Saturday, 4 April 2009

The Retiro tried to kill me!

You´ll be pleased to know I don´t have gory photos to prove it, but yesterday I managed to leave about half a pint of blood in the Retiro!

Off I went for a nice, casual walk in the park with Julie. No sooner had we got into one of the shady avenues, than my left foot disappeared down one of the gulleys that the rainwater drains into and I crashed unceremoniously to the floor.

Slightly embarrassed, I dusted myself off, put some weight on my left foot to see just how badly I´d knackered my ankle and was delighted to find it was OK.

BUT - as I walked away I realised that inexplicably my right foot felt really wet. I looked down and was somewhat surprised to see a pool of blood collecting all over my shoe and on the ground! Somehow in the process I´d taken a massive chunk out of the bottom of my big toe and it was practically spraying blood everywhere.

I made it to a bench and hurled my blood-soaked shoe to the ground, poured most of my bottle of water over it and watched the pink liquid soak into the dust.

The ever-practical Julie headed back to the Info booth and got plasters, scissors, gauze and......alcohol. No, not to drink, but that lovely stuff that it´s such a good idea to pour on open wounds until you remember how much it f**king hurts!! OUCH. And I´ve got a damn high pain threshold.

So for the last 2 days I´ve been wandering about with a toe covered in plasters, limping, trying not to put any weight on that side of my foot.

I´m sure I´ll forgive the Retiro in the end, but for now, I´m a bit miffed!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Batteries, beer, bare chests and breakfasts

OK, I admit, I may have been a little over-excited to finally get online on my laptop the other day. Not that I´ve managed to get a dongle or anything else but I did at least find a cafe within walking distance (10 blocks, but it´s exercise!) of the house, where I could use their free WiFi. Well, I say free - I spent over 5 Euros on breakfast in order to sit in there for an hour and a half. But it was good to be on my own computer at last, instead of the public ones I´ve been using. At least it meant I could email my CV (such as it is) to a few places.

I´m shocked at how short a time my laptop battery lasts though. I´ve played about with the power settings til I´m blue in the face and I´m pretty sure it understands that when it´s on battery power it´s meant to use the lowest amount of power possible. I don´t have any peripherals plugged in, I´m even trying to only have a couple of websites open at one time and yet, when I switch on it tells me I have something like 2hrs 45mins. Within 20 mins, it´s telling me I have an hour left, and then that hour runs out in about 40 minutes. It´s infuriating!

I realised last night, as I swigged my first beer of the day while I still had the hangover from the night before, that I haven´t actually had a day with no beer since I arrived! Oops. I´ve been pretty good food-wise - plenty of fresh veg in my fridge and I haven´t totally lived on patatas bravas and tortillas, but I have so got to stop drinking every single day. I sound like a complete alcy (is that actually a word?) now!! So for a couple of days those nice people at San Miguel / Cruzcampo / Mahou will have to live without my custom.

So yesterday I went to look at a room in a shared flat. A completely new experience as I´ve never shared before (well, yes, I shared with Sid but I already knew her!). I was a bit pessimistic as the only other place I´d looked at was dreadful - a poky little room with almost no light, in a dilapidated old building, no outside area and no internet access. This place was a revelation! A big, 3-bedroomed place, newly refurbished, beautifully decorated, comfortable room with loads of storage and huge windows, etc etc! At the moment there´s just one Irish girl living there, but there is also a double room still advertised to rent so it´s possible that at some point there may be 4 people living there. Still fine though the queue for the bathroom will be interesting! It also had a huge sunny balcony with a view of the mountains. But the piece de resistance was the fact that the fire brigade has a training school just round the corner and apparently, the firemen periodically run past the flat, bare-chested, on their way to the park for a training session. How could I possibly say no?! So I took it. I move there on April 14th for at least 2 months. If nothing else, the fact that I have rent and bills to pay should incite me to try harder for a job.

Last night, I went with Julie and Behram to a new bar in town which was meant to be having "international evening" and turned out to have a pair of hiphop freestyle guys testing out the PA in readiness for a gig next week. My idea of hell quite honestly, so after a couple of drinks we bailed and hit Cafe Madrid which has a huge intercambio every Wednesday evening. Really busy but good fun. Met some great people, chatted lots, got some good hints of places to go and convinced half the Spaniards that they´d missed a treat if they´d been to the UK and not gone to Brighton! I guess from my side of things it wasn´t exactly intercambio as I spoke almost only English all evening but I´m determined that once my 3 days of Spanish lessons are over next week, I´m going to start practicing. Having said that, I did spend 15 minutes speaking French!

Talking of practicing Spanish, this morning my 2 next door neighbours (2 very sweet guys) trapped me outside bringing my washing in and insisted on showing me round their respective houses. Not quite sure why though it was interesting to see just how small a space one person can live in. The house right next door to me is miniature! Like a little doll´s house! But then for the next 20 minutes they bombarded me with Spanish about anything and everything. House prices, South American Indian souvenirs hanging from the ceilings, the fact that I only need to knock if I need anything (would you believe, one of them actually said " a cup of sugar...." - I always thought that was a terribly English thing!) - for the most part I got the gist of what they were saying but not the nuances, and I pretty much said nothing back! Bless them, they tried to slow down but without the vocab, I didn´t really stand much hope. I think I´m wrong but at one point I´m sure one of them told me that the necklace he was wearing was not made from beads as it appeared, but from the dried dung of a very small South American animal that jumps really high! I smiled and nodded as much as possible but it must have been pretty clear I was lost!

So today is "doing stuff" day - nothing too exciting mind you. Recycling, clearing up (as my landlady is coming to stay at her own house tomorrow night!), writing out some ads to post for English teaching/conversation, and some relaxing in the sun which has thoughtfully come back.


Hasta luego, everyone!

Monday, 30 March 2009

Third World Internet!

Grrrrr. Having been told by a very nice man in the Telefonica shop that I would only be able to get casual, Pay as You Go broadband for my laptop from Orange, I happily skipped into the Orange shop this morning to sort it out.

Hah! No, no, no, the sales assistant said, slightly amused (possibly more by my Spanish than the content of my question) - broadband for your laptop - minimum 18-month contract! WHAT?! How many people must there be here who have no intention of staying for 18 months?

So - having discovered that there isn´t a single WiFi signal good enough for me to hijack in the flat, for at least the next couple of weeks I´ll have to carry on coming down to my usual internet place, wrecking my back on their plastic chairs, or swallow my pride and sit in McDonalds using my laptop and their free WiFi. Well, free of course will involve buying at least one drink and making it last as long as my laptop battery. And of course, it involves actually stepping across the threshold of a McD, something I haven´t done (except to abuse their toilet facilities) for a good 20 years or so. But it´s the nearest place to me with WiFi so I guess I´ll have to bite the bullet.

This is a great place, really, but they have a lot of catching up to do in certain areas.