Tuesday, December 23, 2008

huelga! by k

it had to happen sooner or later. huelga/strike! dorian and i were hit by one today...buses. when our little neighborhood bus didn't arrive, we kept trying to figure out why it didn't come. we waited and waited, but it didn't occur to me that it might be a strike. after about 20 minutes, we simply decided to walk down the hill and do our errands and then take the bus up the hill on the way home. i'm not sure why i thought the bus would magically appear when we needed it to go home, but that's how the mind works.

we did our errands, and checked when the bus was supposed to arrive. an old woman with a cane came up to the stop so i offered her my seat. we chatted for a few minutes and then she and another woman at the stop asked me if i knew the buses were on strike. ah, yes, a dawning of reality. that's why our bus hadn't come and that's why we had seen almost no buses on the street. up the hill we would have to trudge. i was just happy i had decided not to buy wine and champagne, on top of the sweet potatoes, apples, ginger, pizza, etc. etc.

this happened to me twice before in spain...many years ago. the first time, i went with a friend to the main train station to go backpacking in the pyreenes. we stood out like sore thumbs with our big packs on our backs as we headed into the mostly empty train station. when we got to the ticket counter, the guy looked at us blankly and said "no hay. hay huelga." just like that. "no tickets. there's a strike." no energy, no outrage, no more information, no nothing. just a fact to be lived with.

the other time was when my mother, gisela, was visiting me in spain. we took the train to the south for christmas and had decided to treat ourselves to a flight back from granada. well, that was not meant to be. we got to the airport and got the same thing: "no hay vuelos. hay huelga." "no flights, there's a strike." again, no emotion, no sorry for the inconvenience, no answer to a question about whether there would be flights the next day. we were stuck.

we decided to take the train back, which led to another legendary tale of screwed up travel, but i won't go there now.

back to today. dorian was none too happy about this news...he hates walking up our hill. so i said i would buy him a treat on the way. we stopped at a bar/restaurant, and got tortilla de patatas (which he loves)and a fanta. that gave him the energy to get up the hill.

for all of you who know dorian well, you won't be surprised to hear that he asked me all about strikes. i explained what a strike is and he wanted to know why the bus drivers had gone on strike. i told him i wasn't sure, and then we talked about what some reasons might be. of course, dorian being the kid he is, said with a big grin on his face "maybe i'll strike from taking the 60 bus to school!" the funny thing is, as i was explaining why workers strike to him, i had thought, oh no, he may use this technique! and not two minutes later...

on another note, two amusing sights today:
the first was after i had walked arel over to a friend's house. i was going home on a dirt path that goes by a monastery. there was a nun in full dress talking to someone in a car on the side of the mountain. i don't know why this struck me as funny, but it was.

the second was as i was crossing the final street to get to our house, a mercedes was coming toward me. as it got closer, i realized that a garbage bag and big empty water bottle were on the hood of the car...an old man at the wheel. he was headed to the garbage can i was standing next to. it struck me as funny and i smiled at the man and what was most likely his wife in the passenger seat. all i got back was blank stares. maybe they've been driving their garbage 50 feet on the hood of their mercedes for years and no longer see the humor in the situation, but it just felt like grumpy catalans to me!