Europe’s Many Lingoes

Europe’s Many Lingoes

“My God, these people are speaking Gallego!” These were the thoughts that ran through this not-entirely-acculturated Yankee’s noggin while waiting my turn at the Día Basquiños supermarket in Santiago de Compostela. I hadn’t eaten since morning, had wandered far from the tourist quarter in search of a vendor that would sell staples to lug back…

Madrid Mid-Pandemic

Madrid Mid-Pandemic

Ironically, the Madrid Metro I ride during the pandemic is the best I have used since my move here in 2016. Some travelers fear the subway now, have sought alternatives. Public transit ridership in Spain fell forty percent this summer; sales of polluting old cars rose. I reap a dividend: the commuter now gridlocked on…

International Online Language Exchange

Thanks to Covid-19, the in-person language exchange I last hosted at Madrid’s VIPs Velásquez has become a not-in-person international event online, with regular log-ins from three continents. Every weekend I greet familiar faces signing in from Madrid, Barcelona, London, Toronto, New York, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Houston, Chicago, Mexico City, Los Angeles. One faithful user joins…

Extremadura: Spain Covid Road Trip #1

Extremadura: Spain Covid Road Trip #1

Remote, poor, sparsely-populated Extremadura is the unrespected Rodney Dangerfield of Spain tourist destinations. It didn’t make Planetware’s top fifteen list for the country, or, for that matter, U.S. News’ top twenty. Rick Steves’ Spain ‘at a glance’ map represents the autonomous community’s 41,000+ square kilometers as a big blank area between Portugal and Toledo. Transit…

Spanish Loanwords: My Nominations

What follows is an incomplete list of Spanish words and sayings that might rate utterance by English speakers. The German weltschmerz, zeitgeist and schadenfreude get occasional play in the U.S. media because no English words so ably cover the same turf. Why not pagafantas and hombretón? I have discussed all candidates below with Spain born-and-raiseds,…

Madrid Quarantine

Once a week I shop. This is the only time I leave the building during the coronavirus quarantine in Madrid, practically the only time I leave my apartment. If I have to tote trash and recycling to the bins by the stairs I hold my breath until I’m back in the apartment with the door…