Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Trying new things

I finally had my interview in CETI (Centro de Estancia Temporal de Inmigrantes, Centre for the Temporary Stay of Immigrants) on Thursday and I've started volunteering there on Thursdays and Fridays for a few hours as a translator. On Thursday I met another woman who speaks English, and she's agreed to give me lifts in the mornings, because its on the other side of the city of my house and takes about an hour to walk there. I don't really like getting up early on my days off, but I feel good afterwards because I feel like I've achieved something by keeping myself busy, getting to know new people and contributing to the community. 

On Friday morning I mostly did paperwork, but in the afternoon I was able to help with providing supplies to the immigrants. The men were getting new jackets, although I was surprised and somewhat amused to see some of them kicking up a fuss about getting their favourite colour! I'm not sure what to think of the experience right now, especially because my Spanish speaking skills aren't great, which limits how much I can actually translate, but for now I'm just going to see how I progress.

On Friday afternoon I cleaned the whole flat because the landlord said he's coming this weekend, which should be interesting because he's from Morocco and speaks ridiculously quickly so I can't really understand what he says. For some reason he wants to stay in my bedroom, which is quite annoying. 

On Saturday a teacher from the school who I have private classes with on Tuesday invited me to her family dinner. Firstly she took me on a tour of Melilla to the parts I haven't seen yet. I thought there was only so much you can see in a city with an area 12km² but apparently not. The other side of the city isn't exactly pedestrian or cyclist friendly because it mostly consists of main roads and massive hills, so I haven't really seen much of it. She drove down a massive hill to a fishing/swimming spot then up back up to a place called Los Pinos (The Pines) which is a forest area where people go for walks, picnics and barbecues.

Los Pinos

The area and cliffs were really beautiful and I hadn't seen the city from so high up before, so there were some amazing views. I especially liked views of the city and the clear blue sea, although the weather quickly changed from sunny to cloudy and dull. This is the first time I've really felt like I want to learn to drive, because the area isn't really easily accessible without a car and I would like to share the place with others. It was interesting to see how the fence of the border stopped at the cliff and continued along the land far below. It also saddened me that such an eyesore and horrible concept invaded the beautiful views. The teacher told me how when she was younger the fence was very small and she was able to climb over. Nowadays I can't imagine how on earth anybody could get over that fence (which is about 6 metres high), but it happens because people are desperate to get into Europe. In CETI I saw how some immigrants had injuries which I assumed were a result of climbing over the fence and getting caught on the barbed wire.

We then went to some parks in the city, one of which was an animal park but unfortunately it was closed, so I plan to visit it at a later date. We picked up her parents from the airport and went back to her house where I was treated to a 3 course meal which included wines, salad, Spanish omelette, fresh bread, my first vegetable paella, fresh oranges and mandarins (from the trees on the streets!) and tea. It was a really nice treat because its not often that somebody cooks for me these days and it was interesting to experience a Spanish family's dinner time. The teacher is one of the kindest people I've met here, although I have met many. I can't imagine people being so kind to acquaintances in England!

As you can see from the photos, the weather hasn't been so great recently. On Sunday there were winds of around 70mph, which apparently is close to the wind speed of a F0-F1 tornado. I was stupid enough to take my bike out along the promenade in this weather. As you can imagine, the wind had me pinned against the railings, sand blew into my eyes and water blew out of a fountain and onto me. Its also been raining a fair bit. The weather here is very unpredictable. I never know what to pack or what things to recommend that my visitors should pack. One day it can be sunny 20 degrees, the next raining and the next strong winds. Sometimes it changes completely within a day. Hopefully the weather will be kind to us this weekend. I hope this makes those of my friends in England and Finland feel a bit better!

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