Sun Ra - Column for 7/2

In Absentia, pt.2

Hi again! If this is Monday, we must be in Seville! Hotter than Hell, so we are told, but we're here for four days to see some sights and do our laundry. With the peseta at 197 to the dollar the day we left, I'm thinking soap is cheap.

I feel a bit like Hari Seldon, but here's where we've been so far - we spent three days in Madrid, and then one in Toledo, in the dead center of Spain. Very big city, very touristy. Hopefully the little gypsy children haven't managed to swarm me and abscond with my money. I keep it in my front pocket, so if they try I should feel them tugging on my pecker. Yes, I chain my wallet to my pecker. NO! It was a joke. Sheesh.

Then we stayed in Guadalupe at the Parador there. Paradores are hotels run by the Spanish gov't (and yet, oddly, get rave reviews) and are located in historic buildings. You can check them out at - we have decided to stay in four, at Guadalupe, Merida, Jaen and Ronda. Check out the one in Jaen - it's a castle. The mailing address is "Castillo de Santa Catalina". As Harlock observed, street addresses are for peasants.

Anyways, we went to Guadalupe, which appears to be a little village in the middle of nowhere, only with a castle and monastary and other cool stuff. Then we went to Merida, which was the capital of the Roman province of Lusitania, and has an extant Roman bridge, coliseum, and other cool stuff. Muy bien!

After two days there, we headed here to Seville. I hope we have found a nice hotel. It's actually not the tourist season here, given that its like an oven in Seville in July. But hey, we're from California. We can take it. If I don't make it back, I blame the guidebook.

Notes from the Road:

Spanish keyboards are different. I can actually spell España, or manaña, or jamón or inglés. Whee!

It´s, um, Saturday the 30th. Here in Cáceres it´s 6:30 in the evening; back in California it´s 9:30 in the morning. K. and I are in an Internet cafe, both updating our columns - if you want a slightly different view of the sights, check out her column. I think she may be more lucid than I, but it´s hard to tell.

I´ve left the column above entirely as written before we left, so you can see my massive powers of prognostication at work. I´m not sure I´ll be able to get SSH working on this machine, or rather, installed and working, so this column (and a postcard for the lucky few) may be all you get.

So far we´ve been in Madrid, Segovia, Toledo, Guadalupe, Mérida, and now Cáceres. We have a car, at this point in the trip, which has turned out to be a tremendous bonus, as we were planning to be in Sevilla today, but all the hotels were full owing to a Futbol tournament taking place this weekend, so we changed our course and headed north to Cáceres. We´ll hit Sevilla (the "frying pan of Spain") on Monday. I mean, the hotels are full, and the town is hot and packed with futbol fans. Yeah, that´s a place I want to be.

It´s been a good trip so far, but never underestimate the difficulty of traveling in a foreign language. My single quarter of Spanish has proven inestimably useful, but Spain is not geared for the foreign tourist. The hosteliers and tourist info people are very friendly, and many of the tourist info booth staffers speak fine english (but not the hosteliers, or any restauranteers or shopkeepers or anything), but basically everything is in Spanish, and it´s been a touch stressful. In fact, 95% of the tourists speak Spanish. If I hadn´t any and were armed only with a phrasebook, I´d have wigged out and fled to Germany by now.

And they speak with an accent, for crying out loud! Cáceres is pronounced Ka-thair-ess. Who lisps just some of the´"s"es?

Which is not to say that Spain is not fantastic. It´s a foreign country, with fabulous things like castles and roman aqueducts and original Durer paintings and narrow medieval streets, and alien things like no take-out coffee and really slow service and plazas filled with people you can´t understand and narrow medieval streets. The word for it is Adventure, which has rather aptly been described as someone else having an interesting and uncomfortable time somewhere far away. When looking back upon it, it will be super cool. Right now I´m in the middle of it, and finding a place to stay in Cordoba is a very real concern.

No, it´s great, honestly. Let me expand by discussing some of the stuff we´ve seen so far.

Con´t next week.