un día normal

I’ve gotten a lot of questions about what my average day looks like here.  Well, it took two or three months before it started feeling like I actually had an average day.  We first needed to settle into our house (supplies, groceries, labyrinth), school (paperwork, clubs, paperwork, books, paperwork, schedules, paperwork), soccer (paperwork, supplies, paperwork), and residency cards (paperwork, errands, paperwork).  But after that, there were a good couple months when I almost had a routine:

At 7:15 the alarm goes off.  I go downstairs and heat water for coffee and Graham’s oatmeal.  (He’s the early riser.)


These days I have to drag Violet out of bed with a promise of toast and an egg, over-easy.  She makes her own tea.  I slam coffee and pan integral con mantequilla de cacahuete.

DSC_0677The laundry must be started first thing because we don’t have a dryer, so clothes need to go out on the rack in the morning or they won’t be dry by sunset.  And since we didn’t bring many clothes to begin with, it’s crucial to keep up with it, or we’ll all be going around in some form of indecency.


Rob doesn’t have an hour commute, so he can usually spend a little time with the kids in the mornings.


The last 5 minutes is always somehow a rush, even though school doesn’t start until 9 and we live 5 minutes away.  (Why is it so hard to put on shoes?)

DSC_0690I walk with them.  Although these days, one child would rather I didn’t.

DSC_0722 But I do it anyway because school is on my way “downtown”.  Plus the other child still wants to hang out with me in public.

It’s a fifteen or twenty minute walk to Gimnasios Imagen.


I go several times a week because it helps me defeat Madre Loca, Madre Triste or Madre Furiosa.  Plus I consider it a Spanish lesson.  (Pilates es pilates en los dos linguas.)


Sometimes, on the way back up the very steep hill, I stop for cafe con leche y tostada con tomate.  It’s the time of day Spaniards snack so they can survive until lunch at 2 or 3pm.

This is one of my favorite “cafeterias”.


That break helps me get through the next part of the routine: shopping.  This is my vedura lady in Plaza Larga.


She’s smiley and calls everyone guapa.  (The other one does not, so I don’t visit her.)  And if I’m not buying produce, I’m at the bakery, or the home supplies shop, or the eco-tienda, or the pharmacy, or….

One-stop-shopping is not a thing in the Albayzin.


I’m probably at our tiny neighborhood grocery store every other day.


Why?  Well, our pantry is two shelves and our fridge is barely bigger than the one you had in your dorm room.  And besides, I can only carry two large shopping bags at a time.  I don’t have an SUV to fill with Costco supplies and a garage to store it all in.  So… nothing to do but shop.  Every.  Day.


(This is the entire store)

By the time I get home and shower, I have to start working on lunch.  We eat around 2:30, and it’s our biggest meal of the day.


(mmm… stew)

I’m usually multitasking while lunch is being made.  Delivering laundry…


…making the bed…


…hanging out the wet clothes.  (My favorite chore.  Can’t beat the view.)


Then I have to go pick up the kids.  Or if Rob can get away from work, he’ll go.  This is a nice treat that he obviously couldn’t do back in Austin.


Then lunch, dishes, and more coffee.


I may even bring Rob some.


The afternoon and evening is a mix of homework, computer time, clubs, fútbol, reading, playing, running errands.  Rob works a little later than he did in Texas, just to overlap a bit more with the rest of the office.  At some point we have dinner, which looks more like lunch: sandwiches, leftovers, quesadillas, fruit, ramen, at the table, or not, whatever works for what’s going on that day.


Then suddenly it’s time for books and bed.  Lights out for the kids was 9:30, but it has become clear that life in a foreign country/school is exhausting, so we’re trying for 9 instead.

The really surprising part to me is how little free time I actually have.  I imagined I would be at loose ends with no job, no yard work, no PTA, no driving.  But since the kids’ school is two hours shorter and I’m doing five times as much shopping and cooking, teaching, studying, and translating loads of school/fùtbol materials, the day just slips away.

And suddenly… 5 months have gone by.

5 Responses to “un día normal

  • Mom/Granny
    7 years ago

    Life is life no matter where you are! Some places make it easier, I think. You will remember this time fondly!

  • Jessie
    7 years ago

    Great post! I like to hear about a “normal” day. I had a lot of the same feelings when we were expats. I was amazed at how something so simple in the US (like getting food) was so hard overseas.

  • Gramma L.
    7 years ago

    Your dia normal in the Albazin is just like it was in Austin – doing everything you need to do to take care of your family – wherever you are!

  • The ordinary is what’s fascinating, and I read your post with interest — and then read it to my daughter, who was immediately and intensely envious of your kids’ experience over there. Thanks for sharing!

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  • ¿Qué he echado de menos? | ¿Y Ahora Que? :

    […] to have another person around.  And I don’t actually have time to think about it much.  Like I said, my days are so busy, I’m lucky if I get to exercise and study Spanish.  Most of the time […]

    7 years ago

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