adventure

On Ordering Pizza

A few centuries ago, when I began this blog, I touched up on a subject that intrigued many people: the pitfalls one must navigate when attempting to order pizza and, even worse, having that pizza be delivered to your doorstep.
I think it’s time to share that story, which has now many other sequels, all more hilarious (see: pull-your-hair-out frustrating) than the other.

Let’s go back to the Fall of 2012. Young, fresh, bright-eyed Beatriz had people over her 15m2 château (let’s call it Château Lopez, for old times’ sake). It was a lazy, rainy weekend afternoon when hunger stroke past lunch time.
“Man, you know what I haven’t had since we left the States?”, someone said. “Pizza!”
There was a murmur of agreement and mouths began to salivate thinking about that delicious smell of warm pizza wafting from that cardboard box. A vessel of joy in times of academic uncertainty.
“Let me go online and order it!”, I said, unaware of the horrors that would befall me.
There *was* an online system. But my street did not qualify for the area Pizza Hut…nor for the Domino’s Pizza. No Papa John’s on this side of the Pond. Weird, right? Let’s remember Château Lopez was in the thick of Rue de Rennes, a huge thoroughfare, very popular for its shops.

But we were not to be discouraged- oh no! We were young and wild and free and we were finna get that pizza.
I looked for the number, and to my horror, there was only some hotline that cost 10 cents per minute. But we’re all American passport holders, and we liberated this country once, so what were 10 cents to this beacon of freedom?
After ten minutes of being on hold, I decided the beacon of hope was to be shut off.
We found more numbers (at this point, we might as well have gone downtown and gotten pizza, but, freedom).
“No, we do not deliver to your street”, call after call.
What?
Defeated, we gave up. Pizza was not to be had.

No, no. Drivers No Work Tonight. 
Fast forward to 2014. Pizza craving struck again. I decided Pre-Historic pizza ordering services had to have changed. I tempted fate and tried ordering some pizza on the internet.
(If anyone cares to know, I preferred the online method because that way, I don’t have to deal with the straight up shitty customer service everywhere, plus I don’t know the word for “thick crust”).
Anyway, so I was about done- I had selected my order, and all I had to do now was give my address. Of course, it wasn’t just as as simple as that: I had to fill in the number, and then select my street from a pull-down menu.
My street was not on the list.
Puzzled, I looked for the neighborhood pizzeria numbers (shitty customer service it is!) and had the S.O. call, since he’s French and knows how to say “thick crust”.
Called the first one- nope. Two kilometers was too far for their driver. Called the second one: Nope. They had received so many orders that day that they decided their drivers were tired, even though closing time was 2 hours away. Called the third one: our street did not show up in their system and did not know how to get there. Eventually, after some cajoling, we had pizza!
Now all we had to explain was how to get to the apartment. That means we have to give the access code to the building, explain which door to take, what floor to go, and which door to knock on. A good minute or two are spent at this.
About an hour later, however, I should not have been so stunned that we received a phone call: “Yeah, hi, this is the delivery guy. What’s your access code and how do I get to the apartment?”.

No, You Shut Up!
If there is something I don’t do, it’s learning lessons. It’s like that cycle where you have to go through the same experience over and over again until you learn and you achieve enlightenment and spontaneously combust.
But I’d much prefer to watch the delivery dude combust.
Here’s what happened: In a moment of weakness, we decided pizza was what we wanted for dinner. We decided to call the people who so kindly sent someone to the Elephant Graveyard where we seem to live and placed our order: 2 pizzas and a bottle of Coke.
Again, address, code, door, blah, blah, blah…
One hour later: “Hello, hi, this is the delivery guy. Where is….?”
“We gave the information to the place”
“Well, they don’t communicate that to us”.
Ah.
Eventually, a lanky youth was standing in our doorstep, with…one pizza. No Coke.
Mon gars…

After explaining to him that we had ordered two, the kid sprung down the stairs screaming “IT’LL ONLY BE A MINUTE!” *THUD THUD THUD THUD*
Again, S.O. knows more than to order “thick crust” and so he called the pizzeria (*cough*dominosonavron*cough*) to inform them about the mishap. The man on the other end couldn’t care less and said “ok yeah”. Then he asked to please let their people know that, no matter how enthusiastic they are about pizza deliveries (ok, those might by my words), they should not scream in residential buildings at 11pm.
Little did we know this comment would lead to chaos just a few seconds later when the delivery boy knocked on our door.
A funny chain of events all began at around the same moment. Delivery Boy arrives, S.O. thanks him and advices him to “try to be a little bit more silent next time- the neighbors will get angry at us”, Delivery Boy’s phone goes off, echoing like hell, he picks it up and does that thing where people scream on the phone. After hanging up, he was ready for murder: “You don’t know what talking loud is- I can speak real loud!”. He was, of course, not whispering at this point.
Delivery Boy gets uppity, on my doorstep, and I’m real glad tipping is not a thing in this country.
You try enjoying pizza after that.

Two weeks later S.O. received a text message: “Following the incident on x day, enjoy a 50% discount on your next offer”.
The offer was, of course, nearly expired by the time we received it.

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Next move

I’m from nowhere. You can’t ask me to lower an anchor and have me grow roots in a single place. It’s just impossible.

Though I’ve not experienced much, I have had a taste, a delicious morcel, of what hopping from place to place feels like. As disconcerting as it is- as confusing as it leaves you feeling, panting and bewildered in a corner, the thrill is sweet.

Although this year was excruciatingly painful, and little reminders still come crawling from the shadows now and then, I am ready to do it all over again.
You can’t ask me to stay put. You can’t ask me to go get a nice job, melt into the crowd and one day say how I wish I had done something differently. I don’t feel like I was made to stay in one place, to just go along with the flow of things. No. I was made to be awed. I was made to learn. I was made to relish in little everyday miracles. I was not made to ignore the beauty that life has to offer. Nothing for me is trivial. I choose to live my life like there’s magic in every nook and cranny because otherwise, what fun is it?

Mind you, getting an email from BNP Paribas telling me my Parisian account has been overdrafted is not anything magical, but hey! Technology and the fact that I was able to live in France is a little exciting, no?

Today I find myself facing uncertainty.

Last time I found myself here, I remember being very afraid. It was in early 2012- I had recently been unceremoniously fired from a part-time job as a receptionist I held since 2009, without notice and without explanation. A simple “Hi, don’t come back Monday” (to the day I still wonder what it was that I did that was unforgivable). I also found myself in the confusion that is puppy love. Oh, if I would have known what was coming up later that year! At any rate, to make the story short (not my forte, ever), last time I found myself facing nothing but confusion, I ended up being whisked away by the adventure that was Middlebury- the “monastic” life in Vermont and then the chaos that was Paris.

I am to return to Miami tomorrow. The idyllic days of the student life are over. 
People are excited. Oh, yes. I went around for a year from place to place “representing”- carrying with me the name of Miami. I went around carrying my “Miami attitude”; telling stories to anyone who would listen (and even those who would not) about my magical home. But who would have thought that in a few short months, my attitude would change. I seldom use “Miami” now. The “305” sign has been thrown up in pictures less and less. I’m no longer “Miss three-oh-five”, as I used to proudly be nicknamed by friends. Going back to South Florida indefinitely (for now), feels a little wrong. 

I was very close to moving to Puerto Rico. I was being offered what was a great position as a Spanish/French teacher at a private school. The cycle of interviews went great. The offer was made and, as luck would have it, the pay, though competitive for the island, was terrible for a recent graduate facing relocation. Crest-fallen, I had to decline the offer. Though it sounds like a huge contradiction to the whole tone of the post, the responsibilities that would be thrust upon me were far too great for the amount of monetary remuneration. It was a choice made with logic at its apex. The story can be tedious, so I will spare the details for now. After an attempt at negotiation and sugar-coating of conditions from the school, I declined them a second time. Puerto Rico would have been an escape. But only cowards escape. 

So now, I have no job, no prospect of a job, and a thirst to part once more. 

I am currently in Montréal (a last respit before drawing up a plan of action), holding a graduate degree in one hand and the traditional walking cane given to graduates in the other hand. But if it’s analyzed closely, my hands are full. My hands hold my orb and scepter. As regent of my life, I choose what to do now. As protector, I dictate what will be best for me.  I have found patience and serenity in the past and, furthermore, I know I am better prepared, better armed, to face the unknown and throw myself into it. The more I think about it, the more comfortable I grow in the idea that I am fully free to do as I wish right now. All it needs is a little push. And this push will most likely come from life back in Miramar. 

Adventure, for me, is not defined as skydiving out of a plane, nor surfing waves. Nope. That may be part of an adventure. For me the meaning of the word is to simply throw myself, with open arms, to the uncertainty of the future.

I may just never be able to go on a Nepalese excursion, or bathe in the beaches of Bali (damn, that was some nice alliteration!), but I give myself willingly to the future and the fights I will have to put up to not become complacent.

The Day Richard Gere Fixed My Toilet (and gave me a history lesson)

Bathrooms are a funny thing in Europe. That is, if you have the good fortune of living somewhere that actually HAS a bathroom.
You know you’ve heard it- that horror story your mom’s friend’s cousin’s sister-in-law told at some dinner party a few years ago about her travels through Europe and how sometimes you come (hopefully not) face-to-face with a gaping hole in the floor. How barbaric must it be to squat and go back to nature, right?
Actually, yes.
(A thousand times yes!!)

Once upon a time, my toilet stopped working.
Not a big deal, right? Just use the plunger and let Jesus take the wheel.
Don’t forget I’m in France, though. My toilet is not a regular toilet. As a matter of fact, my toilet has an plug that is to be plugged in to wall for the engine to work to flush it.
A plunger is irrelevant in my life.

After letting out a cry of despair, I had to do what I had been dreading most of my stay: use the latrine in the hallway. Which belonged to my neighbors from across the hall. And smelled like dirty cat litter. I mean this thing is worse than the girl’s bathroom at the club after 3am.
Justpopthatsquatanddontlookdowndontlookdowndontlookdown.
I pulled on the lever to flush and down came the walls of the Hoover Dam.
I don’t think I’ve ever run so fast in my life. Faster than I do when I flush an airplane toilet. Did I even undo the lock?

JUST RUN, BEATRIZ! RUN!

I ran straight to my landlady and begged her to call her plumber.

Twenty-four hours later, I welcomed the man I have been waiting for more than my own Prince Charming: Monsieur Plumber.
But what sight doth met myne eyes when I threw my palace doors open?
Richard Gere.
And I’m not talking about a slight ressemblance. I’m talking Richard Gere, complete with those squinty eyes and white hair.

OMG HIIII!

For a tiny second, I was glad to be living in Paris.

He went into the bathroom for a “diagnostic”. I explained to him what was happening with the toilet. But, of course, as a good French man, he held up his hand and told me “Je sais” (I know). Of course he knew. He’s a plumber. “I installed this bathroom”.
My b!
I should have learned my lesson because I tried to explain to him that I had tried to fix it on my own. Hand up. “There’s a motor. You have to have unmounted the toilet to ‘fix it’.”
I’m sorry, Mr. Gere, sir! I really am! I am woooormmmssss!
After an uncomfortable silence, he asks me what it was like to use the hallway bathroom.
I smiled uneasily (“You Americans…”), but before I could get my answer out, he launched into the most fascinating monologue about shit I have ever heard.

“You know, the Romans already had some pretty advanced bathrooms. They had these long slabs of marble or whatever, with holes in them, and people would just sit down and use them and it was a group activity. They had running water underneath to carry away all the waste. You’d be shitting side to side with your neighbor, your mayor- didn’t matter! Can you imagine? Just farting up a storm and taking a shit next to your boss? That’s the ultimate concept of equality! Oh! Also, did you know that in the Middle Ages people would throw out onto the streets their chamber pots and sometimes people would get drenched in crap and pee!? HAHAHA”.

Thank you, Mr. Gere. What has your plumber taught you?

Degenerate.

España, corazón!

Where to begin to describe my love affair with Spain?
I am sometimes hesitant to say that I would love to live here, because vacationing, or staying for short amounts of time, is not the same as having the day-to-day grind somewhere.
I thought I loved Paris, and I thought living there would make me love it even more- that I would never, ever, in a million years, go back to the States. And yet, here I sit, the night before I am to go back to France, feeling nothing but dread and that really annoying knot in my throat.

I have had the incredibly good fortune of always falling into place here in Spain. I have heard it’s a very tight-knit society- closed, even. Perhaps because I already have a “connection” every time I visit that I am welcomed, with open arms and a cold drink waiting for me.
Even when I am back home in the States, I find myself going to flamenco festivals, drinking homemade tinto de verano with friends, day dreaming about past visits. In Paris, when the going gets rough the only thing that can comfort me is a good sevillana.
So how am I not supposed to adore a place where it just so happens that every time I set foot in, people are always eager to share with me what makes up their culture: the food, the drink, the dances. I find it hard to believe that it’s just good luck that, in the five times I have been here, that I always learn copious amounts of new things, make new friends, and always- always- leave wanting more.

If Paris taught me anything, is that I am a creature of tact, of social interaction. I cannot be holed up, isolated from the world. In Paris, this happens to be my life and, to put it simply, it makes me sad.

In Spain I am always carried away by the crowd, by the smiles and the openness of its people. It is here that I learned that it is the simple things that really make life enjoyable: a drink, some simple snacks like ham or olives, and friends. The rest of the world (and the economy!) can wait. Life is happening.

In Andalusia, I got caught up in the preparations for the feria. Everyone in town talked about it, schools let out for a whole week, every bar would host an impromptu song-and-dance moment, people would clap to the rhythm of the music in their own head as they walk down the street. Even the laundromats were chockfull of feria attire- the beautiful, colorful dresses that are finally seeing the light of day after a whole year. As a cherry on top, there is a smell of honeysuckle and oranges that accompanies the light breeze that follows you as you make your way into the center of the city, at least in Jerez.

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (Catalunya)

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona (Catalunya)

In Catalunya (sorry guys, I’m using political borders!), I saw another side of Europe I had not yet seen- the colorful, whimsical world of Gaudi and Mirò. My tastebuds had a party when I tried romesco for the first time, and I felt like I was on the happiest of acid trips when I visited Parc Güell. I danced the night away with welcoming strangers, heard the code switching between Spanish and Catalan (which, by the way, is a mindfuck).
In Madrid, I got to experience the holiday of San Isidro. We ate and drank to our heart’s content. “More! More! You must drink more! And try this!” was the phrase that was most used that day. I ate pig ear, pickled vegetables, patatas bravas, shrimp..the list is endless. There’s also a vague memory I have of myself wearing a motorcycle helmet but walking around the city. I was adopted by everyone for a night, a day, a week.
I got a taste of the convivencia in Toledo: Muslims, Christians and Jews living together in harmony a few centuries ago and how enriching it was for the city.
In Segovia, I got lost in an ancient restaurant while going to the bathroom and ended up in the wine cellars. And when I say cellars, picture something like a prison from Pirates of the Caribbean.
In the Basque Country (again, political borders!), I played kinito, I ate pintxos, drank kalimotxo and txakoli. I experienced hospitality first hand when the girl behind the bar (who treated me to the kalimotxo) came out to give me a kiss god-bye on the cheek. I got to experience, in the flesh, the beauty of the Bay of Biscay. I got to finally hear Basque flowing freely in conversation. I saw Real Madrid play against Athletic Bilbao, in the legendary San Mamés Stadium. I saw people of all ages, shapes, and sizes party side to side.

Barrika, near Bilbao (Basque Country).

Barrika, near Bilbao (Basque Country).

That, and so much, much more that I cannot begin to describe or relate because the simple joys in life cannot be explained in words- they need to be lived. And all of these wonderful opportunities came to me because I was a visitor from out of town and because people here always want to share. Because they know how to live and they want to make you a part of it.

Every time I leave, I find myself thinking I want to stay here forever. I want to have this lifestyle, but then again, it could potentially become routine and I could stop seeing the joy in it. Perhaps Spain will only ever get to be my respit, my escape- that secret place where I go to remember how to live.

So, until next time, Spain! I look forward to the day I come back and smile a little broader and laugh a little louder.