Monday, April 2, 2012
Sure, it's a challenge being in a country and not knowing the language. I can pick out the odd word here and there (thanks to my rudimentary French) and, thankfully, grocery shopping is pretty easy since most packaging has pictures of the contents. (If there were No Name brand here, I'd be sunk. And starving.) Unfortunately, the way I say salmon, must sound like jamon. I was pretty disappointed to find out I'd ordered a ham sandwich in Seville. Two ham sandwiches, actually, but that was a different issue.
So, in a lot of ways it's quite isolating. (Everyone in the house speaks English, though, so that's great for me.) I had been thinking that, compared to Canada, there's a real lack of media here but then I realized, it's just that it's all over my head. No radio, no TV -- not that I could understand them anyway. There's a guy who drives up and down every street with a loudspeaker making announcements. The first time I heard it I was hoping it wasn't some sort of emergency warning system, but since no one seemed to pay any attention to it, I ignored it. When I asked later I found out that people hire him to go around announcing when someone has died and when the mass will be. (Or if there is a sale on fruit. He will announce anything you like for 30 euros.) Apparently, back in the day, this service was performed on foot, opening every front door and yelling the announcement inside. Hmmm.
But what it means for me is that I'm not really distracted by the outside world so much. Especially since, after a month, I'm getting used to the views. (Still swoon over every sheep, though.) And, unless I seek it out, I really don't know what's going on in the world. Yes, I look at the Free Press website. But I always, always regret it. (How about something less than gruesome on the home page, for a change?) And yes, I can't stay away from Facebook and gmail chat.
But living in this state of haze is, I think, helping the writing. Most days it feels like the world is just me, my notebook and a some birds in the garden. No to do list. Nothing I should be doing instead (or even can be, really). No office hours to work around. It's a pretty sweet kind of fog.