July 3, 2005

7/3/05 Málaga Spain

I've Got a Roommate

Early this morning I went for a long run. I was a little apprehensive because my marathon training schedule had me at nine miles today and I've hardly ran in the last two weeks. Come to think of it, I don't know if I've ever ran that far in my life.

At 7AM on Sunday, I pretty much had the boardwalk all to myself. It turns out that this boardwalk is four miles long from the harbor downtown to a cliff-side marina east of town. The city looks like I imagine Miami must be like; high-rise hotels along the ocean-front downtown, palm trees along the boardwalk, people sleeping on the beach, still a few late night revelers dancing in the streets at this hour, men combing the beach with their metal detectors, a few fishermen hoping for an early morning catch, quite a few middle-age Lance Armstrong wannabes in full cycling regalia out for their Sunday morning ride, and an army of garbage men out in force attempting to clean up the beaches for another day of sun worshipers. The only difference seems too be the city is built along the cliffs of the Mediterranean.

Not a bad run. Did 90-minutes with two walking water breaks. We'll see how sore I am tomorrow. Now I know why many folks do their runs in the evening. By 8AM it was already pretty hot and at this time of the day, there isn't much wind to cool you off.

Buildings site near my apartment

I'll tell you a little bit more about construction here. Other than national parks, I don't believe they have any forests here. Everything is planted, and with mathematical precision. It's funny to look a huge stand of trees and realize they are all the same height and planted about ten feet apart. So, with no supply of wood, they rely on concrete for floors, beams and roofs. Then the walls are made of hollow bricks. Want to run an electrical line, break a hole in the bricks. Water lines, the same. Then the walls are covered with concrete both inside and out. Windows are glass and metal. About the only thing made of wood are the doors. It actually works out pretty well, especially because it's so hot here. A good thing because they don't usually have air conditioning. The most amazing thing to me is that my inexpensive apartment has a floor entirely made of marble. And the bathrooms and kitchens are tiled floor to ceiling. Because electricity is expensive, most people don't have a dryer, preferring instead to hang thing sup to dry. I wish you see the washing machine. It's pretty cool, but looks like a design out of the 1950's.

If it's this hot here, I can just imagine what it's like in Almansa. Basically I was kind of bored. Too hot to go out and too hot to do much inside but sleep. Tried to study but to no avail. It seems my biggest stumbling block is verbs and their conjugation. We don't know how lucky we are speaking English. And you would think a former engineer could figure out direct and indirect objects but the concept still eludes me.

A Spanish washing machine

Wasn't sure when my roommate would show up, but thought I could help out a bit, like telling her where the store was. After I was beginning to think they were a no-show, my intercom buzzed. Only the speaker didn't work and I couldn't figure out what to do. Kept pushing the unlock button. The apartment building has a locked gate out front and another locked door at the front door, so you can 'buzz' someone in without going all the way downstairs. The problem was it took me a few days to figure all this out. Then the buzzer would go off again. I went down to the front gate but didn't see anyone. Turns out while I was going down the stairs, Brit was coming up in the elevator with her suitcase, so I completely missed her arrival.

And, thank god she speaks English. Brit grew up in New York but the last five years has been in Sweden. Since she wants to check her SAT scores online, I'm guessing she just graduated from high school. Actually, she's not an immersion Spanish student at Málaga ¡Sí!, even though she's using their apartment. Monday she is supposed to start at the University here to study beginning Spanish for two months. She did Spanish in grade school and middle school, but the last couple of years have been learning Swedish. She says she keeps getting the two languages mixed up.

Right now she's not a happy camper. Turns out there wasn't any keys left for her. And she's supposed to be at the University at 9AM tomorrow. But we did find at least two ATMs close by. Our other problem is that she doesn't know anything about the propane heat system either. Guess another night of sandwiches and cold showers.