Saturday, September 11, 2010

In Spain they Speak Spanish

I Arrived in Spain on Tuesday.

The Flight:

At the check in counter I got into an argument  with US Air people.  Without getting into details, I felt like I was being ripped off for an additional $190.  I was very upset with the manager who was being exceptionally obtuse.  It turns out that, no matter how hard you try, you can't actually vaporize someone with your eyes, even evil airline people.

On the plane I thought that I could make good use of my time by learning Spanish from the little girl in the seat next mine.  Here's an excerpt from the conversation.

Me:  “So 'no' in Spanish is 'no'?”

Little Girl:  “No.”

Me:  “Baahhh.”

By the time we parted at the airport I was able to say adios like a real Spaniard.

Tuesday night I tried to blog, but all I could put down was brain puke.

Days of Preparation:

Preparing for my trip here required that I buy local charts, flares, phone service, gas for my stove, and arrange to meet my kayak.

My kayak arrived late, I mean, later then the later then the late date I was originally given.  I believe that the boat is now in Barcelona and hope to find it tomorrow, though I don't yet know where to look.  There's a communication problem.

Tuesday night my watch went dead despite the brand new battery.

I spent all of Wednesday walking around Barcelona.  I found a man to fix my watch, in coming up with a price he went down from 17 Euro to 6 Euro.

Stove gas I found fairly early on at a camping store.

I had found a list of kayaking stores on-line along with their locations.  I went to all the addresses on my list and none of them had kayaking stores.  The web sight I used was in Spanish.

I found a number of outdoor goods stores and they where not helpful.  Finally I had an Idea.  I made my way to the port area, found a sail boat with a sailor on it, and asked him. He was able to mark my map with four different sailing stores and tell me plenty about them.  Since it was siesta time, I had to wait about an hour for the nearest store to open.

The people there did not speak English, communication was slow and painful, but ultimately successful.  I had my charts and understood that I would need to wait until Sunday to get the flares.

I left the shop.  After a moment I went back to pick up my map of the city which I had forgotten there.  I left again, but then came back again; I wanted to use the bathroom before my long walk back to the hostel.

Coming out of the bathroom the shop owner stopped me.  I wondered why as he finished up his conversation on the phone.  Finally he hung up and excitedly told me the flares had just arrived. They were big rockets, about a foot long and larger then any of the flares I had seen in America.  There was a sailor in the store who could speak English.  He told me that that was the only kind available in Europe, and kindly showed me how to use them.  Thank you Awesome Sailor.

I still need to buy a phone.

Days of Awe:

Wednesday night began the Jewish high holiday for the new year.  I attended a local synagogue and scored an invitation for the festival meals.  The family that hosted me is pious and believes that good things happen to good people in practical ways.  The father, a story teller, gave me much food for thought and belly.

The synagogue I prayed at had two minyannim (Sorry to all of you who are not intimately familiar with the Jewish tradition.) an Ashkenazi minyan and a Sephardi minyan.  I tried praying with the Ashkenazi minyan as is my custom, but calling that minyan Ashkenazi would be like putting a lemon in a Coke and calling it Sprite.  It was too painful so I eventually switched to the Sephardi minyan.

On the Sabbath I prayed with a Chabad minyan (using the Sephardi custom).  After the prayer meeting I got invited over to the rabbi's house for lunch.  Once they learned of my plans, I spent the rest of the meal answering questions about my trip.  The rabbi suggested that I put a picture of the deceased leader of his sect, the Rebbe, on my boat.  I politely said “I'll think about it,” while remembering another idea that was recently floated my way:  I should put a bobbing head Jesus doll on the front of my boat.  I'll think about it.

Saturday afternoon I found a mountain and climbed half way up it before I had to turn around.  I got a great view of Barcelona and the ocean.  Barcelona has some beautiful old Spanish architecture and some ugly newer slums. In the distance, on the side of another mountain, I could see a cool looking castle.

I begin paddling tomorrow, if only I can find my boat.


  1. Wishing you a Shana Tova, and lots of luck and fun on the trip! Be'hatzlacha, and enjoy!

  2. Thanks! Right back at you! I hope to crash by you guys when I get back to Israel for a few days?

  3. Good luck on finding your kayak. Did you look under your bed?

  4. ShanaTova! You actually went to daven by Chabad!!!! Revisited the Piermont Marsh recently - very nice trip! Hope you get your boat soon! Here the water is getting colder fast.

  5. I was promised they would not be messianic, this turned out to be almost true. Thanks for the well wishes. Don't let cold water stop you, get a dry suite!

  6. nice pun: "floated my way." should we be expecting many more like that?
    I hope you are getting pictures of all these awesome people, especially the obtuse airline guy; thats an angle i'd like to see. as they say one good pun deserves another.