Sunday, May 29, 2011

so you say you want a revolution

Although the elections are over, los acampadasensol are continuing their protest against their lack of job opportunities and general indignation. What started out as just a bunch of people in an open area has evolved into a tiny village of sorts complete with yoga classes, a garden, a library, and food stands. Here are some pictures I took yesterday:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

let's celebrate all good things about madrid

 Blogger's Note: This post is about 2 weeks late. My apologies, I was distracted by the protests.  

How do you do that? By celebrating San Isidro, the patron saint of Madrid! This past weekend was THE festival in Madrid with everyone decked out as chulapas y chulapos, the typical Madrid dress.  

As well there were tons of activities and shows throughout the city.  My personal favorite was the fire show by the somewhat-lame Madrid river Manzanares. In order show off the revamped paseo area by the river, there were structures lit up with fire all through the river and surrounding area. It was really cool! Sorry my pictures are a bit blurry. 
Although some people that visit Madrid give it a hard time for not being "Spanish" enough. It's too cosmopolitan, they say, its got a Starbucks for crying outloud! And did you see the KFC on the corner?  In honor of San Isidro I am standing up my home away from home Madrid. Here are 5 reasons you should love Madrid as much as I do: 
1. The food is amazing. It might be hard to define madrileno food (if there even is such a thing) but Madrid gets the best of all the other food in Spain. 

2. Finding random markets everywhere. Seriously, there seems to always be one around the corner just waiting to surprise you. Some of them are crappy but a lot of them have hidden treasures.

3. Bars. I love the bars here, they are truely la casa de la calle (everyone's house) and a general hangout for young people, families, grandparents. You can't trip without seeing 5 bars here and I love that each one of them has their own vibe. 

4. Madrid makes me look up. Even though its a big city it has its own distinct neighborhoods and I see architecture in the most random places. So I try to remind myself to always be looking up while walking around the city. 

5. Having a tapas bar where everybody knows your name. My roommates and I have our's right down the street and every visitor that comes through Madrid goes there with us. They always say hello/give us free beers so we just keep coming back! 

So don't be a hater. Madrid is amazing in it's own Starbucks-KFC-Spanish way. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Smells like teen spirit

I am really lucky. Only by being an English speaker, I automatically have endless amounts of job oportunities. There are always options for working from private classes, to academies, private schools and summer camps. I am a rare specimen for a 23 year old living in Madrid. I have a secure job, I don't live with my parents, and I have finished my university degree. Those 3 facts don't apply to most people my age in Spain. If you didn't already know, Spain's economy is pretty much down the toilet right now and only getting worse. Everyone jokes about la crisis but it is a real threat right now. There are 5 million people unemployed and Spain has a growing debt. 

Because of this, many youth of Madrid and Spain have taken to demonstrating in the streets before election time. Yesterday and for the rest of this week, there has been a massive demonstration protesting the economic downturn and discontent of Spain's youth. Thousands of people have gathered in Madrid's center Puerta del Sol to raise hell before the elections. They are jobless, living with their parents, and are looking down the barrel of a pretty bleak future right now. They blame the government and political systems for their failure to provide options and opportunities. And in one sense I understand. I think the people who are protesting are really frustated and are probably looking for a job. I know I was frustrated after spending 21 years of my life educating myself only to find I had little job opportunities. In another sense, hard to take a protest seriously when half the people interviewed on the news are holding a bottle of cerveza in their hand. I wonder if these people are actually looking for any job they can possibly get. I'll keep you updated as Sunday's elections grow closer. If I were a politician, I would be feeling a little under pressure right now. 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Exactly how healthy is the Mediterranean diet?

The other day one of the teachers at school remarked upon the lunch I brought to school (red beans and rice). She told me that she was suprised that I was a "healthy American".Upon first coming to Spain, one of the things I was most looking forward to was the cuisine. Everyone raves about the healthy food that they have here in Spain and that everyone is so healthy because of the Mediterranean diet. Olive oil, fish, red wine and all that jazz. Don't get all in a tizzy, I love Spanish food. However I am here to debunk a couple of myths about the Spanish cuisine, delicious as it is, is not exactly super healthy. On one hand I have to give the Spaniard's kudos on some parts of their diet.  I have noted children eat much healthier in schools here. Twice or three times a week they eat fish and almost always have vegetables or salad. For "dessert" they have a glass of milk or fruit. After being a kid who only really liked chicken nuggets and pizza, it amazes me that the 6 years olds love mussels and cod. As well there are fruterias about every block which have cheap, fresh, local fruit and vegetables. I have been more conscious this year about eating healthier so I go to there about twice a week. 

While madrilenos have the 2nd highest fist consumption in the world (after Tokyo), I think there are also some not so healthy parts to the Meditterranean diet. The fried food, the potatoes, the meat, the bread, the fried food... When I go into a restaurant I feel that I come out only eat meat and potatoes. As much as Spaniards make fun of me about McDonalds, Burger King and KFC being American they are always full when I pass by them in Madrid (and its not full of Americans). And just because you fry something in olive oil doesn't make it more healthy Spain! While there are some benefits to the Mediterranean diet (like really cheap wine and olive oil) ten cuidado on that fried fish!