Mia Montesin

Call Me Ursula

Buenos días, it’s me again, Mia. This adventure involves a watermelon Fiat, a little baby nugget of Self Discovery and some of the most unsafe driving practices I’ve ever been exposed to in all of my years serving the Fun Police.

Here’s a short history of Seville, according to the encyclopedia of me. The original founders of Seville dug into the earth like carving Parmesan cheese to accommodate the growing population of mice and search for a cooler climate away from the sun. This was a wholly unsuccessful venture but they uncovered a nice river and built some fairly good cathedrals to cover up their embarrassment. That’s why the buildings are so tall. So that the mice don’t get sunburnt.

Around day 2 in Seville I bond with some hostel friends over a classic game of kings cup. We decide to pull a fat carpe diem and spend the following day together. It wasn’t my favourite experience but I did meet a cute little crab that unfortunately did not have a French accent or a friend called Flounder. With sealed lips I’ll leave you with relics of our spontaneous road trip:

  • 14 hours spent with Canadian allies
  • 13 self-timer photos with the Fiat
  • 12 times the speed limit was exceeded by more than 10km/h
  • 11 euros for three hours of parking
  • 10 is a cool number and I don’t have anything for this one
  • 9 too many stories about one particular trip to Vietnam
  • 8 cars tailgated on narrow curved roads
  • 7 tapas plates ordered
  • 6 songs played before the aux cord was confiscated
  • 5 times grateful to be alive
  • 4 explanations as to why I don’t want any supermarket Sangria
  • 3 languages spoken
  • 2 complaints about the music in the car (how is Fleetwood Mac not road trip appropriate?!)
  • 1 very tired human woman disillusioned with youth, astonished by stupidity but nevertheless in awe of Andalucía

I’ll let the photos paint a nicer picture because Ronda & Marbella really do make a nice picture.

Day four allows me a tasty few hours of solitary exploration and more rumination. I’m caught up in the search for the ones who stop every three minutes to spin around like Ariel and soak it all in like a sea sponge. The people who insist on analysing every colour palette and pattern and oddity. And I find them, not at the hostel or a kitschy bar but preserved in the architecture of the city. In the contemporary art museum, where three idiots hyper aware of their idiocy make art for the sake of fun. I find them in the all-female section of the same museum that’s full of shrewd storytellers and radicals. White rooms are exploding with upside-down perspectives and multi-coloured perceptions.

I see them in stone graves, fallen asleep while reading far too early in the evening. They’re in the half-finished ornamental decor of that building I forgot to grab the name of. They smirk at my art projects surrendered to the weeds of procrastination. My kind have left their ancient stain of anarchy in bull’s blood on the walls of a cathedral.

Calvin Harris knows this is what I came for. The gelato is goddamn good, sangria is plentiful and I did enjoy my time with the Canadians. But I’m more Ursula than Ariel, jaded by the smallest of mishaps and confined to my cave. I like my cave. I get to play whatever music I want and the acoustics are great, plus I get to write bullshit like this. Until next time, Seville-ians.

Frase del día: Este tamaño de orificio nasal no es que habitualmente tengo - The Richard Channin Foundation

Música del lugar: The Barber of Seville, Act I: Overture - Rossini (how could I not)

Goldfish and Doner Kebabs

Looks like it might be a slightly longer day. My backpack straps are wound tightly and that 5am wake up means I’m not so brightly lit for the nightly activities. A month of Duolingo against a family of native speakers; will she crumble?

My Airbnb host’s family is taking me to see the fireworks on the beach, the night before the Feria de Málaga. Valentina is teaching me Spanish words in the car. She’s six, her favourite colour is red and she doesn’t have school tomorrow. We drive forwards and backwards amongst the narrow maze of vehicles double- and triple-parked. Through a car window, I peep at a thankful embrace amidst crumpled metal and sirens. Delirium turns the bustling crowd and smell of sewage into ants making tracks on a forgotten sandwich. People are alive with anticipation and just barely policed by common sense.

Cynthia embraces Valentina as they watch the fireworks start, one of those hugs where cheeks collide and bodies sway side to side. The subtle orange glow of street lamps is sliced by squeals of young children wide awake in the early hours of the morning. Silhouettes gather at the water’s edge for a better glimpse of the artificial fire. Braver souls frolic in lukewarm waves. I’m glad to have company even though communication is limited to exaggerated facial expressions, gestures and “está bien.”

Vicky is a better grandmother than Mrs Doubtfire. A glass of freshly squeezed orange juice is waiting for me in the morning, so sweet it makes my jaw unclench and my ears rise up. Lunch is the usual bread, salad and hummus supermarket delicacy. I promenade through the streets tackling the prospect of wearing a dress to the fair tonight. I decide against it. 

We reach throngs of youths and families alike entering Málaga’s biggest event of the year. Temporary streets are infested with intoxication. Behind each cardboard wall is a different sound; a mangled reverie of portals more and more enchanting. 

I’m a goldfish rotating like the doner kebabs. Sounds attack like lasers and build a helmet of rhythm. In between glimpses of flamenco and techno clubs and blinking rainbow lights, Vicky will stop me to point out chicos guapos. She can tell I’m husband-hunting. 

Near the concrete land of consumption we witness two men in a fierce headlock. They resolve to messy pashing and passionate face smashing. At 1am, “it’s just getting started” says Vicky in very slow Spanish as I listen blankly. A blonde mascara-stained face with a scrunched up nose screams at a smartphone in the taxi line. 

Things are going oddly smoothly. Apart from a couple of supermarket mishaps and the general state of confusion, nothing dramatic has happened. Saturday morning answers my prayers, and brings with it my first brush with death. 

I always thought death by lamb might be less dramatic, perhaps mouldy chops left in the fridge for too long or being flattened by a supermarket Christmas roast. The small regional town of Humilladero seems the perfect setting for some early-morning white-girl meditation in the forest. Waterless waterfalls sung by cicadas are interrupted by a flurry of cowbells. I open my eyes and see lambs running helter-skelter across the mountain towards me. Deep in a state of coffee-free confusion and half-baked mindfulness, I run away like a 4 year old runs from the tide.

Speaking of lambs, can this country maybe chill on the meat?  What a feat, try skipping a beat these horses are overheating and I wouldn’t want to offend but it’s a bitter end and the pigs are our friends! Refuse a hand to the demise of all things nice and Choose! Hommus! Thismessagehasbeenauthorizedbytheaustraliangovernmentmalaga.

Frase del día: Necesito una siesta

Musica del lugar: Death in Midsummer - Deerhunter 

I Speak Whale Now

I’ve decided that by no means will this blog be a play-by-play of my day-to-day. But hey, who’s to say I won’t disclose unwarranted details of my stay? On that note, if you’d like detailed recollections of my bowel movements, please message me.

My first thought about Valencia was ooofty pop, I need to move here. Strange because I’m usually a soulless demon that scoffs at love at first sight. If I had to sum it up, I’d choose most descriptive word ever: nice! It’s more of a feeling than a view. Turia Park is so pristine there could be tarts left by the queen of hearts.

Today at the museum I learned a Fun! Fact! Whales don’t have voice boxes, they just expel air really fast through their noses. So next time you hear me humming, well, I’m NOT. I’m speaking whale. They also have different dialects depending on which part of the ocean they’re from. I thought that tied in nicely to the whole foreign language saga.

In addition, I’ll mention my experiences as a whale in the Mediterranean Sea. This was in another life so if we met you wouldn’t have known. I was a prick anyway. Swallowed some guy called Jonah and one of those awful cults condemned me to eternal damnation in a very long book.

Week one and I’m sensing I have a weak stomach. Preparing my conscious mind to be blind for tomorrow’s seafood paella. Will she do it or kook it? (Update, she did not do it. So much for TRYING NEW THINGS YOU SQUARE)

“Fuck Shit” says my Peruvian Airbnb host in nearly every sentence. He can do accents too but I can barely tell the difference because they’re all in Spanish. He insists that he’s very lazy and a little crazy. I say “same” and offer some whale noises. We gather on Max’s couch (the happiest dog ever) and he writes me a list of alternative things to do in the area. Here’s a little baby rhyme about my orgahhhnic veggie dinner: Tonight I’m having pizza and it’s 1 euro 80. Gonzalo said he’d hate me if I didn’t take him. My vaso de vino es poccito but I’m tipsy already and my neck is sweaty.

Another hot walk on another hot day and I’ve bopped to the top of the sandcastle. Far below, a street performer is playing a classical rendition of Alan Walker’s 2015 hit “Faded.” Might be my uncultured snobbery failing to recognize an age-old piano ballad. Nevertheless, that’s my theme song and I’m Mia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, Princesa de Valencia. I may have reached peak euphoria. Perched at a right angle, all I can see is sky and a few Catalonian flags atop the uncircumcised heads of cathedrals.

Along with Paella, Valencia is famous for horchata, a tiger-nut milk drink. I spilled it on my notebook. Disastrous! Flashback to primary school when I outlined a teardrop in the middle of a short story to “convey the sadness of the piece.” Laugh at me now but I’m pretty sure there was a big red tick next to it.

My current paradox is this: I hate tourists, yet I am a tourist. Ergo, do I hate myself? No, but now I’m muddled in this puddle of brain juice.

Frase del día: Está de puta madre (it’s fucking awesome)

Musica del lugar: Valleri - Monkees

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