Thursday, June 03, 2004

settling in

i am now settled into my little room in the home of rosario and augustin here in salamanca. we live on a little street called regato del anis which doesn´t seem to translate into anything but does reference aniseed/anisette. we are situated between calle de escultores and calle de carpinteros: sculptor´s street and carpenter´s street. if i believed in destiny, i´d say i was destined to be between these two of my favorite professions.

rosario and augustin are probably in their early sixties and retired. actually he is retired, it seems she has been a traditional housewife/mother and continues to keep an immaculate house, cook, and wash the clothing. augustin seems more helpful than the traditional stereotype. they tend their grandson, carlos, aged 2. carlos´ mother is cristina, who is their 32 year old daughter; their son, jose, is 38 and lives at home. rosario and augustin are very sweet and gracious. they, like many salamancans, house students to supplement their incomes. our house (apartment--while salamanca is not a big city, hardly anyone here has a free-standing house. almost everyone lives in apartments.) has four bedrooms, a small kitchen, combination livingroom/diningroom and a bathroom with shower and another small bathroom with a washing machine and a toilet. my room is quite small--maybe 7´x7´, but clean and quiet.

it is strange to be living in someone else´s house after so many years of being on my own! but there is no doubt that living with spaniards (who speak no english whatsoever) and not having a roommate definitely forces me to speak more. i am alternately frustrated with and proud of my verbal progress. one of the many cultural differences i have been taught is that we americans tend to say thank you, i´m sorry, you´re welcome, and excuse me constantly. the spaniards do not and it is not a sign of rudeness. i was told today in class that it makes them uncomfortable to constantly be told thank you and i´m sorry by americans. it reminds me of my reaction to southern gentility when if first arrived in texas...i kept thinking that all that politeness was annoying and insincere. but of course, it is just a cultural trait, like the ubiquitous ma´m!

a couple of other observations. they call the (computer) mouse rato which amused me. but their word for rat is rata which is almost the same. because they are so much the same--why do we make such a distinction? we see the mouse with affection but demonize the rat...when they are essentially the same kind of creature. see what living in another country has done to me? suddenly i´m defending the honor of rats.

another thing is that they use the expression vale (BAH lay) all the time here. it was confusing when i tried to figure out what the hell they were saying because it´s not really a word...i mean it could come from another word but it doesn´t have consistent meaning. it´s used like okay or that´s right or cool (with more enthusiasm, i might add).

while i´m still getting used to all the walking and heat, my knees and feet are better and my homesickness has abated some. being in school is very good. i have more hope today that i will learn to speak fluently over the next two months. however, i am not sure about learning the vosotros (informal plural for you that is used here in spain and no where else) and the correct use of the subjunctive is still hazy.

how do you say, blah, blah, blah en espaƱol, i wonder...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

calle de escultores and calle de carpinteros: sculptor´s street and carpenter´s street.

positively perfect! this really made me smile!