Friday, October 7, 2011

Moving to Teruel

I seem to have been really lucky to have ended up in Teruel. I didn't know it before I arrived, but this area was apparently the site of some of the most gruesome battles of La Guerra Civil. At some point, not long ago, you could still find helmets and bullet casings and the like while hiking in the mountains not far from here. I'm sure there are more to be found as well.

Yesterday I tried to get my residency card. Of course, there would be as much bureaucratic nonsense involved here as in the States. No one at the immigration office knew how to process my visa, so now I have to wait a week while they figure that out. Because of this, I can't open a Spanish bank account, which means I can't get paid for my job until all of this is sorted out. I did manage to buy a phone without any problems (that I'm aware of).

Yolanda, one of my mentors here, helped translate all of the bureaucracy and drive me around Teruel. Afterward, she invited me to her house for lunch. It's not common for people around here to live in a house and hers is absolutely beautiful. I met her husband and two kids and we had eggs over sausage and rice with bread on the side. My options for dessert were yogurt, bananas, or apples. It seems that health consciousness is not limited to the CRIET here. I should be much healthier by the time I return to the States.

I met Yolanda's husband, Javier, who has been one of the most enjoyable people I have met in Spain. He is excellent at English, so I was able to carry on deeper conversations with him about philosophy and politics and so forth. Most of the time I struggle to express a simple idea in Spanish, but talking with Javier was a nice break from that. He lost his right hand in a fireworks accident when he was very young, but he is an extremely capable man. He does all sorts of heavy duty house projects, rides bikes, drives his car, cooks, you name it. He is especially fond of darts.

Javier and I took their golden retriever for a walk to the river near Teruel. The dog's name is Sopas, which is "soups" in Spanish. I asked Javier if it was typical to name their dogs after food. Apparently Sopas is a very regional word for messy or disheveled. It turned out to be an excellent name for her. She took a bath in the stream and then promptly rolled around in the dirt afterward. The hike around Teruel was delightful. The scenery here is astounding and the weather has been sunny and clear almost every day.

Javier let me borrow a Spanish film and a British comedy series to watch in my spare time. He has also invited me to come over for dinner any time I like. He is such a kind man.

Today I helped see the kids at the CRIET off. Though a great number of them had misbehaved all week, it was still a bit sad to see them go. I think at least a few of them learned some English and were pronouncing words much better than when we started.

I moved into my apartment today with a guy named David. He is the youngest forty-two year old I have ever met. He is a bit of a hippie I think. Most importantly however, he owns five bikes. He has offered to let me ride one when it has been repaired. I'm excited.

My room is nice, save the Tweety Bird wallpaper border. Most of the apartments here are pre-furnished. David seemed to be using this room for storage, so I don't think he minded the childish decor. Now that I live in Teruel, I may get a library card and start doing some research on Teruel and the Civil War here. David finds history boring, which I must admit is a bit disappointing.

David and his friend, Pilar, took me out to a Chinese restaurant tonight. I think I have adjusted to eating at 9 or 10 at night at this point. I'm not sure how this will affect me when I come back to the States. The food was absolutely delicious - we had rice, some kind of mystery fried substance, and duck with sliced orange and peppers. They paid for all of the food with the understanding that I must buy them dinner before I leave Spain.

Tonight I will sleep well knowing that I don't have to be up early for the first time in a while.

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