Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mold, names, and bars


(Editor's note: I had forgotten that I talked about the mole problem in my last post. You can skip this first paragraph is you've read that one. Sorry. Guess I'm getting old.)

Not much has been happening in Granada these days, at least not in my little corner here in mold central. Yes, my tiny apartment sits out of direct sunlight and is half below ground level. Having been constructed some hundreds of years ago before Visqueen and other vapor barrier materials were invented, the walls stay pretty damp. Mold was growing on the dishes in the kitchen cabinet, so now I leave the doors open. Mold grew inside the armoire which was against the bedroom wall, which was always damp. The moisture transferred to the armoire which grew a nice crop of mold inside which then jumped to my clothes. All the clothes in the bottom drawer of my dresser, those I don't wear in the winter, grew moldy. I've washed everything since discovering the problem, but some of the clothes are stained. Such is life.

Interesting names.

Until 1975, with the death of General Franco, Dictator of Spain, it was the law that all babies be given a Saint's name. I suppose that's at least one of the reasons for the preponderance of nickname usage here. (This country was more Catholic than Italy until '75, and tax money still goes to the Catholic Church.)  I have friend in the cathedral choir whose name is Juan de Dios -- after St. John of God, a saint who lived right here in Spain. And no, my friend doesn't go by a nickname or even Juan -- it's Juan de Dios all the way.

(I've toured the house Juan de Dios died in which is a museum today. If you ever get to Granada it should be on your list of places to see.)
The patio in the St. John of God Museum
It's common knowledge that Jesus is a common name in Hispanic culture. Still after a year here, I'm not used to seeing signs like "Jesus' Appliance Repair." That will take a while.

Also, I learned why Pepe is a nickname for Jose. Jose, of course, is Joseph. Where do they get Pepe from Jose? This is interesting: Joseph, of course, was Mary's husband, but only the step-father of Jesus. So, he was Jesus' putative father. In Spanish, that's Padre Putativo, or PP, which is pronounced Pepe. How cool is that?


Inside the Tabernacle Bar, Granada
There are some nice, old bars in Spain. I've visited more than my share in my travels from Barcelona to the Atlantic coast, and in Madrid and Sevilla. Granada is no exception. The city has its share of boring, characterless bars, but then there are the ones like this one on the left. There is hardly a square inch of wall that is not covered with some kind of representation of the Virgin Mary or Jesus, but Mary is the superstar. She's everywhere. I particularly like this bar because it's one of the few that plays flamenco music. Mary and flamenco music: You wouldn't think it, but they go together in Spain like two peas in a pod. (It used to be Mary, flamenco, and bull fights, but bull fighting is having a hard go of it these days. It's been outlawed in Catalunya. It's only a matter of time before that's the case in the rest of Spain.)

Another bar I like is in a neighboring bario. It's about ten minutes' walk from mold central.
Sometimes I catch them playing flamenco, but once the tourists start arriving they switch to pop crap. Still, you can't beat the "tapas." I went there one Sunday and ordered a small beer. Some minutes later they placed a breakfast of home fries, toast, and a fried egg in front of me. That was a "tapa." You never know what you'll get. Another time I had a nice little snack of fish and whatever they call fried bread crumbs. Another day I got a decent sized paella and bread snack. And this comes with a beer for 1 Euro 80. I think the bottle was 2.50.
And another nice thing -- when they tell you the beer is 1.80, that's what you pay. I used to leave small tips, but my Granaino friends told me that made me look like a guiri, a foreigner. People leave between 5 and 10 percent in fine dining establishments sometimes, but in bars like the above, it's pretty much unheard of. But because tipping is not customary, waiters are paid a normal salary. Or, I suppose it's the other way around; waiters are paid a normal salary so people don't feel obliged to tip. I'll have to admit, that makes service pretty bad, normally. Waiters make the same whether they provide good service or not, so customers are somewhat of a bother it seems. You have to learn to be assertive here. Not my forte. That's another thing that will take a while to get accustomed to.