Hola! Greetings from Bilbao, Spain!
I arrived Tuesday evening after a long day of travel. My first impressions of Spain are very positive! People here are genuinely nice and very helpful to travelers such as myself. I reached the boat and was greeted immediately by a handful of young men smoking on the deck upstairs (a favorite past-time of many Europeans). I set my bags down and got my first quick tour of the ship I will be spending the next month on.
We sleep in stacked bunks with built-in cubbies and share all amenities. Water is rationed, so I have taken two short, tepid, showers (only washing my hair once this week) and have learned very quickly the art of sink bathing. 😉 Our toilets are hand pumped and no paper of any kind can go inside, so they start to stink when the waste bins get too full. Luckily I am not here to impress with my good smells and gorgeous outfits, but rather to do manual labor. I am usually covered in sawdust and black soot by the end of the day, so you can imagine it has been quite an adjustment and my princess-like mentalities have been cut off almost entirely. But there is joy in living more simply and learning how to really appreciate all that we have in the United States. Many people never dream of taking long, hot, luxurious showers and this is helping me to appreciate that fact. But let me tell you, I dream of taking full advantage of that the day I leave the boat in a few weeks!
I am one of two Americans so far, the others being four Spanish men, two French women, one Estonian man, one German man, and one lovely English woman who is our full time cook. They all speak English, as well as their own native tongues and a plethora of other languages, so I am constantly being bathed in a swath of culture and sound unfamiliar to my humble American upbringing. Spaniards speak with such rapidity that I often struggle to stay present when attempting to digest all the information. I find my brain hurts by the end of the day after playing mental chess.
Add to the confusion of communication (and the majority of what we are all accomplishing) which is ship yard work. We are slowly transforming this thirty-year-old ship into a fully operating machine in time for this upcoming sailing season. I have spent my first week doing anything from sanding deck planks, drilling holes, sawing pipes, polishing brass (which I did for five hours one day! lol!), to assisting with kitchen duties, and cleaning. Everyone here works hard with a healthy respect for leisure time. Our meals are long and full of conversation and the smoke breaks (for those who partake) are frequent. My new friend Thomas (the German) told me that I am working “too hard” because I am so tired by the end of the day. To which I responded with laughter and heartily agreed (something anyone who truly knows me can attest to). I guess I need to learn to pace myself (shocker!).
All in all, it has been an amazing week and I am excited to see what the next few weeks hold. I am making friends quickly, working harder than I have in a long while (which brings me much joy), and learning an immense amount about #allthethings :):):)