Semana Santa (or Holy Week) has come and passed here in Madrid. It’s a holiday that consists of Ku Klux Klan members parading down the street while carrying effigies of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
Just kidding about the KKK part. There’s some religious significance attached to the attire. Although, I suppose there’s a possibility that some of them are actually in the KKK. I mean, if I were in the KKK, this seems like it would be a pretty sweet gig. You get to wear your favorite outfit, and who doesn’t like to look their best? You get to carry a giant cross with Jesus on it which, although it isn’t burning, is still a close second. AND you get to look like Patrick Star dressed up as a ghost, which I feel is something that we can all enjoy.
Of greater importance to me, Semana Santa means that I have the week off from work and can enjoy some serious travel time. My housemate, Carlos, invites me to stay with his family in his village over the break. Carlos is an incredibly nice Spanish guy who I feel bears a striking resemblance to Metapod only with a beard.
For those who can’t tell the difference, he’s the one on the left.
He’s from Pesquera de Duero — a village comprised of about 500 people, of whom several are multimillionaires owing to the fact that some of the best wine in Spain (and the world) is produced there. A few days of world class wine and home cooked Spanish meals sounds dandy to me, so I pack my things and drive over with Carlos and a few other friends.
Every single person in Carlos’s friend group has a nickname: Cocoliso(coconuts), Chinchetes(thumb tacks), Ursela(from The Little Mermaid), and so on. For no apparent reason, on the car ride over I am dubbed “Pajero” (pronunciation for English speakers “puh-HphlegmARE-o”). I will give you a multiple choice quiz for what you believe this translates to:
A) a very kind friend
B) the hilarious American
C) the sexy ladies man
D) a guy who masturbates a lot
And the answer iiiiiissss… C! Oh wait! Sorry, pulled a Steve Harvey and read the card wrong. Iiiit’s D, the masturbating guy!
Obviously there’s no truth to this. I’ve toned things down to about 5-6 times a day.
I can’t pronounce the name at first, and say “pajaro” which means bird. They then start calling me the “pajaro pajero” which loosely translates to “the flying masturbator”. Brilliant.
After a few hours, we arrive in Pesquera de Duero. It’s located in a fairly secluded region with sprawling vineyards dominating the landscape. As is typical for Spain, this village of only 500 people has 5 churches and 5 bars. In the town over, one of the churches actually has a bar inside of it. From what I understand, this church is the most popular, which makes sense as I assume the blood of Christ makes a mean sangria.
We spend most of our days off-roading in his 4-wheel drive truck. Since there are no pedestrians to be killed, we feel this is an opportune moment for me to learn how to drive stick.
I’ve never driven stick before and have heard the horror stories about doing it for the first time — how difficult it is to strike the perfect balance between the gas and the clutch and, if this is ever so slightly missed, the gut-wrenching moan of agony that spills forth from the car as the gears grind together like a bunch of sexually frustrated 8th graders at a school dance.
I take the driver’s seat, turn the car on, and slowly release the clutch — waiting to hear the imminent screech that signals my failure. To my surprise, the car starts moving — I’ve done it! Surely the switch to second gear will bring us to an abrupt halt…but no! Success! I’m in second gear…and now third! What was all the fuss about? This shit is easier than taking all the candy from a bowl of sweets on Halloween that has a sign saying “please take 1”.
I am king of the gears. Someone get me on a downhill slope in San Francisco during bumper-to-bumper traffic — goddamn child’s play. I wonder how much rally car drivers make? Here comes a really muddy turn. Carlos says to shift down. Not a problem; I’ll just gently turn the wheel aaaandd why aren’t we turning? I’ve clearly turned the wheel, car, please obey. That mud embankment is sure getting closer. Do I not have enough badges to control you car?! What the fuck is going on here? Fine! I’ll just hit the brakes to stop the car annnd we’re still sliding and why are we still movinggg aaannnd….thud. Hello mud wall.
My reign as king of the gears has come to a swift and muddy end. Apparently when drifting, hitting the brakes is the exact opposite of what should be done. The tires need to be spinning to regain traction. My bizzle.
Fortunately, Carlos is able to drive us out of our muddy prison with little difficulty and we head to a large mesa to explore.
We take a few pictures, climb in some caves, and then turn to head back. At this moment, everyone is about two feet away from me. I turn around for literally 15 seconds to pee on a bush, turn back, and they’ve vanished. My first thought is that the sneaky bastards are running back to the car to try and drive off without me. Big mistake fellas. I’m not a two-time Athlete Of The Week winner for nothing.
I take off at a sprint down the mesa knowing that they don’t have too big of a head start on me. I mount a hill where I can see out to the car and they’re not there. Hmm, I suppose they must have hidden in a cave. I walk back to check and there’s no one there. Well, this is annoying. I look for them for about ten minutes, give up, decide that they’ll get bored of hiding from me eventually, and head back to the car to wait.
I’m there for about 15 minutes and it’s unnervingly quiet. Remember, the closest place to us is a tiny village and we just spent about an hour climbing to the top of this mesa. Sometimes such isolation is pleasant and therapeutic. Other times, the total silence can feel rather eery and your mind starts to wander; like when you’re home alone laying in bed and every creak in the night is an axe wielding murderer rapist pedophile cannibal(an AWMRPC).
I begin to wonder if they’re alright. I’m not sure what AWMRPC’s do when they’re not slinking through my house, but I suppose it’s possible that they go for walks in the Spanish countryside. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I actually get out of the car to check underneath it for potential murderers. The coast is clear and I feel like an idiot for checking. Let’s say, for example, that there had been an AWMRPC down there. How do I think that interaction would’ve played out?
Me: Aha! Gotcha bitch! No axe-wielding cannibal murders for you today son!
AWMRPC: Aw welp, shit. You’re free to go. I only like to kill my victims by surprise. Most people forget to check under the car. You think I could get a ride into town?
Safe from any imagined murderers, I start to think about how this would be a rather long time for my friends to hide from me. Have all three of them been standing in a cave somewhere giggling for the past hour? Probably not. Then I start to worry that they fell off a cliff.
The mesa is a pretty large one and has some steep drops. Were they all running away from me, turned back to laugh, and fell off like a bunch of dodo birds? I know it seems like you’d have to be borderline retarded to do that, but have a look at these guys.
It doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. I decide to go search for them again.
The entire edge of the mesa has about a 50-foot drop to pointy rocks below. I inch my way to the edge and feel the tightness in my chest that accompanies high altitudes and perilous drops. If I die looking for these guys, I’m gonna haunt their bitch asses. I peer over the edge really hoping not to see a bloody corpse pile that used to be my friends…and we’re clear – there’s no such pile.
I turn around and see the corpses, but they’re in alive form and walking towards me. My friends have appeared and they ask me where the hell I’ve been.
Apparently, while I peed, they turned down a little path. They noticed pretty quickly that I wasn’t there and yelled my name for a while. Unfortunately, I had just Usain Bolted it in the opposite direction and couldn’t hear the shouts, so they continued on the hike while I was left to picture the various ways that they had died.
Aside from my overly excited imagination, the day is a lot of fun and we head back to Carlos’s house where his angel of a mom, Dulcinea, has prepared a wonderful meal for us.
The food is great and, as I mentioned before, the wine is world class. However, the quality of the wine is completely lost on me. For me, wine has two flavors: red and white. It is created by the famed Franzia, comes in a plastic bag, and you gotta smack that shit like an Akon song. Apparently this behaviour does not correspond to bottled wine, because everyone seems shocked when Carlos’ dad offers me a glass of wine and I slap the bottle out of his hands, bursting it into a red Rorshach blotch against the wall. I guess I was supposed to let him pour it into a glass first — strange customs here.
Our next destination is a beach town to the north called Santander. We’re going surfing and, as any good surfer knows, the most important part about surfing is not the surfing itself, but to make sure that the whole world knows that you went surfing. If a surfer surfs and there are no hot chicks to see him do it, is he still chill? The answer is an obvious no. So we took a gratuitous amount of photos to cover our bases.
Flirty and chill.
I’ve been getting a lot of shit for this picture because if you look closely…
…I’m pretty intently focused on Charley’s nipple. This has produced a lot of gay jokes, a lot of people saying,”Nick, that’s really weird, why are you touching his nipple?”. And yeah, if you take the picture at face value, it looks like I’m caressing his nipple for no reason. But, if you remember from a previous post, Charley has horribly deformed nipples that point sideways and I was concerned for his well-being.
It is projected for 2016 that 2,600 men will be diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States (http://www.cancer.org/cancer/breastcancerinmen/detailedguide/breast-cancer-in-men-key-statistics) or a staggering .002% of the male population. I’ll be damned if Charley becomes just another statistic! Sue me for being a good friend and checking for lumps.
After I finish Charley’s mammogram, we go out to the water. Charley is from Virginia and has never been surfing. As we prepare to enter the water, Charley realizes that he can’t put his arms in the suit because he has it on backwards.
Putting on and taking off a wetsuit can be rather difficult; it’s incredibly tight and involves a lot of hopping and tugging (there’s a that’s what she said joke in there somewhere — I can feel it). We don’t want to wait for him to run back to the changing room so we fashion a makeshift one out of surfboards. For those who don’t know, you’re naked under a wetsuit.
After this incident, anytime someone messed up surfing we referred to it as “virginia-style”. I feel that this is something that needs to be applied world-wide for shitty surfers #virginia-style.