Practically cordobesa

Phew. Despite all intentions to locate an internet connection earlier this week, I’ve been entirely preoccupied with finding a place to live and have really done little else. After arriving in Madrid on Tuesday afternoon, Pat met me and we took a train to Córdoba. I was glad to have him along for a number of reasons, including good company, as a bag carrier, and as a person with a Spanish accent, so the taxi drivers didn’t take total advantage of me. He was helpful on all fronts.

Córdoba is a beautiful city of mostly tiny, windy streets. When taxi drivers and buses drive down said streets like bats out of hell, people have to step into doorways to not be hit. The vast majority of streets in the casco antiguo are one ways, meaning one tiny two door hatchback can squeeze through if it folds the side mirrors in. Also, many streets, which already change names every couple of blocks, have two names posted–one is the old, the other the new. People use both, but maps only list one (but it’s inconsistent, naturally). This is when names are posted at all, which is maybe 40 percent of the time. Also, many apartments have old numbers and new, so the street numbers go like this: 4, 6, 8, 24, bloque 5, 12, 13. I knew piso (apartment) hunting would be an adventure, but perhaps this was more than I bargained for.

Also, I knew I was not in Kansas anymore when I realized things really WERE moving on the walls and it wasn’t just my jet lag. Lizards. Little salamander-type lizards, climbing on the walls. I don’t know how I feel about that.

As for the piso hunt, long story short–I looked at about 10 places. It was about 90some degrees outside and, despite wearing totally American comfortable shoes, the heat and the walking all day long led to some serious blisters. There was one piso in particular that I really liked, only 113 euros a month and with some Spanish guys, but in the end they didn’t choose me–it can be a bit of a popularity contest, and apparently my sweaty, tennis shoe wearing self wasn’t all that impressive. Huh. This was at the end of day 2.5 and seemed like a real roadblock.

So, when I finally happened upon a place the next day that was only a 7 minute walk to my school, I jumped at the opportunity, even though it’s a bit outside the center of the city and I’m currently living with two Erasmus exchange students–a French guy named Julian and a German guy named Sebastian. They watch TV with the subtitles on, dictionaries at the ready, and look up all the words they don’t recognize. They seem nice, and one room is still left to be filled.

The apartment is in a barrio called Fátima, and there’s a bar across the street called Bar Nene (nene is a term of endearment, like darling). Last night, the place erupted when Real Madrid scored. “Goooooooolllllllll!” I hear as I’m finishing reading Prep. At 2:30 in the afternoon, time for the main meal of the day, I hear frying pans; in the evening, it’s moms calling outside for their kids, people watching TV too loud, random flamenco music followed by “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol. Someone in my building is a big fan of that song.

My room is decent sized and has a desk and a big closet. I had the choice between this one and another which was smaller but had its own patio. Seeing as how our apartment has three balconies, I went for the bigger room. I’m hoping to add flowers to the balconies soon–the flowers here are unbelievable.

The only really touristy thing I’ve done so far is go to the Mezquita one morning, since some old guy with gold teeth stopped me on a corner to let me know it’s free before 10 am. It was, as before, magnificent, and surely my photos won’t do it justice. Really, Córdoba as a whole is everything people think when they think of Spain. The walls are whitewashed, the people are animated, the tapas are (generally) free with beers, and people actually listen to flamenco. Should be interesting.

I’m here in Granada today at this amazing 4 star hotel for the orientation. The rooms are generally about 170 euros/night–the pool is beautiful, it’s totally modern, we’re having dinner here tonight and breakfast tomorrow. Also, there is a really intense automatic wash/dry/shower bidet electric thing on the toilet and a towel warmer that turns on when you turn on the shower. This, certainly, is luxury. 😉 Today, the lobby is sort of Americans as far as the eye can see, which adds another level of strange interest, too.

I’ll post more soon about my job and other interesting Spanish tidbits. I start at my school on Wednesday morning. Apparently, the regional government started this pluralingual program a year or two ago. All of the sudden, teachers who barely speak English were responsible for not only teaching half the time in English, but also ensuring that kids passed their exams. Take that, No Child Left Behind. So…I’ll be teaching the kids and, to some extent, the teachers. Carmen, the principal, seems really friendly and young and cool, and Natalie is the name of the British assistant who will also be at my school. More on that and other things soon.

About to add photos to Flickr and send out a new email with my address and cell phone number–my old number expired. Looking forward to hearing from you. Nos vemos!

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No responses to “Practically cordobesa”

  1. Becky

    Emily! Thanks so much for sharing; and so quickly! I feel as if I can see where you are; imagine the colorful flowers that will soon adorn your balcony; hear the music in your street and taste the tapas and beer as they arrive at your table. Way cool!

  2. Mom

    Mimi wishes that she could see your blog, but I’ll get her to the library where we can do it together next weekend. We’ll get your groovy grandmother into the age of technology. I’m already looking forward to walking those narrow streets with you!