Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Las Palmas International Beach Ultimate Tournament

The Torneo Internacional Beach Ultimate in Las Palmas this weekend was an absolute blast.  It was a hat tournament, which means you sign up as an individual and rate your ability, then the organizers make equal teams (or draw names from a hat, hence the name hat tournament).

We arrived around midnight in Las Palmas (1am Madrid time) and took a taxi straight from the airport to the bar where the welcome party was being held.  This was the event during which they drew names to form teams.  We walked in with all of our stuff right as they were finishing the last couple names.

There were nine different teams, and you had to complete a word search type puzzle in order to figure out your team name.  Lacking a pen, my team was not one of the first ones to figure out our name.  In fact, we never even finished the whole puzzle.  After a couple teams had finished, they put the names up on the projected screen.

Every team was an animal or plant found in the Canary Islands.  My team name was Pinzón Azul (Blue Chaffinch), named after a bird that lives on the islands of Tenerife and Gran Canaria.

I thought we were just going to stop in at the welcome party and find out what teams we were on, maybe mingle for an hour tops, then head to the hotel for some shut eye.  Nope.

Somehow we ended up being some of the last people in the bar.  It was after 4am by the time we left the bar (5am Madrid time!) to check-in at the hotel.

Friday morning my team played in the first games at 10:45, which really wasn't that early of a start time.  But after getting back so late the night before and waking up by nine for breakfast, I was running on sleep-deprived mode all day.

We're at the beach!  Time to sunscreen-it-up

We won our first game, during which I caught three points!  Believe it.

My team played two more games that day and lost both.

After our last game, I hopped in line for a free massage right there on the beach.  A massage school had a tent set up all three days of the tournament to give free massages to whoever wanted them.

Free massages
There was always water and fruit available to all players.  If you wanted to buy other food (tortilla española, pasta, etc.) or drinks (read: beer), you could do so in another tent right there next to the fields.  Instead of carrying money around with you during the tournament, there were lists of players' names at the food tent.  You simply added a tally next to your name in the appropriate food/drink column when you ordered something.  It made ordering go a lot faster, and then you just paid off your tab on Sunday before leaving.

Friday's games all ended by 3:30pm, which is when "Accuracy" began.  The first 40 people who signed up for Accuracy could compete.  There were seven cones set up in different locations from a net, with four discs at each cone.  Each person had six or seven minutes to throw all of the discs, trying to get as many as they could into the net.

This lasted for hours, so at 5pm I decided to head back to the hotel for a shower, and to try to fit in a nap before dinner.  I met up with my team at 8:30pm to go to dinner.  On the walk to the restaurant, we saw some impressive sand creations on the beach.

Impressive Sand Creation #1

Impressive Sand Creation #2

We finished dinner around quarter to midnight and walked back to the hotel.  I was so full and exhausted I could have gone straight to bed but alas, it was the costume party night!  The theme of Friday night's party was "Zebras and Leopards," so I wore some great leopard stuff that Hannah found and bought the week before.

Hannah and I

Along with zebras and leopards; there were some safari guys, hunters, and even a circus ringmaster.

The next morning my first game wasn't until 11:30am, but we didn't want to miss breakfast so we were up by 9:00 again.

My team had four games on Saturday and we won one.  In the middle of the day there were Accuracy finals, between the top 10 from the previous day.


We were at the tournament playing or watching games until 5 or 6pm that day, then it was back to the hotel for showers before dinner.  Dinner on Saturday was included in the tournament cost, and it was at an Indian Restaurant.  Buffet.  Yummm.

My dinner Saturday night

There was a slideshow of pictures from Friday and Saturday playing on a big-screen TV during dinner.  After dinner was... the Saturday night party.  And once again I was super full and exhausted, but the organizers said there would be una sorpresa (a surprise) at the party, so that's what drove me to go with everyone to the bar.

The surprise was a musical group that got everyone to their feet!

I left the bar quite early and got back to the hotel sometime after 2am -- my earliest night yet!  I simply needed to sleep.

On Sunday morning after breakfast we packed up our stuff and brought it all down to the beach for the final day of the tournament.  Since my team had had four games on Saturday instead of three, we only had one game on Sunday -- and we won it!  It was nice to be able to relax and watch all of the other games that day (including the finals) after I was done with my single game.

Our friend Hermann's team was in the finals that afternoon.  Here are some pictures of the game:

Spectating at the finals

After the finals we had some fun jumping into the ocean before we had to catch a taxi to the airport.

In sum: Great tournament. Sunny weekend. Met lots of people (many Germans).  Played and watched lots of ultimate.  A highly recommended tournament.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

To the Canary Islands I go!

In about 15 minutes I'm leaving for the airport.  I'm going to Gran Canaria, one of the Canary Islands, for an ultimate frisbee tournament this weekend.  It's a beach tournament, which means I will be dying after the first two minutes of running in the sand.  Yet somehow I'll play three days of games.  I think I'll fall fast asleep once I get back to Madrid on Sunday night.

I'm not leaving Spain, just the peninsula.  Here's a map for anyone who's unfamiliar with the islands:

It's like Spain's very own Hawaii.  But a lot closer.  And much more affordable to travel to.

Have a good weekend everyone!  How does your weather compare to mine?

Temperatures are in Celsius, don't forget!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pronouncing English words

One of the things I'm sometimes asked to do during class is read aloud short texts or vocabulary words from the textbook so that students can hear the correct pronunciation.

Every once and a while, but not often, a word will pop up that I've never seen before.  And sometimes the pronunciation of this word isn't so obvious.  Luckily in a classroom of ESL learners, I can make-up a pronunciation and chances are good that no one will notice.

This happened today in my pharmacy class.  I'm reading a care plan for a minor burn, and come to the following step:
"3) Gently remove any rings, watches, shoes, etc., to avoid having an oedema."
Oedema. Oh-DEE-mah? OH-dih-mah?  EH-dih-mah? OH-dee-mah?  No idea.  I think I read it "OH-dih-mah" when I got to the word in class.

Later on came the sentence, "The burn exudes a lot and it's very painful".  Another word I was unfamiliar with, but this time I could easily pronounce it.

You should have seen me cringe when I had to read this sentence:
"Do not remove any clothes sticked to the burn."
It took every ounce of strength to not say "stuck" instead.

So how would you pronunciate "oedema"?  Have you seen this word before?  Is it a word I should be familiar with?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kintaro Asian and Japanese Fine Food

After visiting the Museo Sorolla on Friday morning, Gregorio and I had lunch at a Japanese Restaurant called Kintaro

Restaurant Kintaro

It was a unique dining experience for me, as the food came around on a conveyor belt.  You simply grab whatever looks appealing, without getting up from your seat!  Amazing idea.

Happy Rebecca, seated next to a conveyor belt of food

There was no limit on how much you could take, and no one counts your plate stacks on the table.  They simply keep clearing them away so you have space to grab more.

What: Kintaro Asian and Japanese Fine Food
Where: c/ Fernández de la Hoz, 70
Metro: Gregorio Marañón
Cost: Buffet Giratorio - 9 euro (drink not included), Carta is also available

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Museo Sorolla

On Friday morning Gregorio and I went to the Museo Sorolla here in Madrid.

Museo Sorolla

Joaquín Sorolla Bastida was born in Valencia, Spain in 1863.  The museum is in the artist's impressive-sized house, which he moved to in 1890 with his wife and children.

Stairway, Museo Sorolla

Nearly all of the furniture and objects inside the museum are the very ones that filled the house when Sorolla lived there.

Studio on first floor, Mueso Sorolla

I was drawn to the globe sitting on a desk in Sorolla's studio (as seen above), and was quite excited when I saw what cities had been labeled near the Great Lakes.  The names are only partially there, but can you make them out?

Madison and Milwaukee labeled on Sorolla's globe

The first floor featured many joyful seaside paintings, while the second floor displayed paintings the artist had made in Granada.

"Sail Boat"
First floor, Museo Sorolla
Photo taken from

Second floor Granada exhibit, Museo Sorolla

For me, the Granada paintings had a less than cheerful tone, so I was eager to go back downstairs again.  Back on the first floor, the dining room was one of the last rooms we saw before leaving the house.

Dining room, Museo Sorolla

Outside, the three-story house is surrounded by gorgeous gardens and small fountains.

Museo Sorolla

Gardens, Museo Sorolla

It was a great, inexpensive way to spend one of my Friday mornings, and I would recommend it to others.  I liked the smaller size of the museum; I didn't get that overwhelming feeling that I had when I went to the Prado.  I'm really not very enthusiastic about art museums in the first place, so the fact that Museo Sorolla is in the artist's house with his original furniture and belongings made it a lot more interesting for me.

Where: c/ General Martínez Campos, 37
Metro: Rubén Darío (Línea 5), Gregorio Marañón (Líneas 7, 10)
Hours: Tuesday - Saturday: 9.30 - 20.00, Sundays and holidays: 10.00 - 15.00 (Note: Closed on Mondays)
Cost: Free on Sundays!  Otherwise, normal admission is 3 euro.
Everyone under the age of 18 gets in free, and if you're a member of the European Union you can get in free if you're over 65 or a university student.
FYI: We saw a total of three different school groups of youngsters during our short visit (some were waiting outside to get picked up by a bus, another was in the gardens ready to enter the museum, and the third was inside with us).  I was only in the same room as that last group once, then somehow never saw (or heard) them again.  But just know that you could very well be distracted accompanied by young Spanish children, as the museum seems to be a popular choice for elementary school field trips.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

I got paid! (And then I rant a bit about inefficiency in Spain's government)

I got paid... from one school, that is.

Although they still haven't received my money for January from the Consejería de Educación, my Tues/Weds school fronted me the money today.

Halfway through February, and the Consejería de Educación still hasn't sent out the money to pay many auxiliares their January stipend.  I haven't yet seen any news stories about it like there were in December, but I'll keep my eyes open.

Since my Mon/Thurs school doesn't have enough money to pay me for January out of their own funds, we're still waiting until the Consejería deposits the money into the school's account.

From the auxiliares' facebook page, I know that some of the unpaid auxiliares were planning to go to the Consejería's office on c/ Gran Vía this afternoon to submit a formal complaint about not having been paid.  For the auxiliares from the United States, this much of a delay in getting paid is simply not acceptable.  But after spending a year and a half here, I know that this is Spain, and one must be patient.  The money won't come any sooner next month, so you might as well expect it and plan ahead.

This is one of the areas in which Spain falls short of the United States.  I'm not actually sure what to call it, but it encompasses government workers, administrative processes, legal documents and applications, and the like.

For starters, though not the most directly related, the technology in this country is about 10 years behind that of the United States.  The ancient computers in my schools are slower than slugs.  I remember when I was a student at the Complutense here, it was risky to work on a university's computer with a flash drive because they would almost always give your flash drive a virus.  The ten-year lag is also easily noted in web pages.

A majority of all the Spaniards I know have either a yahoo or hotmail email account.  See what I mean?  10 years behind.  Only an elite few have discovered the beauty and efficiency of gmail.

Take a look at a clip of a typical email we receive from the program's staff:

Notice how the caps, bright colors, and underlining make the e-mail so official and easy to read.

But I digress.

After months of collecting documents this summer to apply for my visa, I was convinced we had the slowest governmental systems ever in the United States.  

And then I applied for my residency card (TIE) in Spain.

I won't go into detail, because you can read about TIE confusions from the beginning of the year here; but when auxiliares were calling to make appointments to apply for this card, some were told that there weren't openings until September 2012.  September! They would have been back in the states by then!  And that's just to apply.  They would then need to wait another month or two for the actual card to be made (if the applicant had had all of the necessary documents at the appointment).

It's common that asking different workers the same question will result in completely different answers.  How can there be that much uncertainty/variation when dealing with important legal applications and documents?  Or you may get sent to another office on the other end of the city.  Once you arrive, don't be surprised if they tell you that you should actually be in the office you just came from.

It took one of my roommates two years to transfer his degree from Venezuela so that it would be recognized here in Spain.  Two years of papers and signatures and stamps and seals and fees.

Two weeks ago the morning English teacher at my Tues/Weds school was late to class because she had spent hours in a governmental office trying to complete some documents needed to renew her teaching license.  The week before she had gotten these documents from the same office, but the workers forgot to fill in a date in one part.  So she returned the following week - the day she arrived late to class - to have them fill in that date they had missed.

Of the twenty-five desks in the office she went to, only five actually had people behind them, working.  So she waited over an hour in line until she could finally talk to one of those five people.  The first person wouldn't fill in the date for some reason or another.  They couldn't find a record of the date she needed, so they couldn't write it on her form.  In the end, she had seen three of the five workers who were there that morning, and none of them would fill in the date (which they should have done the previous week, but forgot to do).  Clearly, she was frustrated and bothered when she finally made it to class.  I can understand why.

So now I'll leave you with a short video.  It pokes fun at government employees (funcionarios) in Spain.  Maybe it will better show what I was trying to explain.  And no worries, there are English subtitles!

And I think it goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway, that the opinions expressed in this post were formed by my experiences growing up in the states, and my experiences here in Spain.  I realize my views are probably tainted.  So please do share yours!
For anyone who lives/has lived in Spain, what are your thoughts on the efficiency of the governmental offices?  What experiences have you had?  How do they compare to those from your home country (if you're not from Spain)?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Auxiliares updates

It's been a while since I've said anything about my auxiliar job here on the blog.  This is mostly due to the fact that this blog is public, and any student or colleague/boss could easily find it at any time.  Thus I'm mostly keeping my thoughts to myself, or at least out of the public scope for now.

With that said, here are some facts to update you on the program:

  • I still have not been paid from either school for the month of January.  This should have happened at the end of January, beginning of February.  After how long it took to get November's paycheck, I'm really not surprised.  I kind of expected it.
  • There was a required jornada (program meeting) in January for all auxiliares except those that teach in a non-bilingual instituto secundario.  
    • I teach in two non-bilingual institutos secundarios; thus, I didn't have a meeting/orientation with the program in January.
    • Via the auxiliares' facebook group, I learned that at this meeting they explained how to renew for a second year in the program, should auxiliares desire to do so.
      • (They apparently also told auxiliares not to bring water bottles to class, nor to take naps at their schools, among other important information)
    • Apparently the directions about renewing weren't clear at the jornada, since the facebook group has exploded with renewal questions since that meeting.  For people teaching in an IES non bilingual, however, we were still told nothing about renewing.
  • Yesterday on February 8 I received an email whose subject line was "renovar - DAT Capital".  The email said:


Find attached information about RENOVAR para el curso 2012-13.

    • (Which I thought was kind of ironic, because my secretariado class this week learned about polite business email correspondence, and how you shouldn't use CAPS...)
  • If you want to renew, you must reapply to work at your current school for another school year.  No switching schools unless you apply in a different comunidad  (for example if I applied in northern or southern Spain, and didn't renew in Madrid).  I have decided not to renew my current position.  Time to make some real money and teach those interest-accumulating student loans who's boss.
  • On Tuesday we were surprised to find a printer in our English class at my Tues/Weds school.  We finally have somewhere to print?!
    • Nope.  There's no toner.  So the printer's out of commission, but now it sits on a desk in the front row, behind the computer, taunting us every day.
  • From small talk I've heard between the English teacher and students at my Mon/Thurs school, it sounds like our two classes of students will finish the year in March.  I have no idea what this will mean for me come April, May, and June.  No one's said anything to me about it yet, so I'll cross that bridge when it comes.
The English classroom at my Tues/Weds school

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... le musée de l'air!

This past weekend Gregorio had some friends from Paris visiting him: the sister of a woman he had gone to elementary school with, the sister's husband, and the husband's parents.

Since this was the perfect opportunity to immerse myself in some French, I was up bright and early to go to Madrid's Museo del Aire (Museum of the Spanish Airforce) with Gregorio and the two French men on Saturday.  The wives went shopping in Getafe.

Saturday was our coldest day yet, probably due to the chilling wind.  (I'd like to note that it was actually cold out - unlike earlier last week when I complained that the madrileños should stop complaining about the cold)

So of course, the museum was part outdoors, part "indoors" in cold warehouse/sheds where the doors were for whatever reason kept open all day.

Here's a bird's eye view of the museum, where you can see both the aircrafts that were outside, and the giant un-insulated sheds.

Bird's eye view of the Museo del aire
Photo credit:

Gregorio and his friends were all very into this type of thing.  They would point and discuss the inner workings of whatever craft or specimen was in front of them.  Spaniards love to use their hands when they talk, and he actually got told firmly at least three times that day, "No se puede tocar!" (No touching!) by the museum workers.

 ¡No se puede tocar!

Here's a clip to give you an idea of what this was like in French.  (There's even a "No se puede tocar" at the end, which up until now I hadn't realized that I'd caught on film!)

I can't say I was quite as passionate as they were about the museum's contents, but I found other details that were interesting to me:

Creepy mannequin holding his legs out straight

Playing quidditch, perhaps?

Neat calculating devices

Reminder painted on the aircraft.  Close-up is below:
Reminder up-close reads: ¿Está cerrado el depósito?


Old technology

Can you tell how cold I am?

When our museum visit ended, we went back to their hotel to meet up with the wives.  We went out for tapas and drinks until about 6pm, and later met up at 9.30 for a dinner of tapas and raciones at Rincón de Jaén.  

I learned that his childhood friend's sister has a Spanish mother, a Portuguese father, and grew up and lives in Paris; so she speaks Spanish, Portuguese, French, English, Italian, and some Polish.  Wow.

It was great to listen to French all day, though it will take many consecutive days of French in order to actually boost my level.  Someone needs to go to France...

Monday, February 6, 2012

There may not be snow, but Madrid still has basketball

After last night, I can now cross off another item from my Madrid Bucket List: Go to a basketball game.

  • Go to a basketball game
That's better.  And now for the visual proof:

Hermann, Hannah, Max, and I in the Palacio de Deportes

Winter just isn't winter without some basketball, and I never went to a game the last time I lived here.  In fact, I almost didn't go this winter either, due to the fun time we had buying tickets online.

I offered to buy the four tickets online so that we'd have seats together, sin duda.  Wednesday night after practice I grabbed my Spanish debit card out of my wallet as I pulled up Real Madrid's basketball team's website to purchase tickets.  After entering my personal and credit card information, the following screen asked for my card's pin.  Just below the space to enter the pin (in the same window), you have to select a piece of identification from a pull-down list (pasaporte, DNI, tarjeta residencia, etc.) and then enter that ID's number.

I entered my four-digit pin into the blank, and proceeded to select "pasaporte" then typed in my passport number.  When I clicked "next," I had an error message of some sort, and had to re-enter the information on the pin/identification screen.  I entered the same information, choosing passport again.  When I got another error, I assumed something was wrong with the identification document I selected. I decided to try using my TIE (foreign identity card) number instead, since that's the card I used to open my bank account in the fall.

I click next.

This time my error message is different from the first two times.  It says that since my pin was entered incorrectly three times, my card ha sido bloqueada (has been blocked) from this type of online purchasing until I call to have it unlocked or do something on my bank's website.  Grrr!

It was late, and since Thursdays are my early teaching days I just went to bed and figured I'd resolve this the next day.

After teaching Thursday morning, I figured I'd stop by the bank near that school to try and kill two birds with one stone: I'd ask about getting my SpanAir tickets refunded and how to get my card unblocked.

I started with the SpanAir question.  The man working at the mesa I went to was helpful.  Not particularly friendly or talkative, but helpful and patient.  I guess SpanAir must have notified banks of a reimbursement procedure, as he filled out some paperwork to mail to SpanAir.  He made a photocopy of my debit card and my TIE, and then he let me log in to my email on his computer to print my purchase confirmation from SpanAir.  He gave me copies of all the paperwork that he's sending to SpanAir.  So now it's just a waiting game.  Any bets on how many months until I get reimbursed?  The closest guess gets a postcard from Madrid!

With one bird down, the man asked me if my debit card was new since his computer system showed that it was blocked.  I told him that this was precisely my next question, and proceded to explain how it got blocked the night before while trying to make an online purchase.  He said that if I went outside to the caja (ATM) and inserted my credit card, that would unblock it.  I put in my card, entered my pin, then asked for an account balance; as I was instructed to do by another bank worker that I ran into outside near the ATM.

Then I headed to the metro, feeling quite productive and good about the purchase I'd make later that day.  When I got home I tried to buy the tickets again.  No luck.  Said my card was still blocked, and to either call this number or go to the website to unblock my card.

I went to the bank's website as the error message suggested, but discovered I needed to enter a username and password to get to where I needed to be on the site.  I was never given a username or password when I got my bank account, and I wasn't sure how to go about setting one up.

So I called the number, talked with a woman.  She explained that the pin this site was requesting was not the pin I normally enter in when I buy stuff in stores or use ATMs.  Rather, I needed to log in to the bank's website in order to get this special pin used for certain online purchases.  So she transfered me to another line in order to get me set up on the website.

I followed the directions and typed in all the info to make a new user on the website, assuming the username and password would be emailed to me, since I supplied my email address with all of my other info.  Later that day, still no email about the bank login information.  (In fact, to date I still haven't received an email about this...)

So I sent out an email to my dear friends and asked if someone else wanted to buy the tickets, as I didn't see my debit card issue getting resolved anytime soon.

My friend who has lived in Madrid for years knew what special pin you needed to buy the tickets, and said he could buy them from the website if needed.  I didn't know if he bought them or not, but we all had plans to hang out together Friday night, so I figured we'd discuss it then.

Friday night we gathered for a German night of fun, and I asked about the tickets.  Turns out said friend had bought them, phew.  They were already printed and sitting on the table.

And then we discovered they were for the wrong date; we had four tickets to a game on Thursday, February 23.  Alright, alright, we can just skip practice that Thursday night and go to the basketball game instead.  Problem solved.

Except then we realized that three of the four of us would be on a plane to Las Palmas, on our way to a tournament on the 23rd.  Oops.

In the end, we decided to buy four more tickets to go on Sunday.  I think we've already found two people who will go to the game on the 23rd, so we just need to find two more people to go, and then case closed.

That being said, if anyone is brave enough to interested in buying tickets online, you can do so here.  (Good luck!)  You can even change the page to English if you'd like, in the top right corner.  Just don't forget: If you get an error when you enter your pin, don't enter it three times!  Your card will be blocked!

So Sunday afternoon, we printed out the tickets just outside the Palacio de Deportes in Goya, then grabbed a few cañas at a nearby bar before the game.

In front of the Palacio de Deportes

The game we saw was part of the Liga Endesa.  I couldn't help but compare the whole experience to a Badger basketball game.  Here are my observations:

  • On Sunday I didn't have to unzip my coat when I walked through the front doors as my ticket was scanned.  Nor did anyone ask me to open my huge purse, which I was allowed to bring in.  And let it be known that had it been raining, I would have certainly entered with an umbrella in hand, no problem.
  • Under each seat there were two - uh, what do you call them - those tubes that you blow up and smack together.  I guess I'm going with tube-clapper things. 

Tube-clapper things
  • The refs were not in stripes, but rather in bright red/orange shirts.
No-stripe refs

  • Real Madrid has something that the Badgers absolutely need: a remote-control blimp!  It flew around the court and crowd during breaks, and was oh so very entertaining to watch.

  • Rather than having cheerleaders, poms, and a dance team; Real Madrid just had cheerleaders.  But they didn't do any cheers. Nor stunts.  There were only eight of them, and they just shook it "danced" 30 second bits during time outs and such.
They did this dance with the banners last night

Real Madrid baloncesto animadoras

Unfortunately Real Madrid lost 90-93, just as the Badgers recently lost to Ohio State, though the Badger game would have been undoubtedly more exciting to watch and attend.

Despite not being a Badger game, it was quite a fun Sunday afternoon.  It feels good to be making progress on my Madrid Bucket List while spending time with friends before the time pressure hits.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chill out, Madrid!

It's currently 1 degree outside at 6:48 in the afternoon.

Celsius, that is.  Which is 33.8 degrees Fahrenheit for those of you who aren't used to converting.  For the next few days our temperatures are  actually quite comparable to those in Madison.  We've just got more sun.

So what?  Well, the city's in a panic.  We've had a mild and very sunny winter up until today, in comparison to the city's usual 43 degree (F) Januarys (that's the daily mean in January according to wikipedia -- the lowest temperatures all year).  So the weather outside right now, this is freezing to them.  The whole country is under a yellow alert due to the cold and the wind.

Citizens are instructed to fill their gas tanks and not to go driving without a charged cell phone.  They are to be careful when driving because ice could form! (gasp)

While walking home from my private English class this afternoon I noticed that salt has been spread on the corner sidewalks of crosswalks, even though we have no snow or rain.  To be fair, it rained sprinkled for about 10 minutes last night, but I still think the salt is an overreaction.

That's because this is the warmest winter of my life. (It's been warmer than my last winter I spent in Spain, or at least a lot less rainy and a lot sunnier).

So chill out and toughen up, Madrid; this isn't so bad.