October in Spain.

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I find myself in the position, when I have to summarise a month in a blog (note to self – neglecting my blog is bad).

One of the best things about being abroad is that people come to visit you – though you’re never quite sure whether it’s to see you or because you’re living on the Costa del Sol!  Though, when my parents arrived in the second week of October, I’m sure their excitement was more due to the prospect of 7 days with their daughter than a sunny 7-day holiday, of course!

Other than the obvious happiness that comes from being able to see your family, it was great because they brought bits of England with them – some books, DVDs (I would recommend the Modern Family series to anyone – it’s absolutely hilarious!), Belgrave Road delights (ie. Indian food), and clothes.  It was as if Christmas had come early! 🙂

As a person living alone, it made a huge difference to have someone around when you get home from work and someone eager to be shown around the area.  And what’s more – I realised that I had properly settled into Spain.  I know my way round, I know the ‘good places’ and when the first person asked me for directions in Spanish, not only did I understand them but I could direct them – it was a small but significant moment!

During that week, I also found myself at the opening of a new French restaurant/café in Nueva Andalucia, Marbella.  Patricia (my colleague) and I arrived to be greeted by another open bar, some paparazzi and a lot of French people.  However, my French was really not up to scratch!  Some champagne and canapés later, we decided to return to Estepona, unfortunately without trying a piece of the Eiffel Tower shaped cake.

And just as I was experiencing my new sense of belonging here, we got lost in Spain on the drive home!  Now, I’m not sure whether it was because it was very dark by this point or because we ended up on a road that was signposted to Barcelona (remember, I’m in the south of Spain), but fear kicked in.  Luckily, one stop at a petrol station, two missed exits and a toll road later, we found our way home.  I had never been happier to be in Estepona!

I learnt two things that night.  1) Road signs in the south of Spain are pretty terrible, and if you miss an exit, don’t just get off at the next one and 2) When going to events in Marbella, you can’t go straight from work because you will end up in at least 3 magazines when significantly underdressed!

Patricia and me at the Café opening

The following week took Patricia and I on another work-related road trip, this time to Malaga.  Luckily, the drive there was a breeze in comparison to the last mishap.  The light of day made everything seem better and the few road signs a lot more visible.  Unfortunately, driving in/around Malaga was not so easy.  It makes driving around London (which isn’t the most comfortable thing for a Midlands girl) seem a hell of a lot easier!

One of the things we found most confusing was the fact that a roundabout could be any random thing in the middle of the road that people drove around, be that a semi-circle patch of grass or a parked car!  Luckily, Spanish hospitality meant that we found our way into Malaga and back out of it in one piece.  And despite this hassle, we had to admit that it didn’t take anything away from the beauty of Malaga, especially on a sunny day.  With tall pretty buildings, Spanish style ‘plazas’ (squares) and a buzzing atmosphere – Malaga is always a pleasure to visit, but more so when you can walk around it!  Stopping off at a traditional Spanish seafood restaurant (we knew it was a fish place because they supplied each table

Gambas Pil Pil

with a bucket for shells etc.), gambas pil pil was the dish of choice again and I had my first taste of almejas (clams) which were cooked in white wine and oil, and were delicious with a dash of lemon.  Once again, the prospect of octopus did not take my fancy!

The job has been also keeping me busy, with client meetings, operational targets and the ever-present factor of trying to improve my Spanish.

And with that, I have summarised the main points of the last three weeks other than my premature excitement for Christmas as I’ve already seen decorations or heard songs in 3 shopping centres already – do the Spanish start preparing for Christmas EVEN earlier than the English?!

Oh, and there is one last thing.  I hear the weather in England is absolutely terrible, and Spain has had its bad days – trust me.  When it rains in Spain… it pours, and the wind blows and your umbrella breaks and the tiled floors are slippy because they are not designed for rain.  And just when you think the sun has left for the year, you’re pleasantly surprised by a beautiful southern Spain day.

October 29th - in Puerto Banus, Marbella

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