Monday, 8 September 2014

On the Way to the Edge: Part the Second - Reaching the Edge

Disclaimer:  The first few lines of this blog entry may be self-congratulatory and contain a dangerously high dose of smugness.  I do solemnly swear that the rest of the blog will steer clear of that kind of nonsense.


Walk to work

There…deep breaths...that’s better.  Glad I got that out of my system.  Sorry you had to bear witness to that unpleasantness.

Okay, let’s rewind a few days and get some context.

It is 6 o'clock in the morning on the 30th of  August 2014.  Sensible people are tucked snugly in their beds, actively exploring the wonders of not being awake. 

Crazy people are still awake, sucking the last bacchanalian marrow out of the dying remnants of the summer party season before Autumn and the day job come calling.

I, on the other hand, am just getting up, bleary-eyed and tousle-headed, torn unwillingly from the not-quite-comfort-but-it’ll-do of my conveniently located, reasonably priced hostal accomodation.

I zombie my way through Malaga’s metro system (accompanied by the dulcet tones of Eurodance music pumped out by a pair of bronzed, precipitously high heeled Russian girls)  to the airport and my morning hop across the Alboran Sea crossing from Spain in Europe to Spain in Africa.

This has to be the first time I’ve taken a domestic flight that traversed two continents (I'm figuring that Russia, Turkey and Panama may also be contenders for this crown).

I arrive in Melilla at Feria time (the annual fair), so the entire town is in party mode, its mix of cultures encapsulated in a swirl of flamenco dresses and head scarves, hookah pipes and tapas stalls.  

It seems the whole town has taken the week off to enjoy the fair' s mixture of traditional Spanish and Moroccan entertainments, such as bingo and bumper cars.
A Reverse Top Gun - which I believe is a kind of wrestling move.

But I am a homeless, so I can't just play about in the Feria all week.  Time to flat hunt.  There are ten teachers on the British Centre flat-hunt enjoying a kind of sweaty, bewildered city-tour, wandering from prospective flat to prospective flat in a midday heat daze of need-somewhere-to-live desperation.

I am seeking three things:   1) An oven  
                                                    2) A spare room
                                                               3) A swimming pool

It's a tall order, but the very last flat of the day comes up trumps.

Flat secured, it was time to acquire the little necessities which you always need to get when you move into a new place.

I was advised to wander a few blocks down the seafront from my new gaff to a Chinese run establishment called Sol Y Mar.  This turned out to be a veritable Aladdin' s cave of competitively priced miscellanea.  After spending an extended period exploring entranced the cornucopia of fabrics, stationary, tupperware, flip-flops, screws nails and tools, kiddies backpacks and kitchenware on offer I purchased the essentials required for every civilized establishment:  a coffee grinder, an Italian style cafetiere, a cocktail shaker and a 300pc poker set (and was rewarded with a bonus complementary Chinese charm to place on the front door).

The Essentials

And so, the first week of teacher induction, feria wandering and flat-hunting over, I am ready to get stuck into some serious teaching.

Friday, 29 August 2014

On the Way to the Edge: Part the First - Drawn to the Edge

I have of late come to realize that I am intrigued by the edges of things; particularly when those edges are somewhat fuzzy.

Take human beings for example.  We like to think of ourselves as a complete entity, hermetically sealed and separated from the big, scary world that surrounds us.  But where does each individual of this us end, and the world begin?   At our skin?  What about the heat and noise we emit, is that part of us?  The air we breathe...when it is inside us, is it part of us?  Yet it came from beyond us, impregnated with hundreds of tiny creatures that are definitely not us.  And when we exhale it again, at what point does it cease to be us?  If the microbeasts we take in aren’t us, what about the plethora of symbiotic beasties that keep our stomach in working order?  And do we leave little usnessess behind everytime we visit the toilet? 

Yes indeed, the edges of things fair fascinate me.

And so you find me en route to the small town of Melilla, which is both very edgy and notably fuzzy.  Nestled in a curve of the North African coast, it is nevertheless a part of the European Union.  Surrounded on all sides by Morocco and at no point touching so much as a grain of mainland Spanish earth, it is nevertheless a part of Spain.  And although Morocco is insistent that the Spanish authorities return this colonial relic to its rightful Moroccan inheritors, it has been a part of Spain since 1497, 169 years before there was a Morocco for the town to belong to, and only 20 years after a Spain came into existence for it to be part of.

Of course, you could argue it differently, as the historical border between Morocco and non-Morocco is also rather fuzzy, but that's another story...