Sunday, June 01, 2003

I have just moved apartment. I now have my own balcony and my new room is easily double the size of the last. While the new apartment is very old and nothing like the Ritz Hotel, it is bright, airy and comfortable. This is a big plus because there is no doubt that the other apartment would have become unbearable in the summer heat with the lack of space and light. My new location can´t get much better either as I now live less than two hundred meters from the palace and in the heart of oldest, most beautiful part of Madrid. The reason that I have moved is that the rest of my flatmates were changing aswell, with now being the best time of year to find good rented accomodation. I have yet to meet all of my six new flat mates. The only one who I have met thus far is Daniel, a half spanish, half australian guy. The others, to my delight are all spanish girls.

I am sorry to be leaving the old gang as the flat was always such an entertaining place. They have become good buddies and as you can guess, given the diversity of the group, it was very much an education. I also regret having to leave my neighbourhood. I´ve made many friends there and I loved having daily animated converstions with the half crazy shopkeepers around the corner. My friends and neighbours are disgusted that I would even contemplate moving from their beloved MalasaƱa. It is the "bohemian quarter" of Madrid which means alot in an otherwise highly conservative city. This area exudes with unbelievable pride which seems to date back to when they put up the fiercest resistance in the city to Napolean on May 2nd 1808 .They celebrate this date every year, over a four day period, with one of the most colourful festivals in Madrid. I would like to return to live in these parts again if I can. However that might prove difficult because it is fast becoming one of the trendier places to live and is now a property speculators dream.

I started working again a number of weeks ago with a new language academy. I only work for this school in the mornings as in the evenings I teach privately. It has certainly worked out well because I now earn almost the same money in twenty hours as I did with the cursed "Berlitz" in fifty hours. The only downfall of my new working arrangement is that if a few private students cancel in the same week, my spending ability is unexpectedly restricted. When I was working in the other company I was forever exhausted and constantly looking forward to laying my head on the pillow. Now, given the easier hours, I have alot more energy. Madrid suddenly seems so much more beautiful and enjoyable as I can walk the streets alot more awake and with a bounce in my stride. Friends have also commented that my Spanish has started to improve at a far faster rate. I´m sure this is because I now have more time, perhaps too much, to sit around and practise the local lingo with them.

The heat is beyond belief at times. Sometimes when you are walking in the street you think that you are unwell as the slightest hill seems to take such a toll on your body. That is only until you read the street temperatures as being in the high thirties or low forties. A number of days ago it was thirty nine degrees at 6 o clock in the evening. As as result of this you find that you organise your day according to the daily cycle of temperatures. For example I waited until eleven o clock at night to move my gear to my new apartment. The vast majority of offices will soon begin work an hour earlier at 8am and finish for the day at 2.30 in the afternoon. This will continue until the end of August.

I must admit that this heat has led the AL to becoming a great believer in the Siesta. But sure, when in Rome....!

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