Tuesday, 1 November 2011

The Tip of the Iceberg

This is a little delayed folks. Pretend this is a week ago!

This first week has been non-stop for me...in a good way. I haven't had a chance to let jet lag take over until now. I had to hit the ground running at school. It has been very fun but also very tiring. The kids are at all different levels, so it is very fortunate for me that I get to work with them individually and in small groups.

On Thursday, Rafa (the English teacher) took me to the University to look for apartment listings. I then got a tour of the port and the old part of Vigo. It is truly beautiful. Vigo began to prosper and develop during the Industrial Revolution; as such, it continues to thrive in industry. The main industry is shipbuilding, but fishing is still a large contributor.

Here in Vigo, we should be in the same time zone as Portugal. But, since the Spanish government wanted all of Spain on the same time zone, we are one hour ahead of them. This means that it is still dark at 8:30 in the morning but that the sun goes down at 11 in the summertime and around 9:00 right now. The sunsets are lovely here with the water.

Friday, Marin (my Canadian friend) helped me look online for apartments. Talking on the phone in Spanish is one of my least favourite things to do. However, after the first couple of phone calls it became a lot easier. The main concern is if there are smokers in the house. It is still very common to have people who smoke in their houses. Smoking is now prohibited inside most restaurants but smoking is still quite common. They have vending machines that dispense cigarettes.

After we weeded out all of the non-desirable situations, we had three meetings. I had called one lady who responded by shouting into the phone that she couldn't really talk right then because she was in the street. Because I had phoned so many people, I had forgotten to call her back or rather forgotten which was her number. Then she called me back to see if I was still interested in seeing the apartment. I told her yes. She seemed like a very spunky woman and I had a feeling I would like her. We made an appointment with her at before all of the rest of them. When we arrived, we knew it was meant to be. The house was beautiful and I had a great feeling there.

This woman, Lita, was helping her cousin Margarita look for a person to rent one of the rooms in her house. She lives alone now that her kids are grown up. There is a big room with a double bed and my own bathroom. Margarita is literally the older Spanish version of me: blonde, tall and likes costume jewelry as much as I do.  After that, I almost didn't want to look at any more places. I went to one other just to say that I had and, as expected it was subpar to what we had already seen.

Instead of seeing the other two, we went across the bay in the ferry bus to a town called Cangas to venture into the world of seafood. We ordered octopus! Although it looked a little creepy with the purple suction cups, it was super fresh and spiced to perfection. I am glad that I tried it, but the texture might deter me in the future. In order to make it softer, they often beat the dead octopus to soften the meat.

We then took a relaxing stroll down the beach. They are having unusually warm weather for October so there were quite a few people out tanning in bathing suits, including two grandmas in rather modern bikinis. One of them was brave enough to take a dip in the chilly Atlantic. Galician women are known for their strength. Maybe that strength comes in part from their Viking heritage. At some point, the Vikings settled here. They joke that instead of pillaging, they decided to produce and multiply with Spanish women. Because of that, there are more blondes and redheads here then I have seen in any other part of Spain. Therefore, people don’t look at me like I’m an alien! The more I learn about Galicia, the more I love about it. There is so much to discover still and I am so excited to see as much as I can.

Tidbit: This is a very typical ending to a phone call or encounter with a Spanish person:
"Venga vale, ciao, vale un beso, ciao, hasta luego, ciao un besito."

Translation: Well, ok, bye, ok, kiss kiss, bye, see you soon, bye, kiss kiss.

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