|Christmas Land in Murcia. Polar Bears I get. The Panda Bear...not so much. There was also a clown among other randomness..|
So this is a Christmas post in February, and the longer I live in Spain the more it becomes evident that this country is basically bizzaro USA. To be clear, this is not actually my homesickness talking right now--though I would like to point out that homesickness is a very real and insidious condition that seeps into your bones and spreads through your entire existence like a cold, cancerous tumor which poisons your spirit and shrouds you and everything around you with an inky blackness on even the sunniest of days. [In case you didn't know this, I'm a bit of a drama queen. Sue me.] But back to bizzaroland España--a first world country with third world tendencies--a land where the local government thinks it's perfectly acceptable to not pay me for three months at a time, banks and government offices are operational just 5-6 hours (if you're lucky) a day, supermarkets are closed on Sundays, teenagers dry-hump each other against the walls of the convent that's just 4 steps from my front door, and the Christmas holiday season is a mere fraction in size, commercialization, and obnoxiousness that we've all come to know and love/loathe stateside.
For this last fact, however, I am forever grateful. 2 weeks before Christmas I was an emotional wreck, standing in my local post office literally crying my eyes out for, among many things, the package carrying my best going out blouses, two of which were brand new, and my most favorite blazer in life (from Zara, no less), that never arrived to my mailbox from Madrid, where I had forgotten them at a friend's apartment a few weeks prior. This loss, coupled with the fact that the weight of my departure from my family, friends, and creature comforts of home had finally become too heavy to ignore, AND that I had yet to receive my first paycheck* was just. too. much. I knew even before I got to the post office that my clothes were long gone and definitely in the hands of some size x-small, thieving $@%!! [<---this insult is too profane, even for this blog. If you're not easily offended, go ahead and click the link and have a chuckle. Otherwise, fill in the blank with some innocuous, PG-13 insult instead, and pretend I don't say mean things]. But in an effort to maintain my sanity, I was holding onto that last shred of hope. But you already know how that went, and upon confirmation that the package was in fact gone, I fell apart. It took everything I had NOT to fall out in the middle of the post office and throw a temper tantrum in a catch the holy ghost in a Southern Baptist Church sort of way [start at 1:13]. I did however start boo-hooing at the the counter, and then proceeded to boo-hoo my way out of the post office and then boo-hooed all the way home. I wanted to go home, REAL home, and crawl into bed. On that day, not even the glorious sunshine and mild temperature could make me feel any better. I wanted out of Spain right then. This, my friends, is what homesickness can do to. I thank God that that the Spanish culture does not see fit shove Christmas down your throat they way it's done at home, or else I probably would've just died.
Almost immediately following my break down, however, I started to feel better. As soon as I admitted that I was sad about missing Christmas at home and came to terms with the fact that I was would have to do some serious shopping once I finally did get paid, I felt less like rolling around on the floor and shouting obscenities about how much I hated Spain. [Because I really don't hate it here, I just really wish they had Target, Old Fashioneds and would effin pay me on time.] And once I started feeling better, I was able to focus on three things:
1. That I was going to Belgium two days after Christmas. It was glorious, more on that next post.
2. I was playing host to an awesome Christmas Eve Dinner for my fellow American friends who, too, were homeless for the holidays, and for which I was preparing a Barefoot Contessa Roast Chicken
3. Barefoot Contessa Recipes make EVERYTHING better. #fact
Then, finally, Christmas Eve was upon me. Rather to feeling sad and alone, I thoroughly enjoyed the peaceful solitude of my empty apartment, and I reveled in the glorious sunshine and 60 degree temperatures. And just like at home, I filled my house with music, filled my glass with wine, and set out to prepare a Noche Buena (Christmas Eve) dinner of epic proportions--an effort that was promptly interrupted by the gas tank that powered my stove running out just as I started to prepare the food. What's a Christmas holiday without a little stress? After a near meltdown, some frantic text messaging, followed by level headed searching, I actually found the spare gas tank, only to realize I had no idea how to connect it to my stove. If you have ever thought that youtube may be one of the greatest inventions of our generation, you would be absolutely right. There actually exists a youtube video on how to connect a bombona to a stove. And hence, this is how the Grinch didn't steal my Christmas.
What followed was the Barefoot Contessa's Lemon and Garlic Roast chicken, which consists of both coating the outside of the chicken with butter, and then wrapping it in bacon. BACON.
And Roasted Broccoli with a garlic, lemon, and butter sauce.
And homemade wontons, courtesy of Margaret from Seattle.
And homemade cinnamon rolls, courtesy of Will from Portland. Will told me not to ask him what's in the cinnamon rolls. I didn't ask, I just ate them until I felt the wooziness of a sugar/fat coma. I also may have gained about 6 pounds. Totes worth it.
And Booze. So much booze...
And after way too much food and booze, a ridiculous white elephant gift exchange, and a 2 hour siesta, we good folks from the U.S. of A. put our party hats on and went clubbing in a "drink your face off" sort of way. Because apparently, that's what you do in Spain on Xmas eve.
|A lump of carbon...Santa's been keeping tabs!|
This country is so strange sometimes. I
mostly love it!