Tuesday, 30 September 2014


Yesterday, I gave the last lesson really pressed for the time. I had left my bike in the entrance hall, previously folded and protected with two locks. I wanted to get quickly to  the “I” meeting point: that do-it-yourself shop where we all have been, at least, once.

It was a rather hard work to get the parcels home safely. And, having no lift in the house, it was necessary to do a great effort to take those parcels up to the first floor. But, when I opened the door, I forgot immediately how tired I was. The studio was lighted up by the streetlights; perfect with that mixture of white colour and aluminium of a modern kitchen in an old flat; with that orange sink and blue tiles in the toilette. It looked different: more beautiful than ever; as if someone had secretly realocated the space, changing the bath room position with the help of a magic wand. Even the small terrace had come alive at night, thanks to the quietness of the street.

I open soft-drinks tins while I was putting those puzzles together, with the help of those strange “Chinese” instruction sheets, feeling the glow of the streetlights. What a feeling of teen adventure! It was like going back to those days where every Saturday was charm and magic. I turned on the radio... and plugged a lamp, since I still have not put up the lamps in the ceiling yet. Silbermond singer enshrouded the environment with youth freedom, cultural diversity and signs of good fortune; with the excitement of those past teen parties and of the promenades along the “Costanera” in the evenings of December, long time ago.

I suddenly recall those kids who have given me one of their draws as a gift. All those draws where they paint me as a belly dancer, with a golden star on the chest and an incredibly long hair, even though I have never worn too long hair. I pictured all my books together in the flat, the computer on the table and a big screen on the wall. I felt the smell of laurel and cilantro of future hotpots, which I always like with some cayenne.

I made up the table, four chairs and the bed; I left the crockery in the kitchen wardrobe. And I forgot the tiredness and the rain; the demanding requirements of labor and social standards and all those rolls among bosses and subordinates where strange treatment differences are absolutely allowed: those games where a person has to be very formal with another, whereas the latter can address rather informally to the first one. Yesterday night, while I was at my future home with the only rumor of the radio, I felt I was in a safe place. In that place where no rules or differences are allowed. The place where one can find hundreds of reasons to be grateful.

I would like to make a toast for that freedom and absence of enforcement. As the old Romans said, the law holds back at the door of a house.


Copyright Luisa Fernández Baladrón


Saturday, 27 September 2014


Today, I have woken up particulary early. I wanted to take an inventory of the office material. It was a drastic but also very effective way of getting in touch with my job. I arrived on my two-wheeled companion, equipped with LED lights in the front and rear parts. It has recently started to make that acute noise which indicates that the brake shoes are crystallized. The advantage is that I do not need a bell anymore: the creak warns everyone.

I parked it on the sidewalk, tied to a traffic sign, right in front of the office. Reme, the charwoman, was inside and seemed to be very concerned with the fate of the last window cleaner.

- He leant the ladder against the staircase.

Pepe, the window cleaner, had done it with a very good intention. In fact, he just wanted to leave the show windows perfectly cleaned. But instead of getting shining windows, he just got a nosedive and a first class pass to the hospital. While Reme was spoking, I counted magazines and folio packages.

Actually, taking an inventory was not an obligation, but a way of redoubling efforts. I am sure you know what I am talking about, dear friend in his fourties. I am referring to that situation in which the person that the company has chosen to train you pretends to be explaining, but he is actually giving you ackward explanations and quickly passing screens which have nothing to do with the explanations given. Your “trainer” speaks in a haughty voice, so as everybody can hear that you are being explained something, while he makes adverse judgements against his last coworkerks, your future ones.

As far as I am concerned, when something similar happens, I simply double the effort... and buy a huge tooth-paste tube.

Sat in the front-desk I could see my two-wheeled friend, waiting for me on the pavement. I was lucky to have her there when I came out from the crystal jungle. I am sure Mr. Karl Drais thought of the velocipede while he was feeling alone at the forest inspection.

At lunch time, Miss two wheels accompanied me on a quick tour through the city center. On the way back, I thought of preparing a cash count. After, I started going through the information forms filled in by customers in the last days. I wanted to know what the average time to answer them had been.

In the afternoon, my friend was waiting for me. I sat in the saddle, while Mrs. Two-wheels creaked like an old truck, distracting me for a moment of my labor concerns. We went home together, over the bike lane, and I tried to repair the brake shoes. By the time I finished, my concerns had vanished.

Thank you Mrs. Two-wheels. And thank you very much indeed, Mr. Drais. You must have been a really great guy.

 ...And thanks a lot to your awful colleagues of the forest inspection. Please, bring my greetings to them, if you once happen to meet them, wherever you are.

Copyright Luisa Fernández Baladrón

Thursday, 25 September 2014


Beginning is something extraordinary. This is why I have always liked September so much since I was a kid.  September smells like brand-new books, like a new classroom and the reunion with classmates. It is a month that gives you a blank notebook that you can start writing: the begin of the course.

Starting is highly motivating, but it can also be hard and demanding. After a very stressed week, yesterday, that is to say Friday, after work, I needed one of those soft-drinks that give you wings. The office is a tempting place to work, but it can also be a jungle where not everyone survives.

I then remembered a tip of Mrs. Victoria Moreno, my literature tutor at comprehensive school:

- The best remedy against sadness is a good ham sandwich.

Riding the same bike which I daily use to go to work in the mornings I went in search of a diet Cola and a cordon bleu with chips and salad. I took a couple of minutes to have a look at the plate, fully covered by the cordon bleu, which was, at the same time, partially covered by the garrison. By the time I finished eating, my concerns had gone away. It is the power of what enters in the stomach.

Afterwards, I was again in a good mood. I walked along the street, with my bike at one side, listening to the bagpipe music of Susana Seivane and reminding so many occasions in which food has been our excuse and our meeting point: that dinner, at Christine Muhl’s, who invited me to taste Asian food prepared by Irisade and Christine herself. All those times when we met at Maite Bustamante’s, when I was studying law. The evenings when we all met at Betina’s after work, when we were living in Santiago. There is something magical in that rite of eating with friends and cooking for them: too many cooks in a too narrow kitchen, organizing a celebration, chatting, discussing any topic, occasionally nibbling something  or ruining prepared dishes one another (two people who cast salt in a dish; three who do not agree about how much ginger does the dish need).

And there is something healing in what we eat, when we eat this wanting it, among friends. I now understand the reason why the Romans used food to raise the dead. There are soups which can even resurrect a dead.


Copyright Luisa Fernández Baladrón

Monday, 22 September 2014


Today I have gone for a walk after work. One of those nineteenth century ones, just walking down the streets, going nowhere in particular, waving at acquaintances and stopping to chat with them here and there along the way, obstructing the way to other pedestrians in a somehow irresponsible way. I then remembered Palma cafes and some occassions my friends enjoyed them in the past, and started searching for them across the streets of the old own (where was that one placed? ... How was that one called?)

If there is something abounding in Palma, this is “cafés”. I am not referring to those bars were people gather to take a beer and a “tapa”. Not to the summer terraces either; not even to those trendy shops, such as Cappuccino or 1916. I am talking about those places where one can read and talk together with other friends: Sa Llotja, Café Lírico, Al Vent del Mon, Antiquari, Librería de Babel, Café des Teatre, Sa Botiga des Buffons. Those quiet places with yellow lamps and customized tables, where mutual respect allows that different nationalities, ideologies and cultures live together. Meeting points for those who have in common their love of books.

Palma Cafés are one of those thousand reasons to enjoy the town. I only know another place where there are so many: Vienna, where coffee cups are served with delicious pieces of cake and multicultural newspapers from all over the world, hanging from a circular table: Landtmann, Sperl, Korb, Leopold, Celsior... and my favourite one: Café Museum, in Operngasse. My friend Lucia Pessot and I have sat in those dark wooden tables more than once.

 I walked down “Cuesta de la Pol” and up “Carrer d’Arabi”. I then stopped at “Margarita Caimari” under the dim and yellow light of the street lamps; reliving all the times when we used to play marbles opposite the Treasury building in Pontevedra, after the English lesson on Friday evening. Or those years in Santiago de Compostela, sitting in the “Metate Café” with my friends Betina and Mery; or those times with my friends of the Legal Practise School. I contemplated all of them from outside, without getting into any of them.

I got into a mall and “Eau the Rochas” for twentieth time this week, facing a hard glance of the shop assistant, who has already seen me some times doing the same thing without necessarily buying afterwards. I pulled a bottle of water out of my handbag and sat opposite the mall, enjoying the cool night.

And I went back home thinking about tomorrow.


Copyright Luisa Fernández Baladrón


It was nearly seven o’clock when I arrived to Portixol on my bike, dressed in formal suit and high heeled sandals. The others were on the dock already, finishing the theoretical explanations, simulating an emergency operation. Nacho, the instructor, was on the dock, on board of a canoe and with another kajak on his lap.

- Do not change your clothes yet – he told me – listen to this carefully: the stern of the canoe you rescue has to be opposite your bow.

He pulled the canoe on his lap to one side, drawing a pair of scissors. One of our colleagues, Nanda, sat on the stern of the rescued canoe, jumping up to the tub. We all did the same, one after the other.

We set sail quickly, late in the evening. Actually, they all could have sailed much earlier, but they had been extending the theory lesseon, killing time, waiting for me to come from work, so as to give me the opportunity of following the last lesson of the course. Nobody said anything about it, but it was obvious. It was a lovely detail from their part.

We were in such a rush to set out that I took the canoe of a colleague by mistake. From outside, they seemed to be the same, but each had been adjusted to a different height.

- We have to exchange them when we leave the port.

We paddled with the bow to the waves. Once outside the port, half of us jumped into the sea, without tipping the canoe, and the other half rescued the ones who were in the water. Then, we switched roles. Next, there was a sort of survival operation and we had to leave the kajak alone for a moment beside the rocks. And the last straw was to have to rescue our instructor, who got into his canoe directly over the tub, climbing over the bow of my kajak.

- You have such a frightened expression! – He said, laughing out loud.

We paddled to the port together, while it got dark. We picked up the canoes, paddles and life jackets and placed them in the store. We exchanged phone numbers and future plans for the next course, on Saturdays and Sundays in Portixol and Santa Ponsa.

And we went back home, on bike, with our clothes and backpacks completely wet.


Copyright Luisa Fernández Baladrón

Sunday, 21 September 2014


It has already been Wednesday for eleven minutes and I should go to bed to rest. IN fact, tomorrow is my third day of work. But I have to admit I am a Facebook-holic: I have become addicted to telling my experiences during the day and to reading other people’s ones.

Today, I went to the headquarters to have my business card picture taken. I went as early as possible, because I wanted to take part in a new software course that the company is implemeting right now, and I did not want to be late for it. I had to do a lot of maneuvers forward and backward to park the car, in spite of having plenty of empty parking lots at my disposal. Two colleagues were smoking a cigarette outside (it was not nine o’ clock yet) and they both stared at me with such an expression of “I can not believe it”. Anyway, I finally I got it: I parked the car, a colleague took a photograph of mine very early and  I was on time for the course.

It has been rather a lot of new information. This, mixed with the one received yesterday, has formed a real hotchpotch. About two o’clock, I could not wait any longer to get out of the office and clear up the mishmash I had in my head. I was really concerned, I have to say. But I got into the supermarket and bought one of those soft-drinks which take a smile inside. I sat opposite the marina, overlooking the sea. It was a quiet and relaxing see. Also filthy with so much oil, but relaxing, anyway. I mean, the sea, not the oil.

I stayed under the blazing sun. It was one of those sunny days, so common in Majorca, which the dermatologists consider so inconvenient for the skin and Coppertone company so convenient for its turnover. By the time I got back to the office, my batteries were recharged already. I started asking how to do this and that... And my internal “engine” began to warm up. It began that “running-in” which cars used to need some years ago. I remember a “running-in” sign at a back window of a car. Nowadays, one does not see such things. All this is just twentieth century nostalgia.

I had fun solving my first problems at work. And so I spent the rest of the evening.

I went back to Palma in the green car. This time I spent less time and was more confident. I parked the car at Portixol and joined the canoe lesson, which had started almost an hour ago. When I managed to change my clothes, the last canoe was setting sail. I then did the same than the others. We paddled to Molinar and flipped the canoe onto the shore, with our feet on earth, to learn how to empty it when it is full of water. We got into the kajak and out of it once and again, so as to learn how to do it with ease. So far, we had got into the canoe at the dock, helping us with our hands supported on the dock. But today, we learnt how to get into the kajak on the beach.

By that time, our instructor realized that I was cheating.

- No. This is not the correct way. Even if your body allows you to do so, what you are doing is dangerous.

He picked up the bow of my kajak with his hand and capsized it, throwing myself into the water and ruining at once the little make-up that had not perished yet, after a whole day of work. I started blinking in the best style of a sad Charlie Rivel.

- Now you will not forget how to get into the canoe properly – argued the instructor.

By the time we paddled back to the port, it was already getting dark. It is a real luxury to contemplate the sunset from the sea. Sat in the kajak, paddeling slowly; enjoying the fact of being there at that time. Talking to other people from kajak to kajak without effort.

We docked our canoes into the port. We got them back into their place, overturning them to leak them out. And, while we were stretching, it got definitely dark. Plans were heard to have a coffee together after the last lesson, next Thursday. And we were invited to join the veterans on Friday evening. Unfortunately, I do not believe I will be able to do so this week.

I got into the car once again and drove back home. And I went up the stairs as quick as I could to open the door of our “Facebook” home and get in contact with all of you again.



Copyright Luisa Fernández Baladrón


Today, I have had my first day at the office. At least a reliable, full-time job! I was excited about having got a job which is more diverse than usual and makes it necessary to speak foreign languages. Besides, the office is in Palma. It is a luxury to work in the city where you live.

Being the first day, I had to go to the headquarters in Costa d’en Blanes to sign the contract and receive some training. As I sold my car before moving to Hamburg, I had no option but taking the bus. Everything was going right... until the contract was signed. Then, the colleague who had given me the documents told me that I had to go to Port Adriano to receive some training. Ooops.

- Errr... You know... I have no car.  

- Really? And... how did you get here?

- Errr... I took the bus.

- And, have you got no driving license?

- Of course I have!

- Lovely! Then take one of the green cars over there. We have several.

She handed me a document to be signed, confirming that I had received the vehicle, and a black, rectangular, plastic card. I stared at the card with the same expression of a Paco Martínez Soria recently arrived to the capital city of Madrid. This was lofty.  

- Errr... And... where is the key? Is it inside the car?

- (My colleague looked at me with the expression of someone who doesn’t understand what is happening) No. THIS is the key.

- Oh! And... How does it work?

- It is quite easy: stick it in the slot over there and push the “start” button.

- Great – I said . I did not understand it completely, but tried not to call the attention too much.

I got into the car, adjusted the seat and mirrors, stuck the black card into the slot and pushed the start button. And then I began looking for the going back. It is not this way. No, not this way. No, no, no... it is not this way either. Finally, I swallowed twice and decided to go back to the office.

- Excuse me! Can anyone explain me how to go back in this car?

A colleague came out to explain me that I had to pull the gear up and then push it forward. I headed to Port Adriano as a child with new shoes. It has been a busy day, as it usually happens when one starts a new job: highly motivated, trying to pick up as much information as possible. As the training will last a week, the company has left me the car until Friday evening.

I drove back to Palma as happy as a larry. I washed the car at a BP station. Considering that the company has had such a good gesture, I will have to take care of it properly.

I parked the car. And I was looking at the it for a good while. I even took a picture, which I can not show you, because I am not allowed to show a young baby photograph. And I walk back home with the same feeling than I had when I was a teenager living in Montevideo. So happy, happy, happy.


Copyright Luisa Fernández Baladrón