Travelogue: A Weekend in Spain

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Friday, 6 a.m.:
Leaning on my luggage cart in the airport, I'm struggling not to fall asleep. Around me are a myriad of tourists with giant suitcases. My own bag is small, and I am proud to travel light. I'm going to Alicante, Spain, for the weekend to visit a friend, and my purpose is to export some tension and seriousness for a few days and then import some centigrades to chilly Northern Europe where I reside for the summer.

The same day, 2 p.m.:

I'm in an Andalusian tapas bar and I learn that the number of napkins and cigarette butts on the floor corresponds to the popularity of a Spanish restaurant-here, the floor is pretty dirty. The jamones hang from the ceiling with the pigs' feet still attached to the thigh. The waiter with huge wet spots under his arms is annoyed with life and considers us to be "guiris"-stupid tourists who don't know what to order, cannot speak Spanish and buy lots of crap. How could he? I've even learned how to say "Barcelona" with the right lisp and "carro" with the rolling r's.

The same night, midnight:

After the siesta, we shopped a bit and now we're in my friend's boyfriend's bar. There are so many 15-year-old girls wearing skintight pants and drinking "calimocho"-red wine and coke. When the girls aren't making out with their small boyfriends on the dance floor, they all dance together as they perform one of the choreographed dances accompanying the many summer hits. Everyone, except us, knows the steps, and when a hit comes on, the dance floor suddenly synchronizes and moves in organized waves. I'm told that the biggest hit is made by the guitarist El Tomate's two daughters, and guess what they are called: "Las Ketchup-Las Hijas del Tomate." I sit and giggle into my huge drink as I feel old.

Saturday, noon:
The weather is gray, hot and humid. We go to a large outdoor market where you can buy anything. I buy some striped underwear, hoping it will fit. My favorite stand sells spices, including saffron for paella and tea for any ailment you might have-gas, bad nerves, diabetes, high blood pressure and everything else. The sweet vendor lets me be a "guiri" and take a picture of his colorful display.

Sunday, 1 a.m.:

The "Barrio," which is in the old part of town; lots of tiny bars and partying people. The door to one bar is about 4 feet tall, and they serve magnificent mojitos for about $2.

We spend all day in the countryside at a friend's family house. In the garden, the family grows lemons, oranges, apricots, figs, weed, tomatoes, almonds and olives. Mama cooks for all, and we eat ourselves silly. The tapas are homemade calamari, homegrown salted and roasted almonds, pickled onions, mussels, olives, capers, pickles, salad with tuna, lemons from the garden, anchovies and then comes the excellent paella with chicken and then fruit and then homemade ice cream and cake. We drink sangria, and I'm happy. Later we drag ourselves to the pool and sit in the sun all day while the rest of the family siestas.

Monday, 8 p.m.:

Another relaxing day with reading, tennis and swimming. I'm finding the rhythm: hang out, eat, sleep, hang out, eat, sleep and repeat.

Early Tuesday morning:
I'm late for my plane, the buses are confusing, or perhaps I'm unconsciously trying to find a way to stay. The Spanish security people don't care about the Swiss army knife I forgot to take out of my purse. In Copenhagen they spotted it, checked it and gave it back to me.

Tuesday, noon:

I've returned, and my import/export endeavor was a success. I came back relaxed to a warm and sunny Scandinavia.

Now I'm searching for investors and writing up business plans for my next import/export venture.


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