taking inventory :: stuff from spain

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I can be counted on to bring a few things home from every trip. Usually obscure paper goods, a small ceramic something or another, silver jewelry, and food with lovely packaging. Steve buys books, and t shirts from artists. This time was no different.

  • Four art books, one Gaudi mousepad, three t shirts (all Steve’s).
  • One scarf, probably made in China, bought on the street (literally, on the street) in Barcelona.
  • Two pouches, made of recycled advertising canvas, from a sweet shop in Barcelona, Vaho.
  • Orange and lime flavored salts, and gin and tonic flavored jellies, from food stalls in the market (all cheap and small, should have skipped the salts, explored more jellies and peppers).
  • A few small  trinket-y bracelets from San Sebastian, and a lovely leather and silver bracelet from an artist co-op in Seville. Three pair of silver earrings, one from the same co-op, and two from Granada.
  • Three small tiles from Seville, one larger square platter from the Albayzin in Granada (that came with a story*) and thee small bowls.
  • Two lovely textiles from India (the tree of life, and another gift, so no sharing here), also from the Albayzin.
  • Beautifully packaged olive oil and balsamic vinegar from Mercado San Miguel in Madrid.
  • And the very best…stamps and vintage postcards, from the filatelias on the Plaza Mayor in Madrid. This was a complete surprise and we went back three, yes, three times. We bought hundreds of stamps (please don’t judge me, lovely used paper things are my weakness), some in specific categories (Picasso, Velazquez, Sports, Spain) and collections from other countries. Most packets of 200 were 3 euros. We also found awesome postcards of San Sebastian and some of the mountains where Steve rode. This was the very last thing we did on the trip, and a perfect ending.

That’s the stuff. Here’s the other stuff.

A renewed appreciation for each other as travel and life companions. Awesome conversations with so many delightful, interesting people. A grown up drink (finally) in the form of Gin and Tonic. A desire to learn Spanish, maybe even a Spanish language immersion trip.  A yearning for more time to explore, learn, sit, create, and adventure. A reminder to be open to surprises and small moments that happen anywhere and everywhere. Love of the siesta. A new understanding that we can’t do everything, but perhaps just the next thing. And that the next thing isn’t even the real thing. Right now is the real thing (which may explain why one can never get one’s check in a Spanish restaurant). Also, never try to take an apple through customs.

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*I don’t like to bargain, but I like to have a relationship with my shopkeeper, even if it requires bargaining. In Italy my brother-in-law told me he suspected I didn’t love shopping, as much as I loved having interactions with the sellers. He was right. I visited every single shop in the Albayzin (as in many, many) and on the last night in Granada, decided on a cool square platter from the nicest place on the corner. Except I neglected to ask the price from shop A before I checked shop B, C, D, E and F. But I presumed, based on other pieces, it was about 25 euros. I saw similar pieces, but not as nice, for 35 euros. Went back to shop A, and was told it was 30 euros. I suck at negotiating, so I left with the shopkeeper saying “It’s fine, it’s fine.” I don’t know what that meant, so I continued back up the hill to check every stack of plates in each shop…and returned to shop A and said I would pay the 30 euros. Great. Except their credit card machine was down, and they needed cash, of which I had none. So back up the hill to shops B, C and D. In shop D, the shopkeeper was so intent he could find something for me, he kept running outside and returning with more and more plates. None of them were right, but I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. Finally, after four or five offerings, I left, and continued to shop E, where I bought a small bowl the previous day, and liked the owner. He had my platter! And for 35 euros (5 more than in shop A). Sold…and then in comes his brother, shopkeeper from Shop D, returning all the platters I had rejected. I apologized, and he laughed, “We’re all one shop, so it’s all ok.”  I got my platter (it took both of us to bubble wrap it), and another bowl, just in case.