June 22, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Culture, Madrid, Spain, Traditions, Video

You might remember that awhile back I introduced you to a few of my favorite Spanish professions. Well, with 20% of Spain’s population unemployed, I thought I’d be a little helper and share some of the other often-overlooked Spanish job opportunities out there. Seriously, though, I would happily take on any of these tasks…probably…OK, maybe not the first one.

El Chatarrero

Recently, I’ve heard someone hollering in the streets from my living room. At first I thought it was some vagrant (hey, I’m from San Francisco – totally normal), but after hearing him a few times, I came to realize he was advertising some kind of service. Already familiar with the afilador (the knife-sharpener who plays an ice-cream-man-like tune from his motorcycle), I was befuddled as to who this new seller-of-services could be.

To ease my confusion, I replicated the yell for Jacobo, and he knew exactly who it was – the chatarrero! Get this – the chatarrero is the “junk collector man” (or, if we are being politically correct – the recycler?)! He goes around screaming “Chatarrero! El Chataaaaaarrero!” so that people will come out and give him their junk and scrap (called chatarra). You’d think this would be such an unattractive job, but I’m absolutely in love with the idea and have spent the last weeks with my ear nearly pressed against our living room wall. I eagerly await for him to return so that I can run downstairs with the first piece of crap (err – scrap) I come across in our house.

What’s particularly funny is that just days after my junk-man discovery, Jacobo and I were in a bar, when low and behold a music video popped on TV called “El Chatarrero.” I clapped and jumped up and down. I couldn’t hear the music, but the video alone was enough to get me all excited about junk and stuff. And fortunately, I found a version of it on YouTube, so here you have it – el chatarrero and a whole lot of chatarra:

El Butanero

Mr. Butanero makes regular deliveries of butane tanks to those older homes that don’t have gas and, like the milkman, he is famed for being the potential father of unexpected little ones. Why the butanero and not, say, the panadero (the bread deliverer)? Well, because the butanero, with all of his muscly goodness from lifting tanks of butane, is a far more likely suspect than that weakling who delivers delicate baguettes.

Just as with the chatarrero, I’ve spent unhealthy amounts of time trying to find this fool. I’ve seen his truck filled with orange tanks many a time in past years, but of course these last weeks since discovering it’s a proper job (you know, with a fun name), he nor his tanks are anywhere to be found. Save your disappointment, however, because while trying to hunt down photos I found this spectacular music video that is pretty much too hilarious to avoid posting. It features a couple of transvestites and a questionably hot butanero – it’s totally PG and totally worth watching.

El Sereno

Yet another profession that’s kept me busy searching Madrid – el sereno. As I was doing my research for this blog (and by research I’m referring to listening for the chatarrero and chasing around random guys in the street who push wheel-barrows full of scrap metal), I heard about this other antiquated career. The job of el sereno went extinct some 34 years ago, but as a part of a recent coffee campaign by La Estrella, they’ve decided to bring him back to Chamberí (my neighborhood) for two whole weeks. So naturally I’ve been wondering my barrio trying to track the guy down.

Back in his heyday, the sereno would keep nightly vigil over the local streets. This fellow would have the keys to your house, help you with groceries, tell you the time, call the appropriate authorities during any emergencies, and was basically just awesome – clearly.

Needless to say, el sereno hasn’t turned up either. He must be hanging out with the butanero somewhere. And surprise – I found another video! The following video features an original sereno (a bona fide SG, if you ask me) and a new one. Sorry it’s all in Spanish, but Gramps is so cute that you don’t care, right?

La Peixiera

Now this is my kind of job. While regaling a Galician friend of mine with my proud discovery of el chatarrero (his eyes glazed over a tad – I can’t for the life of me figure out why), he shared with me an awesome job specific to the inland pueblos of Galicia (and Portugal) – la peixera. Oh goody goody – it sounds like a girly job! This chica apparently arrives to said pueblos every afternoon with her van full of fresh seafood. She pulls in, opens the back and starts selling away. A girl after my own heart! Originally, she’d actually carry her goods on her head in a basket, and in many cases it was seafood caught by her family and/or fisherman husband. Good thing that peixeras don’t exist here in Madrid – for the sake of what little remaining productivity I have. And no, I couldn’t find any fun fish-delivery videos. Sorry about that.

On a related note, just earlier this week I heard the familiar sound of the afilador. I quite literally sprinted out my door, following the tune of his harmonica down my block. When I finally found him, I discovered he was totally not the cute SG-like afilador I was hoping for, but rather a couple of creepy guys with a kidnapper-style knife-sharpening van – the worst combo possible. Without even saying a word to them, they asked me to get in the car. I promptly turned around and decided I wouldn’t be chasing after the afilador anymore, dull knives or not.

March 30, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Culture, Spain, Traditions, Travel, Travels in Spain, Video

Because words can’t really capture the spectacle that is Fallas, I’ve put together the below video. To read more about Las Fallas and my great “unexpectations,” check out this week’s blog post, which is being featured on Gogobot.

If you are having trouble viewing this video, please click here.

February 2, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Food and wine, Spain, Travel, Travels in Spain, Video

Back in December, I wished so hard NOT to go scuba diving that all flights in Spain were cancelled. Yeah, it was kind of a bummer, but we turned our sour grapes into vino by taking a trip to Spanish wine country. Here’s a little look back at the exotic trip to the Canary Islands that got replaced by a chilly journey around Ribera del Duero.

If you are having trouble viewing this video, please click here.

January 12, 2011 - Posted by Erin in Spain, Travel, Travels in Spain, Video

Remember awhile back when I took the road trip to Granada? You know, the one where the sheep hated me and I discovered that my dreams of becoming a shepherd would never be realized? Yeah, that trip. Since it was such a memorable experience (and fortunately, not just because of the little lambies), I’ve put together a video of the adventure. So, while I get accustomed to my return to the Iberian Peninsula after three long weeks in the US, I leave you with this small video in order to whet your appetites for all things Spain.

If you are having trouble viewing the video, please click here.

December 21, 2010 - Posted by Erin in Culture, Traditions, Travel, Travels in Europe, Video

In early November, I had the opportunity to get to know the city of Copenhagen, Denmark with a slew of other travel bloggers. As a part of the journey, another blogger and I hit the streets to make a video about the city. In doing so, we discovered that that very day happened to be the annual launch of the country’s famous Christmas beer. Filled with curiosity (wouldn’t you be?), we set out to learn more about the famous celebration. One by one, we grilled the Danish folk on the streets, and got to the bottom of the beer-filled day (burp). Here’s the final, albeit slightly rusty, product!

With that, I leave you all for the holidays. I’m spending mine in the rainy San Francisco Bay Area. I look forward to sharing more adventures with you in 2011. Happy holidays!

*A special thanks to Viktorija Prak for being my partner in crime on this project!