A friend of mine said: “All the ‘last-times’ in the Netherlands will soon be replaced with many ‘first-times’ in Spain.”
We are now 2 weeks and 2 days here in our new home in Spain.
Hectic weeks full of formality and official things, but also filled with lots of fun and adventures…and so many ‘first-times’!!
In short: We like it here. 🙂
Sant Cugat is a beautiful city. We have (rent) a nice ground-floor appartment in a green and peaceful area. Our house has two terraces and a backyard which is in total 6 times bigger than our last home. Barcelona and the beach is only 20 minutes away and the green area “Collserola” between Barcelona and our city is only 10 minutes by car. There are plenty bike routes around the city, however till now I have only tried to bike once, because last week was really, and I mean really hot (even the locals chose to stay inside!). Biking is a challenge though, now we’re used to the flat landscape in the Netherlands. This country is hilly!
Now we have a yard, someone has to mow the lawn (but he does it with pleasure!):
And just like many other apartment complex in Spain, there is a swimming pool behind our building. Sky would ask to go to swim every single day!
And we take a walk around the block every day after dinner. Sky would walk or step on her scooter or bike:
Lot, our cat, is also very happy to be able to walk outside for a while every day, to the terrace or the garden. For the first time in her life! Still within our supervision though, because we’re not sure if she knows the way home if she crosses the gate.
Many more stories to tell and photo’s to share…I hope I will find the time to update this blog regularly. Especially now the 115 moving-boxes are quite sorted out and many of them have found their places in and around our new house. 🙂
After months of sorting, packing, disassembling furnitures, labeling, more and much more sorting and packing (how much stuff can we have!! And that’s after we cut our belonging by the half, can you imagine!) …finally the movers came yesterday to empty our house. 115 boxes, 5 bikes (yes we’re Dutch, so one bike per person, plus a mountain bike and a cargo bike :)), and some furnitures went into a truck and will travel 1400 km in 6 days (it’s a combi truck, which means they will pick up other stuff also and combine them with ours. All to reduce the cost).
So here we are today. Our last day in the Netherlands. In an almost completely empty house. We borrow 3 inflatable mattresses and some plates, glasses and cutleries from a neighbour and we’re like going camping in a house. Tomorrow we’ll fly to Spain and will spend some days in an empty house again, waiting for the truck to deliver our 115 boxes. In our new house. Nuestra nueva casa. The start of a new adventure. It feels weird, but good. 🙂
And on this very last day, we went to the funfair in the city (it’s the biggest in the country). Exactly 5 years ago we visited this city for the first time to find a rent house and we walked through the very same funfair. Destiny.
Now we have learned Spanish for around half a year, I realize there are some advantages I own as an Indonesian-born, compared to hubby Joop (a Dutch guy). Here are some obvious ones:
- It seems like my tongue is able to roll the ‘rrrr’ sound much easier. 🙂
- Indonesian and Spanish have the same grammar rule regarding the noun-adjective combination. So in English (or Dutch) you would say “expensive house (or duur huis)”, while Indonesian and Spanish would say the other way around: “rumah mahal” and “casa cara”.
- Both Indonesian and Spanish are phonetic languages (some even say they are number 1 and 2 of the most phonetic languages in the world!). This means you read a word exactly like how it is written. For example the English word “love” would have been written as “laf” if it is phonetic. I notice how easy I can pronounce Spanish words, even the long and complicated one like “independientemente” (= independently). However, I remember having a trouble with this word at the beginning: “calcetines” (= socks).
- Due to the past history between Indonesia and Spain, there are still some Spanish words that sound like Bahasa Indonesia. Far not as many as the absorbed Dutch words in Indonesian language, but still very interesting. I have collected some I learned along the way: (Spanish – Indonesian – English)
bandera – bendera – flag
bola – bola – ball
ruedas – roda – wheel
zapato – sepatu – shoe
mantequilla – mentega – butter
mesa – meja – table
jabón – sabun – soap
camisa/camisola – kamisol – shirt
chaqueta – jaket – jacket/coat
relojes – arloji – wristwatch
escuela – sekolah – school
gratis – gratis – free
guerrilla – gerilya – guerrilla
caldo – kaldu – broth
Next to these words there are many more predictable words which are similar between English, Spanish and Indonesian. Like ‘standard’, ‘normal’, ‘period’, ‘camera’, ‘panic’, ‘photo’, etc.
But up to now, there are 2 Spanish words which are exactly the same in Indonesian but have different meanings. “Pintar” in Spanish means “to paint”, while “pintar” in Indonesian means “clever”. And the word “pagar” in Spanish means “to pay”. But this same word in Indonesian means “the fence”. However, the Indonesian word for “to pay” is “bayar”. Somehow they sound a little bit similar, or am I now pushing it too far? 😀
We are learning Spanish…oh yes we do. But oh our old grey cells inside our much-too-full head…they have difficulties absorbing all those new words and grammars and structures. I really notice the differences compared to 16 years ago, when I was still young (ehm…) and started to learn Dutch. But I keep comforting myself by remembering my early Dutch-experience. That once you are inside the country and surrounded by the target language, it will all become much easier (if you keep talking, at least). Language immersion, practice and repeat; that should be it.
Sometimes Sky will join us when we are practicing with our Duolingo app. Or she would pick some words from the book “Spanish for children” and start to question us. But for her right now is English the main focus. She gets support from her school, which we are so thankful of (once a week an English lesson special for her) and we repeat the lessons everyday. Not always easy, but we try to keep it fun.
Next to books and app I also follow a short Spanish (beginners) online course from the library, and I try to listen as much as possible to a Spanish radio:
One proud moment for me was in February, when we were at the Girona airport waiting for our flight back to the Netherlands. I had been using Duolingo for about 55 days at that time. And I was able to ask the waitress automatically: “Tienes una cuchara?” (= do you have a spoon). Wow, that felt good! And now everytime I feel like I’m slowing down and not learning anything, I recall that memory and think about how nice would it be if I can actually having a conversation in Spanish!
Talking about language immersion. At the moment I publish this post Joop has almost finished his 2 weeks Spanish stay. He needs to stay there for a while to find a house (and yessss we found one! Our Spanish home!) and to arrange his NIE-number (also in the pocket!). In 2 weeks time he only wants to speak Spanish with his colleagues and people he met, and he feels like he has made quite some progress. From “do not understand at all” to “get the approximate context”. Well, every big journey starts from the smallest steps… 🙂
I think I start to get some ‘last-time’ blues. Now the moving date is getting closer (somewhere in August), I start to think about every last-time I still want to do in the Netherlands. Everytime I visit a place I don’t often visit or do things I don’t often do, my mind jumps into conclusion: “This could be the last-time I visit this place, or do this thing”. And maybe not only for me, but mainly for my daughter. I keep thinking: “Has she seen enough from this land? Enough to give her memories of her birthland?”
Ridiculous of course. We make memories all the time and we will keep making it, wherever we will live. But still…that feeling… It’s not necessarily a negative feeling, nor a positive one. But it does give some boost into action. For example, I have lived almost 16 years in the Netherlands and I have never visited the Keukenhof; “the most beautiful spring garden in the world” as their website promised… until this spring! Well I have to, and so I showed it to my daughter too. First foto above is from Keukenhof (and despite all the tourists, it was super pretty!). And next to that we have visited a windmill, watched a flower parade, visited a castle and some musea, experienced the yearly military parade on the liberation day, and for the last-time (there we go again) visited the safari park we have been members for 3 years.
So we start to end some journeys here in this country. But where a door closes, another one will open. And we will keep writing the memories in our life book, closing a chapter and ready for a new one. 🙂
I got questions how Sky reacted when we first told her that we’re going to move to Spain.
Well, she cried. Long and harrowing.
And we hugged her, without words. We have kept the news for about one month for ourselves before telling her. To make sure about the situation first, to think of the best way to tell her and to prepare our words. But not many words were required. When she regained herself she had a very interesting reaction: she didn’t want to talk about it until she’s ready for it. Then she would come to us and we could talk.
And she did. Days went by and we were getting nervous. What to do? What could we do?
But we respected her will. And after some days (maybe a week or two), she started the conversation. And asking questions. From serious stuff like ‘how’s life there’ and ‘what will her school look like’ to funny things like ‘do they have lice-mothers?’
She had probably settled the idea in her mind and got ready to change thoughts with us, which we think is a very mature way of dealing with such a big news. In the weeks after that she still has some difficult moments sometime. Her teacher promised her not to talk or ask questions whatsoever in the class if she’s not yet comfortable with it.
But she moved forward. Slowly but sure we can talk about it. She gets used to it. We have discussion and share our fantasies, search for information we want to know, learn the (fun)facts and the languages. Not easy for her, she still gets teary eyes whenever we’re digging into it, given how delicate her soul is. Not easy, but it gets a bit easier. And we’re so relieved to see it happening. What a process… so thankful to experience this as a family!
And the crown of it all: She is now preparing a presentation (in Dutch we call it a “spreekbeurt”) to be shown and told in front of her class, about Spain! Oh we’re so proud she wants to do it, such a brave girl!
We spent 8 days in Barcelona and Girona. First time in Spain for Sky. Not the first time for us definitely, but this one felt so different. We looked differently at places and things. Not as just a tourist, but with the awareness of “we will be living here soon”. So we paid more attention, tried to listen to conversations, absorbed the daily life… That awareness has come to Sky too. When we could not get any closer to Sagrada Familia (just use the metro in Barcelona, it’s ridiculous to try to park your car anywhere…) she said: “It’s okay, we’ve caught a glimpse of it. Next time we live here we can visit it anytime we want.” That’s right dear, we will explore this city for sure. 🙂
This trip is such a great coincidence. We booked it in November, when we didn’t have any slight idea yet that we will not be visitors, but citizens-to-be. We grabbed the chance and made use of it, and we were able to make an appointment with an international school we think will be nice for Sky. So we visited the school and had a guided tour around its facilities. I think it’s an important step for her, to see and feel her future school in real life, not just from the website. It seems like she approves it and she has more confidence in this whole “moving” thing afterwards.
So we spent one day around the school area and its neighbourhood, and visited some villages between the route of Joop’s future office and this school, just to get an impression of where to live (and where not!). Because the next important step, after getting our NIE-numbers (to be able to live in Spain for more than 3 months) is of course: find a house!
The rest of the trip was filled with real ‘holiday stuff’: wandering around La Ramblas, playing at Parc de la Ciutadella and Parc de Diagonal Mar, admiring Gaudi’s and other artists’ works in the city. After 4 days we moved the base to Vidreres, about half an hour under Girona. We did a children-quest in Girona (that was really fun!), explored the coast line: Lloret de Mar, a small beach in-between (probably Platja de Canyelles) and even visited Tossa de Mar twice…such a beautiful place! And food…lots of delicious food! We often eat “menu del dia” as lunch and I will cook for dinner (as usually we rented houses from AirBnB, allowing us to cook our meal). One reason is to reduce the expenses, other is having a child makes it difficult to have dinner at 9 p.m.
And now one funny thing I learned during this trip:
If you want to have “normal” eggs (I mean like the one you need to make an omelet for breakfast), don’t buy one with “cocidos” on it, because it means “cooked”!! It was a funny surprise though when I broke one and nothing came out of it…haha…