Today marks our 6 week anniversary of our new life here in Spain. Part of me thinks how is it possible that we have already been here 6 weeks while the other part of me feels like we have been here forever. Such a big change in lifestyle and surroundings. The change hasn’t been hard although I will admit that I had two days while we were fighting the documentation war and were without internet (for simple things like paying bills) that I had had enough and just wanted to climb into bed with a book and never come out. We’ve both had days that the stress of trying to get things accomplished has been frustrating. This could be the documentation, the internet, trying to put something together or the feeling that we spend hours wandering stores trying to find something we need. As we have always done we support and encourage each other through these times. This has been a crazy ride since last September but I wouldn’t want to share it with anyone but Bob.
A friend asked me before I left what I thought a typical day for me would be here. Now that we are unpacked and fairly settled I think we will be figuring out what a typical day is soon. Thankfully I am no longer setting an alarm for 5am! We immediately adjusted to Spanish time when we arrived and we both love it. We usually have lunch about 3:30pm or so and it is not rushed which is another nice change from my previous life. It used to be rare for me to be awake at 10pm as I was always exhausted – 5am start will do that. Last night we had our friends over for our language class and we didn’t eat until 10pm! Bedtime was 1:30am. So completely different for me.
I have to admit that I have been lacking the confidence to attempt to speak the language as much as I should. Bob does not have this problem at all. I’m afraid that I will make mistakes. How silly is that? Of course I’m going to make mistakes but then I will continue to learn. Working with our friends last night was really helpful because not only did I learn things but it helped with the confidence. When Bob and I talked about this a couple of days ago he pointed out that everyone is really helpful when we do try and they don’t laugh at us when we make mistakes. Of course I pointed out that they may laugh when we leave the shop. He replied, “maybe but we don’t know so it doesn’t matter.” Point made. I am now changing how I handle this. Time set aside each day to learn some more and I will speak without worrying about making mistakes. Tomorrow we are having lunch with 3 of our neighbors and when we set this date we agreed to all learn more of each other’s languages. Should be fun and a great test for me.
We ordered a nice gas barbecue from Amazon España, made in Germany and delivered a bit earlier than expected. Bob put it together easily, for a change with “some assembly required” items. We had our first guests coming to dinner the next evening, and Bob wanted to grill, so off to get what we need. First a regulator and hose, no the barbecue did not come with that. Our local Ferrateria, or hardware store, had a kit, so that was easy. Now for a gas bottle. We see them at gas stations, so Bob goes to the Repsol station in St Pere de Ribes, near the hardware store. Yes they have bottles, but only for exchange. So where do we buy one. Easy the lady says, I will draw you a map. Bob tries to get her to tell him the name so that he can put it in the phone and find it, but no the map is the thing he needs. Just go down here to the roundabout, take the second exit, go to the next roundabout, straight on the next one, and turn left at the BP gas station. Looked suspicious to Bob, so she went through it again.
So, off to buy a gas tank. Take the second exit off the roundabout, which as Bob thought took him onto the Autovia, or freeway. Now there are rarely roundabouts on freeways, especially not one we drive up every day, so obviously the next roundabout is off the freeway. Bob guesses which exit as he thinks he knows where she sent him. Sort of. Contrary to the map, which showed only one more roundabout, many roundabouts later he finally gets to the BP station in the middle of Vilanova. Lidl market on the opposite corner as the map showed, so the dot on the map must be just down here, yes? No. Finally stopped at a supermarket and with the help of Google Translate Bob finds a very helpful man checking out who knows where the place is, and says to follow him, as it is too hard to explain where it is. So much for the dot. We finally arrive after three more roundabouts to the Repsol gas tank depot in the heart of the industrial area. Bob drives into the yard. Man dispensing tanks points back outside to the street to where there is a hole in the wall where he will swap Bob’s tank out for a full one.
No, no tank, so please go to the office, which is in the yard where he started. Two lovely ladies there who speak little English. “I need to but a gas tank for a barbacoa.” This is Catalunya. Not sure they can do that it seems. Second lady wants to help, and wants to sell him a small bottle. Bob points out it is for a grande barbacoa, so a small bottle not much good. Besides he has a regulator now for a big bottle. Not allowed to have a big bottle on the ship, says the second lady. Huh? Not allowed. Somehow barbacoa has become a barco, a boat. No, it is for our house. Oh, that’s OK then, but we need the papers from the house! Something to do with light fittings. Much arm waving and bad Spanish Bob finally convinces her that the barbacoa is in the garden, not inside the house. In that case we are all good to go. The new bottle costs just over 3€, and the gas 14€, and it is a large bottle. Now back out to the hole in the wall where we finally have our gas bottle. This is what takes all our time.
Below is the map she drew for him. The dot in the left hand corner was his final destination.
I’m feeling extremely thankful right now that we are not living in our home back in N.C. We had lived in the rental for 15 months. In that time we encountered six copperhead snakes. Encountered and killed I should say and that time gets shortened if you consider when snake season is. When we moved out I left a letter on the counter for the new tenant whom I had been in touch with previously as they bought our washer and dryer from us and we left them our BBQ and some other items. It was just a note to welcome them to the home and neighborhood and wish them well. I shared pointers about how to use the fireplace remote, which light switches do what, what day garbage and recycling are picked up, etc. I also made her aware of our encounters with the copperheads. Not to scare her but just to make them aware. Well, today she and I were emailing and she told me that her husband had been bitten by one as he opened the gate from the backyard! Called 911 and thankfully only one fang got him and the doctors said it was a dry bite. Holy Moly! Very thankful that is he okay and very thankful we do not live there anymore. For the record I do not like spiders or snakes.
This afternoon we are expecting the delivery of the building supplies we ordered the other day for Bob’s stand-up desk. You may remember me telling you about how fun it was to place the order. Well, we will see if the language barrier caused any issues when the wood arrives. Hopefully not.
We have absolutely no regrets for making this move or for doing it so quickly that our heads were spinning. Life is to be lived not to just exist. Life is not a dress rehearsal so don’t waste it. “Life gives us choices…you either grab on with both hands and just go for it, or you sit on the sidelines.” Christine Feehan
Things are settling down now and it is time to start really enjoying our new life here. We love it already.