April 24, 2005

The Route to Santiago - April 26 - May 2, 2005

My friend Christanne and I will embark on a 100-120 km walk from Samos to Santiago de Compstela the week of April 26 to May 2nd. I wanted to learn more about the history and also listed websites where I am finding practical information for our trip.

The Route to Santiago in History
From http://www.caminosantiago.com
At a time when Europe needed to be united, the Route to Santiago was the first element that made it possible. The find of the sepulchre of the first Apostle Martyr became an unquestionable symbol, compatible with the diverse conceptions of the christian peoples.

Conscious of the importance of having the relics of Santiago el Mayor, the Spanish Monarchies contributed significantly to the success of the holy route. In those times the Peninsula had a growing need for money and soldiers to fight against the Moorish.

The kings of Aragon, Navarre and Castile made a great effort to attract to their possessions powerful rich people, and to that end, employed all possible means: interchange of presents, arranged marriages and the announcements of the favours dispensed by the Apostle. As the faith in the miracles performed by Santiago extended people began to make pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela in order to obtain his grace.

The first known pilgrim was Gotescalco, Bishop of Puy, who made the pilgrimage in 950 accompanied by his retinue; later the route was to be followed by the Marquis of Gothia, who was murdered on the way; a century later, the Apostle´s tomb was visited by the Archbishop of Lyon. And along these distinguished pilgrims, a growing number of believers of all conditions travelled by the same route.

The Way to Santiago has indissolubly connected the culture, the knowledge and the information. Everything that was said, preached, told, sung, sculpted or painting along the Route was known to more people and places. On account of its influence on literature and art, Compostela, along with Rome or Jerusalem, became a place of cult for Christian society, especially between the 11 and 14 C.

From http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/historia.html

El Camino es el fin, y la tierra, polvorienta y de asfalto, es el medio de transitar por él. El Finis Terrae romano y anteriormente celta es el destino de miles de personas durante estos años de comienzo del milenio. Parece ser que antes de la aparición del cuerpo del apóstol Santiago ya se iba a Finis Terrae, y allí miles de hombres sintieron aquel "religioso horror" al ver apagarse el sol en las aguas del océano.

El resurgimiento peregrinal, sobre todo desde el Año Jacobeo -1993- es un hecho que los estudiosos sociales tendrán que analizar. La mezcla de reto deportivo con religiosidad, con búsqueda de lo auténtico y de uno mismo, todo ello escoltado por estilos románicos y góticos, entre caballeros templarios y monjes benedictinos, entre hayas y trigos, entre castaños y carvallos, entre leyendas y milagros hacen del Camino de Santiago una experiencia singular. El marketing de las diferentes Comunidades Autónomas ha hecho el resto. Para muchos el recorrido del Camino de Santiago se convierte en peregrinaje cuando se encuentran con las raíces religiosas e históricas de Europa, cuando renuevan un camino de transformación interior, y cuando caminan al ritmo de otros siglos.

Desde el descubrimiento de la tumba del Apóstol Santiago en Compostela, en el siglo IX, el Camino de Santiago se convirtió en la más importante ruta de peregrinación de la Europa medieval. El paso de los innumerables peregrinos que, movidos por su fe, se dirigían a Compostela desde todos los países europeos, sirvió como punto de partida de todo un desarrollo artístico, social y económico que dejó sus huellas a lo largo de todo el Camino de Santiago.

El centro de la tradición jacobea es la creencia de que el cuerpo de Santiago está enterrado en el sepulcro de Compostela. Corría el año 813 después de Cristo cuando el obispo de Iria Flavia, Teodomiro, avisado por el eremita Pelayo de la existencia de unas luces misteriosas, informó al rey asturiano Alfonso II del descubrimiento milagroso de una tumba que contenía los restos mortales del apóstol Santiago. Según la leyenda, los discípulos de Santiago en el año 42 robaron el cuerpo de Palestina, donde le habían decapitado, y le embarcaron en una nave que con una tripulación angelical llegó a Iria, en la confluencia del Sar y el Ulla (actualmente la ría de Arousa). En cuanto atracaron, el cuerpo del apóstol fue llevado por los aires 12 millas hasta el lugar donde hoy se le venera. En la catedral de Santiago se conserva la roca donde dicen que fue atada la barca que trajo el cadáver del santo. Con la "aparición" del cuerpo del apóstol se inició lo que hoy conocemos como la ruta compostelana: "El camino de las estrellas".

April 21, 2005

Studies: Gentrification a boost for everyone

I saw this happen right before my eyes living in Silver Spring, MD for 2 years. I didn´t know what it was called though and that it was happening all over the US....

Wed Apr 20, 6:25 AM ET
By Rick Hampson, USA TODAY

Everyone knows gentrification uproots the urban poor with higher rents, higher taxes and $4 lattes. It's the lament of community organizers, the theme of the 2004 film Barbershop 2 and the guilty assumption of the yuppies moving in.

But everyone may be wrong, according to Lance Freeman, an assistant professor of urban planning at Columbia University.

In an article last month in Urban Affairs Review, Freeman reports the results of his national study of gentrification - the movement of upscale (mostly white) settlers into rundown (mostly minority) neighborhoods.

His conclusion: Gentrification drives comparatively few low-income residents from their homes. Although some are forced to move by rising costs, there isn't much more displacement in gentrifying neighborhoods than in non-gentrifying ones.

In a separate study of New York City published last year, Freeman and a colleague concluded that living in a gentrifying neighborhood there actually made it less likely a poor resident would move - a finding similar to that of a 2001 study of Boston by Duke University economist Jacob Vigdor.

Freeman and Vigdor say that although higher costs sometimes force poor residents to leave gentrifying neighborhoods, other changes - more jobs, safer streets, better trash pickup - encourage them to stay. But to others, gentrification remains a dirty word.

"All you have to do is talk to people around here," says James Lewis, a tenant organizer in Harlem, New York's most famous black neighborhood. "Everybody with money is moving into Harlem, and the people who are here are being displaced."

Even residents who have survived gentrification tend to believe it forces people out.

Maria Marquez, 37, has slept on the sofa for 12 years to give her mother and son the two bedrooms in their apartment in Chicago's gentrifying Logan Square area. But eventually, she says, "we're gonna get kicked out. It's a matter of time."

Kathe Newman, assistant professor of public policy at Rutgers University, argues that Freeman's research in New York understates the extent of displacement. But she says he has raised a good question: How, in the face of relentlessly higher living costs, do so many poor people stay put?

A hot-button issue

Gentrification has spawned emotional disputes in cities around the nation:

• In northwest Fort Lauderdale, where streets are named for the district's prominent old African-American families, three of four new home buyers are white, according to a survey by the Sun-Sentinel. City Commissioner Carlton Moore told the newspaper his largely black constituency fears displacement, even though he says it won't happen.

• In the predominantly Latino working class barrio of East Austin, the new Pedernales Lofts condominiums have raised adjacent land values more than 50% since 2003. Last fall, someone hung signs from power lines outside the lofts saying, "Stop gentrifying the East Side" and "Will U give jobs to longtime residents of this neighborhood?"

• In Charlotte, a City Council committee voted in December to remove language from a city planning department report that downplayed gentrification's threat to neighborhoods. Development could uproot some people, councilman John Tabor told the Charlotte Observer "If there are people in these neighborhoods who have to move because they can't afford their taxes, that's who I want to help," he said.

• In Boston's North End, the destruction of the noisy Central Artery elevated highway promises to attract younger, more affluent new residents and dilute the traditional Italian immigrant culture.

In the two decades after World War II, government urban renewal schemes tore down whole neighborhoods and scattered residents.

Gentrification, which appeared in the 1970s, was something else. Motivated by high gasoline prices, suburban sprawl and a new taste for old architecture, some middle class whites began moving into neighborhoods that had gone out of fashion a generation or two earlier.

Here's how it works: A dilapidated and depopulated but essentially attractive neighborhood - solid housing stock, well laid-out streets, proximity to the city center - is discovered by artists, graduate students and other bohemians.

Block by block, the neighborhood changes. The newcomers fix up old buildings. Galleries and cafes open, and mom 'n' pop groceries close. City services improve. Finally, the bohemians are joined by lawyers, stockbrokers and dentists. Property values rise, followed by property taxes and rents.

To some urban planners, gentrification is a solution to racial segregation, a shrinking tax base and other problems. To others, it is a problem: Poor blacks and Hispanics, who've held on through hard times and sometimes started the neighborhood's comeback, are ousted by their own success.

Jose Sanchez, an urban planning expert at Long Island University in Brooklyn, says some changing neighborhoods stabilize with a mixture of people. But he says the poor - and the bohemian pioneers - can also be "washed out" by scheming landlords or government policies such as rezoning and urban renewal.

The poor stay put

Freeman and Vigdor say gentrification has gotten a bad rap. When they studied New York City and Boston, respectively, they found that poor and less educated residents of gentrifying neighborhoods actually moved less often than people in other neighborhoods - 20% less in New York.

For his national study published this year, Freeman found only a slight connection between gentrification and displacement. A poor resident's chances of being forced to move out of a gentrifying neighborhood are only 0.5% greater than in a non-gentrifying one.

So how do some neighborhoods change so dramatically? Freeman says it's mostly the result of what he calls "succession": Poor people in gentrifying neighborhoods who move from their homes - for whatever reason - usually are replaced by people who have more income and education.

Freeman and Vigdor say skeptics who view gentrification merely as " 'hood snatching" should remember three things:

• Many older neighborhoods have high turnover, whether they gentrify or not. Vigdor says that over five years, about half of all urban residents move.

• Such neighborhoods often have so much vacant or abandoned housing that there's no need to drive anyone out to accommodate people who want to move in. A quarter of the housing in one section of Boston's South End was vacant in 1970; the population had dropped by more than 50% over 20 years. Today, the population has increased more than 50%, and the vacancy rate is less than 2%.

• Rising housing costs in gentrifying districts may ensure that poor residents who do move leave the neighborhood, rather than settle elsewhere in it. Since their places usually are taken by more affluent, better educated people, the neighborhood's character and demographics change.

Vigdor argues that hatred of gentrification is largely irrational: "We were angry when the middle class moved out of the city," he says. "Now we're angry when they move back."

He asks whether Detroit, which in 50 years has lost half its population and most of its middle class, would not have been better off with gentrification than it has been without it.

A housing shortage

Gentrification is a symptom of a bigger problem: Metro areas don't create enough housing, Vigdor says. When prices in the suburbs get high enough, home buyers start looking at "undervalued" urban housing. If it's close to downtown and has some period charm, so much the better.

But critics insist gentrification does real harm to real people. Lewis, the Harlem organizer, says he can't get statements from people who were forced out because he doesn't know where they went.

A surprising number of poor people, however, manage to hold on. Some explanations:

•Homeownership. Homeowners face rising property taxes, but unlike renters they also stand to gain from rising values. Idida Perez, 46, complains that taxes and escrow payments on her two-family house near Logan Square in Chicago have jumped $300 a month over the past few years. But the house, which she and her husband bought for $200,000 in 1990, is now worth $400,000.

•Rent control. Samuel Ragland, 82, pays $115 a month for his one-room rent-controlled apartment on fast-gentrifying West 120th Street in Harlem. His building is being converted into condos, but under New York law, his landlord can't move him out unless he's given a comparable apartment at a comparable rent in the same area.

•Government subsidies. Carole Singleton, 52, had to retire from her job as a hospital administrator after she got cancer. But she's been able to stay in Harlem because she pays only $300 of the $971 rent for her apartment; a federal housing subsidy covers the rest.

•Doubling (or tripling) up. After the rent on Ofelia Sanchez's one-bedroom apartment in the Logan Square area went from $500 to $600, she and her two kids moved into a three-bedroom with Sanchez's mother and her sister's family. The apartment houses 10 people. Sanchez and her son share a bed, and her daughter sleeps on the floor. But Sanchez won't move; she works as a tutor at the local elementary school, and her mother babysits while she takes classes at Chicago State University. "This is home," she says of the neighborhood where she's lived for 26 of her 27 years. "I don't know anyone anywhere else."

•Landlord-tenant understandings. In return for $595 monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment, tenant Maria Marquez rakes the leaves and shovels the front walk. She lays floor tile, repairs holes in the porch and changes light fixtures. It enables her, her son and her mother to stay in an area of Chicago where two-bedrooms rent for $1,000.

•More income devoted to rent. Poor New York households in gentrifying neighborhoods spent 61% of their income on housing, compared with 52% for the poor in non-gentrifying ones, Freeman found. Klare Allen, who is in her mid-40s, has been able to keep her three-bedroom apartment in Roxbury, a black neighborhood close to downtown Boston. But she has to pay $1,400 a month - 75% of her monthly income.

•Prayer. Alma Feliciano, 46, of Boston asked God for an affordable apartment that would allow her and her four children to stay in Roxbury and continue to attend her church, Holy Tabernacle. Her prayers were granted - a unit in a federally subsidized complex. Otherwise, she says, she would have had to leave the city.

One reason poor families make such heroic efforts to stay is because the quality of life is improving - partly thanks to gentrification.

In the Logan Square area, Marquez says, an influx of higher-income newcomers has coincided with what seems like more aggressive policing.

"The gang bangers are not around as much, and you don't see the prostitutes on the corners like you used to," she says.

Idida Perez hates the rising prices but admits, "There are a lot more small cafes owned by people from the neighborhood, and I am a big coffee drinker." And new businesses mean new jobs: Someone has to pour those lattes.

April 11, 2005

March Update 2005

April 11, 2005
Dearest Friends, Family, and Rotarians,
As I turn my calendar to April 2005, I realize that it is a great time as ever to write to you about my March adventures.

In summation of this time, I visited Rome, saw friends from San Antonio, Texas, had 10 guests at my place, partied in Valencia for their largest street festival called ‘Las Fallas’, and spent my spring break in southern France visiting friends and vineyards. On the more constructive side, I am continuously organizing the Americans for Informed Democracy conference and Martinez Foundation Fundraising Dinner both being held in June in Barcelona.

For more details and photos, continue below, and check out my website at:

The Full Update:

The first weekend of March I visited Rome for the first time in my life! I had kept in touch with a Rotary scholar, Elizabeth, I met in Berlin at the Americans for Informed Democracy conference. She is an opera singer in Rome and we decided to do a BCN/Rome swap on back to back weekends. At the same time, an old San Antonio friend, Brent, was running around Europe for the first time and with other Texan friends. Brent and I managed to set a meeting time and place at a Roman airport. They arrived from London 4 hours late the same day I arrived from Barcelona, but I waited because I had no way to reach them. At the same airport, no joke, I ran into another person that I met at the same conference in Berlin going through customs arriving at the same airport.

Regardless of the delay, we ran around Rome that weekend with Elizabeth as our guide and with no problems. We had a guided tour of the Coliseum and St. Peter’s Basicilia, we ran through the Vatican’s museum and saw the Sistine Chapel, and ate traditional Italian pizza, pasta, ice cream, and drank their coffee and wine. We were there at the same time an Italian intelligence officer was being buried after being shot by American troops in Iraq. Now, Italy is planning the removal of their troops from Iraq. It was an awkward day to be an American even though no one said anything to me about it.

The day I returned from Rome, I had a Rotary dinner where Dr. Martinez (www.martinezfoudnation.org) was to present about her Foundation that I am helping gain publicity and funds. Luckily, I wasn’t too tired and was able to pull on a suit and be there. I am organizing a Fundraising Dinner on June 9th in town. I am promoting the Foundation and the dinner through my Rotary club presentations and publications.

The next day, March 8th, I had a Rotary Scholar from Louisiana that I met in Austin in Jan 2004 visit me with a friend. They were running through Spain and trained down from Toulouse, France. I showed them a good time at night after they ran around by day. We met up with them again 2 weeks later in Toulouse, France.
On the 9th, I found out I was waitlisted to Duke Law, ranked 11th in the US. That day was a catalyst for my ‘Get Ruby into Duke Campaign’ that took me a few more weeks to complete the initial phase. As, Burak is matriculated to Duke’s Fuqua, we are moving to Durham in August. Going to Duke Law while he is at Fuqua would be a dream come true.

Basically, I have asked 40 people to either write a letter of recommendation or put in a good word for me with the Admissions office. I have contacted the head of the Public Interest and Pro Bono program that I am interested, waitlisted, and will be an energetic leader. I have sent postcards to the law and business school. I have Fuqua and Duke Law alumni, lawyers in DC and TX, a District Judge in TX, a Rotary governor, a Former Deputy Director of the CIA, US Senator’s staff members, family of patients of the Martinez Foundation, and former teachers at The Princeton Review all writing letters or calling for me. I was really happy when spring break came around that I could take a break from the flurry of asking people for their time and constantly emailing. I am praying about it everyday and have decided to just have faith and not let it ruin my lovely remaining 3-4 months here.

On the 10th, I welcomed two American exchange students living in Belgium, vacationing in Barcelona for the weekend. They had never traveled on their own before but their club let them because I was a former exchange student and a current scholar here. It was fun comparing our notes from living in Belgium and how we see the differences between Belgium, Spain, and the US.

On the 11th, Elizabeth, living in Rome came through for the weekend. Luckily, I had enough room to host all three girls at the same time and they traveled together when I couldn’t go show them around.

I run a complete hostel honestly with Internet, guidebooks, and maps all over the walls with suggestions on walks and how to plan your day. After having my 5th person for the week come, I almost had my ‘this is my kitchen, this is how the microwave works and doesn’t work, this is the toilet, this the shower, don’t leave the heater on, this is how to turn the electricity on when it goes out, this is how to use the key,’ speech all memorized. After a month of this, I realized I always kept forgetting one important thing to tell my guests. For example, ‘don’t jump into the shower until you know there is warm water running,’ or ‘this is how to use the key, lets go have you try it now.’ (some guests were sitting outside the door for hours because they didn’t know how to open the door).

And on the 11th, my dear Texan friends were literally running through Barcelona for 6 hours because due to a French transportation workers’ strike, their previous day’s flight out of Paris had been cancelled. On the only rainy day of the week, my poor Texans had just a few hours to run up the Sagrada Familia and take a bus tour to ‘see’ my city. Luckily, all my guests gathered for a tapas dinner and had a nice laugh out of the wet outdoors before they had to fly to their third country of the day.

On the 17th, I had the chance to meet with a trustee of the Martinez Foundation who happens to be a UT Law alum and lives in Houston. We brainstormed ways to get more funds for the Foundation and I told him about my projects while I am in Barcelona. He told me he admired my vision and organizational skills and said that is what is needed more on the board of trustees to gain funds.

Friday the 18th, Luis, an old AIESEC Austin friend who we had stayed at his house in Paris in February, came to our place for the weekend. Luckily he speaks Spanish, is very outgoing, and had been to Barcelona before because we left him the very next morning for one day in Valencia. Of course we left early on the 19th after my Scholar friend who lives in Seville had arrived at my place to crash for a bit and travel with Burak and I for our crazy adventure to Valencia.

We bused from BCN to Valencia for the last day of their wild street festival where they blow up fireworks in the middle of the day and burn works of art, las fallas, at the end of the last night that had been built all year long. Of course it doesn’t seem to make sense, but I think that is what makes it so exciting!

More on Las Fallas: http://www.donquijote.org/culture/spain/fiestas/lasfallas.asp

We played with firecrackers, walked around all day, hung out with locals in their neighborhoods watching little kids set off firecrackers, ate churros con chocolate, and slid down slides in the park. At night we watched the fallas being burnt with firemen by their side just to prevent any city fires.

We had no place to stay, so slept until 9am in the cold and finally in the warmer waiting room. Once we returned to Barcelona, we crashed for as long as we could in a comfortable warm bed.

With only about one day to recover, we took off to Toulouse by regional train from Barcelona. It was an 8-hour ride with a 1-hour stop at the Spanish-French border. I quickly had to pull out my French hidden deep within my brain just to be able to order lunch and buy tickets. The trip took us right through the Pyrenees and we had great scenery as we took turns sleeping and catching up on our reading. It is amazing what you miss out from flying everywhere all the time.

Once we arrived in Toulouse, we stayed with a French friend we met in Austin in 2000, Jeff, who happens to have an apartment there. He showed us around, shared his culture, and we had the best time that week. Luis, stayed at our place the weekend before, flew in that Thursday because he too was a friend of Jeff’s. Also that weekend, Emily, a Parisian exchange student who lived with Burak’s same host family in El Paso, Texas, came to stay at the same apartment with us. So we had a whole bunch of Francophiles who had lived in Texas reuniting a few years later.

On the 24th, after my speech to the Rotary Club of Toulouse Ouest, we all took a day trip to Carcassonne. It is a beautiful, enclosed, intact medieval town that you have only see in movies and fairy tales. It has a moat, castle, small cobble stone streets, and everything!

On Friday, we took a road-trip just an hour from Toulouse on the way to Cordes, another medieval town on a hill. On the way, we stopped at three wineries for tasting. We found that people were either super nice or really rude. The places where we were invited to come in we almost all bought a bottle, had a great conversation with our host, and left with several pictures of them and their place. It wasn’t as commercialized as our trip through Napa Valley a year ago, but it was great having the close contact with the owners once we found a nice château to visit.

On Saturday, we went to Bordeaux for the day. Burak and I hopped on an organized wine tour once we arrived and that occupied most of our afternoon. We visited 2 wineries, one of which Thomas Jefferson had passed through a couple hundred years before. We prefer dry red, but tasted a sweet white that is produced in an area that has a unique microclimate where fungus grows on the grapes because the vineyards are located between two rivers. They call the fungus Noble Rot. Anyway, we also learned that France created an artificial forest to break the strong winds from the ocean before hitting the vineyards and it extends all the way south to the border with Spain.

Once we returned to the city, we met up with Tracy, another person I met at the Berlin AID conference. When we sat down for a Middle Eastern dinner, we stumbled upon a Turkish restaurant owner who knows Burak’s grandfather! When we found out, we took a picture together and also called Burak’s grandpa on the cell phone so that the old friend could say ‘Hi!’ So, my continued theme for this month and maybe the entire year is, It is a Small World After all (excuse the cliché).

On Sunday April 27th, Easter, we went to a Catholic mass (even though we are Protestant) in the famous St. Sernin church in Toulouse. We enjoyed examining the insides while listening to the French sermon.

We returned one week later to Barcelona on Monday, the 28th, to rest, clean clothes, and prepare for work/school the next day.

On the 30th, Pierre, my host brother from my second family in Belgium when I lived there in 1999-2000, and his girlfriend arrived for their week-long visit. We had fun showing them around and I had good practice of speaking English to Burak, Spanish to roommates, and French to our Belgian guests.

Can’t believe March is over. I am finishing this finally on April 11th, when April is 1/3rd over. Ah! Where does the time go?

Thoughts in summary:

1. None of all my meeting up with people in Europe like we live in the same American state would be possible without email and mobile phones. Luckily, my phone works all over Europe so I constantly have phone coverage (minus subways/metros). Also, in 1999-2000, when I was an exchange student to Belgium, cell phones were gaining in popularity and so was internet. Europe didn’t have all the budget airlines developed all over to make traveling to a major city for a weekend feasible.

2. This world is really small. Let me list examples from this month alone! We met a friend of Burak’s grandfather in Toulouse, accidentally. Burak’s tutoring student at the international school knew my aunt Anita who worked at an international school in Venezuela. We invited a Duke business student over recently to our place in BCN, and before he left, we realized we had seen him a year ago at his school the night he organized the entertainment for the students weekly social gathering. He was also a friend of our Brazilian friend that hosted us in Durham. I also saw a person I met at the Berlin conference in the customs line in the Roman airport as I was actually waiting for my Texans that were supposed to be on the same flight.

3. The difference in how Spaniards vs. Americans (US) view work. I have noticed that Spaniards (even though I live in Catalonia –forgive me Catalans) drop work on the weekends. They can not be bothered to work on the weekends (if their job doesn’t require it). They also work less hours than the typical US citizen. They also get most of August off for vacation plus an extra few weeks plus various local and national days off. Now, as I told a Rotary club a week ago (hopefully they didn’t misunderstand me), the Americans need to learn from the Spaniards to take more breaks. There is research out there that says Americans are working so hard their productivity is decreasing. I believe that. The only way I was able to manage to have a wedding and a honeymoon, etc. was because I changed jobs within one and a half years. In Spain, you get time off from work (and it doesn’t count as your vacation time) for a wedding and a honeymoon. Also when American company cultures have no problem with workers eating their lunches in front of the computer, this is ludicrous! My Catalan friend couldn’t believe me when I told her that. We are working ourselves to death in the US. And for what? Americans need to learn from Southern Europeans how to enjoy life, stop work when the clock turns 6pm, and not check our Blackberries for the latest emails. Learn to live a little!

4. To balance the above argument, Spaniards need to cut the bureaucracy and be more efficient. They need to think out of the box and quit thinking in the Franco times when the more employees employed the better, even if they really have very ridiculous jobs. Spanish companies, if not influenced by other countries like Germany or the US, are usually very lax on their customer service and are not very modernized (like using email and the internet). If the Spaniards could learn something or two on organization and efficiency, they could cut some jobs, save some money and headache for customers, and compete against other international companies. I swear (not literally), if a company or university wanted to hire me as an efficiency/organizational consultant, I could revolutionize their place.

5. I added an article to my blog today about how the Mediterranean diet, filled with fresh vegetables and fruits, wheat breads, red wine, and little meat, is great for fighting cancer, living longer, and overall better health. Now, this isn’t a new discovery or anything, but I have a few thoughts on it as I live in the Mediterranean region where that diet is prevalent.

In the US, we have all our food pre-package, super fried, ready to stay on the shelf forever, and our freezers stocked for the entire year. Now over here, I have to go to the grocery store everyday. This isn’t just because I have no room to put my food and no car/truck to bring on the groceries home with, but because we eat the freshest stuff that doesn’t have a shelf life. I figure I can be bothered for this trade off if I have less trans fats, dyes, and preservatives in my food. I am so happy that the American Food and Drug Association is requiring food makers to list the trans fat content in foods by 2006. We will all soon think twice about those Oreos that have been on the shelf for a month.

6. During Franco’s dictatorship in Spain, Rotary was outlawed. Franco didn’t want money being sent out of the country and also he didn’t like groups organizing themselves. Franco associated Rotary in the same group as Masons. From 1939-1975, Rotary (founded in the US one hundred years ago this February) was not allowed to meet in Spain and do their community service work.

After talking to a future Rotary club president and experiencing Rotary in Spain for the last 8 months, I have noticed how this 36 year ‘break’ has really kept Rotary in Spain from being where it could be today without Franco. Also, the Rotarian told me that he doesn’t believe Spaniards have the same organizational culture like Americans do because of Franco. I agree as I also saw this being the aftermath resulting from Portugal’s dictator on the Portuguese culture. A Portuguese friend on my visit to Lisbon last fall told me that people have been scarred from gathering ever since the dictatorship and to this day just return home from work to watch TV and hang out with the family. This, he says, hurts him as a theatre director and actor in Portugal, because the citizens are not accustomed to going to theatres where there are a lot of people. Ultimately, dictators’ effects on culture and society extend for many years in various ways.

7. Franco also outlawed divorce during his reign. I heard someone told me that some people had divorced before Franco’s time. Some of the previously divorced people had even remarried by Franco’s time, but then they were told that they really weren’t divorced in the first place. I need to look more into this one. I listed a long explanation of Spanish culture on my blog for an in-depth look at the effect on marriage, women’s rights, and family.

Ok, I will spare you for the next 20 days when I have my April update out….

April’s events will include:
- Rotary speeches to Rotary Club (RC) BCN Europa and RC BCN ‘92
- Speaking to Burak’s school regarding International Relations careers
- Visiting Granada
- La Feria in Seville with my Rotary club and other scholars
- Burak’s going to Rome for his work
- Hosting 8 guests from USA, Hungary, and Belgium
- Walking the Camino de Santiago from April 25th to May 2nd

Hope all is well, take care of yourself, and keep in touch.
Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar 2004-2005
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain

Social Values and Attitudes of Spain


After the restoration of democracy, the changes in everyday Spanish life were as radical as the political transformation. These changes were even more striking when contrasted with the values and social practices that had prevailed in Spanish society during the Franco years, especially during the 1940s and the early 1950s. In essence, Spanish social values and attitudes were modernized at the same pace, and to the same degree, as the country's class structure, economic institutions, and political framework.

To say that Spanish social values under Franco were conservative would be a great understatement. Both public laws and church regulations enforced a set of social strictures aimed at preserving the traditional role of the family, distant and formal relations between the sexes, and controls over expression in the press, film, and the mass media, as well as over many other important social institutions. By the 1960s, however, social values were changing faster than the law, inevitably creating tension between legal codes and reality. Even the church had begun to move away from its more conservative positions by the latter part of the decade. The government responded haltingly to these changes with some new cabinet appointments and with somewhat softer restrictions on the media. Yet underneath these superficial changes, Spanish society was experiencing wrenching changes as its people came increasingly into contact with the outside world. To some extent, these changes were due to the rural exodus that had uprooted hundreds of thousands of Spaniards and had brought them into new urban social settings. In the 1960s and the early 1970s, however, two other contacts were also important: the flow of European tourists to "sunny Spain" and the migration of Spain's workers to jobs in France, Switzerland, and West Germany.

One of the most powerful influences on Spanish social values has been the country's famous "industry without smokestacks"-- tourism. In the years before the Civil War, tourists numbered only about one quarter of a million, and it took more than a decade after World War II for them to discover Spain's climate and low prices. When they finally did, the trickle of tourists became a flood. The leading countries sending tourists to Spain were France, Portugal, Britain, and West Germany. Of course tourists brought much more than British pounds or German deutsche marks; they also brought the democratic political and social values of northern Europe.

The other population flow that affected Spanish cultural values involved Spanish workers who returned from having worked in the more industrialized and more liberal countries of Western Europe. The exact number of returning migrants fluctuated greatly from year to year, depending on economic conditions in Spain and in the rest of Europe. The peak period was 1965 to 1969, when more than 550,000 returned; but nearly 750,000 returned during the decade of the 1970s. The return flow ebbed somewhat during the 1980s, when only about 20,000 came back per year. The principal problems encountered by these returning Spaniards were both economic (finding another job) and cultural (what the Spanish refer to as "social reinsertion," or becoming accustomed again to the Spanish ways of doing things). Many of the returnees came back with a small sum of money that they invested in a small business or shop, from which they hoped to advance up the economic ladder. Above all, they brought back with them the cultural habits and tastes of France, West Germany, and Switzerland, contributing thereby to the cultural transformation of post-Franco Spain.

Outsiders who still thought of Spain as socially restrained and conservative were surprised to note the public changes in sexual attitudes in the country since the late 1970s. Once state censorship was relaxed on magazines and films in 1976 and in 1978, the market for pornography flourished. In a country where Playboy was outlawed until 1976, ten years later this and other foreign "adult" magazines were already considered tame and were outsold by domestic magazines. Throughout Spain's large cities, uncensored sex films were readily available in government-licensed theaters, and prostitutes and brothels freely advertised their services in even the most serious press. Despite these attention-getting changes in public attitudes, however, Spanish government policy for some years remained quite distant from social practice in two important areas related to private sexual behavior, contraception and abortion.

During the Franco years, the ban on the sale of contraceptives was complete, at least in theory, even though the introduction of the pill had brought artificial contraception to at least half a million Spanish women by 1975. The ban on the sale of contraceptives was lifted in 1978, but no steps were taken to ensure that they were used safely or effectively. Schools offered no sex education courses, and family planning centers existed only where local authorities were willing to pay for them. The consequence of a loosening of sexual restraints, combined with a high level of ignorance about the technology that could be substituted in their place, was a rise in the number of unwanted pregnancies, which led to the second policy problem--abortion.

Illegal abortions were fairly commonplace in Spain even under the dictatorship. A 1974 government report estimated that there were about 300,000 such abortions each year. Subsequently, the number rose to about 350,000 annually, which gave Spain one of the highest ratios of abortions to live births among advanced industrial countries. Abortion continued to be illegal in Spain until 1985, three years after the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (Partido Socialista Obrero Espanol--PSOE) came to power on an electoral platform that promised a change. Even so, the law legalized abortions only in certain cases: pregnancy resulting from rape, which must be reported to the authorities prior to the abortion; reasonable probability of a malformed fetus, attested to by two doctors; or to save the mother's life, again in the opinion of two physicians. In the 1980s, this was as far as public opinion would permit the state to go; surveys showed that a clear majority of the electorate remained opposed to abortion on demand.

Perhaps the most significant change in Spanish social values, however, involved the role of women in society, which, in turn, was related to the nature of the family. Spanish society, for centuries, had embraced a code of moral values that established stringent standards of sexual conduct for women (but not for men); restricted the opportunities for professional careers for women, but honored their role as wives and (most important) mothers; and prohibited divorce, contraception, and abortion, but permitted prostitution. After the return of democracy, the change in the status of women was dramatic. One significant indicator was the changing place of women in the work force. In the traditional Spanish world, women rarely entered the job market. By the late 1970s, however, 22 percent of the country's adult women, still somewhat fewer than in Italy and in Ireland, had entered the work force. By 1984 this figure had increased to 33 percent, a level not significantly different from Italy or the Netherlands. Women still made up less than one-third of the total labor force, however, and in some important sectors, such as banking, the figure was closer to one-tenth. A 1977 opinion poll revealed that when asked whether a woman's place was in the home only 22 percent of young people in Spain agreed, compared with 26 percent in Britain, 30 percent in Italy, and 37 percent in France. The principal barrier to women in the work place, however, was not public opinion, but rather such factors as a high unemployment rate and a lack of part-time jobs. In education, women were rapidly achieving parity with men, at least statistically. In 1983, approximately 46 percent of Spain's university enrollment was female, the thirty-first highest percentage in the world, and comparable to most other European countries.

During Franco's years, Spanish law discriminated strongly against married women. Without her husband's approval, referred to as the permiso marital, a wife was prohibited from almost all economic activities, including employment, ownership of property, or even travel away from home. The law also provided for less stringent definitions of such crimes as adultery and desertion for husbands than it did for wives. Significant reforms of this system were begun shortly before Franco's death, and they have continued at a rapid pace since then. The permiso marital was abolished in 1975; laws against adultery were cancelled in 1978; and divorce was legalized in 1981. During the same year, the parts of the civil code that dealt with family finances were also reformed.

During the Franco years, marriages had to be canonical (that is, performed under Roman Catholic law and regulations) if even one of the partners was Catholic, which meant effectively that all marriages in Spain had to be sanctioned by the church. Since the church prohibited divorce, a marriage could be dissolved only through the arduous procedure of annulment, which was available only after a lengthy series of administrative steps and was thus accessible only to the relatively wealthy. These restrictions were probably one of the major reasons for a 1975 survey result showing that 71 percent of Spaniards favored legalizing divorce; however, because the government remained in the hands of conservatives until 1982, progress toward a divorce law was slow and full of conflict. In the summer of 1981, the Congress of Deputies (lower chamber of the Cortes, or Spanish Parliament) finally approved a divorce law with the votes of about thirty Union of the Democratic Center (Union de Centro Democratico--UCD) deputies who defied the instructions of party conservatives. As a consequence, Spain had a divorce law that permitted the termination of a marriage in as little as two years following the legal separation of the partners. Still, it would be an exaggeration to say that the new divorce law opened a floodgate for the termination of marriages. Between the time the law went into effect at the beginning of September 1981, and the end of 1984, only slightly more than 69,000 couples had availed themselves of the option of ending their marriages, and the number declined in both 1983 and 1984. There were already more divorced people than this in Spain in 1981 before the law took effect.

Despite these important gains, observers expected that the gaining of equal rights for women would be a lengthy struggle, waged on many different fronts. It was not until deciding a 1987 case, for example, that Spain's Supreme Court held that a rape victim need not prove that she had fought to defend herself in order to verify the truth of her allegation. Until that important court case, it was generally accepted that a female rape victim, unlike the victims of other crimes, had to show that she had put up "heroic resistance" in order to prove that she had not enticed the rapist or otherwise encouraged him to attack her.

Another important sign of cultural change involved the size and the composition of the family. To begin with, the marriage rate (the number of marriages in proportion to the adult population) has declined steadily since the mid-1970s. After holding steady at 7 per 1,000 or more for over 100 years, the marriage rate declined to about 5 per 1,000 in 1982, a level observed in West Germany and in Italy only a few years earlier. Fewer people were marrying in Spain, and the family structure was changing dramatically as well. In 1970, of the 8.8 million households recorded in the census, 59 percent consisted of small nuclear families of two to five persons, 15 percent were somewhat larger nuclear families that included other relatives as well as guests, and 10.6 percent were households of unrelated individuals who had no nuclear family. Large families of more than three children were only 9 percent of the total. In a 1975 municipal survey that dealt only with families, the following results were registered: couples without children constituted 16 percent of all families; and two-children families made up 34 percent of the total. Although the number of family units increased more than 20 percent between 1970 and 1981, the average size of the family decreased by about 10 percent, from 3.8 persons to 3.5. The typical extended family of traditional societies (three generations of related persons living in the same household) hardly appeared at all in the census data. Clearly, that characteristic of Spanish cultural values was a thing of the past.

NYC Subway Gets a Computerized Facelift

NYC Subway Gets a Computerized Facelift

Sun Apr 10, 4:25 PM ET Technology - AP

By JUSTIN GLANVILLE, Associated Press Writer

NEW YORK - A subway train rattles halfway into Union Square station in Manhattan and shudders to a halt. Over a crackle of static, a voice on the PA system announces congestion ahead and says it will be several minutes before service resumes. Trapped commuters sigh and glance at their watches impatiently. Some simply close their eyes in resignation. This sort of thing — and much worse — has been happening quite a lot lately. So it's no surprise that transit snafu-weary New Yorkers are greeting with ambivalence this month's launch of fully computer-automated trains on a 22-mile line that intersects Manhattan and Brooklyn.

L line trains will run without conductors, except in emergencies, coasting along at preordained speeds and stopping automatically at stations, a lone train operator in the front car watching the controls.

San Francisco has had this technology for years, and Paris has one such line.

But the New York City Transit upgrade is a milestone. Never has a city with a subway so large or so old — it turned 100 last fall — tried to convert its existing infrastructure to automation.

If all goes well, automation will be phased in on other lines over the next 20 years, and conductors will be phased out.

"We're moving from a 19th-century subway system," said Charles Seaton, a transit spokesman. "It's making the system more efficient, safer and allowing us to run more trains."

The new technology is not without its critics, worried about safety.

Nor has it been fast or cheap. Studies on how to convert the L line began nearly 15 years ago, and more than $250 million has been spent so far on upgrading the L, chosen partly because it's among the shortest and doesn't share track with other lines. If the program proves a success, it could take decades to implement the technology citywide.

Why go to the trouble?

Nabile Ghaly, NYC Transit's chief signal engineer, said the new system lets traffic controllers know exactly where each train is at all times, and it tightly controls train speed. With it, trains can run more closely together — and therefore more frequently — and with fewer accidents, transit officials say.

The new system uses "communications-based train control," or CBTC. Computers on trains, alongside tracks in special enclosures and at a new control center monitor a train's location and speed via radio waves.

As in the subway systems in Washington, D.C., and London, screens installed in stations will tell riders when the next train will arrive.

Train operators can adjust speeds themselves, but a warning flashes if they exceed limits set for specific sections of track. If the operator ignores the warning, brakes clench and the train stops — a precaution meant to head off driver-based accidents.

It was such an accident that first drove the city to try CBTC. In 1991, a motorman who had been drinking fell asleep at the controls of a speeding train. The train derailed, killing five people.

Yet for all its promised benefits, the plan has met some resistance.

Several city council members and Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum have joined the train conductors' union in raising safety concerns. The union acknowledges that its opposition stems partly from the fact that 119 conductors will be made redundant in the first phase of the plan alone, while about 2,700 more could lose their jobs systemwide.

Opponents worry that without conductors, evacuation in emergencies could be slow and disorderly, and train doors could close on passengers. Conductors typically ride in a middle car, checking to see that passengers get on and off trains safely and overseeing the safe opening and closing of doors.

Transit officials counter that in the new system, doors won't be able to close and trains won't be able to depart a station if there's an obstruction.

Opponents are also wary of a system that puts so much trust in computers and automated signals, which they fear could be vulnerable to malfunction or terrorists.

"They're going to be sending signals via radio waves," said Councilman Lewis Fidler, a Democrat from Brooklyn. "I don't want to find out that someone hacks into the system and makes a train disappear and another train rams into it."

Such a scenario is unlikely, said Tom Sullivan, an independent transit consultant with Transportation Systems Design in Oakland, Calif., who helped design the L-line upgrade.

The data carried on radio waves are encrypted, so only an internal leak could compromise its security, he said. Though it's possible to jam the radio signal, he said, that would only make the train stop.

Sullivan, who also helped develop an automated line for San Francisco Municipal Railway in the 1980s, said he knows of no serious problems from hacking or malfunction.

He is more concerned that the piecemeal approach the city is now taking could mean technology becomes obsolete by the time new lines are upgraded in the future.

Compounding the problem, several different companies currently manufacture CBTC equipment, and parts from one company are not compatible with another.

To have a truly integrated system, the city would have to continue buying all its equipment from Siemens AG, effectively giving it a monopoly.

"The challenge is to get the companies to build equipment that's compatible with each other, so different trains can run on different lines," Sullivan said. "You don't want a winner-take-all situation."


JOBS (jokes)

My first job was working in an orange juice factory, but I got canned = because I couldn't concentrate.

Then I worked in the woods as a lumberjack, but I just couldn't hack it, = so they gave me the axe.

After that I tried to be a tailor, but I just wasn't suited for it. The = job was only so-so anyhow.

Next I tried working in a muffler factory, but that was = ex- hausting.

So I wanted to be a barber, but I just = couldn't cut it.

Then I attempted to be a deli worker, but any way I sliced it I couldn't = cut the mustard.

Finally, I studied a long time to become a doctor, but I didn't have any = patience.

Mediterranean diet linked to longer life

Reason number 234734o9723985723985723 that I need to stay in Spain for the rest of my life:

Mediterranean diet linked to longer life
Study shows foods rich in antioxidants reduce mortality
Updated: 12:11 p.m. ET April 8, 2005LONDON - Eating a Mediterranean diet not only helps people stay healthy, it also seems to prolong life, Greek researchers said on Friday.

In a study of nearly 75,000 Europeans aged 60 and above, the diet based on plenty of fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, fish and olive oil was linked to a longer life expectancy.

“Adherence to the Mediterranean diet reduces mortality,” Professor Dimitrios Trichopoulos, of the University of Athens said in an interview.

“There is a particular type of diet in Mediterranean countries that seems to prolong life.”

The benefits of the diet in warding off heart disease, some cancers and other illnesses are well documented but the findings reported in the British Medical Journal are among the first to show it may prolong life.

Exactly how much a Mediterranean diet can extend lifespan depends on a person’s age. But a 60-year-old man who sticks to the diet can expect to live a year longer that someone of a similar age eating differently, according to the researchers.

“To increase life expectancy by one year is a considerable accomplishment,” said Trichopoulos who added that a younger person could expect a bigger benefit.

Fewer saturated fats
How the Mediterranean diet may reduce mortality is unknown but Trichopoulos said the diet is rich in antioxidants such as vitamins A and C which neutralize cell damage from charged particles called free radicals. Antioxidants are thought to help fight cancer and heart disease.

The diet includes a reduced intake of saturated fats, meats and dairy products which Trichopoulos said may modulate blood lipid levels. Saturated fats can clog the arteries.

“The diet seems to affect both cardiovascular mortality and cancer mortality,” he added.

The researchers compared the diet of people in nine European countries -- Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and Britain.

The link between diet and mortality was most pronounced in Greece and Spain, two nations which the researchers said follow a true Mediterranean diet.

“We are closer to the genuine Mediterranean diet. The others are approximations,” according to Trichopoulos.

The researchers studied information on diet, lifestyle, medical history, smoking and physical activity. They assigned dietary scores corresponding to adherence to the diet.

A higher dietary score was associated with a lower overall death rate. A two-point rise in dietary score corresponded to an 8 percent reduction in mortality and a 4 percent increase to a 14 percent drop.

April 10, 2005

Secret Service won't duck new security task

The Secret Service, which has the job of guarding the president and other
dignitaries, now has a new temporary duty - protecting a mother duck and her
nine eggs living in the main entrance of the Treasury Department .


April 7, 2005

Spanglish Dictionary

AMERICRISMAS ¡Feliz Navidad! A merry christmas
APLICACIÓN Solicitud de empleo Application
BARBERCHOP Peluquería Barbershop
BILINGUAL Bilingüe Bilingual
BILDIN Edificio Building
BISI Ocupado Busy
BLÚMER Bragas Bloomers
BOILA Caldera Boiler
BOSTEAO Detenido Busted
BRODEL Colega Brother
CACHÚ Salsa de tomate Ketchup
CAGÜETIN LLamada en espera Call waiting
CANDIS Golosinas Candies
CARPETA Alfombra Carpet
CHAUCHA Comida Chow
CHERMAN Presidente Chairman
CHINGA Chicle Chewing
CHIPERO Tacaño Cheap
CHOPIN Ir de tiendas Shopping
CLOCHE Embrague Clutch
CHOU Montar una escena Show
CLÍNAP Limpieza Clean up
CORNA Esquina Corner
CRAQUEAO Chiflado Cracked
CULEAR Enfriar Cool
DAUNTAUN Centro de la ciudad Downtown
DELIVERAR Repartir Delivery
DIMEAR Oscurecer Dim
ELEVADOR Ascensor Elevator
EMILIO Correo electrónico Email
ESCRACHAO Arañado Scrached
ESCRÍN Pantalla Screen
ESNÍQUERS Zapatillas de deporte Sneakers
ESTINJÍ Calefacción Steam heat
ESTORMA Tormenta Storm
ESTRÓ Pajita Straw
FAFÚ Comida rápida Fast food
FECA Falsificación Fake
FLEIVOR Sabor Flavour
FLINQUEAR Suspender Fail
FRIQUEAR Alucinar Freak out
FRÍSER Nevera Freezer
FRISAR Congelar Freez
FULCÓBER Seguro de coches Full cover
FULIAR Tontear, perder el tiempo Fool around
GANGA Banda de delincuentes Gang
GASETERÍA Gasolinera Gas Station
GRANMA Abuela Grandmother
GUACHIMÁN Vigilante Watch man
GÜINDOU Ventana Window
GÜINSIL Parabrisas Windshield
HA YU? ¿Cómo estás? How are you?
JAIBOL Whisky con soda Highball
JAIFAI Equipo de música HI-Fi
JANDI Aparcamiento reservado para minusválidos Handicapped
JÁNDIMAN Especialista en chapuzas a domicilio Handyman
JANGUEAR Deambular por la calle, a la busca de droga, sexo o lo que se tercie Hang around
JAMBERGA Hamburguesa Hamburguer
JAPIVERDEI Cumpleaños Happybirthday
JARA Policía De O'Hara el apellido irlandés, habitual entre la policia de Nueva york
JOLOPE Robo Hold up
JONRÓN Carreras En el béisbol
JOQUI Jinete Jockey
JOSEAR Prostituirse Hustle
JUGÁRSELA FRÍO Tomárselo con calma Play it cool
LEIDIS Servicio de Señoras Ladies
LIQUEAR Gotear Leak
LIVIN Vivo Living
LLAMAR P'ATRAS Devolver la llamada Call back
LOISAIDA Lower East Side Barrio portoriqueño de Manhattan.
LONCHAR Almorzar Lunch
LONDRI Colada Laundry
MAICROGÜEY Microondas Microwave
MANAYER Director Manager
MAPEAR Dar la nota Mop
MAQUILLAR LA MENTE Decidirse Make up one's mind
MARCHAPIE Acera Sidewalk
MARQUETA Mercado Market
MEDICAID Asistencia médica Medicaid
MEMBLI Canica Marble
MIGRA Policía de emigración Migration
MIX Mezcla Mix
MONINGAO Bata que te pones encima del pijama por las mañanas Morning...
MOPA Fregona Mop
NIUYORICAN Persona de origen puertorriqueño que ha nacido en Nueva York Newyorker and puertorican
NOGÜEY De ninguna manera No way
NORSA Enfermera Nurse
NOUJAU Habilidad Know how
PANA Compañero Partner
PARADA Desfile Parade
PARTAIN Trabajador a tiempo parcial Part time
PIPIRÚN Retrete Pipi room
PLOMERO Fontanero Plumber
PRINTEAR Imprimir Print
PUCHAR Empujar Push
QUILTA Edredón Quilt
QUORA Moneda de 25 centavos Quarter
RAPEAR Violar Rap
RAPISTA Violador Rapist
RASEAR Ir con prisas Rush
REBILDEAR Reconstruir Rebuild
RENTAR Alquilar Rent
REQUE Choque Wreck
RUFO Tejado Roof
SARAMAMBICHE Hijo de perra Son of a bich
SILIN Techo Ceiling
SODA Refresco Soda
¡SUAVE! Saludo de despedida Take it easy
SU Denuncia Legal suit
SUICHE Cambio Switch
TAIPEAR Escribir a máquina Type
TEIPEAR Grabar en casette Tape
TINAJERO/A Adolescente Teenager
TENSÉN Tienda de saldos Ten cents
TRÁBOL Problemas, líos Trouble
TRAGANIQUEL Tragaperras Nickel
TROCA Camión Truck
VACUNAR Pasar la aspiradora Vacuum cleaner
VIAJE REDONDO Viaje de ida y vuelta Around trip
YARDA Jardín, patio Yard
YINS Pantalones vaqueros Jeans
YIPE Todo terreno Jeep
YOB Trabajo Job
ZAFACÓN Cubo de la basura Safe can

The way I learned Castellan Spanish

Note from a Texas friend in March:

I also liked your bit about Mexican vs. Spanish Spanish.
Learning Spanish the way you did back home is like learning English in Appalachia then moving to London. Even though you were taught proper language in classes, the colloquial use was far from the ideal of the homeland. Oh well.

Have fun in Europe, and don't forget to tell them how great a countryTexas is,