Nau Côclea

Nau Côclea Residency - Log 10

I spent my final day packing and trying to finish up Darker Side.  I cut it really close - the painting was wet most of the evening but finally around 9:00pm I was able to wrap it up to put in my suitcase.  That last night I woke up a number of times to blow my nose.

The next morning I took the train back into Barcelona and then switched to another train that took me to the airport, where I then had to find the bus to take me to Terminal 1 - the international departures terminal.  Due to the infrequent train schedule and my therefore early start, I thought I was going to have to wait at my gate for about two to three hours, but actually by the time I got through security and customs to my gate it was only about half an hour before boarding (though boarding was over an hour ahead of departure). 

I ended up getting stuck in a middle seat, which is particularly unpleasant on a ten hour flight.  Luckily, the woman next to me started trying to figure out how to sit next to her partner who was two rows back and after they asked some other guy who weirdly preferred his middle seat, I volunteered myself to switch with her partner who luckily was on an aisle.  Then the flight attendant saw me and since I was clearly willing to move, asked if I could move again to bring another family together.  She offered a window seat (no thanks - I like to be able to get up without asking someone else to move) but I countered with aisle and she made it happen.  As the flight started taking off, I realized that the stuffiness last night was because I was, in fact, getting a cold.  Honestly, while I'd have preferred no cold at all, it was better that it happened on a travel day and not during my last few days in Spain.  Getting the aisle seat was super helpful, though, as I made at least ten different visits to the bathroom for tissues.

That flight also had some of the most abundant food services I've ever encountered.  They had more than twice the amount of services that the initial flight had - we had a full pasta meal, then later they offered ice cream, then they offered pretzels, and then they brought another slightly smaller meal around.  This was all quite nice since the rest of my travel was uneventfully but tightly sequenced such that as soon as I landed in Charlotte and found my next gate I had less than ten minutes before boarding it so I wouldn't have had time to get more food if I had wanted any.

Finally I arrived in Kansas City, and though my bags were really slow to come out on the carousel, they appeared eventually and my wonderful colleague Susan was waiting to take me home.  It is so nice to have a trustworthy, friendly face to welcome you back after some time away.

Nau Côclea Residency - Log 9

The next day I went into Figueres, the birthplace of Salvador Dalí, to check out the Dalí Museum and the Sant Ferran Castle.  The town itself was a little smaller than Girona but was quite nice.  After wandering around and eating lunch, I ascertained when my tickets could be picked up and found I had a couple hours, so I walked up to the castle.  It was a very long and mildly perplexing walk, as various signs to the castle pointed in completely different directions and the roads were very unpopulated.  I split the difference in the signs and it turned out well for me.  The "castle" is really an old fortress.  It was pretty interesting to walk around, but my feet started to disagree with me.  I persevered, though, and then went back down to the Dalí Museum.  There's an associated Dalí Jewelry that I actually went to first; it was really interesting to see his sketches turned into precious metals and stones as some pieces transcended the drawings while others were lackluster in comparison.  I thought it was interesting that he aspired to create great value apart from the intrinsic value of the materials and viewed making jewelry as another media within his studio practice.

Then I went into the Dalí Museum.  It was a really good museum - just the right size where you're able to spend several hours there but you leave having seen everything and feeling accomplished.  I didn't know that he was so interested in stereoscopic imagery and other optical tricks until coming here.

After the museum I made my way back home.  I'm not sure my feet have ever been that sore before (and the rest of me was fine!); I had worn a different pair of shoes that day and think that may have been part of the problem.  So the following day was a studio and foot recuperation day.

Then I went back to Figueres as I wanted to look around the downtown area more - I had planned to do it after the Dalí Museum, but due to my sore feet that day I didn't.  Plus the town is really fairly close by train from Camallera so it didn't burn too much time doing so.  While I was wandering around I saw they were constructing something in the center plaza (la rambla).  I asked what was happening and they said there was going to be a beach installed there the next day as a Saturday event.  I asked two or three more times as I thought I must not have heard right.  Why install a beach in the rambla when there are beaches everywhere by the sea in each town including Figueres?  When I went back to Camallera that afternoon I asked Clara what this was all about and she had no idea but we looked it up and sure enough, it was a small festival.  I decided to go back to see it and painted the rest of the day.

The "beach" ended up being two small piles of sand and then a lot of little tent shops selling mostly stuff that I wasn't interested in - books in Catalan, baby bibs, leather goods, seafood paella, and so on.  I don't mind checking things like this out though because if you don't go then you always wonder what it would have been like.

I painted again that evening and the following day.

Nau Côclea Residency - Artwork #4

This is acrylic on pastelbord which is a clay ground textured with marble dust granules.  Due to the high heat here, most of the time the snails spend sealed inside their shells to conserve moisture, but on the summer solstice the rain brought several of them out and one explored my left thumb for quite some time.

Titling this one Balancing Act.

Nau Côclea Residency - Log 8

I made a quick evening visit to the French-Spanish border town of Portbou on Friday.  Clara said I'd want to see the architecture and that it's a kind of uncomfortable/creepy place - not touristic at all, though.  When I got there, it honestly didn't seem that different than other small Catalonian towns (and did seem to have a bit of tourist industry going) although there was more decay evident.

Then the next day I went back to Barcelona to do the other half of the tourist bus route.  I primarily wanted to see La Sagrada Familia and Park Guell, but also wanted to check out the Glories district.  After eating a really nice lunch of sangria, gazpacho, and coca (a sort of focaccia/pizza) with a green tea cheesecake for dessert (though I have to say, cheesecake in Spain is pretty much uniformly disappointing - the texture is not smooth and creamy but rather kind of fragmented and crumbly), I headed for La Sagrada Familia.  When I got there, it turned out tickets weren't available to be sold until two hours later and at that point you'd still have to wait in a long line, so it would probably be at least three hours just to get in.  So I only got to see the outside, which was nice but also partially covered in construction.  Then I went to Park Guell, which requires quite a hike from the bus stop.  Once I reached it, I found out that it, too, had over a two hour wait to even be able to then wait in line to buy a ticket.  I could walk the circumference of the park for free, which I did, but there wasn't much to see as they'd purposefully gated off the actual park to start charging entry a few years ago. 

I was irritated, to tell the truth; I felt the whole situation was pretty opaque and tourist-gouging (you could buy a much more expensive "cut-the-line" guided tour).  This type of multiple-level entry delay doesn't typically happen (as opposed to just a line, like at the Eiffel Tower or the Sistine Chapel) and wasn't something I was made aware of in conversation or online prior to experiencing it in Barcelona.  As a result of both its frustratingly sprawling nature and the waste of my time trying to see these sights, I have to say that despite the hype Barcelona is definitely not one of my preferred cities in Spain, much less in all of Europe or my overall global travels.  Within Catalonia, I prefer Girona.

On Sunday I was invited to Clara's sister's neighboring house to have lunch with a group of about eight people.  First we dunked ourselves in the outdoor bath to cool off (the days here are regularly around 90-95*F) and then had a bit of vermouth and tapas followed by gazpacho, salad, and paella, followed by a fruit tart, chocolate, coffee, and limoncello.  It was a really nice, drawn-out meal with lively conversation.

Then the following day, Clara wanted me to go back to Barcelona with her, first stopping at Granollers Centre to see an artist residency/studio center there and then continuing on to Hangar, another arts center in Barcelona.  I met some really cool people at the Granollers Centre, and then Clara and Lourdes, an artist friend of Clara's, and I all headed off in Lourdes' car to Barcelona.  We had a light lunch and then made our way to Hangar, where Clara was to be interviewed by one of the artists there while Lourdes and I hung out.  We had the option to leave and explore, but for the first two hours, we just sat and conversed, as it was very hot outside and we were tired from all the earlier activity, plus our conversation was surprisingly intense and interesting, given that my Spanish is not the best and Lourdes doesn't speak English.  But after two hours, we decided to leave and get some gelato.  Apparently just as soon as we finally left Clara's interview was done, but Lourdes' phone was on silent and I just didn't hear mine (it gets really bad reception here, so I'm not sure it even made any noise).  Lourdes noticed that Clara had called, though, so we headed back with gelato in hand.  Clara and I were supposed to take the train back to her car, but since we were a bit later than intended due to the phone/gelato confusion, Lourdes decided to drive us back to her car.  Both on the way to Barcelona but particularly on the way back out, they kept getting us lost with competing and often wrong ideas about where to go (Clara seemed more right than wrong, though).  I kept offering my GPS up, but they seemed to enjoy the heated discourse and resulting forays into weird dead-ends.  They both said a GPS wasn't necessary, but I'd guess that we spent at least 40 minutes that day on being lost.  I think it's a cultural disparity, as they really thought it was odd that I kept suggesting it...

The next day Clara and I went to a bird sanctuary in the early evening - we got to see some cranes and ducks from afar as well as some really cool jumping fish, but not much wildlife up close - and then to her friends' hotel in L'Escala for a really tasty dinner of mussels (I explained to them earlier that I do eat bivalves since in the ways that matter to me - cognition and pain reception - scientists believe they are no different than plants).  Elena, one of the pair running the hotel, also showed me her artist studio.  I really liked her artwork; it was also inspired by nature but in a much more abstract, sculptural way.

Nau Côclea Residency - Artwork #3

Here's an acrylic and watercolor on aquabord.  This one is titled Spirit.

In the first donkey painting, I used acrylic for the donkeys and watercolor for the background/foreground atmosphere.  In this piece, I used both acrylic and watercolor in the body of the donkey in order to achieve the various levels of opacity and translucency as well as watercolor for  background/foreground layering.

Nau Côclea Residency - Log 7

The day after the party I slept in late (the party went into the wee hours of the morning) and then spent the rest of the day in the studio.

Then the next day was the artist presentation at the Bòlit. Centre d'Art Contemporani so we went into Girona a little early (Clara had errands, and I wanted to buy lunch instead of making it - sometimes I get a little tired of only having one burner total to cook with; no microwave, no oven, no toaster, not even multiple burners and just want someone else to make me food) and did our own things for a while.  I was supposed to meet up with Clara at the Centre at 6:30pm in advance of our 7pm presentation, but I got myself really confused despite being in basically the right area and spent over twenty minutes frantically pacing about trying to figure out where to go.  I finally made it, and was really pleased that we had decided to give ourselves that buffer of time so I wasn't late!

The presentation was quite interesting; there were several different artists presenting, and one of them was Kubra Khademi.  She's a really young performance artist who is currently seeking refugee status in France after being aggressively pursued and threatened in Afghanistan following her now well-known Armor piece.  She's basically existing until finding out her immigration status by living in artist residencies around southern Europe with the help and goodwill of the hosts.  I would find not having any money or close friends or family for support to be extremely stressful, so I hope her situation resolves in her favor soon.

The following day was another studio day.  I'm happy with the pieces I'm working on, but my productivity on this residency is a little frustrating.   I think it's necessary due to my experimentation with new techniques and media, but at the same time, I typically make about ten watercolor pieces on a month-long residency, and it looks like I'll be hopefully making five acrylic(+) paintings here.


Nau Côclea Residency - Artwork #2

So if you've been thinking I've been a bit slower production-wise on this residency, you're right - I've been experimenting in mixing acrylics and watercolors and also trying out some new support boards and there's been some trial and error in figuring out how to combine them all together, plus acrylics are a slower medium for me than watercolors.  I think I'm onto something, though.  

This is acrylic and watercolor on claybord.  I'm titling it Perspective.

Nau Côclea Residency - Log 6

On Saturday I went to Barcelona for the first time.  (Well, the first time was when I flew in, but I didn't see anything other than the train station, so I don't think that counts.)

The train ride is long: it's about two hours away.  Add to that the twenty minute walk and I got there around midday.  I decided to take one of the tourist buses as Barcelona is a sprawlingly large city and many reviews have noted that these tourist buses are actually decent methods of traversing it.  There are two different routes the buses take - I plan to go back another day to take the other route, but I started with the route that went by the Olympic arena because right nearby is the Barcelona Botanic Garden.  I stopped there first; the garden was worth the cost (1.9 euro) but was all open air/open climate so it wasn't as interesting as gardens that are able to create greenhouses with appropriate microclimates.  On the rest of that route, I saw the Arc de Triomf, the Passeig de Colom, the Poble Espanyol, Gaudi's La Pedrera/Casa Milà, and Gaudi's Casa Batlló.  I also stopped to get lunch in Plaza España and then walked up La Rambla back to the Passeig de Gracia where I caught the last train back home.

I painted the next day and most of the following day, with a break to go to the beach.  We went to a very pretty little beach about a fifteen minute drive away from Camallera near L'Escala.  I swam a little, but I don't like saltwater in my eyes and mouth so I mostly floated around, sat on the beach, investigated crabs in rocks with a small child with a stick (he didn't hurt them, just excavated them from their hidey-holes) and just enjoyed the Mediterranean atmosphere.

Then on Tuesday, the day of the summer solstice, I went back to Girona, as I wanted to make sure I felt like I had fully explored the town and I hadn't seen the cathedral, Arabic baths, or old monastery yet.  It rained a fair amount, though, so a good bit of time was spent sheltering in odd shops.  I had a funny conversation with one of the shopkeepers.  About half the people I meet in Spain compliment me effusively on my Spanish, and the other half clearly think I'm awful at it.  My skill entirely depends on the situational context - what I need to talk about, what else is going on, whether I'm stressed for time, etc. - but I'm aware that even at my best I am merely functional in the language.  I can only discuss superficial ideas and speak simply, but I do get by and I have a decent accent.  Anyway, I was talking with this shopkeeper about the weather, and the holiday, and my residency, and so on, and she complimented my Spanish.  I said it was a little ugly but functional, which is typically how I reply.  Her response to me, however, I found really funny: "What's really important is that you understand me, and this you clearly do quite well."  

The holiday we were discussing was the Saint John festival in honor of the solstice and we had a party to celebrate it that evening in my studio space.  A number of people came over, several of whom I had met previously (a Scottish immigrant artist named Amelia; Clara's sister; Jordi, the musician using the smaller studio attached to my house; Clara's boyfriend; and then a fair number of new people.  Amelia and a couple other guests played some lovely, old music that I half recognized on the violin and guitar and a potluck supper and drinks were available all night long.  Amelia had brought a young artist friend of hers along who's in his early twenties and just starting to figure out his skill set and artistic path.  Just as the fireworks came out and were starting to be set off, he asked me if I'd sit for a portrait.  I kind of wanted to watch the fireworks, but I acceded and let him draw me.  He kept bursting into laughter while drawing, which didn't seem like the best sign, but I think he was just insecure about what he was doing and the drawing was also veering into an overly solemn expression.  He said that he would really like to learn accurate illustration skills but that despite seeking them out, there weren't any well-taught courses on it.  After some time he finished and showed it to me - I thought he had a good hand but my face was a little vertically stretched.  Then I thought we were done, but he asked if I would draw a portrait of him.  This was quite clever of him, as I felt obligated since he'd done mine, so I did one in his sketchbook for him.  Clara told me I'm a "good drawer" and I garnered other praise from attendees, so that was nice.  The party as a whole was a really good time that felt very medieval what with the music and the summer solstice celebration and the general ambiance.

Artist Presentation at the Bòlit. Centre d'Art Contemporani

Tonight I will be presenting my residency work at the Bòlit. Centre in Girona, Spain.  Here's the announcement page, with an excerpt below in the original Catalan (edited slightly as they accidentally reported my birth year as 1996, which I have corrected below):

Presentació de projectes dels artistes Ferran Cardona (Bòlit), Shelby Prindaville (Nau Côclea),  Kubra Khademi (La Muga Caula) i Job Ramos (Casa Forestal de Sant Martí d'Empúries)  i de dues noves convocatòries: Beca Brack/Nau Côclea/Singcat i ETAC 2016

Dijous 25 de juny, 19 h

Shelby Prindaville (Kansas, EUA, 1986) és una artista visual i directora del Programa d'Art de la Saint Mary University a Leavenworth, Kansas que treballa principalment pintura i dibuix, encara que també fa incursions en tècniques mixtes, l'escultura i la instal·lació. Interessada en el paper de l'ésser humà en la construcció d'equilibri ecològic i en crear imatges centrades en la bella fragilitat i resiliència del món natural, Prindaville treballa amb el seu entorn més immediat i documenta les ecologies internacionals com a manera d'ampliar el seu propi món i el dels seus espectadors. La seva obra combina temes i ambients abstractes relacionats amb les descobertes científiques i propers a les il·lustracions taxonòmiques i de descripció zoològica. A les seves peces intenta, literalment i simbòlicament accentuar la delicadesa i la immanència de la natura, amb l'objectiu de connectar amb l'espectador i interactuar-hi emocionalment.

Nau Côclea Residency - Log 5

Saturday was one of those days of small amounts of repeated bad luck.  First, as I was packing myself up to head out for Girona again to take in the art festival, I realized that I had no idea where my non-prescription sunglasses were.  Obviously not as bad as losing the very costly prescription ones, but still.  I liked those sunglasses!  I resolved to buy some new ones in Girona.  Then I set off for the train.  As I waited at the stop for what felt like too long... it was too long.  I had accidentally loaded a train schedule for the wrong day and weekend trains are more infrequent, so I had slightly over an hour to wait for the next train.  The walk to or from Nau Côclea is about twenty minutes, so burning forty minutes just walking back and forth didn't make any sense.  I decided to see if I could find sunglasses in Camallera.  I did (though they were quite overpriced) and also bought a clementine and some water to help with the wait.

Once I got to Girona, I walked as quickly as possible to the arts festival, but I arrived just before 2pm due to the mistake in train timing.  I had been told to aim to arrive more at 1pm as at 2pm everyone goes off to eat lunch for a couple hours.  I did get to briefly say hello to the  director of the Bòlit. Centre and she introduced me to a few of the artists.  Due in part to my timing but I think mostly due to the newness of the festival, it was pretty underwhelming. There were four artists painting large murals, which were really cool, but apart from that there were just a few scattered stands selling relatively expensive jewelry and art.

I ended up staying at the festival for a pretty short amount of time and then just started to walk around and explore Girona again.  I stopped for lunch (paella vegetal) and then saw that I had just enough time if I hurried to catch a train back.  So I hurried... and got to the train station literally thirty seconds too late.  And again, on the weekends the schedule is more infrequent and I'd have to wait two hours for the next train.  The train station is moderately far from the heart of the city, so I grumpily started walking back into the city and bought a few groceries before catching the next train.  Some dude tried to gently take my backpack from me (not to steal, I don't think - at least not immediately - but to test my boundaries and if he had succeeded to make it harder for me to want to walk away) and other weird behaviors in the train station again, but I managed to distance myself without issue.  These are the times, though, that are frustrating traveling as a single woman.

The next day I worked in the studio.  The following day I also mostly painted, but additionally had an excursion to a small rocky beach with Clara and a friend of hers in the evening.  It was actually so nice and cool outside that evening that it was a little too cold for me to want to swim, but Clara promised many future opportunities. 

The next day was once again devoted to studio work.

Then I got sick.  This isn't a huge surprise; I actually don't think I get sick that often when I'm at home, but when I'm traveling I'm always being exposed to new viruses and bacteria.  This time it wasn't a head cold like in Peru or Iceland - it was a stomach bug.  Clara, in fact, thinks it may have been caused by drinking the potable but high in nitrates tap water, but I suspect that would have been a more immediate issue if it were the real problem.

I was sick for two days, which was both annoying from a productivity stance and also because we were supposed to go to Barcelona the second day that I was sick but I obviously wasn't up to it.  Clara was super sweet and made me a soup and rice and bought me a big bottle of purified water.

After those two days, I felt pretty much okay the next day and painted again.

Nau Côclea Residency - Artwork


Here's the first painting I've been working on.  I'm tentatively calling it completed, but I may revisit it as the residency progresses.  

The paper is heavily textured with ridges and translucent stripes, and the snails are painted in acrylic.  The working title is Côclea Casas.

There are donkey pieces in the works as well, but they're all still very early...


Nau Côclea Residency - Log 4

The fourth day, I was meant to go with Clara in the evening to an exhibition opening in Girona.  However, she ended up needing to run other errands all day and asked that I get myself there.  Since I was going to have to take the train myself anyway, I figured I could go earlier and check Girona out.

While I was waiting for the train, a man sat down super close to me and was speaking in a disordered way and asking for cigarettes and money.  I pretended to not understand anything he said and asked if he spoke English, which luckily he did not, and my not understanding him wasn't even much of a pretense since he wasn't speaking clear Spanish either (possibly he was speaking in Catalan, but also possibly not an actual language at all).  There was another woman waiting for the train so I managed to get away from the man saying again and again I didn't understand him and instead allied with her.  This seemed to deter him from further bothering me, as she told me she'd already told him no herself.  We rode to Girona together (he rode in the toilet to avoid paying), and she helped me figure out where Devesa park is located.  I wanted to visit there hoping to see some wildlife in the park.  Unfortunately, Devesa is a very orderly and sculpted park and there wasn't much in the way of wildlife; there were a number of ducks and ducklings, some caged peafowl, and one pretty blue, white, and black bird that I couldn't get near.

Then I decided to head toward the old Jewish quarter and heart of the city, which is now a shopping/tourism hub.  I wandered through the streets for a while, stopped and bought a small coffee gelato cone, and browsed the shops while loosely trying to head toward where the art center I needed to end up at that evening was located.  I walked by an art store and bought a new type of paper, and stopped by a bakery and purchased some quiche and a tart.  Then the art center appeared!  I'm pretty bad at directions and thought it would be several blocks away from where I was, so I'm happy I stumbled across it so easily.  I then backtracked to a small vegetarian restaurant for a hamburger and lemonade before the show.  Spain had been a challenge as a vegetarian when I studied abroad here in 2007, and it is still difficult but getting easier as exemplified in this restaurant's existence (albeit in a tourist area). 

Clara was late, so I took in the show myself at the Bòlit. Centre d'Art Contemporani.  It was a small but interesting show, and despite there being numerous artists' work on display it was remarkably cohesive.  Clara texted me and said she was actually just going to go to the center's other site instead so I should meet her there.  The Bòlit. has two buildings about 15 minutes away from each other and though I wasn't aware that this was the case, its exhibition spanned both locations.  I found the second site and was introduced to the director, a number of the artists, and some other staff.  One of the other artists and I had an instant connection and we spent most of the rest of the next hour or so together getting acquainted.  Sadly, she had to return back to Germany the following day so we couldn't have more adventures together in Spain.  

While outside talking with the new friend, I also got to observe digger wasps tidying their burrows.  These are fascinating insects and I have never encountered them before.  They dug like miniature meerkats.  I tried to take photos but it was late evening and there wasn't enough light.  I did take a short video of them, though.  I also looked digger wasps up when I got back home and found out that Richard Dawkins spoke about them as an example of the limitations of constructed reality.

I was invited back to the Bòlit to hold an artist's lecture and discussion about my work on the 25th, and to attend an arts festival that weekend back in Girona.  Clara and I then made our way back to her car.  I was so happy to get back home; I had walked for probably close to eight or nine hours total and my feet were not at all pleased.

The following day I spent entirely on drawing, which was good, as my hips and legs made their presences grumpily known as well.

Nau Côclea Residency - Log 3

The second day we went into Camallera in the morning with her car so I could stock up on groceries beyond what would comfortably fit in my backpack.  I accidentally bought yogurts with sucralose in them again.  This always happens to me when I'm traveling internationally, so you'd think I'd learn, but I always am so wrapped up in making sure there's no gelatin in the new brands I encounter that I completely forget about making sure they don't have artificial sweeteners.  I just hate the taste.  And I bought eight of them.  We'll see how many I can force myself to eat before I throw the rest away.

Clara also had to run an errand at a donkey farm, and mentioned in passing that she didn't think I'd be interested in going at all, but...  WHAT??! Yes, the person who applied to your residency with paintings of animals and abstracted natural landscapes does in fact want to join you on your excursion to a donkey farm.

We arrived at the donkey farm and it pretty much immediately started to rain.  But these were not your typical North American donkeys.  These were Catalan donkeys, which have ridiculously proportioned ears and are super adorable and sweet.  So despite the rain, I took a ton of source photos of the donkeys in between scratching their ears and trying not to step in donkey poo.  My poor camera.  I kept tucking it under my shirt for the worst of the rain, but seriously, this camera is a trooper.  I also encountered an insect called a hummingbird hawk moth, and it is a magical creature.  As in, it appears to be a unicorn/fairy/not of this world.

The rest of the day passed in a very sleepy, leisurely, jet-lagged state.  I did manage to get outside long enough to note that A) there are a lot of snails around Nau Côclea (to which Clara responded that côclea comes from the latin for spiral) and that B) there are a TON of ants.  As in, if you stand still outside for more than two seconds ants will swarm onto your feet and up your legs and bite you all over.  Clara commiserated and said she accidentally made them a home here with her when she installed underground drip irrigation and that she'd brought an entomologist in but they said there was nothing that could be done.  There is a powder she gave me that I can sprinkle just outside my doorway to try to keep them more out than in.

The third day was spent entirely on drawing and painting.

Nau Côclea Residency - Log 2

After all the flights, I had to take the train from Barcelona to Camallera.  I was a bit nervous about this, since I didn't actually know which trains went to Camallera (only the regional trains do, but telling a regional from a non-regional is more difficult than it would first appear).  I also hadn't slept other than a 10-minute nap in Charlotte, NC, and the flights together were about 16 hours long.  First I had to find the train station (not too bad), and then buy a ticket.  It transpired that there were actually two stations I had to visit; at the second, at first it looked like I was in for a 2 1/2 hour to get on a regional train but then somehow a completely different train was found that would go to Camallera in the next four minutes.  I scrambled to get on that one, and did.  Then I spent the next couple hours of transit time falling asleep on the train, waking up, hoping I hadn't passed Camallera but also thinking that it was a ways away so I should be fine but not even being entirely sure this train actually did go to Camallera, and so on.  As I got more and more uncertain, I finally found a list of the stops of the train on my smartphone, and then in six more stops, I was in Camallera!

The residency is about a 20-minute walk away from the station, but the day I arrived my host and the art director of Nau Côclea, Clara, was there to pick me up (no one wants to drag their luggage 20 minutes when sleep-deprived and uncertain of end destination).  The residency itself is a small grouping of buildings in the midst of hay fields on the outskirts of Camallera.  The town is inhabited by only about 500 people, but the train station means it actually has a fair amount of services for such a small town.  It also means that travel to nearby towns is pretty easy.

I have my own small house to myself and it's kind of a hybrid between the Peruvian housing situation and a more Western one.  The kitchen is reminiscent of the one in Peru - a stovetop range fueled by a gas canister, a fridge, and a sink.  Unlike in Peru, though, the water is safe to drink right out the tap and the bathroom has a water-based toilet and a shower - and all the water can be heated.  However, the rooms have no air conditioning and rely on windows and airflow from outside to cool them off, so just like in Peru, the insects come in with the breeze.  I acquired about seven new mosquito bites in the first day before I remembered to start applying mosquito repellent every eight hours or so.

The first day I had a tour of the land, a snack, took a long nap, and then ate dinner with Clara while getting acquainted with her.  I'm the only resident here at this time, so she's going to be inviting me along to some of her social/arts events so that I don't get too isolated.

Nau Côclea Residency - Log 1

My flights were happily uneventful.  However, on the Charlotte-Barcelona leg, we were served yogurt for breakfast.  The foil top of mine was extremely puffed up.  This has occasionally happened to me before when the yogurt has begun to ferment and it's recommended that you don't eat them at that point.  I looked for the expiration date, and found it was 05.08.15.  That's actually not out of date - in Europe the dates are written day.month.year.  Yogurt can in fact ferment before its proposed expiration date, but typically it doesn't go bad two months before.  I peered around for a while trying to see other people's yogurts or a flight attendant to query, but everyone else nearby had already opened theirs up and there were no attendants on my side of the plane.

A seatmate on the other side asked me if I needed his help in getting a flight attendant since I was clearly looking around a lot.  I said I wasn't sure - what was his yogurt foil doing?  He investigated his yogurt and those of his friends, and said they were all bloated as well.  I figured that while one puffy yogurt may have snuck past quality control and onto my tray, if everyone's were like that then the staff clearly must be aware and believed they were okay to eat.  So I opened it and cautiously dug in while continuing to mull over the problem.  Then it hit me - it's because we're on an airplane.  The yogurts were packaged while on land and sealed with normal air pressure, and were then transported up with us to a lower air pressure environment so the trapped gases inside the yogurt container expanded and puffed the foil top up.  It didn't occur to me at the outset because I'd only ever encountered the problem in a different context.  This is one of the main reasons I like to travel: I love challenging expectations I don't even know I'm making (even when they're about something as quotidian as foil yogurt tops).