Third country in three days…
May 24, 2011 § 1 Comment
I’ve arrived in Spain! My aunt, whom I’m staying with, just headed out to work for a few hours, so I’m relaxing in a beautiful house at the top of a very steep hill which gives an excellent view of the city of Gijon. I can see the ocean and the beach, although neither is terribly appealing on this chilly day. There is also a row of astoundingly huge aloe plants across from the front of the house. I’ve only ever seen house plant-sized aloes, and these look like they belong to the time of the dinosaurs. They are probably as tall as me, and one has a flower stalk that’s easily twice my height. It looks exactly like a gigantic asparagus. I’ll post pictures once I have some.
The landscape here is surprisingly similar to what I’m accustomed to, but everything is somehow more drastic and vivid. Hills are steeper, valleys are sharper, and the colors are all slightly different, particularly in the buildings but also in foliage. Houses are perched on the sides of hills and mountains. Again, pictures to come. It’s very overcast here today, although apparently it was nice and sunny earlier. My aunt says that when the skys clear it’s as if the heavens open up. I have the sense that I’m at the top of the world, somehow, closer to everything above, beyond, and outside this.
I’m a little intimidated because I speak one word of Spanish: izquierdo/a, which means “left” directionally. So, that should get me far. Or, maybe it will just get me in circles. I feel a little like Zoolander, only opposite.
My flight today was easy and fine, although today was less of a breeze than yesterday. My hotel neglected to take me to the airport at the time I had requested a shuttle, so I was about half an hour late. I still had plenty of time, so it wasn’t an issue, but I found it irritating. Stansted is a teensy place, and security was more relaxed than anywhere else I’ve ever flown from, so it was very fast and easy to get through. My flight was delayed by an hour, but I had a book to read so it wasn’t a problem. I tried a “tuna and sweetcorn” sandwich. Not my new favorite, but perhaps that was because it was airport food and there wasn’t anything that could be described as sweet about the corn. Regardless, I found it an odd combination.
I slept on the flight, quite soundly and instantly. I think the time change and my funny sleep patterns over the last few days have finally caught up with me. I’m exhausted and not interested in doing much other than sleeping at this point. I’m not completely drained, though, so I’ll try to stay awake until a more typical time to sleep. The culture here is such that most people start and end their days much later than in the US, having a big lunch-like meal around 3pm and then having a very light supper around 10:00 or 10:30. I assume sleeping doesn’t come into the picture until a while later, so going to bed now would be pretty far from the norm. I hope that if I can make it until a more typical bedtime I can fast track my timezone adjustment. We shall see.
I’m looking forward to what the next couple of weeks will bring (especially if the weather clears), but at the moment I can’t really imagine anything other than a good night’s sleep and I’m too tired to be very excited. Don’t worry, I will be.
Things I’ve Learned Today:
The Spanish keyboard is just enough like an American one that I keep thinking I know what I’m doing… but even a tiny difference makes my typically speedy typing impossible. It took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how to get “@,” and it still takes me forever to do it even though I now know how. Keys have up to three possible outputs… the typical obvious output, the shift+ output, and an AltGr+ (alternate graphic) output. There are also some differently shaped keys that allow for more keys on the keyboard, including ç and < where I expect Enter and Shift. It’s a struggle.