Thursday, September 15, 2011

First Days in Spain

Hola, y'all!

I am sitting here eating a tortilla espanola and drinking cafe con leche in a restaurant that we FINALLY FOUND that has Wi-Fi! ES UN MILAGRO!

But let me start from the beginning.  My flight left out of Charlotte at 4:25pm and arrived in Madrid at 6:15am their time.  My body felt like it was still about 1am and was like, umm why are you eating this airplane breakfast pastry so late at night?  Despite the fact that I was seated next to a very normal, non-smelly, quiet, polite Spanish woman, I was unable to sleep.  So I watched  Pirates of the Caribbean 14, Water for Elephants and some dumb Medea movie.  I waited for Annie in the baggage claim area and changed out my money for Euros.  That was a depressing experience.  I watched the exchange rate gobble up so many of my dollars! =[

(Side note:  The cafe I am in is playing old episodes of Family Matters on the TV!  DID I DO THAAAT?!)

Once Annie arrived we got a taxi and fear flashed across the driver's face as he saw how huge and heavy all my luggage was.  He was able to smush it all in and he drove us to the train station.  We bought train tickets to our town and drank some serious espresso to keep us going.  We went to 2 wrong platforms with all of our luggage in tow before we finally found the right one.  This is how I felt hauling both of my 50lb suitcases, purse and ~30lb backpack around Spain.  On the third try we finally got to the right platform and started hauling our luggage aboard, all the while sweating profusely.  In all the hubbub, I dropped my train ticket and the breeze blew it beneath the train.  I ran frantically to the employee nearest to me explaining what happened (in Spanish) and if there was anything they could do.  There was not.  In fact, I think the lady had been waiting for a silly American to be mean to and I presented her with her golden opportunity.  With an evil smirk she told me I would have to purchase another ticket.  However, another lady who checked the train tickets told me "no pasa nada" which I took to mean "sure, go ahead and get on the train".  So I got on the train and we laughed nervously all the way to Arevalo.

When we arrived at the train station there was no one waiting on us like there was supposed to be.  Picture a train platform in an abandoned western ghost town and you can envision the platform in Arevalo.  The one girl there told us that the nearest hotel was about a 30 minute walk. I used my handy dandy global phone to call the school and the lady said she had been working from home all week (no internet) and hadn't received the emails we had sent her.  Oh the Spanish and their non-internet using ways!  She came to pick us up and drove us to the apartment in which we will be staying.  It is 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms with a nice sized kitchen and living room.  Couldn't ask for much more!  Our landlords are Paco and Carmen who are married and teach in the town.  They are so friendly and told us they would be like our family away from home if we ever needed anything.  We are only paying $125 plus utilities/month!  Sweet!  They had their daughter Lidia take us on a walking tour of the city later that night.  We ended up in a candy shop drinking a Coca-Cola, eating gummy bears (called Ositos in Spain) and watching the Barcelona game.  The town is actually a lot bigger than I thought it would be.  There is a pretty historic district and a very old castle.  (Pictures to come soon..I left my camera at the apartment).  Our town specializes in a dish called "Cochinillo" which is basically just a whole roasted baby pig splayed out on a plate for about 6 or 7 people to share.  Remember that scene in "A Christmas Story" when they bring out the whole duck and chop the head off?  Yeah, it's kind of like that but with a pig.  Don't get me wrong, I totally plan on eating one of those pigs before I leave.  It is just strange seeing pictures of them everywhere with "Especialidad de la Casa" above it.

If all you do to have hot water is turn on the faucet, you should consider yourself lucky.  I have to do some major finagling with the hot water heater and electricity unit which is aptly named "Junker" before we get hot water.  I finally figured it out this morning.  Annie said that when she studied in Ronda, she had to light a match while opening a slot and throw the match in really fast in order to get hot water!  Hot showers and wi-fi have made this the best day so far in Spain!  Our first day of work is not until Monday so we are trying to get a feel for the town and get settled in.  Maybe we will even do a little traveling within the country.  I will post pictures soon and now that I have a place with Wi-Fi I can post regularly!

The language barrier is pretty intimidating but it is getting better every day.  Hope all is going well Stateside with everyone reading this!  I'll post again soon!

Adios, y'all!


  1. Yo, Sarah! I am in South Korea, but I am studying Spanish everyday in the hopes of teaching in South/Central America sometimes soon. Maybe Spain now that I see they'll accept anyone off the street. I'll be following your every movement closely. No shoes through windows.

  2. Yay, an update! Glad you are settling I'm. I am muy jealous of your rent! Have fun and eat an extra pig for me.

  3. I can already see that your posts are going to be the highlights of my days. I hope you have your "I'm big on the pig" Piggly Wiggly tee shirt with you. You could make bank with some of those over there.

  4. Sooo happy to read this! I can't wait to see Arévalo myself now! I know you are in a bit of culture shock now...but am betting it will seem pretty normal soon! And yay for honing those Spanish skills! Love you!!

  5. Oh Sarah, you are having so many adventures already. I love "fear flashed across the driver's face as he saw how huge and heavy all my luggage was." HAHA! I cant believe your rent is $125 a month. Out of this world! Wish it was the same in Manhattan ;) Hope you make friends with the hot water or else...when will you have time to have deep thoughts?

  6. Sound awesome, so glad you made it safe and sound and are settling in!

  7. Yay Sarah! Thankful you found someone kind at the station who let you get on the train. Wishing you the best next week at school!

  8. Woo Hoo! You made it and still managed to keep your great sense of humor! Good for you! I have been patiently waiting for an update, so I thank you! It is Friday morning here at the old Zentrum and we all wish you a wonderful weekend!! XOXO

  9. Also I think you should change the name of your blog to Hola Y'all...that made me laugh.