Hello old friends.
I have been in Malaga for more than a week but am only now in a position to report my first impressions, having lived for several days as one of Spain’s noble homeless population in a youth hostel before I found my flat. The omens that this semester is going to be as alcoholic as one of Gazza’s farts were everywhere from the very moment I arrived; having been instructed on which bus to take in condescendingly brilliant English by the airport lady, I had barely taken my seat when we drove past a giant ‘San Miguel’ brewery. I actually felt my liver groan in exasperation as we then drove past what looked like a milk float, except that it too was delivering crates of ‘San Miguel’ to every shop on the street. Sorry liver.
My first impressions of Malaga as a place were simply that it was gigantic. If someone had told me I was in one of the more Mexican states of the USA I would have had no problem believing them, the only giveaway factor was that it has the slightly scruffy sheen of every Southern European city – which is a good thing, Albi was too pristine so it was almost intimidating to settle in there in case I messed with the serenity. In Malaga I have no such inhibitions. The outskirts of town are all massive blocks of flats or company headquarters, with palm trees running down the middle of the road and little park spaces on the central reservation where people walk their dogs all civilised like. The really cool part is the centre which is made up of a network of alleyways hemmed in by four or five story buildings, every one of which seems to contain some kind of nightclub on the bottom floor. This is not apparent during the daytime though; for my first couple of days I thought that the only shops in Malaga were tiny cabins full of nothing but crisps, breakfast cereal and toys that the owner imported from China. I quickly discovered that this is because the clubs here do not open until at least midnight, and stay open until there is no one left to drink. Every night is a ‘last-man-standing’ competition. The variety of nightspots and drunk people is truly awesome to behold – the same scientists who said that it would take one million lifetimes to count all the stars in the sky have failed to get anywhere near calculating the amount of time it would take to pubcrawl around the whole of Malaga city centre.
My flat, which I found after following a series of cryptic ‘National Treasure’ style clues given to me by the accommodation office in lieu of actually telling me where to look to find somewhere to live, is right in the thick of the action, above a nightclub and a ‘rock bar’. I would say that I am on to a winner, but as with every reasonably priced accommodation it has a few flaws; the internet connection is so disastrous that, deprived of my usual six hours of facebook a day, I have already finished all the English language books I brought with me for the semester and only saw about forty minutes of the two ‘Six Nations’ matches yesterday (although from what I saw of Scotland this may have been a blessing. Fucking Southwell.) This life-altering tragedy aside the only other tiny problem is the occasional weird noises that I hear through my bedroom window, ranging from nightly fights between patrons of the nightclub between the hours of four and seven in the morning, to what I was sure for the first two days was some kind of pterodactyl, but I am assured is just an electric saw. Some people would perhaps be slightly perturbed at having a room with orange walls decorated with giant red footprints – but I am oblivious to what is good and bad interior design so quite content with my new pit.
The saw theory makes sense because Malaga is at least forty percent roadworks and construction sites. I have never seen so much work going on in one place and I could not help but wonder for a day or so if the locals are not up to something- building a network of tunnels to house the population of fish-people they are keeping secret. I daresay whatever they are building will be ready for the public on the day I have to leave anyway.
My Spanish is nowhere near as honed as my French was on arrival so I had no grand expectations of being able to understand a word anyone said to me, particularly as I had been warned by our cosmopolitan, douchebag professors from Barcelona and Madrid about the Andalucian accent – which was about as useful as warning Wyle E Coyote that his ACME anvil is going to malfunction: it is inevitable I am going to struggle hopelessly with the accent and that my cartoon friend is going to keep trying to get that arrogant bloody Roadrunner regardless of forewarning.
For the record the accent is horrendous to try and understand – half way between Spanish and parseltongue – so that, for example, the word ‘Erasmus’ becomes ‘Eerramooo’. This said I am beginning to understand bits and pieces of what local people are saying and, more importantly, the University staff pride themselves on speaking proper Spanish which should make classes more bearable. Among the students there seems to be a little bit of segregation between Erasmus students and Spanish students which did not exist at the tiny University in Albi. It does not exactly limit our socialising options as there are probably enough Erasmus students here to remove an Egyptian president (see what I did there?). My flatmates are a good bunch – from Denmark, France and the Czech Republic respectively – who are all up for the occasional (daily) party or night out and who have not, thus far, judged me for listening to ‘Five Finger Death Punch’ while writing this in our living room, which is encouraging.
And that about sums up my opening musings on my new home. Classes do not start until the week after next, but I’m sure that I will have some shenanigans to report before then.