Enchufadas y bufandas

futbolOn intel from a Pasadena mom we met in the street—that’s right, Pasadena, California—we brought Lou to the local sports center last night to try out soccer. The coach was a youngish guy with soccer thighs and a heavy Granada accent. This is great, I thought. Lou is about to have an authentic fútbol experience, and we’ll celebrate by buying his first pair of cleats.

And then another coach ran over to introduce himself in perfect American English. He was the dad of one of the native English-speaking kids who made up about half the team, and he said he was there as an assistant and interpreter.


And then we fell into conversation with a mom from Pasadena (the partner of the first one) and a mom from El Segundo (California), and wondered if we’d passed through a worm hole straight back to the U.S. We knew before we arrived that we weren’t unique, but we didn’t realize we were part of an invasion.

So Pete and I committed on the spot to not join a self-created English-speaking ghetto, which both of us know would be incredibly easy to do. Since four after school activities would be too much anyway, soccer in English gets the cut.

* * *

View of the Alhambra from the cafe

View of the Alhambra from the cafe

We are fortunate that Soledad invited us again this morning to do a walking tour. We met at school and walked, along with her dog and friends Agnès and Christiane, to a cafe and bar. Agnès is a Frenchwoman who has lived in Spain for 18 years and is married to an Englishman (Scottsman?), and Christiane is a Chinese-Danish American from Berkeley who completed a master’s degree in Womens Studies at the University of Minnesota (!). Christiane and her Spanish husband own the cafe we visited.

Have I mentioned that Soledad is muy enchufada, or very “plugged in” socially?*

Inside a former hamam at the Alhambra

Inside a former hamam, or public bath, at the Alhambra.

After a leisurely coffee and toast with Agnès, Soledad, Pete and I set off for a circuit of the Alhambra. The TRX straps we saw on Soledad’s rooftop patio only confirmed our initial impressions of her (muy deportiva), so we dressed for a workout. It was another enjoyable morning combining power walking with learning the history of Granada, and hearing and speaking only Spanish.

* Yesterday I saw several mothers at school with their heads wrapped like stylish, healthy-looking cancer patients. So after rehearsing in my head, I confidently spoke a rare sentence to Soledad. “Esta mañana, habia muchas damas con enchufadas en la cabesa.” What I meant to say was “there were a lot of ladies with bufandas on their heads,” knowing that “winter scarf” wasn’t quite right. But instead I asked about enchufadas, or electrical sockets on their heads. Soledad didn’t miss a beat and explained that these women were converts to Islam and for that reason they dress modestly but don’t wear a scarf that covers their neck. Venga!

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