Hurtling toward a snowy Sol
Ahh, Christmas, a time of traditions. Living abroad means recreating and interpreting the holidays in new ways, and I’ve settled into the tradition of spending the December puente (long weekend) in Madrid. Last year I had a plane ticket to Galicia but strikes rerouted my plans. This year I chose to stay in the city, wanting to catch up on projects and plans.
Here are the various happenings of the puente, and how they stacked up. I’ve scored ’em Spanish style, on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being a lump ‘o coal and 10 being a bag of goodies that can barely make it down the chimney.
1) Prepare for take-off
Forget turrón; imagine the custom official’s faces when they open my suitcase to find these typical goods
Going back to the states for Christmas requires planning. As always, there’s paperwork hoop-jumping (status: hazy). There’s a suitcase to be packed, January’s rent to be paid, and an apartment to be cleaned. Then, there’s the gift-buying.
I’ve been mulling over what to gift for, oh, about a year now. Perhaps it would have been easier at this time last year, when going outside yielded a new discovery each and every day. Now, however, the idea of buying gifts just stresses me out. I walked down shopping streets Preciados and Fuencarral, browsed the Rastro, and even sought out a French market. El Corte Ingles had a 7-foot tall Christmas tree hung with tubs of Cola-Cao, which I gave kudos for creativity. I settled on a very typical Spanish gift, which I will not publish here just in case family happens to read this. Let’s just say El Corte Ingles should really start giving me a kick-back.
2) Get in the holiday spirit
Pan de jamón
No Wednesday evening puente kick-off could be complete without pan de jamón. This is a Venezuelan bread layered with ham, bacon, olives, and raisins and rolled stromboli-style into the oven. I was only introduced to the spiral a few months ago from my friend Jairo, who used to live in Venezuela. It’s a dish typically eaten at Christmas, hence the puente timing. It came out estupendamente, better than either of us expected it to. Jairo came over to help with the construction, but, even though we listened to Christmas tunes while the bread turned golden in the oven, it will take me some time to associate it with Christmas.
Oh, hey, wigs–I’m back again and this time I want you for myself
Spoiler: I have anime hair. I decided I would cross getting a hair-cut off of my list, as I hadn’t done this since late July. At my cita, I carefully explained that I wanted the same haircut.
The good news: This month I’ll be taking family photos again for the first time in 1.5+ years!
The bad news: The hairdresser either gave me a head-full of bangs or a Spanish mullet. Refer to the picture of me in this post if you are curious to see how it turned out.
4) BE PRODUCTIVE, DAMN IT!
With so many enticing Xmas lights, who wants to stay inside?
One of my major reasons for wanting to base myself in Madrid this weekend was to work on grad school apps. I did pitifully little of that, and realized later that I was waiting for a Christmas miracle. It never arrived.
I did research a few programs and churn out one essay. Otherwise, I did an excellent job of avoiding real work by taking pictures, crafting, and wandering aimlessly. Several new files have been saved to my laptop, but they are mainly of photos and not Word docs with thoughtful words.
Overall total: 6
Well, at least in Spain a 6 out of 10 is usually seen as a decent achievement. With the actual Christmas break coming soon, I’ll have the chance to improve on each of these points in one way or another. Feliz puente!