A DAY IN SPAIN
I have already written about our mornings over here in Spain but the mornings are only a small part of our day. And many people have asked me how we fill our day. Our work day grind doesn’t exist, we don’t have a hard-core schedule of any kind, so, what in the hell are we doing during the day? Good question!
Here it is in a nut shell.
As I wrote before, we wake up later here in Santander than at home. Our kids don’t have to be at school until 9am and we are consistently rolling up to drop them off around 8:58am. We try to be in the car by 8:45am but are really consistent at 8:49am. This, of course, makes Skye freak out cause she says her teacher closes the door at 9am sharp and then it’s a big deal if you are late. I don’t want her to have to deal with a “big deal” at 9am in a foreign country so we really try to maneuver the 17 roundabouts as fast as lightening to get there before 9! We can make it to their school from our apartment in 6 minutes, without speeding.
After we drop the kids, Erik and I usually figure out our day. If the waves are good, we will go for a surf, if they aren’t, I will go for a run, he will go play padel with his “team” or we will got to the Madaleña stairs together. We have to be quick because our Spanish class starts at 11am and we walk there. Everybody walks here…even when it’s raining. It’s wonderful like that.
Our class is now 3 days a week at a place called Inlingua. It’s a chain and they have many branches in the USA, very concentrated in Florida we noticed from the poster in the reception. But it’s not about the place, it’s about our teachers. When we started our classes, we went 5 days a week for 4 hours. Two hours were spent with Maria Antonia and two hours were with Raquel. And we love them both. Honestly. It’s kind of like that family relationship where you can get frustrated with them, or with the language and they don’t take it personally. We are so happy they put up with us.
Since the beginning we have shared the class with a third student. Her name is Maggie and she is, coincidentally, from North Carolina. They were shocked that we were all together because, as they told us, there are not many Americans that come to Santander. And here we were, all three, a big happy family. The very first saying we learned was, “Que Casualidad!” What a coincidence! Maggie made our class fantastic. We feel like we went into battle together. She left Spain last weekend and last Tuesday, Erik and I had our first solo class. Nobody wanted to sit in Maggie’s seat. Te echamos de menos, Maggie!!
Our classes are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. On the other days, we try to adventure out and explore areas to surf or towns we might want to take the kids. Fumy how we have to creatively plan the spontaneous. Right? I mean, if you get lazy while living abroad, your year is up and you realize you didn’t see have of the places you wanted to see. All of the little treasures that are a short drive from us are amazing. For that reason, I prefer having a general idea of our plan the night before and then sort of, “go with the flow” the morning of. That has worked really well over here. For instance, the other morning we went to Liencres to surf, just the two of us. And when we got there the swell was a little funky. So, we decided to go for a run along some of the most gorgeous seaside dirt trails I have ever seen. Erik doesn’t like running but when you get to take in that kind of scenery, it makes the pain go away!
Oh the places you’ll go
When you don’t have a set plan.
After class, we walk home and plan our “La Comida”. Lunch here is a 2-hour event. We rarely take that much time but that is the normal for many folks over here and I genuinely love it. When we walk home from class, I see everyone standing outside the two restaurants closest to our apartment, “El Sardi” and “Mar de Cortez” drinking their glasses of wine or beer and it makes me smile. But, when you don’t spend that amount of time eating or spend that much time with your lunch experience, people, like your “super” to your apartment will ask you if you took enough time to eat. It happens every day. Our super’s name is Able (Ah-bell) and he is wonderful. He genuinely cares about us, and our La Comida, in a very real way.
After we eat lunch, we work. This consists of doing homework and checking in with emails, the office and home. Erik is getting his broker’s license for real estate and that takes many hours. While Erik stays to do some work, I run and grab Skye from school or she takes the city bus home. She is out of school before Spider. When she gets home, we all end up sitting at the table doing our homework together. It is ridiculously peaceful.
Our official workday doesn’t start until around 4 pm as that is when Park City is ready for us. This is probably the toughest part of living abroad. I have had several conference calls and interviews taking place in between kid pick-ups or dinnertime. Although difficult, it is not unusual as my friends and I have coined the term, “Working in the Cracks”.
**Please leave a comment below on this blog if you have ever been on a conference call while driving your kids to activities? Thank god for the mute button.
We grab Spider from school at 5pm. He has the longest day of all of us, but also has a 2-hour break during school where he gets to play and eat and do special activities. Skye is riding horses at the barn around the corner here at a place called, El Bocal and they both are doing a program called Soccorista (Jr Lifeguards) There is so much less stress with getting to and from their sports over here. It has to be due to the fact that everything is so relatively close but I think it is also do to the fact that the kids seem more eager to get there, they aren’t as rundown for some reason. They get themselves together and rush out the door hollering for us to hurry up! I will allow them to yell at me all day if they are ready and I am running behind!
a girl and her horse
When the kids go to Soccorista together, Erik and I, depending on whether or not we worked out in the morning, either work out at the same gym they have Soccorista or we head to a new café or restaurant for a “copa de tinto” and to work on our flashcards. We have compiled over 1000 index cards of our Spanish vocabulary. It’s super fun, we sit and practice our words while we people curiously observe and we sip our wine. Our average cost for 2 glasses of wine and a tiny tapa is 3 euro!
At 9pm, now it’s time for the hardest part, dinner. This is why I ordered the book “Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat.” I need help with my cooking. The kids roll in from activities and although there is special attention to La Comida, my people are famished at dinnertime. All swimmers should understand that statement. We, Erik and I, have found our way around the supermercados and are feeling more comfortable with what we are buying and how to make it like home. But, my real goal is to cook differently than home, not in a big way but just enough so that our taste buds grow just like our minds. This is still a work in progress. I will keep you posted as I am thinking about it every day and am already stressed about Christmas and cooking for 12 people with one tiny oven and a crock pot that we bought which is half the size of the ones at home. And, yes, when I say “one tiny oven” I mean it is the size of a microwave.
**I will take any and all suggestions below.
Lastly, we finish the night with a part of a movie or a show that we have already watched in English so we can better understand it in Spanish. Netflix has been so good to us and offers EVERYTHING on their platform in European Spanish…everything from Braveheart and The Hunger Games to Modern Family and The Good Place. I tend to keep the TV on all day just to hear it in the background.
We go to bed late over here. I am generally turning out the kids’ lights at 10:15pm. And, Erik and I stay up even later as all our friends, family and work peers are in the middle of their day. We force ourselves to turn off our electronics at 11:45pm and sometimes that is hard. I know this is lame and this sounds so damn cheesy to type but 90% of every night, I put my head on my pillow and I think, “I can’t believe we pulled this off. I am SO glad we did it!”
And then we do everything over again!
Fun random schedule facts.
1. The kids have 8 weeks of school followed by 1 week of vacation. This is generally speaking but the school schedule is a Cantabria-wide schedule similar to a Utah-wide school schedule.
2. All of Skye’s school day is in Spanish except for one class and in that class she tries to speak Spanish with the teacher, who is from Florida!
3. Spider has most all of his day in Spanish but a few classes in English where he corrected his teacher on the second day by saying “You don’t spell Learned, “Learnt” you spell it with an “E-D”. They learn Cambridge English which can be interesting to explain to a curious 10 year old.
4. The supermarkets are packed at 8pm here. Absolutely packed. The timing of rush hour is much different. For instance, if we leave our parking lot to get Skye from school and come back at 3pm, all the spots are taken. We haven’t figured that out yet.
5. Working out and exercise is HUGE over here and I LOVE IT. Our gym is packed in the morning hours…from 9-11 with the older crew, Silver Streakers. And everyone else is there from 6pm-10pm. Honestly, this wonderful man asked me if I wanted to swim with the masters group from 9-10 and I said, “In the morning?” and he said, “No, in the afternoon.” Which made me pause and think…OMG they swim from 9-10pm!!! That could be fun!
6. Many, many kids here go straight to English school after their school. We have 3 of them in the little complex below our apartment. At around 6:30pm our area is full of families whose kids are learning English. We realized this very quickly and remind the kids to speak Spanish with their friends. Their friends are more than welcome to speak English but they need to push through and speak Spanish back. Spider made an agreement with one of his buddies that they would speak English on certain days and Spanish on the others. It’s hard for them to do but they are trying.