to stop cooking so much and eating at one sitting enough portions to feed four hungry soldiers. hahahahaaaa

Friday, 16 January: Overcast day in Rota but still a great day for me. Though I love Spain and my little town of Rota, this brings back a lot of sad memories of being alone here. It now looks like within a year at the earliest, I will be returning for a final time. I'll be buying a one-way ticket back home.... I really need to care for my apartment, and closed up or rented, maintenance needs to be done and it hasn't been done. I'm thankful for the few great people who have trusted me enough to stay at my apartment, but it'll be closed nup till I return sometime in 2010. Now the only problem is trying to get all of my stuff back to Spain.....

Tuesday, Jan 13rd. 12:50pm: I'm at a public library typing this and it's funny how some thing seem so ironic... when I first moved to Spain and the internet was still a rare and strange "thing", I used to walk for about 20 minutes to a site offering free internet access. Sometimes in the winter it would rain down as I walked, and I would be completely soaked to the skin on one side only - the wind blew hard. At this location, I would sit at the computer for my allotted time and dry - somewhat - and the rain would stop. But sure enough when it was MY time to depart, the rain would start back up again, raining even harder than before, and I'd be walking in that rain again and get completely soaked again, this time the other side as I was now walking with the wind. sigh I'm waiting for a ceiling fan that I ordered at my corner electronics store though even when I do get it, I won't be able to do much as I haven't got a ladder any longer. I gave it away when I departed Spain two years ago... the person I gave it to stated I could use it though I haven't heard from them again and they haven't called me. I'll probably end up buying a new one soon. While at my friend's place in Sevilla, I walked all over the downtown area for several hours for two days and getting on the bus to get to the coast last Friday, I was really feeling the exercise I was getting now... boy, my legs ached! I haven't walked this much since I lived in Rota before!! I used to walk everywhere but being in the big City, I am always in the car driving my sister there and here, and the little walking I do isn't sufficient to keep me in shape. Even my spanish friends have noticed I put on a few pounds.... YUCK As it's still pouring rain, I think when I get home I'll go through my stored boxes and see what I can get rid of. I surely don not need to horde anything any longer. I saw three hours of CSI in spanish last night!! Dammmmm, everyone speaks better spanish than I do!! hahahaha Apparently they call the CSI: NY series a different name! hahahahaaa I did see one espisode that I haven't seen in the USA or here so I really lucked out! Plus my team Real Madrid won last Sunday night so the first game I see was a good one!! I've put up some pictures at the foto site if you'd like to see.... of gorgeous historic Sevilla and the golden Rota sunsets I captured over the weekend.

7 January: The trip was long and tiring but to be expected. The non-stop flight from SFO to Frankfurt, Germany offered three movies not seen before, plus a sunset seen but missed with my camera. I was however ready with the camera for the sunrise, which we chased for almost an hour, offering me enough time to bother the other passengers and snap away to get a great view from above those cotton clouds below.
A few hours of harrassment of two high-security checkpoints that I protested but being from a non-EC country, I had to tolerate it along with the long lines of others passing through to get to their connecting flights as I was.... This is making me rethink my next travel plans, and will bypass Germany and the UK, which I hear also has regulations requiring double security checkpoint for non-EU citizens even though we may just be TRYing to get to our next flight leg.

Then to Barcelona where I saw lots of snow-removal trucks working overtime removing snow off the taxi- and runways. I saw the gorgeous sunset just before boarding the flight to Sevilla.... had to dig myself into a corner behind some fake plants but I did get it! This wasn't the case in Sevilla as the weather was nicer, though the temperature wasn't too much different. I stayed in Sevilla two days as a friend was staying in my apartment. I walked all over downtown Sevilla, depressed to see so many stores empty and closed, but still Sevilla was beautiful in the sunlight.

Finally arriving Friday early evening by bus from Sevilla, I'm finally back and though I am happy to be here, the conditions of my place is pretty depressing. I have a lot of work to do but have decided to not start most of it. I don't have internet access here, and am using a friend's net access at a store he works at... it's nice to have friends. ;-)