Greetings from Las Palmas, Spain!
I’ve been getting emails from some of you asking how I’m doing and if I’m okay, which usually means that it’s time to get another blog out there. Currently, I’m operating on island time, which means that things are quite relaxed here. However, the past 3 weeks have been quite busy!
I just finished a Workaway placement in Málaga where I was functioning as a live-in family member and helping with 3 babies: Roman and Martín (7 month old twins) and their sister, Carmen, who’s turning 2 in March. I’ve (quite literally) had my hands full.
As if 3 babies wasn’t enough, after only a few days in Spain, I realized that I was going through culture shock (and I was shocked!) Up until this point, I haven’t felt “rocked” by any place or culture that I’ve been in, I’ve been relatively in control of my schedule and I’ve been able to pick and choose the things I want to do each day.
Being with a host family meant that, while I didn’t have the chance to see much of Málaga, the birth place of Pablo Picasso and Flamenco, or go off sight-seeing on my own like I would normally do in a city, I did receive a full Spanish immersion experience. I am so grateful for this, but it wasn’t easy, and that’s precisely why it was also so rewarding. It’s one thing to be in Spain and bum around on an American schedule and it’s another thing to be in Spain and be with the Spanish.
Instead of sight-seeing in Spain, I was asked to surrender.
I surrendered to the schedule and got used to doing everything a bit later. Waking up later, eating later (lunch is between 2 and 4 and dinner is around 10 or 11) and going to bed later.
I surrendered to the language by choosing only to speak Spanish, which meant not being able to say all of the things I wanted to say, being willing to make mistakes and look ridiculous while trying. I surrendered to learning and a lot of listening.
I ate things I’d never dare to eat in the states (fish with real eyes and cow intestines) but chose to try them as part of the experience.
I got used to wearing spit-up on my clothes, changing diapers, hearing babies cry in my dreams and listening to BabyTV songs run through my mind all day.
I got used to being a part of the family and, after a few days of adjustment, it started to feel really nice. And of course there was plenty that didn’t take a whole lot of adjusting to like eating tapas, taking guilt-free siestas, the glorious, warm weather and running to the beach every morning.
When we did get out we enjoyed going to Nerja, eating paella at the beach and taking nice long walks with the kids.
Now I’m in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, a volcanic archipelago of Spanish islands just off the coast of Morocco, northwest Africa. This endeavor, while I will be volunteering for a few hours each day, is mostly selfish. I came to this hostel because I wanted a break after being with the babies. That’s fair, right?
Las Palmas is known for it’s incredible weather and claims to have “The Best Climate in the World,” with little rain and lots of sun. Outside of the city, which is where I’m staying, I hope to do a lot of hiking and surfing!
Finally, you may be wondering why I haven’t posted many pictures. My camera froze under 20 oz of ice-cold beer about a week ago. Tragic as it may be, I’m not a bit upset. I’ve been waiting for this to happen for 5 months. In fact, I bought the camera knowing that it would be lost, damaged or stolen during my journey.
Setting out in simplicity, without a lot of stuff, and living out of a backpack for 5 months has helped me see that my “stuff” isn’t so important, or at least not worth stressing over.
As far as pictures go, I’m not too worried about it. Everyone else has a camera and I’ve got an email. For now, I’m enjoying meeting lots of cool people, having the beach so close by and watching the island gear up for Carnaval!