Thursday, September 24, 2009

La Casa do Brasil no tiene jabon.

I (Bobby) arrived into Madrid late last night to the student dorm La Casa do Brasil at the Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia. My room was nice, there were two towels folded on my made bed, but I noticed my bathroom had neither toilet paper nor soap. So I went searching around the dorm. I found toilet paper in the hallway, but no soap. I went down to entrance to say to the man who let me in, "No tengo jambon" (I have no ham). His expression was curious until I simulated washing myself with a bar of soap. "Ah! Jabon! No, nosotros no tenemos señor." Then he said something about asking the chica at 8 AM for some soap.

In the morning I stumbled out of bed to find the chica with the soap, but the woman I found said she has no soap, and several words I did not understand, and something to the effect that "This is not a hotel señor." So I looked desperate, smelling my armpits, and she then motioned to follow her. After walking to a dark stairwell where she yelled for another chica, who showed up and looked confused at my request. Many things were said, including the "This is not a hotel" bit. I must have looked no comprende because she then took me to the manager, asked him to speak English to me, and repeated my request. He approached from the desk and said in English, "Yes sir, what is it you wish to speak? English? La Casa do Brasil is not a hotel. We provide you with bedding and towels yes, but not soap."

"So where can I get some soap?"

"You should go into town" and then pointing right he said, "Out the doors and go left. No more than 2 minutes."

So I start off on a 30 minute walk through the 8 AM streets of Madrid in which nothing opens until 10 AM --- the time the conference registration ends. After a nice tour I finally found an open food store on the corner and decided to try it. "Bonjour Señor. Vosotros tienais jambon?" "Si!" and he pointed to his refrigerated case of hams and sausage.

"No, no. Savon. Jamone, Jabon!" again charading the shower I so desperately wanted.

"Ah! Si si si." He then took a very long stick with pinchers on the end and reached up to the top shelf 10 feet above to bring down a 5 year old gallon of liquid soap. "Plus petite? Pequeño s'il vous favor?" Rummaging blindly through the rest of the shelf he pinched on a single black bar so old its cellophane packaging became a mist in the pincher's grasp.

"Dos euros."

I was willing to pay five euros for such a sweet luxury! And indeed, I will be bringing the rest of this soap home since I worked so hard for it.

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