This blog post runs parallel to a tired and jaded me. Not because Spain is getting me down, oh now, but because I was out last night till 4 am! It hits me harder than 10 years ago I can tell you. Damn ageing. I hope this fatigue doesn’t taint the description of how awesome things are here. Anyway, today also marks 2 weeks in Aviles. Time is really flying.
I hope you enjoyed reading about my initial thoughts here. On reflection I can say those first days were difficult. Having dealt with so much paperwork, budgets, logistics and practical matters; I had ignored the real human emotions of going away for 2 months. You can see on the first video how my room is very well setup, and then on my last video my adventure to the beach. Being pulled in by the police was momentarily worrying, but amusing in the end. I can definitely say that in 2 weeks I am feeling more settled, I have made good progress on my project and managed to explore some of the immediate areas in Asturias. But what are my projects and how is the area?
With my room, care, equipment, communal area and fellow volunteers all being cool I needed to get busy and productive. So far I have worked with Theis from Germany and Lotta from Finland on an English conversation class and an English for beginners class. Around 5 people attend from Aviles and I enjoy passing on my knowledge of the English language to help others learn it. On Friday I did my first ‘Sunnier Days’ radio show, this week on the subject of travel. I will share the link on facebook/twitter when I have the podcast. It was strange and I am keen to hear how much I just rambled, but it was a cool experience. I am also learning Spanish still each Tuesday and Thursday. This is difficult for me, but I am learning more and more so lets see how I go by May.
My 2 other projects are a CV workshop and something on disability. The CV workshop is on Thursday so I am planning what I should include at the moment. It will complement the ‘Inspiring Employment’ ecourse I am launching in the coming week too. Watch this space! For the disability project I have met a local artist, explained the fundamentals of the social model of disability, and we are meeting Wednesday to look at using the environment of Aviles to do something kick ass.
In terms of the environment, Aviles is pretty accessible. I met the mayor last week and she told me how they made significant improvements and she was glad I was benefitting from them. All 6 of us volunteers plus my PA made the local press from this meeting. Crazy days. It is a really old style of architecture and the each house is painted a different colour. I have wandered around the park for some tranquil time and enjoyed the view by the river.
Beyond general access the people are great. I do get stared at a bit more than in England, but I think that is cultural too. I have met a few local people and felt very welcomed. On a general social level, I have had some great discussions with John from Northern Ireland and Paula from Galicia over a few beers. I have also enjoyed chilling in the kitchen with Vinka from Croatia, Athina from Greece, Theis and Lotta. Always good to put the worlds to rights.
Having settled, started to work on some things and enjoy the social side of life here; I have still been working on my other projects. You may have seen the Guardian article with Srin and myself for Disability Horizons? We were so happy to get such a write up, exposure (we were on the homepage!) and the chance to enhance Horizons influence on disability issues. For me, having worked so hard on this, it was weird having nobody around me that understood how much it meant. However, the other guys were really cool and interested in what I am up to with Horizons. Athina from Greece even shared the link on Facebook. It was also sad to read the negative comments on the article. Srin and I know too well the struggles of being disabled and the need for campaigning; it was a shame that those readers assumed we were overlooking these issues. We just believe in a complementary publication to the other types, and to offer some escapism too from some of the crap in the world.
I also practiced for the next webinar on Wednesday 28th March at 1pm UK time, with the 3 guest speakers. It will be on travel. It was good to know all of our connections will enable a smooth session on the day. I hope you can join us?
Best head off, grab some dinner and get ready for Skype with mum for Mothers day later!
I will check in again soon with a video of the flat, the views of Aviles and maybe some of the guys too.
Until then, peace out…