Shopping – it’s all the same!

31 10 2009

I went to the local supermarket yesterday, like Kmart with a groceries attached. I thought I’d go check out all these different ‘Spanish’ things but when I got there I could have been at Macquarie! Check these out! 

I went through my wish list for example and found not just roughly the same things (that’d be most of the list…) but exactly the same brands and even the same versions of the products for all of these:

  •       Vanish Stain Removal
  •       Coco pops
  •       Kit Kats
  •       Lindt Chocolate
  •       Rexona Deodorant
  •       Garnier Fructis Shampoo & Conditioner
  •       Air Wick Air Fresheners
  •       Nutella
  •       Original Jatz
  •       Tea – Liptons or Twinning’s?
  •       Forerro Rochers
  • (And on the way out I passed signs for Toys’R’Us and Fitness First!)

In fact it was a little disappointing. I came all this way and its more of the same!

 It was great reading all the Spanish names for stuff and I made a huge long list… now I have stickers on all the items in my room and I look like Pippy Longstockings dancing around my room naming everything.

ECM Retreat

27 10 2009

The ECM Spain retreat went from Thursday to Sunday – a few hours away in this amazing little conference centre. All the rooms came off a cobbled atrium they’d built a roof for. And the people were awesome… really welcoming and friendly. So many of the missios are either from English speaking countries or speak English. While they do everything in Spanish, most of the time people volunteered to translate so we (me and the other non-Spanish speaker) would get all that was happening. I got to meet all the other ECM missionaries from the area, and most from Castellon. As well as having an awesome time of fellowship, learning and singing in Spanish. I didn’t notice how tiring it was. But it isn’t the Spanish that I find so exhausting at the moment – its getting to know everyone new at the same time. Having no one safe I can side up to if I need to just hang with someone I know. Because it’ll be a while before I really know anyone here. And I hate that feeling of hoisting yourself on people so it’s hard to decide to go join a conversation. And at times I did a really good impersonation of an introvert looking for time out. Having said that, ECM Spain feels like and incredibly loving prayerful family. At various points over the weekend you’d find the women getting massages, and drinking tea – my kind of life! I’m really looking forward to getting to know them all better and working alongside them!

Tea, tea and more tea

22 10 2009

For all of you who were terrified for me that I’d be unable to quench my need for tea in this coffee based culture… I will survive!

They have tea! I even found a little ‘tea-aria’ in town, where the daughter of one of the pastors works where they sell every type of tea. I had the taster, the almond rooibos, the other day and they have pretty much all that T2 has. I think I’ll be a regular there, and its dangerously close to the language school.

Tha family here do tea too, only the system is to heat the water in a microwave which is a bit new and different for me… A few times I’ve asked for regular tea and ended up with green tea. There doesn’t seem to be much of a distinction. So I’m developing a taste for that too.

Mi casa

22 10 2009

My bedroom is just like a college bedroom – similar size only I have a small rocking chair which makes reading sweet as. I also have a window but it opens into the pantry?! And the walls are pretty much entirely useless when it comes to sound, and mine is sided by the kitchen, the hall and the apartment stairwell. So I’m learning to sleep through a train-wreck. But I love my room, my desk, the location of the flat, the people I live with, the food I’m eating and the language school. I’m kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I’m sure not speaking Spanish will become tiresome pretty quick – and in a flash of brilliance, I also left ALL my Spanish dictionaries at home in Oz. But until then… it’s great.

Marcos está Enferma

21 10 2009

When I got here, all the family was around and I met the littlest grandchildren, Jonaton (3) and Marcos (15months). Marcos was unwell and the next day they actually had in hospital with pneumonia. I think for that reason, or for completely different reasons – who would know?!) His older brother Jonaton has been living here all week. It’s been really interesting watch people with the children – there’s lots of squeezing of cheeks and telling them their gorgeous but it’s quite different from home. And Jonaton has decided I can play cards with him. It took me a while to learn the game only he doesn’t choose to play it by the rules, more a case of he likes to deal out the cards and count only the only number he seems to know is 14 so I get card after card ‘catorce’. Then when he gives additional instructions I have no idea what he’s saying. Even when I’m sure I must know what word he’s using, between the clipped Córdoba accent and 3yo speak I can barely recognize it. Normally Jonaton would be at school already. He’s only been three for a month but they got to school from 9 – 3, 5 days a week. It’s going to be a lot quieter here and I think the vocab I’m learning will change dramatically

BJ & Rach

21 10 2009

There is another couple here – BJ and Rachel. Rach grew up here as a missionary kid and speaks Spanish. BJ is learning at the same school. So on Tuesday BJ and I took on the bus route. I have a travel 10 (no idea what it’s called here but I reckon I can buy another one when I need it) and I know which buses go to the language school. The system here is actually fantastic – between the trains from city to city, the coaches between towns and buses around and through them, you can get just about everywhere on public transport quite easily. It helps everywhere is pretty compact 🙂 

We went to the language school and I signed up for classes starting Nov 3. All the teachers speak English and several other languages but you’d never know it because once you’re a student they wont speak anything but Spanish. So I grabbed my chance to have a really long conversation with Michelle, initially from the Dominican republic but raised and schooled in the States all about her life, her move and her little girl – before I was officially a student. Because I’ll never be able to chat that freely again!

I was also going to catch two buses across town to make my appointment with the Foreigners Office but I was fast losing momentum when Rach and BJ saved me again offering a lift in their car across town. As it turned out – a huge blessing because I would have got stuck in a torrential downpour and as it was we got saturated running from the car to the office!

Where’s Johnny?

21 10 2009

I have to find a way to exercise if I’m going to keep eating this much?! I miss my Johnny Walker Elliptical Trainer – and the 40 minutes of television each day 🙂 I had made it all the way through the second season of West Wing and was heaps keen to start the 3rd. So keen I almost bought it at the airport, but I’m only going to watch it once – so what’s the point. Cabarita library lent them to me for free! I think I’m going to have to head to the local library and see if they have some similar system. And I can catch up on the last few years of Spain’s favourite shows…


20 10 2009

The Spanish school also runs lots of other extras – often within the cost of the classes. Next week they’re getting in a guide to give us an orientation to the area around the school – just good shops, good food etc. One of the classes is for Sevillanas, the local style of dances. I had my first class today and did pretty average. The teacher was really great at speaking simply and clearly, but it doesn’t matter how well I know the words for left and right in Spanish, I’m always going to struggle to work out which foot it means – I’ve been confused in English since I was 5.

The Family

20 10 2009

The day I arrived in Spain there were 9 people in the flat. Only a couple live there, but the rest of the family are always popping in and out so it feels like you’re in the middle of something much beggar. The couple, Nicolas and Marina, is absolutely lovely. are good value and live in an apartment maybe 100mts from BJ and Rach. And in between is the kind of $2 store just like home where you can get anything you want. They have three married daughters, 2 with families, and there have been extras here the whole time I’ve been here. The eldest is only here for a week from Madrid and one of their grandchildren is unwell in hospital so his brother is staying here. So I’m not sure if they’ll be here all the time. When their at home, everyone changes into home clothes – so I’m now very comfy in my trackies. I need to invest in some slippers because I’ve been wearing my havaianas and they’re not the most comfortable for all day. And they eat… lots! Breakfast at 9-10ish is these cupcake things and chocolate biscuits. Lunch has been a full meal too at 3 and by the time I get to 3 I’m ravenous so I’m not doing a great job of not eating too much. Then dinner is around 9ish so same deal. Bread and jamon with every meal, sometimes with cheese or grilled capsicums. Yoghurt and fruit for dessert…

I came without an umbrella, a keyring and without my Spanish dictionary?! They’ve given me a keyring, lent me an umbrella without me saying – and while I’ve borrowed a dictionary for now, I was always going to have to invest is one of the tomes anyway.

I also managed to get a universal plug at the $2 shop (known here as Chinos because the same people run them all over the world). That worked out much cheaper than the €18 the phone shop was going to charge me for a new cable!

Arriving in Spain

20 10 2009

The trip to Spain started with an early trip in heavy traffic to Gatwick. When I got there I realised I’d left all my coats in Jody’s living room 😦 So I have 1 jacket here until I can find someone who is coming across from London with space in their luggage… Having said that, I reached Spain in one piece 🙂 When I got to check in they had a fit at my luggage but after two repacks and by transferring 4 bags into 3, they let me through without an extra cost.

At Malaga, you have to walk through the car park and over the bridge to get to this little country-like train station. When I got to the bottom of the ramp and took my luggage off I realised my only remaining jacket had fallen off. Split second decision… abandon your bags and race back for the jacket risking losing everything else, repack and re-lug 30kilos of stuff back on the trolley and up the hill, by which time the only item that will save me from winter’ll probably be long gone…

I raced back up the ramp, which paid off because I guy was looking for me to give me the jacket and when I ran back to my luggage it was all in one piece J. But since I was already wearing as many layers as I could to lighten my luggage, I was imitating a personal sauna. Then the station has no ramps so I had to try and look puppy dog eyed to get someone to come help me carry my bags up the 10 steps. The train into Malaga central was pretty quick and we flew in 20 minutes ahead of schedule, but I still cut it too fine catching the regional train to Cordoba, especially since I’m standing around trying to work out if you just walk up to the counter, getting more and more frustrated at the lack of queuing, without realizing there’s a ticket dispenser giving out numbers. But there was an older guy with a little English who explained it and eventually I had the ticket and a seat near the platform a nice little wait for my train. 

At the train station in Cordoba, Peter Knowlson, an English missionary was standing on the bridge wearing the funniest hat. I totally didn’t notice him til he came up to me asking if I was Chloë. He wore a floppy hat was meant to helpfully identify him, but seriously, since I had no idea I was meant to look for a hooded man, I thought he just had interesting taste. Then only a short ride later, I’d met the family, unpacked my bags, had dinner and a shower and fell into my new bed.