So, yesterday (Tuesday anyway), I didn't really leave the piso all day. By evening, I was getting claustrophobic and my legs were cramping (they are now used to a good two mile walk per day), so I decided to go for a walk. I walked around Nueva Alcala, the south part of town by the river, trying to find the laundry place. Secretly, I want a place where I can go with dirty clothes and come back two hours later with clean ones. I'm not used to not knowing exactly where my laundry is for days on end. It was closed when I stopped by, with a metal door covering all windows and doors, so I couldn't even peak in. But Nueva Alcala was pretty nice. Mostly just apartment buildings, but some shops here and there. Most of Alcala is just apartment buildings. Most people live here and then take the bus or train into Madrid to work everyday. Anyway, I plan on stopping there tomorrow during the day to check it out.
After I left Nueva Alcala, I headed down towards the plaza. Then I figured that I may as well stop at the CarreFour (the Meijers type place) and look for some spices to spice up this bland food we are always eating. That is the number one thing that everyone has said about the food. We've never had anything blander. So I headed to the CarreFour. Now, for the past week or so, I've been setting off alarms in department stores. I set off the one at the Corte Ingles like six times while in Barcelona, but I haven't been setting them off all of the time and it's only really been recently, so I was kind of confused. Anyway, I go into the CarreFour and set off the alarm on the way in. The security guard stops me (first time that's happened) and makes me walk through again. So I had to set the thing off two more times while people turned to stare. He pulls out a wand and tells me to open my coat, which of course, I had no idea what he was saying, so I stared at him blankly until he pointed at my buttons and made motions. So I open up my coat and he points to this tag on the inside of my coat that says "Please remove after purchasing" and I guess had some sort of metal security thing in it. So the guy shakes his head in a chastising way and pulls out some scissors to cut it off.
As an aside, I love my pea coat. I wasn't so sure about it. It was $80 and I am not in the habit of paying such money for something like a coat, but I broke down and my mom bought it for me. And I love love love it. I don't think I'll wear another coat again, at least until next winter when it's negative some degrees again. It keeps me warm and it's very stylish, which I usually don't pull off.
So, back to the CarreFour. I wandered around and found this fantastic isle full of spices and sauces and delicious condiments. I hadn't thought to look up how to say "Chili Powder" in spanish and had to go through the entire shelf, eliminating anything not red and powdery and then narrowing it down to what could only be chili powder, if they carried it at all. Luckily, it was, thank goodness. I also grabbed some vinegar, but all they had was white wine vinegar, which I think is different than the vinegar that I eat at home, but was still delicious enough. Lastly, I searched and searched until I found some tabasco sauce. It was hidden in a corner shelf at the bottom, for some reason.
I wandered around some more with my arms full, grabbing a box of mini Chips Ahoy!, and contemplating a few other delicious snackies for late nights, when I found the books section. I decided to go all out and buy the first book from pretty much my favorite book series, The Earth's Children (by the way, thanks Aunt Ruth for introducing me to them), in spanish and I was so excited about that. It was 10,50 euro, which is a little steep, in my opinion, but I figured I'd feel better about having my book and would be practicing more spanish along the way. It has ended up being a little intense. In the first page, I have looked up more than 50 words and have learned probably 8 different words for "rock".
Anyway, I go to pay. The place is packed with people, for some reason at 8 something on a Tuesday night. The woman rings up all of my stuff, but she rings up my book last and as I glance up at the scanner, I see 19,50 euro and I was like, wait a minute... that book was only 10,50 euro. So I try to tell her by pointing at the price and she has no idea what I'm talking about and then realizes what I'm thinking and tells me that that isn't the price of the book, that's the total price. So I feel like an idiot and the whole long line behind me is tapping their feet in impatience. But no worries. I bag my stuff and head out the door.
As I'm crossing the street, I realize that I have lost a glove and I'm very upset about this because I love these gloves. Mama and Papa gave them to me for Christmas and they are warm and thin and fantastic and I really didn't want to lose one. So after scouring the streets looking for my glove, I decide that I must have dropped it in the CarreFour and head back. I have my bag in my hand, so I can't walk through the alarm gates again, so I walk up and down in front of the cash registers trying to see down these isles, which is completely impossible. So I try to figure out how to ask if someone found it and realize I don't know the words "lost" or "glove" in spanish. I stand at the front of the store, shifting my weight from foot to foot, unwilling to give up on the glove, but not having enough courage to begin a conversation that I have no words for. Finally, I go up to the security guard (a different one because the one who cut the tag off my coat is gone) and hold up my lone glove and say, "have you seen the other?" which may not have translated into spanish well because I don't think "other" can even be a noun (maybe it can? I don't know), but after she asked a few questions that I just answered yes to even though I had no idea what she was asking, she said that she did not have it and she had not seen it. So I asked her, "can you watch my bag when..." (although I think I actually said purse) and just handed her my bag of groceries. More talking that I did not understand, she took the bag and I walked through the gate to look for my glove. Lo and behold, just as I start to head into the store, here comes the security guard who cut the tag off of my coat, holding my glove in his hand. He gave me quite a speech, the contents of which, or even the tone, I have no idea, but I thanked him profusely, grabbed my bag, and left.
But I survived! It was a struggle, but last night, I had the best tasting blended vegetables that I've had since I've been here. Blended vegetables with chili powder.
And I'm doing better than some people. Today, I heard someone say, "I hate this place!" referring to Spain. I don't hate it here. I'm doing alright. I just still can't speak the language, that's all. Well, I can speak okay, but I can't understand. I'm working on it.