Category Archives: Living la vida española

Morcilla de Lengua


On an unrelated note, I know what morcilla is and I know what lengua is. And even though I see the two words together almost every day at lunchtime, I am not quite sure whether I really want to do the math and figure out what morcilla de lengua is.


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My Spanish Decade

On September 8, 2000, I left Washington, DC and arrived in Madrid, Spain on the following morning. For the next five years or so, I would negotiate with myself, “one more year, one more”, and then later Madrid or Paris, until the next thing I knew, I had already spent an entire decade – all of the 2000s (or however we’ll call this decade in retrospect) – in Spain.

Somehow when I look in the mirror, I keep thinking that I will resemble that same guy who left home a decade ago. And yet so much has happened both in my life and back home. For example, I missed the entire Bush presidency and the post-9/11 years. In Y2000, I didn’t have a cell phone, iTunes, WiFi or a blog even. And during this period, I lost two grandfathers, two great uncles, a great aunt, and a couple of friends. But I gained a nephew, a niece, three first cousins, a goddaughter, and countless friends. And just last year, I was thrice married: each time to the same woman.

Whenever people ask me why I moved to Spain a decade ago, I always give the same answer: I can’t even begin to remember.

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Filed under Digressions, Friends / Family, Living la vida española

Halloween in the Basque Country


As I wrote a few years ago during a similar circumstance, there cannot possibly be anything as low budget, juvenile, and downright silly than these guys from ETA. It looks like someone let the elementary school kids make their own Halloween costumes and put on their own play this year.

When watching the news on Spanish TV, my mother — who is visiting me in Madrid this week — couldn’t believe that the ETA video was real and not a parody. Were I Basque, I don’t know what would be more embarrassing: having a terrorist group act in my name in the year 2010, or having this terrorist group?

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A Decade and a Half

Today Raul Gonzalez announced that he was leaving Real Madrid after sixteen years with the first team. I have never been a big Raul fan, mainly because during the last decade (since I have lived in Madrid), Raul’s performance was consistently discrete, having lost his unique spark of the 90s. Nevertheless, I fully recognize that his lack of protagonism on the field was made up for by his stellar leadership role. Without a doubt, Raul — as far back as I can remember — has been the local emblem of his team.

What struck me most today when I read the news was not that Raul was leaving (I have been waiting for that for a few years) but the date in which he first debuted with Real Madrid: October 29, 1994. At first glance, 1994 doesn’t seem so far in the past, but sixteen years is in fact a long time. Just looks at the second video to see how much Raul as changed since his debut. It is a good measuring stick of how much time has changed in the past decade and a half.

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Filed under Digressions, Football/Soccer, Living la vida española

San Iker

After one of the tensest finals in recent memory, Iker Casillas gives us the best play of the entire World Cup.

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Filed under Football/Soccer, Living la vida española

Torres Should Be Sanctioned

Torres, whose athletic performance has been well below par during the first round of World Cup play, did at least successfully pull off this fine display of theatrics. The result was a red card for the Chilean player. FIFA often reviews video footage of games to determine whether to sanction players for unsportsmanlike conduct — usually limited to aggression or disrespect for the referee — but this practice should be expanded to castigate unsportsmanlike theatrics and other tactics that undermine the game.

When Thierry Henry’s undetected handball helped France qualify for the World Cup, the French public — in large numbers — actually protested the injustice (one of the first drops in the bucket leading to the popular disrespect for their national squad). It would be nice to see the Spanish press ostracize Fernando Torres for his shameful display. The Spanish should leave the cheap tricks to the Italians and Argentines.


Filed under Football/Soccer, Living la vida española

More from Mi Vieja

Some recent favorites from my often tasteless friends at Mi Vieja:



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Filed under Friends / Family, Living la vida española

¡ Que Vivan los Rejects !


At the end of last season and without much of an explanation, Barça coach Pep Guardiola claimed it was time for his emblematic star striker Samuel Eto’o to move on. Tonight, though, Eto’o had the last laugh as his new team, Inter de Milan, advanced to the finals of the European Champions League Cup by defeating Barcelona on aggregate 3-2.

This year’s big match could be dubbed the Reject’s Final with the high profile rejects from Real Madrid, Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, leading Bayern Munich and Inter de Milan respectively to the finals. If Jorge Valdano got egg on his face for letting those two guys go, I suppose Guardiola’s doesn’t look much better.

¡Que vivan los rejects. ¡Vivan!

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Filed under Digressions, Football/Soccer, Living la vida española

Leave Real Madrid or How to Beat el Barça


It is continuously difficult to find a good argument – other than purely economic – to convince the top football players to join Real Madrid, especially after Inter de Milan just beat FC Barcelona in the first leg of the European Champions League semifinals.

As you may recall, less than two weeks ago Real Madrid suffered a 0-2 defeat at home to its top rival, Barça. This was its second loss to Barça this season. This past year, Real Madrid spent over €300 million on new signings, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, and others but instead of victory, it has begun to resemble the U.S. military; in other words, a ridiculous budget that overshadows its competitors and yet it can’t seem to defeat even the most modest of cave dwelling rivals. I am starting to think that Florentino’s Plan B is to simply buy the entire Barça squad, coach Guardiola included, and dress them all in white; kind of like the U.S. military paying the Iraqi insurgents not to fight (aka, the Surge).

At the end of its spending spree last summer, Real Madrid then dumped Arjen Robben and Wesley Sneijder, both of whom have played major roles in leading their respective new teams to the European Champions League semi-finals (and possibly beyond), while Real Madrid was eliminated ages ago. Furthermore, Sneijder in signing with Inter de Milan has joined a roster that includes a host of Real Madrid ex’s, including Esteban Cambiasso, Walter Samuel, Samuel Eto’o and Luis Figo (now in retirement but acting as a club representative). With Inter’s victory tonight over Barça, and Real Madrid’s continued losing streak against Barça, you kind of wonder what’s left in the arsenal of a Real Madrid player? I guess the easiest way to beat Barça is to just leave Real Madrid and play for somebody else.

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Filed under Essays, Football/Soccer, Living la vida española

Clear Skies


Ironically, the volcanic eruption that has reeked havoc on much of Europe’s airspace — with an estimated 2/3 of all European flights being canceled over a three to four day period — costing the airlines millions in losses, and leaving most of the continent stranded, is an environmental godsend. For example, the air traffic in Europe is so cluttered these days that during the typical 1 hour 40 minute flight that I normally take between Madrid and Paris, I usually spot on route up to five other planes in view from my window.

The jet fuel, emissions and acoustic pollution spared over this period of silence over Europe means some truly clear skies.

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