Monday, August 16, 2010

If anyone's been wondering...

Yes, I still have some stuff to post about Germany and Holland. If I decide to get to it. Probably will. Eventually.

This evening, I went to the Trader Joe's where I worked for three-and-a-half years, and had two fairly long Spanish conversations with two former co-workers. Both asked me if I'd been to Spain this summer. Apparently they heard it in my voice. Probably the speech rhythm more than the pronunciation of the words themselves. I don't reaaaally have the Spain-Spanish accent, unfortunately.** One commented on how much faster and more advanced my speech was than last year. I'm not sure it is, but it made me feel good anyway.

**Here is a very good sample of the Spain-Spanish accent. They use a lot of vosotros (familar plural "you"). They also make a "th" sound for every word with a soft "c" or a "z" where other Spanish-speaking countries make a "s" sound. So, the word cerveza, instead of sounding like "sir-vay-sah," in Spain sounds like "thir-vay-thah." Additionally, the "s" sounds that they do hve, carry a twinge of "sh." And god do I love the way it sounds. I love the woman's voice at about 0:36 in the video when she asks the guys what they're doing in the parking lot. To which the guy on the left starts making really weird noises, and the guy on the right answers her with que te caga en la hostia, tía... very, very Spanish. "Just alcohol, alcohol, alcohol..." the guy tries to assure her. Sure, like we buy that. Doesn't look like just alcohol. The guy in the black shirt at about 3:00 will also give you a good idea of the accent.

Oooh, and this lady's accent is fantastic. I wish I could sound like that. Can you tell how much I love it? Maybe just a little.

In my search for a good example of a Spain-Spanish accent to link, I found this: a man singing the Bohemian Rhapsody (karaoke-style) with a Spanish accent. I snorted a few times laughing. You may as well.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Some more Spain...

My last evening in Spain, I managed to do something that I have wanted to do for years: I wrote on a dirty car. My friend documented the process (see image below). Now, to really understand how awesome this is, you need to understand something. In Spain, they don't simply write lávame ("wash me") in the residue and grime, as we are accustomed to doing in the U.S. Oh no, it's much better than that. They write guarro. The first time I saw that written on a car, I remember asking what it meant. My friend told me and it cracked me up for the rest of the day. I then made it my life-long goal to find a vehicle deserving of such a compliment.

Pocket Oxford Spanish Dictionary © 2005 Oxford University Press:
guarro -rra sustantivo masculino, femenino (Esp fam)
  1. (persona sucia) filthy pig (colloq)
  1. (indecente, vulgar): es un ~ he's really disgusting
Here is my handiwork. The layers of atrociousness on this automobile were such that I had to actually lick each finger before writing to cut through to the surface of the car itself. I am not sure if exclamation marks are usually part of the finished product, but I deemed them appropriate for the situation.

I like to think that the car owner was not terribly insulted by my actions, but perhaps... inspired to give the little guy a nice "rinse." Or a scouring.

Actually, one of my Spanish friends who knew about my guarro dream, had earlier that day pointed out a marginally unclean car for me to leave my mark. Only after I had completed the task, did he admit, "That was Alberto's car." Hahahahahahahahahaha. What a dirty little trick (no pun intended). Sigh. Oh, I love it.

On the subject of writing things on public surfaces, I came across quite a funny sign in a Spanish restaurant bathroom:

It reads: "Directed to bathroom painters and artists. If you want to do it, please make it something pleasant, decorative, and original. (1) So that we don't have to paint the door again. (2) So that later they say that these places don't inspire sighs and passions."

I wonder, actually, if the translation of "sighs and passions" might instead be something a bit sarcastic, meant to hint more towards "astonished gasps and feelings of anger and retaliation." I say this only after years of reading the back of many a bathroom door. When people bring Sharpies with them to the john, they generally have an agenda to share with the world as well: Not always a pleasant one, and usually inviting of follow-up commentary. That's the way it works.

Then there are people who bring cameras with them into bathroom stalls. I mean, what's with those people?

I love this hat. I really do. I love it because it uses the abbreviated version of one of my favorite Spanish swears. Joé, qué caló, is what leaves the mouths of native speakers when they say, joder, qué calor. It basically means, "f$%# it's hot out!" ¡Qué calor! = "What heat!" Also, it made me realize that the sound I often hear from Spaniards at the beginning of sentences, a strong "HO" sound from the back of the throat (like a combination of Santa Claus and the French "r"), is actually the beginning of a swear that they don't finish. ¡Joé! or ¡Jo!

If you'd like to read up more on this swear, what is probably one of Spanish's most versitile, you can visit the linked words in this sentence. Or you can visit the Word Reference Forums. The explanations in the forums are, however, in Spanish. And if you don't know Spanish, then, joé, that's not going to help you at all.

Last subject of today's blog entry is one that I had a lot of fun with. This was part of an airplane ride with Vueling airlines. They had an absolutely brilliant page in their in-flight magazine in which passengers from various, sequential flights create a piece-by-piece story. The first sentence was started by them, and then they left a bunch of lines for the rest to be filled out. My Colombian friend and I added to the English side, and then to the Spanish.

Here is the English side:

I wrote the "... but it did..." part, and my friend followed with the "My neighbors..." part.

And here is the Spanish side (translated below):

I didn't think that all the food would go bad in a week.

Passenger in a previous flight:
Who would have thought that a trip of 48 hours would become a week-long odyssey?

My friend's addition:
From the moment I left, I was in a race against the clock to bring the "snack" to its destination.

... and, last but not least...

My addition:
At first, all went well. Apart from being in a hurry, I had my red cape, a basket, and much excitement to see my grandmother.

Ah, yes. I felt clever.

What I wouldn't give to see how the stories ended up...

Friday, August 6, 2010

I'm back!

I am back in Boston, and am settling happily into my apartment. I just got a sad email from my friend Vanessa in Madrid. Let me cut and paste the sad part. Here is the context in case you missed it: Read Story 3.

My friend's words:
Por cierto, el otro día compramos una bolsa de pimientos del padrón en el súper y nos acordamos de ti... creo que nos picaron 4 ó 5 de toda la bolsa (había unos 30 más o menos). Y tengo que decir que ¡pican mogollón! así que los que nos pusieron en Plaza de España debían de ser no picantes o tuvimos mala suerte...

By the way, the other day we bought a bag of Pimientos del Padrón in the supermarket and we thought of you... I think 4 or 5 out of the whole bag were spicy (there were about 30). And I have to say that they are incredibly spicy! So basically, it must have been that either the ones they gave us in Plaza de España were not spicy or that we had bad luck...

To which my response was:
Tendré que ir al bar de "tapas" en Brookline... a ver si venden pimientos del padrón. Espero que--si lo tienen--no sean tan flojos como los mios de ese día.

I'll have to go to the tapas bar in Brookline... we'll see if they sell Pimientos del Padrón. I hope that--if they have them--they aren't as wimpy as the ones I had that day.

By the way, I like that my friend used the word mogollón (bolded in the above quote). I have never seen it befofe, so I'm looking it up right now, but I think it must be interchangeable with un montón (a whole lot).

Yup. I was right (see below).

mogollón m fam
1 (gran cantidad) loads, an awful lot [de, of]: había un mogollón de animales, there were loads of animals
2 (lío, alboroto) mess, racket

Alright. Good to be back. I've got more stories and pictures to post. Stay tuned y hasta entonces.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

From an internet cafe in Düsseldorf

Stay tuned. I may or may not have time to update this before getting back to Boston. But there will be updates. Probably Friday. And lots of swell pictures.

Love from Germany,

Tschüss! (Bye!)