Viernes | Friday
We woke up this morning to streaks of bright light illuminating through the main lounge room window curtains and following a loud crack of thunder. It was so loud, and directly above our apartment that it made us all jump and then go straight to the window to investigate the street and sky scene. The rain came down, first spitting, and then larger droplets that banged against the iron awning. As I look outside and peek my head out of the window, I notice that the bright and colourful street scene below has turned wet and grey. I’m not fussed at the bleak outlook, as I snuggle onto the couch with my Mac laptop and write the day away. That’s my kind of heaven.
The girls have a bit of Distance Education work to complete, so the day is spent happily in the apartment studying and eating. Ash has the most work to catch up on, so she puts in the long hours today while the thunderstorm passes.
We have a versatile apartment here – dishwasher (yes), washing machine, and a big enough lounge room and table to sit at. We are all doing quite a bit of independent cooking and the girls have been proactive in this area. They’re making their own food for breakfast, lunch and often dinner and today was no different. Poached eggs, on thick slices of freshly baked Spanish bread with curled crispy pieces of thin streaky bacon, long green stems of asparagus, smashed avocado and a healthy grind of pepper on top.
Dacey has also been creative in the kitchen. Each morning she makes a healthy salad – yes for breakfast – of iceberg lettuce leaves, green olives, croutons, pieces of bacon, and sometimes marinated chicken pieces with a Caesar salad sauce. Yum. Although since finding Weetabix at the supermarket with the rounded edges (in Australia Weetbix have straight edges) she’s enjoying them with fresh cur fruit on top. We cannot buy fresh milk here in Malaga. It just doesn’t exit at any of the supermarkets. It’s all sold as UHT (ultra-high temperature) milk in cartons but there’s plenty of varieties to choose from. We’re guessing that the pastures of southern Spain are full of olives and grapes so no room for dairy cows.
Charlie is still practising her pescatarian diet of vegetables and fish. She has been cooking dinners for us and I’ve paid her euro for her expertise. They’re soooo delicious! Imagine this – shredded smoked salmon, chopped spring onions, round mozzarella balls mixed in a creamy sour cream sauce garnished with avocado, pepper and served on a bed of fettuccini pasta. I’m not in the kitchen full time anymore like I was before travelling and I’m absolutely loving it! So when the girls create something spectacularly tasty for everyone, I’m prepared to pay them as a way for them to get some pocket money while we’re away. I’d rather do that than go out all of the time because this food is restaurant quality.
Sabado | Saturday
It’s the weekend, so I try and change it up a bit from the weekday routine. Most days are not the early starts we were used to back home. This is due to the fact that we are living in the Spanish way of life. That is we are in another time zone – bed at midnight! An average day looks something like this:
- 10am – we wake up slowly! I know it’s the life alright! Steve heads out to our little Salamanca Market to buy a bag of oranges, freshly baked bread, and a take away coffee for me. We each make our own breakfast – eggs, salad, cereal or toast.
- 12pm – the kids do their Distance Education, Steve might do some research on booking flights/tours/hire cars while I supervise the girls’ school work, answer questions or get some of my own writing done.
- 1-5pm – most of the cafes and restaurants and shops in Malaga central close for siesta and reopen in the late afternoon. We either go wandering, stay back at the apartment or run some errands.
- 2pm – Steve and the girls attend gym, while I might stay back in a quiet apartment to write and download all the photos I’m taking for my blog. Sometimes I head out for a brisk walk to stretch the head and the mind. We return and make lunch and plan the afternoon.
- 4pm – beach time or other travel activity
- 6pm – beach time or other travel activity (sometimes Steve and I head out for tapas and a vino!)
- 8pm – down time reading, on computers, listening to Ted Talks or watching favourite shows online or we’re out and about for dinner/tapas or cooking at our apartment. Favourite dinner (that I actually pay Charlie for is her salmon pasta dish).
- 10pm – finish dinner, clean up.
- 12am – off to bed and we all sleep soundly.
This morning Ash, Bill, Dacey and I went out for late breakfast to enjoy the authentic experience of Churros before siesta time. Spanish Churros are made from choux pastry and deep fried then served warm and look like long squiggly bendy pipes. We also ordered chocolate dipping sauce (it’s Nutella) and we each pull apart a long churro and dip it into the sauce. It’s not an overly healthy breakfast, but a good thing to experience once in a while in Spain. We wipe away the chocolate from the corners of our mouths and wipe away the oily residue left on the ends of our fingers before we depart for the beach.
Charlie stayed back at the apartment catching up with her friends online from Australia. The Debutante Ball was held last night so there’s a bit to catch up on. Steve took the healthy alternative to start the day and went for a run. He and Billie have really enjoyed working out at the gyms too which started back in Buldana, rural India and continues here in Spain. We purchased a pass at the local gym about a 6-minute walk away that would take the six weeks we’re living here to use all of the passes. Now that the girls aren’t playing netball it’s a great way to keep the fitness up. On our iPhone under Health each day we record the number of steps we have taken which gets translated into distance.
Charlie met us down at the beach, and Steve later on. We lay on our Indian cotton spreads under the sun while looking out to the Mediterranean Sea.
Later that night, the girls stayed in the apartment while Steve and I went out for a wander around some of the back streets of the main central area of Malaga and stayed out for a drink at various cafes and bars including our favourite La Tranca where we made some Malaga friends who we got chatting to and invited out to a night spot. But we declined. The night may be young for the young at midnight, but for us it was time to kiss our newfound friends on both cheeks – the Spanish way – and say goodbyes while we befriended each other’s Instagram and Facebook profiles.
I finally ordered a Mojita drink while sitting opposite the Cervantes Theatre (currently showing Dirty Dancing) at a cafe which was nice and refreshing (and another drink to add to my Spanish bar!). We watched the crowd spew out onto the theatre square and once it had dispersed the performers came over to the cafe for their performance drinks. The night ended being a bit more of a café-bar crawl where we chatted together about the year ahead and our plans for the future after the year of backpacking comes to an end. Let’s just say there are some exciting new ideas and plans in the pipeline, that we will share with everyone soon. Hehehe!
Domingo | Sunday
We’re all up early this morning as we’re walking down to the train-bus station precinct (about a 20-minute walk) to pick up our 7-seater hire car. We are heading out on a day trip down to the most southern point of Andalusia and entering Gibraltar. I really didn’t know much about Gibraltar other than it was the southern-most tip of Spain (but it’s actually not Spain) and at one point you can actually see the continent of Africa. This has been a bit of a bucket list item of mine – to be standing on European soil looking over at Africa. And we did it. Tick that one off the list!
To read more about our day trip to Gibraltar please read Day 147 | Seven: Snippets of Spain | 14 May 2017 (posted soon).
It was an amazing road tripping day, requiring our passports where we spent 7 hours wandering and exploring the United Kingdom’s Gibraltar. Definitely on the list to return.
Lunes | Monday
It was a slow start to our week this morning. After getting back from Gibraltar late last night, we are all a little blurry eyed and slow to get going. So today was an easy one walking to the shopping mall to purchase new runners for Billie and Charlie (but none in Charlie’s size) while the others completed their school work.
Ash is struggling with her motivation to complete set tasks. She’s procrastinating about all of her work, getting angry that she has to do it at all. And of course no one can assist her either. She’s on her own journey, but she’s making it so much harder for herself. She’ll get there, just not the easy way.
Billie has come down with a slight earache, so after the gym session Steve popped into the pharmacy or Farmacia as it’s called here and bought some drops to try and clear it.
Martes | Tuesday
This morning Charlie and I went for a brisk walk around the city of Malaga as a policy of changing up the routine. She’s up to date and actually in front of her Distance Education work, and is looking at ways of changing her routine slightly and getting out of the apartment earlier rather than later in the day. Together we explored a new laneway that branched off the main road and discovered an amazing little bookshop with a décor full of book and world globes. There were globes hanging from the ceiling, standing on top of a pile of books, lots of different sizes and some internally lit up. It was love at first for me.
I also had to drop into the copy shop to print off Charlie’s third SAC (exam) for her Year 12 subject Heath & Human Development which she will sit on Friday. But before doing the errands we stopped off at our favourite churro café and ate some churros with chocolate dipping sauce.
That afternoon was spent at the beach soaking up the sunshine (and a beachside Mojita) and enjoying the relaxing nature of the beach scene.
Today was also the day we had to finally make a decision on our next destination. Our English friends would love us to come and stay at Brighton, but we also have tentative plans with Mr Harim over in Morocco to stay and volunteer at his language school. The cheaper flights to Morocco that Steve had found a few weeks back were starting to drop off, so we decided to book them! We are going to be living in Morocco at the British Language Academy from 30 June onwards for a period of between 4-8 weeks. We are not sure how life in Morocco will be for the girls so we are giving ourselves some space to make changes to the itinerary if necessary. We are all very excited! We plan to be back in Europe after Morocco so hoping we can make something work to catch up with our English friends then.
Steve has worked out our spending for this month and as suspected we’re over budget while we have been living here in Spain. Our budget is Australian $250 per day which includes everything from food, accomodation and travel expenses etc! The result: A$375!
We were expecting a blowout this month due to the dramas around the flights to Gatwick Airport (changing names on the ticket over and purchasing two new tickets due to missed flights on the way back). We also know that we have been doing a lot of eating, drinking and purchasing extras (like clothes). We are confident we’ll be able to pull it back when we land in Morocco and stay with Mr Harim in Berrechid.
But the great news is that overall at Day 143 on average we have spent A$250 per day. We are right on target budget wise for our RTW trip. Yippee!!!
Miercoles | Wednesday
Charlie and Ash decided to walk to the churro café to complete their Distance Education work while the rest of us stayed back at the apartment. It’s a fact of life that while travelling the world we are constantly within arm’s reach of each other and it’s harder to carve out personal time away from one another while we’re travelling. Getting our own personal time as a family seems to be non-existent. So it was a great idea for the two older ones to head out this morning.
Billie’s ear is still sore, so we went back to the chemist to see what we could get to clear up this worsening ear ache. We really don’t know what the situation is if we need to see a doctor in Spain. Steve mentioned it to the chemist who replied, “there are no doctor’s around here!” So I’m not sure if that means in Malaga city or what? Anyway the chemist has given Billie some tablets so we’ll see how that goes. Hopefully she will get a much better sleep than she did last night.
The kids at times feel like they’re suffocating being around us all of the time. On the one hand they’re exploring the world, but let’s qualify it here – we have three teenagers on this trip and a tween (who thinks she’s one already) 11, 13, 15 and 16-year old daughters who all need their own time without parents, and without each other all of the time. So it’s important to know their way around a city rather quickly so they’re not always relying on us to take them around to places. The freedom for the older teens to get out and explore different places in Malaga on their own and be independent or go to a cafe and the beach is a great way to alleviate the stresses that inherently come with always being around each other.
The kids are all really missing their friends back home. It’s been more difficult than expected finding other children on the backpacking road that are similar ages to just hang out with and get to know and share a laugh with. Language is also a barrier which they’re trying to manage and gain confidence in speaking the basics. They practice their Spanish with shop keepers and others they interact with but that’s minimal here.
And it’s not just the kids who are feeling alone. Steve and I have also been feeling the loneliness lately. Back in Buldana, we took it for granted people coming and going from our apartment Dwarka. There wasn’t a day that there wasn’t someone coming in to say hi or do something. But here in Spain we are in an Airbnb apartment, living amongst Spanish people where we have no connection or knowledge of anyone. We have been looking at ways of alleviating our own situation of not having people to socialise with by Googling expat communities in Malaga and trying to make in-roads to assisting the girls’ loneliness as well. It’s a big ask here. And it’s probably the one aspect of long term travel that we haven’t yet found a long term solution for. So we are focussed on finding solutions and taking action around making friendships on the backpacking road and getting to know the locals.
This afternoon I’ve signed up for a 90-minute blogging webinar called Blog Faster Blog Smarter with Michael Hyatt. He’s an American success story in the blogging world. It’s free and I might get some handy tips to help me blog faster! While I’m doing that Steve has met with his Spanish baker friend Joseph who is taking Steve to meet with his computer friend. Steve is looking at purchasing a new computer.
Jueves | Thursday
A ground hog day kind of morning. Charlie and Ash are off again to do their Distance Education at the café, while we stay in the apartment. In the afternoon Steve and the girls all head off to gym while I go for a long power walk up one of the streets until I reach the very end. It’s an uphill slope so the legs are getting a bit of a work out. Amazingly with all the delicious food I’m enjoying here in Spain, I’m not putting the weight on. I think that can be attributed to the amount of walking we are all doing in here in Malaga. Exploring on foot is the best exercise!
We had planned on attending a Flamenco performance tonight in downtown Malaga, but as Steve and I walk to the beach through Malaga central for another afternoon of beach laziness we notice an A4 piece of paper stuck on the door of the Irish Pub that we’re always walking past promoting Language Exchange tonight at 9pm. So I get onto their Facebook page and have a chat to the organiser while we walk towards the beach. It looks and sounds good, and especially since we have been looking at different ways of meeting locals, this looks like something we should at least try. So we rain check the Flamenco performance for tomorrow night and attend the Language Exchange – Spanish and English – at an Irish Pub. Go figure!
After paying 2 euros and receiving a sticky name badge and a ticket for a free shot (we are in an Irish pub after all), we were grouped onto tables and handed a quiz with alternating questions in English and Spanish. Those who were English had to read out the Spanish questions and those who were Spanish read out the English for practice. It was fun! And although we were a tad nervous entering, we needn’t have been. Natalie who ran the night was smiling and friendly, who spoke very good English which assisted.
The people who attended the language exchange night were also very friendly and as the night went on more and more people joined the groups. Unfortunately, the people who were already at the Irish pub and had been there for quite some time drinking their favourite drinks on a bucks weekend from England were overtly and unfashionably friendly. One of the drunk men just came on over and sat down with our language class and when Steve politely told him that we were in a language class he responded, “I’m not here for that I’m here for to get to know her.” He was pointing at me on the other side of the table. Funnily Steve looked a little shocked and told the drunk English man in a matter of fact kind of way, “Mate, that’s my wife!”
He finally got out of the seat and left after Natalie came over and told him to kindly leave. He was not that all with it after all and probably had no idea what a language exchange night was anyway!
Overall, Steve and I had a fabulous night there talking and asking lots of questions of the Spanish people in our groups. I wanted to know all about what they thought of the Brexit breakup, the UK’s ownership of Gibraltar and of course the future of Spanish bullfighting. We left after 11pm and said we’d catch up with them all next week.
Steve and I wandered home in the warm night air hand in hand discussing the night and what we had each come to understand more about Spain and the Spanish people.