Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mr. Roger's Neighborhood

Our Spanish is coming along although we still resort to “monkey see – monkey do” when faced with new situations, and doing pantomimes when words totally fail us! And while we can usually successfully order meals in restaurants, and I can request produce and fish in the stores and even managed to get my haircut, I think we are a very long way before we can carry on any meaningful conversations with Spaniards. I get flashbacks of conjugating verbs in French class in school – plus, Spaniards talk as fast as any auctioneer I’ve ever heard which just adds to the challenge.

I have been helping Roger set up reports and forms at the office, and use on-line translation sites which help a lot if his interpreter is not available. There have however, been some pretty funny translations when I haven’t been able to read the foreman’s handwriting and it has resulted in me documenting, “the duck is in the cement” or a “chicken is in the mine”. The crew thinks it’s hilarious – I’m just glad I get the interpreter check the logs before having them read by the Client’s geologist!

Valverde del Camino is a beautiful little town of 12,000 people. Many of the streets are made of cobblestone, and I am constantly in awe of the beautiful tile and marble work that is found in everything from the town square to people’s tiny apartments. I love walking up and down the hilly streets – some so narrow I feel like I can touch each side with my hands. Roger’s parallel parking is excellent and follows everyone’s example of parking halfway on the sidewalk. It is not unusual to see vehicles side mirrors ripped off as cars try to manoeuvre through streets more suited for horses than cars.

Coffee, flan, and fabulous seafood are some of our favourite things here and they are plentiful and delicious. I must say I love living in a country where I can walk enough that I can eat all the flan I want and still lose weight!

We are still having trouble adjusting to the limited hours when you can eat and shop; the Spaniards definitely have a more relaxed outlook on life and maybe that is a lesson for us. Roger’s interpreter Claudio (seen below), is a Chilean who has lived in Spain for a few years, is constantly remarking how fast Roger works and how everyone is trying to keep up to him. I’m sure they are surprised when he often comes to the mine for shift change at 6 a.m. and is still there when the night shift arrives.

We hosted a Canadian BBQ for the crew and their families this weekend. About 25 of them came, and we had fun playing games, handing out prizes, and getting to know them socially. Roger welcomed them in Spanish, and they appreciated the effort he made giving him a round of applause (although later they admitted they weren't sure of everything he said!).
I will post pictures of our apartment this week as we're getting more furniture delivered today - the pink kitchen is indeed a very cheerful room!
Hasta luego.

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