Crackers Maracas

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Lemons in the Lush Lecrin Valley
Lemons in the Lush Lecrin Valley

In 2009 Jacqui arrived in Spain and she recorded her thoughts and expereinces for us during the first three months of her time here.

Issue 1

Date: Mon, 12 Jan 2009 18:38:01
Greetings from Espania!!!

Well here we are!!

Hope all is well with you and you are not freezing to death.

Day one was hectic. What with having to empty our bags at check-in, transferring clothes etc. into a bin liner cadged from the Thomson counter, paying an extra hundred quid to get through. Anyway after struggling to put a very awkward large holdall into the lock up, disturbing and knocking heads off, the bin liner splitting and contents spilling out, it was a rather uneventful flight, very swiftly arriving into Malaga.

Torrid Molinos
Yes you read it right. I think we were staying in the only block of quarry hill look-alikes in the resort. We stayed one night before checking out, couldn´t sleep with our heads next to the generator or with Spanish screaming bay next door. The hair balls gathered around us, we knew they wereñ´t ours, cos they were white..ish.

The resort was teeming with over 70´s, I think they came straight from Cookridge Hall, for those who know what I am talking about.

The next day we caught a taxi……..I am still reeling from euro shock and extortion, to a place called Caleta. This destination chosen by Sam, convinced this would be the place we would find ……something.

Anyway, we booked into La Paraiso Hotel, not much hot water and swapped screaming baby for screaming woman who beats her husband next door.

Had a lovely meal out, though wish we knew the language a bit better. Sam was not very hungry so she ordered a salad, the waiter made a chicken sound and flapped his arms. We nodded and were then served 3 separate dishes and had to take it back to the hotel.

We are going to view some appartments tomorrow, hopefully this will be productive. I fancy the villa with pool in the hills, Sam has her eye on the one with the clubs next door……….. This is going to be interesting.

The waiter, this evening wanted us to write the word custard for him – we wanted a whole tutorial – he soon disappeared into the kitchen.

Shopping has been interesting. We have been told off and sent up and down aisles with produce. We obviously looked a bit dodgy. We have accosted countless Spaniards on the street who have been most helpful, even sympathetic, as if we were invalids.

We sat on our balcony yesterday and this afternoon. The sun is as warm here in January as summertime in the UK. We have a healthy glow already. Its chilly during the evenings and we have walked for hours. Not a bad thing, as its all part of the fitness campaign.

So feeling very alien, pushed and pulled about, tired of living out of a suitcase already, but still up for the challenge. Will be in touch again soon. From an Internet Cafe somewhere on the Costa Del Sol.

Bye for now,

Love From Your Barmy Amigos

Jacqui and Sam x

Almachar

Issue 2

Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2009 17:11:24

Well we are nearing the end of our first week, and boy what a week!!!

We have been up to the Andalucian mountains in search of paradise, and didn´t even find a bounty.

Up we went and it got colder, the snow capped peaks were breath taking but…cold. Anyway we were taken to see a wonderful villa but alas, the trek up there was so nerve-racking with a ditch on one side and about a 2,000 metre drop on the other. Sam was green, but I could quite happily see me ambling down on my donkey. She was having none of it, so it was off to a number of apartments in the town. Despairingly I gave in.

The Estate Agents
We made fab friends with the estate agents who happen to be a family run business, originally moved over from the UK but have lived in Spain for 18 years. What a life saver, they have been amazing. Sam has made friends with Candy and Bex, her age which leaves me with the over 70´s! Only joking, 69 actually.

Lemons in the Lush Lecrin Valley
Lemons in the Lush Lecrin Valley
We have spent much time with this family, eaten chips in their office, left our shopping with them, been out for a meal and tonight we are having a gathering with them and others in our new abode.

Yes, Yes Yes, we have moved into our fantastic new home! It looks like a quaint cottage on the outside but is deceptively big and we have a lemon tree in the garden, 2 terraces and enough space for friends!!!

We have walked for miles everyday, getting lost, speaking to strange locals who have accompanied us around the town, whether we like it or not. Today we had a 90-year old lady who spoke Spanish to us incessantly while we nodded politely. She laughed her head off and sat with us on the bus, still laughing at us. Then others laughed at us. Oh well, we must be entertaining them somehow.

We are picking up the lingo daily.

We live next door to the president….of the urbanisation where we live.

We have been gathering firewood this evening, well I have. Sam wouldn´t touch it in case a dog had peed on it, oh well the innocence of youth!

Better go,

Look out for further updates!

Adios

Jacqui and Sam

Issue 3

Date: Tue, 20 Jan 2009 10:37:34
Hi All

Still doing the long trek to the internet cafe, the Locotorio. Yes I now speaky the lingo….. and getting into a right ole pickle.

Our villa is set against the backdrop of the Andalucian mountains in a village called Caleta de Velez, just outside of Malaga. Its typically Spanish with a smattering of Brits, which is great. We still need very much to be in touch with our native land at present, they are a lifeline. We have called on them individually, countless times but the good thing is that we get on so well.

Caleta de Velez Promenade
Caleta de Velez Promenade
The Spanish red tape is ….interesting, as you can imagine, everything takes ages. It is often very random and illogical at times. Sam and I have developed a theory that whatever is the opposite to the obvious determines the outcome.

We are the proud owners of our new car!!!! Yes it is a Kangoo, eat your heart out Rusey!!! I will never laugh at yours again!

We are not far from the beach. Its amazing to have such clean fresh air, and to walk along the prom, tiddly om pom pom. We are going today, for lunch; you can buy smoked sardines which they cook along the beach from little boats.

It is so lovely to get up and see blue sky. We picked some lemons off our tree yesterday to give to one of the neighbours, Ollie. She has been so helpful, taking us shopping etc. And I made a lemon cake with the rest. The tree is overloaded with them, so will have to freeze a few for the gins in the summer..a tip from Kiera put to good use.

Sam and I have been asked if we will teach some dance and exercise lessons for the locals, so we will start that in a couple of weeks.

For anyone, who wishes to send us any post etc, we would love to receive something….anything.

Take Care

Lots of Love from

Jacqui and Sam xxx

Issue 4

Date: Tue, 27 Jan 2009 16:39:56

Buenas Tardes..Como esta usted?

Impressed eh???
Don’t be.
I said donde esta el barco to a woman in a shop the other day. Apparently I asked for a boat…..not good when you really want the bank…..still a long way to go before I don’t sound completely off my trolley.

Well I am sat on the terrace overlooking the sea on the horizon. It only takes 5 minutes to walk to it, the sea not the horizon.

It was great trucking around the village in my new car, stopping at lights when I shouldn’t and getting beeped at.

We are finally online at the villa, yes dears its a villa, not a house. We, in the village, like to refer to our places appropriately.

What I am finding difficult to get used to is the pace of life. It can be really wonderful to operate at such a leisurely pace and have a siesta, wave to every passerby and drink sangria, but at times its very frustrating. Like today, we have now got our internet connection sorted. Thanks to kind Ernesto from the video shop who insisted he come to my place and set it up. After firing loads of unrelated to computer type questions at me like, was I married, did I have babies did I want any more babies, and that he could speak 3 languages had paid off his mortgage…followed by dis is nithe plathe you have here, he suddenly shot up and said I have to go now and get my babies, be back in 2 minutes, this was yesterday, he never came back. So one of my neighbours sons completed the process today.

When trying to sort out my car insurance in the office, we were in the middle of discussing no claims bonuses, when the guys mobile rings. He sits back in his chair and proceeds to have this lengthy conversation with his mate. Half an hour later, we are still sitting there, he nods and smiles our way and carries on. Then he says, well maybe we get insurance, maybe no today, he has no time to finish the paperwork, we have to come back tomorrow. ‘You bring the certificate with you to prove no claims. but must have stamp. We say, no they don’t stamp certificates in the UK, they supply information only on headed paper, we already spoke to the company. “No you must have thtamp, or no have insurance.” No we can’t get stamp, we have tried, the company says this is sufficient proof, “no YOU MUST HAVE THTAMP!.” Ok we get stamp. Call UK, NO THTAMP!!!

Start again with different Insurance company tomorrow.

We went out last Friday evening with our new found friends. We started at a cocktail bar, where we were plied with free shots I was practically dancing on the tables by the end. Got back at 2am, tho everyone else wanted to go on to a club, the nights start at 10pm over here. They don’t have lunch till 2pm, at which time I am nearly dead.

Tomorrow I have been invited to a book club, where apparently there is much drinking and not much about books, so here we go again…..sounds fun.

So next time you get frustrated by the call centres, customer services and automated responses, remember it happens overseas too!!!

Take Care

Hasta Luigo! x

Issue 5

Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2009 16:16:22
Ola! Buenas Tardes Toda,

Greetings from sunny Caleta, Malaga.

Life has been pretty hectic here since I last wrote. Well as hectic as it gets over here. This means we have accomplished at least 2 major tasks in the last fortnight.

We can see that many of you have been victim of the arctic conditions which seems quite a phenomenon to us, in sunnier climes! Though there is still snow on the distant mountains its been warm here during the days but cold at night.

We have enjoyed some of the sights and have explored some of the surrounding villages – by accident as I have been too scared to turn left at times so have continued for miles into unknown territory.

We have successfully run 3 of our dance exercise classes and continue to get enquiries though we have not advertised as yet. This has been steady as we have not yet secured a place to hold many people and so we having to rely on small areas of land, terraces and rooms with the furniture pushed back. As you can imagine this limits us for numbers, but it keeps us busy as we travel from villa to villa!

We are hopeful for a villa with a very large space which we have been offered from September, so that couold solve a big problem and provide us with work.

In the meantime, we continue to socialise, practice our Spanish and generally adjust, which isn’t difficult. Like most folk here, we ask ourselves why we didn’t do this earlier. Life is so much simpler, or maybe its just more suited to simple people! Its easy to adapt to the slower pace, especially when the sun shines. The days can easily drift by if you´re not careful. What starts as a trip to the supermarket can mean bumping into a neighbour who then invites us for coffee down on the beach front to complete strangers who we end up sharing our life history with, so it seems. We will really have to get to grips with the language especially when shopping, I am fed up of buying the wrong ingredients. I bought flour for cake making and was assured it was the right stuff…by a Spaniard. After making 6 cakes that did not rise I gave up. Eventually buying some biocarbonite of soda, the thing rose but tasted like dry sponge with battery acid in it. Another one for the bin. The cakes I saved I gave away, the spanish guy loved them, interesting….He wants me to make more. I thought I was onto a good thing when I spotted sausage meat, thinking I would make a terrine, it turned out to be reconstituted ham, YUK! Binned. Bought half a squash, when I came to roast it, it had cooked in the heat and gone soft…bin. So I am learning this cooking business again!

Tonight is Salsa night, so Sam and I are heading to the local church hall for a bit of viva loca!

Saturday is barbecue night after teaching a class.

We are planning a few different trips, one to Gibraltar, one to Madrid, Barcelona for a weekend, and Sam is going Skiing with some friends in the mountains.

So its all go for us!

That’s all for now

Hasta Luego amigos

Love Jacqui and Sam

Skiing at Pradollano
Skiing at Pradollano

Issue 6

Date: Thu, 19 Feb 2009 15:18:38

Ola!

Well each day here on the Med is starting to ‘hot’ up. I don’t know how we will cope come summer, but hey ho we will give it a go.

We have quite the routine to our week now with most days including at least one exercise class. We have now started a group in our garden which seems to offer the most space and is shaded from the sun. Then its usually a walk to market or sussing out the banks.

Let me explain a small rather embarrassing encounter that I had recently. I needed to draw out some money from the cash machine which is located inside the bank in an enclosed foyer, the main bank was closed. As I made my way nonchalantly past the little spanish guy (who was standing nearby, minding his own business) and into the bank foyer, I proceeded to operate the machine, inserted my card as normal and duly waited for my money to be dispensed. All done, I made my way to the exit and pulled the door. The door did not open, I tried a few times before scouring the walls for any obvious looking exit buttons. I tried the latch near the door, pressed knobs and screwed sticking out things, nope, still couldn’t open the door. Mild panic started to set in as I caught sight of me on the CCTV. I told myself to calm down. I would call my friend and she would rescue me…eventually. Then I remembered the unassuming little Spanish man outside. The window to the foyer was mostly frosted but I could see that if I bent down on all fours there was some clear glass and I would be able to get the attention of little unassuming spanish man. Yes still on TV, I bend down and bang on the window, ‘Help!’, the guy looks at me then looks away, obviously uncertain as to my disposition. ‘Help’ I cry again and point frantically at the door, ‘I can’t get out’. The guy slowly… remember this is Spain, shuffles somewhat apprehensively to the door of the bank and pulls it open. I walk out red faced wondering why I hadn’t thought to push.

Ok, well its life…..but the thought of what was recorded on that TV was a little disconcerting.

A week later, Sam decides she needs to go to the same bank, so in we go again having shared the events of my last visit, we are giggling at the prospect of something happening again. Sam inserts her card into the machine tentatively, and immediately it is swallowed into the outback! This time the back of the entire machine begins to lift and we are left staring into a blank screen. We shriek and flay limbs about at the prospect of losing the card and then realise that a little man is behind the screen looking at us. He begins to replenish the stock, either that or he is robbing it. Whatever, we just stand and wait in the hope that all will be resumed. I glance upward and see that once again we are being recorded on CCTV. Oh joy.

Well its good to know life is consistent in some respects.

Take Care all

Pray for the Spanish

Love Jacqui and Sam

Lake Vinuela
Lake Vinuela

Issue 7

Date: Sun, 22 March 2009 09:55:48
Hi Guys

Life in the Axarquia on the eastern Costa Del Sol has stepped up somewhat. There is a rumble of change as the tourist season ensues. Caleta de Velez remains untainted by foreigners whilst Torre Del Mar, the nearest town and just a stroll along the promenade, has an increasing sense of fervour though its visitors are mainly Spanish.

Our own lifestyle has also become more active. We have now secured a small hall behind the local church in which to expand the exercise/dance classes. This feels like a breakthrough after weeks of working in gardens, rooms and sun terraces. We launched our advertising campaign (giving out flyers in the local market and cafes) and will officially open for business on 30th March. We are a little nervous, as we are pinning our hopes on this taking off. As you can imagine, work opportunities have been hit by the recession here as well as the rest of the world.

Often I hear stories of folk who have intentions of pursuing a certain line of work but end up doing something completely different. I guess in the particular climate, beggars can’t be choosers! We are continually exploring all kinds of opportunities that come our way. At present we are teaching, scrubbing golf clubs at the local Baviera Golf Course and offering an ironing service! With the possibility of another job, up for discussion, next week. It keeps us on our toes and I like the idea of variety!

Our social life is also varied and exciting. Last weekend we drove into the mountains, took in the glorious views of Lake Vinuela and then went on to visit a local fiesta in Puente don Manuel. The Fiesta was set within a Morrocan theme – Bedouin tents, cushions, bands, bong plus free beer! What a fantastic event. The afternoon and evening were open to families, with particular entertainment for the children in the afternoon. The event continued well into the late hours of the next morning! There were various bands – an ethnic band of musicians managed to produce some noise that they attributed to being music but sounded like my stomach after a dodgy kebab. Fortunately this was followed by a terrific band called Guiri that included our estate agent who is in fact a professional drummer! Everyone was able to dance to a recognisable beat at last.

Well, I shall sign off now. It would be great to hear from you! Anyone out there?

Love Jacqui and Sam

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