There’s no other word for it. Walking into a brand new school by yourself, not knowing a single other kid, barely understanding a word of the spoken language, standing alone several times a day while other kids talk and laugh, and sitting in class, praying someone will say something that will give a clue as to what is happening. This is what our kids have been doing these past two weeks and George and I are in awe of them. Those first days are always the hardest but poco a poco (little by little), they are exchanging words to identify common interests, receiving invitations to play or hang out, and being waved at to walk home together. They have such a hurdle to cross and we can tell their little minds of sponges are hard at work everyday.
Our own act of courage was temporarily suspending our American phone numbers and adopting new Spanish numbers. “The final thread to home was cut” as George said. In addition, our Spanish is now basic enough that we need to exert more courage to talk to strangers in public and practice our new language skills. Though I feel much less intimidated than I did as a kid, it still takes courage to initiate conversation when you don’t know how far you’ll be able to get.
The weekend before school started, George and I were granted a date night out while the kids stayed with some friends. After a hike to the Roman aqueducts, we spent the evening at The Bikini Bar followed by a visit to The Blue Bar (neither of which sound like places where George and I would typically hang out). The Bikini Bar is a tapas bar (not to be confused with topless bar, as my mother thought I said) on Bikini avenue, where we had one of our best Spanish meals yet and enjoyed our first plate of olives after always believing neither of us liked olives. The Blue Bar was an outdoor bar on the very top of the tallest hotel in town, overlooking the beach, with a blue glow light and soft techno music in the background. We sat on a sofa and watched a lightning show in the sky and drank our agua con gas (seltzer), which no one else drinks around, here by the way. It was a very relaxing night thanks to our friends who hosted a sleepover for 6 kids.
We had a few days of very stormy weather and discovered our home has leaky windows (the price you pay for an old, traditional home) but the sun is shining again and the heat and humidity persist and probably will until October. I know I said the coffee is good here but admittedly, I miss my tall sized lattes. I thought I had finally found a place that satisfied when a waitress asked me if I wanted a pequeño or grande cafe (small or large). Turns out that their “grande” is a tea cup instead of a small juice glass.
On a more surreal topic, George and I have decided that the ghosts of our deceased fathers are both here with us in Almuñécar! Davis’ school teacher, Paco, is unnervingly reminiscent of my father, physique and mannerisms alike, and George has passed a man daily who resembles not only his father’s physical appearance but his Bostonian dress code as well. Both encounters have sent shivers down our spines.
I am watching the sunset on our rooftop patio and thinking of our family, friends and colleagues back home and how much we miss everyone.