I can confirm Spain is Mountainous. Another group hike this weekend has clearly established that fact. But what I also like about these hikes, are the interesting people you meet. We were trekking up the mountain side as we were chatting. This time with a University lecturer. What she told me would explain the dilemma I found myself in this week.
I had been slowly working on increasing my Spanish vocabulary. It reminds me of my grandkids. When they were about two. How excited they felt with each new word they were mastering. Unfortunately I am nowhere near their advanced levels. But I have been working on it. I finally thought it was time to test my skills. I went to down to the local convenience store. It was late at night. I had been rehearsing all day. I fronted up to the counter. I announced my request. That went well. Yes, I could see I was understood. Until what happened next. She asked a question. I urgently needed to provide a response. Now I don’t know if you do the same thing. But when I intensely think, I have a tendency to roll my eyes upwards to one side. Maybe it’s some primeval instinct as if by looking to the heavens it will give some divine direction. Unfortunately it must have been out of hours upstairs. Nothing was coming back.
So here I’m now in this star gazing trance. I could sense the unease of the situation. Worse, I could very clearly hear what she was thinking. “If I don’t do something about this, by the time this guy comes up with an answer we’d have shut the shop and gone home!” I understood she had no choice. She sympathetically came back with something I could recognise. It wasn’t much. But it was enough English to break the deadlock.
My fellow hiking University lecturer went on. She was explaining how she teaches English to all age groups. What was interesting was her observation. She said how there is a distinct drop off in the learning response rate for people at age forty. In many ways it wasn’t really news to me. But my advice is this. If you are nudging close to forty and you want to learn another language, you need to act urgently. Before it’s too late. For the rest of us, there is no excuse. It’s just going to take a little longer.
But this wasn’t the only time this week I found my eyes reaching up for divine direction. Valencia may feel like a very safe place. However not so for bikes. If they are not bolted down, don’t expect to find them in the same place when you get back. The inevitable happened. I had left my bike securely locked to a pole. It was next to a busy shopping area. I had made my way back to the bike. It was close to 8pm. Now I don’t know what they were saying in Spanish. But there was a group of them just standing by as my lock was being cut in half by a metal hacksaw. In clear view of everyone. The combination lock was being cut apart as if it was butter. However, this situation was not your normal slash and grab. The difference was, it was me. I was the one holding the hacksaw. Yes, I know what you’re now thinking. He’s not even just over forty, he’s well and truly over it. He forgot the lock combination. I can however categorically confirm, supported by the divine response I got back from upstairs which was, “yes, you definitely have the right combination”. Pheeew! I was happy to replace that bike lock with a proper key type.