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June 02, 2001
Jorge's Wedding

Posted by El Conde on Saturday June 02, @04:53PM
from the Another one bites the dust dept.
Jorge was running behind on the wedding planning when the Count called him from just outside Merida, about an hour from Badajoz. So, Jorge asked if he could meet him later that day at the Hotel Cervantes(3600 pts/$19 a day), a small 3-story, old school hotel in the heart of the Badajoz’s old section.
As El Conde climbed the winding stairway to his room, he admired the thick marble floors and looked down upon the two-story, couch-lined atrium which has kept guests cool since long before air conditioning was invented.

Most of the guests had already arrived and El Conde quickly summised it was a case of hurry-up-and-wait.

Many were from Minneapolis by way of North Dakota - a lively crowd well-versed in the arts, sciences and history - and appreciative of the count's translation skills.

Jason, a buzz-cut, artsy type, immediately remarked about the predominance of women wearing tight pants, or pantalones apretadas, (stuffed pants) as we later learned.

Women apparently are willing to show off their physique, even if it wasn't as shapely as it once had been.

"Si lo tiene, muestra lo," "If you have it, flaunt it," the count told the guests. "Y, si no tiene, muestra."

That quickly became a key phrase.

The plan for the bachelor party, as devised by the women, was to go our separate ways for dinner and meet afterward at a club that was reserved for our party. The plan developed by Jorge’s friends apparently was to not have a plan. The latter won out.

Most of the men waited outside the hotel for at least an hour for Jorge to come show us where to go. After a while, El Conde wandered into the neighborhood bar and wound up entertaining the handful of men watching soccer.

``Seis canas,’’ or ``six tap beers,’’ El Condes asked.

After serving the group, the bartender asked where the count was from, and he replied Baltimore.

After much discussion, it was determined that the count was from Baltimore, one team was from Valencia and the other from Munich. ``Si, si, soy hijo de Gallegos, pero ahora soy el Conde de Baltimore,’’ the count said, ``Yes, yes, I am the son of Gallegos, but now I am the Count of Baltimore.''

``Oh, muy bien, Conde,’’ or ``Oh, very good, Count,'' one replied.

It was too late by the time the group got to where we planned to eat, so we keep on snacking at each place, eventually stopping for what seemed like a never ending train of ham, cured pork tenderloin, cheese and beer at one place – where Jorge mysteriously disappeared - before heading and meeting him at another.

Several hours, Cuban cigars and stiff Havana Club rums later, Jorge’s cousin Paco decided we should head to one final place outside of town.

It appeared to be a normal strip club from the outside, but once inside none of the girls were dancing, and there was no stage. The women _ hailing from all over the world: Africa, Eastern Europe, Brasil, Portugal, Jamaica _ immediately set upon the group, grabbing them and chatting amongst themselves.

``So, how does this work? Do we give them dollars to dance?’’ one American asked as one of the women proceeded to grab his crotch.

``I think you negotiate for what you want, and then you do it,’’ the count said.

Jorge had his tie taken off and tied around his eyes while he was led by one of the women around the bar, at times by his hand, while the others did their best to learn Spanish.

The next morning El Conde awoke after three hours of sleep by the sound of traffic and church bells. Stopping into a small market for water and a snack, a man asked ``Como fue la fiesta.’’

Realizing it was one of the soccer fans from the night before, he replied ``resaca,’’ (hangover).

We saw Paco again that next night following the rehearsal dinner at a nearby golf club. We stopped by a hip bar near the bull-fighting club where marijuana was openly smoked. We learned that personal use is not a crime in Spain _ a libertarian’s dream.

Personal responsibility is a well-defined concept in Spain, El Conde remarked.

Drinking, even in the morning is not looked down upon. If someone wants a little cognac in his espresso, or alongside, why should anyone care? Someone who is not able to handle liquor, however, and becomes a nuisance is not well received.

Inspired, Trent _ a former college wrestler with a hint of cauliflower ear _ wrote ``Me gusta los pantalones apretados’’ on a dollar bill and gave it to the bartender to display in a glass case built into the bar.

Miguel, a relative of Paco, meanwhile, became increasingly more annoying – constantly saying ``Espana, Asturias… Espana, Asturias…’’ He also mentioned he liked the United States, but couldn’t contain his intense nationalism or regionalism.

We soon realized that Miguel was not all there, but Paco brought him along so he wouldn’t be alone after work.

We left about 5:30 a.m., hoping to get some sleep before left at noon for Caceres.

``God, was he annoying,’’ someone said.

``Yeah, but they refuse to institutionalize their kids,’’ El Conde said.

``You have to speak the truth, don’t you,’’ Trent said as the sun began to come up, highlighting the stork’s nest that had been built on the small tower jutting from the corner of our hotel.

El Conde awoke in a haze again, this time about 10:30 because he had remembered to set the alarm and was able to ignore the street noise.

After walking to the Plaza Espana to find out what time they were leaving, and what time the wedding would be held, El Conde was relieved to learn he did not have to dress until that evening. Leaving the Cafe Victoria, El Conde averted his eyes, hoping to avoid contact with the gypsy beggars outside, especially the one whose forearm took a 30-degree turn just before the wrist from what appeared to be a very poorly set fracture.

Buying a bag of cookies on the way back for breakfast, he loaded up his car and checked out, taking one of bride’s friends along for company on the ride.

Hoping to avoid the debacle of two nights earlier when no one knwe how to get anywhere (``Save yourselves!’’), El Conde obtained detailed instructions on the location of the hotel in Caceres. The entourage then headed off and two hours later checked into the Hotel Caceres Golf (9,500 pesetas, or about $50 a night) a luxurious and apparently underutilized golf course complex. The wedding party stayed in adjoining bungalow rooms overlooking the well-groomed course a mile from the center of the city.

The wedding was to be held another mile or so up the road, heading away from the city, at a renovated castle.

The ceremony, complete with Catholic mass, took place as the sun set, casting a shadow of a lone palm tree against the castle wall behind the temporary altar. Sherry and tapas were then served outside the castle wall until fireworks announced it was time for dinner _ seafood bisque, a smoke fish salad, and grilled pork.

Flamenco dancers strolled out after dinner to begin the dancing, which lasted until 5 a.m. when hot chocolate was served. "Tenia miedo que el Papa y Juan Carlos van a servir el cafe," or "I was afraid the Pope and King Juan Carlos were going to serve the coffee," the Count told Jorge as they parted company two days later.

After Jorge showed El Conde the way to the main highway, he made the two-hour, 400 km trip into Madrid in his luxury driving machine, stopping along the way to buy some cutlery and wine sacks, known as botas.

Arriving in Madrid, the Count checked into the luxurious Hostal Alicante (5,000 pts) on the Calle Arenal. He then stopped in an Asturian restaurant where had a vieira (broiled whole scallop in the shell topped with a red pepper puree), a piece of empanada (a savory pie stuffed with a sauteed mixture of bonito, red pepper and onions), cherries served in a bowl of cold water, and an espresso.

Fortified, the Count was able to resume his search for a restaurant for that evening's meal.

"That's a nice turbot (large flounder), but the eye is a little sunken," he thought, looking in the window of a restaurant and remembering what had told the wedding guests a few days earlier.

"Look for a restaurant that displays its fish in a refrigerated case in the window," he told one of the guests. "That way, you can see exactly they have, how fresh it is, and their artistic ability at displaying food."

Stopping back at his room to change and rest before dinner, El Conde realized he was too fatigued and still not hungry following his large snack and decided to skip dinner on his last night in Madrid, deciding discretion was the better part of valor.

Posted by Alex at June 02, 2001 04:53 PM
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