It freezes in Arrecife, Lanzarote

Nederlands Español

Olga is sick and tired of it, and slams the door shut of the empty restaurant.
I’m going  to my mother” she shouts upstairs. It is Sunday, May 18th, their wedding day, mind you.
Alejandro looks down, at the ground. He stands behind her quietly holding her hand. “Come on kid, let’s go to Grandma. Daddy is acting a little strange today“, Olga says to the boy, gently squeezing his hand. In her other hand she holds a suitcase. She turns around and walks with Alejandro to the taxi that is waiting.
Upstairs it remains silent.

It is 11 am on Tuesday, Javier is at work, behind the bar in ‘La Lima‘ and walks with a tray filled with drinks onto the terrace.
It’s busy today, “perhaps a new cruise ship in the harbor” he thinks. When he looks to his right, he sees that the restaurant ‘La Mesita‘ a hundred meters further down is still closed. “Mmmm , yesterday they were closed as well, pity
When Javier walks with the new orders inside he sees ‘Pepe‘ sitting in a chair, near the entrance. Pepe looks like shit, a beard of a few days, bloodshot eyes, drooping shoulders and with moist eyes he looks at Javier, Sangria, una copa, por favor” he says, shivering, Javier nods and walks inside.

I never understood what you see in that old guy, he ‘s about as old as I am” says snaps Anastaysa to Olga. “Yes, Mom, I know, I know. But he’s a darling for ‘Alejandro’, and the fact he’s older, is not an issue for me, it’s just a pity that he is emotionally still a seven year old, he is a dreamer, always has been, and he still is.Anastasya is silent and looks at her daughter. “Legally he is divorced from that bitch ‘Sofia’ but emotionally he is still married to her, he calls her EVERY DAY!!!” Olga sits down and sobs silently, yes it’s true, every day there is a WhatsApp sent from him to his ex-wife. And the bizarre thing in the whole story is that Sofia has been married again a long time ago, she doesn’t need Pepe at all.

Ice cold and completely oblivious of what is happening around him Pepe takes a sip of the Sangria. “Customers“, Javier says to Pepe, Pepe does not understand and looks up to Javier, who nodds at ‘La Mesita’, “customers!Javier repeats. Pepe sees a group of tourists in  front of the restaurant, quickly he gets up and walks towards his restaurant. The people want coffee and a bite to eat. Pepe explains that the equipment still needs to be switched on and that it can take a while until everything is heated up. But tourists do not have time, tourists are always in a hurry. A holiday lasts only for a short time and there is a busy schedule they have to stick to, they walk on, there no time.
Depressed Pepe walks back to his neighbor Javier from the bar ‘La Lima‘ and sits down behind his Sangria. The famous Whatsapp whistle can be heard on his phone.

A message from Olga; if he can call her, she wants to talk. Pepe runs hyperventilating back to ‘La Mesita‘ to call her.
Why do you have to call every day with Sofia? You know I hate that! Do you still love her ?” asks Olga Pepe.
Sofia has all my Japanese cookbooks, and I need those to make sushi. there is nothing going on with that bitch, I do NOT love her. Will you please, please come back?” begs Pepe.

She remains silent for a long time. “I don’t even like sushi, but I love him” she thinks. “Ok , then we will come back tomorrowOlga finally replies.

Tomorrow:  A happy Pepe is standing on the terrace in front of  ‘La Mesita’ with a broad smile as Olga and Alejandro step out of the taxi.
In his hands he holds a huge tray of fresh sushi.

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Three J’s, the start of the day

Nederlands Español

“Estupendo, fantastic, all those wonderful pastel colorsJulia thinks when she slowly opens her eyes. She looks at the shimmering sky with the rising orange sun. This is her favorite part of the day, the fresh morning aroma,  the shades of a unspoiled start, new opportunities.

At 6am Jesús suddenly awakes “Ohh, mierda, shit, I am too late!” he shouts and jumps with his bare feet on the tiles. He should hurry up, Jesús is always in a hurry, so much to do, so little time, each day less and less.
He quickly puts his sweater on and stands in the street, it is still dark, and for a single moment he thinks “what next?”.
Without looking up or around Jesús is on his way.

Jorge is awakened by a wet lick on his cheek, Bianca wags her tail hopeful beside him. Always happy to see her master. He is still exhausted because of yesterday and drags himself up, he opens the last can of dog food and gives half to Bianca. She attacks the food as if she hadn’t eaten since yesterday.
After half an hour Jorge is outside and looks at the bright blue sky, “Today is going to be a very hot day” he thinks to himself.

Meanwhile Jesús has arrived at boulevard the for his daily inspection. To his utter amazement he finds that the first couple of café’s are still closed. “You would think that they should know by now that this is the main source of income?” he thinks slightly petulantly and quickens his step. He knows he can do roughly fifteen bars per hour and today he has to do at least thirty of them, one round of inspection will take two hours, at least.

Julia is dancing across the busy intersection of the ‘calle la Inés’ and the ‘calle Fajardo‘, all the cars squeeze through the busy morning traffic jam and honk often and loud while she hops happily over the crossing.
Then she walks to the bridge and looks, with a smile on her face, up to the cloudless blue sky.
One car which is waiting for the red traffic light uses his klaxon with modesty, very shortly and softly, the driver lets his arm hang out of the window, in his hand is a white plastic cup from the coffee machine, he hands the cup over to Julia.
Without a thought she takes the cup and looks up again to that beautiful blue sky while she thinks of her dream.
That beautiful dream.

Jorge will work today on the “calle Louis Morote“. He is late this morning, it took him more than two hours to get here. “Better late than never” he thinks while he is struggling to position himself left of the stairway to the main entrance. Carefully he takes his belongings from the bag and puts them on the right, next to him.
The can, which is half full, within reach.

Her dream returns to her memory, funny in a way, the dream always takes place at this spot, on the bridge where she is at this very moment. “What a coincidence” she thinks and when she thinks more of it, “that dream wasn’t actually so beautiful”.
It is very quiet, slowly almost unnoticeable all buildings around her are moving towards her. The space around her gradually becomes smaller and smaller and the strange bit is you don’t hear a thing!“. Julia doesn’t hear the cars on the busy road anymore and she stares petrified, as if in trance, with an empty gaze into a void.
Some of the cars that stop for the red light roll down the window, on the drivers side, and automatically her hand moves towards the car while the driver drops a twenty cent coin in the white plastic cup.
The light switches to green and the cars drive on.
Julia senses that she is hungry.

When he is halfway of his second round of inspection Jesús sees the first bar that opens, directly opposite to the Gran Hotel, a small group of tourists wants to enter the bar for a real authentic English breakfast with sausages, bacon and beans.
Jesús decides to wait five minutes before stopping at the table with the foreigners having their breakfast, in his best Spanish/English/German and Russian he asks for one euro for the bus but the people look straight through him as if he doesn’t exist.
Pity, maybe next time when I return in two hours” and moves on again.
He has to hurry if he wants to get the next bar on time.

All the people that descend from the stairway of the Spar supermarket immediately turn right but Jorge is too rigid and too cramped to move over to the other side, because of the accident a number of his vertebrae are damaged and he can’t use his legs anymore. Sitting all day on the ground doesn’t make you agile either, yet he knows this is a good spot, there are days when he can collect four or five euros.
A Spar customer who comes here more often drops a fifty cent coin in the empty can on his right.
At least Bianca has dinner tonight” thinks Jorge while he thanks the customer.

– O – O – O – O – O – 

NOTE:

The three J’s are real people;

  1. Jorge sits every day in front of the Spar in my neighborhood,  the only support he gets is a piece of cardboard with a statement of the town hall stapled to it, the statement says that he is officially handicapped.
  2. I see Jesús sometimes chaotically running around, sometimes twice a week, sometimes once a month.
  3. Julia is three of four times a week on the bridge near the crossing.

Jesús and Julia have no statement of the town hall.

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Inside pocket

Español Nederlands

When you live in a city close by the sea, you also want to swim in that sea.
People descend from fish and fish have to swim, always, even in the kitchen the chef exclaims, “fish must swim“. Even though he actually means, swim in dry white wine, not swim in  seawater, but anyway.

This  is primeval, very primeval. Even beyond “Roots”.
I live four or fivehundred meters from the sea and obviously I want to swim, that is an urge that won’t go away. The sea calls, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 24/7 as it were.
Companies, banks, insurance companies, yes, even civil servants say sometimes 24/7.
But if they réally mean it?
The earth, the moon, the sun and the universe work 24/7.  And so does the sea.
Banks and the government organizations don’t do that.
The calling of the sea is irresistible, especially when the weather is nice, and over here it’s nice every day.
So swimming it is.

Unfortunately, modern life poses a practical problem immediately when one wants to give in to this primeval call:

Where do I leave the keys of my apartment when I enter the water?

I can hardly leave them lying on the beach.
Bury them under the sand and plant a little stick so I can find them again when I return? Or hold the bunch of keys in my mouth when I swim? What if I want to breathe every now and then?
Hide them in my slim and sporty swimming trunks? In that case I can only conquer the wild waves of the Atlantic as an elegant mermaid swimming the butterfly stroke,
actually, in principle I am a rather sportive guy. But in this case, let’s not overreact.

I will need different swimming trunks, the kind with a pocket, on the inside.
I can put my keys in there during my sporty primeval escapades in the atlantic.

I vaguely remember that I saw a swimming-trunk-shop somewhere, but where was it again? Somewhere along the boulevard? Yes, could be, but no. In the center of town? Nope again, ahhhh yes, the shop is located on the Rambla! The Rambla is a kind of ring in Arrecife where the bus station and all the offices are located, a few kilometer away from the beach, when I enter the shop with my penguin walk,  a lady comes towards me with a serious face to ask me what I am doing here. I need a “traje de baño” or a”bañador”  (swimming trunk) I explain to her and her face changes from serious to happy. “yes yes yes, we have those” she says.
“¡Peroooh… con un bolsillo interior por mi llaves!”,
Buttt…. with an inside pocket for my keys!” I continue. She nods understandingly but her face changes from happy to serious. She digs quietly  through all the shelves,
an abundance of swimming trunks, but not a single one with an inside pocket.
To break the awkward silence she asks me what my size is, my sheepish look makes it clear that this is a meaningless question. You shouldn’t  ask these type of questions to a man.

She has almost given up when she has a brainwave, and calls out happily “espéra (wait)”  runs  to the back and returns with a new pile of swimming trunks, “Calvin Klein”  she whispers in a conspiracy tone and shows me the inside of the trunks  (with pocket!),
and puts the pile in my hands. After I’ve tried them I return with my choice to the cash registry  where a second lady has joined us.
The first lady explains the complete story to the second, the inside pocket, the keys, the lot.
But if he carries money on him, will it get wet?” wonders the second lady.
The first shakes her head, “only keys“.  “And you can’t close the pocket, suppose he will swim wildly, like a sports person. Every year in May there is this triathlon Ironman Lanzarote‘ for all these foreigners? And he is a foreigner?”.
The first lady smiles pityingly and shakes her head again, she has seen me when I entered the shop with my  wobbly walk, this man is no “Ironman Lanzarote.
Finally I can pay the bill, get my swimming trunks. Neatly folded in a paper bag of the lingerie shop.

Me in my brandnew Calvin Klein

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Every smile does a small miracle

I cross the street at a crossing,
a fast car breaks suddenly,
the tense driver is in a big big hurry.
When I walk slowly over the zebra
I halt in the middle, look, wave and smile at her
then she smiles as well and relaxes immediately!

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WhatsAppening? : Qué pasa?

¿Qué pasa? is the first thing you ask when you enter your regular bar, in Arrecife, Lanzarote.
Without looking back the men at the small tables shrug their shoulders and reply ‘¿Aqui?’ (Here?) and return back to their daily business.

Life in Social media is slightly different:

 Lately, Whatsapp appears often in the headlines of the news.
WhatsApp used to be a funny little gadget on your phone to send a little red heart to your boyfriend or girlfriend, but during the last two years it has become an indispensable part of modern life.

How did this happen? Easy:
¹) It is free, the magical word for success, ²) it is very easy to use and ³) the cheerful Samsung whistle that you can hear on most phones when a message is received, all three have contributed to the enormous success in a very short period of time.

But  now (19 february 2014)  Facebook bought the company WhatsApp for no less than
16 billion dollar, that is a lot of money, or mucho dinero as we tend to say here.
Everybody knows that there is no such thing as a free lunch,  and WhatsApp has no revenues,  it is after all a free service. Those 16 billion have to be earned back, one way or the other. And where will the money come from? Correct; Advertising!
Everybody 5 or 10 free WhatsApp messages per day from eDarling, Durex, Unilever, Vodafone? Who will tell?

Some will say that, ‘next year you have to pay $1 (or €1 or £1 ?) per year, and that will cover everything!‘ well, …., no, not really. There are roughly 400 million WhatsApp users, lets make this an easy number: half a billion. In that case the investment of 16 billion can be  returned after 32 years, an eternity these days!
Mr. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder, is not going to wait for 32 years on his precious money, the man was born in 1984, he is 30 years old for Pete’s sake!
So it will probably turn out as an advertising machine. Are you going to like it? Don’t know.

Experts yell  ‘bye bye privacy‘, and yep, that is true, you can kiss privacy goodbye.
But we already said goodbye to privacy some 20 years ago when we started to google everything on the internet  (is it really that long ago? Yes, google started in 1995).
With each and every click on the google page we forfeit on privacy. Again and again.

Contribution/subscription

What about this contribution of 1 $,€ or £ per year?
According to WhatsApp the use is free in the first year, subsequently you have to pay
$ 0,99 (= € 0,71 = £ 0,59) per year, still a lot cheaper than Text-messages of telephone companies.
How do you pay? The easiest way  is to pay via PayPal or find a friend who has a PayPal account, give him or her £1 and he or she can transfer the money on your behalf.
Critics on PayPal say that  PayPal is not  100% secure. Yeah right  Barclays, RBS or the other banks are the pillars of modern internet money transfer.
Just use PayPal.


Update:

Since a number of days many WhatsApp users get messages from WhatsApp that they should ‘update
in -x days. This is just an iniative from the new owner, Facebook to link  your WhatsApp account to your Facebook Account. You can do the update, but why would you? See also Tips, here below.
Perhaps this is a good time to switch from WhatsApp to one of the alternatives.

 

 

 

Alternatives:

Fortunately there are many alternatives for  WhatsApp:

  • Telegram Messenger
    THE Russian alternative for WhatsApp; Russian robustness
    Costs: Free
  • Threema
    The Swiss alternative for WhatsApp; Swiss robustness
    Cost: entrance fee of €1,79
  • Line
    Asian robustness
    Cost: Free
  • Hemlis
    From The Pirate Bay,  all major record companies will probably start to complain about Hemlis because of The Pirate Bay.
    Cost: Free
  • Silent Circle
    Commercial and military  robustness
    Cost: $10,- per month
  • Skype
    Free video telephone with a chat function, is currently part of Microsoft.
    Cost: Basic use is free, for extra functions  you have to pay; For example I have a subscription for €4 per month and can call from Spain any land-line  in Holland for free.
  • and many, many more ….

Tips
Whether you switch from WhatsApp to an alternative or not, it is wise to do the following and it’s not very hard to do:
Copy the list of your WhatsApp contacts on paper or another place outside your smartphone. It would be a pity if Facebook would decide to block WhatsApp for whatever reason.

If you switch from WhatsApp to another tools, send a message to all users in your adressbook that says you switched from A) WhatsApp to B)??? 

 

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Kâhjes – a Valentine blog

Nederlands

A  country without kâhjes, is a country in stagnation. And everyone knows that stagnation means decline, a country without kâhjes is therefore not just a nation in stagnation, it is declining land.
I don’t know if you have ever seen declined land, but I can assure you that it’s not a pretty sight! Declined land is land you realy don’t need.

How can you make sure that you can get a country out of this dreadful decline or – even better – won’t go in decline at all?
The answer is as obvious as the question itself, you ensure there never ever will be stagnation. ‘How’, I can hear you think.
A perpetual motion mechanism, innovation, foodconcentrates you might guess?
NO, NO, NO it is all very simple:
Just be certain that there are sufficient kâhjes, because a country without kâhjes, is a nation in stagnation, but a land with kâhjes? That is a completely different story.
Suppose, just suppose that a country doesn’t have a sufficient amount of them, what do you do, what do you do?
You make new kâhjes!!! Am I a genius or am I a genius?
The only practical problem is that the creature must be given a name, but that shouldn’t be a problem for us or will it?
Easy, problem is solved. If you have a name, you have a new kâhje, life is beautiful.
And in 35 days, it is springtime again :)

Early in the morning I pay a visit to the city hall, here also known as
El Ayuntamiento‘, to share my brilliant plan – a new kâhje – with everyone present.
They all look a bit cloudy when I explain about my eureka, my ingenious plan, ok, it is still early in the morning. I wait patiently until everyone finishes his or her ‘café solo‘ but then I start immediately and relentlessly my attack, armed with all the documentation and files I have put on paper.
‘This will certainly help’ I think, but nothing could be further from the truth.
With bulging eyes they stare at the dossier of 50 pages I have prepared. Mouths drop open, some people turn around en walk away, and before they leave ‘El Ayuntamiento‘ I hear some of the them mumble ‘loco loco‘ while they tap repeatedly their index finger on their temple.
Slowly, ever so slowly a tiny bit of doubt arises, ‘could there be a microscopic flaw in my otherwise brilliant plan?‘ I think for a short moment.
Then it drops, not a nickle, not a dime but a full bag of coins comes rushing in.

OFF COURSE, it is written differently over here!!! Why didn’t I think of this earlier! Over here they write kâhje as calle‘, the letter ‘c’ is pronounced as a ‘k’ and the double ‘l’ ( ll ) as a ‘j'; A kâhje is a calle‘!!!
Quickly I make the mistake undone, replace ‘kâhje’ on my laptop by ‘calle‘ (for the non-Spanish among us; a ‘calle’ is Spanish for a ‘street’),  I print the manuscript of 50 pages in 6-fold for all who are present, put it in a nice folder and write on each package the name of the official to add a personal touch (it always helps doesn’t it?).
I hand them in person over to everybody present, leave a spare stack on the front desk for the people who ran outside – as it turns out – to smoke a fag.
Approving mumbling arises from the crowd, one of the people claps in his hands, very softly. A colleague rapidly walks outside to fetch the runaways back in again.
Bedazzled the smokers enter the building, ‘Hè, what? did I miss anything? and what, how, where, when, why’  but mostly ‘Does it taste good’?
They catch up quickly as they get the revised version of the manuscript and in a few moments they are completely up to date.
Everyone is very excited and while they look at me they all shout simultaneously:

¿EL NOMBRE?

This is the moment I have been waiting for, I  pause a moment for a maximum impact, I clear my throat and say triumphantly:

El nombre de la calle es: la calle INEZ

in the mean time I lower my sunglasses and look very deep,
as I have learned from every episode of CSI Miami.
A calm, quiet silence is the result, one of the people carefully claps his hands, the rest follows rapidly and a deafening applause is the result. Sombrero’s fly through the open space, everybody shouts ‘Arriba, Arriba Arriba‘ (up, up, up). A few strong men lift me up, and high above the enthusiastic crowd I am carried around in city hall.

The birth of ‘la calle Inez‘ is a fact.

Delivery date: February 14th, Valentines day and coincidentally the birthday of a very good friend of me: Inez.

Happy birthday, happy valentine Inez, this street is yours!

Planning and execution sometimes follow different paths; The result was not ‘la calle Inez’ but ‘calle la Inés’. As compensation they added the municipal coat of arms of the city of Arrecife Lanzarote, isn’t that sweet? Currently on a warm February 14th it became a pleasant crowded street in the city centre.

For people who want to visit ‘calle la Ines‘  this and this are the links to google maps.

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Roads

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te – 1st of January 2014

[Nederlands]

Richard stood silently in front of the window and stared outside to the calm water on this first day in January. He loved it when the sunlight was just touching the ocean as  this part of the world was becoming alive again.

He adored the early morning silence even though the window of the hotelroom was closed.
Just looking at the waves without any sound made him very relaxed and comfortable.

YOU ARE BECOMING FAT’
You are getting fat again Richard!‘ he heard from the familiar voice behind him.

His wife, Margaret was lying in the king size bed at the rear of the hotelsuite.
You promised, you promised me that you would watch your weight this year. Remember? When we left the hospital last time, after you had that heart attack exactly one year ago. You promised me it would not happen again. You would go on a diet, you would attend your WWW’s; the Weekly Weight Watchers meetings, you would return to your weekend football, pick up running again and…
AND YOU WOULD NOT DRINK ANYMORE!!!!!!!’ 
she shouted at him from the bed.

‘Ok, I trusted you ( again )’ she continued. ‘When you said that you went to the WWW on Tuesday evenings, went out of the house every morning at seven before going to the office and disappeared every Saturday afternoon coming back smelling of beer. I just don’t know what to think anymore.’ she cried softly.
‘The diet was the one and only thing I could make sure you would stick to; HEALTHY, there isn’t any other word for it; the steamed Broccoli is full of antioxidants and fibers, your meat is without any fat at all, grilled with a hint of coconut oil, tenderized by the enzymes of the kiwi. Seaweed instead of rice, pasta, potatoes or – oh the horror – french fries! It isn’t MY fault that you’re belly has grown again.’ she sighed.
‘But even now, even here in Spain with its Mediterranean diet in this Christmas holiday, far away from all the business dinners, parties for clients you have managed to become fat again!
My god, you are not a seven year old boy anymore, you are a 45 year old man with responsibilities, time that you start acting like one Richard!!!’

This year has been a bit of BOTH Margaret; too much and too little;
too much work, too much stress, too many changes but also too much of the same as the year before, too many empty days, too many lonely nights. Everything was a bit too much, everything was a bit too little…” Richard replied, staring at the waves below him.

‘You said too little; too little of WHAT….?’ asked Margaret very loudly. “Ah well yes, too little money, off course…” replied Richard and “… uhmmm how shall I put it, too little intimacy?”
‘TOO LITTLE INTIMACY ?!?!?!?!!!’ Margaret screamed furiously at him from the bed.

“Ah well yes, ok, let’s just say that last year has been a bit of a year of ‘too’, for me and you, for the both of us” said Richard.
I think that the use of the word ‘too’ is highly underrated in this country, people should take it more seriously than a ‘Two to the Loo’ joke that trivializes the use of ‘too’. Too is a very important aspect of life, too important to make jokes of.

By the way, did you know the Spanish have a completely different word for ‘too'; a real, proper word that covers the whole scope, namely demasiado, DEEMASIAADOO, that is a real word for too, not too that is no real word for too, it is too small, too insignificant.”

‘Duhhhhuhhhh’ snapped Margaret ‘did you also know that in Holland they use the word te for too? That is an even smaller and even less significant word as too’.

No I didn’t” shrugged Richard still looking out of the window to the calm ocean.

And did you also know that ‘te‘ in Spanish is best used together with the verb Querer?

Quiero comes from the verb Querer and quiero means ‘I want’, my Spanish isn’t that bad. When I want a beer in Spain I just yell ‘Quiero una cervesa por favor’ and they bring me a beer, as simple as that.

I also know that ‘te’ means ‘you’, so ‘te quiero’ means I want you? he asked Margaret.
‘Almost Richard, Te quiero means I love you.’ 
she replied softly.

He turned away from the window and looked at his wife and knew she was right, despite everything that had happened they still loved each other deeply, after all these years…

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