My second week in Málaga is coming to a close, and I have some more adventures to tell you about.
Shortly after I sent last week´s email, I decided to go for a bike ride on the road that travels east beside the Mediterranean Sea, and I was excited about seeing the sea for the very first time. However, the bike that the owner left here for me to use needed air in both tires, so I rode over to the nearby main street that runs north and south in the city. When I got to the corner someone told me to go north to find the nearest gas station, so instead of going toward the sea I was travelling north away from the sea. After filling the tires with air, I just decided to keep going north thinking that I would soon find a spot which overlooks the city. I kept riding and riding while enjoying the bike-only path that runs parallel to this main road, and before long I started seeing several other bicyclists on mountain bikes, but no one on a road bike. So I stopped to ask three bicyclists if there was a mountain bike trail nearby, and they told me to continue going the same direction and turn right when I saw the tunnel.
Just before I passed over the highway I looked down and saw that the highway passed below me through a tunnel, so I assumed that this was where I should turn right. I followed this new road, and though it felt like I was on some sort of campus I continued because I thought that it could be a city park as well … and how beautiful a park it was! While I was riding I kept thinking to myself, “Wow … I am really going to enjoy this ride.” There were beautiful trees and flowers, and everything was nicely landscaped. But then I came up to a gate that was manned by a security guard. So I told the security guard that I am new around here and that I did not really know where I was going. Then the security guard informed me that, sure enough, I was on the grounds of a psychiatric hospital. And, as if I needed any further proof of what the security guard told me, one of the residents of the facility who was standing by the gate confirmed for me that I was indeed at a psychiatric hospital. The resident seemed very interested in me and/or my bike, but rather than stopping to learn more about his interest, I thought it best to get my butt out of there.
I continued to heard north away from the city, and soon thereafter I found THE tunnel on my left, so I turned right and headed up a paved road,and before long I was on a hard-pack dirt road along with many other bicyclists as well as walkers. After another 45 minutes of riding and pushing my bike uphill, I finally found the overlook I was looking for. ¡Qué bonita es la ciudad de Málaga!
Speaking of being lost, one day this week I decided to take a different way home, and along the way I found a grocery store that is much bigger than the one I had been frequenting. So I reasoned that I may as well do some shopping while I was there, but for some strange reason I decided to buy some containers of milk, a six-pack of non-alcoholic beer, fruits and vegetables, and to top it all off, a large 5-liter bottle of water. After I left the grocery store I realized, oh yeah, I have to carry all this stuff home. So I´m walking and walking and walking … and the groceries are starting to feel like lead weights … and I´m walking and walking … and suddenly I realized that I had no earthly idea where I was. I was walking in what I thought was the direction of our rental house, but the streets of Málaga are not laid out on a grid, and instead they go off in many different directions. So I approached someone to ask directions, which I kind of enjoy doing since it gives me the opportunity to use the Spanish I have been learning. Unfortunately, I didn´t know where our rental house is located … I mean, I know how to get there when I´m walking on the same street I´ve been using all week, but this particular time I had decided to walk home a different way. So, the nice man stood in front of me waiting patiently for me to say something, anything, however I could not remember the name of our street, nor could I identify any landmarks near the rental house. After stuttering for a few moments, the only thing I could think of to say was, “Estoy perdido!,” which translated means “I´m lost!” The gentleman could not help but break into a grin, but then he quickly stifled his grin so that I would not appear as a fool. But then I had to laugh at my own predicament, and he laughed too. Eventually I blurted out the street number I had seen on a road sign near the house, and he pointed me on my way … and I wouldn´t blame the guy if he chuckled to himself as I walked away while carrying my lead weight groceries. Who needs a gym membership when you shop for groceries like I do?
Nonetheless and surprisingly (in light of my recent adventures), I am settling into a nice routine here. I have completed all the big tasks that were on my list, such as getting settled into the house, buying all the necessary supplies (e.g., some kitchen utensils, school supplies, various and sundry items), opening a bank account (which was required to join the gym), registering for the Spanish DELE exam, signing up for the preferred grocery shopper program, doing laundry (including hanging the clothes out to dry), and other tasks. At this point I can focus on Spanish while awaiting the arrival of my Sweetie in two more weeks.
I don´t know if it is just me, or if other second language learners my age feel the same thing, but there are times when I feel like I am making serious progress toward fluency, and there are other times when I feel like I am going backward. Learning a second language has been one of the most challenging projects that I have ever undertaken, and I am confident that I have already invested more time and effort in this than I did in earning my college degree. But fortunately, it does not feel like work most of the time, and the reality is that if I stopped right now, it would have been worth my time, and I would do it all over again. But I´m not stopping now, and I will continue to press on with the hope that hearing and speaking and reading and writing Spanish will feel more natural every day. It´s been a great adventure … and as I always like to say, it feels like stepping into a whole new world.
You can find pictures of our Málaga trip at, https://www.flickr.com/photos/ilovespanish
Nos vemos pronto.