October 3, 2007. The Swiss German Helmet left today to travel to Ecuador. He buttonholed me in the hallway to tell me that it's important to preserve my wealth and it's something he can do starting in May when is sabattical is over. He didn't notice I was totally uninterested. The girls took the opportunity to shake his hand and he was so insistant on selling me his bank's private services, he forgot to cop a feel/hug/kiss/embrace them. They quickly left.
I’ll miss him, mainly since the girls could laugh at him. We’re down to five now: Turgt, the sometimes stunning Turkish girl whose goal is to have children; Emma' who is Swiss German and in addition to German speaks English and French and probably Italian and is quickly learning Spanish; Ellen, who is Swedish, generally hung over and gets plenty to eat but has a good attitude; and Yolanda who is also Swiss German, has dredlocks and is always playing with her mouth/lip ring (looks painful, problematic, soon to be infected) and hasn’t changed her outfit in at least two weeks. All the girls are between 18 and 20. The teacher, Maria, is probably 33. It looks like I am the oldest. There are few Americans in the school, which is fine, but everyone speaks English when they need a common spoken language.
Rocket is a young and certainly impressionable dog but we thought he would display more independence. He's so social but obviously thinks taking up smoking is part of the gig.
Today is the first day since we’ve been here that it has rained in any meaningful sustained way. Seven weeks!
October 4, 2007. Lunch with our friends Dan and Amy is our chance to compare notes on the ins and outs of living here. They are a lot of fun and since they don't read the website I can say anything about them -- had they been reading, Dan would have mentioned the secret word to me. We're thinking about trying to become German citizens, among other ideas.
Went for another long run today - close to two hours. The last 15 minutes was in a serious downpour so I got a shower and actually got dirtier.
October 5, 2007. I had a talk with my Spanish teacher who suggested strongly that I remain in the class I'm in. She's probably right, but I've been in the same material for four weeks and can't look at it again. I told her the choices were to put me in the next level or I'll find another way to study Spanish. In retrospect, I should have just gone to another way to learn Spanish, namely private lessons, since they would cost about the same and I would learn more in a shorter amount of time. In any case, I ended up signing up for one more week at the International House of Languages (not Pancakes) and then will find a private teacher probably for less money. Anne is chucking along doing well mainly, I think, because she has so much Spanish background, while I have very little -- I don't think I ever took any Spanish; I took a semester of French in College and almost flunked and may have taken a German course. I took French in high school but not Spanish.
Otherwise, I went to the sports store about half a mile away and bought some cheap weights and a fitball so I can keep the guns in shape; I had to catch a cab since I couldn't carry the weights back.
October 6, 2007. Today the family decided to go for a ride on the "Mont Juic Teleferic" which translates to Jewish Mountain Teleferic and crosses from the mountain over the port at probably about 1,000 feet. Joshua wanted to do it. So we make our way down to the general area, switched trains, and promptly got separated from Anne and Joshua when Anne said we were in the wrong train -- I promptly got out with David but Anne and Joshua stayed on the train. So David and I waited until we figured that we wouldn't find Anne and Joshua and had a nice (and long) walk together to get to the Teleferic. First we went the way the Anne and I decided to go, and stopped by the market at Las Rambles and bought some dried fruits.
We then tried to go the way planned with Anne, only to get into a part of the city that is not very kosher, filled with Arab men getting haircuts, large groups of very dark men arguing loudly and other things you generally wouldn't want to live near. I promptly turned around and we walked over to the port end of the Teleferic, instead of the Jewish Mountain end, which took over an hour. Odd how in order to get to the Jewish Mountain, you have to go through the Arab gauntlet. When we did got to the entrance, David made the decision, and I agreed, it wasn't worth the hour plus wait. We found a bus home, which was super easy and Anne and Joshua arrived home at the same time.
Anne took the dog out and it got a chance to play.
This afternoon Greg Shaffran arrived from Aspen to go on a seven-week bike trip through Spain and Portugal. Should be quit an adventure and he seems well prepared: a bike, a 90 pound trailer, the ability to speak Spanish. It should be a great time. He's supposed to leave Sunday or Monday but has to buy white gas, which while widely available in the US is not in Barcelona. We went around to the sports store and a few others trying to find it without luck.
October 7, 2007. An easy Sunday, watching Greg toil to try to fix a bike that is not broken (but soon will be if he spents too much more time). Then off for a long run up to the hill and I saw there was a soccer game in the stadium. About 100,000 people were there so it was loud enough to hear miles away when there was a goal.
October 8, 2007. Greg, Anne and I went to the downtown area to school (for Anne and me) and for White Gas (for Greg for his camping/biking adventure). After bidding Greg adieu, we went to class only to discover (for me) that I was with the same teacher for a third week in a row. While she is very nice, I didn't enjoy her teaching enough to endure another week (well four days since there is yet another holiday -- remember, there will be no discount since there is no discount). Along with Emma, the smart and mature Swiss girl who also was faced with another short week of Maria, we went to the administration to complain and were placed in the only alternative for intermedio 1, which was Suzanna. After the day with her, I don't think she is any better and is possibly worse. This is clearly my last week at this school. I think I was spoiled by my first two weeks when I had fantastic teachers. Oh well. Stay tuned.
In any case, Anne came to disturb me in class and let me know that we had to pick up the kids since their school had no water. So Anne and I and Dan and Amy went to BFIS to pick up children. We went home, took a break and then David was off to soccer (with me). We got there and I had a nice talk with one of the Spanish mothers on the field (they are very nice and will speak Spanish so I get free lessons and realize just how poor my spoken Spanish is) and she told me that the dark/black clouds over the mountain mean rain. About 15 minutes later, the sky opened and we had a tormenta. Into the locker rooms I went with about 10 Spanish mothers and I don't have to tell you about the hanky panky that followed. Well,... we waited out the tempesta and arrived home to another wonderful homecooked meal by Anne! Ah, another day.
October 9, 2007. Today was a day of riding trains. First to school (for myself and Anne -- by the way, I'm now at the lowest level I've achieved since coming here! -- the latest is since I demoted myself), then back to get the dog, then to Sant Cugat, a suburb where Anne organized a language trade with a really nice Spanish woman named Laura (pronouced Lou (rhymes with how) ra (as in ra, ra, another day)), then to the lawyer's office to deal with the apartment lease (don't ask what a pain this is), then to retrieve my bike in Sitges (pronounced seat-gis) which took 40 plus minutes each way plus taxi, plus riding, then riding in the dark back to home.