I’ve been here a month now and feel my true feelings about culture here are ripe enough to be shared.
I’m over the smell. Here on the coast I don’t notice it, but not even a block inland it engulfs you. It’s a toxic mixture of cigarette smoke (EVERYONE here smokes), exhaust, sewage, dog excretions (see earlier post), trash (they have the giant public bins on the street), and whatever restaurant/cafe you happen to be walking by. I don’t think I’ll ever accept it. Let’s just say my morning walks to work definitely awaken one sense, and one sense only. The city itself (the architecture, buildings) is not a beautiful one. The background of the Sierra Nevadas and the Mediterranean is pleasant, but not breathtaking. We’ve been to a few small towns and beaches in Cabo de Gata (see later) that are much more inspiring.
The sounds of the city are also slightly (searching for the right word here), grating? Irritating? Detracting? From the bass of the calorros to the estudiantes borrachos coming home late from the bars with the occasion whine of passing motor bikes, I am constantly reminded that this is city living. But again, the sea comes to the rescue. Me encanta the sound of waves as I fall asleep.
The food is good. We have found the difference between true restaurants and tapas bars, and are trying to eat meals on Spanish time. We’re kind of forced into it since restaurants don’t even open until 8:00 pm. Even then, we are more often than not the first people there! I can’t complain too much, though, because I can’t imagine cooking during a summer evening here–it’s way too hot! I have tried some pork (a staple here), and while I still don’t like jamon, I will eat chorizo. I’ve even read and made some Spanish recetas. I love that I actually have time to cook and am able to enjoy putting meals together. Don’t worry–pizza is still my favorite food, but they definitely need a Carbone’s here. So far I’ve had 2 amazing meals out…One was a rape (monk fish) lasagna, and the other was a tapas experience with Alex’s family: We had a total of 17 tapas, 19 drinks, and a round of free wine for a grand total of 42 euros. Amazing. (The place is called ‘La Cabana de Tio Tom.’ Cute, huh?)
Now that I’ve done my share of complaining, let me say this…I’m SO happy that we ended up here and not somewhere outside the city. Many other auxiliares work up to an hour outside the city and commute every day, or live in small towns. I have it good. I live on the beach, my walk to work is less than 10 minutes, and no store/restaurant/office/bar is more than a 30/40 minute walk (there is also a bus system and taxis). There is also plenty of beauty to be explored no too far from here.
The southern and eastern coastal parts of Spain are a giant national park called Cabo de Gata. People do live there, and each little town seems to have its own special charm. (Think salt flats, flamingos, caves, pirate lookouts, Hollywood-worthy beaches…)We’ve spent time at 2 towns so far (well, Al has been to 3). They are all a short car trip away. Agua Amarga had an amazing little beach that was pretty deserted this time of year. There we explored 500 year-old pirate caves. Apparently Barbary pirates from North Africa inhabited the coast and would capture Christian slaves. There are also remains of look-out towers all along the drive! San Jose is considered the tourist home of the area, and even it was charming. There are many more beaches to be explored along with hiking and bike paths.
Well, that’s all for now. Going out tonight…maybe stumble across a Halloween party or two. My next blog: The culture of schools (if you’re not an educator, you might want to skip this one 😉