20 Sep ’11 – The Relocation

Still no Internet! Simon, the recruitment officer, brought me a wi-fi stick from home, but apparently the CD-Rom drive in my poor 8-or-so year old Toshiba didn’t like being transported without a proper laptop case much, so currently I own a notebook without a camera, a wi-fi connection, a microphone AND a CD-Rom drive. Which basically means I need to buy a new one. In Spanish. (Buy in Spanish and operate it in Spanish). And without Internet access to check the models.

Well, I did manage to order juice, and ask where to weigh fruit and to put 500 euro into my account (and to find the bank – but I didn’t need Spanish for that one). I’m not learning much, but I guess it’s going to get better when I start the lessons – and writing things down and so on. Now it’s just spontaneous. I also might attend special classes for those teachers whose mother tongue is not English – although perhaps I got something wrong, such a course sounds too good to be true. Or maybe not so good if you have a busy schedule… Mine now is fantastic – two lessons with kids (aged 11-14 more or less) in the city centre (the Moraza branch) every Tuesday and Thursday, and a 3-hour block for advanced adults on Saturdays (in Irun, so involving reimbursed commuting by train and getting up at 6am or so).

It all started on Monday morning (it’s still dark here at 7.45) when I met my relocation officer Sonia (who looks like Asia Dz., for those of you who know Asia Dz.) and we walked to Gros to view the rooms. It takes about 20 minutes to walk from eastern parts of Gros (where I live) to the centre – you need to cross the river. The town is rich and beautiful with lots of trees (including palm trees) and very high 19 and 20th century houses which remind me of Paris, Rome, Switzerland and Lido di Jesolo.

The first room we saw had a sea view but it was rented by a middle-aged Ukrainian who wasn’t the owner and couldn’t even pretend I live with her for free but do live with her. And so we climbed one of the local hills in vain. But the second room had a double wardrobe and a balcony and there are two bathrooms here and a supermarket is right round the corner and there is free wi-fi and so on, and so, although we do pretend I live here for free (no contract, only the ‘acknowledgment’ for me to have an address in Spain) and although the room overlooks a busy road and a railway (the trains don’t run often but when they do it’s like in Hong Kong), when Sonia invited me to a coffee (thank god, I hadn’t had breakfast yet), I decided to stop the search there.

By around 2pm we’ve arranged the room, the town hall, the police station and the bank, and then Sonia left me near the Buen Pastor cathedral in a very nice place where you can get tofu, saiten, quinoa and boletus. In the afternoon (after a long walk along the seafront and in Parte Viejo full of the festival guests) I went to the main office and one of the bosses (John Bradley) took me on a tour round the Urbieta, San Bartholome and Moraza branches where I met about 120 different people whose names I should know, including the Director of Studies of ‘my’ branch (the Moraza one), Della. I think she’s a typical English boss, who calls you darling, uses the word ‘crap’ to describe her own rules and just nods her head when it is apparent that she wants you to come to see HER and not Phil in Irun on Wednesday afternoon.

In the evening I met Simon (the guy who interviewed me via Skype) and he helped me to get a Spanish mobile. A free LG phone was included – didn’t have time to learn to operate it properly yet.

I’m having a very unusual relationship with my hotel (Hostal Bahia) – god knows what they think of me there. Yesterday at around 8.30pm I announced that I was moving out (would have loved to stay but suspected I wouldn’t have time to move later on) and I think the receptionist though this was because the Internet in the common room stopped working. But then today morning when I went to the main office of the school, they didn’t know what to do with me (apart from giving me 205 euro relocation money) as there was a power cut anyway (a new lift is being installed) so I had an hour to kill and I decided to… No, no, let’s stop there. I’m rambling. Let me just say that I used the hotel today (three times I think) to pop in and either use the lavatory or the internet or just sit in my room on a comfortable bed and read papers. It’s lovely. I’ve always wanted to live in a hotel. And I got a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice as I was entitled to a continental breakfast. If I’m brave enough. I’m going to have breakfast there tomorrow (the last one, alas).

Breakfast isn’t such an easy affair. Today I wanted to buy a sandwich or sth and eat it walking to the main office but ALL SHOPS WERE CLOSED. At 8.30!!! Including two supermarkets. Amazing. And so I had to have a croissant and zumo de naranja in a cafe, like everyone else. Deliriously expensive, those.

(I did have a proper sandwich later at the boulevard but one cannot sit there as the benches are all wet.)

I met Phil of Irun and then Sonia took me to Amara to get my social security something and just get away from the office to have a coffee (this time on me). They have 3-hour lunch breaks here – even kids finish school at 7pm. Thanks to Sonia I found a lovely stationary shop where I could buy stuff which is supposed to help me get organized when it finally gets even more hectic. And then I went to the hotel again and then I rushed home to get changed (it got very hot) and buy some food and come back to Moraza for a two staff meetings and to San Bartholome branch to observe a class I’m going to take over on Thursday.

The rest of the evening I spent fighting with the non-existent CD-Rom drive, which lets me finish where I begun like this clever guy from Scientific American.

No time to describe the little things (such as a female traffic warden with a bright pink bob). It’s 11.15pm already! Everyone ignores red lights (well, pedestrians do, and some buses as well) and one of the twins gave me chicken and beans for lunch and talked to me incessantly in a mixture of Spanish, English and French. Every night the landlady goes to see the festival films at midnight.

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