I arrived in Barcelona last Sunday after an overnight stay in Jordan. Royal Jordanian Airlines were fantastic. Not only sending my golf clubs through at no extra cost but providing food and accommodation while I was in Jordan.
I will be in Barcelona for three months volunteer teaching and I am staying in a village north of Barcelona – Lliça d’Amunt. The family I am doing a home stay with met me at the airport and I think we were lucky to get all of us, my suitcase and my golf clubs in the car.
The family is Josep, Teresa and daughters Sara and Agnès. Sara is 14 and goes to the school where I am teaching English.
The school is about a twenty minute walk. I enjoy strolling there and I seem to be in the habit of conjugating verbs as I walk.
Well I try to.
It is cold here – well it is winter – and I haven’t had a winter in three years so I am sure feeling it. I also didn’t plan my Spanish leg of my trip very well. From the lack of warm clothing to leaving all my Spanish books back in Canada.
When I left Canada I was thinking about summer in Australia and working on the film and not much past that it would seem.
One of the lovely teachers I work with, Dori, has lent me her eldest daughter’s coat as I only have a light jacket. Heading to school the other morning, the temperature was 0.5 degrees and I was very thankful to be wrapped in a warm coat.
I went for a run early Monday morning dressed in leggings and a tshirt and before I even got a kilometre every piece of exposed skin was numb. I stopped at the park that is beside my house and did some push ups, sit ups, tricep dips but while working out I decided I will run after school when the sun is high and I won’t freeze.
I do have plenty of time.
I attend seven classes and have two classes where older students just come to talk in English. The students are very nice and don’t seem to have the attitude of kids back in Australia – or perhaps I am lucky and have only met a select few.
During my first lessons this week, Raquel (one of the teachers) wrote a dozen things on the board e.g. I have five husbands and am looking for a sixth, I am Muslim, I smoke a lot, I hate sports, it is my first trip to Spain, I am allergic to pineapple, I can’t speak a word of Spanish etc and the students had to ask me questions to work out what was true.
It was a lot of fun and when asked if I could speak any spanish I responded with “Estoy aprendiendo pero me español es terible” (I’m learning but my spanish is terrible) the students burst into a round of applause and cheered.
I could do naught but laugh.
Some days my head feels like it is going to explode as I am in Catalan country yet only speak some Spanish. On Thursday I thought it a good idea to go to the movies with a friend. The bad idea was it being in Spanish with no English subtitles. I did enjoy a nice nap but only understood about a quarter of it (when I was not napping that is).
Next time I will have English subtitles so I can at least follow the whole film.
I am doing Spanish lessons online for a couple of hours a day, watching Spanish television with English subtitles on my computer and reading and conjugating Spanish verbs. I have lunch and dinner with the family and we talk a little in Spanish and a little in English and I listen to them speak, catching every other word.
I also spend two hours a week with my family teaching them English. We read from texts and they ask questions about words they may have come across during their day.
Some things are hard to explain for example why Thomas the Tank Engine says “Coming through” all the time, but we work it out, have a laugh and of course I am learning too.
I only teach three days a week and so far have spent my days off walking around the village and exploring. Barcelona is only thirty minutes on a bus so I plan to spend a bit of time wandering around the city too.
I have arranged my first round of golf and will be playing on Saturday at Club de Golf Barcelona with one of the members on their 18 Holes Masia Championship Course. I haven’t golfed since I played sand golf in the desert in Abu Dhabi so I am very keen to have a hit.
Tomorrow I am going to take my clubs to the park next door and practice some chipping and pitching and some swinging drills.
Yesterday I went for a three hour hike in the mountains at Parc del Montnegre with the family I am staying with. Mental note, don’t wear converse hiking.
The mountains are beautiful and the walk was lovely but as the motorbikes zipped by I wished I was riding one of those instead.
Today I met Dori at the school and we headed to the markets at Canovelles. I was pleasantly surprised on my walk as I stumbled across the Sunday markets at Lliça d’Amunt. While I didn’t buy anything in Lliça I made a note of what I can get.
The markets at Canovelles are quite a bit larger and not only did I buy some snacks and taste some fantastic produce, I also got a couple of jumpers for three euros.
Can’t go wrong at those prices – and my wardrobe is in need of things with sleeves.
The food is simple but the produce delicious. I was planning on cooking for the family three days a week so Teresa didn’t have to, but the girls only like simple dishes and when I made a pumpkin and leek soup Agnès wasn’t a fan as I had put garlic in it.
I do love a gas kitchen and am pleased I am cooking with gas here for whenever I want to cook. That is probably the thing I miss the most when I travel – my kitchen, my herbs and spices but most of all my blender.
I have my smoothie every morning and I travel with a blender (a magic bullet) and a universal plug. I also ensure I always have avocados, bananas, zucchini and spinach as a base and add whatever other fruit is here. While the magic bullet blends things it is not always smooth and there are always bits in my smoothie that I have to chew.
Definitely not my Blendtec and not quite what you want in a smoothie.
I have made banana, oatmeal and cranberry slice (thank you Teresa Cutter) twice now in the past week. I always have it with me regardless of where I am in the world (providing I have access to a kitchen) as it is my favourite golf snack. Josep and Teresa also like it so I bought lots of bananas today so I have ingredients to make another batch.
Which might just have to be tomorrow but for now I am going back to Spanish lessons.