So, it has been just over six weeks. I’ve learnt to ski, how to like shellfish and how to deal with little 11 year old Hitlers. There have been highs – standing on top of a Pyrenean Mountain, check – but an equal number of lows with the language barrier being the lead weight to my well-being. Here’s a blog all about it!
I have to say, firstly, that the family I have been living with have been wonderfully generous. They feed me and take me places, simple needs easily satisfied. But more than that they have incorporated me so much into their family and I thank them for that. The food is healthy by default since everything is on their doorstep. The two kids, Joan (9) and Pol (14) are good kids, although Pol could be less of a teenager. Joan won’t shut up but when you know everything you need to tell everyone all the time how the universe should be. Even so “Qué pasa, papa? Papa… papa… papa qué pasa?” is a vocabularic staple for the boy.
Pol Snr and Rosa are basically my parents but in Catalan form. Always asking me questions in broken but still very good English and sticking to core family values. A demand for a made bed and a set table are something to take home. The sense of family also reaches into the school life. Like Cheers, when you walk into to Claver everybody knows your name. Especially when you’re the new novelty with a funny foreign name like “Doug” or “The Doug” or better yet “El Doug”. I might take that last one home with me. Although knowing all of the teachers is a good idea, I’m glad I know Borja Japanese speaking Catalonian technician, the Spanish barista Greco (yes, a coffee barista in the school, freakin’ tweaked all day man, and better yet, their coffee machine in the staff room uses real coffee beans and as a result tastes better than our regular coffee, which is fuckin’ tits!) and Jani the nurse who I communicate with through a series of complicated, exaggerated movements and sound effects. What more do you need in a school community? Rhetorical question.
One thing that is shit is the lack of music scene although that is being adjusted for. I have nearly finished a first draft of an orchestration based on Cantaloupe Island for the Tinderbox Orchestra (if it ever gets finished that is, there is always something more to add) and I’ve also started practicing piano more and more. I can nearly do a jazz blues in C with chords and a walking bass line, as well as play through some easy standards. Bangin! Also, my rhythm is coming along. I’m taking my Ritmica book at about a page a week, which is not too bad, trust me. There is also the music club I help out with, as well as a few concerts for the school, transcribing church music and playing through naff but still fun tunes for another school project. Anything to keep the calluses up!
But I’ve been kept busy otherwise. I’ve have “volunteered” against my will to run a 10K in April so I’ve been training for that and I have also been skiing – twice! It’s all good training for my cycling trip back to the UK at the end of my contract. More on that next time. Right now, I need to get back to watching strange and unusual Spanish television. People pretending to be Barcelona FC team have taken up a dusty study area and are looking sad through a sepia filter. Yeah….