With every week that passes I’m feeling more and more like I belong here and that this is now MY country and my culture. I guess moving country is supposed to be like this, for a while it might be hard but soon, and, in my case at least, fairly easily, you start the process of cultural appropriation, and you view yourself as part of the “furniture” of your new country. By this I mean that you start to feel like you form part of this new country and culture. It’s the little things that give this away, for example calling 19º “freezing” (when in Southampton, at the exact same time, it was -3º), or hearing English being spoken in the street and not wanting to run towards the perpetrators screaming “I’M ENGLISH TOOOO PLEASE TALK TO ME PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE!”. (In fact, I think with that I might have gone too far in the other direction with this, and actually refer to these English-ers as Guiris, a Spanish term for English tourists that basically marks them out as different and incapable of adapting to the new culture (think Benidorm)).

The first love of any valencian

This week was fun! Not… I’ve spent a lot of the week with a virus that has even caused me to go to the doctors, which I generally tend to avoid like the plague. It’s caused me to miss work, which thankfully the teachers were extremely understanding about, but which none-the-less made me feel bad. Seeing how much they pay us to be here, for how few hours we actually work, it somehow didn’t feel right not going to work, but on the other hand, it would have been worse if I’d thrown up on a 6 year old trying their best to pronounce the words “pencil case”.

A couple of things about the Spanish health system.

  1. It has nothing on the NHS.
  2. Your nearest “centro de salud” (health center) may not be the one that will treat you. Having gone to the nearest one to my house (400m away) I was told that I had to go to a different one, 1.2km in the other direction. All the while thinking that with every step I was going to throw up…
  3. Once you get to the right health center, as a foreigner visiting for the first time, you have to wait for ages while they check all your data and your EHIC card, and for them to put all of this data onto a flimsy paper card called a SIP, which then entitles you to healthcare throughout the Valencian Community.
  4. Then you get admitted as “urgencia” which, unlike its name suggests (urgent) doesn’t mean you get seen to straight away. I was assigned to Dra Coloma, and then had to wait outside her office while she attended all of her booked patients first, including three older ladies who as far as I was aware were only there to get their prescriptions signed. An hour and a half later, a patient called “John Albert” was called. Turns out Spaniards really don’t like the British idea of middle names and, as Albert is a Valencian surname, they always think my name is John… Eventually I realised it was me that she was calling, gave up trying to explain my name was actually Sam, and came out two minutes later with a prescription for some medicine and a note saying I couldn’t work that day, or the day before, due to the virus.

So that was my doctors trip, and by Friday lunchtime I was feeling well enough to try to do some work. So I boarded the train to Alzira to go to my second job as an English tutor. Turns out I wasn’t as well as I thought I was, at least mentally as I mixed up the times and arrived at the revision centre, to much surprise on behalf of the owner, an hour early. English punctuality at its finest…

This weekend was way better than the week though, as there was a special… MASCLETÀ! Now completely recovered, we set off for València for the mascletà celebrating 100 years of the Mercat Central, it was probably the best mascletà that I have seen since the first one two and a half years ago. I can’t wait for March to start, as there will be one right on my doorstep every day!

Valencia, pre-Mascletà
València, post-mascletà

The mascletà was followed by a quite touristic diversion to la lonja. Yes, there’s a castle right in the centre of the city. Actually… no there isn’t. Its actually the old fish market. Valencia, although I am part of it, and it is definitely a huge part of me, will always, always be able to surprise me. I’ll let the photos do the talking…