It has now been 2 weeks that I have lived in España. I must admit, it doesn’t feel like 2 weeks. It feels like less, maybe because I was in a SICK TUNNEL for 2.5-3 days. Yea, sick my second week in Spain, sucks! But lets go back to the beginning. I landed the day before THANKSGIVING (most Spaniards don’t know what thanksgiving is, American holiday what?) in Galicia, via plane after 2 layovers and a total of 4 airports visited.
Since the closest airport to my town of LUGO is an 1.5hr away in the city of Santiago de Compostela, I had to hop on a bus to reach my final destination. The city of Lugo was cold when I exited the bus station some time after 9pm. I had NO LUGGAGE THOUGH (oh yea, that’s an important point I almost forgot to share). My 2 checked bags never arrived to my final destination. Frustrating as this was, (this happened to me the last time I flew into SPAIN in 2008) coincidence? I think not. . . ARIANA: ZERO, SPAIN: 2. I see you SPAIN.
This was my big BIENVENIDO/WELCOME!! Bienvenido, you have NO LUGGAGE. Deal with it.
Throwing me off my travel game only slightly, I exited the bus station fully covered from head to toe in my warmest clothes, ready to take a quick taxi to my new home. Upon asking a taxi driver if he could take me to the address, he asked me if I wanted to WALK or be driven. He saw that I had no luggage, only a backpack, and told me that it was a very close address. I think he was subtly hinting that I should walk. He proceeded to give me directions, the kind of directions that could have certainly gotten me lost. Walk until you see the Street Signal, and then make a Right. Then walk down this ______ (main street whose name I don’t remember) until you reach 175 or so, and then make a Left there. Walk a block and make another Left and there you are. EASY HUH? A right and two lefts. . . how could I go wrong?
There I went, off on my first adventure, walking about 10-12 minutes and somehow following the kind taxi driver’s instructions to the tee. Don’t ask me how. Strolling through the little streets, I noticed many were ripe with VIDA even on a Wednesday night at 9. Remember, 9pm isn’t even Dinner time for most Spaniards; the night is young. Recuerde, a las 9 de la noche nisiquiera estan cenando los españoles; es temprano. Disheveled as I may have appeared upon arrival, having traveled now almost 24 hours total, I felt like I was home. Walking the 5 flights of stairs up to my room on the 3rd floor (don’t ask), I am happy to report my room was enormous, and it has select colored walls of Purple. I have a big bed, and a nice size window. No complaints here. Also have Wifi to talk to the FAMILIA at home. I was a happy and settled woman, well as much as I could be WITHOUT ANY LUGGAGE ANYWAY. My first meal in España was, surprise surprise: MEAT and PATATAS (Lomo, patatas = potatoes, calamari since I’m relatively close to the sea, and croquetas). Tasty.
No shocker here because SPAIN LOVES MEAT, & CARBS. Yea I said it.
As I write this from my Carb Free Zone (I now ask them to take away the bread and hold back the patatas every chance I get before they bring my plate), I am reminded of all the meals we ate meat and potatoes in Madrid/any Spanish town back in 2008. This is not to say that España/Spain is not diverse in its culinary fervor, but on any given day they absolutely got the basics covered. Although winter is coming, I don’t plan on hibernating completely so I’m not trying to fatten up on MEAT & CARBS!!!
Day 1 of Spain was all about arriving here safely and in one piece. . . ÉXITO/SUCCESS. Bueno, Day 2, Thursday was my first day of classes and I would be meeting all the teachers at the school. . . and the students, oh I’d be meeting the little Spanish kids. I was nervous and excited. Lucky for me, the teacher assigned to help me settle in brought a shirt for me to borrow for my first day (NO LUGGAGE), and I had packed an extra pair of pants in my backpack. The teacher picked me up and off we went to O’Corgo, a small town about 20km away.
What a warm welcome I had. I was met by smiling teachers & curious students greeting me with “HELLO, NICE TO MEET YOU”. With only 3 classes to assist on Thursdays, I had lots of free time, time to chat with teachers passing by. I was taking it all in: Being in España, being in Galicia, adjusting to the cold weather, listening in on the teacher gossip, which was less gossip and mostly concerned dialogue about a student or an entire class. **Granted, most of the time the teachers speaking amongst each other wasn’t completely discernible to me, as it wasn’t in Castellano (the Spanish Language). I’ll come back to this.
BEST PART OF THE DAY: The Children/Los Niños! I met my 6th grade class, the tiny class of 1st graders, and my 5th grade class. This primary school in O’Corgo is a public school in a rural town and so it happens that the average class size is MUCH SMALLER than I imagined. There were only seven 6th graders, ten 5th grade students, and the 1st grade class was only 5 students. I am most grateful for my placement both in Galicia and in O’Corgo because it is going to be an intimate school environment where I will get to know all of the students well. I might even learn some GALEGO (Gallego/Galician: the native language here in Galicia). Similar to Spanish and also similar to Portuguese, it’s a beautiful language that I am loving already. Hearing the teachers and students alike speaking Galego more than Castellano really has reminded me of how much I love languages. Speaking many languages in any country means DIVERSITY, means preservation of CULTURE and I do believe it also means OPPORTUNITY. Through my personal experience, I have seen that speaking 2 languages has its benefits (Like traveling throughout Mexico successfully), and I probably wouldn’t have made the decision to move to ESPAÑA/SPAIN if I didn’t speak Spanish. You have the chance to communicate in countries all over the world if you know Spanish, and I am grateful for this. FALAR GALEGO (To speak Galician), although mostly spoken in Galicia, is also an advantage. I have seen the pride los españoles here in Galicia have for their language in just a few short weeks that I’ve been here. For the most part, the children speak Galego here and they learn in Galego in the school system, and hopefully they retain it for as long as they can. I’ve signed myself up already for an impromptu GALEGO exchange, where I will speak/write English con unos españoles, and they will speak/write in GALEGO to me. Vamos, I’m pretty excited about it.
Other than school stuff, I have been slowly learning the Spanish ways through the stomach. Here are some of the things I have tasted here in LUGO, Galicia so far.
Everything you see here is YUMMMMMM!! Todo lo que ves aqui es DELICIOSO!!!!
The delicious TORTILLA in the bottom left corner stands out from all of these as a favorite, even though it was the SIZE OF ME and I could barely make a dent in it. **Important thing to note, many Spanish dishes are intended to be shared, and I think this giant Tortilla was one of those. I guess there is only one thing to do, Make more Friends, claro. One thing they do right here is include VINO/WINE in the Menú del Día, which is a set price for a starter plate like soup or something, a Main dish of Meat/Fish/seafood, a dessert, and again, WINE! They sometimes bring a bottle of Vino to your table and let you have at it during your meal. Genius I tell you. Everything is better with a good wine. . . and they are PRETTY GREAT so far I must say. Both tasty and strong.
A good buzz during the Siesta Hours is something I have started to enjoy, and besides, it helps with the cold. It’s usually pretty fookin’ cold outside for this California girl.
And it’s only AUTUMN currently. I have been warned by so many people already, “Just you wait, it gets worse” and “It gets much colder.” Well Shit. . . I guess that gives me time to buy warmer clothes, more layers, and maybe to begin to adjust to this climate.
One final albeit maybe random thing I wanted to tell you all about: The old men/los viejitos de Lugo: my heart, my heart melts when I see them walking down the street, when I see them cautiously at their steady pace cross the street. Their steps are small, their effort is strenuous, but they have places to be, obviously. Some make eye contact with me. Some purposefully avoid my eyeline, but I see them. I am making mental pictures of their ways. Dapper they are and independent too (that’s a given). I am curious what life stories they have to share. Perhaps I will be lucky enough to pry for just one tale soon. Perhaps I will be at the right place at the right time, where my smile catches their glimpse. Who can resist a smiling foreigner anyway? EN TIEMPO ESPERO.
¡VAMOS! hasta la próxima. . . and hopefully I’ll know more GALEGO by then.