Lingua Franca – AKA an Australian trying to speak Spanish/French punctuated with crazy arm gestures!

We’ve known for a couple of years now that we were taking this long break to Spain and we had visions ( :O ) of being as fluent as ‘book-taught’ Spanish speakers could be!

Funny story!!!!

Those of you that know me through work know that I’m a machine (visualize the Energizer Bunny!) – head down, bum up – no time for chatting (heaven forbid!) lunch break – what’s that? Coffee break – ha – I laugh at coffee breaks (although it is also well known that I have a weakness for a Coffee Cat coffee on route to work – ha ha!).

However, when I get home – a whole different story!! I could be described as Amoeba-blob – although to be fair to the Amoeba he’s probably very busy multiplying and evolving! I have also previously described myself as zombie-like – but to be fair to zombies they actively ‘zomb’ (made up word!).

So, picture a room filled to overflowing with language courses – well, maybe not overflowing; perhaps not filled – but if you look closely at the bookshelf behind the pedestal fan, behind the glass doors, mixed in with the ‘somewhat interesting, but I’ll really never get around to reading them’ mind-expanding books (as opposed to the total escapist , lots of thrills and excitement-filled tomes that I constantly read) you’ll see the sad and lost-looking language courses (yes Lorraine – opened!).

There are perhaps 5 different Spanish courses – all promising great results in a super-speedy (ridiculously speedy, some of them) amount of time. Unfortunately, none of them promise knowledge or fluency through proximity or osmosis! Neither do the Mandarin, Italian, Japanese, French (even though I did 5 years of French) or Irish Gaelic courses also filling these shelves. (I do sometimes imagine that these language courses aren’t totally ‘living’ barren and meaningless lives. Imagine when we are all asleep these languages yabbering away with each other, having a great old time – enjoying the multiculturalism of the Nankivell office bookcase! (Weirdo Trish; I know 🙂 ).

So (again!) I’m a workaholic (at work) and Eric has the stamina of … something with a lot of stamina and high personal motivation – BUT somehow our best intentions have gone by the wayside and pretty much we have learned NADA :).

I have the feeling that we will be cramming ‘hopefully’ very useful phrases and vocab into our brains over the coming six weeks … or maybe the last two weeks (2 days?) HA! Of course, living in Spain for 10 weeks we will be immersed and learn some of the language – but we could have been ‘pre-immersed’ and arrived in Barcelona in August raring to go and able to be engage with the locals straight away!! 

Now? Nice chatting with you …. agradable charlar con usted, bello chattare con voi, 漂亮和你聊天, and 素敵なをとのチャット – couldn’t find a translation for Irish Gaelic – Mr Gilsenan?!


Travelling light

So, travelling for three months and what to pack!

If you google ‘travelling light’ there are lots of helpful tips. Checklists, how to travel with only hand luggage, bring ‘half as much luggage and twice as much money‘, airline requirements for carry-on and checked-in luggage, the philosophy of ‘travelling light’, which is not just about what size is the biggest bag you can take, but more about the minimum amount of stuff you need to carry around.

Eric and I are seriously considering the possibility that we are going to travel for 14 weeks – and we will take only 1 carry on case each (plus a handbag/day pack for book/laptop). Seems (at first thought) as a pretty hard thing to achieve.

Immediately I thought ‘yeah, if I was skinny my clothes would be smaller and lighter and I could pack more and ANYTHING I put on would look good, instead of being fat and needing lots of variety so that I may possibly find something on any given day that looks good!’

Phew! That already took lots of my energy; however, I reckon I could go with one of the standard packing lists for women and deal with it!

So, I will probably take 4 to 6 shirts/tops (combo of short and long-sleeved), 2 pairs of pants (one dressy, one casual) 2 pairs of capri pants, 2 bras, 4 underpants, 1 light cardigan, 2 pairs of shoes (one closed, one open), a scarf or two, a lightweight raincoat and basic to no toiletries – because you can buy toiletries outside of Australia (surprise!).

I had a look at carry on hand luggage today – DO YOU KNOW HOW SMALL THEY ARE? No way (says my brain) can I carry enough stuff in that!

So, it will be a challenge – and if I hang around with the same people for a few days (like on our Greek Island tour) they’ll be going ‘Mmm, she has worn the same thing three times this week! For shame!’ 🙂 and if I was a more easy going person, that probably wouldn’t bother me much. But I am not easygoing, nor do I like how I look at 50 – so I want lots of clothes with lots of choices – AND then I’ll have lots of clothes that I won’t wear, so …. back to the travelling light part!

With a limited wardrobe, hopefully I can just concentrate on enjoying the journey. This is what I have to wear; they’re clean and colourful – get over it! This is me, exploring the world, making new friends, experiencing other cultures – who cares what I look like? Except that everybody does (in Western society) – and anybody who doesn’t think so is deluding themselves.

In fact, I just read something that mentions that – I’m going to go look it up! Looked it up … it is in Khaled Hosseini’s new book And the mountains echoed, which is again set in Afghanistan from 1952 to current day. One of the many main characters trained as a plastic surgeon and he learned that ‘the world didn’t see the inside of you, that it didn’t care a whit about the hopes and dreams, and sorrows, that lay masked by skin and bone.’ Of course, I don’t have huge physical problems that merit plastic surgery, but it did ring true – and what really brings things into focus for this character is that he spends half of his working life with people needing face lifts, erasure of wrinkles, eyebrow lifting, etc and the rest travelling the world helping children with cleft lips, facial tumours and repairing injuries. It does feel like such a shallow thing, worrying about what you look like, but it is the first thing that people notice about you – and it does bother me!

So, more personal growth really; limit what clothing and accessories I bring with me and learn to live with how I am and keep it simple (stupid!). Give people I meet the chance to get to know me (inside) and not the surface me. I’m married to a man who just doesn’t give a hoot about such things (like many men?) and doesn’t really understand why I worry so much; but he is also a wonderful caring and loving husband who tries to encourage me to just be myself and not give myself such a hard time!

He is delighted that it is me who has decided on this ‘one bag’ travel ethos!

Apart from the benefits of limited clothing and not worrying so much about what I look like, there is the ease of departing airports (no waiting for luggage) of making your way to accommodation – you can walk for ages if need be and hop on and off public transport with greater ease, the risks of lost luggage are lower – and if you do lose your luggage, all you’ve lost is some clothes – not all your expensive jewellery (because you left it at home) not the hairdryer, or most gorgeous handbag or shoes (because they’re in your wardrobe also!) – nor the 5 books that you just had to bring along or the photos that you really felt you needed to share (or look at a lot while you missed your kids!) – just some clothes and they are easily replaced!

You’ve lessened your impact on the environment – less weight contribution on the plane and therefore use of fuel! You can avail yourself more easily of express check-in and won’t need to wait in so many queues. And if you do find yourself travelling on smaller or more budget-type airlines at some point and you have to check in your luggage – it’s not the end of the universe!

So, next trick – deciding on which clothes are coming with me and BLOODY FORCING THEM INTO THAT SUITCASE!!

Ciao, for now! x