I feel like the pregnant woman who’s not really enjoying her pregnancy. My big belly is out there for all to see, it’s suppose to be a magical, wonderful time and people expect you to say “of course!”, “wonderful!” when they ask you how you’re doing; but it’s really not.
I have posted very nice photos; the castle is amazing, the mountains surrounding us are amazing as well, the town is also nice and larger than I expected. The girls are doing well with school – although I’m not sure if they are so hyper when I pick them up because they have been inside all day or because they are imitating the behaviors surrounding them. And the idea of living oversea’s is great, but the logistical nature of living where you don’t speak the language is beyond frustrating. I’m not a gregarious, outgoing person so it’s unlike me to strike up a conversation with a stranger in the first place but add in that I don’t speak the language and even if they do they won’t speak English in front of me or their friends because they are embarrassed about how they sound (the gentleman that spoke English at the Guardia Civil was laughed at the entire time by his colleagues as he was helping me). It lends itself to a very lonely day. I’m trying to learn the language as fast as I can. Using Duolingo when I can get online, listening to Learn to Speak Spanish in your Car (which we started on our return road trip) as well as a few podcasts on iTunes. Everything seems to be an adventure in frustration. We still don’t have internet. I thought I had it all lined up but when they called back to go over the contract (details??) they told me we had to have a Spanish bank account; even if we were going to pay monthly at the post office. Argh! I tried changing my money at three different banks here in town; not one spoke English. So I can only imagine how opening an account and closing it 9 months later will go! Argh! I finally got my cell phone working — although I have no idea the phone number right now — by having it unlocked by At&t. We just ended up buying Jeff a new cell phone as we couldn’t get either one to work! Now, before you say didn’t you know it needed to be unlocked? NO! Our At&t phones are not contract phones, they are go phones, I bought mine at Target without a sim card in it! And now that I have a cell phone, I tried calling another internet company but the menu is all in Spanish and randomly pressing buttons was getting me nowhere except hung up on. I decided that making chocolate chip cookies would make things all better. But, after finally finding the baking powder and flour, I realized I needed some vanilla. There is no vanilla extract here – only a pod of vanilla. We made our own vanilla extract by cooking the vanilla bean and pod in vodka. There are no chocolate chips either, so we just cut up some candy bars. We also have no measuring utensils so we just tried to use a drinking glass and get the ratios correct. We did end up with what resembled chocolate chip cookies and with some tweeking could be good. Lastly, (I use this term loosely) I am trying to get a prescription filled here but that again has it’s challenges! The equivalent version according to the Spanish pharmacist is at a much different dosage. So not wanting to turn into she-wolf, I tried contacting my doctor to see if she had any insight. I got an email reply that said my doctor no longer worked for the office and I should consult a Spanish doctor. Argh! I refrained from replying with a one-fingered email salute.
And of course as karma(?) or maybe coincidence goes, every facebook post I saw this morning had some sort of reference to changing one’s point of view will change one’s life or don’t forget how blessed I am or refocus on what’s important or it’s my perspective that needs to change not the problems around me. Bite me. *sigh* Okay, okay I’ll go have a glass of wine and try to change my perspective.
Moving into our own space was very nice. My clothes are still in a heap but I have unpacked 2 of 3 children´s clothes. Interestingly, the water heater is in an upper cupboard in the kitchen and has two potential plugs. We were warned in very fast and energetic Spanish that the one on the right was VERY, VERY expensive to use and to only use it when we REALLY, REALLY, REALLY needed hot water RIGHT NOW. Hhmm…I guess when you are standing in the shower with soap in your eyes you need it now? The plug on the left will come on when the energy company has decided it is the most economical to use power and will heat the water in the tank. Essentially, the water heats overnight when it is least costly and then you have what is currently in the tank to use for the day. Unless, of course you want to switch plugs and pay through the nose. Not that I actually know what paying through the nose costs as I still have not learned Spanish numbers and we will be given our utility bill by a neighbor who is the friend of the owner who does not speak English either. A watched pot never boils nor it seemed that a watched water heater ever heated. After being in the house for two days, we still had no hot water. We gave the kids a quick, cold wash before the first day of school. Jeff & I applied more deodorant. Then Jeff came home and had the brillant idea that maybe the breaker wasn´t actually on! I used my newly purchased Spanish/English dictionary to translate what the breakers said. AND YES! Hot water!
Now, I know I´ve left you hanging about the kids school and if it´s improved. It has. I mean where do you to go besides up from a kid puking in the school yard? And I´ll write more later on school but really the lack of my understanding of the language and the fact there are very few people here who speak English has been challenging and all consuming for me. Jeff leaves for school, I walk the kids to school and then here I am. With very little understanding of the language, an extensive to-do list and no one to speak to. I´ve been lonely. I have no internet connection at home. And getting it seems like an insurmountable challenge. I have no cell phone to text Jeff with and he hasn´t a cell phone that actually texts either (even though we ended up purchasing a new one here as it seems we were wrong in that our U.S. phones were not unlocked). The news is all in Spanish — although “Ebola” pretty much looks the same in Spanish as it does in English. I managed to sign myself up for the local grocery store discount card, which also now allows me to use my credit card to pay. I manged to sign myself up for a library card. Basically, I would say things like “Mi Casa, Buitrago!” and pull out my address to show I wasn´t a tourist but living here. The librarian would say something and I would pull out my passport. She´d say something else and I´d pull out the little passport picture of myself. (SO, glad I went to a copy shop in the states and made 10 copies of our passport photos!) Eventually, she showed me the computers and handed me a card. Yippee! I guess I didn´t really give much thought as to what it would be like here. You know on House Hunters International they all seem to be laughing and eating and drinking (which by the way, a bottle of wine $1.66). Everyone kept telling us we´d run into lots of folks that spoke English. There aren´t. Going to a restuarant is just a plain guess as to what we are ordering. We got an entire plate of cheese the other day. The following day we returned and the server actually gave us a menu translated into English. SO HELPFUL!! Turns out we could have ordered pig ears, instead we ordered cuttlefish which we thought tasted like squid and that plate of cheese. I wander around the grocery store looking at pictures and trying to decide if that means it´s dish soap or laundry detergent. Or shampoo or body wash. The eggs and milk are not refridgerated so those took me forever to find. The kids found the junk food quite easily. I guess the Nestle Quick bunny is pretty recognizable! The pop/soda/Fanta (which by the way 489 calories in a can) is easy to find. Only today, after I´ve been to this store at least five times did I find the apple juice.
Right now I am mostly reminded of the movie “The Terminal” with Tom Hanks. Each to do list item is a challenge and each success seems to create a new problem. I guess I´ll continue to buy cheap ass wine. On more positive notes, Jeff had a great meeting with the international office of his school yesterday and they helped him figure out his cell phone and will help us get the internet at home. They also gave him a list of English speaking doctors. And Amelia had a great success of purchasing a toy on her own at the shop below us (China Bazaar – which deserves it´s very own post as well). She was so excited!