Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Home Spanish Home

So almost six months here in the European country of Spain and it's time to check in and let you know how we've settled in and how we're doing. I'm sure that everything comes across as peaches and cream in my pictures. This has been a bigger adjustment than moving to Mexico was. Speaking for myself only, I came into this with some huge expectations that this was going to be all of my dreams come true. It became apparent within a couple months that this was not exactly going as I had imagined. Don't get me wrong, I am living in Europe so it isn't a complete loss.

We've settled into our Spanish piso and found our groove. Setting up cost us a lot more money than we had anticipated. The kitchen cupboards were completely bare so it meant several hundred euros to stock up the pantry and the cupboards. It was fun scouting around for all the different spices and seasonings to make our basic meals. The piso was furnished with lots of outdated furniture and didn't quite have all of the amenities that we were going to need for a ten month stay. We were in luck because IKEA is only an hour away in Valladolid and Amazon.es offers a fabulous service here. Only 20€ a year for Premium service and most of your shipments are delivered next day. One of the first purchases was a 32"flat screen TV from Media Markt for 229€, kitchen appliances like a good blender for 52€, hot pot, pots and pans, cereal bowls, you name it. IKEA helped us stock up on towels but no blankets! Here is all about the duvet and cover, seriously! Our idea of a blanket was almost impossible to find until we got a chance to travel to the Costco in Seville. There we found the fuzzy fleeces just like we have at home for 20€. When all was said and done, it set us back a lot more than I had budgeted but it helped us settle in quickly and feel comfortable. 

As I mentioned when we first arrived, we found a three bedroom piso for 350€ a month. We signed up for Vodafone which got us cable TV, unlimited internet, and one cell phone with 1GB and 200 minutes of talk for 78€ a month. Our first utility bill was only 25€ since we hadn't been here for very long. Our last one that I just paid last month was 161€ which is for two months of utilities. Water is included in the building fees and garbage/recycling is community based with 4 containers clustered up and down all the streets. You have to pay for your plastic bags in 90% of their stores so we have gotten accustomed to carrying at least one around in our pocket/purse. 
This is our first real experience living in this type of apartment so to speak. We have a locked front door and people need to buzz our bell and speak to us over the loudspeaker so we can buzz the door open for them. Of course, this is common in other parts of the United States as well, just not anywhere that I have ever lived before. There are two sides to our building so you have to pay attention to whether you want the left or right side. So there are two 1A, 2A etc. We have to include Escalera Derecha (right stairs) with our address in order to receive anything. The building maintenance pays a lady to come in and clean all of the floors and we even have an elevator...right now to our front door so we can hear it go up and down all day long. In Europe, the ground floor where you enter is called the Ground Floor. When you go upstairs, that is the 1st floor so a four story building has 3 floors in it and sometimes an attic, the top story that includes the open roof/patio.
When I am home in the mornings, I am always startled by the front door buzzing as we never receive any visitors. I answer the bell and usually hear "Correos". Our mailwoman doesn't have a key to the front door of any buildings so she buzzes every single apartment until someone opens the door. On each side of the stairs are the mailboxes. She doesn't have the key to these either. If she can't shove it in the slot at the top, you get a slip to go retrieve it from the post office. It is a system that leaves a little to be desired in my opinion. I won't even mention that I can slip in my hand in the slot and retrieve most of the mail myself. José has the mail key and I'm not a patient lady.

We live a pretty quiet life here. We haven't made many friends outside of our landlords and a Mexican-Spanish couple that run a little mom and pop store a few blocks away. I met one English girl on Facebook about a year before we moved here so we try to meet up for tea/coffee once a week and chat. It's funny to compare American and British English! The people in this area are reserved and private so we're definitely outsiders and feeling like it. José goes to the local gym 6 days a week and he talks to a few guys there but that ends at the door. We are friendly with some of the moms at Mia's school and they help us figure out the odd question or recommendation. My classmates are half my age and most of them live in Salamanca and our local bus stops running at midnight and that is usually when they are just getting ready to go out. The frequent travel has helped to offset the loneliness. Now it's about time for us to start looking forward to going home this summer!

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