On the town.

Oviedo Travel Blog

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Iglesia San Juan

While I don’t feel jet-lagged, my body must still think it is eight hours behind where it is, because at 2am I get this surge that keeps me up and running until I pass out a bit later.  I just got to talk to my non-Spanish lover for a while, so that may be part of it (no juicy language learning sessions for this girl, sorry to all you wishful thinkers)…but I wanted to write down all I could think of from my adventures today during my first day out in the city (yesterday we didn’t leave the house…I’m a bit sick and Alejandra thinks anything below 10*C (about 48*F) is going to kill me, I think.  It was a packed day.  From 11am-3pm we ran errands, and then when Alejandra worked from 4pm-8pm, I went out and explored solo.  I apologize in advance for any terminology or explanations that come across as crude or gross or odd…remember, I’m having all these ‘I don’t know what that means’ moments while learning Spanish.

Fray Ceferino

With Alejandra:

  1. Went to a pharmacy.  I feel like this sinus infection/cough will pass, but Alejandra won’t have it.  I got to explain to the pharmacist what was wrong with me.  How fun to speak in another language about yellow snot and mucus in your lungs!  I ended up purchasing a clear cough-syrup type product (Bilsovon Mulcílitico…I think…I actually have no clue) for about 8 euros.  Yesterday I took some paracetamol (acetaminophen) throughout the day and felt decent, but in the mornings I am ghastly.
  2. Went to different cell companies: Vodafon, Orange, Movistar (haha, I know), and I think Telefónica.  Compared different rates.  Some of the carriers require me to have a residency card and won’t accept a visado.
    Al Sur del Patio
  3. Went to El Jabonarte (a soap store…Ale is obsessed with anti-aging and always looking for a cure), Casa (a cheap, small IKEA sans furniture), a cheaper version of Casa for kid stuff, Natur (awesome India-style import store…uppity hippie crap), and she pointed out a few others like Hipercor, which is something like a WalMart, though I don’t think it has groceries.
  4. During errands we stopped in Casa Montoto, a hole-in-the-wall café parecido como un garage converted into a café.  It was full of old wooden tables and chairs and stuffed with bustling biker style men and ancianos…the perfect daydream I’ve always had about Europe (los ancianos, not the biker guys!).
    Su diccionario desde 1846.
      We had a little tapa – bollos preñados – with a drink (you buy a drink, you get a little tapa).  Los bollos preñados son como ‘pigs in a blanket’, but a fancier European version…chorizo in a homemade doughy roll.  I loved this stop as it was loud and fast and perfect.
  5. After, we went to La Lotería Nacional, where Alejandra asked me if I wanted to play the lottery.  It is 1 euro for a play…much like Powerball or Winfall in Michigan.  She said she always, always plays, and told me to remember where it was in case I wanted to play, too, because ‘look at all of the money you could win!’
  6. We went to a grocery store where I got a few things like shampoo and cotton.
    Alejandra buscando un poema.
      Sorry men, stop here and skip to next section.  I also learned about (from Alejandra) my flujo…I was so at loss for what she kept meaning when she would ask if I wanted to buy ‘salva lips’!  I swear she kept saying ‘salva lips’ and I was thinking she meant lip balm.  Earlier – fresh from the shower – she had opened her bathrobe and pointed to her panty-clad nether-region when she came bounding out of the bathroom asking me about these ‘salva lips’.  I was so confused at how a woman with no English could be referring to lips the way I thought she was.  Lip balm for labia?  What?  I had no idea.  Later I saw her write down ‘salva sleeps’ and I was at even more of a loss…sleep savers?  Protection when sleeping?  I was guessing panty liners.  I guessed correctly, because in the store she kept questioning and asking if I wanted them (I said no numerous times) because women have problems with their flujo.  The box said ‘salva slips’!  Got it.  Language mix ups are fun.  We looked through the aisles and had so much fun with that.  Later, I tried an ATM which also didn’t work.  Fun game I get to play…’find an ATM that doesn’t say you’re bank isn’t authorizing this transaction’.

That was it for our excursions together.  We went back home and made lunch (the spread I previously mentioned), and she went off to work.

Now, it was my turn to go out on my own.  I promised myself I had to talk to somebody…anybody!  I needed to open my mouth.  I love Alejandra, but I think she speaks so quickly, and tonight she said she has an accent (she does)…I needed a fresh dialect in my ears.

  1. I walked to Cervantes, a type of Barnes & Noble.  I was going to ask for children’s books, but I didn’t see them listed on the store map.  First I went to the poetry section looking for something I felt pulled to read to help with language, and then I went downstairs and looked at the ‘Asturias’ section and thumbed through the books and folk music available.  Eventually, I bought a [Michelin] map of Oviedo, so now I can find my way most anywhere.
  2. I walked in circles throughout various blocks.  I crossed streets like the good little peatón que soy.  I stopped in bus stops and let cigarette smoke waft over me as I listened to local women gossip about their circle of friends, and I tried to memorize useful bus lines on the map hanging in the stop.  (Note to self: T4 goes from your house to Silla de Rey where the Church is!)
  3. I listened to this sweet older man playing accordion outside of the cathedral of San Juan (learned the name later in the evening).  Threw him a few céntimos because he was so darned cute.
  4. Went home for a bit to grab a shawl and went on my way again.  The night was too fresh not to!  (It was 55*F!)
  5. Found an ATM that worked.  It lied and said I have 0,00 euros in my account, but I knew it was lying.  It said the bank wouldn’t authorize my transaction.  And then it spit out the 40,00 euros I requested.  Crazy cajeros.
  6. Heard a different accordion player accompanied by a keyboard organ, playing some modern tango-style music.  I sat on a bench listening to them.  Thought of my sweet boy as they played ‘Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps’, and wished I could share all these beautiful moments with someone!  I sat enjoying the busy pedestrian street as people hurried by in the night, by light of the old town lamps, store fronts, and churches.
  7. An older woman, about 70 or 73, sat next to me.  I was hoping for this to happen but wasn’t prepared!  Eventually I got the guts and struck up a conversation.  She was so lovely to talk to, and so cute and elegantly dressed.  I asked if the streets were always this busy, and then told her I was an exchange student and just arrived a couple days ago.  (For the record, I couldn’t think of how to say that in English just now…I just wrote ‘hace dos días’ about five times before I got it.)  We talked about Oviedo and how she thinks it used to be much more elegant before the arrival of all the immigrants (se bajó), and we talked about the weather, her travels in Europe, her growing up in Oviedo, my studies, shopping, and more.  She was so sweet.  She didn’t understand me once (I slur a bit), but she clearly told me that and I repeated and all was well.  We talked for about 20 minutes, and then she went shopping and I went to pick up a gift for dinner at the market a couple doors down from our apartment.  Bravery = success!  What a fun night.

Iglesia San Juan

When I got home, I went up to the patio to take some pictures at night.

Al Sur del Patio

Fray Ceferina

Alejandra got home a few moments later and was terrified that I was stolen.  I excitedly told her about my day while we ate paté and made dinner.  We watched a video of her 12-year-old niece playing cello and we talked about the social healthcare system, the parliamentary government, immigration (all heavy, right?  I know!), politics in general, studies, and grammar.  I felt relieved when I told her how frustrated I was all day feeling like my tongue is always in the way (I feel like I have a bit of a ceceo in English, and in Spanish my tongue just causes me all sorts of problems when I try to speak quickly).  She calmed me down and told me to just focus on speaking well, and to speak very slowly so I can perfect my grammar (because she is a perfectionist, too, and she LOVES grammar).

This grammar topic got her all sorts of excited.  She has these ancient books…from the 1800s…that are old medieval Spanish dictionaries.  She has poetry books.

Alejandra buscando un poema

We talked about verb conjugation (the more complicated tenses), and we even talked about the simple tenses and the precise times in which to use those tenses.  It was great review, and we’re going to go over it tomorrow, too (and the next day, and the next day…).  Then she ended up reading poetry to me.  It was beautiful!  Soon after, I read to her ‘Wynken, Blynken, and Nod’ (translated it to Spanish while reading it…that was a bit imperfect…okay a lot imperfect…but still fun to share a beloved poem/nana).  I wanted to take a picture of the books, and then remembered/realized I could record her reading some poetry.

Su diccionario desde 1846

I haven’t taken many pictures because I want to soak everything in, but I just didn’t want to forget that beautiful moment.  We were both tired…it was already about 1am (and we talked so much that it took us two hours to make dinner and we didn’t even eat until 11pm!), and my Spanish was more relaxed and her sleepiness made us a great pair.  This poetry session lasted for an hour or so.

I also need to make mention…out of nowhere she brought up the house rule about not having friends or classmates or anyone over.  She told me it does not apply to Church people, because ‘this is a house of God’ (her apartment) and nothing goes before faith or God, and Church people can come when we’re talking about faith and Church things.  Additionally, she said she would love me to go with her to mass one Sunday and she would like to come with me to my mass (even though it is three hours).  I hadn’t even mentioned it or yet invited her to come.  Strange that it came from nowhere, but fun to be so open with one another.

I have a few things I want to write because they’re my favorite so far or I notice them, but it’s 4am and I need to make myself crash!

I can't get my YouTube videos to show up for import, but here is a video of Alejandra reading.

http://youtu.be/kR7lirrfBFQ

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Iglesia San Juan
Iglesia San Juan
Fray Ceferino
Fray Ceferino
Al Sur del Patio
Al Sur del Patio
Su diccionario desde 1846.
Su diccionario desde 1846.
Alejandra buscando un poema.
Alejandra buscando un poema.
Oviedo
photo by: asturjimmy