October: Una Cerveza Mas
I flew into Seville in October without a job, without much money, without a plan and most dauntingly without an idea of the Spanish language. I got off the plane, the heat that hit me was so welcoming that briefly everything fell into insignificance… In Spain, I was sure all would fall faultlessly into place.
Arriving at my hostel, fully psyched up to start learning Spanish, I pulled out a shy and under the breath ‘buenas dias’ to be replied with a ‘good morning’…the Spanish would have to wait. The hostel way of life is brilliant but they aren’t the best place to learn Spanish and practice speaking but it was the first few days and I wasn’t too concerned. My first question was to a Spanish waitress outside the enormous Seville cathedral ‘’is it ‘una cerveza mas or una mas cerveza?”…“una cerveza mas” she replied, lesson one.
Met a friendly Brazilian girl on the second night who was learning Spanish in Seville. After once again clawing at an affirmative answer to a whispered ‘tu habla Ingles’ I was welcomed into the world of ‘no, nada’. Oh. Well Spanish it is then.. with such a low level I was astounded I was able to hold a conversation, with massive aid of my orange sidekick (my bulky English to Spanish dictionary) all was good and it felt amazing to be speaking another language, be it very simply and packed with errors. I still have the dictionary now with ‘despues’ (after) ‘antes’ (before) ‘ayer’ (yesterday) and ‘manana’ (tomorrow) penned into the front cover from the second night in Spain, lesson two.
I parked myself in the local ‘100 Montaditos’ for the majority of my first week’s dinners, with a menu of, well, 100 montaditos (small sandwiches). They all supported different fillings, none of which I could understand, but every one came with a big beer for only 1 euro, I got to practice the lucky dip, occasionally striking lucky with a delicious gastro delight and occasionally peering at some smudged tomato on bread, I quickly learnt. The mental notes went along with my favourite ‘gambas’ (prawns) and the failsafe ‘pollo’ (chicken). I also made a conceited effort to learn ‘aceitunas’ (olives) which for some reason wouldn’t stick, I have since found out ‘olivas’ would have sufficed.
The first month was all about the basics, ‘por favors and gracias’s. The almighty ‘una cerveza’ and occasionally braving a hasta luego (which I have since stripped from a five syllable goodbye to a two syllable Andalucian ‘luegoooo’. Language-wise I quickly mastered the ‘I want’ (quiero), ‘I have’ (tengo) and ‘I need’ (necesito) verbs followed by a directed finger, this seemed to get me by in most situations although now I look back i probably sounded a bit self-interested.
All was good and I managed to get an excellent offer to work at Spark in the beautiful, sea surrounded El Puerto de Santa Maria. Absolutely perfect. Next step, find an apartment..