A Year in Marbella
One — The Rain in Spain.
Quite a lot has happened since my last blog and I won’t waste your time by covering old ground, dear reader.
You may have noticed that the title of this blog has changed. Por Que? Porque… it is now my intention to live in Marbella, certainly for at least one year.
But don’t worry, I’m not going to bore you with pretentious little sound bites of a language that I have barely begun to understand.
Why Spain? Well, principally — but not entirely — for the climate, of course. And so it is somewhat ironic that as I begin this blog, outside my apartment the rain is falling hard enough to cause your head to bleed, and the forecast for the next few days is equally dismal.
I’m here principally, but but not entirely for the climate. You see, the Spanish are a warm and welcoming people. They want you to feel at home in their country; they want you to assimilate; they want to welcome you with open arms if only you can stop being a British ghetto-seeking arse. Tough one, that, for many.
Isn’t this a wee bit like how we view migrants in the UK?
They like that you try to learn their language; unlike the French who sneer, shrug and ignore you when your pronunciation is marginally askew. Mind you, I do like the French despite that.
My last post left you with the promise of further facets, or idiosyncrasies of Spanish life that may be of interest and here perhaps, is a good place to start.
My intention in writing this blog is to attempt to paint a portrait of Spanish life… Not a la Segovia, but broad brushstrokes of Andalucia that will celebrate — without recourse to ridicule — the differences between the bleak far outposts of Northern Europe from which I have escaped, and the sun-blessed southern borders of Mediterranean Europe.
Tuesday 19th April
I am Spanished out.
Today was the second day of my third week of intensive (four hours per day) study at the Enforex Language School, and I celebrated this milestone by requesting an additional hour of one-to-one tuition.
Alvaro is my tutor. He has a similar enthusiasm for teaching Spanish as a Labrador has for leftovers. Which is just as well, as by 1pm I am about as alert as Belgian Counter Terrorism Officer.
We start each day at nine with the delectable but Miss Prism-esque Isobel, whose no-nonsense approach keeps us tethered to the ghastly road trip of illogical irregular verbs.
If I’m totally honest, Isobel’s refusal to engage in a little innocent flirtation makes time pass noticeably slower than lessons led by the equally delectable Maria, or the charming Ana Marie. And so, by 10.50 I’m usually gasping for freedom and a cafe con leche.
However, the second half of today’s lesson is devoted to preparation for an imaginary oral exam: choose a country… any country, give details of its borders, language, capital, principle cities, mountains and so on. I am working on my own while the other six students work in pairs.
Next to me sits a Thai lady who is preparing a dissertation on China with Scottish Graeme. Now, if I’m honest this lady and I hadn’t hit it off all that well — possibly because I had insinuated that dog still features regularly on Thai menus — and today’s exercise ratchets up the tension to def. con 2 levels.
What precipitates this is her insistence that Everest is in China.
My chosen country is Nepal, and when she tries to justify her assertion by claiming that Tibet is part of China, this is simply just too much for me.
‘No part of Everest is in China,’ I say, ‘and China’s annexation of Tibet in 1950 by 40,000 troops was illegal and has never been formally recognised by the UN… or anyone else, apart from China, for that matter.’
Germany, in the form of the youghtful and delightful Johanna sitting on my left adds her support, even despite my reckless citation that Hitler’s invasion of Poland, Belgium and France is as good an example of China’s theft of sovereignty as it’s possible to get.
Holland, to my right — as one would expect — stays neutral.
‘But it states this clearly on Wikipedia,’ counters the Thai lady.
‘Yes,’ I reply, ‘and it also states that you still eat dogs in Thailand,’ which doesn’t really help matters, and Isobel defuses the powder keg by permitting an early break.
8pm and it’s still raining; I’ve done my homework, more friends have arrived so it’s beer and tapas time.
I think that’s sufficient for today.