Edit: -19th blog posted- I've arrived in Spain! What should I do?
Hi all! I feel like I haven't posted in a LONG while. I missed you all!
OK, this is actually a double pronged question.
Previously, I had posted 'Charlius to cross the prime meridian' where I told everyone of my 1 year trip to Spain and I told everyone I'd write a blog just for here. Well, I just got here like 2 days ago. So now that I've settled down a bit, I'm not too sure.
I have been writing pretty lengthy entries/blogs already of my last 2 days here. They took a bit of writing, so I'm thinking I'd just want to post those. The issue is that quite a bit is non-spanish learning material, like I'm not comparing the andalucian accent to the rest of 'normal' accented spaniards. Most is like me relating my personal experiences, how I feel, how the people are, other funny things, stuff of that nature.
So the question is, should I post them? Is there even one person here interested in seeing that?? I dunno. I'll post it, but I want to make sure first.
I know that there's no technical learning material in the blogs, but if you want, I CAN write a bit of the technical stuff in more smaller posts.
OK, so opinions??
EDIT: whoops, forgot the double pronged nature of my question. The other side is, any recommendations as to what to do here in Spain? I've already had a blast so far.
Hmm, OK. I guess I'll just post up my first blog of my first night here. It was QUITE a bit of hell.
Jason, all my blogs that I'll post have been pre made, and they were designed originally for friends and family back home, so I have to keep it in english.
I'll tell you guys the BEST thing so far: HAVING to talk in Spanish. My survival depends on it. All the times back home, most of the spanish people I knew, knew at least some english, so it wasn't like I HAD to talk in spanish.
There's just something about being in 'jeapordy' or something like that, that just makes your mind activate. Kind of like the saying 'invention is the product of necessity'. I NEED to talk in spanish so as a result it REALLY starts clicking. Good analogy would be throwing someone that doesn't know how to swim into the deep end of the pool. They'll learn a lot faster that way because if they don't even learn to get back to the surface for a gulp of air, they're dead. They're in 'jeapordy'.
Also I guess I need to add some information about me to give you a better idea of the 'character' in the story.
I just graduated from college a bit ago. I have 2 majors, one in Spanish. I've studied the language EXCESSIVELY studying for about 4-5 hours a day on my own. You can do a lot on your own. Watching a TON of telenovelas is really helpful. I also originally come from Florida, so I've had exceptional contact and experience with latinos and the like. So after around 3 years of..'independent study' let's call it, I had decided to finally take the plunge. Oh yea, also the reason for the trip is to help out in schools here teaching english and being a culture and language ambassador. One last thing, there will be references to people you guys don't know, just talking about my friends, etc.
Alright, so here's the first entry I made a few days ago:
Friday, Oct. 2, 2009 -12:34 AM-
Wowey wow wow, I finally just got done settling in this hostel I'm staying at. It's a quaint little place. It's a one room, one bathroom thing for lack of a better word. There was thankfully hot water, which was what I was fearing there wouldn't be..actually, scratch that, I was fearing most that I'd have to be sharing a room with 3 other guys or something like I've read about other hostils. Bump that, I'm too tired right now to deal with other people.
Anyway, there's no internet connection here, so I'm currently just typing everything out on wordpad, to later upload to Facebook. If it feels like something has been added spur of the moment kind of thing, it's probably because it is, me adding something when I finally do have the internet connection..whenever that is. Not only does this 'blog' help you guys keep in touch with me, but this really is, as I'm finding out, a great coping device. Kinda like a girl getting mad at a boy and she writes all about it in her diary or something.
So, the beginning of my journey, where to start? OK, I wake up on Oct. 1, at around 2:15 PM. A great feat for me at the time as I usually had been waking up at around 4:30 PM. Yea I know, no sympathy for me about that, but hey, what do you expect, there was no job and no work! Everything was planned so that I catch the 7:30 PM flight to London from the Orlando International Airport. But, as we all know, what can go wrong, will go wrong right??
Arya, Craig, and Kyle come around 3:20 PM to make sure we make it there on time. They actually drive past me while I was finishing the last leg of my exercise/jogging route in my neighborhood. Don't know the next time I'll be able to run, so gotta do it now right? So, we check in, only to find out..my flight's been delayed to 10 PM. That sucked! To top it off, some guys in the front are telling me that both my carryons are too heavy and that I'd probably have to leave my 10 watt guitar amp and possibly other things. They finally aquiesce to my pleas and let me go with it. Me and the gang go to eat in a restaurant in the area and hang out at Best Buy to kill time.
Finally, the hour comes and I get dropped off at my gate for real this time. Hugs are given, farewells galore. Once I walk through the metal detector, that's when it TRULY hits me that I'm going out of the f-ing country for a whole year..by myself! It didn't truly feel real until then. I get to the Virgin Atlantic check in, and what do you know, even more of a delay. We don't start boarding until 10:30 and take off around 10:45. This is bull. Oh well, at least now I have a truly legitimate reason for not making the orientation at my school in Cártama, just outside of Málaga.
Man, a 9 hour flight does not go by very fast at all. I mean, you're actually supposed to be going to sleep for a good part of it, but what do you know? Although my body is tired, my mind won't let me go to sleep. Not even for 15 minutes!! Oh well, the good thing was all the seats had TV screens and multiple channels so you could watch whatever you wanted. I decided on 'Angels and Demons', good movie. but yea, that killed about 2 hours and I was all TV'd out. One thing I recommend against. There was a channel that showed the actual plane's position, and displayed how many miles you've gone, how far you need to go. how fast you're going, etc, all the while having a plane symbol moving every so slightly across the world map. If you've seen Indiana Jones, I think you know exactly what I'm talking about, the plane symbol was even leaving behind the whole red contrail line too. Watching that thing was a huge mistake. A watched pot truly does not boil!!!
Arrggh, so after 9 hours of envying all the others dropped out like logs, We land in London. OK, now since my flight was delayed, I can no longer take the original connecting flight I had. I arrive at around 12 noon London time, and my flight is scheduled at 5:30 PM. OMG, waiting idly by for 5 hours?! And yes, I did check out the shopping plaza, err, I mean waiting area that is inside of the airport, but that killed about..45 minutes. By this time, my shoulders, legs, ankles are aching from lugging around 30 kilos of carryon walking around the extensive airport corridors. I can't even walk normally with everything. I'm more so.waddling than anything else. Craig would say I'm walking like Nam, haha. Anyways, in the airport, I hear an earful of British english, pretty distinct from our own. I actually catch myself trying to talk like them when I bump into someone and said 'sorry' in a british accent.
Well, 5 hours pass, I have now been up for around 24 hours without sleep. I'm dying!! While on the plane, finally leaving London for Malaga, I manage a few 15 minutes shut eye things, but nothing major. We land and I go for baggage claim. I go the area where my baggage should be popping up. Little by little, less and less things remain on the conveyer belt as people claim their baggage. I idly wait in worry wondering, why oh why, does my luggage never come out first. A few minutes later, I notice the same unclaimed collapsable baby carriage pass by for its 5th cycle. OK, I'm pissed. The airline lost my luggage??
I find an area called 'equipaje extraviado' for lost luggage area. I really don't expect to find it here, but gracias a Dios, it appears on the converyer belt!! Shew! I would have been SCREWED without it. I waddle along, now with a bulging Jansport Backpack, a bursting at the seams duffel bag hanging from my front like a necklace and now my 75 lb. suitcase dragging behind. Man, I need servants, by this time, I feel like just collapsing on the floor but know that I can't. I trudge to the taxi waiting area where I have my first substantial spanish conversation with some dude next to me. I sigh in relief as I can understand most of what he's saying because he's not talking with the infamous andalucian accent that I've heard so much bad things about.
Shortly after, a taxi guy comes for me and puts my things in. I was in limbo here. I figured since he did this a lot with tourists, he'd probably know english, but then again, he's spanish, so I couldn't really pick one for sure. Conversation was rough in the start with him, I couldn't even understand quite a bit in the first few minutes as I was still trying to get out of my english mode. Finally starts clicking and he tells me (in spanish of course) that the place I'm trying to get to is in area of town he's not familiar with. He stops and passes me along to another of his taxi friends he sees parked on the side of the road. This new guy knows the area and gladly drives me. Now finally out of english mode, the conversation goes smoothly without a hitch. Thanks to him and his constant usage of, I use 'vale' now to take the place of 'esta bien' or 'OK'.
He drives me to a hostel, the one in which I'm writing this, and here I am. I've finally had a bath and am ready to go to sleep. Tomorrow (err, later this morning) I've got to wake up at 7 AM to get ready and catch a bus to the school and explain my tardiness, and hopefully get a more permanent housing situation. The landlady says if that doesn't work out, we'll talk more about an extended situation here. I pray to god that I'm able to get in touch with Aixa (a girl I know doing the same program in the area) so that we can roomie up and save money. Hopefully, she get's that doctor's house, who's a friend of the family that she told me about. Tomorrow I plan to get a cell phone and do just that.
Alright, time for me to drop like a log. This is the first time in my life where I'm going to sleep hungry. First time for everything right? But I'm guessing this whole experience is gonna be full of those.
Fun things to do in Spain, Cosas jocosas de hacer en España.
Go to a cantina,have a couple glasses of red wine for courage, get introduced to a toreador (torero) wave a red cloth (¿bandillera?) in his face, stick a fork or something into him and run like hell.The part of running out of there as quickly as you can is very important. Asistir a una Cantina, bever 2 copas de vino tinto para agarrar bravura. Hacerse de amigos con un toreador. y, despues de un rato de conversacion capotear un trapo rojo al torero y meterle un tenedor o algo asi al torero y, salir corriedo de al cantina. Nota, lo mas importante de todo es salir corriedo de la cantina despues de bandolear al torero.
Disclaimer, I am not ordering ,insisting that you should harm a toreador,it is only a suggestion and if you decide to do this is ultra important that when you stick a fork into the toreador make sure you yell, ¡¡¡¡ 'am only kidding!!!! and get out of the bar as fast you can.
Nota, para que no piense que está cometiendo un acto criminal es importante que grite en el momento que capote al torero,¡¡¡ esto es solo una broma!!!!
Hey guys, thanks for reading. I DO have a third entry, but I'm just going to skip it so I can put my latest 4th one on here and have you guys at the same place/page.
Heidita, so when you are coming down to visit me??
Q, thanks for the pic. You didn't add the prime meridian though this time! haha.
Monday, October 5, 2009 -9:21 PM-
Alright, I didn't do much yesterday on Sunday. It was my first free day where I could finally relax my aching feet and just stay in. One thing of note however, I woke up with a headache that I'm very sure was coming from a caloric deficiency. I haven't been eating much, and what I have been eating hasn't been very filling. Man, you guys have got to understand that the feeling of being full really IS a luxury, and I say that without even being a poor Somalian child. So, for dinner, I took the plunge and went to McCoco's to try out their burgers and fries. Yup, that's right Chase, looks like I won't have to wait till I get back from Spain to get that burger! I had the what was called 'Hamburguesa Maxi'. Let me tell you guys, this was the BEST hamburger I've ever had..well, the fact that I was famished probably helped the taste even more, but yea, extremely good. This thing had a beef patty nicely grilled right in front of you, bacon, scrambled egg, lettuce, tomatoe, onion and mayonnaise, and the bread was toasted perfectly. Not too hard, not too soft, PERFECT. Oh, and the fries..wow! If the real McDonald's had this kind of food, they would've taken over the world and we'd all be their slaves. McCoco's is definitely no McDonalds.
OK, so that was yesterday, onwards to today!
I wake up at around 7:45 AM. Ahhhh, the FIRST full night of sleep without interruption. I'm feeling, as Tony the Tiger would say..GRREEEEEEAAAATTTTT!!! Itinerary for the day: Go back to the highschool to talk with head honcho guy, and 2) finally get that **** cell phone!!
OK, so I miss the bus that I wanted to take that comes around 9. Man, he came early this time! I remember last time, it came at 9, this time it was more like 8:50. Doh! This stinks, I am now reliving my childhood of when I had to take the school bus every morning! I hang out a bit in my room, then fearing I'll miss the next one, I decide to just wait it out on the bench. 15 minutes pass. 30. Hmm, I put on my headphones and I jam out to some John Mayer blues tunes. One thing I've started to note is the more than occasional head turn to look at me and scrutinize what I can only imagine to be the strangeness that are my funny eyes. Yup, an asian, get used to it!
So the bus finally comes. Again, the door does not open for me. This time however, the driver doesn't go to the hills to take a dump, he simply moves to the more comfortable seats for the physically disabled and sits there. I stand there wondering what the hell I should do. I decide on pretending to have lots of fun kicking the rocks and pebbles that are at my feet. After about 5 minutes of this, the gates to Troy finally open and we're off.
When I get to the school, Miguel by chance yet again runs into me. We do the obligatory niceities and he tells me that the head honcho guy is in. Alright! Finally, I can get some answers. We go to the teachers' area where the offices are and I'm given a tentative schedule of how my days will go. Apparently, I'm to have a TON of liberty with how my schedule will go. I decide which classes I want to enter in and help out in and get this..I even have a say to how the lessons will go. I mean, this is huge considering the fact that I thought they had everything planned out and how they wanted to utilize me. I really thought it was going to be like 'OK, you're done with that, now do this, then this, then this'. Nope, none of that. Additionally, I also find out that this is the first year they're doing something like this, having foreigners come in to help out with the classes and such. I guess that kind of explains why everything up to this point has seemed so haphazardly put together. Haha, I don't care. If anything, this is great for me because I get to be more flexible and actually manage the class how I want. I mean, I came into this thinking I'd be a simple tool for the professors to use and to simply offer my experiences of english and the american culture. The big thing is that I thought I'd be in an 'inferior' status to the professors if you will, but actually, I'm apparently going to BE a professor! Ha! Imagine that! Me, with such a prestigious title, I know everyone back home will get a smile out of that at least. Man, what's next, me being responsible?
OK, so after all that is explained, Socorro, who showed me around the school the last time I was here tells me that the 'coordinador' or basically principal if you will, is on his way to meet with me and to take me to the the police station. My visa is only valid for 3 months and I need to get a temporary ID for here before that happens or I get deported! Yea, pretty important.
During this time, me and Socorro get a chance to talk. She's 100% spanish, but her english sounds 100% british. It's crazy and awesome at the same time. I would've thought there'd be some spanish accent to it at least, but there isn't. In fact, almost ALL the professors here that talk english, do so with the british accent and it's like that because all the english they learn and hear comes from England, NOT America. So we talk about random stuff and she stops me quite a few times with a quizzical look. Now, we're talking in english so I'm wondering what the problem is. A lot of it has to do with terms that we simply take for granted that aren't used in England. I was joking with her about how I was the only Asian here. I asked if she knew the percentage that Asians made in the population of Spain and she said she had no idea. I then asked if she could simply give me a 'ballpark figure' which of course was what sparked the puzzled look. At first I couldn't even figure out which part she didn't understand. I then found out she didn't know what a ball park was which I had to explain referred to baseball stadiums and how the saying refers to simply giving an rough estimate. There was also the term 'wing it' as in, we're making it up as we go along because we were talking about how things aren't really concrete and we're not sure how the classes are going to be. At first, she thought I said 'wineh' or something like that. It's really interesting to see the differences in british english and american. It really is pronounced differently.
Finally, Jesus arrives. Ha! That sentence looks funny. It's weird typing that. Anyway. So Jesus, the 'coordinador' arrives. I follow him to his car. It's made by some French company. Looks nice and super european. Jesus as well talks with a British accent. This is insane! Again, a 100% full spanish person with a PERFECT British accent. When I'm talking with these people, I have to remind myself that I'm not in the British isles. He of course talks in english to want to practice it. I guess I'll be seeing that a lot seeing as how I AM here to help these guys out with that of course. His english is perfect, so we have no problems, so I thought. Again, there's the issue of how different our english sounds. I remember in the car ride to the police station in Malaga, I said that it was hot. Now in our english, we don't really pronounce the 't' at the end when we're just talking normally and in passing. British english, yes, the 't' is there. So when I said that, he thought I said 'it's hard' or something like that. That's just one of MANY such occurrences. As I said, it is VERY interesting to see the differences.
So we reach Malaga. I hadn't been back here since I drove away from it the first night I got here. Nice to finally see the city during the day. Man, I tell you, this place is much bigger and busier than the quiet little town that is Cartama. Much more to what I'm used to. Since it's more urbanized and such, there are many more modern amenities at your fingertips. Jesus tells me I should get a place here for the same I reason I mentioned. There's just more to do here and more life, not downing Cartama in any way. It has it's own charm, the whole small town thing, and I'm having a nice time here, but damnit, there's not much in terms of entertainment here for me. I haven't even really found a basketball court here where I don't have to break into a school to get to. Additionally, if Craig were to visit me here in Cartama, I don't think I'd have much here to show him. At this point, I am seriously contemplating moving here to the bigger, more urbanized Malaga even though I've started to get real comfortable in Cartama. I mean, I've talked a bunch with Anna and Juan (the couple that owns the hostel), got to talk with the store owners that I frequent that now recognize me and have walked around a TON getting to know the streets and all of that. Ah, whatever.
So first, I mention to Jesus that I hadn't eaten any breakfast, so we go to a 'cafetería' and order some 'baguettes'. Basically, they're small little sandwitches that are supposed to tide you over till lunch. The 'baguettes' we order are ones with ham. One thing I learn. When we americans think of ham, we think of, you know, cooked ham, the sliced ham you can buy at the deli. When spanairds think of ham, they think of uncooked ham that's been cured with oil and salt. My 'baguette' was of the cooked variety, his was of the cured. I tried a bit of his. Ehhh, it was alright, I think I'll stick with cooked ham though.
After our quick brunch, we go to the police station to find out about my ID. Well, whadayaknow, their computer system that handles that little detail has gone haywire and they're still in the process of fixing it. Hmph! During the whole time with Jesus, I learn many new words from him and jot them all down in my little memo pad I brought from home with me. I already have 2 full pages filled up.
After the police station, he takes me to the 'centro comercial' or the mall, to finally get my cell phone. Ah yes, finally some moderness to contrast against the small town living I've been doing. I only want a 'pay as you go' phone, just like the one I have from home. No contracts, no obligations. I'm only here for a year. Don't want any strings attached. The girl working the place speaks in a way that's quite difficult to undertand. She cuts many things off and says many things in passing. Ah, it's only natural I suppose after speaking the language for 20+ years.
I get a phone made by a French company called Alcatel. It's configured in english, but the thing must have been programmed and translated by a French guy learning english because some of the things are just plain wrong. I remember I was trying to unlock the keypad to actually use it, and a memo box came up saying, 'Long press on * to unlock'. Now that took me a while actually to figure out that it wanted me to hold the * button to unlock it, but I digress. Behind us waiting to be attended to is some guy in his early to mid 20's. Hey, that describes me! Don't feel like it should. So when we try to take the cover off my phone to put the SIM card in. none of us can do it. We need someone with nails, either that or a screwdriver. The guy behind us volunteers and has LONG nails. Turns out he plays classical guitar. Cool! So we get to talking (no british english this time, haha) and I find out he also plays electric guitar and plays rock, blues, that sort of stuff. I ask him if he knows of any venues that offer live local music to later see if I can do something about a gig or 2 here, and he jots down a few in the Malaga area. I mean, I don't know how that's going to turn out, me getting a gig in a Spain venue, but hey, I didn't even think I'd ever get one in America. Crazier things have happened, crazier things have happened. I thank him a bunch and we're off for our REAL meal.
Jesus drives us to a real restaurant this time, one where you sit down and the food takes a while to get to you. He tells me to try the swordfish. I've never had it. But hey, whatever, bring it on! We share a tuna salad as an appetizer. Jesus orders 'Lomo con patatas' which is basically, er, not going to SOUND appetizing, but basically back meat with a bit of fat from the area with it melted, and potatoes. Anyway, he said it's good, I didn't try any. My sword fish was DELICOUS! This is perhaps the best fish I've ever had. I haven't eaten this good in a long time it seems so I'm enjoying every morsel. Jesus graciously takes care of the bill at the end which is fine by me, I've been bleeding money ever since I got here.
After our meal, Jesus drives us to the nearby Malaga university to get some numbers from flyers and the like of people looking for roommates, just in case the orientation on the 8th doesn't go like it should. I also get the opportunity to take a look around at the school. Nice place.
We're finally done for the day, and Jesus drives me back to the hostel. He also offers to drive me on Thursday to the orientation in Malaga. Much better alternative than taking the bus. He actually knows exactly where it is. I get dropped off and thank him a TON. I have had a really fun time with Jesus and feel I've made my first friend here in Spain. Haha, this guy likes science fiction and even plays Starcraft! Awesome!
I unlock the door to the hostel and Juan is there to greet me. I sit down and chat with him for a long while. We get to know each other even more and I give him my newly acquired cell phone number. Done for the day, I sit my behind down to do my usual email and facebook routine. One thing's for sure, today has been a GOOD day.
Heidita! LONG time.
I don't know how I can write it in spanish if they were all originally made for friends back home. A lot of them don't know spanish,
For now, I'm in Cartama.
Man, haha, I didn't think ANYONE would want to read it, OK, here's the second one, stay tuned! :
Friday, October 2, 2009 -7:09 PM-
Why oh why does the body not do what the mind demands?? OK, I guess that doesn't apply to those buddhist monks getting burned at the stake without uttering the slightest 'ouch' or 'hey, this is kind of hot' but damnit, it sure as hell applies to me. I went to sleep earlier this morning at around 1 AM. It seemed as if I was half-awake the whole time, and by whole time, I mean 2 hours. Yup, I wake up at 3 AM, trying to go back to sleep for 1 and a half hours and finally give up and start watching spanish TV, or maybe I should stop doing that and simply refer to it as TV now. I manage to go back to sleep at 6 AM and wake up to the oh so ever serene screech that is the alarm clock. Ugh, I have a major headache, and I know why I have one, it's because my brain is cannabolizing itself for sustenance to make up for the fact that I've supplemented 30+ hours of being awake with 3 hours of terrible quality shut eye. Man, did I even attain REM sleep? I really don't think so. Man and look at that, a 10:1 ratio of awake and sleep.
Wahh, I miss my 8 hours. Alright! Sorry, I must stop ranting about sleep I know.
OK, so I go to the bus stop at 8:45 AM at the corner of the main road right by the hostel. In spite of a crappy start to the day, it feels FANTASTIC out. It must've been 76 deg Far. out with a slight breeze. The bus finally comes at around 9. I ask him if he knows of any school by the 'primera parada de la estacion de Cartama'. He doesn't, but he says I can just get off there and ask around. I pay him the 1,20 Euros for my passage. Yup, that's no typo guys, commas separate the 'partial units' from the 'whole units' here. So that's kinda like 1 dollar and 20 cents, except for the fact that the Euro is worth quite a bit more than the dollar. Man, so I"m paying almost 2 bucks for a bus ride. Whatever happened to just paying a quarter or 2?? Sigghhh the good 'ol days.
On the way to my stop, the bus driver naturally picks up other people at stops before my own. He asks one of his regulars if she knows of any school by the area where I need to get off. She says yes, so now I'm sure I'm getting off at the right place. When I finally get off, I'm a bit lost. I was hoping some school would be in visual distance from the stop, but there's a fountain forming the center of a turnabout with streets jutting out in multiple directions from it. I give up, I ask some lady cleaning the streets about it. Yup, that's right, I was trying to avoid talking to people, even though I'm here to improve my language skills. My defense, I don't even like asking for directions in English.
Anyway, she points me to the right direction. A word she used that I can't help but smile about. She said I needed to keep following an uphill street until I arrived at a 'kiosko'. Yup, that's right folks. The old adage of adding a simple 'o' to the end of a word in the flesh. Haha, well, one difference though, actually a big difference is that she wasn't referring to a kiosk like say the kiosks at a movie theater to pay or a ticket without needing to wait in line. Her 'kiosko' was reffering more to a newsstand tent/shack thing.
So I walk uphill per her instructions and make a left at the 'kiosko'. The 'Valle de Azahar' is really close to the intersection. Turns out, this 'Valle de Azahar' is what we would consider a middle school and high school put together. Additionally, this place is like no high school I've ever been to. I walk in and stop a few steps in contemplating in which direction to go. I see what looks to be a front desk, reception area so I decide to go there. On the way, some guy named 'Miguel' stops me by calling out my name. I respond, 'How'd you know?' and he basically replies that I kind of stick out. Yea, it's true. I really must be the only slitty eyed dude walking around this school, actually, maybe the only one in the whole **** 'pueblo'. He takes me to some back area for teachers and I discover that they weren't even expecting me yesterday. What?? Yea, so great and organized this program is. Additionally, I explicitly remember hearing that I needed to come on Oct.1 to do the orientation through an email, so, whatever. This is not inspiring much confidence.
I'm told to wait in the office area while they organize some stuff and try to find the paperwork involving me. I pass the time talking with the dude there doing something on the computer. He's cool and his name's Roberto, nuff said. When I mention that I hadn't eaten anything from when I woke up, he shows me to the cafeteria which again, looks nothing like we have here in our schools. There's some dude behind the counter cutting meat and him and other ladies are making food and subs right in front of you. I order half a sub and a mango and grape juicebox. Only cost 1,50 Euros. Yesss.
After breakfast, I'm told that the head honcho dude isn't there and that I'd have a chance to speak to him on Monday of next week. I'm also told that there was no orientation yesterday either and that it's actually going to be on the 8th of Oct, the thursday of next week in a separate high school in Malaga. Wowww. And to think if I had actually taken some people's advice and arrived a week earlier. That's a lot of money down the drain just waiting for the orientation to begin since everything here is in Euros. After I talk with some more teachers, some of which talk english with a british accent, I take advantage of the free wifi and connect my laptop where I was able to post my 1st blog entry on Facebook.
I take the bus back to the hostel and Anna, the landlady greets me. OK, she's starting to grow on me. I wouldn't mind having a more extended arrangement with her now, but I'd still of course prefer that doctor's house of Aixa's. I converse with Anna and her husband Juan about a number of things, one of which is the possibility of me having a more permanent sitation here at the hostel. It's actually pretty nice. Not too expensive and has everything I need all to myself. Anna keeps everything very nice and clean. She had actually just finished cleaning my room when I arrived. There is one drawback to his hostel however. There's a street just a bit out from my window and I can hear the cars passing by quite clearly. Thankfully, I brought my earplugs from home.
After laying down in my room for an hour or 2, I go out to walk around and map out the surrounding area. I wanted to see what kind of shops were around and specifically, find a store to buy a cell phone. I walk for around 2, 3 hours. If anyone has seen 'Bad Boys II' with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence and the scene where they're driving down that huge huge hill in the end crashing through all the shacks of the shanty town, that's basically how this town is built except that they're real houses and buildings. Everything has a slope and descent to it. I notice that the 'sidewalks' are very thin here. I guess they don't really expect anyone to walk side by side on them. That or they're just trying to save space to cram as many shops, houses, and functional buildings in as they can.
I go into a supermarket called 'super cartama' to find something to satiate my hunger. I'm looking for a salad as I like to eat pretty healthy, and I haven't been able to really find a good place to do that. I mean, there's a bunch of bars and things like that, but I'm not going to go into one of those and order food by myself, that's more of a 'have friends with you there' kind of place, kind of lame going in by yourself I think. Also I'm walking around for food at the wrong time. Most of the places say they're not serving anything until 7. The 'supermarket' is very small compared to what we're used to. I think of a 'supermarket', I think Publix or neighborhood WalMart. This place is not even half the size. There are only around 5 aisles. I find the 'fruteria' section where there is fresh produce. I'm looking for something like a premade salad, ready to eat. I nicely ask if they sold any and she points. I follow her finger with my eyes to what can only be described as a plastic bag with lettuce in it. I ask if there is one with carrots and tomatoes in it, you know, kind of like how a salad should be, not JUST lettuce and she gives me the spanish equivalent of 'what you see is what you get'. Hmm, did I notice a hint of smart aleckyness in that? Ahh, whatever.
I finally just go to the 'McDonalds' place I passed by earlier since a 'McDonalds' wouldn't have the same 'no serving food till 7' problem. I walk in and immediately come to the conclusion that I must have walked through the wrong door somehow. There's actually the obligatory small inside playground ball pit thing in the back, but there is a bar area with tons of hard licour, a pizza oven and grill goin on the cooking area. I actually see no actual McDonalds items, which is fine by me because that would also be pretty lame eating authentic McDonalds food in Spain. I think maybe this place really isn't endorsed by the McDonald's corporation and that this guy just put up the whole yellow 'M' symbol on his sign to attract more tourists or something. The only thing McDonaldsy is the fact that there are also burgers, chicken nuggets, and fries offered here but after everything I've seen so far, I'm very sure they're not McD versions. Additionally, on the sign, there's not only the yellow 'M', immediately after is 'cCoco' so I'm really just at a place called McCoco. Smoking is allowed in here and there is a jukebox going on in the background where I can hear a Nelly Furtado song. I look at the menu and find the salad section. Again, McDonalds does not have these kinds of elaborate salads. I settle on 'Ensalada Tropical' which has all the traditional vegetables that a salad should have and also some seafood and chicken mixed in as well with some sauce/salad dressing on it translated to 'red sauce'. Not too sure what it is, but whatever, it's a salad **** and it was hard enough to find a good place to get one. I have that and a glass of water. I promise myself the next time if I have the same thing to ask for half the usual amount of 'red sauce' as I find it just a bit too rich and thick for my tastes. I pay my bill, 5 Euros. Hmm, I'm trying to somehow figure out if I can eat all my meals at the cafeteria area in the high school. I went to a 'cajero automatico'/ATM and it told me i had 1500 Euros available in funds, not the financial cushion I had in mind coming into this, so I want to try and be as economical as possible until I start making some money here.
Well, off to sleep for me. Only around 8 PM and I'm tired already. I'm not even going to take a shower or brush my teeth, I'm dozing off already writing this. Tomorrow, I'm gonna try and find a cell phone place again and also a laundrymat or something to wash my clothes. Thankfully I had the foresight to pack 7 days worth of underwear, I have time.
Find the señoritas! Have fun Charlius.
May your experience there exceed your wildest hopes.
Another interesting word from my memo pad: catear. Means to fail, like failing, flunking a class. Pretty slangy apparently. Now the blog...
Wednesday, October 7, 2009 -11:34 PM-
Alright, didn't write a blog for yesterday. Pretty uneventful day just waiting for this blasted orientation. Pretty lame and moot at this point. I already AM orientated and am quite adjusted already. Why oh why did they tell us to come on the 1st when the orientation is the 8th?? Not wanting to blow my own horn (yes Kenny, we all know what that means, that I'm going to do the complete opposite and blow my own horn, lol), but a lesser man would have been overwhelmed in my position the first few days. My position seems to be distinct from what I've been hearing. Aixa got here at Marbella, a pretty well known touristy town. She was staying at an english speaking hostel and Marbella certainly is bigger than Cartama and has more..how do I say..amenities? Another friend, Amanda, who's staying in Madrid (nuff said) got here and was greeted by friends of friends, or was that friends of family, through her church. So uh, what the crap? Basically, what happened to me was..'hey you, uh..here's some money, so uhmm, yea go survive for a week in a small little town in Spain where you don't know anybody by yourself, then we'll come and see how you're doing at the end, OK? Cool, gotta bounce!' Haha, seriously. I frequent a forum at spanishdict.com where I use their online dictionary whenever I read a spanish novel. A forum member there is a spanish native called 'Heidita'. When I mentioned where I was, she was like 'Eso está perdido de la mano de Dios!' Basically, I'm in the middle of nowhere. Oh well, that which does not kill you makes you stronger, eh?
Juan, the owner of the hostel AND owner of a restaurant/bar in town invited me to have a meal on him that night. What a nice gesture! I order the biggest hamburger they have there, and a 'batido de chocolate' which is basically chocolate milk. Good stuff, buena gente.
One more thing of note, turns out Aixa is already roomied up with someone and didn't get the doctor's house. Grrrrr!!! Aixa, you SO owe me a homecooked meal!
So, onwards to today!
Today, I wake up with no enthusiasm. I do this because I know it's just another day that I have to wait for the orientation. Not a single thing to do. On the way to the patio area, I pass by Juan and ask if he needs any help with anything. Help with the hostel, help with the bar..anything. I'm tired of this inactivity! He says he really doesn't have anything for me..oh well, I tried. I leave for town to get my tuna salad at 'Nuestra señora de los remedios'. The place was closed on Monday and Tuesday so I'm looking forward to getting food from there again. I get there at around 11, but when I get there, there's no food! Wh, what?? I ask what's going on and they matter-of-factually explain to me that since they were closed on Tuesday, that this is there first day back so things go slower the first day. Maaannnn, I dunno, I suppose this is normal but it just seems SO strange to me that a business would operate like this. Doesn't seem very..you know, professional. I guess I'm just used to places back home where they have a set schedule and adhere to it every day. Whatever, they're good people. They tell me that food should be ready at 1 PM. Upon seeing my emmy award winning 'Puss-in-boots' sad face as seen in 'Shrek' they tell me they'll have my order ready at noon. Whoo hoo!! Man, if I had breasts to top it off, the world would be mine (just a joke people)!
I bring my meal back to the hostel and eat it in the patio area. Upon doing more research with my laptop, I am now wise to the fact that Málaga is not only a city, but it's the entire province that we're in. Málaga the city, is simply the capitol. Doh!! I REALLY should have done some research before leaving the country. I also take the time to google up who the president of Spain is so I can know that at least and not be a total American.
I talk with Anna again who's cleaning around the place. I again offer my services to break the current chain of inactivity, but again, nothing. She tells me I should walk up the little mountain to the south to see the church there. Hmmm, walking a lot and an old church as a payoff at the end...hmmmm, I say..no! Haha, no actually I think I WILL make it up there at some point, just not today. We talk about hobbies and when I mention that I love basketball she tells me that there's actually a court along the road that leads to 'Estación' that's also by a swimming pool. I say, 'en serio?' in response and decide that I have my itinerary for the day. After breakfast (at midday), and surfing around the net some more, I become very weary at 3 PM and take a one hour siesta. I wake up at 4 and decide to check out the basketball court!
Takes a while to walk there and I have to ask some chick (whom I think thought I was hitting on her) for directions, but I get there. Hmm, there appears to be a team practicing there already. I decide that I don't want to interrupt anything and sit down outside the gates. I see a boy, probably around 8 years old sitting farther to the right of me. After a few minutes of just watching the team practice, I ask the kid if he knew what was going on with the court. He tells me that they're practicing (duh) and that I can play, but that I have to sign up and put my name down first. I'm of course reluctant to do this. I'm used to just being able to walk on a court and play with whoever's there, you know, friggin' pickup games. This is pretty different, but isn't this whole experience?? After a few more minutes, the kid, whom I find out is named 'Juanma' takes me to see the 'coordinador' who's ferociously barking at his team to either defend or not play. Ha! Some things are just the same in any country.
'Juanma' asks for me if I can play and the 'coordinador' asks me how old I am. I look around. There appears to be a group of 11-13 year olds practicing on one end and I see a group of older boys around 16 on the other. I decide, for the sake of just being able to play, to say that I'm 18. Well, whaddaya know. That doesn't work because that's STILL too old apparently to play with the group. He tells me I should come back tomorrow at 7:30 PM when the18 year olds come around. Arrggh!! I MISS pickup games! What's with this whole bureaucratic process just to run around and shoot some hoops??
Dejectedly, I sit on the bench watching the older boys play. They're playing with the orange and white FIBA ball that I saw during the Olympics when the U.S. was just DESTROYING everybody. I take one and bounce it around. It actually feels a bit smaller than the NBA standard. I'm going to have to look that up to confirm. There's another court within visual distance from the court we're currently at right by the 'colegio' or elementary school. Strangely enough, the hoops there are not lower to accomodate the kids. On each extreme are also soccer goals, doh, I mean futbol goals. On the way, Juanma notices his cousin who he calls 'Pollo' playing there. 'Pollo' is of the same age as are most of the other kids there. Juanma introduces me and I'm immediately swarmed by the larvae. A half semicircle is formed around me. They all ask me questions at once. Now, I don't know if you guys have noticed, even in english, but kids talk differently from adults. It's just..different. Sounds different. It's different! Have I mentioned it's different?? Words are pronounced differently and their words carry a distinct flavor and attitude from those of adults. It's hard to understand at first. I ask 'Que fue' and 'que dijiste' a lot. Thankfully, as you guys may not expect, I actually think kids are more patient in this regard and help me out and gladly repeat 2, 3, sometimes 4 times before I can get what they say. A lot of this comes from when they say english words. One of the kids mentions the game 'NBA street'. Of course it sounds NOTHING like 'NBA street'. Sounded more like 'em-ay-streek'. They tell me all about Pau Gasol and I say yea, I know him, he plays with Kobe Bryant. The kids start thinking I actually KNOW Kobe Bryant to which I have to correct.
After being bombarded by the swarm, the kids ask me to play soccer/futbol with them. I tell them I don't really play, they say it doesn't matter. Haha. Man, it just reminds of me of when I watched the movie 'Ali' and and when Will Smith is running through the streets of Kinshaza, Zaire before his fight with George Foreman and a bunch of kids just start swarming around him and run with him. It was kinda' like that. When I saw that, I didn't really think that could really happen. I know that when I was a kid I wouldn't have done anything like that. Now I know that it most definitely CAN happen, it was cool! We play for a good while, an hour, hour and a half. I don't really play, so I just do my best Pele impression. I was actually the star of my team (only because of my size not my soccer skills) and scored the most points, but we still lost! Oh well, haha, it was VERY fun and exhausting. It was very entertaining hearing the kids dispute calls and accusing each other of 'dando un empujón' or pushing/fouling and also hearing a few 'mierdas' here and there after the ball went out of bounds. By now, I've already started to adapt to their 'kid speak', but I can't wait to get back to talking and hearing 'adult speak'. I say that I'm going and they ask where? I say that I'm very hungry and that I'm going to get a burger at McCoco's. Wanna have me another 'hamburguesa maxi'. The kids ask if they can come sometime! I say sure, and we plan on doing it some other day. Man, at this point, I'm actually kind of concerned for the kids' safety. I mean, I'm loving the whole experience, but it occurs to me that if I was a tad more of a shady character, that I could easily take advantage of the kids' innocence and unsuspecting nature. All a child molestor from America needs to learn is one sentence 'quieres una hamburguesa' and he's in heaven. Shudder. On the other hand, I'm glad they're not so suspicious and cautious because I would have never had such an interesting, awesome and fun experience had they been so. I think for the most part, here in America, most parents teach their kids to not trust strangers at ALL and to basically run and scream when a stranger approaches them. Wise policy I suppose, but at the same time, kinda' sad.
One bad thing that does happen. I collapse to floor after the game finalizes and my leg presses on top of my cell phone. The pressure pushes a series of buttons and I accidentally turn off my cell phone. I turn it back on but am asked for my PIN. Uhh, I never made a PIN. I don't know it! I'm screwed. I now have to go back to the place I got the cell phone and ask for help. The PIN number is nowhere to be found on any of the papers that I got with the cell. Can you believe that, I just got the thing and already I've been deprived of it! Things turn even worse when I realize that Jesus told me that he'd call my cell after work to drive me to Malaga for the orientation. NOOO!! Ah, it's not so bad. I plan on going early to the high school to ask for him and if he's not there they can call him from there, no biggy.
I sorely limp away from the court for the long trek back to the hostel and McCoco's. After having so much fun and the consequent endorphin rush from the exercise, I'm walking around with a smile and swagger like I own the town and nod and say 'hola' to random people. Haha, one weird thing that did happen. Some old wanderer guy just came up to me, shook my hand, held it and then said in VERY unintelligible spanish, something about me giving him milk, or some crap like that. I said I didn't understand (not a lie) and that I didn't speak spanish (OK, there's the lie) and walked away with him yelling even more unintelligible crazy things at me from behind. If he would have had a trenchcoat filled with cats, he would have been throwing them at me at this point.
To finalize the day, I have my 'hamburguesa maxi' and a 'batido de chocolate' at Juan and Anna's bar on the way back to the hostel. I will be sleeping soundly tonight!
I think it would definitely be of interest to most people on this site to hear from your experiences in Spain. I'm sure we'll learn something about the culture from anything you have to say. Lucky you!
Why don't you try to write some of it in spanish? Not everything but some of the blog. Just a thought. I can't tell you how envious I am!! I will travel, oh yes, one day I will travel!!!
Thursday, October 29, 2009 -9:32 PM-
Yawwwwwwnnn, I loooooveee my siestas!
So on Monday, Miguel gives me a check after hearing from his son, Alvaro, how poor I am here. 700 Euros! Alright! Doesn't make me rich or anything, but at least now, I can spend money, go out here and there and eat out without feeling guilty about it as much. So..after being fed up with a whole weekend of nothing but my famous 'nutrient supplement alpha', right after school, I cash the check (I still can't open a bank account here yet!) and go to a nearby Chinese restaurant near me. Now..before I'm accosted by people telling me, hey Charlie, you're in Spain, why the hell are you eating Chinese food?! Well, I wanted to do that, but all the spanish food places all seem more of a social gathering place type of deal, so I'm not doing that alone. No worries, I have plans with Alvaro to go out and have him show me some typical spanish food places this coming week.
So, as I was saying, I go to the chinese restaurant right on the corner of my block and, yup, what do you know, what I was fearing was going to happen, happened. I walk in and a waiter/host comes up to me and immediately starts talking to me in Chinese. Haha, I shouldn't blame him, but I don't know..I just feel like I have a different aire to me, a different attitude, a different swag from the the rest of the chinese in the area from me being American (my block has a chinese general store, a chinese grocery shop, AND this chinese restaurant) so I feel he should have known that I'm not chinese!! Haha, just kidding about that, but yea, I had to disappoint him and tell him I only speak english and spanish. So since the english of all the chinese around here is either sub, SUB par or non-existent, I must communicate with my genetic cousins in spanish of all things!! HOW twilight zone is this? It's all feeling kind of surrealistic having the only common language between us be spanish. Oh, and their spanish has a definite chinese accent to it, so..quite interesting to hear. Also of note, their spanish isn't at a super high level either, but well enough for me to order and do a little small talk.
So I sit down and I'm asked where I'm from, that sort of thing. I order the menu of the day (3 plates and a dessert and drink). I get a spring roll, fried rice and beef strips with vegetables. For dessert, strawberry icecream. For my drink, I get a orange Fanta (Yea, Fanta's pretty prevalent here. Fanta Fanta, don't chu wanna, Fanta Fanta??). I also wanted a water, but I'm told if I get that, that it'd be extra since the meal only comes with one drink since they don't give you tap water. I mention that that's been the only thing I've been drinking in my 'piso' and he asks how I can drink it with the taste of 'lejía'/bleach cleaning chemicals tinging it. He later brings me a glass of water on the house. Yayyy. Even though I'm not Chinese, and I don't speak a word of it, I get hooked up. Finally, this physical exterior of mine is coming in handy. Haha, actually, in that moment, I start to feel a bit of solidarity as we all kind of have the same situation. We came to Spain from another country (albeit, not from the SAME country) and have to deal with the same crap like getting stared out for our slitty eyes (don't worry, nothing like getting dirty looks filled with scorn or anything, just looks of inquiry from time to time). The whole, original purpose of the 'Chinatowns' to group together and help and look out for each other to survive in America and from the abuses of the 'white man' in the flesh.
What else happened this week?
Ahh, also on Monday, I have one of my best teaching classes. I'm starting to get comfortable with my role in the school. I go to Inma's class (one of the professor's I know better around here) with some more 16 year olds and do the same drill. Introduce myself, make sure to speak slowly and clearly making sure to enunciate, and make eye contact with the whole room and do a conversation session after. This particular class in general has a higher english level than the VERY sub par classes I've had lately. Sure I have to talk slow and simplify my language, but at least I can get points across without having to get them translated all the time. I get to relax more in this class and have more fun with the students and be me and enjoy myself. I get to put some recommendations I've been given into practice and engage the students more, provoking them more to speak and asking them more things. Of course, this doesn't always work, like say in a class where not even the simplest thing is understood or half the students don't feel like being there. This class however, everyone was interested and engaged and I had everyone's attention for the whole hour. I begin to notice the similarities of what I'm doing and what a, comedian, for example does. You need to 'work' the whole room, keep everyone interested, have stage presence and just be larger than life. At the end of the class when the bell rings, there was a big, collective 'Awwwwwwww' when I had to leave. That was friggin' awesome!! It was as if they had all just seen a picture of a really cute kitten playing with a ball of yarn or something. I can't wait to see this particular group again.
Oh, in the 'colegio'/elementary school I now have 2 favorites! There are 2 niñas here that are just SOOO cute and adorable! And remember, this is coming from the guy that's never been a kid person. Hey look ma, I'm growing. I must say, kids can be pretty awesome, like when a whole room starts bustling and gets rowdy just because you enter and everyone is yelling 'It's Charlie!', you can't help but just smile. One of my favorites is just so girly and adorable when she calls out for attention and says 'Profe, profe!' Then there's another who can be quite the tomboy and she's always playing and hanging with the boys and ALWAYS plays as goalie during the 'futbol' games during recess. Speaking of which, the kids here have made their own soccer ball made out of a whole bundle of tape and paper. It actually works pretty darned well and can bounce even. I also get a chance to see Christina (the tomboy) practice with some other students for a flamenco act they're going to do near the end of the year at the 'colegio'. They had a coordinator/dance choreographer directing them and everything. Quite a few of these moves I'm seeing seem a bit complicated, so if they get this down, it'll be a big hit. I can't wait to see! Christina notices me when I walk in on the practice and smiles and laughs. She seemed to be messing up a bit more than the others, so I think I was being a distraction so I left after a bit to let the practice go more smoothly.
What else, what else..
Another thing of note. I've actually started to forget I'm in 'another country' and have moments of pure belonging, as if the way that everything here is, has always been. Consequently, I've also had moments where the first thing I say to someone when I walk up to them comes out in english, you know..because I've forgotten where I am. So, pretty cool phenomenon I think. I've been told that homesickness starts to really set in at the 2 month mark, but I don't know. I really, honestly don't think that will happen to me, but..we'll see! I really feel I'll be fine. I mean, all my experiences thus far seem to be more distinct and different from everyone else from America here (like my first week and a half in Cartama!) so here's to hoping the pattern continues at the end of my first 2 months!
Lastly, I get a call from a certain friend of mine in Madrid. I actually know several people doing a program in Madrid, but I digress. It was SOOOO great to hear from someone finally from back home!! We talk for a bit, but since the call is costing a fortune, we don't get to talk for like an hour or anything. I plan to visit up there at some point, maybe in December, so I'll get to see hopefully at least 2 people I know from back home then.
OK, two entries this time. I had internet issues. If you only have time to read one, I suggest skipping to number 9.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009 -12:32 AM-
Well, today (or earlier today/yesterday) was a holiday called 'El pilar'. Has something to do with some virgen/saint, don't look at me, that's all I know. One thing that's great now that I'm in my own place. I get to eat whenever the hell I want. No more being at the mercy of the schedules of the stores. I have a refrigerator and I know how to use it. It feels so great to be able to eat whenever I get hungry. Well..actually, since this is Málaga, and not Cartama, I'd be able to find somewhere that serves food the whole day..but still, ha! I have power!
OK, so I make myself what has become my usual breakfast. A ham sandwich with lettuce and tomatoe. So some differences to note here between U.S. sandwiches and the ones here. As I've noted previously in an earlier blog, Spanairds think of ham as cured ham, that is, raw ham that's been treated with salt and oil. Certainly looks raw too. I tried some..it takes some getting used to. We americans think of ham as 'cooked ham'. So there's that difference. Also, you don't really put lettuce and tomatoe on sandwiches here either. A ham sandwich here is just the bread, ham and cheese. Kinda' plain in my opinion. I NEED the lettuce and tomatoe. Seems SO naked without. I actually tried asking to add lettuce and tomatoe one time at the cafeteria in the high school. They just looked at me funny. Yup, no lettuce. They DO put tomatoes on sandwiches, but not sliced tomatoes. They put a really mashed up, salsa tomatoe paste/mixture on the bread, kinda' like ketchup. So here at my place, I can have me a REAL sandwich (well, real for me).
After my 'real' ham sandwich, I do as I did yesterday. I take a walk to get to know the area better. I need to make sure that I know the route to the central bus station because I have to take it tomorrow morning to get to the school in Cartama. I find it easily. I note there is a real Mcdonald's near the bus station. Yup, a REAL Mcdonald's. Not a McCoco's. Nice to know if I ever get a burger craving I have a place to go. On the way back I take some detours to explore some periphery areas and find..trumpet fanfare a shopping mall!! Whoo hoo!! Man, you guys have no idea how great it is to find one of these after being in small town Cartama. This is heaven. I go inside and..more trumpet fanfare there's air conditioning!! Man, now I know lots of places have air conditioning, yes, but in my place we don't. After walking out and about in the sun, I'm on cloud 9. I don't want to leave. I can see myself coming out here and walking around JUST for the air conditioning.
So, you guys wanna know the difference between a spanish mall and malls back home?? There isn't one. It's exactly the same. Well..a few minor things. I've never seen a mall that had a supermarket inside it. This one did. So that's cool. Additionally, to move from level to level, you take escalators, but instead of having steps, it's just a big, long ramp upon which I was slipping a tad due to my sandals. In the mall I also found a burger king, a movie theater and a disney shop. Man, it was SOOO hard to resist buying things. I had to constantly tell myself 'I will not buy anything, I will not buy anything'. I wavered a bit when I passed by Burger King and a Stitch doll in the Disney Store. Grrr, blast this consumerist **** house! I shall resist temptation! One thing that really caught my eye was the movie poster advertising 'Rec 2'. I saw the first one back home and really liked it, so I can't wait to see the second one and I'm pretty sure it's not being shown in the U.S. theaters. Hmm, so there ARE advantages to being in Spain, haha.
After enjoying a few hours of air conditioning, I head back. I need to turn in early to wake up on time to catch the 8 'o clock bus for my first day of 'work'!
Tuesday, October 13, 2009 -8:40 PM-
Whooo boy, I haven't had to wake up this early since my youngin' days, haha. 6:30 AM, this is crazy early for me. In college I understandably scheduled all my classes no earlier than noon! Oh well, this is good for me, I'm actually able to witness the sun rise for once. No more Count Charlius. Addtionally, it's great to finally get started and be productive and useful!
I make a rough estimate of how long it will take to walk to Malaga's central bus station. I decide..ehhh, 30 minutes tops. 10 minutes pass on my walk, hmmm, I haven't even gotten to the bridge I need to cross over! Doh! Bad estimate. Well, I HAVE been looking for time to start up my running routine again. 7:30 in the morning is about a good a time as any. The fear of missing my bus pumps ready amounts of adrenaline into my bloodstream propelling me like a torpedo through water. It DOES feel like I'm traveling through water, as the air around has a definite chill to it. The rising sun adds to the illusion casting it's cerulean haze from the sky upon me. I'm running like the wind and I feel as if I can keep up with the cars travelling parallel to me on the streets.
I arrive with plenty of time to spare. Looks like I was just being paranoid. Better early than late, right? And with my usual track record, this is a grand accomplishment! I arrive and check the, what can only be described as a big screen TV propped up several meters high on the wall above the information window. Man, every destination you could think of is on here. I check the 'salidas' to Cartama and find the andén/platform: #25. I arrive with enough time to spare to even witness the bus driver get out for a smoke. Me and several other passengers stand in wait. 8:00 arrives and we're let in. I walk up and announce my destination and in reply, the driver tells me that I have to buy a ticket at the information window in front. What??!! Ugghh, you're kidding me, I waited this whole time just standing for nothing. The bus is about to leave so I transform into torpedo mode yet again and maneuver through the coral reef of people to get back to where I just was. I get to the information window and ask for a ticket. I'm told I have to go to window 14 down another hall. What?? This has got to be some form of cosmic joke. I zoom to window 14 and finally am able to get a ticket. I run back and show my ticket and sit down. I avoid the passengers' gazes fearing reprisal for being the sole reason the bus hadn't left already. Ahh, I'm sure I'm imagining it..or am I?? Duh-duh-duh!
Takes about an hour or so to drive from Malaga to Cartama. Oh how I miss having my own car. I could arrive so much faster without having to stop at all these 'paradas'/bus stops and take a direct route.
I get off at the bus at the 'parada' right by the 'Hostal Monteolivos' where I had spent my first week in Spain. Good memories..more or less.
From there 3 minutes walking distance to 'La Mata', the 'colegio'/elementary school. Yea, pretty counter-intuitive for an english speaker, eh? 'Colegio' sure does look like the word 'college' but nope, this is for pre schoolers and up until middle school for us.
I arrive just as the entire population of the school it appears has just begun to file in through the gates. I craftily assimilate into the stream of trout and make it to the front doors. I decide from here to just lie in wait near the front office area for the whole school to get settled down. I don't feel like interrupting anything. I stand around pretending to be interested reading various signs until a woman in her early 30's walks by. She asks if I'm 'Charlie' and I reply 'yes'. She tells me her name is 'Sylvia'. She's the physical education teacher here. She tells me to wait a bit while she finishes an errand and when she comes back I follow her into an office. There's a computer here, an unimpressive looking desktop, running on Windows XP. Well, obviously not the latest in tech and gadgetry, but it does its job.
During this time I observe Sylvia carrying out various clerical tasks. She takes the chance to tell me about the school system in Spain. Hmmm, sounds pretty familiar. Oh yea, I heard all this already in that blasted useless orientation!! OK sorry, but having to go that still irks me.
Afterwards I'm given the grand tour. We enter into a language arts classroom filled with 2nd or 3rd graders. Around there approximately, I didn't ask. When we enter, I hear a TON of excited chatter and am able to pick out a lot of gasps of 'Es chino!' 'Ooo, chino!'. Haha, you guys can figure that one out. I'm used to turning eyes by now. At this point I wonder if this is how adults would react, that in fact, adults are simply big kids, but are just able to mask their amazement and scrutinize in a more subtle manner. Up in front of the classroom, I feel like I'm being probed by Martians or creatures from dimension X.
The kids for the most part are all smiles and wave at me. Some already know my name somehow and can hear it being mentioned throughout the class. Haha, this must be what it's like to be a rock star or celebrity!
I'm formally introduced and afterwards the language arts teacher, a woman named 'Bela/Belia (?)' says that she doesn't know what to do with me quite yet. Yup, the consequences of this being 'año cero' is rearing it's ugly face. You see, this is the first year they've done anything like this in both the 'colegio' AND the 'secundaria' in Estación. This will be very interesting as it'll be quite a bit of touch and go I observe.
So, not having any plans to utilize me quite yet, 'Sylvia' tells me to follow her out to the playground where she conducts her class. 'Sylvia' brings me to the front of the class with a semi circle of kids grouped around us. I'm again introduced and she tells them that later on, quite a bit of the class will be conducted in english to help the kids learn. Upon hearing this, a collective gasp that only a group of 2nd and 3rd graders can accomplish is let out. I hear a lot of 'What?' and 'No way'. Sylvia sends the kids off to run around the playground to warm up when 'Bela' comes out. She says that she wants me to help her make some signs to put up around the school denoting various common areas. She already has a list of the english names of the signs she's thinking of using. Among the names are things like 'Staff room', 'Dining room', 'Assembly Hall', things of that nature. Some of them, however, just aren't quite right. I mean, it IS understood and makes sense, but just doesn't seem all the way there and put forth my suggestions. For example, to denote the room with computers in it, was the name 'Computer classroom'. You get the idea, but it really just 'sounds better' with just 'Computer Room'. Also, to denote the office of the 'coordinador'/head honcho guy of the school, was the name 'Head teacher'. Hmmm, yea, understood, but not quite there. I suggest 'Headmaster' instead.
I'm led to the teacher's lounge where there's an open computer. I'm to use Word and make the signs utilizing a big font and wordart. Pretty simple stuff. Just one thing, all the 'hotkeys' I'm used to in word are no longer valid. I can no longer press Ctrl+o to open up files anymore because it's all in spanish. Well duh, that's to be expected. So it takes me a bit longer to navigate around, but I know I can manage. I'm left to my own devices and finish up all the signs in no time. I learn all the new hotkeys I need to and (nerd reference alert!) with my prior experience at the real-time strategy game 'Starcraft' I'm able to micro between font sizes and page views in a flash!
At this point a few more teachers file in to organize and make some coffee, tea, and eat some 'galletas'/cookies-biscuits. Sylvia comes back in and offers me some. I only had time to eat a meager bowl of cereal so I gladly accept. Man, these coffee galletas are friggin' awesome. I wolf down 3 of them in a nanosecond while Sylvia makes me some green tea. I ask where the sugar is and knowing that the joke probably doesn't exist in spanish, say that I like to have some tea in my sugar. At first the teachers assume that I just made a mistake in my spanish, but when I later clarify that it was meant as a joke, a collective look of realization passes over their faces and they laugh. Haha, I made a funny!
I socialize and mingle around with the teachers there and find out that there's going to be an event at the school to celebrate Halloween. Really? I ask. Yup, Halloween hasn't really been celebrated here, but as the influx of more and more english and americans has increased, Halloween has become 'de moda'/in style. Haha, cool by me. I work with Bela and another teacher to talk and plan about ideas of what can be done activity wise. I ask how much they know about Halloween already and they say not much. I mention the term 'Jack-o-lantern' and receive blank stares. I see I'm going to have to explain quite a few things. So we compile a list of several activities and I also come up with the idea of 'bobbing for apples'. They didn't know what that was either. They also mention an interest in having some sort of Halloween song they can play that day and I have the perfect one in mind: Monster Mash!! That's right, gotta have that graveyard bash right?! Haha. I strip the audio from a youtube video and convert to an mp3 file. I then play it for them to see along with the lyrics on another website on screen. They don't understand most of it but smile in enjoyment when the chorus pops up. Afterwards, we go on to work on a poster that's to be hung up that day. They want to draw various Halloween stuff on it like ghosts, castles, zombies, witches, things of that nature. Hey, looks like all those years of drawing in high school have suddenly become useful eh Randy? So here at the school, not only am I the local english expert, I'm also the asian computer-tech and the artist around here. Haha, yup, I'm just that awesome, a Jack of all trades! Can't wait to play some basketball around here with the kids and teach them some fancy handles!
I draw a snowman monster complete with fangs, a combination of Halloween and X-mas.
After I finish, Luis, the 'coordinador (I think)' comes to take me to the dining room for lunch. It's now about 3 PM. Man! I got here at 9! Those 6 hours went by like nothing! I'm really enjoying my day.
We get to the lunch room as it were and am served a LARGE plate of rice stained orange/red by tomatoish sauce, with plenty of salchicha/sausage. Man, I didn't realize I was SOOOO hungry. I scarf down my large serving in no time. This stuff is GOOOOD! Man, can you believe that? Lunch room food GOOD??? Man, I never had food THIS good for school lunch! Additionally, I'm eating with silverware (not really silver, just metal) not the usual plastic utensils I've come to be accustomed to in schools back home. Also, the food is actually served on a real plate, not ghetto styrofoam trays. Classy! Later, I'm also served a tasty salad and apple slices. Everything SOO good. Huge difference in the schools here I've noticed. The meals are ACTUALLY balanced. With everything I've eaten, I've gotten my protein, carbs/starches, vegetables and fruit requirements. Back home..ha! Most kids are just eating a slice of greasy @$$ pizza with some Hawaiin Punch! Later, I'm even offered seconds and I decline with a now bulging stomach and they charge me nothing. I comment to Luis that I didn't think coming here that I'd be eating so well and he tells me that everytime I come here, I'll have something to eat. Mmmm, mmm! I'm going to like coming here! Looks like I have lunch taken care of in a big way the days I come to 'La Mata'. Additionally, Luis tells me that he lives in Malaga and will drive me to AND from school. Swweeeetttt! No more having to take the bus!
He drops me off at 4:30 near my 'piso' and signals where he'll pick me up. I give plenty of thanks and drop off like a log to take my 'siesta'. Hmm, I'm starting to become more spanish by the day!
Things are looking up! Check it!
Saturday, October 10, 2009 -9:29 PM-
Vale, vale! I suppose I'll sum up what happened yesterday real quick since there's no separate blog for that.
Yesterday, I left early to catch the bus to Malaga to check out the 'piso'. Over the phone, I could already tell that I was on the top of the list because I was told to come before noon when another guy from Madrid was coming. Turns out he was only going to stay till December whereas I am looking to stay till May or June and Mariela, the landlady is looking for someone like me, so..I get special treatment! Yayyy. So I checked the place out and immediately accepted it. It's 190 Euros a month, but the electric bill is separate. All the cleaning around the house is taken care of and all I have to clean are the pots and pans that I dirty. I have everything I need around here..well..except one thing..air conditioning!! Haha, that's one thing the hostel has over this place, but..ah oh well.
When Mariela and me went out to eat breakfast and then later to an ATM to withdraw my money to pay the rent and deposit, my card wouldn't work! I could see that I had money in my account but every time I tried to withdraw something no matter how small the amount, it kept saying the operation was not authorized and that I had to consult my bank. Ohhh great, that card is the only source of money I have save for the few euros I have in cash. I wonder at this point if I'm going to have to sleep on the street tonight and get mugged only to have the muggers get pissed off at me for my lack of money and material possessions and consequently, get raped. Uh yea..these are the types of thoughts that run through my mind when I panic..and in this case, I was DEFINITELY panicked.
Thankfully it didn't come to that. I was able to contact my bank and turns out that it was part of some kind of security failsafe they have in place to prevent thieves from accessing your money. I didn't tell my bank that I was going out of the country for a year so they thought some thief was trying to use my card on the other side of the world, so they froze my card. It was a pain in the arse at the time, but now that I think about it, it's probably a good thing. Nice security measure.
So after everything that day, the room is mine and Mariela and me make plans to have me move in the following day. She even offers to pick me up from the bus station so I don't have to take a taxi. Finally, something going smoothly for once!
So that was yesterday.
Today I get up and realize this is the last time I'll wake up in the hostel. Bittersweet, bittersweet. I'm finally getting a real place, but the people in Cartama all are muy buena gente, real nice and really helpful. I guess that's how you've got to be in a small town. You gotta look out for each other. My last night in Cartama, Juan treated me yet again at his bar with a gargantuan tuna salad and another 'batido de chocolate'. Franci and Anna at the 'Nuestra señora de los remedios' where I've frecuented a lot for my salad forays gave me a potato salad as a farewell gift. Man, if only the small town charm of Cartama could be combined with the bigger city of Malaga, we'd have a perfect combination!! Ahh, nothing's perfect after all, whatever. Hugs and handshakes galore, I'm off to Malaga to my own place!
As planned, Mariela picks me up from the front of the bus station from where we go straight to the 'piso' to drop my stuff off at. Her cousin Laura is there to greet us and to help me maneuver my heavy suitcase around. Afterwards the 3 of us walk from the 'piso' to a 'mercadillo' to buy some groceries. 'Mercadillo' from what I've been able to piece together is basically like a 'flea market'. We arrive in no time at all and immediately assimilate into the stream of human traffic. There's a ton of stuff here. Food, shirts, watches, etc, like I said..a flea market.
We pass by a place selling LIVE snails or 'caracoles'. They're in a box crawling all over each other leaving behind their stereotypical slime trail in their wake. They actually emit a bit of a stench upon getting closer. Me and Mariela look at each other and are in mutual agreement that this is not our idea of fine dining. Laura on the other hand says they're actually quite good and that she's had it quite a few times. I comment that I'd try it since you can't judge something without at least tasting it. I say something about cooking them in a frying pan with some melted butter and that's when Laura BURSTS out laughing in incredulousness (yes I know, that's not a real word, sue me). Mariela is an immigrant from Venezuela, so she more or less holds the same viewpoints as I do. Laura on the other hand is 100 percent pure spanaird and apparently, they only use butter for bread and things of that sort. Hearing about butter on snails is apparently the funniest thing she's heard of in a LONG time. She goes on laughing for several minutes while I still can't fathom why it's so hilarious. After her initial outburst, she continues to tease me making references to butter being used in 'incorrect' situations. Cultural differences, cultural differences.
After the 'caracoles', we stop by a section where a bunch of jeans, t-shirts, socks are being sold. Upon browsing through the shirts, I stop dead in my tracks. I eye a t-shirt with the golden 'M' Mcdonald's symbol on the front with their motto, 'I'm lovin' it' on the bottom, but cutting through the center of the golden 'M' on top is the word 'Masturbating'. So..this shirt is advertising, 'Masturbating..I'm lovin' it' borrowing cleverly from McDonald's own catch phrase. Now it's my turn. I start laughing in disbelief at how such a shirt can exist while Laura stares at me with a blank stare. I keep laughing and laughing..I can't help it! This shirt is insane! Haha! I look at Laura and ask her if she understands what the shirt is saying. I'm thinking that HAS to be the reason that she's not laughing. She translates the english perfectly to spanish. No doubt at this point, she knows what it's saying. Mariela at this point is also grinning and later explains to me that that kind of thing is just accepted here just like the rain is wet. Man! In between my uncontrollable bouts of laughter I manage to ask if it'd be cool if someone wore the shirt to an elementary school and I'm told that it'd be just fine. Man!! Insane! More cultural differences. This little foray to the 'mercadillo' has been VERY enlightening..along with being very entertaining!
After buying produce at the 'mercadillo' we go buy some ham and bread at another place to make a sandwich for breakfast. I haven't eaten all day. Laura comments that my spanish is good, however, she also says she finds it amusing due to the literary nature of my words that I use in daily conversation like 'destreza' y 'maniobra' when I was describing the activity of cooking. She also notes that I have a tendency to 'sing' my spanish like mexicans do (don't look at me, apparently they do according to Laura) with the peaks and valleys in my speak.
After breakfast, we drop Laura off at her work place at an 'Ikea' (yea! Ikea's even here too!). From here, Mariela and me go off to buying more things that I'll need for the 'piso' like towels, soap, detergent, etc.
To get most of these things, Mariela suggests we head to a local chinese shop. Hey look, more asians! Hope they don't think I can speak chinese, because I can't. I learn that Spain has some sort of economic arrangement with China where Chinese immigrants don't have to pay any property taxes or anything like that related to opening up businesses here, so a lot have come over to do just that. We're able to find most of the items we're looking for but a few give us pause. Helping us is a young oriental girl working here that hasn't taken her eyes off of me since we arrive. Ohhhh boy. OK, she seems nice and everything and I can see how another may find her attractive, but I myself am not. Trying to move around us in the tight aisle she says 'sorry' with a thick chinese accent while she gropes my arm. At this point, I'm simply channeling 'Wesley Snipes' from 'Passenger 57' where the airline security checkpoint lady is all over him and he plays it cool, shrugs it off like nothing and says 'It's a black thing'. As she leaves, she looks back at me again with a smile..man, I'm getting eye raped here! Chase, I know you like to use the term 'eye-faked' but damnit, that term just doesn't cut it here! Mariela finally notices what's going on and starts teasing me and laughing all the way home. Haha.
We finally get back and I cook myself my first meal here in Spain. I prepare some instant noodles in a pot of boiling water to which I add frozen 'gambas'/or little shrimps and 2 eggs and pour the boiling concoction into a bowl filled with leafy vegetables and 'champiñones'/mushrooms. I let it stand for a few minutes and add some salt. Fast, easy, and nutritious! The taste however is debatable...but whatever, my first night in my own place in a strange land! Just like the Mcdonald's shirt said though, I'm lovin' it.
Wednesday, January 6, 2010 -8:57 PM-
Well, not knowing how to speak Chinese, the language of 'my ancestors' has come back to bite me in the arse. I've already written about how I feel welcomed and everything in the chinese locales everytime I go in to buy something, being invited as one of them although I'm pure blooded 100% American U-S-of-A product. I know a few of their names now (the ones that have a bit better spanish) and I embarassingly continue to receive these discounts off of things everytime I buy there. Nice people.
So, what has happened. I know there's been a large lapse between blog entries, and in between them has passed 2 big holidays (well, 3 counting 'The 3 Kings'). However, I'm not gonna dwell on what happend this past Christmas and New Years. Sufficingly to say there, I had plans that changed near the end, so I basically did nothing special. I did however get to eat out with a lot of the professors from the 'colegio' again to have some good eats and drinks after. Some moronic dancing was done as well I'm afraid.
But anway, as I said, I shall not dwell on this. Things of greater importance have happened in recent days, though upon analyzing everything and charting key events and developments on a timeline, I've come to realize that what has happened recently actually started the day I got here.
I've been evicted from my 'piso'/apartment. Wait..should I even use the word 'evicted'?? The word, at least for me seems to evoke some concept of legality and formality where procedures have been followed. No..I haven't been evicted from the 'piso'. I've had the carpet pulled out from under my ass.
The headlady (for lack of better word, she's the one that collects everyone's money and gives it to the actual landlord and maintains a lot of the 'piso') just downright doesn't like one of my roommates. Now that I look at it, she doesn't like ANY of us, but it ALL stems from her not liking Luisa. In fact, the first few days I was settling into the 'piso' my first month in Spain, she was telling me how 'Luisa this and Luisa that, blah blah blah, she's a bad person'. I didn't know what to think at the moment. At first, I kind of was like, 'ohhh, better watch myself around her then'. But, then I realized it's really dangerous to take someone's word on someone you've never met and talked to, so..ultimately I gave her a chance. Luisa is roomed up in the same 'habitacion' as Jesus, her brother. I think Jesus is on pretty much bad terms with the headlady as well just for being of the same blood. Anyways, gave 'em both a chance to see, and you know what? They're both nice and good people who have both helped me a ton!
This headlady just seems to look for problems and fabricates her own demons and fantasms, making her own imaginary illusions about people so convincing to herself, that she can no longer see an apple for an apple. That apple is a demon!
So Luisa and Jesus have been looking for a while now for a better place for themselves and told the headlady about it like..yesterday. Headlady (notice how I do not even mention the actual name of this villanous character, it is simply..headlady!) will be on vacation and upon return won't have time to have other tenants filled in. Her solution?? Kick everybody the f-out and close up the entire 'piso' until she gets back. Now..I don't know how this works out business wise, but I'm pretty sure she'll lose more money this way. And poor 'ol me, guilty by association for having ties with the enemy, has been sent to the gallows as well. Seriously, this has all just happened SO fast and suddenly, out of left field, that this really I feel is just an excuse to finally weed her 'undesirables' out. I'm just collateral damage. Actually, I guess I'm a bonus because I don't fit her mold 100% of a perfect tenant (that is, do exactly how she orders..yes, she is very bossy. I mean damn, I've tried to appease her and do as she says, but nothing's ever good enough for this lady.)
But you know what? The sky is dark just before the dawn. There WILL be another day.
I wanted to know how it is to live on one's own. Well I'm living it. I've grown and become stronger. Months back, had a similar thing happened to me, I would have panicked. When this happened, sure I was worried, but I had the knowledge that things would work out in the end. Already, me, Jesus and Luisa have found another place and we're all gonna roomie in with Jesus' boss and his wife. Everything's good. I know them all, hung out with the boss and the wife around Christmas time. Luisa assures me they're normal (known them a LONG time) so I embark on this new stage of life here in Spain with a warm optimism. Things started out pleasantly, but quickly soured near the end. Now if anything, this shared hardship has done nothing more than strengthen the relationship I have with Luisa and Jesus.
I translated an expression we have in english to Jesus when the proverbial **** hit the fan. 'Cuando la vida te da limones..que hagas limonada.' Life has certainly given us lemons, now all we need to do is add sugar to the gallons of all this lemonade we have.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009 -12:33 AM-
Well, yesterday was my birthday. I can't believe I'm 24. That means I'm an adult right? Sure doesn't feel like it. I mean, I'm more independant and all that jazz and living on my own..but I STILL don't feel like an adult. I mean, shouldn't I have a 401K or something? Bleh, whatever. I'll have to ask my big brother when one starts feeling like one. I wonder when that will happen...
Speaking of which, the Friday of last week I went to the 'secundaria' to play basketball there. Before I went to the courts, I had to use the bathroom, so I went to the bathroom for teachers like I had regularly been doing during the day. At this hour however, there's only cleaning ladies and such and when one of them saw me go in, I was basically told 'Hey, not that one. The one for the students is down the hall!' Yea, the lady thought I was in the 16-18 year old range! Man, I really don't think my brother has gone through any of this!! Are we even related?? Whatever, this will only serve to my advantage later in life, right? Anyway, they have sports going on after the school day around 4:30 and it's tough to find pick up games around here. I mean, the courts I've seen here, if anything, soccer games are being played instead taking up both sides of the court. So when I read that they had basketball games going on after school, I had to go! Additionally, this also serves a tactical purpose as well. In classes where the students don't appear to want to learn english really, hopefully I will have played a few games with a few of them or they at least know about me playing out there 'being one of them' hopefully making my educational message more appetizing since it's coming from a 'cool' teacher, haha. The pill's easier to swallow if you hide it in their hamburger right?
The games were all fun. I can just shoot over most of them without feeling any defensive pressure, so I was able to score at will. A lot of the kids recognized me from either seeing me in their classes, seeing me in the halls or hearing about me from their friends. Yes, that's right. I'm a celebrity, and my legend continues to grow.
Ah, one thing I've noticed with a lot of the youngin's around here. The fohawk is pretty big here! For those that don't know, it's like a mohawk but you still have hair on the sides and you gel up your hair into a mohawk on top. I myself am not a fan of this style, but I guess that's just my uncool, grandpa-ish side coming through in my advanced age.
In other news, I've learned a pretty important lesson while fending for myself. Keep on top of the groceries!! One morning I woke up ready to start out my day with a nice bowl of cereal only to discover that I had NO milk!! Yup, I had to eat cereal with NO milk which doesn't sound that bad until you take into account that I'm eating something called 'Copos integrales'. Basically, it's a multi-bran version of corn flakes with no sugar added or anything, real cheap, gotta watch the budget. My GOD, it's no exagerration to say that this stuff is akin to consuming edible cardboard without the milk. The cardboard flakes just soak up ALL the saliva in your mouth and gets lodged in the crevices of your teeth and just gets plain hard to muster down. It was torture! They really need to add this technique to the 'Guantanamo Bay' interrogation tactics for enemy non-combatants. First step: strip prisoner of clothes. Second: subjugate said prisoner through the famous water torture on face with cloth on top to simulate drowning. Third: The prisoner is now sufficiently broken down and mentally softened to now go through the final torture: Eating 'copos integrales'..without milk!! Duh duh duh! (Optional cock-meat sandwich at end).
Ah, I guess the 'big' thing that happened this week was on Saturday, Halloween. I had absolutely NO plans to do anything save for helping MasterChief kill some Convenant and Flood on Legendary difficulty, but I received a text later that night to go out. So..I went out. The thing is everyone else was going to go in a costume while I, understandably, had NO costume. So..I had to improvise and think up of something real quick. I quickly realized, 'hey, I have half of a costume already! I'm gonna be Bruce Lee!'. I put on black pants, his famous sleeveless muscle shirt, and handily made a pair of homemade nunchucks out of 2 paper towel rolls connected with string. I connected the nunchucks to my belt and was ready to go! My friends here also had some red, acrylic body paint so I used some of that on both my arms to recreate the scratches that Bruce Lee was dealt by one of the villains in his movies that attacked him with an iron claw. Thankfully, it was only kind of cool that night so I didn't have to wear a jacket or anything (though I brought one anyway just in case). At the end of the night, many drinks were taken, some bars were visited and some running away from the 'guardia civil'/police was done. Uh..I'll explain that last part some other time, haha. Don't worry all, I'm still straight arrow Charlie. Don't get the wrong ideas. I get back from being Bruce Lee at around 6 AM that morning. Ughhh!! I felt like pure @#$% the next morning when I woke up. I don't know if I'll be doing THAT again! My body didn't let me sleep well that night at ALL!
Well, that's about it. Things have picked up a bit in the 'colegio'. I've been given more things to do and have gotten to interact with the kiddies more. I've even been in contact with a teacher online that I met through spanishdict.com that has given me a TON of wonderful ideas to implement in either the 'colegio' or 'secundaria' because what I'm doing basically boils down to ESOL. Oh! Also in the 'colegio', I had previously expressed my embarrasment at how good I have it there with the whole 'them feeding me thing and all'. Well, no longer!! That all ended when at the end of mealtime, I saw one of the lunch ladies throw out a WHOLE platter of fish into the garbage!! I mean, that's a LOT of fish, and this stuff is good! It was, oh so ever painful to watch. So now, I basically see myself as a garbage disposal unit more than anything else and can finally eat free of conscience. Last thing to say: I don't know if I should be calling these entries 'blogs' anymore. They're really just weekly updates/diary entries at this point. Well, whatever they are, I'll continue writing them. Stay tuned!
Sunday, October 18, 2009 -3:16 PM-
Well, 2 days have passed, the most days that I've let gone by without writing a blog. I think I've finally reached the point where all the craziness of going to a new country has died down a bit and things shall start to normalize and I can have a routine. Thusly, there shall be fewer blogs and I shall only write when something noteworthy occurs.
So to update: No, I did not turn my clothes pink! Thank god for that. I did not forsee this, but almost ALL my clothes are colors. I have almost NO whites save for my socks, that's it. Surprisingly, I was able to find 'Woolite' at a supermarket here in Malaga. Gotta keep my blacks, black. Mariela has helped me immensely in my transition from little boy to quasi adult. With her help, I now feel somewhat confident in not ruining my clothes in my attempts to wash them. Back home, my mom always just washed everyone's clothes. Not complaining at all, but I think it's gotta be said. I think my clothes are coming out better here. Two words mom: Fabric softener. Haha, it really does make a big difference. Great stuff.
Let's see, what else? There's a 'polideportivo' REAL nearby where I live. It's basically a YMCA. You've gotta pay to use a lot of the facilities like the soccer field, track and swimming pools, but I'm here to just run. There's a sidewalk, park-like trail running around the track that's free of charge that several other people like me that don't want to pay, use. It's nice here. I can't run around the block where I live because there is more than your occassional pile of feces on the sidewalks around here. You're actually not allowed to let your dog do it's thing on the sidewalks, but a LOT of people here ignore that little rule. You've REALLY got to watch where you step in this area.
So enough about that. Wanting to start my running routine again, I quickly realized that I didn't bring enough running/exercise shorts from home to have a regular routine. I walked to the closest mall/air conditioning oasis and bought 2 more pairs. Man, I don't know if ALL the running shorts in Spain are like this, but, man. First thing, they're certainly shorter than what we're used to back home. I will NOT be playing basketball in these things, unless I'm harkening back to the Larry Bird-Magic Johnson NBA era. Secondly, inside the shorts, is this built in underwear mesh in the style of briefs. Arrrggghh, I'm used to boxers! Me no like these briefs. You CANNOT wear your boxers while wearing these shorts, trust me, I've tried. Soooo, yup, as many have no doubt deduced by now, I go commando everytime I run in these shorts! There's no other way around it, though I guess it's not really commando because of the built-in underwear. Uggh, have I mentioned how uncomfortable it is? I start to wonder how Ron Jeremy would manage in these things.
I also got my first haircut in Spain on Friday. Whoo! Just a BIT scary I must say. I've been getting my hair done with someone I used to work with in my first Haircuttery job. I've been going to the same lady for 5 years. She knows me, nothing needs to be explained, perfect. I walked into the 'peluquería' not knowing what to expect. I waited for around half an hour and when my turn finally came up, my heart was beating. I've had many a bad haircut with people that knew english, here's to seeing how it turns out when I explain it in Spanish! Well, my worries were unfounded thankfully. It came out pretty much OK except that a bit too much was taken off the top, but whatever. I'll just explicitly mention to leave more next time. I survived and came out with an acceptable do. Mission accomplished.
On Saturday night, I was finally able to have my first night out with my 2 new friends who share the 'piso' with me. Mariela and her cousin, Laura take me to eat at what I can only describe as a sports bar near the Malaga university area. Sidewalks are MUCH cleaner around here, no feces to worry about stepping on. The bar has your usual drinks and stereotypical sports bar food, but you can also order 'tapas', the whole stereotypical spanish appetizer/bite sized snack things. I had some meat from a pig with some gravy sauce on it and also some fries. Mariela and Laura let me sample some of their 'tapas'. I was the only real hungry one. On the 2 high definition flat screens in the back of the bar is a soccer game that everyone is transfixed upon. Every so often there is a loud cheer everytime something exciting happens. REALLY different and strange to see for me as back home, NO ONE has a soccer game playing at a sports bar really. Maybe sometimes, but not often at all and you certainly don't have soccer hooligans cheering up a storm while watching a regular season game back home. We stay here for around 4 hours just talking, eating, drinking. I talk so much that my voice gets hoarse at the end of the night. Yess!! I'm not able to do this at home. My voice getting hoarse from talking in spanish?? Yeaaa right. This is great. I get to know my roomates better and get to hear some gossip about the going on's in the 'piso'.
OK, so Sunday is my lazy day. I'm just chillaxing at home. Picked me a piece on my 6 string and learned a Los Lonely Boys song. Man, the guitarist for the band helps to answer the question as to 'What would have happened if Stevie Ray Vaughan hadn't died, AND he was hispanic'. Well, that's all folks, I'm off to run in my funky shorts!
I discovered your blog by chance last night and couldn't stop reading! I went to bed an hour later than planned but it was well worth it. You know, you have a great talent for writing if you ever get fed up with teaching!
Couple of things that struck me - I'm a native SW Englander who has travelled a bit, but I was surprised to hear that 'ballpark' wasn't known in Spain. To be honest it had never occurred to me that it was an American word - though it's obvious when you think about it. It's part of everyday language at work. But I think there is a much stronger American influence in England than in the rest of Europe.
And you were surprised that everyone who spoke English did so with a 'perfect' British accent? I bet they didn't quite, actually, but I am not surprised it was much closer to UK English than USA. A lot of English people retire in Spain (some friends of mine live in Monda). I don't think many learn that much Spanish (you know what we Brits are like with other languages) but there is a huge amount of UK English spoken around the Costa del Sol.
I have been trying very hard to learn Spanish since early May, at the end of which I took the family to Spain for a few days, some in Madrid (wow!), some in Benalmadena (lovely place). We have been to Spain several times before (Barcelona, Salou, Benidorm, Fuengirola) and love it. I have always wanted to become fluent in another language - I know a lot of French but I can't speak it. So before it is too late I decided for a number of reasons to try and learn Spanish. I am nowhere near your standard and, of course, now you are living there for a year you will achieve tremendous facility with the language, I am sure. I am aiming to be able to hold a conversation one day with a Spanish (or South American) native with reasonable fluency, but that goal seems a long way off.
Ahora, trato de escribir un poco en español. ¡Tal vez para hacer contenta Heidita! Muchas gracias por sus escrituras tan interesantes y muy agradables. No puedo esperar su proximo blog. Estoy seguro disfrutará el tiempo en España.
(Hope some of that was right )
Good luck and keep writing!