Tough Nut to Crack

Sometimes things take us longer to accomplish than we might like. It’s been a month since our stuff arrived and even with all my whining that it took so long to get here, I still hadn’t hung the pictures, art and asundry other things that should have long since adorned our walls by now. I’ll blame the heat.

And after my birthday plant shopping extravaganza – I’ll admit the volume and timing of my purchases wasn’t ideal – I needed to repot them. Since we’re traveling most of September and part of October, we also needed to divine a solution for watering them all while we’re away. Putting off things because of the weather isn’t a luxury I have anymore. So we headed to AlCampo.

Our local ‘Hypermart’ Alcampo is in Port Saplaya. It’s a sort of fake village on the beach north of Patacona in Alboraya. It’s not that far from our Apartment and we don’t even have to get on the expressway to go there. It’s too far to walk through the farm fields but the motorcycle is great – unless I overshop. Riding the motorcycle keeps me from doing that (kind of). Mostly it’s Jeff just saying repeatedly ‘Are you kidding? How are you proposing we get a hand truck home on the bike?’. It usually works, although he’s been Christmas shopping with me in Seattle driving a two seater Spider. I had purchased so much stuff we had to drive home with the top down while it was snowing. So he does have to be explicit.

Today we ventured out to the Hypermart and the Leroy Merlin (think Fred Meyer/Home Depot) and I got the pots I needed. And two different watering solutions. One is watering bulbs, and the other is a watering gel that we had never heard of before but bought plenty of. It’s supposed to last for 30 days and provide non-toxic hydration to my herbs, olive tree, trellis flowers of indeterminate origin, and the other stuff. Jeff is itching to try it out, I can tell. But we have to wait until we are ready to leave.

We also found picture hangers that I thought we would have to wait to get in the US. They don’t require drilling or maring the walls in any way and they’ll come off easily when we move. Now we are surrounded by our family photos, a water color of the lighthouse in Stanley Park (Vancouver B.C) that we bought on our honeymoon, and other art, some made by the kids. Only one more thing to hang and El Compartimiento already feels more and more like home.

We’ve been here nearly 6 months now. Both of us realized it last night when we went out for our evening walk. The air was the perfect temperature with lower humidity, and the sunset was lovely. We left the building and immediately saw the elderly folks that gather on the benches under the big palm tree on our block. I see them every day, usually in the late morning on the way to Spanish, and then again in the evening.  And every time I see them I wave and greet them with ‘Buenos Dias’ (or similar) or ‘Hola’.

But for 6 months now, they have just stared at me with dead eyes but followed my movements down the street, while talking to each other clearly about me. Think mean girls in the school cafeteria. I could never figure it out since, when I pass other bench areas packed with old people in the evenings in Benimachlet, and I nod to them or greet them, they answer politely. But the benches in front of our building hold geriatric chufa nuts that are tough to crack.

So when we went out last night, I knew it would be no different. I was resigned to the fact that 5 and a half months of residing in this building just isn’t long enough to break into this corner of the block. And then it happened. I waved and greeted them – because I’m stubborn and they’re human beings. The eldest of them stared directly into my eyes, per usual, and then she did it – the head nod. Her eyes almost smiled and her mouth was more up than down. And then the woman next to the oldest lady (her number one henchman) spoke to me. It nearly stopped me in my tracks but I tried to keep my composure. I nodded, too – the brief choreography of acknowledgment – and we continued down the road for our walk. I have my pride too, I suppose.

It’s a good reminder that some things just take longer than others, like settling in. But if you keep at it, you can wear down people who are set in their ways – including yourself.  I’m not sure why it meant so much to me that I finally broke their icy veneer, but it did. I even thought about it while I was drifting off to sleep. Just one more thing that says ‘It’s OK. You belong here.’

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