Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Notes from Balaguer

Our sixth and final HelpX edition - Balaguer, Spain. Staying with Jordi, Anita, Dennis, Anni and Villia in the first floor apartment that could have been mistaken as a youth hostel. Anita was a HelpXer from Manchester, England. Dennis and Anni were HelpXers travelling around Europe in search of their new home who only a month before had left Finland with their 2 year old daughter, Villia.

It´s the story. . . of a single teacher. . . who was hosting more and more each day. . . the youngest one in curls.

According the Jordi, the best way to clear the table was by forming a line and passing the dishes to and from the kitchen along said line of people. This, he said, prevented backup and congestion in the kitchen area. So picture it. Every meal we, mature adults, would pass dishes and plate along the line. The two year old would watch in wonder as her parents assumed the position. It brought her uncontrolable joy watching us all pass her used plate and cup from hand to hand. Villia, so overwhelemed with excitement, would run back and forth down the line like a quarterback butting helmets with the rest of the team before the big game. Only, she wasn´t that tall so really she was butting us in the crotch.

What I also loved about the line was watching certain items go back and forth at every meal (see "Waste Not"). My favorite were these two little bottles of beer that were sent out to the table every lunch and dinner and, every lunch and dinner, would return down the line back to the fridge. Because Jordi told us that he didn´t drink and because even if you drank both of the beers, it would hardly constitute a full glass, nobody wanted to drink them. Nobody wanted to be that guy who drank the two midget beers at dinner. So back and forth they went. All week.

Jordi never wasted anything. Anything! If something wasn´t eaten at a meal, he would continue to bring it out at every subsequent meal until it was finished. Fine. But come on, that dried up develed egg didn´t get eaten on the 2nd, 3rd or 4th meal - it ain´t gonna get ate.

Speaking of meals, once for breakfast he put out Kit Kat bars. I loved his breakfasts.

Jordi did not believe in trash. We noticed that he had no apparent trash cans on our first night after he told us that we could "recycle everything." Are my Q-tips a paper? Do my old work boots go into the paper or plastic pile? The muffin cup/wrapper I put into the compost. It just felt right.

Kelly and Anita bonded one night over a discussion about how they had to smuggle certain products out to the street trash cans because, come on, some things just don´t go in recycle bins.

Jordi volunteered us to go to the high school to speak to the english class. Teenagers are frightening. They asked us if Americans are rude and if all English people have a drinking problem. To impress them, I told them that Kelly and I have been in some movies in NYC (passersby, but still). They stared blankly and then asked Anita about the Manchester football (soccer) team. I should have told them that Kanye West was our neighbor and that sometimes we shared sugar. Teenagers like the hippity-hoppity.

One thing that I love about Kelly is that she never quits. We ran into some kids from our english class when we were walking around Balaguer one night. They were selling roasted chestnuts. Kelly wanted to know if the chestnuts were from their family´s tree. They didn´t understand what she was saying. I was ready to start talking about the slightly racist plush toy that I had won at the carnival claw game but she just kept on. Basically just repeating the same words. Only slower. This goes on for some time and I start daydreaming. Eventually she starts grunting and miming and suddenly they understand, using words that sound just like the ones Kelly had just been using. I could tell Kelly wanted to know more about the business: supply chains and cost/benefit analysis and what not but by that point it was getting pretty late and time for us to go home to bed.

To test whether or not a couple is compatible, they should have to ride a Vespa together. This should be a requirement before a marriage license is issued. Have you ever ridden on the back of a Vespa? It´s scary shite. Having no control, every turn, lean or brake feels like the brink of death. Driving is great.

The Finnish couple let us take their Vespa out for a spin (or 3) around town. We were chased by a little and, most likely, rabid dog. People stared at us, most likely because we were two huge (fat) people squeezed on a little Vespa and my helmet was way too small for my huge cabeza.

At one point, Kelly pulled over and got off the bike complaining that I was a backseat driver. She insisted I drive and then, not two seconds later, yelled "f·ck" and squeezed my breasts because she thought I was going to crash us into a wall. Talk about a backseat driver. Another time, when I swerved to avoid hitting an older couple walking on the side of the road and nearly drove into an on-coming car, Kelly actually reached forward and pushed the handle bars.

Eventually we had to stop and have a discussion about criticism and feelings. But I know our relationship is stronger for it. Thank you, Vespa.


Paula said...

STOP squeezing Christopher's breasts!!!

These blogs are getting funnier and funnier but I'm worried you two might not be speaking to each other when you get back.

Julie said...

I haven't noticed any other contention... except with the pigs :)

Robyn & Matt said...

We both laughed out loud at our desks today as we read your blog, dreaming of Kelly grabbing Christopher's chesticles. Awesome.