The Things… Spain and All Its Parts

Is it being fair to Spain to say I didn't learn anything? At least I didn't learn anything relative to the country. I had already considered myself an honorary Spaniard. I mean this wasn't some fly by night fad like notion. No, as a very young child I loved to proclaim that I was a Spanish-Moorish empress. I loved to state it whenever my mother threatened to do my hair. My theory was that I lived a lavish and rather short life. I knew I had been beheaded at the throne. Therefore, things were cut short for me … no pun intended. I told both of my parents this lap style bend your neck and head down hair styling was not for me. I'd already been traumatized in a past life with that awful beheading. Of course, no one took me seriously but I probably scared them a little bit. So now I wonder have I navigated life avoiding polos and neck massages because of my child theories or a real connection to the monarchy. I guess that was one thing I did learn … Spain has a royal family. Oh the things we think we know but we don't and the things we are born with. 

I missed…

- The Camera Obscura & Mushroom Building in Seville

I didn't see the "good" stuff in Seville. All the things everyone talks about, to me, wasn't worth seeing. I really researched the Obscura and the science behind it. That was something I was more than willing to go do. I also wanted to see the mushroom structure but it was very far from where we were staying.

- The rest of the Gaudi Stuff in Barcelona

Please forgive me but I didn't want to see ANY of that stuff. I pride myself on being a lover of design and architecture. However, I'm no authority. I had no idea who he was or what contributions he gave until I saw Casa Batllo surrounded by weirdos. Then it was this split second "oh yeah I've seen this before". However, I never imagined someone or anyone standing four feet in front of a building with a professional lens peering up into the windows at someone looking out of the same building with a professional lens. It was the biggest mockery I'd ever witnessed in life. The place was just mobbed with weirdos and to keep them entertained there was live music and tours. I really don't think that is what the guy intended. Besides there are fakes of his stuff - like 6 story replicas in his style that people live in and hang laundry outside of. I never felt the honor like I would for like "Falling Water". 

- The Thyssen

This was the smaller museum in Malaga that was showing Pissarro at the time. This was also the museum she threw a hissy fit about paying for and asked that I go alone. It wouldn't have been worth it either way. We'd already seen enough Parisian inspired art so.

- Barcelona CAM

We made a strong effort to find this museum after being shocked by the line at Familia Sagrada. We actually saw signs, were in the vicinity but both of us sort of forgot why we were headed that direction. Then it occurred to us that it would cost us a great deal of money to only have a few hours to tour. I regret not seeing what it had to offer.

- Parque Warner Madrid

You could see this thing from the top of Parque de Retiro. I guess roller coasters weren't on our radar.

- La'Ocernagrafic

Now I don't like fish attractions. I'd already had a bad taste in my mouth with Gaudi. Not to contradict myself but this would have been a lovely combination of architecture and fish. However, I realized it was hours away in Valencia so we couldn't go even if we both wanted to.

- Carolina Herrera in Barcelona

We walked almost past it. It was on the corner where Casa Mila was. Once we got to the top we could see the flagship red awnings. I could see Carolina herself standing there in all white silk shantung with her signature red lip. I saw her standing over a desk of great sketches and her hands covered in cocktail rings. We discussed going but neither one of us had the balls. Later we tried on her moderate shoes at an El Cortes Ingles. They were all way too cheap but looked okay like … Skechers. I now know her line is completely exploited in Spain and we didn't miss shit.

- The LBGT Clubs

We saw a sign for a club called "The Hole" in Malaga. No words.

- Pinchos and Barside Tapas

I felt like I never got the experience of pinchos like I should have. All those foodie blogs showing thick wedges of bread with little strips of pimento and sardines. I saw them and didn't have one. We also never experienced tapas at the bar. We had all the contrived, finger foods of table tapas. We never had salt & pepper shrimp with the heads still on or endless glasses of vodka. We had no Anthony Bourdain nights. None. Zip. Nada.

- Olive Oil Tastings

When I imagined Spain I thought of all the niche olive oil shops you see on travel channels. I expected to encounter at least one or be offered an "oil flight". I never saw one of these boutiques in Spain and no meal was accompanied with olive oil. In fact we were barely offered bread at our meals. The few times we had bread there was cheese or butter but never traditional Spanish olive oil.

- Sherry

She kept talking about her mom wanting her to try the sherry for her. I had no idea what she was talking about. For me sherry is like that secret element to cooking that Grandmas keep in the back of the cupboard. I never imagined it as some tasting experience like wine or cognac. Apparently, there were vineyards we could have toured. I recall her saying something like her mom would die if she didn't go. Once we shared sherry infused olives so I hope that helped.

I did do the following…

I witnessed Catalan and now know it's not some dying language as I had been told before.

I ate shrimp heads, sardines, anchovies and a fish head. Spain was my most adventurous eating experience. I also had raw garlic, kiwi, gazpacho, fresh coconut (not flaked on a cupcake) and salt fish for the very first time. 

I climbed as far as I could without killing myself at Alcazaba. My first and last hiking experience thank you very much. I walked the ancient ruins but felt nothing after all my claims.

I saw an old bullfighting ring. I walked past a current bullfighting ring. I watched a live bullfighting match on the tv. I saw blood. I am Ernest Hemingway!

I dipped my toes in the Southern most point of Europe and as close to Africa as a girl could want.

I got hit on. This is a feat I've never accomplished before. 

What I learned…

I learned more about Pablo Picasso than I can ever utter in waking life. 

Prado is a life altering experience that no one and nothing can prepare you for.  That complex is supernatural and apparently, allegedly everyones spirituality or lack thereof is tested by the paintings of God and martyrs alike. 

Desigual is the Spanish version of The Gap and it is everywhere and it is awful. Its like this mashup of color and Bohemian fantasy made for old artsy fartsy ladies, Birkenstock wearers and those girls who pretend to be hippies. I want to believe it targets the opposite demographic like crunchy moms but with all that fucking dye and loud music they wouldn't touch it even online. 

I had to be a Moor because the palace and grounds at Alcazaba spoke to me. I didn't have a feeling of being there before but I did feel as if I belonged. I didn't quite get the Roman influence but it explained a lot. Hence no deja vu at ruins.

I learned more about Muslim culture than ever in life. Having spent most of my time in Spain during Ramadan I had to respectably relate. The best lesson was to be a hotel patron across the street from a male ran Halal shop. No one explained anything to us but we were hard pressed on figuring out why the boy in the shop was so coy when we walked in with our bathing suits. After nine days of wondering in and out to get a soda when this poor young man was suffering from various impure thoughts and fasting we took care in our visits. We covered up, we took turns going in, we placed exact change on the counter etc. In the end I felt a great sense of pride and compassion for the young man surrounded by food and bikinis all day. Sunset doesn't come until around 10pm in Malaga. It was comforting to see the women arrive promptly to get items for the feast. 

Spain isn't Mexico. Spain isn't Puerto Rico. Spain isn't Guatemala. Spain isn't Chile. You know this consciously but you expect those experiences. However, Spain is the place that started it all. You will find pieces of everything you love in Latin, Central and South American culture. Spaniards migrated west and there was a domino effect. The Africans and East Indians came over and spiced things up. The Mayan and Aztec Indians taught them some things. Yet the majority of Spanish and Hispanic culture is very European, Middle Eastern and Asian. The beauty of visiting Spain is you will get "it" - eventually. Then you return with a better understanding and appreciation. 

In Conclusion

Nothing in Spain was as expected. I had gathered all these amazing and introspective thoughts in every country we had visited but Spain stumped me. I ultimately felt that Spain was the country of the wounded. I felt like the men who established Spain had to improvise and embellish to be heard. To this day the Spanish always bring another level or layer to humanity that others cannot see. They bring the texture, the color, passion - all these things to what is inanimate to everyone else. As simple as this sounds Spain brought feeling. Spain constantly tested by war, protest, change and modern times the country still feels and ties emotion into every advance. There are a bunch of lovers in Spain but they are always fighting. The irony is they fight just to show how much love they have. I see so much more nobility in that. 

What will I do when I go back…

I will apologize - profusely. I will do so by eating, drinking and being a lover to someone, something, everyone and everything. Not hike...

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