Saturday, 22 September 2012

La Desconocida Amable

I have been in Spain for 24 hours exactly.

After no more than two hours sleep on Friday I was up just after 5am to head to Belfast International airport.    My mum left me at the airport and we both tried to hide our faces and say goodbye quickly to avoid tears, but as the plane sat on the runway I was in bits! As soon as we set off I felt immediately more calm but the fear returned when I arrived in Malaga and had to make my way to the central bus station. I managed to hold a conversation with the taxi driver (however he tended to ask me questions such as where I was from AFTER I had already told him so perhaps my Spanish was worse than I thought) and navigate my way around the station, using broken Spanish to look for help.

3 hours and a beautiful bus journey later I was in Almería and ready to meet my responsable. However she was no where to be seen and I stood awkwardly wondering what to do next. Luckily she found me a few minutes later and we were off in a taxi to the hostel.

After leaving me to get some sleep I Skype'd my mum and the emotions returned. After saying goodbye I started to realise just how alone I was- not a great feeling! I had a quick shower and headed out to look for water and some food as all I'd eaten since 7am was a thin (but delicious) sandwich. Wandering down the 'Rambla' I started to hear some music and decided to have a nosy. A large flamenco dance was being performed in the centre surrounded by Spaniards young and old. A girl in her mid twenties turned to me to comment on it and I didn't understand a word she said. She apologised saying she thought I looked Spanish but I managed to carry on the conversation to tell her that I had just arrived to work and this was my first night. When she found out I was looking for a flat she paused- "...tengo habitación- quieres verlo?" Her flat was just round the corner and she took me round to see the flat.

At this point almost all the advice from the university was ringing in my ears- Don't visit a house alone, say yes to all invitations but only if it's safe. She was small; I figured I could take her. A family walked out of the apartment block moments before we went in and I checked out all the exits. When we got to the flat I asked if she could leave the front door open for safety reasons and she immediately understood. She told me all about her year in France when she did the same thing I had done and when she found out I had been out looking for food, she invited me to have dinner with her! Spanish tortilla, salad with lots of seasoning and oils and bruschetta. Next she took me to buy water and told me to call her any time for anything, whether I want the flat or not- coffee, help, going out.

As far as I was concerned this was the best possible start I could have had. My main fear was that I didn't have enough Spanish just to joke around, chat and maintain my own personality- in other words that I wouldn't be able to make friends. But this reassured me that things were going to be fine :)

Others things I've learned so far:

  • Skype is a godsend. 
  • Trying to switch between English and Spanish is farr harder than just speaking Spanish. 
  • A smile can get you far. 
  • It's apparently ok for taxi drivers to touch your leg. 
  • You probably shouldn't try to get into the taxi, in the first place, on the driver's side. 
  • You have to peel your fruit with a knife in Spain. If you don't they look at you like you have three heads and you are vomiting out of each of them. 
Time for a siesta. Hasta luego! 

xx 

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