The Spaniards dress to impress. . . Here in Lugo, on any given day, there are young women and ladies, dapper men and strapping young men, all finely put together, manicured, quite presentable. Although it is generally the elderly women dressed in their fur coats that stand out while on a leisurely CAMINATA, perhaps on Sunday evening, yes I recall them Dressed to Kill just last Sunday, most even wearing a short heel. Los españoles brillan mucho más que yo! . . . y también sus proprios perros/ The Spaniards outshine me on any given day. . . and so do their dogs. Oh España!
I don’t take it personal. I mean, generally I am wearing 3 more layers of clothing than any local here in Lugo, Galicia, so I tend to go for comfort. No matter what I wear, I look like a giant Michelin doll. . .
. . . so my effort is minimal. I found this picture online though and thought it very appropriate since I started a Yoga Practice this year. At least I am at peace with this image of myself here in España. Anyways, for those of you wondering if I am doing well, I am indeed. I LOVE LIVING IN ESPAÑA. I am braving the elements though. . . which are WIND, POQUITA LLUVIA (rain), COLD, and worst of all LA NIEBLA/ A NÉBOA (en Galego)/ FOG! Fog? Yes, FOG!
Yes the fog here rolls in and decides to stay for awhile. The fog makes the mornings, days and nights colder, and after my first full week in Lugo and one Friday Night out, come Saturday I had NO VOICE. I felt helpless because I spent Saturday and Sunday in bed resting, only leaving my room to go to the cafe downstairs for meals and hot teas with Lemon and Honey, and come Monday I still had to call out sick from work. I couldn’t speak.
I didn’t feel terrible, but like Ariel in The Little Mermaid who made that deal with Ursula, I was Voiceless, relying only on my looks and body language.
. . . AND A PAD OF PAPER APPARENTLY since I had to write down my orders for the waitresses. The teachers at the school were very understanding and offered me the world while I was sick, medicine or anything I needed, but I didn’t want to burden anyone. They told me to take as much time-off as I needed to recover, but I couldn’t wait to get back to the school. My days of solitary confinement were filled with teas
and a Spanish Netflix Series called “El Tiempo Entre Costuras.” I was hooked. It helped the time pass. 11 episodes wasn’t nearly enough, but it relieved me from the coughing/hacking nights.
First lesson here in Lugo is of course tied to the Weather:
- WHEN YOU GO INDOORS, TAKE OFF CLOTHES (a layer, maybe 2), and when you go OUTDOORS, COVER YOUR NECK ABOVE ALL, and add layers: one, two or maybe 3 in my case. If somebody punched me in the stomach outdoors, I wouldn’t even feel it.
Some other things I have learned thus far, having lived in LUGO, ESPAÑA for 1 month now (in no particular order):
- NEVER ORDER SOPA DE FIDEO IN A RESTAURANT (it’s just noodles and salt. . . don’t do it. Ever!)
- DECLINE BREAD EVERY CHANCE YOU GET, or you’ll have to buy more stretchy pants here in Spain. I’ve gained a few pounds since my arrival sadly.
- ALWAYS TAKE THE STAIRS IF YOU CAN. This has helped me not blow up in 1 month here. There are exactly 71 stairs leading up to my room, and I have opted to not take the elevator in order to Firm up/Burn calories. I’m happy to report I am no longer winded when I reach about stair #50. It only took 3 weeks or so to achieve this.
- DRINKING TEA in a restaurant with dinner when everyone else is drinking Cañas (Beers) or Vino (Wine) is not so embarrassing. Using a written paper sign to order your food/drink because you have no voice is however.
- SMILING AT SPANIARDS is a fun game. 80% of the time they don’t smile back. If you say BUENAS or HOLA while walking by, they might go into shock, but sometimes they respond in kind.
- SUPPOSEDLY, it is not even COLD here yet. They are having excellent weather conditions I am told. Strangely so, call it climate change if you will, it has hardly rained since I arrived. For the locals, it’s not even really cold. GREAT. I have colder weather to look forward to, MUCH COLDER even at some point.
- DOGS can accessorize too. Dogs wearing clothing, even warm and stylish coats, is VERY COMMON here.
- WHEN YOU ADD -ITO or -ITA to the end of any Spanish Word, you give yourself away as a foreigner, perhaps of Latino background. I can’t help it though. I say ahorita all the time, and poquito. . . and a ton of other words.
But I will say this, the environment here in Lugo is one that will allow me to grow and thrive. There are many things here for me, and I am spreading my wings. I found a FLAT to rent with 2 roommates the first weekend I was here, by talking to local Spaniards. I found my very own health-conscious store with grains, nuts, cereals, beans, etc etc etc for sale, while taking a stroll in a nearby neighborhood. They have since seen my face once a week, because where else am I going to buy Buckwheat and Quinoa and Almond Milk? (and yummy chocolate cookies, I think they are healthy) I even attended a Yoga Class in their back-room on one Monday night. NAMASTE!
Whenever the weather looks agreeable, I take longer walks down to the RIVER MIÑO for my hobbit time. IT’S UNDENIABLY BEAUTIFUL HERE IN GALICIA. I feel like a hobbit when I’m out enjoying AUTUMN, marveling at the trees, the falling leaves, reflections on the water. . . and seeing how far I can venture out to truly commune with Nature. It’s something I have come to cherish already, it has been a blessing. I am working on my photographer’s eye, sometimes stopping to takes pictures for MOMMA and others back home.
Other times I am so in it, that only a mountain biker whirling on the nearby path jolts me back to reality.
And as for the TEACHING PART, which is the reason I am here in Spain currently, well I was quite happy to return to work after those sick days. I am still assisting in English language classes and Arts and Crafts classes which they call PLÁSTICA. Some of the kids are warming up to me and wave to me and say “HELLO” in the hallways or the playground. Others are getting used to me but don’t like to speak English much. It is going to be my challenge to try to make it more interesting for them in any way that I can. Right now the 5th and 6th graders are up to their ears in GRAMMAR LESSONS that are part of the curriculum, but they are so bored. It’s not fun for them. I have some work to do, to make it fun for them. Leading up to our last day of classes on Friday, many of my classes were practicing for the Christmas Performances for the parents & school. The 1st/3rd graders sang “HOLLY JOLLY CHRISTMAS” and did a great job. The 2nd graders sang a “SANTA SONG” complete with actions and a Santa Dance. I saw them practice so many times that I was dreaming “S-A-N-T-A” from the song at night (and you can too if you click that link). All the other kids sang, danced, performed or played an instrument (Castellano and Galego). I am enjoying this whole teaching thing very much and look forward to the next 5 months with these students. Updates on my teaching experience to come.
On any given day here in Lugo, España, you will find me with bright eyes and a smile on my face. Someone has to get the locals to smile back afterall.
So for now, familia, sorry but I’m not missing home. And as much as I would like to be eating tamales and listening to all of your Xmas stories by the fire, I will have to get digital copies of your stories and enjoy my time with Maruxa’s family in Madrid where I’m spending my holidays. ALL MY LOVE THOUGH! Who’s coming to visit? It’s only a few plane rides/bus rides/and boom, you’re here. But really though, come! MERRY CHRISTMAS! or as they say in GALEGO, BO NADAL! Feliz Navidad a todos!
All photos taken NOV-DEC 2015- ARIANA DEL RÍO.