Friday, August 14, 2009

Our nemesis (el ascendor)

When looking for apartments in Spain, no one warns you to check if the elevator (el ascensor) works. Ours, a beautiful baroque wrought iron variety typical in Spanish buildings of a certain era, moves slowly through the center of the building, the marble stairway spiraling around it. The small glass box (holding 4 slender people, tops) allows stair-walkers to amuse themselves on the walk by seeing just who might be caught between floors inside the little glass trap. If it's a slow day, you can just watch the narrow band of rubber that creaks over the pulleys as they move the box up and down. In fact, you can smell the rubber burning just a little. This is not an elevator for the young or impatient. A series of steps, similar to those required to build a nuclear reactor, must be followed in sequence and at properly timed intervals for the box to move. Typically both young and impatient, delivery boys are frequently stuck between the first and second floor of our building tapping on the glass (saying something Spanish that means, help!) Sometimes the elevator repair man rides on the top of the box for a couple hours to figure out the latest glitch. When he gestures that it's ok to get in, we Americans mime a Schwartzenegger muscle pose or do a Chariots of Fire type slo-mo run to show him that we're sure the elevator is fine, but we're in training. We'll take the stairs.

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