Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Saturday and Sunday in Alicante, spending time with my old host family

This is a continued post (and final one) about my weekend trip back to Alicante...

Saturday morning, we went to the open air market next door to their home. It was huge, just like the other one I remember from my time in Alicante. They have booths selling fresh fruit, veggies, bread, olives, candy, shoes, socks, etc. We bought Dante some new “summer shoes” and some fresh produce. Win win!

We then dropped off the groceries and walked to the city center. I checked my email at a local locutorio because I needed to check the name of a 7 Camicie shirt style that my dad wanted. Let’s dedicate a paragraph to the Locutorio. These places are a technology go-to, like a Kinko’s but with phone booths and pay-by-the-minute computers (checking my email, for 3 minutes, cost 15 cents). There were practically no lights in this one, which added to the creep factor that is already inherent in a darkly-lit computer place. There are video cameras on the computers to use video chat, but I would never have a personal conversation in a public place like this. There were only men in there, and just thinking about men using computers in a corner shop instead of the ones at home just creeps me out, because the only reason you would use a shady place like this in your hometown is for shady business. I used hand sanitizer on my way out.

7Camicie, by the way, didn't have the shirt. All their stores are really small and have about 12 shirts of each size, all in different colors. There is no double of a shirt, even in another size. You like a design but it's not in your size? TOO BAD! That's all they have! What a horrible business concept.

We went to lunch at an Italian restaurant, where Dante went down the hallway where the bathrooms were and claimed there was no men’s room. He came back almost immediately, telling the whole restaurant of people (only with about 6 people at the time) “Mommy! There isn’t a men’s room. There is only a door with the lady in a dress on it.” Rocío just smiled and said “Okay, then go in the women’s restroom. If anyone says anything, just say your mommy said it was okay.” Later, I went to the bathroom and saw the men’s door was wide open, making it hard to see the men’s bathroom sticker on the door.

Then we had ice cream at Pinnochio, then cupcakes at Las Manolitas (and I bought some to bring to Cristina and her family). That cupcake place is so adorable. Though, I think that is a requirement for cupcake places.

We then played at the park, and Dante immediately made a new friend, Hugo. Rocío pointed out a homeless family (she has seen them sleeping on the street) whose mom was pregnant. The mom and dad were surrounded by their five kids. Rocío told me the last time she saw them, they had four kids and the mom was pregnant. She was a bit frustrated that the mom kept having children when she was bringing them up in that situation of living on the street and begging for food. Silly me asked how that woman could even give birth on the streets and have the kids survive, as Rocío informed me that their health system here allows anyone and everyone to enter a hospital for “free” health care (in quotation marks because obviously there is a cost). We then went to the outdoor aquarium (in the middle of a park), then took the bus home. 

We then went to the mall, where Rocío’s friend works at the kids zone. She met this woman because she also has a pug; hers is named Butch. Lola and Butch are friends. The kids zone area of the mall is like, the greatest idea I have ever seen. It is a play area with a ball pit, climbing wall, table with coloring supplies, TV with cartoons on (with bean bag chair sitting area), etc. You drop off your kid for an hour, free, and pick him/her up an hour later, so you can shop without the “Mommy, I want this!” ordeal that comes with shopping with children. FREE. And there are about five supervisors/nannys that watch the kids. There was also this special area that changes month to month (that way your kid never refuses to go to the play area because there is always something new) and this month it was an inflatable planetarium. It was a giant black dome made out of that inflatable fabric that they make those jump castles out of. And inside it was glow in the dark stars or something. Dante didn’t want to go, but later during dinner, he shared that he was upset that he chose not to go in the planetarium and wanted to go before it was gone.

This is an inflatable planetarium. I wish I knew what it looked like inside.

Meanwhile, Rocío and I walked around the mall, and in Oysho (bra store) they were playing “Million Dollar Man” by Lana del Rey. I love that song. I told Rocío about Lana’s backstory, being that she was well known on the blogosphere before her “coming out” on Saturday Night Live this year, where she was awful and got ripped apart by the critics. But then she made up for it by being much much better at other live performances. So we walk into the next store, Pull & Bear, and they are playing “Born to Die” remix (by Lana del Rey). I was like “Weird, this is the same artist!” We walk out, go into Bershka and “Blue Jeans” is playing (again, by Lana del Rey). Rocío told me they must play this music when I enter any store. I don’t know, but I LIKE IT. I ended up buying two shirts at Bershka. I cannot get enough of that store...I think anything and everything I have bought for myself here in Spain has been from Bershka.

We then headed home and Dante and I watched Cars 2. It was a pirated version they bought on the street, and it was a Russian version dubbed in Venezuelan Spanish. Any and all text was in Russian, so newspaper headlines were just gibberish me. The dubbing was in Spanish, but Rocío pointed out that it was Venezuelan. I asked how, and she said their accents were different and some phrases changed. Like instead of saying “de nada” for “you´re welcome”, they said “eso no es nada.” I find it fascinating that for basically the same language, they dub a movie so many different times for each country. Can you imagine (if we bothered to dub movies, which we usually don’t) having a British English, American English, Australian English, Irish English and Scottish English version? And Canadian English? It seems like wasted effort.

 Then, at dinner, Rocío shared that we were going to the beach tomorrow (Sunday) and, in the cutest and most seemingly scripted event of the weekend, Dante perked up, got out of his chair and ran to Rocío saying “Oh Mommy thank you! Thank you so much!” and smothering her in kisses and hugs. Just for going to the beach. In a town that is located on the beach.

 Later, when Rocío took Lola out for a walk and said “I´ll be right back,” Dante just said “okay” and continued eating his dinner. For me, this was a big deal. Two years ago, when Rocío would leave for just a tiny itty bitty bit of time, Dante would start wailing and running through the house crying for his mommy. Now he is all grown up, not even drifting his eyes from his dinner plate, as he says ”Okay.” I almost teared up right there. There was a box of cookies on the table, and there was a contest on the back to win a trip for four to London for a weekend. Therefore, there was a picture of Big Ben. Dante, very seriously, told me “You know where I got these cookies? There, that city right there. “ “London? You went to London for these cookies?” “Yes. I took a train.” That would be quite the train ride. Before you say that it’s impossible, there is a Paris-London train that goes underwater. Still, it would be a bit excessive. So I said, “Oh really, and what is that clock right there called?” “It doesn’t have a name. It is just a clock.”

Then, as I was reading before bed, I saw a cockroach out of the corner of my eye, scurry across the floor, leading Rocío to spray the entire room with spray, shutting the window (so they couldn’t enter from the garden below the window), and exiling me temporarily to the living room for a half hour while the spray mist cleared. Then I was sweating the entire night with no breeze through the window and in fear of another cockroach crawling on my sleeping face.

We got up the next morning, I packed up my stuff, and we drove (30 min) to San Juan beach where her Brazilian friend lives (she's the wife of a coworker of Rocío’s). Rocío's close friends Lluvy (sp?) and Suyin are both Cuban, and the former is in Cuba temporarily to keep her nationality and Suyin is living in Italy with her German boyfriend. There is a lot of cultural mingling here. Unfortunately, Rocío hasn’t seen her friends in a really long time, leaving her to be a bit lonely. I think she sees this Brazilian friend, Celina, about once a week now. Celina paints as a hobby, so she has all these little art works around her apartment, which Rocío said “is like a museum.” It is just so cool and filled with fun stuff. Every corner of the house is decorated. The hallway has dried herbs hanging from the ceiling, the bathroom has colored soaps and a unique bath rug, the living room has bongo drums and the tiny balcony has three chairs, a rainbow windsock, wooden wind chimes, and a celestial-themed hanging decoration. And a rainbow rooster weather vane. It’s just a collection of the coolest most random things. I love it. Rocío is just the kind of person who has Brazilian museum-house friends.

We went to the beach first, where Dante and I built sand castles and hopped the waves (without going too deep in the water because Dante was scared). By the time we went back to Celina’s apartment, I was starving, and Celina had prepared us homemade gnocchi with homemade pasta sauce. I was ravenous, and this was soooo goood. There was also a big salad with beets and cheese and sprouts and all sort of stuff, and Rocío sprinkled some yellow spice on it which I later found was tumeric. I have heard of it, but I don’t think I have ever had it before. Rocío is just the kind of person who sprinkles tumeric on things to make them ready to eat. And Celina made some kind of mango-mint juice-water which was refreshing and delicious. It reminded me of melon water from Mexico, where they basically liquify a cantaloupe for your taste buds’ enjoyment. Slightly sweet, but not too sweet. We then sat on the balcony and chit chatted while Dante used some cars to have races in the living room. He has upgraded from just lining them up like he used to.

Dante dancin' on San Juan beach

I like the hands-on-the-hips look.

On Celina's balcony

Dante made odd faces in every picture we took. This was the best one.

After that, I went back to the train station. Dante was sleeping in the backseat and didn’t get to wish me goodbye. On the train, my back was a bit sore, but I thought it was from the rough seat fabric rubbing on my back. I got home to find a raging sunburn on the left side of my back (how does this happen, just one-sided sunburns when I was fully accessible to the sun’s burning power?!). Also, on my right foot. Not the left foot. Just the right (?!).

Rocío later informed me, via email, that Dante was crying and upset that he didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.

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