Making Friends – the Hard Way

Today, I decided to take a tour. This is not my usual deal. I’m more of a ‘go-it-alone’, ‘lets-see-where-the-road-takes-us’ kind of person. But I signed up when I heard about it and I crawled out of bed at 6am.

Nooo! I don’t get up at 6am anymore. That was the old me. The Mom-me. The working me. But the bus was gonna leave Xativa with or without me. And I wanted to be on it. Jeff saw me off, like the first day of Kindergarten. He was going to enjoy a blissful day ALONE. I think he was looking forward to it as much as I was looking forward to seeing more of the area.

Sunrise Xativa

The big red bus traveled south with me and all my expat friends – Brits, Canadians, Americans and the like. It was for English speakers and I learned a lot about how others in my position do things here, the topography of the region, and the history. The rich history. Ahhh. I was in my element. It was like being back in history class in school, where they told you stories that brought it alive. I loved history.

So our first stop, after a very, very winding (get you super car sick, don’t look down) road – was Guadalest. It’s a hilltop town with a castle at the top – duh. With a lot to see. I walked through the old part and through the manse that the family who controlled the region for 300 years built, had an earth quake and rebuilt, and then lost it in some sort of conflict. I was a bit sketchy on those details.

Guadalest

But it was so fun to walk around the old ramparts, and what did I discover that surprised me? Oh yes, the making of an Indian music video. I wanted to be irritated that they were harshing my bliss, but I kind of liked the music and the choreography.  And the lead singer was easy on the eyes.

Indian Video

Then we were off to Altea. This is closer tot he water and simply lovely. We had a bit of lunch (wine) and a brief walk around the town. Gorgeous views and great shopping. But not as good as the shopping in Gata de Gorgos. It’s a little town with a series of shops where they sell hand woven wicker goods, bags and rugs that are wonderful! So I had to buy a bag, and then a throw for the couch. And then a rug for under our dining room table.

When I walked out of the last shop with the large rug slung over my shoulder my fellow travelers laughed. The wife of our tour guide especially.

Altea

‘I knew it. In that first shop, I saw the look in your eye and I knew. She’s on a mission.’

‘Well.’ I told her. ‘I generally spot what I want right away. And these little shops seems to have many of the items on my list.’

Altea to the South

I put my finds in the hold, below the bus and we made it back to Valencia. The bus dropped us off near the Xativa Metro stop so I hoisted my rug on my shoulder, consolidated a few bags and set off for the metro, leaving my new friends to watch me shaking their heads. Now, you might think they were the last people on my trek home to stare at me and consider my schlepping of a large rug on a subway to be totally inappropriate. But there you’d be wrong.

I was nearly stopped by the man in the booth as I barely squeaked through the electronic ticket stall, and not because he didn’t try, in his sound proof glass box. But I found pretending not to notice him waving his arms at me worked well, and seeing as how he couldn’t seem to find his key in time to open his booth, I just whizzed past and down the two escalators to the platform. The train was pulling in at that very moment, and I want to say I hopped on it but I was lugging a large rug, so I ambled, while balancing it on my shoulder.

The other passengers weren’t as enamored of my home home decor choices as you would think, but like most people here, they said nothing, and I had counted on that. Just stared. I smiled and made sure it didn’t fall on anyone. Getting out of the subway and then walking the half mile home through sidewalk cafes and crowds was quite a challenge, but eventually I made it.

I want to say Jeff was surprised to see me and my rug and the rest of my purchases, but he didn’t bat and eye when he opened the door. He just took it from me and asked me where I wanted it. People in my tour group had asked me ‘what is your husband going to say?’ and I stopped for a moment before answering.

‘He expects nothing else from me.’ I told them honestly. ‘In fact, if I don’t come home with a rug or some other large thing, like an armadillo or a pony; something that requires geometry to get home, he’ll be disappointed.’

I’m a challenge shopper. It’s in my blood. I had so much fun on this tour, I’m signing us up for the next one. The Olive Oil tour. Jeff is not getting out of this one. A whole day pressing olives. And you can buy olive products and the like. Hmmm. I wonder what we’ll be lugging home on the subway that day!

Breaking up with Fallas

Dear God in Heaven. How long can Fallas go on? I mean, actually how many hours a day, # of fireworks, parades, more parades, marching bands, more fireworks, light shows and people and more people. Dear Lord, we have only been here 2 and a half weeks and we’re Fallas’d out.

I’m including pictures from our venturing out yesterday. We had spent most of Saturday in bed watching Netflix, stocking up at the Mercadona, and generally being very lazy and napping. But that didn’t mean we weren’t participating in Fallas. Because no matter where you are in Valencia, even buried in a hole, you’ll experience Fallas every moment of every day and night, whether you want to or not.

The booms and even bigger booms, all night long. The laser light show in the vacant lot near our house and the music, blasting until 4am this morning, along with BOOMs that shook the windows! We are so tired today and it’s not because we had a rough weekend of Fallas activities. Its because you can’t sleep in this city for an entire week. If we had flown in this last Thursday it would have been perfect. The jet lag would have lined up just right.

So many people I know here, old timers who have been to more than one Fallas, left town. They’re in Toledo, Seville and Madrid. They got the HELL OUTTA DODGE. Why? Well, because it’s Fallas!! And nothing about Fallas is small. No. It’s all over the top and a little hodge podge.

Little Fallera

There are parts of Fallas that are charming. The parade yesterday of Fallera who are bringing flowers to the Plaza de la Virgin to make her cape and dress out of red and white flowers. Lovely. (see pics) The parade went on for something like 8 hours. An interesting tradition.

Fallera flowers

Virgin Marry's cape

Then we went to Rusafa to see the light show at 8pm. Jeff’s take on it?

‘Wow – the 80’s showed up finally.’

It was a lighting loop with a Pink Floyd sound track that he found surprisingly appropriate. ‘Run Like Hell’ played over the cheesy display. We left after 5 minutes, or tried to. It was so packed we couldn’t move.

Light show

Then we came home and laid in bed to noise that would shame a Fraternity during Hell Week. Tonight is the ‘Crema’. This is when they’ll burn the Fallas. We can’t wait for this because it will be over. Officially OVER. The booms and the music and the Oompa Bands, that just now marched down our street for the 400th time – yeah, they’ll all be gone.

And next year? We’ll be in Toledo or some other non-Fallas place where blissful sleep for that week will be in our future.

Online At Last!

Hola World! Remember us? Yes, we have INTERNET!!  At long last, after limping along on our T-mobile phones with crappy international service, we are online. And we have super fast fiber so we’re beating everyone on the internet, while surfing all our social sites and what not.

Shopping online will actually render photos of things we want to purchase. And looking up restaurants or viewing potential things to do in Valencia? Well, we are all over it now. No DSL sharing for us. No sir. We’re on a dedicated line that is all our own at 150mb.

Was it easy to get? NOOOO! Linda, our personal assistant/savior, had tried for weeks before we got here to get it set up. She did research and then reached out to Vodophone/Ono to get it ready for our arrival. But they wouldn’t do it without our NIE #. And after we got that, they wouldn’t do it until we got our Town Hall registry. And after that, they wouldn’t do it until we got our immigration registration. And after that they weren’t sure if they could do it until we got the actual card in 3 weeks.

Linda sent me this funny video that so accurately depicts what we’ve been through over the last 6 months – including setting up internet service – that I had to include the link here. I just wish the girl in the video had a mic to drop.

https://movingtovalencia.lbiz.es/this-is-spain/

About now you’re saying to yourself, ‘That’s crazy! Its just Internet.’ And you’d be correct. It is crazy. And it is just internet. But everything in Spain takes a lot of paperwork and patience. Finally, Linda and I just went to a local Mall and stood in line for the Vodophone store. The guy that helped us was nice but again – click, click, click and head shaking, eyeing me with a squint, and then head down for more typing. It starts to make you paranoid. You wonder what information they’re looking at? Can they see your medical records? School transcripts? Should I start trying to explain that lost weekend in college?

Finally, he says we’re approved – and we even get a home phone and 3 SIM cards. All for 66 euros per month. Yes, you heard that right. Internet (150 mb fiber), three SIM cards and a home phone for 66 euros per month. It’s like free.

The guy came today and installed it. We’re set up and ready to go. Netflix and I are going to be spending a lovely evening together and I think I’ll go out and buy myself a nice bottle of something red from Rioja. I have no couch yet, but I can lay in bed and drink and watch something. Just like a lost weekend in college.

Wait – What?!?

The truck showed up at 7:15 pm tonight and then they told me – ‘Yeah, sorry, but we don’t have enough room in the truck for your stuff.’ Am I kidding, you ask? No. Were they kidding, I asked? Sadly, No. Deep breath.

They promised – after spending two hours wrapping our couch and bicycles and inventorying our boxes – to be back ‘Some time tomorrow after we drop off a ‘big load’ 15 miles away.’ Aka – They have no idea what time they’ll be coming back.

I just stood there and looked at them. What can I do? Nothing. I have to let them go away with their big truck and pray they will come back. How this happened, I have no idea. But I did have an indication that it just wasn’t my day.

Jeff got home while they were wrapping our couch. He was late getting home from work and was hungry and ready to go eat. But we had to wait until they left. Finally, we headed down to pick up some Kung Pao chicken and came back to the house to eat off our paper plates.

I dished it up and then I decided to look at my fortune in the cookies in the bag. My philosophy of eating desert first kicked in. I reached in and selected one and SURPRISE!! there was no fortune in mine. Nothing. Apparently, my future is a blank slate upon which, I can write whatever I want. OK, I made that up, but I’m trying to remain positive about everything.

I reviewed my contingency plans, but ultimately, when I wake up tomorrow we will have just 4 days before we fly out. I know it will be just fine, because it has to be.