Monday, August 19, 2019
Today I have a busy day ahead of me. I don’t have a printer yet and I need to print out some papers that a professor sent me to read. What this means is that I have to walk 20 minutes under the hot Barcelona sun to my department and have them printed there. But I’m determined to make this as painless as possible. The earlier I get there, the less sun I will have to deal with. Luckily, I have discovered a delicious coffee that helps me wake up in the morning.
At the nearby town of Sant Quirze (only two train stops away), there is a huge commercial center called Al Campo, which is the French’s answer to Costco. But unlike Costco, it is several times bigger. It’s like 3 airplane hangars big and in there you can find *anything* you can think of. Household items, electronic equipment, soccer (sorry, fútbol) balls, sports clothing, hair tint, car coolant, jamón ibérico; you name it, they have it. It’s a little intimidating when you walk in because you get immediate choice fatigue. So when you go, you better have a list of things and a healthy sense of agency; otherwise, you can end up like some people I’ve seen there: completely dazed, wandering aimlessly through the aisles.
So back to the coffee. At Al Campo, I discovered a coffee by Lavazza called Qualità Rossa, which has to be the best coffee I have ever tasted after Puerto Rican coffee, which for me continues to be the best thing in the world. Qualità Rossa has flavor notes of chocolate. It makes for a rich brew, low in acidity. In the United States, it’s sold on Amazon, if you care to try it.
After I get those papers printed, I need to see a doctor for a stomach ulcer. (Now that I think about it, maybe drinking this coffee is not such a good idea with a stomach ulcer.) I also need to get my gym membership activated at the university’s gym. I have to buy T-shirts, an item of clothing I haven’t owned in years, because of the heat. Finally, I want to visit a small church in Bellaterra, which is the town next to the University. It’s ancient, and I’m curious to see it.
Sunday, August 18, 2019
Heatwave and Vacation Month
Today I visited the Frankfurt, the only open café at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. I arrived in Spain 12 days ago, and I didn’t know that August was vacation month in Spain. Everything is either understaffed, keeping odd hours, or simply closed for the time being. This makes for a challenging time in finding, for instance, a pharmacy open. The pharmacy at Bellaterra has been closed all last week due to vacation so the closest one open is two train stops away. Barcelona is also experiencing terribly hot weather. Right now, it’s 31 C with a RealFeel® of 33 C thanks to humidity (87 F with a RealFeel® of 92 F). So walking underneath the hot sun, with no cloudy cover in the sky, has also been challenging. Even walking to the Frankfurt is painful. You can feel your skin burning as you step out into the sun. I’ve been told that things will get better during the second half of August, which should be now, when thunderstorms will cool off the heat. I’ve also been told that Barcelona has been getting progressively hotter and hotter during the last few years, corroborating that climate change is indeed real, no matter what any political leaders might say. I am currently esconced in my apartment with A/C since staying at the Frankfurt was too hot for me. But staying in your apartment with nowhere to go also gives you cabin fever, so I’m keeping busy with various projects, this Web site being one of them.
Saturday, August 17, 2019
It’s amazing how the Spanish work, and I think the average American worker would be so much less stressed out if siesta were instituted in the workplace. A place will open from 9 until 2, and then a two-hour break is taken. Then the place will open from 4 until 8 (or until 6!) and that’s it. But that two-hour break in between is so important for one’s sanity, especially when you’re toiling away at a job you may not like. I am definitely not the first person to notice this, but when you see how everyone is so relaxed at their jobs, it really makes you think about the American workplace. It makes you think because everyone is always looking at the clock, hoping 5 p.m. rolls around so they can leave, exhausted, to go home and be exhausted at home with their families, only to have the cycle begin all over again in like 10 hours.