Friday, October 3, 2008

Valoe!

I had to go to Malaga for orientation yesterday. It's over an hour away by bus. I was going to have a girl watch my kids, but she was going to charge 10€ an hour and the whole day would have cost around 60€. Where does she get off thinking she should earn a living wage for babysitting? So I canceled and decided to take the kids with me.
The night before we charged their DSs, filled the water bottle, packed their lunches and planned a trip to an organic store in Malaga. Since this was going to be an all day affair with children, much had to be planned for.
We woke up yesterday at 7 AM. The girls were very confused, "It's still dark! Why are we getting up?" The sun doesn't rise until around 8:30 here. Back home getting up before the sun is up means getting up around 6. So they thought it was the middle of the night.
We got to the bus stop at 7:30, arrived in Malaga at 8:45. After only a half an hour of wandering around lost, we made it to the school where the orientation was at. Once we got there, though, there wasn't any indication of where to go. I got in line at what seemed like an information desk, waiting to ask in my terrible Spanish where in the hell I was supposed to go.
Green got tired of this strategy quickly and started shrieking at me to ask a large bearded Santa Clause looking guy standing around another office. Since the line I was in hadn't moved and the only reason I wasn't asking Santa Claus was because I was putting off the moment I would have to speak Spanish to someone and Green is an adept screecher who won't take wimpy excuses, I went over to him.

"Uhhhhh, Donde esta la orientacion de los auxiliares culturas y lenguas?"
"La reunion?"
"Uhhhhh, orientacion?"
"De los extranjeros?"
Whatever. "Si?"
He directed me down a hall and around a corner to a small classroom. There was a bathroom across the hall with no toilet seats, no toilet paper and no soap, people were still using it though. Where the hell are we? Morocco? Luckily I always keep a bar of soap with me for just such an emergency.
We went in and took our seats in the back of the classroom. The girls immediately got their DSs out while I tried to not feel conspicuous, being probably the only auxiliar in history to not only have kids, but to bring them with her.
Soon the tiny classroom was filled to overflowing with people speaking Spanish and a little English to each other. I was so jealous of the girl with the husky voice behind me who chattered on and on in fluent Spanish!
The orientation started and it was the most boring thing ever. Not only could I not understand 3 of every 4 words being said, they were just reading from a PowerPoint verbatim.
After that we had a half an hour break where I took the girls outside to eat their lunches. We went back in and waited outside the room along with everyone else. The door was open and people were in there, nobody knew why we couldn't go in or what was going on. About ten minutes later we were led like cows to a banquet hall. There we were again blocked from entry, for reasons quite beyond me as the girls and I were at the very back of the line, wary of being led like cattle, we held back in case there was some kind of trap.
Again with the waiting. This time for at least 40 minutes. This time standing in the sun. One of the people who did the excruciatingly boring PowerPoint presentation started talking to me in Spanish. She said something about my girls being really good. Which they were. It's very hard for them to do anything naughty when they're under the thrall of a Pokemon game.
Finally we were let in where we found that we were being stunned one buy one and hooked up to a butchering conveyor belt! Actually it was a giant banquet. Nobody was injured, except the pigs who found themselves in pretty much every dish. There were students circulating with glasses of beer, wine, soda.
The girls and I looked around for something we could eat. Out of the 10 or so dishes served, we found olives. Oh, well, I've been wanting to try Spanish olives. Green and I each stabbed on with a little fork and bit in. Our faces simultaneously scrunched up in horror. What the hell was in the middle of those olives?? I found a napkin and spit it out. It looked like more olive in the middle, but it wasn't. It tasted like what I would imagine a sardine tastes like, though I've never had one.
After that things went downhill. Green, ever adventurous, tried something that looked like pineapple, but turned out to be sweaty cheese. Then came the orange soda that we thought was orange juice, then a little tart thing, then dessert which meant several cream puffs.
After an hour of waiting around while my kids swerved into vegetarian land. I found out that this was the end of orientation and I could have left before the cattle herding started. The girls grabbed a few more cream puffs for the road and we were off.
The next part of the story entails endless wandering around, getting on wrong buses, getting inscrutable directions from bus drivers, giving up, deciding not to give up. Basically I was determined to get to this organic food store and stock up and nothing was going to stop me!!
Finally, after an epic journey we got there and it was closed.
Shit.
We stared at the garage type door everyone has to pull down in front of their actual doors to deter looters. It looked like it was out of business. I should have expected something like this. Actually, pessimist that I am, I did expect something like this. We stood there, defeated, exhausted and extremely annoyed.
"I hate Spain!" I yelled to no one in particular. Or rather, everyone in general.
Then as we were dejectedly wandering away, I noticed the sign on the garage door that said something about being open until two and then open again at five. Duh! I'd completely forgot about their stupid siesta! The store was still in business! I looked at my Spanish phone and saw that we had an hour to wait. So we went to an ugly little plaza where I read and the girls DSed.
At five we went back and Valoe was open! Only it was Aloe, the Happy Cow listing had the name wrong. It was somewhat disappointing. I was expecting a regular store type store, but it was literally about the size of a garage. Anyway, I bought about 200€ worth of things and now I'm happy! I had brought my backpacker backpack and stuffed it full and stuffed the girls backpacks full. We had a heavy trip home and arrived in Campillos about 14 hours after we left. And I'm never, ever going to Malaga again!

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