Living Abroad: The Trial Run
Reader, I hope you will accept my apologies for my recent absence, which can only be justified by the aforementioned inordinate piles of merde I’ve had to organise before the big day (which is now less than a week away). Oh, and a holiday to Lanzarote.
With regard to said inordinate piles of merde, I can happily confirm that I have been doing lots of grown-up things, like talking to my bank about leaving the country, setting up a pre-paid travel money card with the Post Office (I left it too late to apply for a credit card) and searching Tesco for cheap medical supplies (I’d rather not entertain the idea of having to use a suppository).
As for the holiday to Lanzarote, I can even more happily confirm that I was filled with childish glee for the best part of a week (apart from the 8/9 hours I spent failing to recover from heatstroke). I played several very competitive (even violent) games of Piggy in the Middle (which involved me throwing myself often head first into the sea), one even more competitive (definitely violent) game of water polo (which saw me being hit in the windpipe by a speeding volleyball), threw myself merrily down many waterslides (and accidentally exposed myself to a lifeguard when my exit to the “Kamikaze” resulted in me being sans bikini), was bullied into singing karaoke and ran up and down the hotel patio as I took part in a quiz show (this time only exposing my knickers).
I decided that this was an excellent trial run for living abroad. I’ve never been on holiday without my parents or a host family before. And I’m going to call it a moderate success since nobody died (however see the Holiday Stats section below for a fuller picture).
I was thinking that this was an excellent trial run for being abroad just as I vomited into a friendly Irishman’s pub on the coast of Playa Blanca, having spent 4 hours on a beach in direct sunlight, it being 32 degrees out. As my friends (The Wife, The Messiah and Chunk) finished the one drink we bought as a matter of principal, the friendly Irish guy recommended I sit underneath his air-con, while he explained that “we locals don’t go out much between 11 and 3”. I was sadly in no fit shape to ask him how was his Spanish.
I eventually recovered from heatstroke and the resulting dehydration after spending 40 minutes in a bikini in a cold bath, telling The Wife that it was probably better that it happened there rather than in Toulouse, where there won’t be anyone quite as used to nursing me back to health.
When less green, I proved a pretty reasonable troubleshooter and interpreter. My tasks involved talking to taxi drivers, buying ferry tickets and tracking down some photos we ordered of several of our party with large serpents around our necks*. Having been promised they would arrive in time for our departure, I spent half an hour, at 4 in the morning, after 4 pints and no sleep, speaking in passable Spanish with the security guard who manned the reception at night (who had a speech impediment and said he knew only the phrases “Here is your deposit” and “Have a nice flight” in English).
It was all going well (and we eventually got the photos) until the sleep deprivation caught up with me and, whilst trying to assure the guy that he had been of excellent help, I told him “Everything you have… been… is very friendly”.
The holiday and trial run over and everyone back in one piece, I now have just 5 full days to be ready to leave Blighty. Just as when my internship came to an end and I handed in my report and several colourful maps (which apparently went down okay), it feels like the end of an era. A bloody good era in both cases, actually. I may have cried into the Ouse a little before I left my temporary sleeping arrangements and got on a train from The Shire to Mordor, where The Folks (my doting parents, The Bank and The Coordinator**) live.
There is so much to do in the next few days that I’m not quite sure how I’ll manage it. Although I have been taking a leaf out of Columbo’s book with regards to time management. She really is a class-A multi-tasker.While I’ve been checking in for flights whilst browsing online for last-minute checklists and eating a sandwich, she was practising for her driving test with the help of obliging or unaware hospital patients in wheelchairs. And chanting “observation, signal, manoeuvre” whilst wheeling Mr Parkinson and Mrs Alzheimer around has paid off, since she passed while I was holidaying. You go, Columbo!
Let’s see if I can’t “observation, signal, maneouvre” this Year Abroad into fifth gear.
*I was tricked into admitting I was scared of snakes and was subsequently dragged in front of an audience to have a 20 kilo python put round my neck. It’s a trap!
**The Bank is so named because, not unlike many banks historically, he is willing to give the odd loan and not really expect me to be able to pay it back. And The Coordinator took the opportunity while I was away to categorise and bag all of my cables and chargers, not unlike police evidence. She likes to have a plan and a system for everything.
Days away: 6
Physical injuries: 3
Times sunburnt: 2
Most bizarre place sunburnt: little toe
Times vomited in an Irish pub: 3
Mosquito bites: like a million
Approximate number of litres of water park in ear: 6
Most consecutive hours without sleep: 36
Percentage of party with suspected food poisoning: 50%
Accidental self-exposures: 3
Times told off for abusing all-inclusive: 2
Number of beers you can fit on a table: 24
“I’m on a boat”: 1
“It’s a trap”: 3
Hilarious quotes: 42
Poker games lost: 19
Conversations in Spanish: 23
Soundtrack: Barbara Streisand
Catchphrase: “I’ve got a jar of dirt.”
Leitmotiv: prosthetic limbs