A Day in the Life, pt. 1

I wake up to my cell phone’s mellifluous alarm at roughly 7:35am. I say roughly because an Andalusian looks to a clock more as a symbolic reminder of obligations than a tool for punctuality, and as such all of the timepieces I consult during my weekly life amicably dispute the true hour. Weekends require only the vaguest notions of concrete time-telling. I do not get out of bed until fifteen minutes later, both for the sake of comfort and to maintain the harmony of my apartment’s kitchen and bathroom use. My housemate and my schedules are staggered. I live with Charlotte, a 24 year-old Belgian, who, by teaching at a high school instead of an elementary school, has effectively committed herself to moonlit mornings.

A Spanish breakfast can be many things, but it should not be taken too seriously. It is not uncommon for a Spaniard to eat two breakfasts – an early pastry and coffee, and then perhaps a mid-morning sandwich. A bowl of cereal – muesli, corn flakes and all-bran are my rotation – with yogurt or a piece of fruit, and a glass of ColaCao, Spain’s national synonym for instant hot chocolate, is my usual breakfast. When I’m feeling particularly motivated, I will make pan frito, bread fried in olive oil, and eat it with assorted jams and cheeses. I do not own a toaster.

It is important that I have 1.20 in exact change when I walk out my door every morning. I rarely use exactly 1.20, in fact I normally use none of it, but just in case I need it, I know that I have it. It is for a .50 café con leche from the machine in the teacher’s lounge and a .70 bus ride home. Normally, I do not drink a café con leche, because it is sugary and unsatisfying, and no more than twice a week do I take the city bus home, because I need only to stay at school until the 2:00pm bell empties C.E.I.P. Riofrío’s nine classrooms and two offices for my coworker and de facto teaching mentor, Antonia, to give me a ride. Toñi , as she is called by anybody who knows her, also drives me to school every morning. I am to be at her house at 8:40, but my phone, her watch, my watch, and her car’s radio all have different opinions on whether or not I’m running late. If a typical American plans on arriving early, and with conviction, an Andalusian shrugs and happily resigns to a “better late than never” lifestyle. I err on the side of Andalusian. I want to synchronize myself to their idiosyncratic rhythm; learning a city’s pulse is just as vital as speaking its dialect and knowing its streets.

Toñi and I generally arrive between five and zero minutes before Manuel, the aged, leather-skinned, and hopelessly incomprehensible doorman prompts the smock and jumpsuit-clad students, preschool and primary kids respectively, of Riofrío to line up on the dull green concrete patio to await the arrival of their teachers, who will briskly whisk them away to first period. Manuel is one of the few punctual people I know in Arcos. He judiciously awaits the very moment the second hand of the clock in the front hall achieves its apex at the nine o’clock hour to emphatically press that little white button in the secretary’s office, the one whose hollow brass trill is equally every student’s abrasive mental call to arms at the beginning of the day, and their ecstatic freedom bell come afternoon. Such is the duality of man, some might say. Whatever, say others.


~ by lincolnbrody on January 18, 2008.

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