The other day, I created a link to another website where I was asked to 'label' my blog. Amongst other things, I found I had put 'retired' and 'expat' and it made me think....
A day in the life of a retired expat.
7.45am - never an early riser, I get up after Cesar and Mateo to get the two younger ones up and ready for school
8.50am - kids washed dressed, fed, packed for school, kissed and waved off. Cesar does the morning school walk so I have half an hour to dress, have coffee and read my emails.
10.00am - leave home with a book Romy left on breakfast table. Off to my Spanish conversation class.
10.15am - deliver said book to classroom, trying not to disturb ongoing lesson...but am welcomed in and Romy called over to kiss me before I eventually extricate myself. On leaving the school grounds, hear my name called and see two of my language school pupils waving at me. Wave back and say 'hello' .. and 'hola'!
Listen out for snippets of conversation that I hear as I walk along. Pick up a few really good comments to share with my group.
10.35am - arrive at Conexiones to meet my Wednesday expat group for a Spanish conversation classes. I am the teacher! Everyone has tried Spanish lessons but found they got bogged down in verbs and grammar, so I'm teaching them the sort of things that they hear on a daily basis, explaining how to listen for 'gist' and helping them to say things in a Spanish way, rather than just translating English words in an English way.
11.00pm - start class minus two members - one having a mammogram and one returned to England for a period - and go over the basics again. This helps to build up confidence and to improve pronunciation. Every week, I add words and phrases - this week concentrating on phrases that will allow continued conversation, rather than simple answers. They are pleased with their progress using this method and tell me of their little (and sometimes big) linguistic successes from the previous week. I am delighted.
12.10pm - class ends, having overrun a bit. Bump into a (Spanish) friend, (Toñi, from the estate agents, who is now definitely in 'friend' category) on way home and stop for a chat. Invite her and her son for supper next week. She says they'd love to come. Wonder what to feed them as I walk back home.
12.30pm - arrive home and help Cesar bring chest of drawers in from car, which he brought back from recent trip to parents' house. Move bedroom furniture around in children's bedroom then and start to put their clothes away.
1.15pm - Put leg of lamb in oven - gift from my in-laws - nice for lunch! Nip to the supermarket in our street to buy some potatoes and onions
1.45pm - walk to school to meet children. See more pupils from language school who almost fall over trying to get my attention. Romy very happy because tomorrow her class is going to the theatre to see 'Where the Wild Things Are'. The sun is shining and La Mota looks wonderful today - we all comment on it.
2.15pm - return home and prepare lunch - lamb smells divine - we wait for Teo to arrive at 3.15 before we eat. The lamb is delicious. No time for siesta for me...
3.40pm - back to Conexiones - an English conversation class with Spanish people this time. I get them to say difficult words like 'crisps', 'wasps' and 'unbelievable' - really funny! We visit the English food store in the centre and talk about the different foodstuffs there - like piccalilli, mincemeat and peanut butter. Elena buys peanut butter - she liked the sound of it. We also try some white stilton with mango and ginger - Rafael loved it and bought some; he's a chef and thinks most Spaniards don't have very cosmopolitan tastebuds...he has a point. The hour flies by with much laughter and exchanges of questions, information and knowledge - I really enjoy this class.
5.30pm - back home to take Ruy to his friend's house to do a homework project. Hear my name in the street and see more pupils from the language school waving at me. Later on, he learns a piece on the recorder and practices diligently - his first piece! Romy does her maths and is then really excited to discover Cesar has brought 'Winnie the Witch' back with him and reads it to us beautifully. Mateo studies for his music test tomorrow.
8.30pm - pasta supper for the children then start to get them ready for bed. Ruy seems glued to his recorder and is playing with a very nice tone. Mateo stays up to watch a documentary.
10.00pm - all children in bed, if not yet asleep. Cesar and I sit down to watch a film (in English)
Is this a typical day? Well, with young children in the family, many days disappear in a blur of getting out of bed, getting ready, preparing food and eating, washing (!) and washing up, doing homework and finding time to play, reading and going to bed again. Nothing to do with being retired or being an expat or living in a different country - but quite simply, a typical day in a family's life. I don't feel retired - not at all - and it was a premature sort of retirement - nor do I feel like an expat as I find speaking Spanish now comes very naturally and I'm not hankering for other Brits to talk to - though nothing will take away the pleasure of chatting in English. However, I have discovered a site that provides links to many expat blogs and find we are a very varied and interesting group on the whole. I've really enjoyed reading some of them and will continue to do so.
How my life has really changed is that everyday, I am meeting new people, pushing my language skills further - in both Spanish and English - working on improving communication with others. I am finding this a very exciting challenge, much more so than I had imagined when we set off on this journey. Add to 'day in the life' the task of looking for (should that be finding) a new home, making where we are as home-like as possible, keeping in touch with friends and family, lots of walking up hills and you get a better picture of what it's like for this retired expat living here in Alcalá la Real.
Must find some new labels!