Published: February 12th 2012January 22nd 2012
Wow, talk being thrown in at the deep end!!
My first day I went to the main building in El Puerto at 10:30, expecting to spend the morning in training, heading to Cadiz in the afternoon to get my social security number, and then preparing for my class at 19:30. So imagine my surprise when after spending an hour waiting for people to turn up, the manager comes in and announces that I have a new class starting earlier in the afternoon and that I needed to get my lesson plans sorted asap! I had the books thrust into my hands and sat down with a sheet of paper. I hammered out two lesson plans as best I could before lunch. Then I was off with a teacher to Cadiz which is a half hour drive away. I was really excited to see where I would be living, it looks a lot more promising! The school is a primary school in the new town, and the company basically rents space from them. I met the centre manager and a few teachers who were popping in and out. Everything was a bit chaotic and disorganised, but it was the first day
back for everybody. I grabbed what resources I needed and was whisked off to the old town to my first class. The old town was amazing, I fell in love with it immediately. Old narrow cobblestoned streets, ornate wrought-iron balconies and street lamps, an exotic fusion of Moorish and Spanish architecture and culture throughout the ages, give the old town an enticing, enchanting atmosphere.
My classes went well on Monday, both adults at beginner level, and thankfully I was able to get a lift back to El Puerto with the receptionist, Rafa, arriving back at 21:40.
The rest of the week followed a pattern, I would be woken up at 8am by noise from the street, have breakfast and look up a flatsharing website for a place in Cadiz, leave the flat at 10am to get the train, arriving in Cadiz at 11:15, and then lesson planning until my classes. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I will have a class of 11 6-year-olds (I'm currently observing them), teenagers who are my highest level group, and adults at pre-intermediate level. Fridays are for English games with children and conversation with my beginner adults! Luckily I was able to
get a lift back with Rafa most nights, although on Tuesday I had to get the train at 22:10 only arriving back at the flat at 23:20, and then I had dinner to prepare! Thankfully Danni, the other new teacher, has offered to let me stay with her and her boyfriend Steve until I find my own place.
It was a tough week for me as there was a lot to cope with, emotions were running high, but I felt that if I got through it then the hardest part would be over. I was especially looking forward to cutting out all the travel, and actually having time for myself. Friday dawned bright and warm, and I had my first flat viewing before work. It was a flat on the beach in the new town, small but nice, but further out than I would have preferred. After work we all went out for tapas to a nearby restaurant. Mmmmn delicious, far better fare than we had in El Puerto. We had very spicy patatas bravas, chocos again, chicken wings, a potato salad, and a stew made from pigs cheek called carillada which was delicious and very tender. Steve came
up to join us, and Robert's boyfriend Chris. After the meal the waiter brought us a bottle of apple schnapps for free, much appreciated. I was staying at Danni and Steve's that night so after depositing my bag at theirs we went to a local bar for cerveza. It was after 4am when we managed to make it to bed.
Saturday was a lovely day, we got up at 12:30 at went to the Mercado Central - central market. There was a massive section devoted to fish, we saw a small shark or dogfish, lots of squid, masses of shellfish of all types, some disgusting looking things called huevos and a massive eel being filleted. When we went to the meat section around the perimeter, we saw a whole dead rabbit and some still-feathered birds on display.
Afterwards we went to a nearby bar for lunch – a delicious seafood paella. We went for a walk to the Caleta, the small beach at the top of the headland made famous by Halle Berry in Tomorrow Never Dies
, and then out to the promontory fort of Castillo de San Sebastian with lovely views of Cadiz. We couldn’t go
in however, it’s being done up for the bi-centennial celebrations of the signing of the first Spanish Constitution here in Cadiz. There were a lot of people combing the beaches for sea-urchins, as there was a sea-urchin festival the next day to mark the start of Carneval season. There were already people selling them on street corners and at restaurants!
I got the catamaran back to El Puerto after arranging to move in on Monday. The boys were just starting to re-surface from the night before. We went out to Bar Granada that night for Chris’ birthday. They serve pints of rum and coke for €4, bargain!! We moved onto a couple of different bars, and I left before everyone went to the nightclub at 05:30, it’s going to take a while to adjust to the different hours here!! Sunday was a lazy day walking around the beaches. It was raining slightly so there was nobody out!! I packed my bags for Cadiz, really looking forward to moving. I tried to skype Doug and the parents but our crappy stolen internet connection wasn’t up to the task!
Monday it lashed rain, so I was soaked as I hauled
most of my bags to the train station, and then to school on the other side. Danni helped me bring my stuff to hers that night and I went for another viewing, this time in the old town. The flat was beautiful, an old-fashioned Spanish mansion with tiled floors, French doors opening out onto balconies forged from wrought iron, high ceilings and a lot of charm! I fell in love with it and at €300 all inclusive it seemed like a good deal. The only thing putting me off was that the couple there had a 2-year old daughter. I’ll keep my options open.
The rest of the week had its own pattern, where I had time in the morning to look up flats etc but then had to lesson plan every day from 12pm. I’m looking forward to the day when it doesn’t take up most of my day!! I only had one more house viewing, again in the old town. It was the same price as before, but for a lot less space and not all bills included. So after an internal debate and some reassurances, I got in touch with Susannah to confirm that I would
move into the beautiful flat that I viewed earlier. I’ll move in this weekend!!
On Thursday we went out to the local tapas bar to say goodbye to a teacher who was leaving to go to China. The food was great, the craic was mighty, and the waiter brought out two bottles of vodka based shots this time!! Both were polished off and we insisted that the staff joined us. Afterwards we went to an Irish bar where they served a delicious rum called Legandario. Had to be sensible as we were working the next day!!
On Saturday I had my first taste of working in El Puerto. I wasn’t pleased with the early start to arrive for 10:30, but the time will fly when I’m there. The idea is to supply games etc for kids in an English speaking environment, so the first hour is outdoor games, the second is art, and the third can be sports/computer etc. I was only there for an hour and a half to get an idea of what went on. I had to return to the flat to collect my rucksack, and then make my way back to Cadiz to
move into my new flat!! Marion, my other new flatmate, was there to let me in, and I only had time to go to the supermarket and dump my bags etc before I went to meet Jennifer and Danni for drinks. There was an absolutely stunning sunset in progress, bathing all the buildings in a fiery orange and pink light.
Sunday was a lazy day for unpacking and settling in. I went out for an exploratory walk around the area. The nearest park is just around the corner and by the coast. Called the Alameda de Apodaca, it hugs the old wall on the north side of the peninsula facing El Puerto. It’s more of a tiled walkway than a park, but it has beautiful seats and wrought-iron awnings for shelter from the sun. A lot of people come here to fish. As I followed the wall, I made my way to Parque Genoves, the oldest and biggest park in Cadiz with a variety of exotic plants and trees from South America. I made my way to Castillo de Santa Catalina, one of the old fortifications protecting the city. It now houses art exhibitions which you can enter for
free. Walking across La Caleta, and around the headland, I made my way down to the Cathedral, which I think will always have the ability to take my breath away! Originally constructed from sandstone, it took 110 years to complete and now has a mixture of architectural styles, finished in white limestone. It is truly a very original building!
That night I went out with Marion for drink to get to know each other. She’s 23, and from near Bordeaux. She teaches French to children in Puerto Real, and like me will finish in June. Her English is good, and she’s going to teach me Spanish, so our conversations are a mixture of both languages. We share a living room and a bathroom, and the kitchen area with Susannah and Jorge. I’m so excited to finally have a place of my own in my Spanish palace as I’m calling it! Finally I feel like I can start to settle in to a life in Cadiz.
There are more photos below