MIND: Collaborate

Privilege is not in and of itself bad; what matters is what we do with privilege.

I want to live in a world where all women have access to education, and all women can earn PhD’s, if they so desire.

Privilege does not have to be negative, but we have to share our resources and take direction about how to use our privilege in ways that empower those who lack it.

Homegrown: Engaged Cultural Criticism // Bell Hooks

SOL: Mini Milestones, Long-Ass Lunches & Sex On The Beach

Sant Pol Beach

One of the many perks of long-term travel is the constant ability to marvel at different cultures and ever-changing traditions. I thought I was prepared to assimilate with European life again, but even after spending an extended period in France, I was not ready to experience Spain.

Mini Milestones

The host-mom I’m living with is in insane shape, so when she heard that I enjoy jogging she was ecstatic to have a jogging partner which is how I found myself waking up at 7:30AM on a Saturday to accompany her on a casual 13KM run down the coast. I would be more bitter about the situation if I hadn’t broken through several personal bests and if the scenery wasn’t so unbelievably amazing. In Sant Pol we are situated approximately 30 minutes from Costa Brava, so while the locals are indifferent about their beaches I am perpetually in awe. There is a path that runs all the way down the coast right to Barcelona, so we were able to follow a coastal path from outside our door to four towns over. I was fairly certain I was going to keel over on the way back, but my stubbornness overcame any fatigue and I made it back in one piece. The mild weather, occasional incline and sea air make running here a luxury, not a chore.

Long-Ass Lunches

My hosts are incredibly thrown by my eating habits. To them, eating lunch at 12:30PM is ludicrous and to eat dinner at 6PM is laughable. I encounter this problem quite frequently with Europeans, but seriously, eating dinner at 9PM and sleeping a few hours later as I digest holds zero appeal. As it is, I am comprising on certain factors, i.e. I will have an hour-long lunch break at 2PM, but I will be eating dinner by 7:30PM. Small victories, but my eating is still all over the place and until I become acclimatized to a new routine I will struggle to maintain balance. Meal prep is also non-existent here, as many families choose to buy their ingredients fresh daily and cook only enough for one meal. Amazingly, given the small size of Sant Pol, there is a health food store that stocks almond milk, chia, raw oats and quinoa, so even with its hard-earned meat-eating title Spain is welcoming to yuppie hippie vegetarians.

Sex On The Beach

Now for the culture-clash finale: nudist beaches. I’ve noticed Spaniards are even more sexually liberated than their French neighbours (I didn’t think it was possible) so I’ve been seeing a lot of penis à la plage lately. It’s still odd for me to see full nudity flaunted so casually, and while I may go to a nudist beach, I’ll still be the loser sitting “fully clothed” in my bikini. As the weather today was sunny, minimally windy and generally gorgeous, I went to the beach for an hour before dinner. I was in my beach chair reading Hemingway like the pseudo-intellectual that I am when in my peripheral vision I see male genitalia arriving increasingly close to my face. Lo and behold, I turn around and find myself staring down the barrel of a stranger’s urethra. Correction – his name is Eric and he has perched his naked self in the sand next to me while massaging my shoulders and explaining in broken English that he is a chiropractor. Perdón? After shooing away Eric, I decide I must be sending out too much of a vibe being a female alone on a beach (which is utterly ridiculous) so I start to pack up and pull on my clothes. Midway through shoving a sand-covered foot in pants, I see another Vienna sausage making its way towards me. After asking me the time, (“No hablo espanol, but it’s 5PM.”) he looks me up and down and says, “You want to fuck? Make intersexuals on the beach?” Somehow through my fog of disbelief I managed to sputter out, “No thank you,” but all I have to say is, porqué? Needless to say I hauled ass out of there and resolved to find a fully clothed beach dwelling for the future.

I’m marveling at that fact that I’ve only been here a week and a half because it feels like a lifetime. There are a lot of potential milestones that will occur in the next few weeks, and I’m excited for these new experiences… Even the creepy phallic ones.

Safe travels,
AS

SOL: Tampons, Ice Cubes, Accents, PB & Boobs

There have been a few clashes between Canuck and French living in the past few weeks that I feel can no longer go unnoticed.

SOL: Tampons, Ice Cubes, Accents, PB & Boobs

Marcel Marceau I Am Not

For the past week Chez Quinta has had family staying over in the form of a daughter and granddaughter which has been a lovely addition for me since I am still the only WWOOFer here. The thirteen year old granddaughter reminds me of my sister so I’ve been attempting interaction with her in my broken French. She’s quite confused as to why I’m here, initially she thought I was my host’s daughter and then she assumed I was some sort of maid. Wrong on all counts doll, I’m just a lost and weary traveller… Sort of. She came up to me in the hall a few days ago and told me she had run out of pads and wanted to know if I had any to spare. Since I a) have not used a pad since I was 12 and b) would rather skewer myself than sit in a blood diaper, I had to search for the French word for “tampon” in my mental dictionary. I had seen the word tampon used on a printing store window, so I knew the exact translation didn’t fit, and since in the heat of the moment I’m not known for being too suave my mime skills took over and I was creating an elaborate finger-and-sound motion of a tampon. Needless to say she did not, in fact, take any of my tampons. I can’t say I blame her.

Ice Ice Baby

A slight issue, but an annoyance to me all the same – several Europeans have informed me that ice cubes are not popular in Europe. I seem to recall having this problem last time I toured France, but since I drink a lot heavier this time around, it has been a growing nuisance for me. I’m lusting after a big glass half-filled with clinking and cracking ice cubes, half-filled with tequila and tonic. Forget men; just give me frozen chunks of water in a jumbo cup of alcohol to satiate my desire.

Accents

I’ve always been a fan of accents. I’m envious of people who speak with Cajun peppering their words and honey coating certain phrases that sound bland coming out of my mouth. It never occurred to me that in France I would have the accent. Unfortunately I’m certain I sound like a valley-girl-hillbilly mash-up to the cultured French tongue, but when someone asks me, “And where is your accent from?” I die a little inside. I’ve been told that I speak very hard “English” French, and that when I’m drunk I sound like a Spaniard – must be the wine rolling all my R’s for me.

Where Art Thou Skippy?

Another slight cultural nuisance I have encountered – PEANUT BUTTER. If you thought my lust for ice cubes was borderline raunchy, don’t even get me started on Skippy. I have searched high and low, even scoured my beloved Carrefour, and all I’ve found is the smallest jar possible of PB for a whopping six Euros. What the hell? Namua has informed me that peanut butter is regarded as an exotic food and that my best bet is to try the bio health food stores – or to make my own. I have a love affair with peanut butter, which has peaked ever since I came home drunk-as-a-skunk in university, passed out and woke up only to find out that in my intoxicated state I had a little peanut-butter-party and covered everything in my room, including myself, with a coating of Kraft’s Whipped PB. I’m not even sure if I got any in my mouth, but it turns out it’s hard to get peanut butter out of hair. Where art thou Skippy? I’ll find you.

DD Dilemma

And now for the grand finale of cultures mixing – breasts.

Breasts are everywhere in Europe. On beaches, on magazines, on advertisements – there are bare breasts and bodies everywhere! I would like to think I’m not a prude by any means, but I’ve yet to yearn for the wind on my nipples at the beach.

“You know America was founded by prudes. Prudes who left Europe because they hated all the kinky, steamy European sex that was going on. And now I will return to the land of my perverted forefathers and claim my birthright… which is a series of erotic and sexually challenging adventures.” (Eurotrip, 2004)

It was bright and sunny here in Laroque today so after lunch I decided to sit by the pool with a book and try to soak up some sun. I’m just getting settled into the chaise when I hear an upbeat “Cou-cou!” I swing around to face Sabine, one of our guests, and my smile freezes on my face as I find myself making direct eye contact with her areolae.

Let’s get one thing straight – I have breasts. It’s not like I’ve never seen boobs before. But even among my closest girlfriends we have never once whipped off our tops devil-may-care and pranced around with our breasts flying in the wind. Goddamn these French people and their nonchalant attitude towards women being topless. I envy it! I also fear it. She resumed her tanning place and I felt compelled to caution her against nipple-burn, but decided against it. Just like drinking on the street, (banned in Canada, allowed here), the thought of sunbathing on a beach, or anywhere, topless just feels so naughty.

Cultural clashes aside, I’ve reached my one month milestone in France and I’ve loved every minute. The adventure is just beginning!

Namaste,
AS