Spain: First impressions

As the clock ticks around to midnight on the 6th March 2012 in Aviles, Asturias I have been overcome with creative juices. That is the thing I love about travel and new places; it seems to open up your mind and makes you appreciate the finer things in life. It has been 3 days and 2 nights since I arrived, and already I have experienced so much!

At the airport I met the luggage guy who was funny about my wheelchair weight last time. He was in similar form on Sunday, but that would never have brought my mood down – I was landing in Spain to live here for 2 months. As you know I like to say “I was living the dream” once again. Having met the other guys, I unpacked and watched Aviles FC score 4 goals from my bedroom window. Awesome. Then I grabbed a beer and pizza with the nice german lad I am living with, before crashing.

Yesterday was slower. If the volunteers work Saturday then Mondays are free. Also 2 new volunteers arrived: one from Northern Ireland and one from Greece. So with a Finnish girl, the German lad and my Portugese and Polish care assistants, we are quite the pan european outfit. Later one of the paid staff invited myself and the guy from Northern Ireland out. I drank a beer, followed by plenty of the local cider. Beware: this stuff looks and tastes light but it is hardcore. You have to pour it a special way (bottle held up near your head and the glass by your waste) as the bubbles make the taste near to perfection. You then have to down it before the gas goes. I felt fine in the bar, but oh my god I was hammered walking (rolling) home. We even got lost and my hands were so cold that I could barely operate my chair. Still, all is well that ends well!

Today I have definitely felt sensitive. I just cannot drink like the uni days 😉 says the old boy… Anyway I met my coordinator and chatted about how I am settling in, what I will be doing and had a general catch up. I have taken some time to explore the town and really like the feel here. I am now feeling about right to get my head down, plan and deliver some projects. I have already started sourcing free music for my radio show and arranged to meet an Asturian artist to deliver a project around disability awareness in Aviles.

The town seems pretty accessible on the whole. I have had to be lifted up the odd step, but nothing insurmountable. Clearly no steps would be preferable but when people are happy to muck in and help; it removes the frustration of said step anyway. I have met lots of cool, open minded and friendly people. The town itself has 85,000 inhabitants, it is by a harbour, 10 minutes to the beach and has a lot of character. The colours of the houses are bright and distinctive, it reminds me of a cartoon sometimes. There is a lot yet to still explore.

The best part of the trip so far has to be this evenings Spanish classes. I have already been feeling slightly out of my comfort zone, but this was something else. I did spanish for 1 year 14 years ago, I really want to learn it well whilst here, but what a reality check. It was funny being in a situation of having no knowledge, feeling stupid and being helpless. I say this positively as I know I need to study harder now and this is the exact reason I chose to do EVS: to challenge myself. I will keep you posted on the lessons as I go…

I grabbed a Skype chat with my mum tonight. I definitely needed a little lift before bed from home, plus I am sorting my new wheelchair, car repairs and subletting my flat while away. As well as, the webinars and my new ecourse. Busy but amazing time.

I hope you are well, wherever you are reading this from.


  1. Hola Martyn!

    I speak Spanish. There’s a useful trick when your goal is to be understood rather than get it right – you can safely ignore most conjugations and tenses. Heresy, I know, but it’s true. People *will* understand, especially if you use pronouns, and smile/nod/gesture.

    For e.g.,

    ‘I am going to the restaurant now’

    A Spanish person might say ‘ya voy al restaurante’ (now/I go/to the/restaurant)

    You can safely say ‘yo ir restaurante’ (I/base verb for ‘go’/restaurant)

    …and they’ll know what you mean.

    Chuck in ‘antes’ (before), ‘despues’ (after), ‘ya/ahora’ (now) where necessary, and you’ll find your vocab stretches a whole lot further.

    Have fun!

  2. Dear Martyn

    Sounds like a good start, pleased your enjoying yourself, but shame you have so many things in the UK to deal with.

    Like the bit about the “Uni” days – we all have to accept that were growing older!



  3. Hi Martyn, sounds like you’re having a great time. Hope the Webinars went well in Hackney.

    Keep blogging and enjoy the volunteer life!

    All the best,


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