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España: Moving Out, On, Up | Hayley Elizabeth
Spain Weeks 16, 17 & 18 January 2018 Happy New Year! To be honest 2018 started out kind of rough. My New Year’s night was spent puking at two in the morning (no matter what anyone says I do NOT consider this an indication that it was a fun party because it was, up until that point, but then I felt like shit because of cheap alcohol.) And then, the next morning I had a flat tire. Like there was no way my car was moving unless I changed it. So in zero degree (zero degree Fahrenheit!) cold, I “replaced” the spare. I have all the knowledge of changing a tire and even though I had never executed it before, I was on my way. But I didn’t have enough strength to loosen the nuts. We waved at cars who proceeded to wave back before one car stopped to help us. Thank you kind sir for helping a hungover, hungry, tired, numb young lady. The whole flat tire adventure could be it’s own memoir. I’ll spare you the details. If you’ve been following along with my online Spanish journal, then you might have realized weeks 15 and 16 are missing in action. I spent the last week of December and the first week of January back in the United States and home for Christmas. I didn’t consider my Christmas break as showing the authentic expat experience to warrant it’s own blog post. But I do feel the need to write, at least a little bit, how I spent a fabulous– if freezing– two weeks at home. There is nothing like being home for Christmas. I thought about traveling around Europe but I wanted to be with family for Christmas Day. Plus, all my friends would be back home for the holiday too. It’s a great time of the year to reunite. And what better way to celebrate homecoming than with some new bling? My friend Jackie and I went and got our noses pierced! I’ve always thought I have the nose for it and upon inspection, one of my nostrils is bigger than the other. So I balanced my lopsided schnoz with some snazzy jewelry. My mom had a party the day after I got back. Well, I had suggested the party because I wanted to be able to see everyone. I showed off a bit of my Spanish cooking skills and made some traditional Spanish dishes including tortilla de patata and paella (probably Spain’s most popular and well known dishes– I highly recommend). It was amazing to mingle with neighbors, friends, and family friends that are more like family. My mom asked if I missed American food and the answer was YES! I like some Spanish food but I love the variety of American food better. Plus who can beat mom’s cooking? For Christmas Eve I got my wish and we went to see the new Star Wars movie. Who needs Jesus when you can have Star Wars? Totally kidding! One needs both- I need both. And can I just gush about the movie anyway for half a sentence… It was fresh and engaging with such dynamic characters (and fun new animal creatures) with a plot that can make you feel. And Carrie Fisher was an absolute master. Plus it was in English and I snuck Christmas chocolate into the theater with me. Star Wars for life! A new one one for our family Christmas was we lost electricity! Thanks to jet lag I was up at seven in the morning on Christmas day and was showered and drinking tea when silence fell. My mom and I had literally just put in the “It’s a Wonderful Life” DVD when click, the TV went black. My brother wasn’t going to be up for hours, now what were we to do? Well, sit around the fire and finish drinking tea and watch my poor dad venture into the cold to set up the generator. The Christmas turkey was only in the oven ten minutes! But overall it was a peaceful and relaxing day. Christmas gifts were modest because my parents and brother are coming to Spain to visit me when I finish. Plus my salary leaves a lot to be desired. I live very simply and I love that! But my parents deserve the world and I wish I could have treated them to a bit more than some trinkets from Portugal. We had a bit of a white Christmas for the first time in years. It was more like a coating of ice but I like to think positive. I then became a tourist in my own city and town. My days filled quickly with rock climbing, local brews and local eats. A blistery snow storm let me experience the full scope of winter. I did all the wintery things. I ice skated the most in my whole life those two weeks. You already heard a little bit about my pathetic start to the New Year. But after I recovered from my hangover, their was more ice skating, more local brews, and more local eats. I was complete: full of drink, full of food, full of friendship, full of love. My two weeks home was framed by parties. One of my best friends parents had a party on my last night (and he wasn’t even in attendance!). Surprise, surprise, I drank and ate more. At the end of the night, I squeezed my people and didn’t want to let go. But there are plans for people to visit me in Spain! Some of my friends bought their tickets already. I have things to look forward too. Which on my return back to Spain became very important indeed. Return and Reality It’s no surprise after two amazing weeks at home, my first week back in Spain was incredibly difficult. Some of the teachers were mad that I skipped Monday. But it takes me two full days to travel! (Leaving on Sunday night was also way cheaper.) I was so jet lagged and not getting good sleep because of the cold. I wasn’t thinking straight and I felt guilty and stressed. When there was nothing I could have done differently. I was also thrown into that first week of school without knowledge of the new units. Again, I was made to feel guilty and stressed for not having English lessons planned. It was completely discouraging and I was seriously questioning my return. I had just come off seeing all of my family, friends and loved ones. I went from keeping busy everyday and doing things with other people to having to do everything on my own again. And not just doing it alone but being by myself. It was harsh reality. A harsh chill too. I was spoiled while I was home. Not to mention the glorious home cooked meals, but my parents have two wood burning stoves to heat our log cabin. I, once again, vastly underestimated my ability to withstand the cold. The cold of Spain is the kind that gets into your bones. It lingers. Not matter how much tea I drank or hours spent under my heater table blanket contraption, the bleakness persisted. And as soon as you touch tile or remove a layer of clothing, your skin turns to ice again. Only to have to restart the cycle of cold. I cried to my parents and seriously considered coming home. I was not even traveling as much as I wanted to. It’s hard being so far away from any transportation. I have to take an hour and half bus to Córdoba first. I have to coordinate the timetable of the buses and then once I get to Córdoba it’s another bus or train to get to my destination. Not to mention there is no airport in Córdoba so getting anywhere by plane is another step. I felt like any time I traveled I did so much waiting around, hopping between different modes of transportation. Being on such a high it’s no wonder I tumbled down the mountain so fast. And I should have known it was coming. I was at the peak looking over the edge admiring the view when I tripped and an avalanche battered me, trapped me in it’s heavy acceleration. My mom gave me advice urging me to make changes to see if this wasn’t really for me. But, no matter what, at least I had given it a go. So I made moves the following Monday. I have a friend in Córdoba that was leaving and I told her I was interested in taking her room in the city. I confirmed my place in her apartment and then worked on coordinating a ride to school everyday. I asked my coordinator before break, knowing she drives from the city daily, but her car was full. Luckily, Andres talked to teachers at his school and some of his friends, and I coordinated a ride with some teachers that actually teach in the next town over. The last thing for me to do was tell my landlady I was leaving. Once I told her, she was not happy about it. She was really salty and swindled me out of every penny– or should I say euro– she could. Frustrated, this was the last thing I wanted to deal with. I just needed to leave! That first week back my first grade students had a new project to go with the plant unit: seed sprouting. Much like those seeds, the first week I was hidden beneath layers of damp cotton enshrouded in darkness. And with a little time and sunshine, I sprouted. Pure Pueblo Week was 17 on the up. Moving to Córdoba was in the works. I was officially getting out of my small pueblo at the end of January. Plus I got out more, literally! I went outside and took a walk almost every day. It’s amazing what some fresh air and exercise can do for your mood and health. And getting enough sleep helped. Plus, I had city life to look forward to. My last two weeks in Hinojosa del Duque finished with a bang. It was a sweet sendoff to an experience well spent. Because not all of pueblo life was bad. I met amazing people and had some good times. I especially appreciated the community events. Mostly religious events, but fun all the same. I saved money living in a small town: cheap tapas and nothing else to spend money on. On Wednesday January 17, the cathedral celebrated San Antonio Abad, a saint dedicated to animals. Students told me about it at school, something about animals circling the church three times. I told Andres but he knows everything going on and he forwarded me a picture of the poster. I went to the service at eight before the festivities. Even though I’m not Catholic, the service was similar to Lutheran ones. What wasn’t quite usual was the pets listening to the sermon too. I arrived promptly at eight and waved to a student who turned her whole body around to look and wave at me. The cathedral is gorgeous and massive, made of stone and polished wood. Metal braziers adorned with LED lights dot the walls and attempt to fill the space with light. There was no heat, so like everyone else, I kept bundled in my coat and sat down. I picked an almost empty row in the back. Looking over, a woman sat at the far end shushing a dog squeezed in her lap. Next, a bird cage snuck in and was put on the floor in the row adjacent to mine. In the proceeding standing and sitting, I didn’t spot anymore animals nestled with their humans. I shrugged it off and tried to understand the Spanish. The sermon did say some stuff about animals from what I could gather. All the furry friends listened along like very good boys. I get many days off of school for religious holidays. For this or that...