ciento volando

travel, stories, and other flights of fancy

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more on Spain and MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

To: People on the old mailing list
Subject: more on Spain and MERRY CHRISTMAS
From: jean

So… I have the feeling that my last email is still sitting in some people’s inboxes, pending a spare few reading hours…

But given that it’s Christmas, I thought I’d be so bold as to spam you again with a bit of festive cheer.

I’ll try to keep it short

  1. Merry Christmas
  1. Happy New Year
  1. My ticket number in the Lotería de Navidad is: 0943510509. Apparently it’s very important to advertise this fact, and if had a shopfront I’d be displaying a huge blown up photocopy. If the lottery ‘touches me’ (and my colleagues), Hinojosa will have one less primary school, and I’ll be able to fly home every year for Christmas… or maybe sail, in my own private yacht!

As it is, for Christmas I’m flying easyJet to England, dressed in as many layers as I can humanly wear. I’ll be spending most of my time in London, catching up with distant rellies and long lost ex-pat and British friends (for a country I’ve never been to, I somehow know a lot of people there).

I’m crossing my fingers for my first ever White Christmas. If it must be cold, it may as well be beautiful!

Either way, I’ll be thinking of you all.

Stay safe, happy, warm (Northern hemisphere-ers), and cool (Southerners), and have a wonderful, relaxing (or exhilarating, depending on what you prefer) break.

Best wishes

Xx Jean

PS: ‘tis the season to be homesick:


  1. Honey. For some reason it tastes completely different here. I guess the bees eat (?) different flowers and that affects the flavour.
  1. Watching QI on Tuesday nights at Mum and Dads
  1. Sushi-Sushi, Kake de Hatti, Almazette’s, Bombay by Night, Thaila Thai, Ambrosia, Nam Loong, and Shanghai Dumpling Palace…
  1. Good coffee, in funky little cafes. Even if it does cost three times as much. I’ll always be a city girl at heart.
  1. Understanding what’s going on around me, and not just ‘getting the gist’.
  1. Being able to meet people without having the same conversation over and over. I’m beginning to tire of the inevitable ‘you’re not from here, are you?’ ‘oooh Australia, that’s very far away, isn’t it?’ Yes. it’s the other side of the world. ‘how many hours in the aeroplane?’ ‘do you get a stopover?’ ‘are there kangaroos there?’ ‘are you married?’ ‘then what are you doing here?’. It’s like Groundhog Day. And the only way to avoid it is to somehow disappear my accent and improve my vocabulary to include an infinite number of everyday words like ‘grouting’ and ‘lint remover’. Plus learn a whole cast of idioms. And master the subjunctive tense. And remember to use second person plural. And stop using possessive pronouns to talk about body parts (it’s ‘the hand’ not ‘my hand’). And remember the gender of every damned inanimate object/abstract concept ever to have existed in the history of the world, and then make sure that all the relevant particles and modifiers correctly correspond to said object with said gender. And then slur and blur and lisp it all together into a mush, drop all the ‘d’s and ‘s’s, skip the ‘h’s, cough up the ‘j’s like phlegm, and clip the end off all the words… even though Spanish is supposed to be phonetic. But really, it’s a beautiful language, and that’s why I’m here, politely responding to all who ask about Australia – ‘yes, we do have lots of cute little kangaroos, they actually make quite good meat’.
  1. Being able to regularly and fluently vent my frustrations at the end of the day with friends or family. Rather than bottling them up for self indulgent written spiels.
  1. Reading The Age cover to cover on Saturday mornings (even if it takes me until Thursday)
  1. Aussie Rules. Especially how the players fall over and then get back up again, without crying to the umpire.
  1. ‘fresh milk’. Well, I know our homogenised pasteurised stuff is probably nothing like it was in the good old days, but it’s closer to what comes from a cow than the UHT you buy here.
  1. The pace of service. Service here is mostly good, but it’s ever so slow.
  1. BBQs.
  1. JJJ. I know it can be streamed online, but my computer says no. Which is for the better, I’m trying to avoid having too much English around me.
  2. Running Prinny in the mornings and watching the balloons over Brunswick.
  1. Smoke-free bars. The new laws haven’t yet reached Hinojosa.
  1. Normal business hours. Don’t get me wrong, I love siesta, but it’s very frustrating that all the shops close at 2pm, exactly when I finish school, and open again just after I start my evening classes. And running out of tea/coffee/milk on a Sunday is nightmare material. I guess that’s where all the UHT milk comes in handy.
  1. Australian beaches. Not that I went that often, and I can’t say I miss the blow flies and Antarctic water and potential for sharks and jelly fish and the ozone-less burning sun. But Aussie beaches seem so much bigger and cleaner than those I’ve encountered since I got to Europe. Then again, I was on the tourist trail in high season. I’m sure there are better beaches here, and if it was beach weather then maybe I’d go looking for them. I guess what I’m really thinking is that I miss camping at Wilson’s Prom and watching the waves in front of the fire at Apollo Bay… I know I know. I’ve gotta learn to make some sacrifices!
  1. Summer in Melbourne. In rooftop bars and the Botanic Gardens, drinking on balconies and fire-escapes and in backyards (backyards!), with people I know and who ‘get’ me (or at least do a good show of pretending to). One thing about speaking a foreign language is that it totally cripples your personality… it’s hard to edge into conversations, whenever you want to make a snappy little comment the moment is lost before you can form your sentence, and sarcasm is totally out of the question. I feel so boring. But I’m ever so much more polite!
  1. Peanut Butter. There’s only one brand here in the supermarket here and it doesn’t quite cut it. Though I’ve never had a healthy relationship with peanut butter so that’s probably for the best. As for vegemite, I’m hanging in there with half a jar left. Fortunately I’m not a ‘vegemite every day’ person, just ‘vegemite in case of emergencies’. Think I’ll survive.
  1. My family and friends. AWWWWWW

Lots of love and hugs