Oct 28, 2006

Málaga, Spain

Here's my second attmpt at blogging through Blackberry email, on the bus between Málaga and Granada. I'm not sure whether HTML flags will work here.

We've been in Málaga for a week, helping out at the Málaga Media Center. We had no idea what we would be doing before we left. We were in touch with the site director for some time. The problem was that he was actually the future site director, and had arrived less than a month before we did.


We ended up with two tasks, to implement a shared calendar and to do a survey of their current network to determine the needs. The first was completed rather quickly; we recommended that they try Google Calendar, since it hadf pretty much everything they needed. The second took a little longer. Mapping out the network was relatively straightforward, so I spent a lot of time interviewing individuals to gain an understanding of their needs. In the process I also gained a great deal of insight into the work done at the center. I just finished writing up a report last night.


The center is located in a neighbourhood called el Atabal, in Puerto del la Torres, a suburb of Málaga, about 20 minutes from the city core by bus. Most of the individuals working there live on the same hill, and the center owns a few apartments in the neighborhood as well. We were provided one of these guest apartments, which included a kitchen, for 11 euro per person a night. There's no internet access at the apartment. The DSL at the center is pretty speedy, but I haven't spent too much time on it. I did use it to upload my set of photos from Italy. While at the center I found much of my time was occupied, but we did finish most of the work by Thursday.

Friday was spent exploring the tourist attractions in Málaga. While it's not Barcelona, there's easily enough to entertain for a full day. We started out in the old city, of narrow winding pedestrian streets, small shops and sidewalk cafes and patios. Next was the Catedral (cathedral), which was quite grand and ornate, with numerous chapels/enclaves each decorated with its own art. From there we proceeded to the Alcazabar, a moorish palace with beautiful patterns of rainwater troughs running along the pathways, supplying numerous pools and fountains. Further (much further) up the hill was th Gibralfarro, a huge moorish fortress. The whole area was visible from the tops of its walls. The Mediterranean, hidden while in the city, could be seen all along the southern horizon.


We took the wrong road out of the Gibralfarro, and ended up taking a long walk around the mountain, through some unfamiliar but magnificently wealthy looking neighbourhoods. We ended up at the beach, which is empty at this time of the year. The wind was howling in from the sea, whipping the waves into roaring and crashing against the beach.


We made our way back to the city center for dinner. Jason needed to make a call to arrange his new business, so we headed back early.

So far this week we've been sampling the local foods and we've had a pretty good coverage of andalusian cuisine. On the most part english is not broadly spoken, on numerous occasion we've ordered random suggested items not knowing what they were.

Potatoes, olives, deep fried seafood, cold soups and salads with aioli are popular. Cured ham and cheeses appear a lot, and are more expensive. Meals have ranged from 5 to 10 euro per person, including a beer or wine. Sangria isn't popular here as it is in Barcelona. The equivalent drink is tinto verrano, sweetened red wine with tonic.

The tapas we've had include:
- meatballs, either deep fried, with gravy, or tomato sauce, served with fries
- pulpa fritos, deep fried morsels of octopus (much like the msg chicken at taiwanese bubble tea places, the fresh octopus is most excellent)
- boquaronnes fritos, deep fried small sardines
- calamaritos fritos, deep fried baby squid
- deep fried tiny fish (bak fan yu?)
- boiled scallop (on the shell)
- gambas fritos, deep fried shrimp
- pinchito de langostinos, prawn skewer
- stuffed baked potato, with corn, olives, beets, tuna, breadsticks and garlic aioli
- crespa con bacon, spicy sausage patty burger with ham
- giant clam, served raw with lemon wedges
- jamon iberico, a local cured ham, found all over, with varying quality
- queso manchego, a relatively hard aged cheese
- porra, a cold, thick tomato soup served with jamon serrano
- deep fried potatoes with cane syrup
- deep fried omlette with cod fish and cane syrup
- street vendor salted almonds
- salmon baked in shrimp chowder sauce
- pan seared snapped fillets
- tiny, flavourful clams
- blanco e negro, ice cream with coffee granita
- churros con chocolate, unsweetened fritters with a cup of dipping chocolate
- various salads, most with a creamy aioli dressing

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