I have officially moved into my new home for the next eight months in San Roque, Spain; I am no longer homeless! Wow is it beautiful. There’s a little café across the street called La Ermita. I live right next to the pool and gym, and attached to it there’s a soccer field and a track to run on! My apartment has a view of the mountains and sunsets. There’s a cute little plaza called Alameda where all the San Roqueians gather for drinks, play at the playground, and sit by the fountain. A small town with a wonderful community. A perfect place for a real Spanish experience.
Once situated into my new apartment, I needed to check the things off my to-do list before school started in two weeks.
First thing on my list: buy bed sheets (juego de sabanas).
With no Bed, Bath, and Beyond within shopping range, I felt like I was starting from square one. Only one question brewed in my mind: Where the heck do I buy bed sheets in Spain? I began to research stores. Well, turns out there weren’t too many places to shop at in San Roque. But I was told to check out a Chino.
What is a Chino, you ask? A Chino, or Bazar, is kind of like a Hands: a small department store selling anything you could think of…for cheap! Usually, Chinese people work at these stores, hence the name, Chinos.
My first attempt was a failure. Apparently, it’s important to know the size of your bed before buying bed sheets. So, I walked all the way back to my apartment, found a tape measure, and got measuring. After discovering the size of my bed, I made the journey across town again. I picked out my classic blue bed sheets and marched to the checkout counter. I was ready to buy these sheets, excited I’d be able to sleep that night. Turns out Chinos do not accept credit cards.
A bit of advice, Spain is a cash heavy country. Always carry cash with you! Thus, I spent the remainder of the afternoon searching for an ATM to take out some more euros. I went back to the Chino for my second attempt to buy those bed sheets. This time, the Chino was closed; I forgot about the darn Siestas from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm. It was currently 2:30 pm so I had awhile before they opened again.
Another trip across town for Pat to pass the time in my apartment. When 5:00 pm rolled around, I returned to the Chino for my third, and yes, my final attempt. I finally, finally bought my bed sheets. I thought I’d tackle this errand before lunch time, ready to tackle the next problem on my list. Only to learn that this would be a normal recurrence in Spain: Everything takes more than one try. ALWAYS.
At least I would be able pass my first night in San Roque in a cozy bed with beautiful blue bed sheets. And boy was it a sweaty night.
Next up on my to-do list: set up a bank account.
My language coordinator had given me a tour of the school, Jose Cadalso, showing me around and introducing me to my fellow co-workers. When we had entered the English department, I was confronted by ten women sitting around a long table. The women all stood up at my presence, and my heart dropped. In Spain, when you are introduced to a female you must kiss her on both cheeks. But my aim isn’t the best, and I’ve accidentally smashed a few cheeks here and there. The double kiss has always been my greatest fear, and I realized I would have to double kiss each and every one of these women.
So I began my journey. I circled the table, kissing cheek after cheek, cheek after cheek. Each cheek I had to focus all my energy on my aim. The only thought I had after I made my round was: Would this happen every time I walked into this room?
Anyway, during my tour, my school had told me to speak to Juan Carlos at BBVA to set up my bank account.
They assured me I’d be in good hands with Juan Carlos. So on Thursday afternoon, I went to BBVA. While sitting awkwardly for my number to be called, a Spanish mom engaged in conversation with me all in Spanish. She told me how great her daughter was at speaking English. At least, I think that’s what she said. For some reason all the San Roque madres and abuelas feel the need to always start random conversation with me. And when they realize I don’t speak their language, they continue to speak anyway.
Finally, my number was called, and I met the legendary Juan Carlos. This guy barely knew any English. But we somehow communicated, speaking a lot of Spanglish. With the slow computers and the slow communication, we had to stop because the bank was closing for the day at 2:00 pm. But Juan Carlos told me to return at 4:00 pm.
I returned and this amazing guy showed up in gym shorts and a t-shirt. He opened the bank just for me! What a man. He invited me in. We sat and laughed and told stories. He taught me about San Roque. We had a fantastic time. I never thought I’d enjoy passing an entire afternoon in a bank. We spent two hours hanging out in BBVA.
I succeeded in setting up my bank account. Now, whenever I enter the bank, Juan Carlos never lets me wait. What a great guy! If anyone needs to set up a bank account in Spain, go to Juan Carlos.
I’ve really enjoyed the friendliness in San Roque. Everyone is so kind and welcoming.
With my important chores checked off, I had the weekend to enjoy myself before I needed to start working on my TIE application (more on that later). And a good amigo would be visiting me for my first weekend in San Roque.
Here’s a little teaser 😉
Was there ever a situation in your life where you felt like you were starting over from square one? Share it in the comments below!