Compost II

I can’t believe my eyes but this compost experiment worked! Just last week I cracked this baby open and found all my food scraps and leaves were made into rich black soil:

The weather here has been warming up (considerably) so I planted some seeds to get my herb garden going along with some peas and lettuce. They’ve just begun to sprout and here is the proof! My little balcony garden is the dose of green I need to make it here in the city.

Spring here in Madrid comes just as soon as you really need it – overnight it seemed the weather went from cold and dark to hot. The sidewalks and plazas are covered with people having tapas and wine while kids (loudly) play soccer against the walls of buildings (my building). The birds are going crazy, namely everyone’s favorite rat with wings, which has decided to make a nest in the window of my neighbors apartment across the way. They help wake me up in the morning.

Nice

I went to Nice, it was nice (the people were not). It was one of the most disappointing cultural experiences of my life in Europe thus far, and having studied French for 5 years I was incredibly excited to practice it in France but pheww…not a forgiving bunch we’ll just leave it at that.

Took the train to Monaco to visit my friend Zach who’s living there for work and we had a blast. Monaco I found to be an odd mix of empty and wealthy; think a Disney-style neighborhood on a hillside and everyone speaks French. Honestly most of this trip was me stuffing my face with pastries and Côte d’Azur cuisine. I’m still dreaming of moules frites

Poli

I’ve been asked to do a post about my gym, after lots of good laughing with friends about the differences between typical gyms in the USA and the place I go here in Madrid. Where to begin…

Polideportivo Sagrada Familia is associated with a Private-Catholic school, and I’ve come to find that its quite typical to join a gym that is also funded by tuition at a parochial elementary. Basically this means that the kids at the school use the facilities for PE classes during the day and there are a lot of families in the evenings (who, I imagine, receive a free or reduced membership for also paying tuition).

The price is more or less the same as in the States, showers are great, classes, huge pool all included in the monthly fee that’s automatically taken from my bank account every month. Blahblahblah thats all old hat; now, the differences.

I have never in 3 months ever seen a female patron of my gym even so much as look at a free weight. I am likely one of a real small group of chicas that uses the weight area. Coming from a Nike-funded university gym in a hippie town this is crazy to me even though I know its not typical that many women lift, its more exaggerated here.

Perhaps the craziest of all is locker room etiquette here in Spain thats got me shocked. We’ve all heard about how warm and friendly Mediterraneans are and that it takes forever to do basic tasks like get groceries. Well this, I find is in no small part due to running into and chatting with people I know, friends, acquaintances, students, neighbors, old ladies and the like. The locker room is no exception to be ignorant of Spanish social graces. Even when totally coming out of the shower or changing into workout gear it is expected to kiss and greet anyone you know and chat with anyone you recognize. Even if you pretend not to know about this rule, as I tried my first few weeks, nobody coming to say hi really cares that you’re naked and trying to head out or maybe even put some clothes on. This one I just have to accept.

No Zumba class can compare to that with an instructor who was a professional hip hop dancer and my dance aerobics here have been reduced to side steps and salsa on loop. (If anyone knows about a better dance class in the area let me know). Yoga is taught by a Spanish man with a shaved head and a little pony tail who wears baggy orange pants and talks about ohm for half of the class…zzZZ. The pool however, is really exceptional and is quickly becoming my favorite workout.

For now this gym is a great way to relax and break up routine while maintaining connection to some of the things I like to do back home.

Braids

Even with basically a month of growing and caring for my hair as much as possible away from this blog (for which I am truly sorry..things have been hectic in Latina) its still not long enough for a fish tail braid. I tried. Bring on spring