Archive for July, 2008
So here I am at Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain, on July 7, 2008. The theme of this Tenth International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women is: EQUALITY IS NOT A UTOPIA. That is a state of mind, I think, and seems to be a place where one has nothing to do.
Personally I enjoy doing something. Too many things really. This human mind comes up will so many things I could be doing that I have to slow down and focus. There are only so many hours in my day. Besides that, I have only so much energy. I am limited to being in one place at one time.
That is also true at the conference. Many presentations are scheduled at the same hour although not in the same building so there is much walking. I must say that architects design buildings they meet the criteria of the use it has. That is not the case of those who design the sidewalks. We are channeled around bushes, or fountains, or statues instead of being directed to another place we really want to be.
No matter, the map of the grounds is adequate as long as I remember that it is not drawn to scale. Therefore I may have to walk a mile instead of 100 yards – or just there, as locals often tell me. Well they do not tell me that here in Madrid. If they understand where I want to be, and know that I cannot hablar Espaniol, they lead me far enough to point out my destination. I appreciate that.
Costumes of other cultures are colorful, although the wrapping of yards of gauze is puzzling. Locals and other Europeans dress in tight jeans and skimpy tops. One speaker questioned the sense of covering the head with a scarf but baring the mid drift to show the belly button. Bazaar. And tatoos are everywhere. At least on the esposed parts. And on some parts I did not expect to ge exposed.
Is there any body part off limits to piercing? Maybe. Because it cannot be seen anyway. Poor body. People want to violate all manner of strange places. Perhaps when an individual looks in the mirror, she or he sees a beautiful gem. They do sparkle. And I am happy to see the sparkle on someone else. It is not for me.
However, we are working for a world of peace. A world where one can pursue happiness without getting all over others.
Classes resumed today and we are limited to thirty minutes on the computer. If I were a better typist I would have a different profession. After attending presentations I spent over an hour taking pictures that will remind me of the impressions which struck me. Most are of people and their interactions or their expressions while presenting but statues abound in many corners as well as designs on walls.
The campus is on hills, nothing as drastic as those on the Korea campus in 2005, but require energy to climb. There is no help for it. Keep on carrying on. At the 2011 WW conference in Toronto, Canada, it will be different. Plants are a study for sure, although none here are so different from elsewhere around the world. After all plants inhabited the land and animals eventually evolved so we have a lot in common.
The silhouettes are interesting and many are pruned to accommodate the spaces. One such pruning in particular is a pine tree screne, cut back from the ground up to about 4 feet, then allowed to spread toward the street as it rounded the corner. Very atttractive. It will appear on the website when I get an opportunity to organize.
I chatted with William in Kenya this morning on gmail and his business is to hire University students, teaching them writing while they work for him.
Actually my time is up so off I go. Students come first.
Celebrating Independence Day in Madrid, Spain, did not include the fire works I am used to in USA. But folks know how to celebrate just the same. When I arrived at the underground station I breathed a sigh of relief. Only a short walk and I could wash my face and relax.
Was I in for a surprise. First of all I took the wrong salida – that
My room was on the sixth floor and I walked up and down. Breakfast was served at 0730 and not a moment before. I met many women while eating and went with two who were presenting for the International University Women. One was on call for the Red Cross just in case of an emergency involving a Brit.
We took the metro underground to a special building where the plenary session was held and the morning was filled with welcomes. And an hour of flamenco singer, very powerful music. Maybe someday I will hear what the words were. they too must have been powerful. We heard from the Executive Director or the UN development fund for women. Then a free spread was set up and we gorged on finger tidbits for an hour. I also had a beer, a lemonade, and water.
Then it was on to the meat of the conference. Nawal el Saadawi, founder of the Arab Women
On July 2, 2008, I had a tomato, bread, plum, and banana on the road as Nancy drove from Bellingham to SeaTac. We arrived around 0530 and there was enough time for me to look around after I checked in to get my boarding pass. The kiosk to check in was a new experience. I had to scan my passport. But I had all the numbers to fill in the blanks. And since I had no bags to check I did not have to stand in the United Line. That is the companion airline.
When I finally went to the terminal, that required the underground which was easy and familiar. My jacket, shoes, and bag went through the xray machine and not a human touched any of it. That was a surprise. Nice.
I had a primitive trip from Seattle to Torento on a plane labeled E. No idea what manufacturer that was but it held about 84 passengers in tourist class. When I looked for a blanket – yes we sell for $2 – so I went without. the airline magazine hailed Canada as the fabulous inventor of flying and airplanes and air history. What country had I come from?
Had no seatmate so could stretch across and warm my feet otherwise it was warm enough. Tomato juice was served and I had water.
At Torento the gate for the next plane was just a few steps down so the walking I did was to exercise. I was getting hungry so got some caramel corn and almonds, and enjoyed watching people. In those hours while I waited the gate number for the continuing flight changed three times but only within a feet hundred feet.
The Boeing 737 was quite packed. And elegant. the first class sets were separate cubicles, egg shaped actually for privacy of dining, drinking, and sleeping. There must have been 30 such seats. Nearly 200 sat in the economy section in a 2 then 3 then 2 seat configuration. The window seat I occupied was behind the wing but it was already dark when we departed so we all closed the windows and had a dinner.
Beef, mashed potatoes, vegetables, pudding, and beer. Water was served all night long or more stuff to drink or whatever. My seatmate drank wine a lot. He was a construction person for an equistrine outfit, set up tents for the show and would be in Madrid for 12 days then on to Belgium for another more. I watched a movie 10000 years with dinasours. I had slept a bit in Toronto so was quite awake all night.
Breakfast after daylight was yogurt, muffin, fruit, juice and roll. We landed in Madrid a bit ahead of schedule so it took awhile to get to the transportation. Not one individual in the airport – personell, that is – spoke English, nor did they offer to find anyone who did. It was around 0900 and I was tired so took a taxi to the Hotel Alexandra, rather seeded looking city, narrow streets. I looked at the shops, ate, scouted out the underground but gave up and went to bed before dark.