Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Jimena de la Frontera, Spain - Week 1

Had an ok nights sleep, it was pretty hot and the mozzies have just started to come into season here, but I’d rate their 2 seater couch a damn sight better than the bed I had to sleep in in Milan.
All the kids were up and getting ready for school, which starts at 9am and finishes at 2pm, with a 30 min break in between. For breakfast we made bread rolls, each person had something different ranging from marmite to ham & tomato. Just need to mention here how awesome the tomatoes are in Spain, wicked.
At 8.57am the kids finally got out the door and Fi drove them to school, kids start school here at 3 so Daisy went too. Once Fi got back, Dan (who is the son of one of Fi’s English friends, he’s 28ish I think), and Mark (Guy from Sth Africa helping Fi out), Fi and I headed down to the farm.
What a stunning place, I have now found my dream style of home and this is it, large entertainment area and gardens, a huge pool and a house made up of little individual cottages that are just so wonderfully Spanish.
At the farm they have a dog, called Frizzel, which is a scruffy black thing and has just had puppies about 6 weeks ago, the father of the puppies is a husky (which I’m not sure where that is) so they are just adorable. There are also 3 horses that Fi inherited along the way, 2 beautiful pure white ones and a grey one, chickens, and a pet lamb called Persil.
The horses can be ridden and a lady down the road from Fi in the town is going to take me riding at some stage.
I was shown to my room, which is one of the cottages she rents out in the summer, it has a living area, kitchen and then a separate bedroom and a bathroom, the back door opens out onto a garden and patio and the pool is about 20m away.
Fi is currently doing renovations to the whole farm house, at the moment the project is laying a patterned patio with rocks, and the job for today was to grout the pavers.
The first couple of hours weren’t too bad, there was some light whispy cloud that saved us from the intense sun, but that soon burnt off and we started to bake.
We managed to get heaps done and at 2pm we down troweled and headed up to the house for lunch, however tragedy struck on our way.

Frizzel had her puppies under the 4wd before we left, and as we were getting into the car I patted the gorgeous chocolate brown one with the 2 blue eyes and said to one of the guys that he was my favourite. I then asked Fi about them being under the car and if we should move them, she reckoned that they get out of the way when she starts the car so I jumped in. Fi starts reversing and the horror that we then saw out the front window was gut wrenchingly awful, the chocolate brown one had gone under the front wheel and was now convulsing on the ground with the other puppies and Frizzel trying to help him. Fi just gasped and said ‘Oh God I’ve killed one’, Dan and I just had our hands over our mouths in shock not knowing what to so, Fi asked if any of us were good with whacking it over the head with a rock to kill it properly and put it out of its misery, we both in an instant said ‘No!’. So Fi got out of the car and started walking to find a rock and then the little thing stopped moving and died. Mark was still packing up and didn’t see what happened so when he came along he picked up the puppy and took it up the hill and put it in a bin to be buried later. Poor Frizzel though was hanging around the bin so they put the bin inside the stable so she couldn’t get to it.
Now we had to try and think of what to tell the kids, so we all agreed that we would just say that the puppy wasn’t there this morning and we hadn’t seen it all day.

We picked the kids up from school then after lunch rallied them together to take them down to the farm to go for a swim, while the guys and Fi continued with the patio I went for a swim and looked after the kids. Little Daisy only started to learn how to swim a few days earlier so the rules were that she was only allowed in the water with her water-wings on or me in the pool to hold onto her.
So all afternoon was spent teaching Daisy to swim, also she wasn’t very confident at jumping into the pool, she normally only does is when she has her wings on.
But slowly I had her jumping in with me catching her, then I taught her how to get to the side of the pool by herself, then by the end of the day she could jump in then swim back without any help. She also would jump up and out of the water from my legs and then swim back to me, then came standing on my shoulders and when it was time to go you couldn’t get her out of the water, she is definitely going to sleep well tonight!! Tomorrow she wants me to teach her how to dive down under the water so she can pick things up from the bottom, just one step at a time I told her.
Fi was so happy that she had learnt so much, must be a good feeling to know that if she was to ever fall in that she can swim to the side and pull herself out of the pool.
I went with the family up to the house for dinner, once Fi does her shop for the week then I will cook dinner and have breakfast in my little place but have a big lunch up at the house.
We had fried eggs and chirizo, they have really basic dinners and large lunches here, also the whole town shuts at 2pm and reopens at 5pm.
After dinner I walked down to the farm , hadn’t walked the track before and it was nearly dark so Sophie gave me her special torch to use, made my way along the track and I was this huge dark figure up ahead that was slowly moving, eventually made it out and it was a massive horse just hanging out. Had to get my torch going after that cause the bushes covered the moonlight, was a strange feeling walking through the rural Spain countryside bush on a track that I had never been on before.
Got to my place and unpacked my pack for the first time in 6 weeks, hung things up and put things into their temporary homes, I’m not sure how long I’m going to be here for but its so lovely to have a bit of a routine for a while and a real bedroom and real bed, yay!
Tomorrow we are back on grouting, apparently I did such an amazing job on my section of the patio that I’m now to do the middle section, so I’ll take that as a promotion on my first day, awesome!
Also I really need to get myself some jandals, I left mine in Venice and they are in dire need at present, barefoot is ok but the grass is full of thistles and prickleweed, plus the gravel driveway is fairly gnarly so jandals would be most appreciated right now.

Had a super nights sleep, but my neck was definitely feeling the after effects of grouting for 5 hours the previous day and then a further 6 hours of throwing a 4 year old around a pool! Got stuck back into the grouting while there was still some shade on the patio area, unfortunately I couldn’t keep up with the sun though and before long we were baking. Think I must have sat the same way the whole morning cause by the end of the day I had one redder leg than the other, found myself a wide brim hat and a light shirt to wear so I wasn’t completely cooked. Fascinates me how the kids here never wear sunscreen, they are all blonde hair and blue eyed but have a wicked tan and never get burnt.
We managed to get a whole quarter of the patio done today which only leaves one quarter to go till we are finished, my neck was really starting to kill by 2pm and was looking forward to lunch.
Fi had to go to town quickly to get something before we headed up to the house so I had a wee siesta and also tried to massage my own neck, not sure if I had any great affect on it though.
Frizzel the dog and her puppies came and visited me for a while, Frizzel looks real mangy at the moment, the puppies have just sucked every last nutrient out of her body the poor thing and she currently looks worse off than many of the homeless dogs I've seen on my travels. But I give her lots of cuddles and try to keep the puppies off her to give her a break as much as I can, and she seems to really appreciate that cause she loves hanging out with me.
This afternoon I gave her some of my yogurt and she was loving it so much that she was making these grunting noises while eating it, so funny.
Lunch was roast chicken and veges out of the garden, cauliflower cheese, zucchini’s and new spuds cause of course they are ready the opposite time of the year here.
Its so great to be finally be having heaps of veges and meat after so much pasta and pizza in previous weeks, oh apart from the spew looking concoction that George whipped up of course, that had heaps of veggies in it…I think ha.
Then we all piled into the car and headed to the farm for swimming, Daisy is going crazy with the swimming now, I had this huge debate with her to tell her that I wanted to swim on my own for 10 minutes and after some severe negotiation we settled on the amount of free time I could have.
Daisy is very strong willed and determined, she also knows what she wants and sometimes if she doesn’t get that then she will fight you for it, its hard to battle with a cute 4 year old but I had to be mean Sam once or twice today cause I wasn’t going to give in.
I escaped eventually and hung out at my place with Frizzel and the puppies again, the puppies began to one by one stop trying to attack her for milk and drop to the floor asleep, just when she managed to get a few minutes sleep without them, Daisy comes running in and picks up the puppies wanting them to wake up.
I went up the house for dinner again, still got to try and get used to dinner being 10pm here, the kids and I watched a movie and then we had dinner, which was fried chorizo and bread rolls.
It was dark when I left down the hill for the farm, so I decided I would run and see how long it would take me, only ended up being about 5 mins to get there cause I now knew the way.
Arrived at the house and about 2 mins later I hear the feet of Frizzel coming to say hi, she didn’t bark when I arrived tonight.

It was cloudy for most of the morning which meant that our speed at grouting increased dramatically and we ended up finishing it by 2pm, had my ipod in all morning which made things go faster too and made myself a rule that after each song I would stretch a bit as not to seize up like I did the past days.
After lunch we headed back down to the farm and I had the whole pool to myself for about an hour, Daisy was off on some school excursion and the other kids were pre-occupied for a while making huts. But I probably spent about 20 mins with the net getting the array of insects out of the pool before I dared go in, heaps of crickets & grasshoppers mainly but also a heap of slaters make their way into the pool as well. There was a lizard on the side of the pool chilling out hoping for a snack to come its way, freaked me out to start with cause I just saw it as I got in and thought it was some giant insect to start with.
The kids eventually came for a swim so I got out and soaked up the rays for a bit, but there is a kid called Vinnie who lives next door to the town house who is gratingly annoying, and he spent his whole time going under then coming up and every time he did that he made this sound that just drove me mental, and after about a good 20mins solid of this repeating sounds I had enough and went back to my place where I hung out with Frizzel and the puppies.
I was reading my book when I saw 2 puppies with Frizzel and not 3 with a distinct puppy ‘Help me’ cry coming from a distance. I followed the noise to a drain outside my back door and the puppy had wedged himself down the pipe and couldn’t get out. He had managed to also tangle his legs around some vines that were growing down the pipe too which made it tricky for me to pull him out but we got there in the end.
Went back inside and found that I had heaps of needle looking things jabbed into my thigh, blonde in colour and really fragile so when I tried to pull them out they would snap and get shorter and shorter, Fi said that it is a shingle thistle plant. After painstakingly removing them all super slowly I got out some tea tree but I’m thinking there are still a heap stuck in my leg so will just see what happens over the next few days.

Today’s mission was to go around the town sticking up posters everywhere to advertise the concert happening next weekend at the farm. Fi got a heap printed off, she was driving, Mark was sticking them up and I was in the back sello-taping them ready to go. We did the whole town, got through about 60 posters then Fi realised that the posters needed more information, like that it was a rock concert and that entry is free. So we went back to Fi’s and made up a new poster, got it printed and redid every poster that we had done before!
Afternoon was spent by the pool again, its a hard life.

Standard day on the farm, but instead of grouting I was onto gardening so did a heap of watering of some baby trees about the place and then got stuck into weeding the veggie garden, spent the whole day on it and by the end it looked awesome. It got way too hot to water it so I waited till later in the evening to do it.
In the evening we all went down to a local bar on the edge of a big square where the kids can run riot for a few hours, had a few drinks then headed back up the hill home. We stopped by at a house/shop that Fi knew the owners of, which isn’t hard in this town, they had been hosting an art exhibition and had been selling freshly made mojitos and had heaps left over so gave us all some and my god, mojitos are my favourite drink anyway let alone homemade and in Spain!
Chugged a few of those back then Fi proceeded to pimp me out to the local teenagers for me to hang with and learn Spanish, only problem was they could barely speak a word of English. So here I was in a bar with a whole bunch of 17/18 year olds, not being able to talk, they were all lovely and just seemed to stare at the foreigner but things got a little awkward for me after a while so I left. The lovely young man that Fi told to look after me walked me back to Fi’s place and then continued his night out, apparently the kids here will go out till 7-8am in the weekends.

Beach day!
I woke up a little worse for wear, Fi’s couches are a nightmare to sleep on, 2 seater things with arm rests, there is 1 comfy way to lie but I can’t lie in the same position all night and I got seriously restless.
Chilled out in the morning while Fi went food shopping, came back and we all piled in the Land Rover and headed for the beach which is about 30 minutes away. Read my book in the sun all day, didn’t feel like I was much affected by the sun but I took off my dress tonight and my god, I have a brand new white bikini by the looks of it ha! Although I didn’t really get burnt so guess my skin is adjusting to the sun here.
We went home with Debs, a lady down the road who always has her grandson with her, Cristian, who is 5 going on 2.
He takes ages to register that someone is yelling at him to get his attention, he speaks mainly Spanish but also knows English but just chooses to speak Spanish and moans, then whines and if that doesn’t work to get what he wants then he cries and cries and then develops into a scream, and this goes on ALL day.
So in the car with them and Dan came back with Debs too cause she just needed to pop to the supermarket to get a few things then going straight home, so Dan & I took advantage of the getting home sooner option.
However 5 mins in the supermarket turned into over half and hour and then in an attempt do a shortcut to get home, we ran straight into the middle of the start of a marathon.
The road that she wanted to go down was the start line and there must have been well over 200 people gathering there, warming up etc, she got so wild at this that she started to drive through the barricades and was going to drive straight through because ‘They’ll get out of the way!!’, eventually people on the road stopped her and after a yelling at each other in Spanish she turned and went the other way home which didn’t seem very long anyway.
On the way home she began ranting on about cyclists and how stupid they are, how they wear lycra and stupid helmets, she couldn’t get her head around why they are pointy at the end and gets so annoyed at how they take over the roads and the cafes.
Dan and I just sat there while she vented and I just had to giggle to myself in the backseat – distracting me however was this 5 year old that was very focused on licking his palms, hmmm.
Eventually we made it home and  had dinner around 11pm, not sure I can get used to eating so late, am going to stay down the farm a lot more now in the evenings so that I can just snack on what I have here instead of having meals so late.
Being so late meant that it was dark by the time it came to walk home and silly me forgot my torch, there was a massive moon out so I could see on the road clearly but when it came to the track I decided against the idea and went around the road, took me so much longer and nearly got run over a few times but I got there in the end and Frizzel was there waiting for me.
Very uneventful day today, slept in, then went swimming, that’s pretty much it.

Fiona has a lot of work to be done before the wedding in 2 weeks time, and was thinking of bringing on another wwoofer, I had someone in mind that could help her out and I suggested George!
So George gets here on Wednesday to help paint the whole farm inside and out before the wedding, we’ve got a few missions planned as well, like going to Morocco on the weekend of the wedding and also exploring the Andalucia region, he’s going to be here for about 3 weeks and bringing his rig in the hope there is something to jump off of down these parts.

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