Today marks one week that I have been in Spain for my segunda vez (second time). To say that it has been a crazy week would be too mild. I have never been so exhausted in mi vida (my life). After arriving in Madrid it has not been the prettiest of acclamations, between sweating through shirts, getting lost, and the countless number of blisters on my feet, it’s been a little painful. HOWEVER, I am beginning to relax now, heal some of my blisters and I am going to wash all my clothes in the next few days (pray that goes well).
I thought seeing as I love to tell stories and instead of boring you all about how orientation went (two words, hot and overwhelming), I thought I would tell you about my first experience with the piso (apartment) hunt in Logroño, Spain. This was one of my points of stress during the entire moving to Spain process. But, I am now able to say I officially locked down my new digs! Not so fast though, it wouldn’t be a “Makenna story” if it didn’t have a hiccup along the way.
On Thursday morning, bright and early, my new teaching buddy and I caught a bus to Logroño. Logroño is a solid four hours away from Madrid, but the drive takes you around mountains and the most wonderful views you’ve ever seen (at least to me). When we arrived in Logroñ0, with 70lbs+ of luggage in our hands, we wandered aimlessly around trying to find our hotel. Once we got rid of our bags and let the sweat dry, we began the apartment search.
I want to take a moment and explain the apartment hunt and why it can be stressful. In the U.S., in Columbia, MO at least, you can walk into an apartment complex, pay your deposit, sign on a line and walk into an apartment. In Spain, you have to search. You have to look up places online, call landlords, walk around to find announcements, talk to friends, locals etc. This actually doesn’t sound that much different than what I am sure it is like in other places in the U.S., but it’s all in Spanish. I am sure for fluent Spanish speakers, the entire process was painless. But one thing that I left in Spain when I went back to the states the first time, was apparently all my Spanish knowledge. It brings serious meaning to the saying “if you don’t use, you loose it.” Zero Spanish classes in 2 1/2 years, practically zero Spanish remembered. Just being honest. So that makes things difficult. Compounded with the huge rush of auxiliares (teaching assistants like me) flooding into the area all looking for the perfect piso with the perfect roommates, makes for a cut-throat process. Just imagine, thousands of people rushing in at the same time to pick from a few hundred apartments, in the heat, in a different language, and all between siesta (nap) times. I hope I am conveying some kind of picture.
Anyway, I had my first appointment at 2:30 pm the first day of our arrival in Logroño with a woman named Bea (short for Beatrice). She had a room available in her apartment and I could have my own private bathroom…heads up, when things seem too good to be true, they probably are, be warned. As my friend and I made our way over to the apartment, that is of course, after getting twisted and lost at least once, we made our way up to this apartment. The apartment entrance was beautiful. What I have been noticing about Logroño is that they spend a lot of time making the entrance to their apartments very sleek and enticing. However, the moment Bea opened her door to her apartment, I knew all the good was false advertising.
From the moment the door was opened, my nose was infiltrated by the intense smell of marijuana. Now, I’m not saying that marijuana is evil, if it’s legal, have fun, but in a country where it apparently is not and the consequences are high, I was not about to get into that. Don’t worry, that wasn’t the only deal breaker for me. Walking into the house that reeked so much of weed that I am sure my clothes still smell, I was shown the kitchen, private bathroom and the bedroom. All three areas, except for the bed coming up to my mid-calf, were relatively normal. All in all, when I was done looking at the bedroom and trying to small talk in broken Spanish, I thought, this could be great for someone else! Just not me.
Then I asked to see the common area. Up until this point Bea had been kind, pretty relaxed…I am sure due to previous activities that had occurred prior to our arrival…but nothing seemed too odd until I asked if I could see the salón (tv area). With that question I received a curt “no.” Perplexed my friend asked if there were other people staying in the apartment that would be using that area and if there would be no room for me to share the space (or some explanation). Bea simply replied, “solamente la habitación y el baño están libre.” (only the room and bathroom are free). Needless to say we were completely confused. The tv area was huge, I did not understand why that area was off limits, it accounted for half the apartment. Suffice to say, it felt very Mean Girls and I could practically hear Gretchen screaming “you can’t sit with us!” About five awkward minutes later and newly weed smelling clothes, my friend and I emerged on the street laughing at the cringe worthy experience.
So I did not pick that apartment. Instead, about four hours later I met a couple outside of a gorgeous apartment, walked in the apartment, rushed to get deposit money and ended up taking the apartment all within 20 minutes. This year I will be p
happily waking up to this beautiful view and two roommates; another Fulbrighter and a Spanish woman. And the best part? I can use the entire apartment.
In the end, my new apartment worked out for the best. Once I had paid the deposit, I sent a message to Bea to let her know I was going to go with another apartment. She asked if it had a salón and that I should send her pictures….don’t worry, ear prickles were on high alert and I kindly blocked her number. You never know…mean girls will do anything.
I hope you all have had a wonderful week, more posts from Logroño to follow!