Monthly Archives: November 2013

6 Degrees of Separation

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In 1929 Frigyes Karinthy proposed that, mathematically speaking, due to increased modes of transportation and communications the world instead of growing would begin to shrink as friendships and relationships spanned larger distances. This theory spawned what is commonly known as 6 Degrees of Separation, meaning that any two individuals are connected by at most five acquaintances.

On the Saturday after competing I had the opportunity to meet up with two friends of my parents, David and William. They decided to take a long tour of Spain and just happened to be stopping for a few days in Madrid and proposed getting together. I had not had the pleasure of knowing them before the trip; however, they had such great recommendations I knew that we had to meet.

Tibo, Morgane, and I always used to talk about how we wondered how all of the people were able to get on top of the Old Postoffice overlooking the Plaza Cibeles. We assumed that they were the rich and fabulous, out of our league. Then I accompanied Hernan on a tour, where we stopped by the look at the amazing view and I learned how one gains access to this building. David and William told me that they wanted something special and with their hotel being within walking distance and still warm weather outside, I thought let’s give it a whirl. I know that the drinks were on the pricey-er side for Madrid, but the view was worth every penny. (I am currently asking them for photos, since the ones taken on my phone do not do it justice.) As it started to get cold, instead of going inside we were moved to chase lounge chairs and given blankets and heaters, where we continued our lively conversation.

After soaking up the night sky we headed to Plaza Santa Ana for dinner. We ordered an array of different plates to share, all of which were amazing. It’s normally considered that Spaniards eat late, but apparently these Americans were the night owls, since they closed the kitchens before we could order a second round of food. Over the course of the evening, we not only shared our dishes, but rather different tales of our lives and adventures, creating the fabric of a new friendship. One aspect of our conversation has stuck with me, which is this concept of 6 degrees of separation, in which we went through all of the different ways in which we were all connected, through various friends and family in the greater Sacramento community. As we concluded, the world is a beautifully, small place.

 

 

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Fate’s Guiding Hands

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In the last four months I have now lived in four flats. I believed when I arrived at my last flat in October that it would be the flat for me. However, such an illusion was short lived and after just a few days I knew that I needed to move. Obviously a drastic decision since I had had some serious difficulties finding a place to live previously and the idea of carrying all of my things to a new flat did not seem very appealing.

Instead of adding stress to an already full life, I decided to leave it all in the hands of fate. I looked one last time on Idealista, the site used for finding flats in Madrid and elsewhere in Spain and thought if I see one that is appealing I will try. Not two, not three, just one.

And there is was!

I wasted no time and sent an email to the head of the announcement. I figured since the room had been posted two days before I sent the email the odds were not in my favor. With lady luck on my side, it was still available and that evening I had an appointment to see the flat in person.

I fell in love within minutes of walking into the flat. It was well decorated with accents of bright colors, the bedroom overlooked by favorite street in the neighborhood, and of utmost importance I had a phenomenal conversation with Rocío. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be here; moreover, the people who live here clearly wanted to be here.

Unfortunately, the saga doesn’t end with me liking the flat. The members of the flat must choose you as well. After interviewing different candidates, later that week I learned that I had been chosen. I then told my current roommates that I was moving and started to get ready for the big move.

I have a lot of things as I have learned through my various moves. Many of the things are items that will not come back to the states with me, like a hand mixer, bowls, sheets, towels, etc., but are things that just don’t make sense to dispose of while I am still living here. They also tend to take up a lot of space when trying to move. I now have packing and moving down to a science. There are two key essentials: 1. eat all of your food possible, which really means concoct new recipes using everything you have in your cupboard. 2. all heavy things go into a roller suitcase.

When I first moved into the flat I was greeted by Nacho, the person who’s room I am currently occupying. From our brief conversations I knew full-heartedly that I had chosen a good group of people to live with, which was only further confirmed throughout the rest of my first weekend. Since Friday was All Saint’s Day  all of my roommates went home for the weekend to be with their families; however, I was not alone because two of Christian’s good friends used the same weekend as a chance to sightsee in Madrid. I was technically getting to know all of my new roommates through proxies, and yet these fabulous people, who were so caring and genuine, solidified the knowledge that I had truly come to the right place.

To give a little background to my previous comments I am going to post more about the events of that first weekend. Firstly, I had a competition that Saturday morning where I swam four different races twice, trials and finals. Instead of being stressed about just having moved, I decided to use it as a mental and physical training session. I aimed to push my body to the limit, four times starting in the morning and then repeat that afternoon. I refused to pity myself for having to race so much in one day, nor to allow thoughts of doubt or pain enter my mind. Instead, I  focused on racing, something I do best.

After moving I was looking forward to a quiet evening to prepare and unwind from the day’s events. However, there was a slight dilemma: Christian had mistakenly left the wrong keys for his friends. This meant that they could not come and go as they pleased and since I was the only one staying in the flat, I was the responsible party to let them back in. Both of his friends graciously figured out a plan that worked best for me. They easily could have gone out for a late dinner and enjoyed a night out in Madrid, but instead opted for something much earlier so that I could have more rest. Then in the morning they went to get the keys copied so that we no longer had to deal with the problem. Unfortunately for them, it took three different companies until they correctly copied the keys! Needless to say it all makes for a funny introduction to the new flat.

The following morning I headed off to Mundial 86 for a long day of competition. After my morning swims Taja and I made a plan of how to attack the small details of the different races and swim better that night. All of his tips paid off and  I won three of my four races going all life time best times (technically, not that hard since it was my first time swimming any of the events in short course meters) and won a little prize money to the gift shop. I  finally bought a swim backpack, so I could throw out the hideously  ridiculous Victoria’s Secret bag that I got for free and had been using as a substitute.  Maybe, just maybe, with this new bag I look like the true professional swimmer that I am.

This post has superseded the length of the majority of my posts and in many ways reflects the various directions in which my life is currently moving. There is never a dull moment and truthfully for that I am thankful, at the very least it generates interest in my blog and makes for some great tales.

Tapapies and Cooking with Friends!

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I believe that food is made with love and the act of sharing a warm meal brings people together.  A couple of weeks ago I got together with a couple of my friends from my SwimTeam, Samni, Javi, Iris, David, Maren and Pepelu.  Together we put together a large feast consisting of my favorite Indian dish, Chicken Korma. After a long Saturday morning practice we headed first to Mercadona, the large supermarket to buy all of the needed ingredients for our feast and then headed back to Samni and Pepelu’s apartment to cook. We each played a different role in bringing the meal together, Javi bravely cut the onions, Pepelu cut the chicken, Iris saved the day with helping the cream sauce, etc. To me, this is what sharing a meal means, using everyone’s talents together to make something delicious!

Sufficiently stuffed with good food and good company we headed home to our own rooms for a quick nap before heading out for the night. We went to the festival Tapapies, held in the neighborhood, Lavapies. The name of the event is a play on words because they were serving Tapas! As soon as we stepped off the metro, we were greeted with a soft hum of people strolling through the streets.  And as we neared the heart of the neighborhood, people swarmed into the streets carrying hot plates from the various bars, and live music played on street corners. For one week a bunch of different restaurants each offered a specialty dish for one euro to give tastes of different parts of the world. We visited on its last night and stopped in a few different restaurants to try their concoctions.

Personally, I think the conception of the event was genius; however, the food that I ate was not all that spectacular. Somewhere between cooking for the masses and on a tight budget, while trying to create unique dishes lay the problem with the mediocre quality of food.

That being said, I would happily go back next year because in all honesty, these types of events are more about their atmosphere than the quality of food. I love any event that takes you into the streets, providing a chance to explore a  neighborhood, which you ordinarily would not visit, especially when the visits do not break your budget!