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In the Studio of Antonio Lopez

Antonio Lopez DiazAntonio López Díaz is a painter and sculptor. He’s also a genius. And one of the seven members of the Movimiento Indaliano that was founded in a culturally impoverished, post-war Almeria, in the south-east corner of Spain.

Antonio Lopez DiazAntonio Lopez became known most especially for his very personal style and his inimitable portrayal of daily life in the streets and villages of a traditional Almeria that no longer exists today.

Although I cropped most of the photos to only show the painting in question, here I felt like revealing how Antonio Lopez has all his paintings set up, one right next to the other, above and below, some way up high on the walls, some leaning on other paintings and some propped up on the floor (usually against another painting), in his studio.

In recent years, however, he became fascinated with modern and abstract art, and his hypnotic use of light and colour permeates all his latest work.

Antonio Lopez has been drawing and painting since he was almost a toddler. In fact, in his studio he pulled out an old painting that he had made at school when he was only six, which was when he discovered his precocious vocation.

These are two of his best-known works, and have been featured in numerous exhibitions.

Nonetheless, he only started studying formally when he was fourteen, and soon he signed up for classes with the Movement’s founder, the painter and sculptor Jesús de Perceval who was already a master artist. The two maintained a close friendship until the latter passed away in 1985.

The seven members of the Movimiento Indaliano, all of them painters, sculptors and artists, revived the pretty much inexistent cultural scene in a city devastated by the Spanish Civil War during the 1940’s. They adopted the traditional symbol of Almeria, the Indalo, as their logo, hence the name Movimiento Indaliano.

Antonio Lopez DiazAntonio Lopez has lived a very picturesque and exciting life. After studying under the tutelage of Jesus de Perceval for several years, he decided to strike out on his own and moved to Brazil. There, he became quite renowned, and many of his paintings and sculptures still decorate public places, churches and altars today.

Antonio Lopez DiazThis sculpture of a dog is in his studio, but you can see another, almost identical one gracing a street in Almeria.

He eventually returned to Almeria, where you can also see samples of his paintings and sculptures as you walk around the city. I feel very privileged to know Antonio López.

This is his octopus stool, and next to it, a sculpted self-portrait.

Antonio Lopez DiazThe master himself at work in his studio.

Antonio Lopez DiazThis bronze statue, which was commissioned by the City of Almeria, stands in a quiet garden plaza in the city centre. (I’d taken some photos of my son standing next to it too, but he kept showing up with funny faces! Hence those photos are respectfully not included here.)

Antonio Lopez DiazThe general public won’t be able to see this mural painting of the Pão de Açúcar, Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, because it decorates the entrance to the apartment building where Antonio Lopez lives.

Antonio Lopez DiazThe master painter, relaxing in his studio surrounded by my sons and his works of art.

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My First Demo

The Old Provincial Prison of Malaga

Bye Bye Birds!

The Orange Trees

My First Demo

It has been a while now that people close to me have been suggesting that I upload some demos that I have. But as you know, we human beings tend to be shy (well, some of us at least) about ourselves, our work and “putting ourselves out there”.

The result is that I usually hide the things that I do in the back of the closet (or computer!). But I’ve decided to try an experiment today and upload my first demo! So here it is, I don’t know how to upload music to WordPress so I’ll just provide the link to MySpace where I have it up.

(Click on the photo, photo is a link to the MP3 file.)

Flowers in Marbella(Click on the photo, photo is a link to the MP3 file.)

Hopefully someday in the future there will be more demos coming, but for that to happen, I’d have to figure out how to connect the cables to the new audio mixer. (If anybody out there happens to live close to me and is savvy about connecting cables, I could sure appreciate a hand haha!)

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Pa Amb Tomàquet

Poetry by Hermenegildo: Bienvenida Sea La Primavera

Today’s post isn’t mine, but my son’s, “Hermenegildo”. He asked me to post up a poetry of his on this blog. So here it is. Who knows, maybe ten years from now he’ll be publishing his own book of poetry (in Spanish, of course).

Bienvenida sea la primavera
y entramos en una nueva era.
¡Qué divertido es esto!
Si te va bien eso y eso
será divertido con la primavera.
Muchas, muchísimas abejas
sin que ellas tengan orejas.

I thought I’d accompany his lovely verses with a couple of (rather humdrum) images of spring in the city.

Almonds in the CityRed Flowers in the City

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The Orange Trees

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Bye Bye Birds!

The Orange Trees

I love to see orange trees. I really love the sight of these perennial greens loaded down with fruit. Growing up in Canada, we never saw oranges, of course. In fact, it was inconceivable and totally impossible, to me, that any plant could keep its leaves twelve months of the year (except conifers, of course). Oranges were this rare, exotic thing that arrived in crates from California or Florida, half-wilted already.

Oranges in a Garden

So I love to see orange trees, because they remind me that we don’t live in the Arctic anymore! I love to see them because they tell me that in some parts of the world, there is life the whole year round.

Oranges Hanging From a Tree

I stop often to take photos of them, and every once in a while, I’ll upload a few of these photos here. Not too many at a time (although I literally have dozens!), because if I beat you over the head with endless scenes of oranges, well, that’s no fun.

Oranges At Night

Oranges grow all over the place here. You can’t eat them, though. Otherwise, how would supermarkets and fruitmongers survive? The oranges that grow out on the street are bitter oranges. You could, I suppose, take a few home for free and make bitter orange jam with them. But why would you want to do that, anyways, when you can get a jar of bitter orange jam for about a euro at the supermarket, and save yourself all the fuss? Besides which, the ones on the streets must be chock full of contamination and pollution from sucking up car fumes all the time.

Table Oranges

But they sure are nice to look at!

The Orange Tree

Rainy Courtyard

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Bye Bye Birds!

Every morning as I take the kids to school I see all the birds lining up in the sky and taking off to their homes in the north. Hundreds and hundreds of migratory birds that all head northward in perfect “V” formation. I feel so sad to say good-bye to them, they were so happy here playing, eating, enjoying the great weather. I also want to tell them how lucky they are, to be able to spend every winter jumping around in the sun while their human counterparts are trembling to death in the snow in northern Europe!

I think how perfect their natural instinct is, that just tells them so naturally and wordlessly when exactly is the right moment for them to line up and return home. How do they know it will soon be spring? And how do they know how to line up so perfectly? How does each bird recognize where is its precise place in the “V” formation, and none of the birds loses the rhythm as they fly?

They have such a long ways to go now. I estimate maybe by the end of March they will be digging up worms in the parks of Amsterdam, Copenhagen and London, and enjoying the first green buds over there. They have to cross the entire Iberian peninsula from south to north, then wing out over the whole European continent before they reach their homes. They travel all that distance using the power of their own wings, no airplanes, trains or cars for them!

And I also think how we’ve lost touch with our own natural nature. The natural thing to do is to head south in the wintertime, where food continues to be plentiful and you can go to bed without waking up transformed into an ice cube. It’s we humans, in our advanced human civilization, who are going counter-nature by persisting in remaining in arctic lands and heating ourselves using artificial (and non-renewable) sources of energy.

Once upon a time we used to do what birds do. We used to be nomadic, and we followed the food supplies and the warm rays of the sun all around the globe. Oh well, but times have changed.

Local birds here, on the other hand, really know how to live it up, and these days they are busy building nests. The other day my son and I enjoyed the spectacle of a neon green parrot busily hawing away at a tree branch. It picked and pecked and wouldn’t give up until it succeeded in breaking off the thin branch. It then proceeded to take off with the enooorrrrmous branch dragging about in its beak until it arrived at its own tree nearby, where we could observe how it added the tree branch to its nest.

If I could ever take the time out during out daily morning marathon to snap a photo, I’ll add a pic here of birds flying north for the spring another day.

Green Buds

But in the meantime, here is a pic of some green buds. Although on the other hand, green buds here don’t necessarily mean spring, either, because here we have blossoms all year round!

Red Flowers

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Spain Vs. Canada

I’ve been sitting around noticing how expats often blog about the differences between life in their new country and life in their country of origin.

Spain and Canada

(I’ve also been noticing how widespread it seems that bloggers who have never left their own country just naturally assume that everything is going to be exactly the same in all the rest of the world as it is in their own country. I would LOVE to be able to inform them that not everyone around the world has access to The Vitamin Shoppe, and that we can’t all order online from US internet sellers, but anyways…… And those people who run blogs like that would never read this one……)

But anyways, so I thought I’d do something similar. Now, taking into account, however, that I’ve been living in Spain for so many years, it’s almost more like my own country than my real own country. But even so, there are several things that do jump out at me, so let’s go, on with the list:

* One of the very first things that struck me is how different ordinary, everyday objects can be. Door handles, toilet bowls, light switches and, of course, electrical outlets. In Canada everyone has round door handles. That’s just the way door handles are made there, I guess that’s how Canadians like it. Here, however, door handles are long. I actually like them better here, the round ones are always slipping out of your hands whereas here, you’ve got something you can really get a good grip on! (They also make great hooks for hanging stuff on.)

* In Canada, there’s only one way to flush a toilet bowl: using a little lever on the front of the tank that sticks out a little to one side. Here, on the contrary, there are so many different contraptions each with their own way of flushing. The first toilet bowl I ever saw here had nothing but a little ball on top of the tank. What in the world are you supposed to do with a little ball?? I tried spinning it around, pushing on it, edging it in one direction and another, all to no avail. At some point (probably when people were starting to wonder whether I had actually fainted or something in the bathroom) it occurred to me to pull on it! Wonder of wonders, it worked!

* The bidet. Does anyone reading this have a bidet? (I, of course, do not, seeing as I live in a minuscule, cramped one-bedroom-with-a-walk-in-closet-as-the-second-bedroom.) The first time I saw one I didn’t know what it was, or what you were supposed to do with it. Was it some sort of strange, low-level wash basin for little kids to wash their hands and faces in? Was it a weird sort of toilet bowl, maybe? In the end I myself ended up using it to wash things (like clothes) by hand, very useful for that sort of thing.

* Spain is very, very urban, compared to Canada. Even in a major city in Canada all sorts of wildlife prowl the streets: hares, chipmunks, racoons, skunks and even the occasional red fox, not to mention the ubiquitous squirrels of every colour. I expected to find bulls roaming free in the streets of Madrid at the very least, and yet it turned out to be one of the most urban, built-up, concrete-and-cement jungles I’ve ever encountered. You can travel for miles (well, several blocks anyways) without seeing one little piece of greenery. And animals? The only thing you will find is a pigeon.

* I suppose every expat in Spain must have noticed this but I will mention it anyways: the total (or almost total) lack of foreign goods and imported products (with the exception, of course, of electronics like computers, Nintendos, Wii’s……). The list of foods you can’t get here in Spain would be so long it would probably cover reams and reams of paper. You can’t get a lot of make-up either, unless you are really into mass-produced junk churned out by companies that test on animals like L’Oreal, or elitist little venues that charge a fortune for a tiny vial of something, like L’Occitane or La Mer. (Now, having said this, I still won’t deny that even so I would still LOVE to be able to get my hands on something from L’Occitane one day, just to try it out!) Now, I do realize that slowly all of this is changing. From what I’ve been reading, famous companies like BeneFIT and Nars finally seem to have made the discovery that Spain exists and that it actually has women, who use make-up. Hopefully more low-cost-but-good-quality US brands like ELF will one day follow suit, so that us “poor” women who don’t want to patronize animal testers can still afford to look good.

* Schools. Well, I don’t find schools a whole lot different here from in Canada. Sending kids to school is a tradition that dates back millennia, so I don’t suppose it is all that different now from one hundred years ago or from one continent to another. The curricula is also not that radical. Kids learn the basics everywhere, reading, writing and arithmetic. Throw in a bit of algebra and science. The one thing that has changed enormously, is the role of computers in the classroom – but that has to do with the times, not with the country.

* I find schools A LOT more secure here than in Canada. In Canada, anyone, like a maniac with a gun, can just wander into a school and when the kids leave, they just leave. Any creep can pick them up off the streets before their parents arrive. Here a teacher or monitor will personally hand the child over to the parent when s/he arrives, and not to anyone else. It can occasionally lead to paranoid moments, when for example a new teacher or monitor doesn’t know who you are, and refuses to hand your child to you because she doesn’t recognize you! And speaking of parents, in Canada most kids travelled to school by bus, in those famous yellow school buses, at least in my experience. Here, however, school buses are quite rare and parents themselves must pay for them. Most kids are personally brought in to school by their parents, no matter how far away they live.

On the other hand, school buses here are quite the luxurious item. We had to travel squeezed tightly into these cramped, dirty (well, the ones I travelled on were always dirty) yellow school buses while European kids breeze along in their airy, spacious, top-of-the-line luxury coaches. I always want to ask them if they realize how lucky they are to be able to go to school in one of those, which always look clean, and there is room for them to put down their backpacks and stick out their feet.

* Most things, in general, are just generally a lot more tightly controlled here in Spain than they are in Canada. That is, I think, both good and bad. The good thing is that not just anyone can have access to things and people here the way they do in Canada. For example, if you are in a hospital and someone is trying to kill you, it would be very easy for them to pay you a visit in Canada. But here, who can enter into a hospital room to visit a patient is very restricted. When my mother-in-law was in the hospital she was only allowed to receive visitors for two hours a day, only one visitor at a time and no children were allowed to see her. I thought that was extraordinarily sad, the people she wanted most of all to see were her grandchildren. In Canada, on the other hand, a whole bunch of us including babies could pile into a patient’s room, much to the patient’s great joy and relief.

Because Canadians don’t have ID cards, that sometimes makes things harder in Canada and sometimes easier. It’s harder, when (in Canada) a person is very paranoid and won’t let you have something unless you can produce about thirty documents that prove that you are who you say you are. Since there really is no norm in Canada that states that you must identify yourself a certain way, in other places you don’t have to do anything to prove that you are who you say you are. It all seems to depend mostly on the establishment’s own personalized, rather haphazard policies.

* Stores. Need I say it, it is a lot harder to buy anything in Spain, and generally a lot more expensive too. In Canada, we had all sorts of cheap-o shops where you could get things for a dollar or two (and I’m not referring to dollar stores). Drugstores sold make-up (and not exactly from China either) for a dollar or two. We had Zeller’s (which may not exist anymore) and Woolco (which I think has since been bought up by Walmart) where everything was cheap. Pyjamas for the kids were cheap. Shoes for the kids were cheap. Shampoo was cheap. Diapers were, perhaps, the only thing that wasn’t cheap there! You’ll never find something like that here in Spain!

* Convenience. Living in Spain is like about a hundred times more convenient than living in Canada! In a Canadian city, you might have a grand total of perhaps THREE or at the most FOUR large supermarkets in the entire area, usually located in distant suburbs and generally requiring the use of two urban buses in order to arrive at the location. In Canada, most cities are divided into residential neighbourhoods and commercial districts, which makes the term “shopping in your own neighbourhood” a bit irrelevant. I LOVE being able to just hop downstairs when I want some bread or milk, rather than have to hop onto two buses for some bread and milk. (Well, of course, since I went to the trouble of hopping onto two buses and riding for perhaps two hours, I would of course buy more than just bread and milk, but I hope you get the picture.)

* Employment (hehe, this subject had to come up, of course!). Quite frankly, getting a job is a lot easier in Canada than in Spain. Not because it’s richer or has a great, booming economy (which it doesn’t, like every country in the world, it’s in crisis). The reason is because employers here in Spain are just so **** demanding! You can’t even work in a f***g McDonald’s here without possessing at least three different types of professional certifications and presenting about thirty references.

Basically, in order to work at the counter at McDonald’s here, you would need something similar to an MBA from Harvard, a few internships in a variety of different large corporations and a couple of courses of “Manipulador de alimentos” which you would, of course, have passed with flying colours (and be in possession of the official, government-issued certificates to prove it, too). Then later Americans ask me why don’t I just get a job at McDonald’s, since apparently in the US McDonald’s will just hand the position over to the first person who waltzes in off the street and asks for it. They say, after all, I don’t need any qualifications to work at McDonald’s, right, and anyone can do it? Snort snort! That must be in the States, because here……!

What kids habitually do in Canada such as delivering newspapers, selling lemonade or babysitting for a bit of small change would be considered child labour here in Spain, which is, of course, illegal. Here, you are supposed to leave your kids with a responsible adult (ie. over eighteen years of age) or you would be considered a negligent parent. So asking your thirteen-year-old little niece over to watch the toddlers for a couple of hours just wouldn’t cut it here. (A lot of people do it here, however, which is okay as long as nobody knows about it and can report them to the police.) In Canada a lot of kids begin working at the age of fourteen in shops and boutiques to earn a bit of spare change because probably their parents refuse to give them money for clothes or entertainment and you know, a teenager without the latest fashion or being able to go out to the pub is one very sad teenager indeed!

* And of course, there are, I think, a lot more ways to save money in Canada than in Spain. There, you can have garage sales, buy on Craigslist or get your clothes at the Salvation Army. I know there is a thing here in Spain called Segundamano, which is supposed to be like Craigslist, but the few times I’ve looked at it it was practically empty, except for a rush of ads in the “Personals” sections. In Spain, I find that there really isn’t as much of a culture of “second-hand” or “one man’s garbage is another man’s treasure” sort of thing. People tend to throw things away into the bin rather than give them away and there appears to be a bit of a stigma around using second-hand items (except for electronic items). No one wants to buy their clothes second-hand here, for example, whereas in Canada even very respectable, professional women had no qualms about shopping at the Salvation Army.

* Sales taxes. Well, the only thing I can say about that is that Rajoy has probably been eyeing Canada a lot lately and trying to learn from Canadians. Maybe he figured, if he started charging taxes like the ones they do in Canada, Spain would somehow magically transform itself into a country similar to Canada? (Well, with taxes like that, I can certainly understand why Canada doesn’t have Spain’s debt.)

And then, the worst thing is, that in Canada sales taxes are not included in the listed price for an item. So when you’ve filled up your basket with all the goodies that you would like to take home with you, you take it to the cashier, who then passes it through the cash register which performs some sort of complicated, algorithmic calculations and then spits out at you the amount of tax that you must pay in addition to the cost of the items that you wish to buy.

So, now your modest little basket, which perhaps summed up to be about ten dollars when you were just looking at the price on the price tag, has now suddenly jumped up to perhaps a whopping twenty-five dollars! (Well, maybe I’m exaggerating a tad bit, but not much.)

* Efficiency and productivity, especially in the workplace. Ever wonder why it takes at least five times longer to get anything done in Spain than it does in Canada?

The other day I was at the unemployment office here in Malaga. I was observing human behaviour. There was only one information counter and just one young guy manning that counter. He answered the queries from a couple of understandably confused people, then waltzed off to the back of the large office with a slip of paper, supposedly in order to file the paper away in its proper place. Well, so far so good, right?

He tucked the paper away succinctly into its proper file, then turned around. Did he turn around in order to return to the information counter? Of course not!

He actually turned around so he could chat with his co-workers who happened to be conveniently seated near the file cabinet he had just used. After chit-chatting for a space with these co-workers, he advanced a couple of steps towards the front of the office, then stopped to chit-chat with the next co-workers in his path. He did this at every step he took and as you can imagine, since it was a government office, it was filled with employees to chit-chat with.

Eventually, he was joined by a young lady who apparently had similar ideas to him, and they both took up a post somewhere in the centre of the office just chit-chatting and discussing whatever happened to be on their minds, together. They stood there for about fifteen minutes, talking animatedly, while the line-up before the (now unattended) information counter grew longer and longer. No one else bothered to attend to these people, and no one said anything to the young man who was supposed to be attending to the counter, either.

Eventually, the young man and his co-worker strolled casually back towards the information counter. They lingered a while longer next to the information desk so that they could conclude their rousing discussion before the employee started attending to the people in the line-up.

I have an acquaintance who owns a company that is going down the drain. One day I wandered into their office for a visit. He just happened to be berating an employee of his at that moment. His words, more or less, went something like this:

“You want to know what you’re doing wrong, and why I’m mad at you? You arrive every single day ten to fifteen minutes late! Then, every time I send you out on an errand, you have to go to a bar and have a drink before you return to work. It only takes you ten minutes to take the document to the address that I gave you, so why does it take you half an hour to get back? Because you’re spending twenty minutes in the bar!”

To which the young man replied, non-plussed: “Well, but I have a right to take a break, don’t I?”

I asked my acquaintance why he didn’t just fire this lazy dead-beat, but he said it wouldn’t have made any difference, because everyone he hired did the same thing. That’s just what people are like, and how they expect to behave, around here in southern Spain.

* All the things which are traditional and “home-grown” are, of course, easily and readily available here in Spain, such as (in my case, as these are the things I use a lot): sweet almond oil, anything with chestnuts in it (I *heart* my raw chestnut honey, lol!), olive oil OF COURSE, I mean, we are in the heart of olive land, right?

However, if you want anything that must be produced in another country, then you would be fairly outta luck here, as Spaniards seem to be allergic to importing things (except things like computers, Nintendos, mobile phones……).

So, in conclusion, is life better or worse in Spain or in Canada? Well, I don’t think it’s either better or worse, it’s just different. And I guess it also depends, too, on what sorts of things you like, personally.

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Callejeando

What do you do on a Sunday afternoon if you live in a city, you don’t have a car and a storm is threatening? Well, I know if we were in the country, we’d go out for a walk!

But since we’re not in the country, we’re in the city — we decided to go out for a walk anyways.

Now, a walk with the kids means spending the afternoon stuffing them up good and hard with all the food in the house before leaving home, because if you don’t, you will either have to blow the entire monthly budget feeding these growing stomachs out on the street, or you will immediately have to dash for home again, because the kids have become faint and weak and lethargic from lack of food. Which means…… night photography! Again.

Anyways, there’s nothing I like to do more than “callejeando”, which means just wandering about exploring without any particular aim. I still find it hard to believe that I actually LIVE in this amazing, medieval city! And I can go out every day and look at historic buildings with their balconies and curlicues whenever I want.

You will never find anything like this in Canada. In Canada, if it’s over a hundred years old, it’s pretty much prehistoric!

It was very unusual for a week-end, since the streets were almost empty. We were even able to cross the Alameda, the main “street” (more like a highway) on the red light! Maybe the menacing skies had something to do with it…… Spaniards don’t seem to be very fond of foul weather.

Wandering along calle Beatas, a pretty jazzy district known for its bars and discos, we discovered a couple of strange things I hadn’t seen before.

Fountain With Caños

This fountain looks pretty ugly, but I think it’s just the flash from the camera making it look kinda garish. This is the same angle without flash.

Fountain With Caños no flash

I was attracted to it immediately because we first saw it from the other side, the side with the faucets.

Cinco Caños

Springing fountains with taps or pipes, “caños”, are important in Spanish folklore and many songs are dedicated to them. In these traditional songs, the fountains usually have seven taps (siete caños), I dunno why but I guess seven is always a magical number and is always supposed to bring good luck.

However, the fountain on Beatas Street only had five taps.

We had actually gone off in search of the elusive “Hammam” or Arab baths. But we found them locked up and dark with a sarcastic note on the door cackling over the “nefarious” management of the former company that had been hired to take care of these facilities. Fortunately, the owner of the premises had apparently won some kind of court case (after four years!) over this nefarious management company, and now had recovered the full use of this historic site and was in the process of renovating and reforming it.

Street Art

Street art can be so beautiful sometimes.

Anyways, I was quite interested in getting away from our usual routine of Burger King or McDonald’s for dinner with a free toy thrown into the kiddie menu. The oldest is a little big for toys now, and the kiddie menu has about as much effect on his four stomachs as the proverbial egg in the giant’s stomach. The youngest still enjoys kiddie menus and free toys, but I was thinking that they were both ready to move on to more mature fare, all the same.

So I spied around for something “castizo”, something home-grown, something typically Spanish. Now, that’s pretty hard in downtown Malaga, where the streets are always crowded with foreign tourists.

But in the end we chose a nice little venue on calle Granada which seemed to have a few people, and they mostly looked Spanish. The menu was a reasonable price too. The kids clamoured for a kiddie menu, of course, and we had a debate as I preferred that they would try out something “adult” — as in, not French fries.

As a single mamma I have a tendency to endure less than satisfactory experiences in restaurants. The waiters usually give me a funny look when I walk in with two kids and no man beside me. They usually hover about me, probably most worried that I wouldn’t have the funds to pay for the meal, or that, even worse, I would take off without paying. As soon as I get up, they’re dashing over to me asking me if I would like something else or whether I’m ready to leave. And when I pay, they always count out the money most carefully while blocking the exit — just making sure it’s all there before I disappear, I guess.

Tapas at El Piyayo

At “El Piyayo”, the waiter also had a slight confusion as well because he thought I was “waiting for my husband”, and therefore he didn’t serve me immediately. After a while, he started to become aware of the fact that there probably was no “husband”, and asked me whether I was waiting for my husband.

However, once I had made it clear to him that there was no husband, there hadn’t been one for some time but I devoutly hoped that one day in the future there would once again be a “husband”, the waiter turned into the sweetest, most educated person and started attending to us as if we were the only people in the restaurant. All our food arrived promptly, and he even threw in our drinks for free!

Taberna El Piyayo

So as you can see, we had a thoroughly great time and the meal was excellent! The atmosphere was warm, cosy and welcoming. There were photos of people singing and dancing flamenco around the walls, and the few patrons about spoke in low voices and all were clearly Spanish. No “guiris” here, apparently!

We had made a superlative choice! Which is why I am mentioning this little taberna here in this blog — but I hope tourists don’t start to descend upon it like flies now that the news is out! This is just a little secret for the few people who read this blog and happen to live in or near Malaga.

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What We Do On Week-ends

A Celebration of Single Motherhood

Lately I’ve been going through blogs by other women where they talk about how they raise their children, and what everyday life is like in these typical family households. So I thought maybe I would do something similar. I expect that in some ways my life wouldn’t be like those of other families, because we’ve only got one “head” of the household – and it isn’t a man!!

But in so many other ways, life in a family with children always has certain similarities, no matter the individual circumstances.

However, I have to claim that I LOVE being able to wake up my children to go to school every morning in the way that I want. All the same, they HATE getting up in the morning to go to school. I’d like to remind them how lucky they are to get woken up with lots of tickling and stroking and kisses, instead of lots of screaming (although I do also do a lot of that, when tickling, stroking and kissing don’t work!).

It doesn’t make very much difference to them at 7:30 in the morning, though. All they want to do is turn over and go back to sleep!

Running a marathon with my kids to get into school on time is yet another new challenge every day. We got the tough luck of getting them assigned to a school about fifty miles away (okay, it’s more like just one kilometre, but try running one kilometre in ten minutes every morning!) because one year we arrived from Barcelona in the middle of the school year, and they didn’t get admitted to any other school.

I’m very pleased and happy with their school, though. It’s in a nicer neighbourhood than where we live, which means that the kids in their classes are generally from nice, well-educated, polite homes.

Being a single mamma means no lounging around in bed until a late hour, then ambling off to the local market for the day’s menus, the way I would probably do if I were a traditional Spanish housewife married to a working man.

No offense meant to stay-at-home Spanish housewives, of course, please don’t be offended! I know that housewives work veeery hard and here in southern Spain, still a bastion of machismo, even more so. However, I also believe that single mothers must still work harder than married ones, because we have to go out and win the bread as well as cook, clean and run the household.

We also have to pay the bills alone.

Having said that, I believe that we also enjoy a load of luxuries that married women most often can’t claim.

When the kids don’t have school, I can sleep until the hour that I want. Now that they are old enough to prepare their own breakfasts and entertain themselves……

I can cook what I want, and if I don’t feel like cooking, I can buy something frozen or ready-made at the supermarket across the street. I imagine if I had a hubby, he’d be roaring for specific menu items, and I bet Eroski brand Spanish tortilla just wouldn’t make the cut in his opinion!

We can do what we like on week-ends. Of course, being a “struggling single mamma” most often means that we can’t take luxurious outings, like going to theme parks, on a regular basis. But I do save up so that occasionally I can treat the kids to something a bit pricier, like a trip to the zoo for my son’s birthday.

Being single and a mother means that I have to go to work. That means that I can’t sit around every morning waiting for that slow-cooking pot of stew to boil, and lunch will often have to consist of something that pops into the oven and simmers there for just ten minutes. It means I don’t meander through the local marketplace every day, chatting leisurely with the merchants, and our routine usually consists of a once-a-week shopping excursion – except I’ve probably only got about half the amount of money to spend on these once-a-week shopping excursions than would a complete family with a working father and a working mother.

It also means, though, that I get to lounge around at home in the evenings and do what I please. I don’t have to give hubby a massage because he’s “beat from a long, hard day at work”. I don’t have to clean up hubby’s mess because his mamma never taught him to clean up after himself. I don’t have to give my son a shower every night if I don’t feel like it – after all, hubby will never know and be able to protest about that, because hubby doesn’t exist!

I also don’t have to put up with disagreements about how to raise our children. There are no forced catechisms for them, no boring masses on Sunday mornings when the bed and warm quilts are just soooooooooo much more inviting! I don’t have to leap up from the middle of a dream about “kissing Valentino in a crystal-clear Italian stream” in order to dash over to the in-laws’ for their traditional Sunday lunch.

So, all in all, I guess life’s tougher if you’re single with little kids.

But then again, if you’re married, you also miss out on so many small pleasures, like having no fights, playing what you want with the kids, feeding what you want to the kids and being able to watch all your favourite TV shows hehe!

Kids On The Beach

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Who Is Jack Frost?

Check Out My Son’s New Blog

My son has a new blog all his own! I’d love it if you’d check it out (in Spanish). You can see it here or here (I’m testing out the two platforms to see which one I like better, so far I prefer WordPress, although partly because I’m familiar with it so I find it easier, but also I haven’t been able to upload photos to Blogger because the link hasn’t been working, all I get is a blank page.)

All right, of course, he’s getting a little help from his Mami. Namely, I set it up, control it and manage it, and I’m in charge of the images too! But the text is all his!

So once again, here are the links: http://elblogdehermenegildo.wordpress.com/ and http://elblogdehermenegildo.blogspot.com/.

Hope you enjoy!

El Blog de Hermenegildo

Who Is Jack Frost?

I took my son to watch that new movie that just came out, “The Rise of the Guardians” (translated here into Spanish as “The Origin of the Guardians”). We had a thoroughly good time consuming buttery popcorn and doing the usual things that people do at movie theatres.

Frost

I thought that the movie was pretty clear. But when we came out, the first thing that my son commented about: did he remark about the amazing special effects? The heartwarming, happy-ending story? The lesson about how good can conquer evil and how joy is much more powerful than fear?

No.

He said: “Mami, what is frost and who is Jack Frost?”

Oh yes, sometimes I do tend to forget that we live in an almost tropical land and that he has never experienced the “joy” of having to fight through snow dunes higher than you are and getting locked up in the house because your door has frozen over.

I forget that he has never had a snowball fight, slipped on ice and broken his bones or admired the beautiful designs that frost can create on windows and tree branches.

And I forget that he has never seen frost.

Frost on Tree

The only frost that you will ever see in Malaga.