Wednesday, April 05, 2006

My trip, part one

As alluded to in the post below, Mark and I have just returned from a trip. To Spain and France, if you were curious. Via Frankfurt.
That's in Germany. At the beginning of the trip, arriving in
Frankfurt, my homeland, I was so tired and disoriented that the only
German I was able to succesfuly muster out of my mouth was "Einer Bretzen
bitte." One pretzel, please. That's with a German mother, multiple
Germany trips, and a year of college German. My ancestors are exhaling
audibly, disappointed.

Other languages were easier. Well, Spanish was, which is my strongest
second language though I was a bit out of practice, even though I live
in a predominately Latino neighborhood in San Francisco, a
predominately Latino apartment building with a Spanish landord. More
than vocabulary, which for some reason sticks with me, I noticed that
verb declension was the hardest to retain after years of only modest
use. Especially when I wanted to use a subjunctive, semi future tense
that I remember being psyched to learn back in high school. But then
again, I think many non-native english speakers stick to the present
tense, and I've always found it charming.

In Barcelona, they don't really speak Spanish, opting for Catalan which
is a mysterious language experience where you feel like you're catching
on to understanding only to be disappointed when the language veers in
the direction of Portuguese, or Romanian, or French, or I don't really
know. Most understand Spanish, but it was difficult to decide whether
Spanish, the language of their rivals or oppressors or whatever the
Spanish are to them, would be more insulting than English. Well, they
just got more autonomy so maybe they'll be less sensitive about it.

God knows what they were saying in France most of the time. But I
think it pertained mostly to labor rights and how best to block trains.
Our trip to Paris was delayed by a day due to a national strike.
Little scuffles took place while we were there but our only view of
them were cavalries of riot police crusing down the Champs-Elysées.
Our plane flight home also fell on another National Strike. I think
the French tend to nationally strike on Tuesdays. Word to the wise
traveling to France: go on Wednesday.

OK, this concludes my "American Ignorace" portion of the travelogue.
More stories soon.


Blogger Pedro said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

3:07 AM  
Blogger Pedro said...

Little Peter :-) I just want to give you my point of view about your Barcelona comment:

- Catalan people understand and speak Spanish, although at this moment there is a lot of pressure to make people speak only Catalan; you can get fined if you decided to use only Spanish in your own business: can you imagine having that in San Francisco? The great majority of them have ancestors -in the previous generation- from the rest of Spain (in Franco´s years a million people just from Andalucía went to work in Catalonia, where the population now is 6.300.000 million people).
- "Well, they just got more autonomy so maybe they'll be less sensitive about it": no way dude, nationalism always needs an opponent, an oppressor to claim against and to get money from.

Sorry man, I have to recognize that I´m partial: I´m not Catalan and I don´t like nationalism... Catalan, Spanish, French, Basque, American or Martian... "Some" wars started because of it. It´s all about politics and how to fuck people.

1:44 PM  

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