8/14/2006

Hasta La Vista, Picha [JUNE 25, 2006]

Well, here I am. It’s my last day in Spain, in Cádiz, and I’ve come down to the beach for one final swim. For one final sunset. For one final farewell.


No more stunning views across the Atlantic...

It’s hard to believe how quickly the past few years have flown by. It seems like only yesterday (okay, not exactly yesterday but you know what I mean) when I first decided to come to España. I had come to Iberia to learn Spanish and can still recall the first time I ever set foot on this soil. The only words I knew were amigo, cerveza, and adios. Every time a local spoke it sounded like that rambling crazy guy from back home in Philadelphia that lived down the street in a box. Come to think of it, that rambling crazy guy was named Rodrigo so I guess it comes as no surprise that the Spaniards’ tongue reminded me of my fellow Philadelphian’s heated hour-long debates with the street corner fire hydrant. My quest to learn español led me from Barcelona to a brief six-month stint in Madrid to my final Spanish home away from home, Cádiz. And here I am, on the beach, nearly three years later, able to understand the conversations going on around me and vulgarly dotted with pichas and chochos. I’ve come a long way in this short time: I can hold my own with Spaniards in the café, watch a film on TV and understand the plot’s complicated intricacies (except for Jennifer Aniston flicks because, let’s face it, the plot in that Hollywood trash is usually as complicated as teaching a bear how to shit), and even listen to the neverending speeches of famous revolutionaries named Fidel. I’m confident that, when I eventually do return back to Philly, I’ll be able to join in the passionate conversations going on between Rodrigo and the fire hydrant. Who knows? If I play my cards right, I might even be able to teach the both of them a thing or two about thought-provoking European cinema.


No more sitting in the shade and watching the tide roll out...

But a firm command of español isn’t the only thing that Cádiz has given me. It has titillated my palate and shown me mouthwatering treats I would have never thought imaginable. Washing down cured ham, olives, and perfectly aged cheese with a bottle of wine – all shared between friends while seated outdoors in a plaza under the starry skies. Buying a bag full of freshly fried fish and squid as my fiancée and I strolled along the seaside slowly nibbling away. A warm plate of paella. A fresh pile of prawns. A cool glass of sangría...


No more sunsets that herald the cool evening breeze...

You have also, dear city, given me friends I will never forget. Some we met during Carnaval and, just as the drunken haze caused by those countless bottles of fortified wine consumed in the piss-soaked streets made way for the next day’s hangover, those friends were forgotten as quickly as they were made. Others have remained in touch and meaningful friendships have emerged that, I’m confident, will only grow as my fiancée and I say goodbye to Spain. Sadly, there’s one friend I’m leaving behind for good. A four-legged companion that I thought I would never love. Alas, she penetrated my heart just as her powerful bowel movements on the sidewalk penetrated the salty-sweet smell of a cool Atlantic breeze. But Ema will always have a place in my memories and I’ll never be able to think of Cádiz without thinking of that adorable, blind Labrador that passed away when we least expected her to.


No more sipping wine on the beach amongst boats and palms...

As I sit here on the beach staring at the boats bobbing up and down in the sea before me, possibly for the last time, I also can’t help but think of the countless adventures I’ve had here and the numerous places I’ve visited. My crazy German neighbor, a collapsed ceiling, Córdoba’s morbid Inquisition Gardens, and the treacherous stench of Moroccan lavatories will all linger on in my memory – probably for a longer time than I would care to keep them there. But at least I’ll have a helluva lot of great stories to regale the little ones with when I’m an old and wrinkled pervert telling them all to lend an ear, gather round, and pour dear ol’ GranPa Philo another double scotch on the rocks.


No more freshly caught fish eaten outdoors in centuries-old plazas...

And what about the kids I’ve taught here in Cádiz? Those spoiled little Spanish brats can kiss my ass and go to hell. I hope I never see them again and glad beyond words to be going back to a civilized country where children know how to behave in the classroom and have some respect. ’Nuff said... Ah, the memories.



No more romantic walks on the beach interspersed with passionate moments...

And so, our little journey here in España has finally come to its end. I suppose it’s time for one last dip in the Atlantic before the sun does its little dance over the horizon. I’ll have to make sure, though, as I emerge from those seemingly endless blue waters and look over my shoulder to catch the majestic pink hues being painted in the sky, that I don’t lose sight of the footprints I’ve made in the wet sand at the beach’s edge. For when I notice them, I’ll probably just stand there – staring – as the waves gently crash and the approaching tide inevitably erases away all my tracks from the face of this city. From that moment on, Cádiz will indeed become but a memory... one that I will carry with me and cherish no matter where I may be.

18 comments:

Pamela said...

Hope you guys are OK, wherever you are. This was strange, your post is dated Aug 15, titled in June. It turns up in my news feeds today, August 17. Still glad to see it, whenever.

Ha ha. People often ask me why don't I give English lessons here. I don't tell then that I did once try, as but your penultimate paragraph explains, most eloquently, I decided that I had "tried it once and didn't like it."

deborah said...

HA! the picture of you and your girl. Too funny. You are.

You're going to miss Spain, indeed, but there's miles of road ahead of you.

And where ARE you headed? Certainly not back to the states?

J.Doe said...

Good luck to you both-wherever you are.

Michelle said...

Good Luck on your next adventure! Look forward to hearing about it.

Brendan said...

I look forward to reading Czech peoples' shortcomings in your forthcoming blog entries!

Buon proseguimento*,

Brendan

*Common Italian salutation that roughly translates to "Enjoy whatever the hell you end up doing, I can't be bothered to ask"

Chiri said...

Looking forward to your continuing adventures and observations.

Buena suerte y hasta pronto!

Lori said...

Awesome pictures as always!!!

Sooo tell us...where you heading???.....Wherever it is...I'm sure it will be a adventure!!!

Have a great day!!!

javier said...

Pues nada picha, ya sabes que en Cádiz tienes muchos amigos y estamos abiertos a todos.

christina said...

Geez, I had no idea you guys were going home. Well, your home, at least. Seems like a ton of expats are leaving Europe these days. *sigh*

J said...

Where are you now? Back in the Czech Republic? Philly?

kat said...

Good luck wherever you two will wander next. Hopefully you'll have more stories to tell when you arrive there. I simply can't imagine not having your stories to read. I love your descriptions of Spain, my husband's family is from there and we are able to see it through your eyes and pictures. We can't wait to see it in person.

Franje said...

Where are you? We miss you!

gloria said...

My name is Pili and I’m a Spanish girl. I’m 20 years old and I’m studing Fine Arts at the University of Salamanca. I’d like to be a painter. I like to go to “tapear” (to a Spanish bar, you know) go to some parties, but specially I like to travel around the world. Last year I studied in USA, when I met my friend Lucy. She is studing Spanish there. I write a spoken diary for her and for all of you. You can visit me every week in www.dpili.com and download a free podcast. ¡Learning Spanish is easy with me!

I recommend you to listen the first podcast to understand the diary.

www.dpili.com

see you!!!

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Naranja said...

So that's it? No more updating us on how your life is now?

Would love to hear how life is turning out now, but maybe you have started another blog somewhere else?

Anonymous said...

WoW!! Tomaste fotos muy bellas. Te felicito aprender español. Me parece que es una lengua muy importante. Es interesante que escogiste españa para aprender español. Intenté aprender español en Guatemala pero todavía me falta. Te deseo mucho exito con el español.
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