Mom and I continued our tradition by sleeping through Christmas. It was fabulous. I made sure to gather items at the Mercadona on Christmas Eve/her birthday so I could cook during the hours we were actually awake. We couldn't roam around the village, Mom injured her leg at the train station in Cadiz and it was still pouring outside. So we settled for European television, munching on almonds and enjoying each other's company.
Next on the agenda was Malaga. My mother was hard up for a sangria, and frankly so was I. We checked into our hotel and found a restaurant to have dinner at, but it wasn't open yet, so we went to a bar nearby. The bartender made sangria good enough to make my mom protrude her infamous moan. Two down and we both were tipsy. We went back to the restaurant, dined on fish with Snoopy eyes. When I gave our order to the waiter, I told him a sangria for my mother and a red wine for me. He came back with a sangria and a bottle. Ok. Think of all the thirsty people. Wouldn't want that vino to go to waste.
Needless to say, we got back to the hotel and I was slightly, well, drunk. I decided to use the Internet downstairs. On my way back to my room, I mistakenly followed a man to his room. "Lo siento," I told him. He spoke fast Spanish and gestured for me to join him. I think I said, "No, gracias" and ran off.
The next day he found me downstairs. I had forgotten about that strange encounter, so it took me a second to recognize who he was. Turned out, he would also be in Zaragoza for New Years like myself, so we traded numbers. "Speak slowly when you call," I told him in Spanish. Andalusian is like Spanish on crack, but the people sure look good.
After Malaga, we went to Granada. It was good to get back to my original stomping grounds in Spain. I think I can honestly say that out of all the places I've traveled to in Spain (and I've been to a lot), Granada is still my favorite. There's something in the air that is so inviting. The people are friendly, fun and eager to know who you are. My mom needed to exchange some money so we paid a little visit to the woman I exchanged my money with when I first arrived in Spain. She's delightful and I don't even know her name. We must have talked with her for half an hour. Her Spanish is easier to understand than most, and if you still don't understand, she'll sneak in some English with the most perfect accent. The first time she did that, I literally jolted backward like someone opened a door to strong wind. Where the hell did that come from? Very clever woman.
Mom and I had the most delicious lunch by the Alhambra. Hake and sea bass with a bottle of red wine. It was absolutely fantastic. We chatted with the waiter for a long time after, improving our Spanish little by little. Later that night I took her to Poe and the salsa bar I like so much, but it was a Tuesday and nothing was really happening.
After Granada we took a bus to Madrid. I love Madrid but I hate it at the same time. People just cannot keep their hands to themselves. My mom was pickpocketed on the subway and lost all her cash. Fortunately her cards were in a separate place. The first time I went to Madrid my friend Shaun was pickpocketed as well, only his experience was much more abrasive than my mother's unknowing theft. She didn't realize it until the next day in Zaragoza, on New Year's Eve while we were getting dressed up for the evening.
Later we chalked it up to 2009 flushing itself out.
New Year's Eve was interesting. We refused to give into the buying cotillion tickets bullshit that Spain likes to sucker people into. However, everything is noticeably closed on arguably the most festive holiday of the year. I'm used to New Year's Eve being loud and a bit chaotic, people dancing in the street blowing horns and chugging bottles of champagne. It was eerily quiet. We walked around, looking for a sign of life, something. All the bars were shut down. The wind was blowing. We were growing desperate and thirsty. Finally, we saw a group of girls parading in the street so I decided to follow them while my mother followed me. After awhile, they took a different direction. I decided to just head toward the Pilar. My mom hadn't seen it in years, so what better time than that?
That's where everyone was. At the damn Pilar. Everyone. We got there just in time to witness the birth of 2010. It was a loud, chaotic clutter of happy people, clenching their BYOB's and stuffing twelve grapes in their mouths for good luck. Music poured from the speakers. As we were walking through the mass of people, I heard someone call my name. I turned around and saw my friend Bruno with his father and sister. He looked adorable wearing a ridiculous hat. We stood with them a bit, talking and feeling relief that the night was taking a turn for the better. After, my mom and I decided to head back to the hotel because we were exhausted. However, we saw a bar that was actually open on the way home so we stopped inside and shared a bottle of champagne.
The next day my hangover was definitely an echo of 2009. Later I cured it over coffee with that guy I met in the elevator in Malaga, a pilot for Iberia. I can't decide if he's flighty because he's a pilot or a pilot because he's flighty. Anyway, it was enjoyable.
Mom and I spent a few more days in Zaragoza, then decided to finish our journey with one more trip to Valencia. The train was long, five hours to be exact, and the rain has not stopped. Yesterday we had a lackluster adventure (how's that for an oxymoron) of spending several hours accomplishing absolutely nothing. It was like hitting brick walls every where we turned. We couldn't get cash from the bank, by the time we got to the museum it was closed, and it was raining the entire fucking time. The only upside was meeting a friendly fellow named Mario. Other than that, our boots were soaked, I was feeling bitchy, and we both knew the only thing that was going to cure this shit of a day was to return to the hotel and have a sangria. One sangria turned to two, made by a fabulous Columbian bartender who really knew how to make them. Two and we were both drunk. I slithered upstairs and went fast asleep.
So now, here I am. My mom might be awake by now, I'm not sure. I'm downstairs with a cup of coffee, enjoying the beginning of the end. I don't want to return to work, I wish I had another week of this lifestyle but we all know that doesn't fly in the real world. I'd say 2010 has started off quite nicely. If it plummets I hope I don't sink along with it. Unless it's in sangria.