Tag Archives: lost

Those who can’t…analyze?

I might have to do the electric slide at my wedding, because at this rate, it’s the only dance I’m ever going to learn.

Veronica (wisely) figured we needed to get out more, so we treated our otherwise plain Tuesday night like a weekend.  Apparently someone on couchsurfing.org found out about a free salsa class in Madrid and started an online discussion.  Veronica did a little research to make sure it was legit, and we were off to check it out.

Somewhere between a discussion on how this week couldn’t possible get worse (for her), arguing about which metro exit we needed, and realizing we had no map, I located the street the class was on…then she mentions that the website said that the building was a little sketch, but not to let that put you off.

A few inquisitive looks later and jokes about our fictional Italian guy friends, we stumbled on 21 Calle de Pez, at which I promptly announced (in English and perhaps a little too loudly), “Yeah, it really does look sketch.”

Of course, at this moment, I didn’t realize there was a decent pocket of English speakers there, and the British and German girls in front of me laughed and affirmed my statement.  But they also mentioned that they had been there last week and told us how it worked.  Then someone else from from couchsurfing came up and started talking to us.

After about 10 minutes, we resolved that the free salsa dancing class was legit, and went in the building.  The whole event felt really authentic, despite the small group of foreigners.  The small community room we met in was crowded, but full of eager beginners.

It started much like every other intro salsa class I’ve been in (all 2 of them), step forward/back, side to side, and a few other basic steps.  I was impressed with myself.

Unfortunately, we went from step 1 to 22 in about five minutes, and I was officially lost.   And I remained lost for the following hour.  However, my experiences with my four dance partners, most certainly were noteworthy, if only because I was so bad and really had nothing else to focus on (other than my tangled feet of course).

1)  Sweet, Single, Spanish, but like 30….

We were literally the last couple to pair up when the instructor gave the order.  Maybe that says something about me, like standing at the front of the class to see the instructor while we copy the demonstration, might give me a better idea what I’m doing, but it could also prove to every man in the room that if I had two left feet, I’d be moving up in the world.

He was about 1/3 of a step better than me, but that’s not really saying much.  Furthermore, I’m so bad I couldn’t really hold it against him, but I did feel kinda sorry for him.  We were both too bad to help each other out.

He kept mumbling little apologizes, and I told him it was fine.  I really wanted to comfort the poor guy, but as I found myself scouring my mind for affirming words that would come across appropriately in a colloquial sense, without giving him the wrong idea, I turned up blank.

Then they said switch partners.

2) Ian the Brit.

He also was very lost, although he went to one other dance lesson and remembered quite a bit about last week’s move of the week.  And he taught it to me.  That helped.

He doesn’t speak Spanish, so despite my obvious flaws on the floor, I think he was okay with it, because he could understand me.

3) The Real Dancer

Very patient.  Very good.  The thing about salsa (maybe explaining why I find it so hard) is I don’t get how the moves fit into the beats of the music.  He counted them all out for me, and made me repeat the parts I kept messing up on.

I actually sort of figured out what I was doing, but as soon as the lesson ended and the music started again, I turned to thank him and he was gone.  Poor guy didn’t want to get stuck with me when the real party started.

4) Limp Spaghetti

I eyed Veronica to see if she wanted to go, but she was looking like she was actually enjoying herself.  So I waited, until Spaghetti man came for me.  There was a decent number of guys hanging around looking for partners, and I didn’t mind dancing while I waited.

I really didn’t get him though.  I think he actually knew what he was doing, but did not lead the dance at all.  He just kinda moved back and forth like cooked spaghetti and smiled at me when I messed up.  To be honest, it was a little weird.

He didn’t mix up his dance at all or talk, which may have been because he didn’t think I spoke Spanish, but it was still awkward.  I dance like a stiff stick, and he was like tissue paper in the wind.  We musta looked funny.

I finally caught eyes with Veronica and we were out of there, but not before she had to chase off another dance request (probably not coincidence that she got the offer and not me).  That was weird too, because I told the guy we had to go, and he looked at me like he didn’t understand.  And I know that I absolutely said it right.

So all in all, an interesting night.  I actually left thankful that nobody knew me and that the room was somewhat lacking attractive 20-something gentleman.  Lesson learned from all this: bring (or at least find) a patient partner when dancing.

Course, I might get to test out my own advice soon, given that tomorrow night is free TANGO…


I promise to start using photos again soon, but I’m having technical issues right now.


Of Scarves and Explorations

Yes, I recognize the scenery, and knew I’d been there before, but I never claimed to know exactly how to get back.

Yesterday, Veronica (student I met last week from Florida) and I went on a daylong excursion into the city, and I learned 1) knowing you’ve been there before is not sufficient directional knowledge.  Recognizing something doesn’t mean you know how to get back and 2) just ordering something because you don’t understand anything on the menu is not a good idea.* Disclaimer: I’ve seen English menus here were I still didn’t know what (almost) anything on it was.  I thought trying everything once was the way to go.  I just didn’t think picking a regular mid-range priced item could go so wrong.

Best onions of my life

They said in orientation that man cannot live by bocadillo (basically a sub) alone.  They lie.  Man could totally live by bocadillo alone.  One sandwich is large and cheap enough to save an entire third world country.  My bocadillo makes your $5 footlong look like dog food.  Seriously.

Imagine– thinly sliced deli chicken, layers of brie cheese, a thick coat of fresh avocado, wheat bread (everybody here serves white), and the tastiest onions of my life.  And trust me, it looks better in person.  Plus, there were probably 100 or so options, so you would never get tired of eating the same thing.  

The 30 minute wait was more than worth it, and the two ladies working were nicer than I’ve ever known any employee who suddenly had their empty restaurant overtaken by 40 college students with various levels of proficiency in the local tongue.  

Best part of all this, this excellent restaurant is right off campus.  My 5 Euro sandwich eternally triumphs that ridiculous 40 Euro gourmet meal they fed us on Sunday night.  

On another note, scariest moment here happened tonight.  I had no problem getting downtown, to campus, and back from campus today, but in all of that, I neglected to write down the bus station I live at.  (genius, I know.)  I got on the right bus at Puerta del Sol, but once I got on, it dawned on me that I had no idea where I needed to get off.  

I figured it would be fine, because I thought I would recognize the area.  But on my 30 minute bus ride, it got really dark.  From the bus window, I looked for the metro stop I thought I lived by, which is how I managed to get off at the right place.  However, I had no idea which way to turn to get home from the stop.  I only wandered around for about 5 minutes, but 5 minutes of fighting panic.  I was about to call my family when I found my building.  Once I came inside and they found out what had happened, I got chewed out for not calling right away, so it’s all good.  I really like my family.

The Destination is the Dare

If I hadn’t hit that point already, then I’m finally ready to admit that I really have no idea what I’m doing…and I haven’t even boarded the plane.

Truth: I don’t think watching 2 seasons of Gilmore Girls with Spanish subtitles quite did it.  I haven’t spoken Spanish in 18 months, and reading the news in Spanish is a lot harder than it should be.

Truth: I have no idea how to register for classes.  It’s my understanding that there are 3 different types/levels of classes that I should be looking at, but I’m clicking on all the links I can find and am yet to actually understand how the whole system works.  The program director has sent very detailed, long emails, but unfortunately, I think I’m more confused than ever.

Truth: I told myself that this semester, I would take a sabbatical from political activities.  I thought this would be easy, because I don’t follow much activity within the EU.  Plus, I could really just use a break.  Unfortunately, having now read class descriptions for the subjects I’m interested in, I don’t think it’s going to be easy at all.  Syllabuses are awfully telling.  I’ll sit and learn, but defending my principles in English is exhausting, so…

More Important Truth: I’ve done this before.  Yes, I might not have anything figured out at this point.  Sure, the list of stuff to do before I leave the US gets longer with each passing thought.  And yeah, I don’t know anyone in Spain, but I’ve done this before.   I know exactly where I was standing when my parents left me at Wesleyan for the first time.  I distinctly remember the feeling in my gut when I got out of the taxi and rolled my 80 lbs. bag up the driveway at the intern house in DC two summers back.  I spent my first three days in NYC wondering how life was ever going to feel normal.  Spain is just Wesleyan, DC, and New York all over again.  Now that I’ve finally started figuring out how to use public transportation, and given that it’s my fourth time settling someplace new on my own, it’s about time to mix it up and change the language or something, right?  Otherwise, it’d just be too easy 😉