So, no such thing as an open house here. Used to love to wander around my Portland neighborhood on Sunday to peek in. But this weekend Barcelona's houses, apartments, palaces, schools, convents, bomb shelters, towers and more were open for snooping -- a once a year event called 48HoursOpenHouse. The most fun, not the grand palaces and famous buildings, but smaller places where everyday people live. No lines, now crowds. A nice perspective, especially since it's just plain rare to be invited into a Spanish person's place even if you know them very well. A nice dose of home! Now, where do I find a garage sale...?
The floating heart. Tiffany adornments. In a turquoise box. Designs inspired by the surroundings, people and nature of a tiny village just north of Barcelona. One time model, long time designer, Elsa Perretti of Sant Marti Vell. Her museum. Chinese and Japanese treasures, Warhols, and memorabilia in their own jewel box, of lovingly restored stone, wood and terracota. Thank you Francesca and Sol!
So, used to be in the long ago days that these proud and feisty guys patrolled Menorca against pirates and other bad sorts. On a trail that hugs the shore and rings the entire island. The trail is still there even though the black horses mostly aren't. I walked a section, remote, lonely, windy. Then to see another, took a beginner ride on a regular pony, a bit scary. One horse had a sit-and-roll-with-rider-on in the lovely warm sand. Some bits so steep no reins, just cling to the horses mane. Had an impromptu demonstration of the up-on-hind-legs-front-ones-pawing-the-air, usually reserved for festivals. When the guide's horse preferred not to go home at our turning point. The view from up high is awesome, but thinking the walking or maybe a bike is the best way to go.
A trip to Menorca. Country lanes, through farm land and scruffy olive trees. Choosing a beach from a list of too many. On the map, not far. On a two direction road wide enough for one, quite far. After an hour the questions start. "Where are we going?" "Why are we going to this one?" "When will we get there?" "How do you know this is worth it?" "Whose stupid idea was this?" Then we reach a parking lot. No beach. No sea in sight. More groans. "AND we have to walk?" "And we don't even know where we are walking to?" "What kind of idiot comes on vacation without a travel book?" We start down the path. People. They say "only 10-15 minutes more." More groans. Then, out of the trees, it appears. Shock and awe. And another question. "Can we come back tomorrow?" Cala en Turqueta. Find it.
So, even though my high school gpa was ruined by my grades in language, I really thought that I would be fluent in six months. So not true. I've tried self-paced online tutorials, 80 hours of private lessons, group lessons 4 hours a day and now group lessons 1.5 hours a week. Eleven months later, I am so frustrated by this!
Anna summed it up when she said it was really about motivation. To learn spanish you must memorize a ton of stuff. Boring! I find boring stuff is better in small doses, so my new method is a fun group class once a week and monotonous irregular verbs and thousands of verb tenses every day for one hour. If you are great at languages, I envy you.
I still really want to make it to being an intermediate speaker...which is officially defined as a person who "can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible w/o strain for either party." Strain. That's so exactly it!
Telemarketer: Hello, would you be interested in participating in our survey?
Me: (pause, composing carefully...) I'm sorry, I am not interesting.
Friend: The party will be great, are you coming too?
Me: Yes, I am so exciting!
By Maia Pay Ozguc
Barcelona Impressions. Be curious. Be present. Be Barcelona!