Blogs in this series

Life in Culebrón is a disconnected series of pieces about the banal and ordinary of everyday life in an inland Alicante village seen from my very British perspective.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Bar library nexus

On Friday afternoons, in Cartagena, Maggie and I used to go to a Spanish language group organised by one of the local language schools. We paid a couple of euros and the language centre sent a teacher or two to moderate the session. The group was made up of lots of us foreigners - principally Brits and Dutch but with the occasional Czech and Zimbabwean thrown in - and the idea was that we all spoke Spanish to each other. It was organised into largish discussion groups dependant on the number of attendees with some chosen topic of conversation. The numbers dwindled when the language school upped the price to five euros and, eventually, so few people attended that it was knocked on the head.

Maggie wondered about doing something similar between Spaniards and English speakers in Pinoso but somebody else beat her to it. Every Wednesday one of the local bars, Cafe Coliseum, acts as the venue. The organiser is an efficient young woman, who I'm sure introduced herself to me but whose name I forget. She divvies us up into little knots for conversation. I usually end up with two or three Spanish speakers to talk to. I drink a couple of non alcoholic beers whilst I'm doing it and vainly try to eat the nut mix that comes free with the beer flavoured pop.

I have no idea why the group exists. I suppose it could be an act of altruism on the part of the nameless young woman but it's more likely that the bar saw it as a way to increase trade during the early part of a quiet evening, Early Wednesday can't be a big night for a bar in a village of fewer than 8,000 people! I've never thought to ask and I don't really care too much. The outcome though is that I'm meeting more locals and getting a bit of Spanish practice too.

An odd side effect has to do with the library. I joined Pinoso library when we first moved here. The library was in a different building then. I was quite an active borrower until life got in the way. Work kept us away from Pinoso for long periods so I joined other libraries, in other towns. Then the world went digital and Maggie bought me a Kindle which offered cheap books and the major advantage, for reading in a language that isn't my own, of a built in dictionary.

The language thing in the bar meets more or less opposite the super modern library that we now have in Pinoso. I have a bit of free time between the start of the language group and the time that I reach Pinoso after leaving work. Each evening I have to record what I did with the classes I taught and, for the majority of those classes, share that information with one of my teaching colleagues. Rather than sitting in the car with the laptop to do the recording I took to going into the library. As well as lights and desks they have free WiFi too so I asked about the process for getting a password. It revolved around me being a member of the library. The amazing thing is that I am. Despite my library card saying, very clearly, that it expired in 2007 the library people have constantly renewed my membership.

Nice to see a performance indicator working for me for a change.

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