and this is...


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

First Impressions: PART TWO—Culture Shock

So, immediately after A (henceforth referred to as RG1—don’t ask…that was his creation) snagged us from the bus station, we dragged my massive load of luggage to our apartment (thankfully only 5 blocks away…less thankfully in the rain).

We dumped our stuff, toured our place (which is awesome!!!), sat for a few minutes and then prepared to head off!

A glimpse of our lovely living room
A very inaccurate look at my room...things have been moved around and completely redecorated...

We have already begun putting this room to good use.

Culture Shock 1: Hundreds of angry Africans. There is a rather large population of African immigrants here and many, not all, have taken to street vending here in Logroño. Some of the things that they sell are actually rather nice. However, their marketing pitch leaves a lot to be desired. Cut to: African woman essentially wrist raping me with a bracelet that she was insistent that I buy. I begged her repeatedly not to put it on me (My body, my choice!) but she was not having it... She then told me the price expecting me to just hand it over. I, of course, still said no, to which she painfully ripped it off of my arm and proceeded to call me everything BUT a child of God under her breath. Ummm…l’chaim to you too, ma’am!!!

We decided to go try some pintxos (Northern Spain’s version of tapas) and lots and lots of wine. Pretty chill evening because we definitely needed to unwind after that whirlwind trip.

Oh yummy I love thee!!!

The next few days and nights became a whirlwind of parties and festival processions thanks to San Mateo. Man, these people go hard!!! I mean really, there was nothing in my sad little American experience (see: lots of tailgating and frat house keggers) that could have adequately prepped me for how intensely these Spaniards can party. To give you a small idea, let me explain that clubs in this city do not OPEN until 2am. The temptation to just sleep in the street was immensely strong.

Free midnight concert so that people can pre-game before the clubs open

Its 3am...let's just dance it out!

Culture Shock 2: Pee-Pee Cobblestone. Sleeping on the streets here would probably be the easiest way to instantly contract herpaganasypholitis. I’m pretty sure at this point that these beautiful cobblestone roads are paved with dried pee. Really, after a long night of partying it is perfectly normal for people to just whip it out and get to releasing. And while the mental picture that first leapt into your head was more than likely that of a drunken frat boy, and this was the overwhelming majority, you should now stretch your imagination to include ladies in hot heels and skimpy dresses popping a squat in a side alley. Should we at least find a car or trashcan to duck behind? Nah! Just do it where you feel it, I suppose! (This part of immersion I think I’ll pass on)

On Saturday night, we, the oldies but goodies of the group, decided to pretend that we were 22 again and attempt to party until dawn. There was face slapping (not my face), drunken stumbling, pregnant women smoking (no worries, she was the recipient of many sneers and nasty commentary, shaming her into putting out the cigarette) and me trying unsuccessfully to tell a Moroccan man that only spoke French, I believe, in Spanish that I thought he had beautiful teeth. Good times!

With RG-1 and Estrella (our resident Italian)

There was a massive tent set up in one of the town squares where all the youngins had flocked to get down with their bad selves (showing my emotional age for this venture). This is where I learned the joy and curse of black Vodka.  Now before, the vodka I was merely pi-di-pi (I’m sure I spelled that horribly wrong but that is what the Spaniards here call tipsy) but I soon hit barracha status with force. My memories of this evening now flicker in my mind like some old TV with foil-covered antennae. There was just so much to see and take in and the major amount of weed smoke being blown into my face all night surely has helped to cloud this evening further.

No level of barracha could make this a good idea...
(Written on the inside of the tent)

Culture Shock #3: Mullets!!! Mullets EVERYWHERE!!! I mean, its like no one turned on the televisions back in 1999 to let Spain know that the new millennia had arrived. And it would be bad enough that mullets were accepted, sometimes even admired, here in Spain. However, these people have the downright audacity to have styled mullets. There are curly mullets…spiky mullets…and yes… even DREADLOCK MULLETS!!!! WTF?! What is that supposed to be? Business in the front, Rasta in the back?! Are you kidding me?

There was some nice down time as I settled into the wonderful world of siestas, sat in cafes, went grocery shopping (where are all the microwave dinners and sauces??), watched loads of Jersey Shore (gross but addictive) with RG-1 and M, and set up my room to make it feel all homey and nice. I even managed to successfully navigate laundry in Spain.

Me and M...(or Granny Rose as I like to call her)

Culture Shock #4: Panties on the Line. Now, I knew coming here that I would have to use a clothing line to dry my clothing. I was all mentally prepped for the crunchy jeans and over-stretched sweaters. I somehow, though, managed to never think about hanging my delicates outside the window like flags waving in the wind for all of España to see. I have nearly toppled over the balcony at least three times already trying to hang the heaviest towels I can find on the farthest line so that I can make a shield for my unmentionables. Listen, I have not even met and given dos besos to most of my neighbors yet. So I think it is a bit early for them to be able to describe my underwear in vivid detail.

I went on one really interesting meeting for clases particulares (private tutoring) where I was all by my lonesome with Spaniards for the first time and had to painfully bash my way through a conversation using no English. Luckily, they seemed to understand me pretty well and I think I will have a nice little side income coming in (to be used solely on awesome travel). One woman was attempting to talk me down from my price. Sadly, I was actually on the verge of giving in. Unfortunately for her, her demon lovely daughter chose that exact moment to hurl a bowl at my head. I instantly hit her with the straight face and jacked up my price by 5€ an hour.

So, basically it has been a really incredible, wild, confusing, mis-stepping, wine infused, rollicking good time so far. I’m learning something new everyday and (I would like to believe) I am meeting each new challenge with a smile and salud!

Any challenge becomes fun when you rock your Oompa Loompa tights!!!

Have you every encountered any sort of culture shock? Made any silly mistakes or attempted any ridiculous conversations? Know the correct spelling of pi-di-pi? Please share!!!

Hasta Pronto!!!


  1. ’chaim to you too, ma’am!

    HAHA. Dead.

  2. Well, you mentioned the Jersey Shore watching... but completely left out the Geordie Shore!

    But really, I feel like I don't need a blog because you described our first couple weeks so well!!!

    Grannie Rose

  3. LMAO about the African lady's marketing campaign. Glad you are settling in well.

  4. Oh Granny!!! How could I forget Goerdie Shore!!! Hot mess central! lol

    AD: You may need to come over and give a tutorial lol...thanks!

  5. You must continue these. It allows me to feel like i am there with you until you finally give me your address and I can mail you the Jubie Doll. LoL. Sounds like your having a great time.
    By the way..that outfit (minus the oompa lumpa socks) is AMAZEBALLS! Looking great sounds amazing..i hate you. LOL
    Love you snookems!

  6. And you're looking so fly throughout all of this. Blam. Doing it.

  7. I just stumbled upon your blog and even though I haven't had the exact experience as you have had (I've only been in Spain a week - Haro to be exact) I can definitely relate. It's beyond comforting to know there's many people out there going through almost the exact same thing. Thanks for posting!

  8. Yes, you are looking quite delicious! And the idea of drinking all night & pissing in the street wherever direction my slong is facing is going to have me cleaning toilets just so I can visit!