Oct 31, 2007

Mc Calabash

It doesn' t matter how far away you go and how small and remote the village you end up in is, it seems like Halloween reaches the far corners of this world. Trick-or-treating happens here too, i just witnessed it. My dad says you know you're in a small village when there is no police, i say you know it's small when the library opens only for an hour and a half once a week (here it's from 4pm-5.30pm on fridays). I never thought i'd see Halloween celebrated in Caunes-Minervois. I might have to change the way i think of Caunes and accept the fact that, despite it's appearance, it is not as remote as i think it is. There's a French twist to the traditional pumpkin' though — here, all sorts of giant cucurbitaceae are displayed: an assortment of Mc calabashes. Nice. France does big things too.

A few weeks ago when France was playing against New Zealand in the quarter-final rugby game, Caunes-Minervois' pub, the sole one in town, was packed with all sorts of people: underaged, elders, men, women, the village idiot (no kidding)... There were two televisions, blasting speakers, lots of drinking and way too much smoking (some turn into a pumpkin after hours, here you turn into an ashtray). Each time France scored points the young people in the crowd would start humming "Seven Nation Army"! I like how pop culture bridges nations and helps make small villages look bigger. Vive les White Stripes! On the other hand, during each game break the pub owner would turn the sound on the t.v. off and play a musical piece that sent me way back in time, years away: a piece of traditional Spanish music with sounds of guitars, clarinets, drums and castanets! At that moment i felt like the village was shrinking back to its original size.

Oct 29, 2007

Plants from the garrigue and chestnuts for dinner

Simple dishes such as cheeses, cold cuts, radishes, grapes, and chesnuts wrapped up in newspaper to keep them warm lay on the table. It was tapas style dinner at the neighbors and we were gathered around one end of a big table while more than half of the other end was occupied by things. I sat right in front of the t.v, a little chatting box behind my back. The hostess rolled her eyes at her husband until he reluctantly switched off the t.v.. she was probably thinking it isn't "proper" to have the t.v. on while you have guests over. [I'm thinking, we're all crunched up on one end of the table, that's roots, so why bother with the dos and donts, lets burp and fart and be merry.] Burps and farts aside, we did get merry, drank some red wine and then some more and didn't have to worry about the farting until later that night when the chestnuts made their way into our guts. The hostess asked for her glass to be refilled and insisted on having red because that's what she drinks. Third round she pours herself some white wine and ends up with rosé in her glass. Wow. We finished our glasses, ate some grapes and coffee was served. The hotess dropped two sugar cubes in her glass and poured some. Hecka.

(I saw a man once pour some red wine in his half emptied glass of white so that he'd get a self-made rosé and i thought it was because he was American and therefore didn't have a problem doing and being whatever it is he wanted to do/be. Americans have this way of being extreme in many ways and being fine with it; they don't try to be better than others, they just want to be free to be who they are... I once experienced folsom street fair and i know how free they like to be.)

Oct 27, 2007

You(u.s) have screen doors, we(french) have this:

French smile vs u.s smile

My brother made a comment about people's teeth in the U.S, he was really surprised at how good they looked in general.
A few weeks later my girlfriend moved to France and made a comment about how fucked up French people's teeth looked!
I have to agree with both of them.

Oct 26, 2007

A few days in Madrid

where to get the best fried cod: "Revuelta"
C/ Latoneros 3, 28005 Madrid, Spain.
ask for the "bacalao".

One day in Madrid i counted 150 women (i didn't round up that number, i just stopped counting at that amount) wearing an ensemble of red and black. Mainly a red top with a black bottom, sometimes the other way around, and every once in a while it was all red with an accent of black or all black with a touch of red. Expanding the palette to a trio of hues, there was the occasional white color added to the ensemble such as a black and white dress covered with a red coat. The sexiest combination (or was it the lady wearing it?) was the black shoes, black fishnet tights, black skirt, red top ensemble.

another day, in the Retiro park, i saw a dude on a skateboard. he was moving forward at a good pace but his feet never touched the ground: the skateboard was propelled by an engine placed underneath it.

i saw a white spanish dude wearing a do-rag. so out of context.

i met a woman who looked a little funny but it wasn't until i noticed that her lipstick was going way off the trail that i begun to understand why. ditto for the eye shadow/liner, her all in one eye make-up.

Oct 25, 2007

Bloody SNCF

True story 1:
You are waiting for your train and it's not showing up when it's supposed to (highly unusal at the SNCF). You are being informed that it is going to be late (after you've figured that out on your own), maybe 20 min late. MAYBE. Then you wait some more until they decide to give you a bit more information: the train will not show up. Nope, no train for you. And that's just the end of it. And oh well if you have a connection, a plane to catch or another train, over there where you are supposed to be heading to.

True story 2:
My friend calls the train station to add a third passenger -her 10 year old son- to her ticket. The railroad agent tells her she would not be able to sell her a ticket with a seat next to hers. So my friend asks for a ticket anyway and says that she'll manage on her own, when the time comes, to sit next to her son. To this the agent replies that she could not sell her a ticket because 10 year olds can not travel unaccompanied. WTF*. My friend says thank you and good bye and gets off the phone. She goes to the train station the next day, saturday, but it's so crowded that she decides to turn around and come back on sunday. Sunday morning's quiet at the train station, there are four agents at the counters and two customers in line. WOW. What kind of ratio is that? It is a highly unusual SNCF-ratio. The average is more like two agents for 25 customers. Anyway no complaint here because for once you are not going to be waiting... at the counter the agent informs my friend that she can not sell her any tickets because she's only selling for today's departures and tomorrow's. My friend wants to drop bombs. [I do believe that anyone who has once dealt with some kind of French bureaucratic governmental office has at some point wanted to drop bombs-i have.] She goes back home and calls the train station again and talks to an agent who gives her what she wants within 5 minutes.

when you come visit France my friends, arm yourself with patience.

SNCF employees go on strike so that they can keep their retirement age at 55 (50 for the train engineers) -an age that was justified when trains needed coal to move forward- while their average hours of work/week is 25.
[i'd be so bored working there that i, as well, would probably go on strike to make sure i'm out of there sooner than later.]

*WTF: What The Fuck.

Oct 19, 2007

Stupid french dog owners

There's so much dog shit on the streets of France!
Sometimes dog owners go as far as wrapping up their dog poop in plastic bags, but only to leave those bags where they picked up the excrement.
I think i have a third eye for those turds, i always see them right on time, without ever looking for them. It's a fifth sense for filth.

Stupid french dog

First, there's the one that walks through the yard and starts smelling everything(it's a hunting dog) before deciding to sit down with a hard on: he doesn't get the fetch game at all. We throw a stone and all he does is look the opposite side. stinky dog.

Then there's the small appartment dog -a sausage on a stick- who gets lost and starts crossing the street in the middle of traffic(small village traffic but still.) So i run after him trying in vain to get him to cross that freakin' road and get him on the curb, but instead he decides to keep running on the road alongside a line of parked car. When i finally catch up with him and put my hand on his ugly fur he stops, lays down and bites me. a small bite because he's so old his jaw's weak. it's a small road and the cars are wondering what that foolish girl -me- is doing running after a stupid dog, while i'm totally embarrassed and telling all the cars that it's not my dog. (Next time i'm rushed out of the house to go get some bread for breakfast i'll get changed. Yes, this whole time i'm running in my pajamas, with my UGG boots that i usually only wear inside the house because they are too embarrassing to wear out, and my big ass black sunglasses. And a hella big country bread under my arm.)