Sunday, October 3

La Primera Semana

(WARNING!!! Long entry. Use the bathroom before reading and maybe get a snack)

Hola Todos! I have been in Spain for about one week and it has been a mixed experience. As  I write, I am sitting in my piso, watching a Russian pirated copy of Robin Hood en espanol (because this TV hates me), and I went to the beach earlier today. After a bit of juggling, I finally figured out how to get money out of the bank accounts (thanks family and Ana!) and now I am relaxing, waiting to see if some couchsurfers actually arrive, listening to a crazy lazy outside my window singing about cats and fish, then might head to Malaga to meet some other Language Assistants!

Now for the description of my week!!!

The Entrance

It was a standard flight: long, bad food and long waits (The movie was the A-Team and the food nasty tortilini but the salad was tasty). However, I did manage to get a row to myself, sleep through most of the flight and meet a girl who was in my program but in La Caja de Mijas (just west of Malaga). The plane flew over Malaga just as the sun was rising, so the views of the mountains, white pueblos and waters (I didn’t see any sharks) were amazing.

We journeyed through Spanish customs (which wasn’t much), navigated the public transportation and walked up a hill with way too much luggage and no street signs. But we made it to the hostel!

La Huelga 
(29 de septiembre)

I spent two days in Malaga (one day longer than planned due to La Huelga or Strike). My first home in Spain was the Picasso’s Corner hostel (comes with free breakfast and paella cooking lessons!). Since I arrived before 2pm, the rooms weren’t ready, so my new friend and I stored our bags, took a shower and went out to explore the city.

One thing I enjoy most about being in a new city is observing the people and their actions. Malaga has some real crazies: at the beach we saw a man who was combing his dreads with a gull’s feather and then one drinks vendor sit down on his cooler in front of a topless lady and just stare. Then when wandering the city center looking for tapas, this one man walked down an alley and sat in a trash bin. Not sure why, but he looked like he was having fun. There were a lot of street performers and vendors in the center. While eating tapas at one restaurant, a man wandered by and started to sing (horribly and he looked like a rooster) to the plaza. When his phone rang, he answered it and while talking he walked table to table proffering a dish for donations. Not everyone in Malaga is like these people, the majority are fairly normal Spanish people with a mix of tourists.

The next day, me and a couple of people attempted getting a bus to our respective cities by taking a taxi at 7 am (we stayed up until about 2am in the hostel bar… cheap drinks there). The taxi driver ripped us off, and also said the best way to get to our cities (Sevilla, Jaen and Almunecar) was for him to drive us personally… for 300 Euros each! We would rather stay in the bus station. Once at the station, the staff said they couldn’t sell us tickets for the buses that were scheduled to run because they didn’t know who would actually show up. Short story: we stayed another day in Malaga, which turned out to be a lot of fun. Some of us went to the beach and the others (including me) went to find one girls school, where it turns out she gets to help teach cooking classes for adults! I want that job! Later that night, Fabio made and taught us how to make Andalucian paella and then took us to a soul concert (band name: Free Soul Band. Very straight to the point). I LOVED the lead singer, he looked like a blue Where’s Waldo: blue striped shirt, blue pants, long blue hair and big bug-eyed blue glasses.

The Final Destination
11am the next morning, I successfully took the bus to Almunecar! As soon as I lugged my stuff onto the bus (I brought WAY too much stuff) and found a seat, I passed out for the next hour. Good thing the bus ride is 1.5 hours. At the bus stop, my brand new Spanish roommate met me and helped me bring my stuff to our piso. It is really nice (my room is already a mess though… but I am doing dishes!). Once kinda situated, we headed to the supermercado to buy some food (tea, bananas and a cucumber… my brain was so foggy and I didn’t want to drag her around the store for an hour like I usually do) and then we headed to my school: I.E.S. Al-Andalus.  

At the school I finally met Paco, the bilingual coordinator, and he gave me my teaching schedule. I have 4 periods of conversation with teachers, and then classes in (I am quoting directly from my schedule because I don’t know what these classes intail yet!) Conversation, Science, English, Music (eek!), P.E. and Maths.  I work Monday – Thursday, so that leaves a long weekend to travel. Since he had a class, Paco invited me to a “jamon y queso fiesta” later that afternoon to welcome the new teachers. I picked a good day to come! At the party, I got to eat lots of good food (queso! Yum yum in my tum tum! And who can turn down ham?) and all of the profesors were really nice. I got to practice a lot of my Spanish, but there still is a long way to go with that.

The fog that invaded half the town.
The next day, I attempted to get my NIE number (the final stage of the visa process), so I went to the police station, was told I had to go to Motril (15 minute bus ride) to the national police station. So I went there without a map (bad decision!), got lost a bit but practiced my spanish when asking for directions and finally found the station. There I was told they only accept applications Mondays from 11-2pm. Bah! At least I got to see a bit of Motril and met (I believe… he spoke very fast) the police chief, who was kind enough to walk me to the bus station and tell me about the last stand of the Moors (muselmanes) and his daughter who is an English and economics teacher in Oxford.

One Night (Lets just say I am very good at catching buses now)

So on Saturday, my roommate left for Jaen and we were expecting some german couchsurfers to come stay on Saturday, but they never showed up (probably got caught in customs coming from Morocco). I hung out on the beach for most of the day, wandered the city, bought some food, realized I couldn’t access any more money. But that was sorted out later and in the evening I took the bus to Malaga to meet up with some other auxiliaries at a bar called El Pimpi. I took a risk last night, since I didn’t have a place to stay and the next bus back to Almunecar was at 7am. My phone ran out of credit while on the bus, so I accidently hung up on one friend, but I was able to find some of the auxiliaries. 

It was a fun night and I was able to crash with one of them (Thanks Amy!). One of the bars we went to reminded me of a Mexican restaurant back home and it made me really want some enchiladas! I need to figure out how to make those on a stove top or find a friend in Almunecar with an oven. That is the next sub quest (main quest: learn Spanish!). Other sub-quests include: hiking up the mountains, going camping in the Caja de Gata, and figuring out how to use the TV.

Deep (probably not) Thoughts

One thing I realized when coming here is how frustrating speaking and understanding the Spanish here is. It is a completely different vocabulary from the one I learned (and barely remember) and the accent is somewhat like a southern drawl or the Minnesotan slur. Half the words are not pronounced and it is spoken so quickly! When speaking, I feel stupid and that’s hard. Before I came here, I realized I wouldn’t be able to communicate well, but the reality is much harsher. I just have to thank all the people that have helped me so far (Ana, my roommate and other auxilares) and for the Spaniards (the men in the bus station restaurant and the phone store) that speak slowly to me and attempt to teach me things.

1 comment:

  1. This is so exciting! Sounds like you're already having quite an adventure. I can't wait to see your place, meet your roommate, and drink cheap Spanish beer with you!

    Love from London (STILL raining),