I’m back in Jerez for another year teaching English and while it’s another year in the same city, it’s another year in a different flat. Each new place brings new nuances, new noises and new furniture and appliances to get used. It isn’t a big deal and it’s a part of life, but after living a year in a place you become used to what you had and now you have to get used to new things all over again.
The flat I live in this year is around the block from where I lived last year, right in the center and it belonged to one of my friends from last year. This was a huge plus because if you have to go through an agency you have to pay them a full months rent. It’s about four times as big and from the most recent party I had in which there were 26 people; I would say it could fit 30. I live on the second floor by Spanish standards and third by English, on the first floor there is a bar, the Bar España owned by a kind-hearted-bald-headed Spanish guy named Munchi, who by the time I’m leaving for my private classes around 5 can sometimes be quite difficult to understand. Living above a bar is interesting, in the mornings the moving of kegs reverberates through the building, and during the weekends the patrons provide a steady cacophony of sounds; walking to my door I have to sometimes play a game of frogger with the long-time patrons of the place while they look at me trying to figure out what I’m doing and who I am. Munchi when outside never fails to introduce me as the Americano.
In Spain 90% of the flats you’re going to rent come furnished and most of the furnishings come from Ikea, so you don’t really have options. I also believe that Spanish people have built up an immunity to bad mattresses or they are all suffering from chronic back pain, because each flat comes with a mattress quality so poor they don’t even exist in the US. The past two years I have been pretty lucky, my mattresses have been good, hard, but I’d take hard over a x2 parobolic curve. This year I wasn’t so lucky, the mattress that came with my flat wouldn’t have been fit for a prison, it was like sleeping on a bed of springs that were trying to carve me like a pumpkin. Apparently the couple living her for two months during the summer didn’t mind nor my friend and her boyfriend the year before. I didn’t even know spring beds still existed. I told my landlady about it and for a long time it seemed as if she was dogging me, on three separate occasions we confirmed times to meet and each time she canceled, eventually she came by but showed up magically with the other landlady, whom I didn’t know existed. Talk about stacking the deck. In the end, they decided to get me a new one, but not before both trying it themselves for no longer than a second and saying they didn’t feel anything. Well, if you lay down on a rock for 5 seconds you too would claim it is comfortable enough to sleep on, try it for the whole night and tell me how you feel in the morning. After a nerve-racking couple of days waiting for the new one (I thought they’d get me another spring one or the cheapest one possible) it finally came! and the difference is palpable, I now look forward to going to bed and keep the old one for a guest bed.
The furnishings of a flat also include the bare minimum of kitchen equipment; one or two tiny pans, a small pot to boil water and some utensils, if you’re lucky you’ll get a kitchen knife that couldn’t cut through a banana. It doesn’t make sense to go out and buy news ones if you’re only going to be living there for a year, so you accept it. This year I have really good kitchen equipment, some really big pots, two pans, a drainer, a nice cutting board, a bunch of glasses, a microwave, a full sized refrigerator, an oven! four burners! (last year I only had two and no oven) a surprisingly good knife that I might have to steal and my friend left a blender that I’ve been graciously using to make smoothies. One thing you realize when living with the bare minimum is how important a good knife is and while I can make do with anything, I’ve seriously been considering investing in a knife to take with me while I travel.
After more than a month living here I still haven’t quite figured out how to use my washing machine. When I first moved in I though it was broken because it wasn’t working, it’s really old and only has two knobs and one of them kept coming off. The one that kept coming off needed to be pulled out to start, but it had to stay on the washer machine. However know that I know it works I haven’t been able to properly use it, the past two times it’s finished it hasn’t emptied the water, leaving a washing machine full of water to empty on my floor when I open it and clothes so wet they quadruple in weight; with me standing there dumbfounded as to why after four hours there is still water in it. Maybe i’ll never figure it out.
All in all I love my flat! I just bought a rug to go in the living room so now it’s even cozier and ready for the winter, even though it doesn’t feel like it here. And even though I’ve only been here for a little over a month I’ve made some good memories in this place and look forward to making many more.