Monday, November 20, 2006

I have eight forms of photo id now, but don't worry! I only carry five of them on a daily basis.

Anyhow, I went to Toledo again this weekend, with a friend whose family lives there. It was amazing to me, because my problem enjoying Toledo the other time was that it felt like Disneyland: made to please visitors; not inhabited. Of course, the other time I'd only been in the historic zone, and Valle and her family live in the modern, but we did wander the olden streets Saturday evening. We sat in the same place in front of the cathedral where Matt and Julia and I had eaten marzipan, only this time we were waiting for Valle to finish her cursed cigarrette. Oh grief I am going to leave Spain with a year of second-hand smoke in my poor baby lungs. Valle, María José, not to mention everyone in Spain. We also passed by the same café Matt and Julia and I had hovered around waiting for seats to empty out, the only cafeteria nearby with a menu in Spanish only..
Valle was an enjoyably terrible guide. We had to find a map, and she didn't know what most of the buildings were for or the statues were of. I was content wondering, but she would point them out and then realize she didn't know. Pretty much like me on the Claremont colleges. I know the layout like the back of this cliché, but uh I don't really go in those buildings, but they're definitely important? It was like that.

Hm. It's true, though. Old Toledo is made for me. During the night, as the kids are drinking under the huge walls and going to the same several bars (it's a small town, really), there are men with huge hoses washing the streets clear of trash and vomit, leaving everything ghost-town clean. There are so many places the cars can't park during the day, so many stores selling suits of armor and other ridiculous things. We're doing something wonderful personally, as tourists, but we're doing harm culturally. I do mean those tacky shops.

It's this, you know? Any culture has to keep changing, rebelling against itself, letting in new things, tearing down. The problem with we tourists is that we come in search of the typical, the most typical possible, usually more of the past than the present, usually more imaginary than not, but stifling any way you look at it. Places like Barcelona which are famous more for being beautiful and alive with art may survive tourism better than places famous for their stone and marzipan.

Well hm. But I take it all too seriously. Valle and I walked through a charming ancient tunnel and she told me her mother's car got stuck there once. Just as much a crime to drive a car through (or half the way through, as it may be) as to insist that cars not be driven through.
What I mean to say is that I really liked my weekend. It's nice to have been asked over; nice, once there, to be asked to stay longer. Good to know that Valle and I do get along outside of class, and that her friends and I like eachother. Oh, and really good to be shown, by Valle and her (adorable) friend Elena, what they claim is a fossilzed chicken stuck in one of the ancient toledan walls. I have a better picture where the claw also shows, but uh please take a look and tell me what that thing is.

Plus! How are yous?


Anonymous said...

I appreciate that even though you really aren't a TOURIST, you are a student of the language and the art and the architecture and the culture and the politics, etc etc, you still reflect on your future, when you surely WILL be a tourist somewhere sometime. (uh, like Paris in three days!) I think those little shops are a nice retreat for people who are losing their sense of who they are in relation to the world where they have arrived. And even if you are not a purchaser, and you are just not an accumulator, it is always amazing how many places sell utterly useless china thimbles with the name/motif of the place painted on them. THIMBLES!!!!!!

Kazoo Death Slowly! said...

soul jam,

you are my soul jam, my only soul jam,
you make me harpy, when sirens bray,
you never doe, near, how much i lather ewe,
oh praise don't take, my soul jam awayyyyy.

arsenic lace