So, moving to a different country can be quite an exciting adventure...but the reality is a bit more complex than that, with anger, joy, impatience, frustration, incompetence and hilarity all part of the equation. I have lived in Spain as a single woman (holiday representative - those who know me well will understand that I had the patience of an angel and therefore, I was really good at that job! Despite my shortcomings I managed to do two summer seasons in Mallorca and a winter in Benidorm!) I went to Qatar as a teacher and a married woman and stayed so long I became a mother (twice). We returned to the Uk for a while and now I am in Spain. Are we nomads? restless travellers or just a family making the most of the adventures available to us and avoiding the traditions of a settled life surrounded by family and ald friends?
The moving experience changes dramatically when you're part of a family as opposed to being on your own. For a start there's considerably more luggage to unpack and find storage space for. There's two little mouths that need feeding as well as two big ones, inevitable there are arguments and injuries (and that's just mum and dad). There are four people to cater for, keep clean and happy and clothed. There are four opinions to co-ordinate (including one very strong minded four year old daughter and an equally stubborn mother!)
There are also the joys of a new culture, a different climate, a new language, new neighbours and colleagues. A new home with all its benefits and disadvantages and a new job!
I am still unpacking boxes and probably will be for some months to come. We don't have enough shelf space for all of our books, so we are waiting and hoping to get some shelves built. I am seriously considering purchasing a kindle so that I can download books as opposed to keeping them on the shelf. Yes, books do look lovely and you can go back to them, but one of the disadvantages of living abroad is the expense of purchasing books so I'm convinced the kindle is the way to go.
Life so far in Spain has been a combination of joys and a few minor niggles. Our neighbours are a lovely Spanish couple who have been very friendly to us and the children. They keep up a running dialogue (in Spanish) with the children and quite often I'm sure Owain and Aoife have absolutely no idea what's going on, but they can see the body language is positive and haer the tone of voice is kind and so they're happy. Also, they have been given chocolate and some toys to play with so their impressions are positive!! I sometimes go out to translate and thanksully, after the initial complete confusion, either the neighbour is speaking to me a bit more slowly, or my limited Spanish is all coming back to me through immersion!
I was lucky enough to be invited out to a hen party on Saturday night in Alicante city centre. This served as a great reminder of the things I find fascinating about Spanish culture. We arrived at the city centre to find the restaurant at 9 p.m. (which is not that long before my usual bed time). Alicante was heaving, absolutely full of people out having fun on a Saturday night. Nothing surprising about that, you may think, it's a city centre on a Saturday night for goodness sake. The surprising thing was that the city centre was full of people of all ages, not just bright young things on a night out on the town (or on a hen night), but middle aged couples strolling in their finery, families with children eating at outdoor restaurants. I saw two old ladies looking gloriously elegant as they promenaded arm in arm. Of course it was warm, which always lends itself to s feeling of calm. People were relaxed in very few layers of clothing, drinking at tables outside.
The range of ages made an immense difference to the feeling of the city, lending it a far more friendly, safe and family based ambience.
The hen night was fun, there were the usual penis themes objects (including a rather frightening anatomically accurate chocolate penis). Lots of raucous women laughing and having fun, plenty of good food and wine, some lovely soft sentiments about love and marriage. Altogether a great night out. At one atge I thought we were going tohave the benefit of not only one but a troupe of fit young men as strippers, thankfully it was a stag do just coming in to say hello. a raucous spanish song was sung by the stag and his party, I have no idea of the lyrics but I'm sure they were suitably smutty!
We left fairly early (by Spanish standards) at about 1 a.m.) The streets were still busy, still calm. the demographic was evidently younger but there were still a range of ages out and about, enjoying the heat. We didn't see any vomiting or fighting in the streets. maybe it was just the part of the city we were in. Perhaps it was the more salubrious area...who knows? I'm attributing the calm and wonder of a lovely evening out to the things that the Spanish do right in their culture.....and the great climate which makes it all possible. It's a complex set of ingredients that works. I'm just hoping that I can get out there and enjoy it again soon, perhaps with the children!