I have now spent three months trying to decipher Catalan, and have given up hope. But I’ve learned a few words, and these are my favorites:
“Meet us under the big clock at the railroad station.”
When our friend Simone suggested that meeting place, we knew exactly where that clock was. We knew how long it would take to walk there. We even knew that at that time of day, the clock would be in the shade. We have lived here three months, and three months is long enough to know things like this.
And now we’re about to leave.
“Come on, Louise. It’s 4:15. The place is closed.” I get impatient when I’m tired, and we were visiting Figueres (home of the Teatro-Museo Dalí, which I’ve described earlier in this blog) for the second time since we began our travels – not to see the Dali museum again, but just to visit Figueres on a sunny day in Spain.
But it was 4:15. The sign on the door said the museum would open at 4:00. I’d been on my feet since 10:00 that morning and I wanted – needed – a cerveza grande. Figueres is charming, but charm has its limits, like watching six hours of Audrey Hepburn movies.
Way back last year, before embarking on this adventure, we did a month-long research project on the feasibility of expathood. We did this in the charming and obscure town of Collioure, France, just north of the Spanish border on the Mediterranean. (Read all about it here.) The goal was to see if we could stand:
- a month of foreign words, food, and monuments
- a month without friends and relatives, and
- a month with each other.
There are more places than you would think that are into big heads. The Tournament of Roses Parade (above) comes to mind. Portland’s Rose Festival (my home town) comes to mind too. New Orleans, Ann Arbor, Vancouver – they all have parades with big heads. It’s a Big Head epidemic.
Tossa de Mar has been home for somebody since the Neolithic days, continuously populated through the early Iberians to the Romans … and now we’re only up to 100 BC.
So Vila Vella enceinte, the ancient walled city located within Tossa de Mar and the only fortified medieval town still standing on the coast of Catalonia, is a journey back in time – way back (Vila Vella was built in 1200 BC). On the first summery day of the season, we climbed up the hill with our friends Vicens and Jeannette to wander within and on top of the ancient walls.
During recorded history, Girona has undergone twenty-five sieges and has been captured seven times. Defending against the bad guys has been the name of the game since the First Century BC, when the Romans began construction of a wall around the city. Over the years the wall was fortified: slots were added to accommodate bows with arrows; towers were built to house heavier artillery; the wall kept getting higher.
Wherein Tom discovers a new strategy for the advance of immersion language learning in Spain.
I counted fourteen gowned sycophants in the room, buzzing about a solitary, supine individual like bees in a hive. At their center — it chafes my sensibilities to type this — playing the role of the queen, was me.