Only in the UK

Spanish and French publishers made a statement that they aren’t planning to censor Roald Dahl. It looks like for now it’s a wholly British brand of lunacy.

British people, where is your famous sense of humor? You’ve got to be a right humorless bastard to edit the words “fat” and “double chin” out of a children’s book.

Lonesome No More

For some reason, Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove is very popular in Salamanca. I saw it on display in every single bookstore I visited. And as you can imagine, I visited many.

Is there a TV series based on it or something? Why the sudden popularity?

I’m also seeing Ukrainian authors in Spanish translation, which is very good.

Meloni in Kyiv

I don’t know why more people aren’t talking about this. She’s so cool and pretty. I’d much rather hear less about the stupid, useless Macron and more about Meloni. Europe is more than France and Germany.

Groceries in Spain

My resolve to live on bread and mortadela lasted all of a few hours, after which I went grocery shopping. Food prices in Europe will never stop being a pleasant surprise. I bought all this for €21:

The raspberries alone would be $3.95 at home. Foie gras pate! Crab sticks! Banana yoghurt! Does anybody know why there’s no banana yoghurt in the States? I tell sad, nostalgic stories about banana yoghurt and banana ice-cream to my kid but she’s never tasted them.

Also, raspberries taste like raspberries and not plastic.

The hotel is at €61 a night, breakfast included, and there’s a real little kitchen in the suite with a stove, refrigerator, utensils, and even a kettle. And there’s a laundry room! The hotel is located in the historic center, 100 feet from Plaza Mayor.

Very pleasant prices, in short. Except for the shoes. Those were very expensive but I don’t have a choice. I like to walk a lot. I covered over 15 km on foot today, and it would be a lot more if I weren’t jet lagged and still recovering from the injury caused by my broken shoe. I can’t wear anything that has the slightest chance of rubbing or causing discomfort.

Real Happenings

“That’s great, Mommy,” interrupted Klara my gushy description of my travels, “I’m glad you are enjoying your trip. But do you want to know what’s happening IN MY LIFE?” This was delivered with a triumphant look of somebody who is really experiencing life-changing moments.

“Yes, what’s happening in your life?” I asked.

“My friend Ella gave me a pencil! If she didn’t give it to me, I would have to write with a completely different pencil! Do you want to see it?”

The pencil was produced with the solemnity of the first public showing of a royal heir.

As you probably already guessed, the pencil already has a name and a life story. Childhood is truly wonderful.

In Salamanca

I wore my most comfy shoes on this trip but we all know my luck. At the start of the journey, a crack appeared in the inner sole of one shoe, hobbling me completely. And what’s the point of being in Spain if you can’t walk? I’m staying in an area where cars aren’t even allowed.

So the moment I arrived, I did the typical American thing and went shopping for shoes. And books.

And fresh bread and mortadela because I blew the budget on the shoes.

My mother really delivered when I called her to say I arrived. “What language do you speak to people there in Spain?” she asked. Yes, it’s a complete mystery.

View from my room

Good Roads

I’m going from Madrid to Salamanca. The roads are amazing in this part of Spain. They are so smooth I’m about to throw up. Beautiful, brand-new, and completely empty roads. There’s no traffic. Sometimes you see an occasional car. Otherwise, it’s empty roads, empty scenery, empty houses, a lot of emptiness. And big shiny traffic signs listing the names of the dead villages.

The Empty Spain

I don’t know if people are aware of this but outside of the few large cities, much of Spain has been abandoned. The country has very low birthrates, and as a result, there is an extraordinary number of either completely or mostly dead villages and towns. My drive has lasted a little over an hour so far and already I’ve seen more abandoned buildings than in the 10 years previously.

This is a huge problem in Spain that’s constantly discussed to no avail. It’s pretty weird because Spain has a ready-made source of new population with the same language and culture in Latin America. It’s been argued forever that Latin Americans should be allowed to immigrate to the madre patria easily. Why this isn’t being done in view of the pretty scary depopulation is unknown.