Monday, October 21, 2013

Impressions of Village Life

It´s pitch-black when my alarm blares. From under heavy blankets, my feet step out and gingerly avoid the cold ceramic floor, settling into fuzzy slippers. Crossing over to the window, I pull on a tether to raise the squeaky metal blind, which gives way to a dazzling view:
(Ignore the t.v. antenna... peo. like t.v. here)
Yup, I live in Villacarrillo. I will admit, during the first two weeks I was in Úbeda and found out I´d be living in this pueblo, I was S.A.D. (ask my Canadian friend about the breakdown I had via Whatsapp, while on a bus). But after living in Spain for a little over a month, things have improved. I'm loving my pueblo life!

My impressions:

It´s Quiet

The adjustment from living near a 6-lane major city street in Canada, to streets so quiet my heels ricochet like bullets as I walk home from the pub, is a big change.
Siesta time in Villacarrillo at the Paseo, a "park" where people hang out.

A street in Úbeda
When it´s siesta time (2:30 pm), every shop closes (save for Mercadona, a supermarket on the outskirts of town). The exception is the bars. Sundays are like an all-day siesta, and every store, save for a few bars, is closed. Heaven help you if you forgot to buy food on Saturday. 
But, don´t fret because...

People are Warm and Want to Help

The day I moved into my piso, it was during siesta time so I couldn´t buy food to cook lunch. My lovely neighbour upstairs invited me to her table, and made an awesome meal. She has a modest income, so her regular generosity has not been unnoticed by me. She treats me like part of her family and I have hung out many times with her 5,000,000 cousins.

In town, everyone says "Hasta luego", or the Andalucian anti-cons onant version, "Ah-ehhh-oh!" It can be either a greeting, to acknowledge you see a person but are on your way somewhere, or it´s a "Bye!" at the end of a conversation.

"Villacarrillians", in General, have Modest Incomes

Little things led me to this conclusion, such as all the lights being off in the shops and bars during the day. I thought they were closed! Then I looked inside and realized they were conserving power. Electricity and hot water are expensive here. I can now cook a meal and get dressed in near-darkness! Plus, we pay for cold water, a big change from living in Canada where it's basically free.
In the evening, hallways are often dark while I teach at the school.
The school I work at is also on a low budget. The first clue was the lack of TP and hand-dryers in the students' washrooms (although the teachers' washroom is a whole other story - it's practically luxurious compared to the students'). Also, when students need a photocopy, they have to take the original to the office and pay 5 cents per page. Crazy!
A "brasero" in the teachers' lounge. It's how we'll stay warm this winter.
It Got Cold FAST

Within a week of arriving, hot sweaty days were replaced by cold mornings and nights. Sometimes there's rain. And fog. Feels very familiar to me...
Sometimes, *this* is my morning view.
I Am Popular

If you're the only native speaker for miles around, you are like GOLD to the English academies and students here. I am working like a dog, but in light of the crisis I am extremely lucky. Every week I literally turn away work; I'm too busy! One of the great advantages of being the only native speaker is meeting new people. I say hi to students and neighbours every day. It feels so friendly!

I'm Getting the Best Immersion Ever

Honestly, every day I thank myself PROFUSELY that I learned some Spanish in Canada - enough to hold a conversation, at least. Young people here are learning English, but are very reluctant to speak it. Thanks to my Spanish ability, I've had adventures that I'll share in my next post.
A view of la Sierra from a downtown street.

My hometown's city hall never looked as good as Villacarrillo's


  1. It sounds very wonderful and the town looks quite beautiful. I am glad to hear your getting over some culture shock and settling in quite well. Take care! Xo

  2. Wow!!!! I love this post! It's fun to read your impressions about the village where I was born and I grow up.
    I hope to go to Villacarrillo in December, for Christmas holidays. If I go and you stay, we will take a coffe or a drink, ok?
    I'm very happy to know you are fine!
    See you soon! ;)

  3. Love the pictures you took from your piso window, and I got really emotional at that photo of the sierra. I’m so happy for you that you are actually enjoying living in Villacarrillo and have made friends and are really integrating into pueblo life :)

  4. Thanks everyone! Yes, I feel very settled into this village (thank goodness!). Whenever I leave to visit another town, I immediately feel a pull back "home". I wasn´t sure if I´d ever end up liking it, but now I really, really do.