First impressions can always be deceiving it seems. There are gems to be found everywhere, you just have to search a little harder sometimes.
My first impression of my new hometown of Linares was not fantastic. I was coming from a three hour train ride and lugging my four heavy bags of luggage around, trying to figure out how to get them on and off the train without breaking my back in the process, so I tried to give Linares a benefit of a doubt based on the fact that my mood was so sour.
My first impression: dirty, small, dirty, and kind of abandoned and dirty. The next day didn’t start off too well either, as two apartments I had lined up to see were taken and I had to find more numbers and places to see.
This is where it started to pick up…I have felt so incredibly supported and protected here in Linares, despite the grime on the streets and buildings. I have been befriended by locals and returning teachers alike, and they have showed me a whole other side of this town that are bringing forth, gradually, feelings of love.
Linares is a beautiful place because of the people who live here. Everyone I have met so far has been like family. My landlady is looking over us like a mother hen. I look forward to spending so much time with her and her daughter and their little puppy, Luna, on their olive farm and wandering around Linares. The second and third year English teachers here are an incredible support system, answering all of my annoying questions over canas and tapas. But I think the most fascinating thing about Linares is it’s size. It’s big enough to not know everyone, but small enough to walk anywhere and see people you know along the way. I look forward to making this my home.
Questions of identity and culture have already arisen, and as a result discussed over bottles of wine in my apartment with another American multiracial teacher. One of the first questions asked by many people I’ve met is what my background is. Yesterday alone I was told twice that I appeared to be Indian. The questions haven’t bothered me as much here, if only because they don’t seem to get many foreigners and if they do they have the “typical” appearance of the country from which they hail. In Madrid, I ended up getting into a deep conversation about these issues with a vendor at El Rastro. I look forward also to this; delving more into these concepts of culture and identity.
Overall, I’m settling in. The challenge is that I feel like I’ve been here forever, in a familiar and comfortable way, so I expect to be more settled in than I actually am. It’s only been a week, but one step at a time.