Back to the Stone Age and how I met Günter Grass

It might sound like that I was just lying on the beach, caught up with Yeray and enjoyed myself in Alicante. Well, that is true so far :-).

But like I did it before in Ireland I worked in Alicante for food and accommodation.

I chose Alicante because when I made my decision to go in the South I checked out some hosts in Spain and Portugal and sent requests to them. Tim in Alicante was the one who confirmed first, hence my destination was Alicante in Spain! I found him on helpx.

Our email conversation was clear and precise. Therefore I assumed that he will be easy going. And I was right! By the way Tim was from Edinburgh in Scotland and came 20 years with his family to Spain. He lives with his son Jamie (20) in Alicante. His daughter Katy (14) lives with her mother and comes once a week to Tim's place.

I learnt a lot of new things and lifestyle at his place: For example living on the paleo diet.

Tim is also an owner of a cave which he rents for guests. He has also a great library with a lot of classic literature and a lovely dog named Lucas who loved my bed with a great stubbornness...

Back to the roots at Tim's place.

I'm glad that I could join one gig of Tim's son Jamie who is a musician. Since then I have still the song 'Twist In My Sobriety' in my mind... By the way Jamie have been in Hamburg city which is one of my favorite cities in Germany.

And not to forget about Tim's funny Spanish neighbors and their interesting way to talk to each other.... I would love to make a movie about them.

I had enough leisure time to explore Alicante. That means most of the time taking a sunbath at the beach... 

But at least I made it and visit the castle! By the way the castle was closer than the beach but I had to set priorities...

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Skeptical welcome in the street and Celtic  feeling in Alicante

I went from the X Hostel to Tim's place and found it very easily with help of Google Maps. Thanks to my new Spanish SIM card.

Tim's house is located in a very nice area close to the castle. The path to him is paved with those typical white tiles. The ones on which it is a bit difficult to walk on with flip flops because it is slippery with them.

The path had also some steps and on the steps were sitting some of his neighbors. There was also a Spanish elder skinny lady with cherry red colored hair and wrinkled sun tanned skin. She was sitting on a garden chair and smoked a cigarette in front of the door to her house. Her eyes were a bit narrowed. She wore a tank top and a skirt. I suppose when she was young she looked very pretty. I couldn't guess how old she was. I said 'Hola!' but she just looked at me with a skeptical look and still narrowed eyes and said nothing. She just smoked her cigarette and looked at me without smiling.

Ok... I'm not in Ireland anymore where everyone greets you on the street. 

I arrived at Tim's place and he was in front of his house watering his plants. A tall Scottish looking guy with a friendly smile. He asked: "Are you Jeanine?" "Yes, I am. Hey, nice to meet you!" and I greeted him with the typical Spanish greet: Kiss right and left. I recognized that he didn't have a strong Scottish accent. But after 3 month in County Cork I can almost deal with every accent. 

After a short introducing Tim showed me my place, the other rooms in his house and told me my tasks. He said that the most of his helpers start in the mornings, hence they had enough leisure time in the afternoon. Sounded great!

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Above the roofs of Alicante on a cave

Tim's house was a high building with small rooms and thick stone walls. Those kept the temperature in balance.

There was also a nice terrace with a great view over Alicante. I felt very like a local. I mean integrated in the authentic city life and not like a tourist in this holiday resorts where everything looks the same and perfect.

A nice place to work. Over the roofs in Alicante.

Tim's house has also a cave! The cave was - like caves are - below his house. I was very excited to see it. I think it was on my third day that Tim said: "Would you like to see the cave?". Of course!

I followed him and first I was a bit disappointed because the entrance and the first room looked pretty normal. I came in and said: "Ah ha... That is the cave..." and than when I could see it properly: "Oh! Wow!".

The cave had thick walls and it looked very comfortable. Inside it smelled slightly musty like being in a cellar. It had a nice cool temperature. The place where the bed stood looked very romantically. Faint light, bed in the middle of the room, low ceiling, white thick walls...

For my taste it would be too claustrophobic and too quiet in the cave. But the people who rent it were looking exactly for that. Inside you couldn't even hear his neighbors... 

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Meat is my vegetable

Tim told me that his diet based on the so-called paleo diet. I never heard about it before.

To put it simple in my own words what that is about:
Back to the roots! That means when the human being didn't have wheat, bread, yogurt, sugar, sweets etc. The main dishes are meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, eggs and sometimes rice. But no modern foods like pasta, bread, muesli, dairy products etc. The paleo diet says that the human bodies could develop that fast like the food industry. Therefore all the modern products are not good for our body and make us feel less energetic etc.

That was quite the opposite of the diet I had the last three months...

In Ireland I ate most of the time vegetarian food. Not that I'm a vegetarian but most of the people around me were and they cooked really great vegetarian meals. 

Actually, I'm a really meat eater. My grandma still tells the story when I was a toddler sitting in the pushchair and eating a bratwurst. My grandma said then to my mum she couldn't give me a bratwurst because I would be too young. My mum just answered: "Try to take it away from her...".

Back to my roots

It was nice that Tim went everyday to the market and bought fresh food. He also brought sometimes for a for me unknown fruit (a real unknown fruit ;-) ). In Spain they called Nisperos. They look like this and they are very tasty. I am quite addicted to them :-). The skin is firm and they taste like a mixture of apricots and oranges. 

This fruit was really unknown for me: Nispero. Even Google Translate couldn't help me ;-).

Due to the paleo diet mostly Tim's place smelled like fried meat and eggs and there was a lot to clean after cooking. But I really liked the meals he cooked. 

I was always sitting on the terrace and waited until food was ready. Tim always asked me then: "Are you hungry?" "Yes!" and he gave me some fruits as starters. I felt like a child again :-).

By the way: In the first week I had to get used to the later lunch and dinner time. In Spain the people eat very late for my taste. Lunch is around 3pm and dinner around 10pm.

Side effects after two weeks of paleo diet

I was very curious about the paleo diet and I almost didn't eat any bread and sweets etc. Even if I thought I will gain a lot of weight or get bad skin... 

Tim convinced me that nothing like that will happen but it might be that I could get some abstinence symptoms due to the reduction of sugar...

After two weeks I recognized that I was less thirsty than before. My bathroom visits were reduced to the half and became normal... I normally drink lots of water and I am always thirsty but during my time at Tim's it was in balance. 

I will watch this phenomenon! It is quite a good one for me. 

Stubborn and lovely giant 

Now it is time to introduce you to Lucas. Lucas is Tim's dog. A stubborn and lovely giant. He is a mixture of a German Sheppard dog and a Spanish dog. 

Lucas lives also on the paleo diet. Interesting for me was that Lucas didn't smell at all and also not his breath. I mean when I was working on the terrace and Lucas came and breathed my straight in my face I recognized that he didn't smell that bad like the most of the dogs do.

Tim said it has to do with Lucas paleo diet. I think that makes sense.

Lucas after a fight with a cow ;-). The photo in which Lucas is eating the rips I sent to my brother. My brother just asked: "Did you feed him with one of the children?!". Such a lovely and cute dog. He gave me a nice not like dog smelling kiss :-).

One day I came into my room and was wondering what was different... 

Suddenly, I found Lucas sleeping and snoring happily in my bed... I said: "Out!" But he just lift his head and laid back again and pretended to sleep very deeply... 

Not with me: "I said OUT!". He left my bed very slowly and heavy as if he was an old man. 

And not to forget his love for apples... I had to hid them otherwise he would eat them. Funny dog. 

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My work experiences and other lessons...

I found out that the Scottish and Irish people are quite similar. That means easy going and a bit modest in their voice. It made me feel home after 3 months in Ireland and staying with nice Irish people.

Therefore my work was also easy going in sense of that Tim told me what to do and leave me doing it. That is actually the best work environment for me. Nobody who is looking all the time on my fingers etc. 

Burn macchinetta burn!

After a nice introduction at my first day I started the next day very clumsy... 

Well, easy going Tim was very relaxed but I felt very embarrassed and fixed it as soon as possible.

What happened? 

I was very happy to drink proper coffee after a lot of instant coffee in Ireland. Well it is a nation of tea drinker. Tim brewed his coffee in a small macchinetta which he heated on his gas stove. I watched and I thought: "easy!" and put the macchinetta on the next morning on the gas stove. 

What I didn't know was that Tim used a small grid and put the macchinetta on it and then on the gas stove. I put it directly into the gas flame... I was wondering if it would be right but I thought it must be and I looked forward to a nice coffee.

After a couple of minutes Tim appeared in the kitchen. He came back from the walk with Lucas his dog. Suddenly the macchinetta burst into flames! Tim took a kitchen device and hold the burning thing under cold water. He was very cool as well and said calmly that he used the grid as well when he was brewing coffee. 

I felt so embarrassed... I apologized and promised that I will buy a new one. Tim just said he wanted to buy a new one anyway. 

So on this day I just brewed my coffee in the Berlin way: coffee power in the cup and pour boiled water on it, wait a bit and enjoy. 

My lovely cousin Sandra brought this method over from Berlin and it is actually quite pragmatic and faster than a macchinetta. 

A lot of energy

After the incident with the maccinetta I started with cleaning the tiles of the terrace. It was quite the exercise with a nice view.

After a while the stick of the broom gave up. While I was cleaning with a lot of force it just bent in the middle and I almost fall over it.

There I was with the broken stick in one hand and the half size broom in the other hand.

"I fixed it... I fixed it!"

Well, it was time to fix the broken things. 

I remembered a shop close to the X Hostel where they had a lot of different things. It was a Chinese shop. 

During siesta I was looking for the shop and very lucky that I found it again. But it was closed... I forgot about that in Spain most of the shops are closed during siesta.

But now I knew where the shop was and saved its position in Google Maps.

On the next day I could find it very easily and I was very lucky: they had a macchinetta and a new stick for the broom. Both for a reasonable price and the quality was actually quite good.

The new macchinetta!

I actually never touched the macchinetta again... Too complicated for me to brew a coffee on a gas stove. I still stick with the Berlin style ;-).

Meditation crash course

I still meditate every day since I learnt it in Dzogchen Berra and I really love it. It became a daily task for me like brushing my teeth. In Alicante I found a nice place where I could meditate.

My favorite place for my meditation. Tim went there with Lucas and one
day we met there by coincidence and Tim took the picture of me.

For me it is like clearing my mind and reset myself and become aware of how 'am I' and what are my surroundings. Just simple awareness. That means being aware of the sound of the birds, the smell of the flowers, aware that I am breath etc. 

I told Tim that I meditate and he was very interested in it. I offered him that I could guide him and his 14 years old daughter Katy through the mediation I have learnt. The Love and Kindness meditation. 

I have to mention that those days were very tough for Tim. Unfortunately, his mother who lived in Scotland was deathly ill. She had cancer and the doctors gave her at that time just pain killers... 

Meditation was something what could at least put Tim's minds on things for a while.

So we turned Tim's terrace in a mediation place and I guided him and Katy through it. It was my first time that I guided someone through my meditation and I was a bit nervous. I remembered my trainer education and made both feeling comfortable with my voice.

Tim and Kati took the mediation really serious and after it they felt very relaxed and comfortable. I was very happy about it. My first guided mediation and my participants were happy.

Well, I would like to integrate mediation later in my seminars like I experienced the combination in Dzogchen Berra.

By the way...
Did I mention that I took a voice training in Germany regarding my trainer education? I don't think so. Due to I got the feedback I should check my voice because there was something what sounded strange. That was the first time that someone told me that. So I was really lucky that I found a very kind and lovely voice trainer in Muenster in Germany for my final examination before I left Germany. She gave me a crash course which was quite successful. Not only the exercises were great also our chats. It helped me a lot in every sense. Thank you again Mrs Bach :-)!

DIY things and how I met Günter Grass...

During my stay at Tim's place I painted for example the stairwell, sanded some wooden shelves and cleaned his interesting book collection. 

My painting work at the stairwell.

The cleaning of his book collection was really fun for me because I could have a look at really wonderful photo books. And there I met Günter Grass and Cat and Mouse. I always wanted to read one of Günter Grass books but I never made it. In Alicante I took the chance and read the book at the beach.

I was fascinated that he created really great pictures in my mind by his words. It was a long time ago that I had such a great literature like this in my hand. 

By the way Tim is also an English teacher and sometimes he translated texts for the university in Alicante from Spanish into English etc. Tim read my blog and told me that some of my expressions wouldn't sound very natural but that would be ok. He recommended me to read more English books, hence my English writing skills will develop. 

I think reading Günter Grass in English was a good thing to start with. So I was busy with world classic literature at the beach and did something for my brains :-).

One part of Tim's book collection. Me and Günter Grass at the beach.
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Finally I made it! I visited the castle

Well, like I mentioned Tim's place was very close to the castle in Alicante. Actually, I could see it from his terrace. Tim's son Jamie asked me every day: "Have you been to the castle yet?" and I started laughing and said: "Ehm... No... Maybe tomorrow...". It would be very awkward if I did make it.

The park around the castle was very beautiful with a lot of nice flowers and places to sit and walk. There was also the place where I meditated and the place which Yeray showed me at our first date.

The way to the castle was quite exhausting because the castle is located on the rock in Alicante. There is also an elevator but that would be too boring to take it.

Here are some impressions of the castle:

Nice castle and free admission!
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Tim's neighbors

Tim was a bit fed up with his neighbors but I found it just funny how they act.

The most interesting point was how they communicate... Well that was by shouting from one house to the next. Sometimes they just screamed a short but loud scream to make sure that the person they want to reach is there. The other person answered with the same short and loud scream. Hilarious!

The scream is the same what they sing in the song Macarena. I mean this part when they sing and then "Ah hey!". This is exactly the scream but very loud and just short. And they found always someone who answered. It would be interesting what would happen if not...

I couldn't stop laughing when they communicated like this. Tim couldn't laugh at all about it.

An American guy who lives also in the street told me that this street has the reputation for having the loudest neighborhood. That was first a deal breaker for him to buy a house there but then he had a nice experience on the street so that his heart said he and his wife have to buy the house.

The experience was a Spanish woman who sang a song with another guy together. He started and she answered with a cigarette in her hand singing very beautifully.

Party in la calle and finally they greet me back!

One day Tim's neighbors had a small party in the street because they had won a competition. No not for the loudest street (well, they would win for sure!) but for the best decorated one. Few days ago there was a festival in Alicante and Tim's street was the best decorated one.

Coincidentally, I visited the street when I arrived in Alicante and saw the decoration and the people in the funny looking clothes. I was there with Marianne and took some photos.

Tim took me with him and we joined the party with great Spanish food and real Paella made by a real Spanish mama :-).

All neighbors together in the street. Paella in the typical huge pan and lots of food and beer on the table. In the background Spanish music which was very loud. But not loud enough... I already had problems to understand Tim who sat beside me on the steps when a Spanish woman said someone should turn the music louder... :-)

Like I mentioned in the beginning of my story: I greeted the people in the street but they didn't answer... I talked about the cherry red hair elder woman. This woman attended as well the party by smoking her cigarette and sitting on the chair.

On the next day everyone greeted me in the street and smiled at me. The cherry red hair woman greeted me at least with a cigarette in her hand and narrowed eyes...

I was accepted :-).

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You know what... I stay in Spain!

Actually, my flight from Barcelona to Dublin should go on the 29 of May. I already booked it and got a very cheap flight.

Moreover I had already my host confirmed in Cork for June. I planned that I will stay in Cork and will take my already booked flight to Canada in July.

But when I settled in in Spain, opened up and started to enjoy my freedom I just thought:
"It is so nice here. I will stay here in June and go back to Ireland in July... Moreover it's warmer and cheaper here." :-).

In between I thought it is almost a pity that I will fly in July already to Canada because Europe has so many nice places to go... But now I have a lot of ideas where I can go in Europe after Canada and who knows where I will go after Canada... I didn't reckon that I go to Spain and now I'm still there :-).

By the way: 
I wrote my approach to my Gap Year and life change down here on my blog. It is not only for people who are interested to take a Gap Year. I think it is also interesting for people who are considering a small or big change in their life.

Check it out and let me know what you think about it. Thank you very much.

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Goodbye Alicante!

After 2 weeks it was time to take my bus to Granada. Two days ago I said very moved and touched 'Goodbye' to Yeray. Well, he made my time very special in Alicante.

At Tim's place I learnt a lot different things like my own development, families, different roles, paleo diet etc.

My last day on the beach in Alicante.
More and more open and aware

I could see at Tim's place that I am settling in now very fast at a new place. I get more and more open and be aware of myself and what I can and what I want. I create my own nice place for myself.

I take care of myself and let my rescuer need more and more go. Even if the surroundings are challenging I don't be that anymore.

Taking time for one of the person I love a lot: myself

I also have to say that I took myself back in sense of contacting my family and friends during my time in Alicante. I just wanted to take time for myself there. It had also to do with considering myself, changing, rescuer, etc.

When I was in Ireland I was very often in touch with them. But in Alicante I just wanted to be on my own.

It had nothing to do with my family and friends it was just that I needed some time for myself and feel the freedom I have.

After it I felt great and started to keep in touch again and let them know about it what was going on. They understood me quite well and were happy for me. I love them and I am so happy that I have my family and friends.

I create my great day now

When I wake up in the morning I say to myself: "What a great day!" and I get a nice warm feeling in my stomach. It is really worth a try instead of "Oh man I have to do this and this...".

I know I repeat myself but "what you give out is that what you will get back". By having only negative thoughts you will just see the negative things. By having positive thoughts you will be open for positive things.

It becomes more and more clear for me.

Preview of my next post

Thank you for reading my post and if you like, then follow me to my next host and read my coming post about what I experienced in Granada and Fereiolla at my new host.

It will prove the sentences above once more :-)... And the hidden talents of Ketchup and how nice and funny it is to speak exactly the same language: Ruhrpott slang...

Hasta luego Alicante! My view from Tim's terrace one day before I left.

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