We made it!! (and we love it!)

What a journey! We left Amarillo at 2:20pm on Sunday, flew to DFW and were supposed to have a 2 hour layover before our 9.5 hour flight to Madrid. They discovered a problem with the plane (which we are grateful that they found it there!) and we had to switch gates several times, including 2 terminal changes, at DFW before they found a plane capable of making the journey to Madrid. We were finally off the ground a few hours later and on our way. Unfortunately, this meant we would land in Madrid after our flight to Málaga had already taken off, but we were pleasantly surprised by the service when we got there. When we walked off the plane, an agent was standing there with boarding passes for the next flight out and a voucher for 40 euros for lunch in the airport. After a long layover, we arrived in Malaga after a short 1 hour flight but the last train for Ronda had already left since there are very few each day. So we found a hotel and went out for dinner and tried a variety of tapas and seafood.  We caught a train to Ronda at 10am today and were finally able to complete the last leg of our journey. Lesson learned: Ronda is not a simple destination to get to, but it is worth the trip!

Any worries we may have had about what Ronda would actually be like were immediately put to rest as the train started going through the countryside leaving Málaga, it is simply stunning! When we arrived at the train station in Ronda 2 hours later, we were blown away. It is absolutely beautiful, we are already in love with this little town! Our apartment is absolutely everything we had hoped it would be as well, Gil will make a video soon so that we can give everyone a tour. We are honestly just ecstatic…and now I’ll stop gushing about it.

Things We Learned on our First Day in Ronda:

1. “Gil” does not translate to Spanish. He is now known as something sounding a bit like “heel” because when they try to say his name as we do in English it sounds like a combination of Gail, Gull, and Girl… “gllllll” is probably most accurate, it’s a sound not a word.

2. It turns out we both look fairly Spanish, not just Gil, which was a bit of a surprise to me, and our last name is Solano. So most people assume by looking at us or seeing our name on a reservation that we know Spanish and talk to us as if we do…but the conversation deteriorates very quickly!

3. Google Earth is a seriously amazing thing. Gil has not had to ask for directions at all, we have been walking all over town today and he just knows where everything is from time spent wandering the streets on Google Earth before we got here!

4. Amazingly, I can actually understand pretty well if people speak fairly slowly, which is a nice surprise since it has been 13 years since my last Spanish class. However, I can’t remember very many vocabulary words at all and have to ask Gil how to say everything in order to respond. Gil knows the Spanish translation of a lot of English words, but can’t understand anything anyone is saying. Our landlord only speaks Spanish (as does pretty much everyone we have interacted with so far) so we had to try to figure things out pretty quickly, and I’m sure that the person talking to us always has a very strange experience with the one who understands being unable to respond and the one who has no idea what is being said providing the Spanish words for the response. I’m not sure I’m doing a good job of explaining it, so here is an illustration:

Landlord: (In Spanish) “Since today is the last day of the month, it is not necessary to write down the usage of electricity on the meter because I will just pay for September and October starts tomorrow so you will pay for that whole month. Do you understand?”
Sarah: “Ah, sí” (explains in English to Gil what she just said).
Gil: “Oh, ok” (clearly did not understand until I told him in English)
Landlord: (In Spanish): “So I am your first Spanish lesson, it’s not going too bad”
Sarah: “Sí, gracías!”
Sarah (to Gil): How do you say teacher or teach in Spanish?
Gil: Why?
Sarah: I want to tell her she is a good teacher.
Gil: Profesora could work for that.
Sarah: “Tu es bueno profesora” (completely murdering both the pronunciation and grammar of the language)

That is just a sample of the ridiculous interactions we have been having all day, it has honestly been really funny watching us unintentionally confuse people. We are just doing whatever we can to communicate and our survival style so far is hilariously confusing to everyone. We are hoping that we will quickly improve in our ability to have basic communication!

5. This entire experience so far has felt very much like the first day of college. A long journey to an unknown place, arriving and getting a fire hose of information about your new home, multiple trips to the store to buy things like shampoo, dish soap, an iron, and hangers, trying to figure out internet access, getting acquainted with a new city…it’s so much fun!

I wish that I had some pictures to share but I haven’t taken a single one yet! I have been busy navigating all of the travel since I booked everything but luckily Gil has been making videos to document the trip so, as soon as he is able to edit things, he will post a visual version of our trip and then he’ll work on one of a tour of our apartment. Overall we are just so, so happy with how everything has turned out so far. I can’t wait to get a little more settled in and to start “normal” life here, we are well on our way to feeling home in Ronda already!

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