I am sitting in a small café on la calle de Asunción drinking a cappuccino with a fresh croissant. It is Sunday and there are pop-up stalls littering the streets selling clothes, jewellery, flowers, everything! Today it is only (!) 25 degrees, a more normal temperature for October in Seville, compared to the blazing 32 degrees that we have been experiencing for the last few days. I have been here for a whole week now, but I am still adjusting to the different lifestyle – eating lunch at 3 o’clock and dinner at 9 o’clock, the foreign language, and the boisterous nature of Spanish streets, restaurants, and children.
This week has been quite eventful and I have learnt a lot of things; there is more than one way to hang up socks on a washing line; lentils are always eaten with a spoon, NOT a fork; Spanish gyms are a lot fancier than in England; teenagers are really very, very grumpy; and much more. As it turns out, Sonia, the mother, is very specific about how she likes her washing to be hung up. There I was, innocently pegging up socks on the washing line when she bustled in and took them all down, demonstrating how she did it – pegged by the toe. Oops. I also managed to fold the same socks wrong for the drawers – I paired two together and turned over the tops, but she prefers that they are laid on top of each other and then neatly folded in half. She also wants me to fold the pants. No, I’m not joking: sides into the middle, then in half. Who knew the Spanish were so picky about underwear?!
The saga of preparing lunch has been a complete nightmare. On Thursday we had tuna with salad and potatoes and I prepared the salad. As we were eating, Maria suddenly pulled a face and asked if there was any salt or olive oil on it. Ermmm no? It turns out that the Spanish eat their salad with salt…..ew. Another day we had a dish of lentils, vegetables and some chorizo. I set the table with plates and cutlery. Sonia kept saying something to me but I couldn’t really hear her and didn’t understand what she was saying, so I just sort of smiled in a non-committal way. I now realise that she was telling me that we needed BOWLS and SPOONS, not plates and forks, to eat the lentils. If only I had engaged my brain I could have perhaps avoided the awkwardness of having to look blankly on while the two girls and Sonia laughed and jabbered away in Spanish about my daftness after the lentils all ran off one plate….Oops again.
The girls themselves are quite challenging. They will try every possible excuse under the sun to get out of doing our English lessons each day, especially Maria. I am therefore attempting to event new and fun ways to learn English, and more importantly, convince them that learning English IS fun. (Ha.Ha.) It also doesn’t help that if I ask them to do something, like go and have a shower or do their homework, they tend to launch into a long and very fast Spanish monologue of why they don’t need to/want to. I, pretending that I understand everything they said perfectly and that I do actually have some authority, just stare at them and repeat my well-rehearsed ‘Venga’ (a word frequently used by the Spanish when addressing their disobedient children, and one that is very useful to know!).
Yesterday I found myself a Spanish gym after a lot of lengthy googling. Due to the fact that in Europe it is very common to have public pools open to all, when you find a private gym it tends to be very, very fancy. I went to Metropolitan Gym to look around and sign up. I was taken on an extensive tour of the gym area (every machine you could possibly dream of available), the studios (featuring sweating humans clad in lycra – good to know that sweating is not actually a British disease), the swimming pool (with exciting underwater mood lighting), the enormous Jacuzzi (with individual hot water torrents situated above each seat – slightly terrifying), the lovely sauna and steam room, a sun deck (in case you hadn’t had enough sun already living in the ‘frying pan’ of Spain), the restaurant, the shop, the relaxing sofa area, and also the Beauty Spa – what looks to be a whole new building attached to the gym. All in all, I am very impressed with Spanish gyms, not least because of the rather guapo fitness instructor who showed me round. 😉
So there you have it, the ‘highlights’ of my first week in Spain. It is clear that I have not completely assimilated to Sevillian life, especially as the waiter in this café took one look at me and asked what I wanted in English (to which I replied in perfect Spanish just to make a point). But then again, it is only the first week! I would say that my favourite parts of the week were being engaged in random and amusing conversation by a slightly senile Spanish Grandma while sat at the park watching Isabel, and relaxing in a Spanish sauna with the gentle sound of wave-music playing in the background – a well-earned rest to one of the hardest and most disorientating weeks of my life so far.
Thank you for following my journey so far, it can only really go upwards from here!