Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back In The USSA

All transactions are done. The prepaid security deposit on the apartment in Málaga was returned. The unused healthcare was refunded. All funds have been transferred from my Spanish to my American bank account. Permission to use photographs has been given. So it is time to wrap up this Web Site Story (West Side Story pun intended, as is the Beatles’s Back In The USSR).

The return flight was long and tiring. The first leg of the flight was from Málaga airport to Gatwick. Then, a 45 minute bus ride to Heathrow. No flight activity occurs between midnight and around 7am. My flight to Houston left at 10am and got in late. The next flight to Austin required a 2 hour wait. But, I'm finally back home.

The first few weeks were spend setting up house: getting an apartment, taking my stuff out of storage, retrieving my vehicle from storage, updating registrations, getting internet service, getting back in touch with my friends, etc. BTW, I'd like to extend an invitation to anyone coming from Spain to Austin, Texas, USA. Traveling can be expensive so eliminating the cost of lodging and transportation while here helps. Just contact me ahead of time at RonGarza(arroba)hotmail(punto)com.

What a great time I had in Málaga! I really recommend it. Spain is more expensive than the US but not that much more and, in my experience, it was safe, clean, and modern -- and that is worth the extra cost. There are plenty of things to do and see and lots of people to meet. Here is a picture of (right-to-left) Margarita, Nacho, (I think I've forgotten his name so I'll call him) Anders (sorry), and María at a going-away supper they gave me and Anders, who speaks pretty good Spanish, English, and Dutch and was returning to Holland. The food was great and included champiñon, empananda salmorejo, and tortilla española. Margarita hosts a Multi-Language Intercambio called Truequelengu. It can be found on Facebook using truequelengu in the Search box.

What impressed me the most about Spain was the civility. Spaniards would rather starve than rob you and go to hell. When people are done eating, they reset the chairs. A person on the bus gave a 10 euro note to the bus driver saying, "I don't know who this belongs to, but I know it doesn't belong to me". Women can (and do) lay topless on the beaches without anybody harassing or even gawking at them. The cops "don't take no shit from no one"; they are proud to be policemen.

The transportation system also impressed me. Buses run all day and night, exactly on time. The electric trains -- wow -- that was impressive. I counted to 35 going through a tunnel on the way to Sevilla; that's a very long tunnel! The ride was smooth and quiet.

Of course, no place is perfect. I disliked the store hours (closed on Sunday and for a few hours in the afternoons). I hated the noise that some (uneducated) people make, like yelling from the street to people in an apartment. Seriously, get some class. That and dogs pooping on the sidewalks and the owners not picking up after them. They may or may not have been Spaniards, it doesn't matter. You're in Spain. Don't do that. You'll turn this place into a ghetto, and then leave to find "a better place".

Given all the pros and cons, I would return to Spain. I would not, however, attempt to get a visado again. For as advanced as Spain is, it is still mired in bureaucracy. I feel pretty sure that a visa was granted, but it got lost somewhere between Manilva, Estepona, Málaga, and Madrid. An American can stay in Spain legally without a visa for up to 90 days. I would do that again.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my experiences. Please feel free to comment, but since I may not check comments in the future, if you want an answer, feel free to write me at the email address listed above, using the "at" sign for arroba and a period for "punto".


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