Thursday, September 30, 2010

Efficiency at its finest.

Not to brag, but this may have been the most productive week of my life.

Actually...I'm going to brag a little.

Let me lay out the timetable of this past week for you:

Saturday, Sept. 25th

Wake up exhausted from a thorough final night out in Sevilla with all the friends I had made during the past month. 

Finish packing and catch a taxi to get me to the train station less than 10 minutes before it leaves (phew).

Try fruitlessly to sleep on the interminable train ride.

Get to the yet-unknown city of Granada, check into the hotel, and immediately begin hitting the pavement looking for a piso (apartment).

After walking half-aimlessly around the city, I have around 7 or 8 different numbers written down in my notebook of potential apartments.  I take them all back to the hotel room and begin making calls and setting up appointments for the following day.



Sunday, Sept. 26th

Wake up and get breakfast.

Make a few more calls before heading out to my first appointment.

Visit first apartment.

Liked it.

Kill some time.

Visit second apartment (after getting quite confused and having to be picked up by the landlady on the street in her car and driven to the apartment because I couldn’t understand a single damn word she said on the phone.  Aren’t first impressions great?).

Liked it, as well.

Have no more luck reaching people on the phone to make appointments so I return to the hotel to keep searching online.

Get back and keep searching/calling, but to no avail.

Join up with some of the others in the hotel who are also searching for pisos and start hearing horror stories about crappy apartments and creepy roommates.

Am joined in the hotel room by the rest of the group and continue to hear stories about how many apartments are already taken and how discouraged they feel.

Start to freak out a little bit and become convinced that everyone in Granada is suddenly considering moving into both of the apartments I saw today as well, thus making it a rather bleak situation.

Do some acute soul searching and realize how lucky I am to have seen two apartments that I really like.  And, rather than risk losing one of the two apartments, I went ahead and made the decision to take apartment #2.

Call landlady.

Claim apartment.

Do a little dance.

Go out to dinner with friends.

Monday, September 27th

Visit the apartment again, give the security deposit, get keys in my pocket and head back to the hotel.

Visit some other potential apartments with friends who haven’t found apartments yet.

Move the first wave of my stuff into my new room.

Discover that my keys don’t work.

Unpack and put away stuff for a few hours.  Talk with awesome roommates.

Head back into town to meet up with others.

Monday afternoon and Tuesday are kind of a blurr.

Wednesday was a national strike in Spain, as well as a few other countries in Europe.  I should probably be more informed about why these things happen, but I was too busy being annoyed by all the closed shops and by the people marching in the streets and disturbing traffic.  One interesting result of the strike is that, while walking around town shopping for sheets, towels, and random other stuff, we heard two people yelling at each other on the street.  I don’t things would have really escalated beyond yelling, and I couldn’t really understand what they were yelling about, but they kept saying one word over and over: fachas, fachas, fachas.

I whipped out my dictionary and looked it up.  We weren’t very surprised to discover that “facha” means “facist.”  I exchanged withering looks with the two friends I was with, then walked into ZARA and bought some fine home furnishings.

This morning I went with a group of people to begin the process of extending our visas to be able to stay in Spain until the end of our contracts.  We got to the office an hour and a half before it opened, and we ended up being about 6
th or 5th in line.  Which, considering how long the line was behind us by the time the office opened, was excellent.  We were all finished around 10:30 or 11 am.  After hearing horror stories about people spending 6 hours in the office in Sevilla, we were proud of our efforts.  Afterwards, I bought a Spanish/English Visual Dictionary, got inordinately excited about it (I’m super cool, I know), and then walked around the city getting information on city buses, government offices, and other important things.

Finally, after all this, I got back to my place, grabbed a quick bite, finished unpacking and making my bed and stuff, then called my school (finally) to find out what they expect of me (my first day of work is tomorrow, Oct. 1st).  Luckily…they don’t expect anything, lol.  I’m just going to meet the other teachers in the English department.

Currently, I’m sitting here, watching Austin Powers II with my French roommate, discussing (in Spanish) travel, movies, food, France/Spain/Europe, and all sorts of other things.

Things are going pretty well, I’d say.

Here are a few pics to help the imagination:

Living room/entertainment center.


Couches in living room.

Bookshelf/cabinet and wardrobe.

Desk and window (with nice breeze and lots of light), also with chair I almost broke today.

Bed!  Picked out the red sheets to give it some pizzazz; I'm proud.

So all in all I'm very content at this time.  I'll get pictures of my roommates at some point and post them as well.  They're super cool.  I'm living with a very friendly/talkative French girl, Jennifer, and a Spanish guy named Julio, who, I can only assume, aspires to win the world record for speed talking.  It's a good thing that Jennifer has been here for a week longer than I have because, after Julio explains something to me about the apartment, I wait for him to leave and then have Jennifer re-explain it to me.  It's really working out quite well so far.  No catastrophes.  Yet.

One foible worth mentioning quickly happened as follows:

(Background info: Cell phones are much more expensive to use in Spain than in the US, so to avoid the cost of calling and talking to someone, or sending them a text message, they've developed a system called the "toque" (roughly translated as "ring," "knock," "poke," or "touch").  More specifically, you say "to give a ring/poke/touch" (dar un toque).  It's basically this: When you're leaving your apartment to meet up with someone, you call them, let it ring once, and then hang up.  It lets them know where you are and it doesn't cost either party anything.  Interesting, yes?)

ANYWAY, so as I mentioned earlier, my keys didn't work the first day I moved stuff into my room, so Julio was telling me that, if I had to come back, I could just give him a "toque" and he could come out and let me in.  I was excited because, for one brief, glorious moment, I understood exactly what he was saying.  Eager to display my understanding, I responded quickly: "Sí, sí, puedo tocarte..."

What I should have said was, "Sí, sí, puedo darte un toque."

The difference, though slight, is quite important.  You see, "tocar," from whence came the word "toque" means "to touch."  So, rather than say, "yes, yes, I'll give you a ring/poke/touch," what I actually said was, "yes, yes, I can touch you."

Julio, bless his heart, just looked at me, straight faced, and said, "Ok.  Sounds good..."  It wasn't even until a few minutes after I had left the apartment that I realized what I had said.  I laughed.  After all, such is life in a foreign country.

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