Monday, August 31, 2015

The Family Experience in Torre del Mar

I'm not very close to my family. Many of my Canadian friends are the same. It's the opposite in Spain, and sometimes people here feel sorry for me. They assume that I'm walking around sad all the time, because I'm so far away from my family. It actually doesn't really bother me, as I've been independent my whole life, but once in a while I attend family events here that highlight the divide between my family relationships, and families in Spain.

I visited a friend in Torre del Mar, a small "district" near Málaga, along the coast. Upon arrival, she announced that we were going to her aunt's birthday. All of the family would be there. She felt sorry for dragging me to the birthday, but I told her I didn't mind because I love being involved in intimate spanish family events. It's always interesting to note that, while there are obvious cultural differences in terms of language or food, families all over the world are the same. You have the cool uncles, the overbearing mothers, the caring aunts, and the incomprehensible grandparents. Adults laugh about their generation, while children roll their eyes. Nieces ask for only a tiny piece of cake and groan upon receiving the hugest slice ever. Younger cousins excitedly ask to join in on the adults' plans to go on a pub crawl, only to be shushed by their parents.

That night, when I thought we would go out dancing, my friend suggested a game of beach volleyball instead. At 10:30 p.m., which surprised me. Of course, I was in. I may be the shortest girl in Jaén but I LOVE volleyball. I was all over the place, in a very competitive way. Good thing only one cousin had B1 english and understood my swearing (“Oh my gosh, she said 'shit'!”).
Despite volleyball, I still had time to get my drink on.
The next morning, an aunt invited me to a morning of churros and shopping, while my friend was working. I heartily agreed, and we spent the next few hours talking and laughing while traversing the town centre.
This vacation was a nice quiet affair, in that I spent time getting to know my friend better, and getting to know her family. They treated me in a lovely way, so much that I hope to see them again. Who knows, could be another family reunion!

Monday, August 24, 2015

“You Bet Your...” Gambling in Spain

For my Dad's birthday, just like Father's Day last year, I decided to buy him a lottery ticket. This time I chose an organization that sells lottery tickets for a good cause.

ONCE is very popular here. The vendors, who almost all have a disability of some kind, walk around wearing chains of lottery tickets around their neck. The 5-digit numbers that passerby spot can lead to an impulsive buy if they contain one or any combination of their lucky numbers. My friend spotted a vendor so I seized the chance to buy her number, too. Our tickets cost 5 euros each.

Besides lotteries involving buying tickets, in Jaén there are umpteen Salon de juegos (Gambling rooms). I am the type that enjoys gambling once in a while; I once went to Las Vegas alone and ended up having a great time attending lessons on craps and blackjack. However, these Jaén salons aren't my thing. It's simply machines and televisions to bet on races, and of course, a bar. I prefer tables, dealers, and interacting with the crowd.

Some of my favourite nights in my Canadian hometown consisted of dressing up, going to the casino, and enjoying a drink and live music before hitting the Russian Roulette or craps tables. I never made large bets, but it was just as exciting to see my $20 grow with a roll of the dice or a spin of the wheel.

It was the same when my friend texted saying we'd won 6 euros on ONCE. Upon redemption, I walked from the ONCE booth looking forward to using my winnings on dinner. You can bet I'll be playing again soon!