Sunday, 4 October 2015

Brigadoon is Spain

So I’ve been in Baza for almost two weeks now, and thanks to plenty of prior research and a nagging sense of duty on my part, all the boxes are more or less ticked and I can officially be considered settled here in Spain (the only box still awaiting ticking is the installation of my new internet router, so I’m typing this from the terrace outside the public library). I moved into my new apartment on Wednesday, the day before I started school, and so I’ve spent the past few days unpacking and shopping to outfit my apartment.

My first day of school was interesting – I made it to most of my nine classes on time, got a feel for which teachers speak English and how much, got an idea of how much English my students speak, and even ran an entire biology class in English – not bad for someone who never studied science past Year 10! Since I have Fridays off, I won’t start the rest of my classes until next week, but since I have a compulsory orientation in Granada on Wednesday, I won’t start those classes til the week after!

Right now my free time is just spent shopping, setting up my apartment, hanging out with Bali, the Kiwi auxiliary at another high school, and exploring Baza. I’m getting my bearings pretty quickly and finding all the useful places and shops to know. Next week I hope to start my flamenco classes (yay!) and I’ll be inquiring about yoga as well, plus looking into the youth centre and group classes at both the gym and the pool.

I’ve made some interesting cultural observations in the past few weeks as well. Skipping the linguistic ones (with which I could fill several posts, and will when I’m not uncomfortably cross-legged on concrete), the way of life here is quite different. Firstly, siesta is definitely a thing in a ‘small city’ like this. Everything shuts around 2pm every day, and while the services remain closed, shops will re-open from about 5 til 8.30pm. As a result, Baza is a ghost town in the early afternoon – you’d genuinely swear there was no-one here – but around 7pm Brigadoon emerges from the mist and the place just comes alive with all the people going shopping, meeting friends for tapas, families going for walks or out buying groceries, like a huge daily night-market.

As a result of these unorthodox opening hours, and therefore working hours, there seems to be a better work-life balance here. Most parents have finished work by the time the kids get home from school, more time with friends and family, and generally less emphasis on work as the driving force in life. Here, work fits around the rest of your life, the way it should. I really like that.

Also, it seems to be the thing here to pierce your daughter’s ears shortly after birth. Every toddler I have seen in a pink headband has pierced ears, and they aren’t even old enough to talk. Oh, and dogs of all sizes are definitely in vogue here in Baza – even if (like my neighbours) you live in a fourth-floor apartment!

I’m hungry and need to go home for lunch. Photos below!

Views from my apartment balcony!