Monday, August 27, 2007


The other day I met a Spanish girl named Inma. I never realy caught her name given the oddness of it. Based on what I was hearing, I sort of assumed it was Igma or Irma. I kinda thought it was Ingmar as in Ingmar Bergman, but pronounced a la española (i.e. poorly).

A couple of days later, I finally demanded that Anna tell me what the hell Igma's name was, to which I discovered it was Inma. Anna then told me that Inma is an abbreviation of Inmaculada. As in la Inmaculada Concepción. And apparently that is not even weird.

People in Spain are named Immaculate, or Inma for short.

And by the way, according to Wikipedia, the Immaculate Conception refers to the conception of Mary in her mother rather than the conception of Jesus in Mary.

The Immaculate Conception is, according to Roman Catholic dogma, the conception of Mary, the mother of Jesus without any stain of original sin, in her mother's womb: the dogma thus says that, from the first moment of her existence, she was preserved by God from the lack of sanctifying grace that afflicts mankind, and that she was instead filled with divine grace. It is further believed that she lived a life completely free from sin. Her immaculate conception in the womb of her mother, by sexual intercourse, should not be confused with the doctrine of the virginal conception of her son Jesus.

Monday, August 6, 2007

The perfect tourist

This weekend I left Catalonia behind and headed for the Costa Brava, which incidentally is very much in Catalonia. A Catalan friend has an apartment in the super touristy beach town of Lloret and she invited Anna and I to what I thought was going to be a typical Catalan experience. Instead, I was met with hordes of Germans and Dutch tourists. Although I stuck to my standard policy of making Anna ask for directions so we wouldn't sound like foreigners, she did so speaking slowly and with the opening phrase, "Perdone, ¿habla español?"

In this ethnic German enclave of Southern Europe, I was confronted with a very troubling dilema: I was the archetypal tourist. Not only am I blond, the other friend that we went with was German! I got a funny look from a Iberian-looking lady as I walked down the street speaking German with a 12-pack of beer in my arms, but I told myself that that woman had it all wrong. Sure I talk the talk and walk the walk. And I might even go straight for the € 4.50 12-packs when I walk into the grocery store. But I was superior to these tourists. I came to Lloret for the beach and to enjoy myself; any excessive beer consumption on my part was no greater in Lloret than in Barcelona.

When I walked down the main street in Lloret, I was attacked by Polish and Russian restaurant and dance club promoters. Again I felt they misunderstood things when they so inappropriately spoke to me only in English. I felt their question "Where are you from?", intended as a way of roping me into a conversation, didn't fully allow me to answer. After saying Canada a few times, I switched to saying "Barcelona". That shows them for labeling me as a tourist. I confused them.

After all, I was different than the typical German or Dutch tourist who comes to the Spanish Costa Brava for a week of partying and sunbathing, even though I carry 12-packs down the street and look like all the others.