Truth be told, it doesn’t take much for me to get frustrated, but yesterday was a bad day; the wind must have been blowing from the wrong direction.
We have a lovely open fire in the snug, and recent evening temperatures dictated that we light it the other evening. Despite its many charms, the fire well-nigh asphyxiated the two of us, and the house now has a heavy scent of woodsmoke clinging to its very walls. Optimistically, we extolled the romantic virtues of a real fire, as we gazed at it through stinging eyes, barely able to breathe. The fire smokes.
My solution is to get a grate so that a more effective draw can be created from beneath to help the smoke find the flue and not escape into the home. In a region where open fires are commonplace, where does one look for a grate? I never thought it could be so complicated! Leroy Merlin appeared to have a couple online, so I trotted off to our nearest branch at the (relatively) new Nevada Shopping mall on the edge of Granada. The car park was bursting at the seams, and the massive main car park is not yet open (the Nevada Shopping complex deserves its own blog post, so watch this space). I had to park in a nearby residential side street and walk. Leroy Merlin normally stock the particular item I was after, but today they had none. Oh well. They did have plenty of Christmas decorations, though!
On the drive home, I stopped at a branch of Bricolaje, a builders merchants near the valley, and there was told that the product I had in mind was a grill and not a grate. There does not seem to be a Spanish word for fire grate - ‘parrilla’ is a grill, ‘reja’ is also a grille, but typically decorative; you can throw in words like ‘fuego’ and 'leña' to make it clear what you are after, but it proved tricky. I also discovered that grates should always be made of cast iron (hierro) and not steel (acero). When I finally got home, I googled every possible idea - forges, blacksmiths, grills, fireplaces, looking at images and trying to find the Spanish description. Eventually, I believe I may have found the right thing on eBay, but we shall have to see….
My second frustration of the day was a phone call.
We are still slightly petrified when the phone rings. After an impressive ‘digame’ by way of an opening gambit, we rapidly become stumped as any conversation progresses. Yesterday’s call was from a lovely lady from Movistar/Telefonica, providers of our phone and internet service. Every encounter we have had with any Spanish people has been nothing short of extremely pleasant, and this encounter was no exception. Sadly, I had little understanding of what was being said and I felt both embarrassed and very frustrated. I feared that I might well have been agreeing to buy some extortionately priced additional service, so I am ashamed to admit that I resorted to the ‘no entiendo’ approach to negotiation. Telefonica lady apologised to me for not being able to speak English! Apologised to me!! That compounded my shame. Mind you, having probably gone away with an agreed order for the most expensive fibre-optic broadband in the universe, she was no doubt delighted.
So, not a great day. We both know that we would face challenges, and that learning to speak a new language does not happen overnight. That still doesn’t lessen the frustration.
Next week, we are back at school for a 3 week run, and we have determined to join in some arranged intercambio sessions to get to speak Spanish. We are cut off a little in the village, but again, we aim to start to force conversation with the locals, as we gain a little more confidence. Tonight, we hit Granada for ‘la marcha’ - nightlife - with the aim of making some Spanish friends. Sounds simple!