A while ago I went to Barcelona to train and to learn the Spanish ways. I promised myself not to act in a typically Dutch fashion, as I usually do but to remain humble and quiet. Like the old Chinese say.. speaking is silver, to shut up is golden.
To mingle a little amongst the locals, I stayed at the home of a young Venezuelan women, called Vicky. She was blond and had a German surname, which raised several questions. This was a test. She gave me two kisses and talked about herself. A laugh crept onto my face. Not due to the misplaced third kiss which ended nearly on her mouth. No, it was to camouflage my swallowing our stupid Dutch humour referring to the war.
She didn’t care for running. So that started off very nicely. She was more of a Spinner. A good friend of mine is a Spining-instructor and I directly conjured up an image of him. Usually these lessons are full of women, getting soaking wet due to the stimuli he provided. She saw my smile and twinkling eyes and asked me what was funny about that. I told her that spinning was very popular in The Netherlands too.
The next morning I took an early run. The weather was perfect. It was 10 degrees and rain was in the air but it didn’t started to fall. Lots of oxygen in the air…as a fellow runner had explained to me before. I ran via the avenue Diagonal, passing the Agbar which led straight to the beach. There weren’t many runners. But along the boulevard there were plenty of runners – all genders and ages. As it happened I was the only one with a short pants and a short sleeved shirt.
That was really strange because this morning when I had felt the temperature and I had decided that it was Short pants day. You know that first day of the year that every runner goes running with short pants on. I saw a guy running with gloves and a winter hat. He looked at me as if I was the crazy one. Somewhat later a girl walked in front of me with an open back. I mean a shirt with an open back. Curious as I am, I wanted to look at her front side in order to determine whether I was indeed the only crazy one.
Her front was covered and she wore gloves too. Somewhat disappointed about of this almost unaniem rejection of the Short pants day, I shook my head and yes.. of course I showed my best side and I don’t mean my butt.. No, I stumbled and fell to the ground. I looked at my knee which was open and bleeding a little. It reminded me of my younger days when an incident as such led to a well-earned native American nickname. I looked up and saw the girl offering me her hand. “Hey Wounded-Knee.. are you ok?” she said with a little Iberian accent and a lovely smile.
I took her hand and climbed to my feet. I brushed the sand off my legs and looked again at my knees. She smiled once again not knowing that guys have a much lower pain threshold. She gave me again a hand and said “Cristina..”. I took it carefully and introduced myself. “Verry good” she said as if she had known me all my life.
She said I could join her for a while, at least if I was able to look at the road. I nodded humblly and tried forcefuly to avoid my cheeks going red. This was mas o menos my big chance to understand the Spanish ways. First thing to ask was the existence of Short pants day. She looked at me with a big question mark above her head. So I repeated “la dia de pantalones cortes?” She said “that day is always after Easter. However Easter falls early this year. So it will be somewhere towards the end of April when it is at least 20 degrees.”. She continued to teas me just a little “If you were aiming for that you would be better off with spinning lessons.”.
She looked at my white legs and mumbled “les bottellas de leche hollandaise”. Of course I didn’t understand but smiled and thought about my next question. Two ladies of my age ran towards us. When they where about two meters away, I raised my hand slowly upwards to avoid any associations with that German strange moustached guy and said “good morning..” They looked at each other, smiled a little and ignored me. Cristina explained that this was not customary in Spain and moreover a simple “buenos dias” was much more appropriate.
After a while a girl with a blond tail walked past us really quickly. I followed her tail. Funny word by the way.. Tail.. Cristina noticed that we were gaining speed and raised one of her really dark eyebrows. She said that it was not done to follow blond tails like this, nor any other coloured tails by the way. Not done in Spain, I thought. I tried to explain a little but she was not amused. “aire frito..” she said and took a different route.
She was quiet and walked about a step in front of me. That was her Spanish passion I guessed and I just let her be. This will pass over just like bad weather. At the end of the road she suddenly stopped and smiled. Yes… I saw it in her beautiful eyes that the dark clouds were gone. “Do you know where you are?” she asked. Just a moment ago I saw a glimpse of Barca’s Arc de Triomf, so proudly I nodded. “When will you be back? During the spring and summer I will give mindful running experiences to tourists. It is kinda nice and makes good profits. Do you want to help me? She looked at me with that kind of expression on her face which told me she wouldn’t take no for an answer.
So I responded that I still haven’t got my Dutch training license yet. She laughed with a familiar laugh. This is Spain. We do things the Spanish way. I kissed her goodbye twice, in order to show her that I at least had learned something. Then I walked away towards the Arc with a happy sort of feeling. About 5 minutes later I was to be back at Vicky’s place so I dropped my humble mask and decided to make some fun at last. On the other side of the street a guy was running. I saw his gloves, a woollen hat and a long green pants. I laughed and shouted ” Carnaval is over!!”.. and whispered “and it is fucking Short pants day!!”..