We have been living in Spain for over 18 months now, coming up on finishing the boys’ second year in school. I was looking back on my first “Life in Spain” post, and was surprised about how much of the quirks of our life here I had captured after only 6 weeks. I guess we settled in pretty quickly! We still have lots of frustration with our ability to communicate in Spanish, the Spanish way of doing things and trying to “adult” (bills, taxes, appointments, etc) straddling two (sometimes three) countries. But, there is also a wonderful way of life here, we have found so much of those important elements we were looking for in life and for our kids’ childhoods right here.
A does lessons with the local city tennis club twice a week. The tennis courts are on the other side of town, but A loves the independence to ride his bike there by himself (getting to take our spare phone with him, to let us know when he arrives, doesn’t hurt 😉 ). The neighboring town holds a monthly tennis tournament, and he loves to participate in that.
All the boys have started playing football since we got here. It really is a way to bond with their classmates. It is fun to join in the camaraderie and, in addition to playing twice a week after school, the boys often play during recess as well (the kids at school ALWAYS play at recess. A joins them every day, L will play some days and other days will spend time with his non-football playing friends instead). It is fun to hear the hierarchy of the school games, since A is in 5th grade, his class plays against the 6th graders (the oldest in the school) on the main soccer field, while L’s class is relegated to a smaller field to play against the 4th graders.
All 5 of us are swimming this year! I’m really enjoying swimming, I go twice a week and have a coach/monitor/teacher who gives me workouts. It is nice to have these specific times to go, because I know if I had more options to go, I would procrastinate and not even end up at the pool twice a week. A swims at the same time as me (with the kids group) and C, N and L all go swimming together, C with the adults and L & N with the kids. They are all doing well.
A nice couple who recently moved here from Peru started weekly robotics class for the kids, and they are a huge hit! The kids build things with special Legos, and then program them with software on iPads. The kids have an absolute blast every week, and N was even talking “programming” and thinking about stuff he wanted to build himself.
C likes to stay busy and this life is really suiting him! In addition to swimming, he also goes to a group personal training class three mornings a week, occasionally runs with the owner of the gym, and goes mountain biking with friends almost every weekend. He doesn’t like to sit still so has found ways he loves to keep himself busy!
A has been riding his bike to tennis since last year, and will occasionally go to and from home and school or his soccer practice (right next to school) or even run to the local corner store on his own. He continues to go further afield on his own, and will often meet up with friends and spend hours hanging out, and usually playing soccer/football on the pitch on the beach. This is a great place for him to get some independence.
L has some great friends in his class. Unfortunately, for his Spanish skills, his closest friends are both fluent/native English speakers. Though that does make it easier for the parents to communicate, so the kids see each other outside of school more than we do with any of the Spanish speaking kids and their families.
N was SUPER shy last year (funny, cause if you’ve met him, you know that he may start shy, but once he is comfortable with you he WON’T STOP TALKING, seriously), and basically didn’t talk to anyone in his class. Coming back the second year, he was more comfortable, and while still a bit reserved and a goody-two-shoes who likes to be the first one done with his work, and is quick to point out when someone else is doing something wrong, he has landed himself a girlfriend. The whole school seems to know about this “relationship” and kids in various grades will report to N’s older brothers that he and Lucia are boyfriend and girlfriend. Every morning, he likes to get to school early, because Lucia gets there first, and he has to be second in line. One time, he got to school before Lucia, and she was very upset about not having the first spot in line, so he very chivalrously gave up his spot in line for her.
There are also a great bunch of adults we like in this town. Lots are fellow English speakers, so we aren’t necessarily improving our Spanish as much as we could be, but it is nice to have deeper conversations than our Spanish-level would allow, plus it is easy to relate when we are all kind of fish out of water.
We still have plenty of local Spanish acquaintances, and C seems to be on a nodding or stopping for a quick chat relationship with half the town. It is a great sized town where you can pretty easily run into people you know when you are out and about. There is also a cast of regulars that we all seem to know (the waiter at our favorite tapas place, the guy who makes fancy sandcastles on the beach, the angry homeless guy who yells and punches parking meters, the guy who scoots around in his wheelchair full of advertisements, the ladies who work at the local grocery store, the guy who plays castanets on the paseo, and the homeless guy who pretends to be a traffic cop and tries to give fake parking tickets to unsuspecting tourists for some quick cash, for example).
C also has somehow managed to cobble together a group of friends who have a relaxed enough schedule that they can often meet on a weeknight for a beer or three. They even include a token Spaniard, so some Spanish is usually spoken! Expats are an interesting bunch, and each has their own stories and reasons for how they ended up in this small Spanish town, and I think this town is a great mix of both local Spainards and foreigners, as opposed to places further West of us, near Costa del Sol, that are fairly overrun with northern Europeans and you can easily get by without any Spanish interaction at all.
Travel is a big part of our life here in Spain. We have had a few big trips, like the week we had in Denmark and Sweden in the fall, our trip back to the US, visiting friends in Germany and Austria, and our spring trip to Jordan. We have also had a few shorter trips, like a day in Morocco, skiing in the Sierra Nevada mountains an hour from here, a trip to the Spanish Canary Islands, a few days in Madrid and a couple of long weekends in Scotland.
I feel like we didn’t explore our local area as much as I would have liked, and our goal when we are back here next year is to visit more of the mainland of Spain.
Between our regular life, and our trips during the year, this school year has absolutely flown by! We are excited to start summer, but we will miss this town while we are away. I am including a few pictures of some of or recent daily life around town. Enjoy!
We had our first trip to Urgent Care in Spain when N split his head open on a pool deck at a friend’s house. The experience wasn’t bad at all, we were seen right away, and N got his wound glued shut. We didn’t pay anything there, and may or may not get a bill in the mail at some point. I think basically Spain prioritizes taking care of the kids above worrying about charging for it.
Walking through the old town on a Sunday afternoon. All the shops were closed but we were headed to the Casa de la Cultura where they often show movies for €5. This week’s show was The Lego Movie 2. (The selection isn’t always the greatest, or most current, but we take advantage of them when good ones come up). Though in typical Spanish fashion, the last time I went with a friend to watch a movie there and the movie inexplicably* turned off before it was over and we never got to see the end).*inexplicably in this case means when it turned off in the middle of a scene, a guy came in and said something that neither of us understood and then left. A few people left after his announcement but most people stayed. We waited about 20 min before finally leaving ourselves.
Stay tuned, because we are hitting the road (and the skies) this summer, so I’ll share our plans in the next post.