News / Culture

Salamanca Diaries: Spain & I share moments of indifference, joy, pomp

Remezcla blogger Juliana Nalerio recounts news and adventures from Salamanca, Spain while drinking too much caña, going to classes, writing a thesis on latin life stateside, and just trying to make sense of it all.

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Reverse approximately four months and I am listening to my colleague Tita amp-up the soon to be released movie, Ted, in the Remezcla offices in Brooklyn. Fast forward another four and I have somehow landed in Salamanca, Spain, watching Ted with A., local rapper and celebrity in town: the type of celeb that adolescent girls ask to pose for pictures when at McDonald’s. His crew includes a DJ, a dozen or so rappers, and media makers with in-house studios; they’re all very young and very tight, which leads to much conflict and clash of egos. The music is political (or romantic) and while everyone works club-owner connections to drink cheaply or for free – except for A. – they also talk about why Spain’s economy is fucked.  Run of the mill causes, like banks, bankrupt politicians, and the fact that Spain is “indifferent.”

Drinking on a night out with members of A.'s crew

But let’s not depart from the point, the large consumer culture we are here to discuss: Dubbed movies. In case it hasn’t already been confirmed, yes, a film can run for months in the USA before opening abroad dubbed and ready for audiences. Ted is a good example, as it’s September and the movie is still showing. I usually take myself too seriously to see a film like Ted in theaters – I was a literature kid in college and I’m doing my Master’s at the University of Salamanca; both are good excuses to be pretentious. But I’m abroad, so I think what the hell, maybe film doesn’t mean only Fellini, David Lynch, and Godard—particularly if already in the romantic setting of Europe. Flying in circles here. I look over at A. driving a manual and smoking a Winston, and I’m almost sure he will like Ted. The comedy was made for tíos (dudes) and it’s from America—a country that A. likes more than I do, and that occupies a special place in his heart, roughly equivalent to the emergency exit seats in an airplane.

El Tormes Centro Commercial and site of the carnage of our first date thing.

Ted is showing in El Tormes, the centro comercial between Salamanca and its suburb Santa Marta. We are in A.’s car which is boxy and European and smaller than cars in the USA. I like it. When we arrive I realize we are at one of few places in Salamanca that could be called a ‘mall.’ One of few places that does not shut its doors during the hours of 2 to 4 pm for the siesta which Salamantinos refuse to see as a siesta, but see rather as the normal amount of time necessary for lunch and to take a nap. Duh. That is all just dandy but beside the point because right now it is 10 pm. The movie theater is empty when we get to the box office (I pay 5 €, A. pays 7 €). A. buys popcorn and it looks smaller than usual. I’m beginning to think everything is bigger not only in Texas. The movie is whatever but the dub job is genial: “me cago en la leche,” says Mark Wahlberg. Or, more truthfully, says someone who is not Wahlberg, but is speaking over him in a very un-Mark Wahlberg yet sexy Spanish voice. A. laughs and I am happy because it’s his birthday and we are having some fun (also oddly sexi).

Ted gets interesting when the dubbing changes the cultural references and the series of “the most white trash names in America,” is Spanish-ized to a list of names of chonis. So “Becky, Candice, Brianna, Dakota, Tara, Misty [..] one of those names with a -lyn after it?” becomes “Yurena, Sandi, Vicki, Bianca…uno de los nombres que empiezan por la ¿o que?” (Haz clik if you want to know what a choni is, or, if you want to see the scene go here).

When the movie ends it is midnight. It’s early in Salamanca. The cathedral (older than the USA) looms bright and orange and gothic over the small city. I decide to go back to my piso in plan copulativa with A. In the words of Girls writer Lena Dunham, I don’t want a relationship, I just want someone who wants to hang out all the time and thinks I’m the best person in the world and wants to have sex with only me.

Cathedral-Salamanca

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The next day at 9 am I have an American Poetry class with V. P. who edited and wrote the introduction for the Catedra edition of T.S. Elliot’s “La tierra baldía” (The Wasteland) – an edition I buy five days later for 14 € and ask her to sign the copy. Que soy una friqui de poesía.

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After class V. invites the students to take a tour with B.— since we still don’t know where the English department is two weeks in. B. is a red-headed Spanish doctoral candidate in the department who wears loose fitting cotton clothes suggesting an interest in the East.  He is quick to note that he’s on scholarship but that we won’t be able to get the same because of the budget cuts and economic crisis, which have had a real impact on the public universities of Spain, blah blah bleh. He is being honest, but the truth frustrates me.

I want a pincho (tapa) and a cafe con leche for 1, 6 € at the bar we call the Philology Bar –  it can’t be that bad here with prices like this. Either I am very American or very naive. Or both.

Two weeks later the students of the university stage a protest against tuition hikes at the university and there will be no class for three days.

To be continued…