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Wandering Hot, Summer in Spain and California

Madrid graffiti, Spain Photo by Rachel Medanic

Travel. Does travel count as a reason for not blogging? We have been to Europe and back, survived debilitating heat and all is well. It wasn't for that first week. It was inability to sleep that took me down fast. There is no place like home. But Europe, among certain friends is the whispered fantasy, the lowered tone. There is no place like Europe we think to ourselves and mutter to each other in dreamy visions of art and a more cultured way of life. You know who you are. Okay, yes, I'm generalizing because the dollar is superstrong now! Europe is a very broad term.

Arc de Triomphe, Madrid, Spain, Rachel Medanic

This summer gave me the opportunity to observe the psychograhic of Spain--by being in Madrid during one of their more severe heat waves. You can drill into daily life in 3 weeks. The heat of summer dictates culture, cuisine, the rhythm of business and lifestyle for communities of people who live in a place.

Coffee with soy milk and gazpacho, Madrileño breakfast
                 Cafe con leche de soja y tomate, desayuno madrileño
Our existence and perspective is so so sooo shaped by climate and weather. When it gets over 98 Fahrenheit in America, we adopt the lives of shut ins- shut into our cars, homes, workplaces. In Spain, it dictates hours of operation, diet, recreational priorities (public swimming pools and public transit, large tourist attractions and air conditioning which is less common to have in your home). Heat dictates the hours way into the night when people socialize (and they drag their kids into it too).

Cathedral door, Alacala de Henares, Birthplace of Miguel Cervantes Photo:  Rachel Medanic

Speaking of children, these people adore them and will dote on anyone's child it seems- men are particularly outgoing about this practice; restaurateurs especially. Here is what one owner created for my kid. He made her a chocolate cigar filled with some sort of cream nut yum goo and a bit of coal in place of cigar ashes. It's sophistication from another era, but she ate every bit.

On transit, if you are with a child, the reaction to you changes. But if you are an English speaker, there is also a closed suspicion and even palpable dislike that comes across in body language, energy and the way you are regarded and observed by others not doting on your kid. The sneaking glance isn't typical- it's a more direct and in your face scowl or disdain. I appreciate opinion. Despite my singing child, I tried to keep my mouth shut on transit.

When I hear other languages in my country, I get curious to figure the language out and listen--to see if I can help or maybe cobble together common courtesies in whatever language they are speaking. The trouble with Europe is my sentences are part French, Spanish and Italian all in one. My 7 years of language education is shamefully not very useful any more.

Mendozas Castle, Manzanares el Real, Spain Photo:  Rachel Medanic
We never did get inside the castle, curse of the siesta and random Monday/Tuesday closures
We cannot know how lucky we are to be a melting pot nation. People can look like anything in our country. Their relatives can be from anywhere in the world. Where America seems most present is as a powerful exporter of culture and entertainment--nearly every bit of music we found in Spain was American pop. It makes any cultured, educated American shudder to hear it play.

There is more to say, and more places to share the adventures forthcoming. But I must leave you with the reality about home. Wherever you make your home, there is no other place like it for you. We note that cats take their identity from place and belongings in that place. Cats leave their scent on furniture, walls, objects--because if it smells like them, it's theirs, it's familiar. We are not so different, but our dominant senses are more sight and sound as opposed to smell and feel.

Wherever you go, always take the weather.

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