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Friday, March 12, 2010

A tribute to Miguel Delibes

Miguel Delibes

"When you feel death so close, you turn your eyes into yourself and you find nothing but banality, because we the living, when comparing with the dead, are unbearably banal." - M. Delibes

Miguel Delibes died a few hours ago in Valladolid, where he was born in 1920 (as he said once, "I am like a tree, who grows where it was planted"). In case you don't know him, Delibes is one of the greatest contemporary Spanish writers, and would have deserved the Nobel price more than, let's say, Camilo J. Cela (the last Spanish writer who got it). In my humble opinion, no one has captured the soul of Castile as Delibes did in many of his books (such as "The Rats", "the Old Tales of Old Castile" and many others). If anybody is wondering what actually is Castile, he could get a good hint reading some of Delibes' books.

His first and last books (excluding the compilations and short essays published during his latter years) are two great -yet atypical, considering all his other books- novels: "the Long Shadow of the Cypress" and "the Heretic", magnificent historical novel about freedom and tolerance set in Valladolid, when the city was the capital of the Spanish Empire... and the Inquisition. For many of us, "The Way" (about children growing up and discovering the bitterness of life) was one of the first books that we had to read at school. And of course, it's impossible to forget "the Holy Innocents", a tale about the struggle of the poor where everything (even their lives) belong to the rich. One of his most celebrated books is not even a novel, but rather the monologue of a lady in front of his husband's dead body: "Five hours with Mario".

A proud Castilian like me, a fellow countryman from Valladolid, but besides everything else, one of the greatest Spanish writers of all times. Rest in peace.

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Saturday, March 06, 2010

Life can change a lot in half a year

It has been a long time since the last time I wrote here. Exactly five months, so almost half a year. And five months is the time remaining in my current job: trainee at the ICT Department of Cedefop, the European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training. I applied for this traineeship in November, but I actually had forgotten about it. After all, we are talking of 8 positions and almost a thousand applicants!

But then by the end of January I got this mail inviting me to join Cedefop for the Spring traineeship period. And, regardless of whatever you are doing at the moment, how can you possibly say no to work in the European Union? and since Cedefop is located in Thessaloniki, here I am, living in Greece again.

Working environment is the best thing of Cedefop. A bunch of skilled and motivated international people working in a very wide range of topics. Of course, there is an ICT Department, and there's where I am working, so I am part of the IT crowd of the European Union.

About my life in Thessaloniki? well, I have been there just for a week, and besides working I haven't done much else. I am living alone in a cute apartment of Ano Poli, the old town, and I have a small balcony with views of the sea... that's something great, both in Barcelona and Athens I was living in rather dark places. It takes ages to reach Cedefop from there, but Cedefop is so far away from everything that even those of my colleagues who looked for a place located 'nearby' spend 45 minutes. I think it pays off to spend 15 minutes more every day and live downtown, instead of living in a boring suburb.

And what about the Master in Economics that I was doing in Valladolid? well, I passed the first semester quite successfully and I got to enjoy a lot both Micro and Macroeconomics (the great teachers of both courses are 'guilty' for that). I'll try to finish it doing my assignments from Greece, it would be a pity to waste all the job done in the first semester.

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