Saturday, July 28, 2007

The things I did do during the past week

I have been trying to post something once a week at least, which makes me look back on what I did, what I read, what animals I saw, and so on… Even if I don’t write it all down because it is boring, classified, or too similar to something I did the previous week, it makes me feel better about myself. All right, I did do something after all!
The highlight of the previous week was reading Delirio, by Laura Restrepo. The book’s style is rather challenging, but I read it and enjoyed it. And I am really proud of my progress in Spanish. The story is divided between three (four, if we count the aunt) alternating narrations, but each one of them is mostly linear so that helps. The real challenge is this: what would normally be a paragraph is made into a sentence; what would normally be a chapter is made into a paragraph, and the whole novel is treated as if it were one chapter. Sounds weird? It is, but it is also surprisingly easy to get used to, and then I wondered why we insist so much on setting out dialogue, etc…

Here’s a random example:

Aguilar a duras penas logra pegar el frenazo para no atropellar al mendigo que
de buenas a primeras sale de la lluvia y se le atraviesa a su camioneta, Pero
qué mierda hace este loco suicida, por poco lo mato y el corazón me patea del
sobresalto pero según parece a él toda la escena le importa un bledo, simplement
hace parte de su rutina y de los gajes de su oficio, y sin que yo sepa a qué
hora ya está metiendo una mano por mi ventanilla mendicante, Dame para un
cafecito, hermano, que el frío está berriondo, me tutea como si … [sentence goes
on for another half page].

Condensed and roughly translated version:

Aguilar almost runs over the beggar, But what the hell is he thinking, I almost
killed him, and my heart is pounding but he doesn’t seem to care, it’s just part
of his routine, and now he’s sticking a begging hand in my window, Give me money
for coffee, brother, it’s cold, he tells me familiarly as if…

She does capitalize the would-be sentences, but the language still flows right past the comma simply because we’re used to moving on. Obviously, the biggest challenge is that there are three distinct voices crammed in there: the narrator, the beggar, and Aguilar. So it works, but I only think her technique is effective so long as it is unique.

I saw two gulls! The first one was a young slender-billed gull Larus genei in flight, and the second a summer plumage adult white-winged tern Chlidonias leucopterus. They both surprised me, since I am not really expecting any interesting birds for another month at least. I finally got some pictures of the desert foxes, but they aren’t so good so I’ll try again. I did, however, catch this neat pipistrelle-type bat (I know nothing about bats):

Then I solved the problem of the blue-less Trapeles persicus lizards. It is indeed the female that has no blue on the underside, and the male that does. Even on the male, though, the blue becomes hard to see when they are on the lookout for big predators like me, because they start to hug the ground and fold their throat pouch. I caught a female and a male, but I couldn’t take pictures of the male’s underside in my hand because he bit me really hard (he drew blood, actually). So here is the male after he bit me and I involuntarily gave him his freedom back:

And here is another cute Stenodactylus gecko. This one is called Stenodactylus doriae. He looks somewhat like Stenodactylus arabicus (which I also photographed in my hat), but yellowish and spotted, and more aggressive-looking.

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