Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Rain in Spain Falls Mainly in San Sebastian

all photo credits: Jane Green

It's time for our second installment of Strangers in a Strange Land. I came to find Jane Green and her beautiful blog Spain Daily through another blogging friend when she was hosting a weekly photography prompt called Corner View.  I still look to Jane for photography inspiration. She has a way of sneaking in on people's lives and capturing the exact moment that tells their whole story. That goes for her incredible pictures of architecture and scenery too, of which there is no shortage in beautiful Spain. She also has a knack for shots of tight little matador tushies. And who doesn't love a little eye candy now and then, am I right?

But for all of her candid shots and explorations of daily life, she's not one to write at length about herself. So I'm honored that she was willing to participate in this series. As usual, her humor shines through. Enjoy!

1. How did you come to land in Spain?

2. Did you plan to stay as long as you have?
My first trip to Spain was to San Sebastian for just three weeks to see “how I would like living there.” The sun shone every day, I met wonderful people, and the food was amazing! (And there were palm trees!!!) I went back to the states, packed up my life, and moved there two weeks later.

It turned out to be a freakish warm winter where I went to the beach every day. The following year things were back to normal where it rains for 9 months a year. But, by then I was hooked. I still think Jorge had something to do with it ;)

3. How was your language acquisition? Did you learn Spanish when you arrived or did you already speak the language?
When I got to Spain I considered myself almost “fluent” in Spanish.  I had taken it at school for 7 years and got straight As. The first day of my visit I ordered a café con leche. The waiter handed me a pack of cigarettes, I paid, walked outside, and cried...

4. If you are not a native speaker, do you have any funny stories about language errors?
One of the funnier ones. (There are many.) I wanted to start working as soon as I got here. One day I saw an add in the newspaper for chicas (girls) wanted for Bar Americano (American bar.) Here I was picturing a “Friends” type bar where everyone knows your name kind of a place. Turns out- “chicas” are prostitutes and Bar Americano is a brothel. I think Jorge laughed for a month!

5. Tell me about one of your lowest moments?
See number 4 ;)

6. What is the best part about living where you do?
I love that my kids get to grow up here. We have beaches, mountains, and cities (plus France, Portugal, Italy) at (or almost at)  our front door. Add to that art, history, and inexpensive haute cuisine ... I think it has made them much more open minded. At least that´s what I tell myself when I´m craving a walk up Walnut Street and strawberry pancakes. 

7. When did you realize where you are home? Or are you not there yet?
Nope, still not there. I don´t think I´ll ever be. But what´s strange is that I don´t feel like I´m home when I´m in the States either. I´m away for such long periods of time that I always feel a little out of the loop when I´m there too. I think it´s a really common feeling for people living abroad- and one you get used to.

8. What do you miss most about the United States?
Don´t get me started...Besides the obvious, I miss big bookstores, my favorite coffee shops, breakfasts out, diversity, creativity, even the guy that does the voice overs on TV...

9. What are some of the things you don't know how you lived without before you moved to Spain? (i.e. foods, customs, culture, shoes...)
Tortilla de patatas... soooo good!

10. Did you raise your kids bilingual? How's was that?
 Yes, definitely! From day one, Jorge spoke to them in Spanish and I spoke to them in English. And from the day they spoke their first word- it was in Spanish to Jorge and in English to me. We really didn´t give it much thought. And the kids just knew. (It´s my gift to them.)

11. Are you still "the American" or do you blend in at this point?
 I´ll always be “the American”  If you heard my accent, you´d understand. ;)

12. Can you reflect on any cultural differences that were challenging to navigate or led to a funny situation or misunderstanding?
 There are, I just can´t think of any at the moment. The Spaniards eat every part of the pig, cow, fish, shrimp.... I´m sure they have to do with food... :) That, and I´ve had some funny situations trying to figure out how to flush a toilet.

13. How has your experience colored your photography?
I think life is slower here, so it´s easier to live in the moment. Plus the fact that I´m surrounded by beauty.... but then again, beauty is everywhere, if you are looking.

14. What lessons can you draw from the whole experience?
 I´m the first to laugh at myself.... and never underestimate the power of diplomacy...


Gracias Jane! Clearly a sense of humor is a must for any expat. Note to self. Head over to Spain Daily to get a glimpse of daily life in Spain. Jane even has an ETSY shop where she sells a selection of her beautiful prints.


jane said...

thanks susie for your sweet words! can´t wait to see more from this series. sending you lots of spanish hugs! :)

Rie said...

Ok, I laughed at number 4! Very funny... :)

Unknown said...

I loved reading about the Jane behind the scenes...thanks! I read her blog all the time and now I know a little about her!

KathyA said...

I've known Jane for a while -- but this was enlightening! Cafe con leche is cigarettes?? Who'd have thought??

aimee said...

i love jane, love her blog, love her sense of humor... and she writes pure poetry with her camera. all around, hands down, kick ass gal.

stephanie levy said...

LOVE!! Thank you both for sharing :) xo

Kaley [Y Mucho Más] said...

I love this entry and hearing more about you. Your blog has wonderful pictures.

My lowest moment involved asking a bartender for handjob instead of a straw (pajita vs. pajilla). :( Luckily, nothing too horrible has happened since then, and if I screw up it's usually with Mario (my Spanish fiance).

Cindy said...

i've enjoyed jane's beautiful photos and blog for years, so learning a bit more about her is a delight. thanks ladies!

nadine paduart said...

cheers, jane. i've often wondered how you ended up in spain. ...
true settled wanderer, hey?

AG Ambroult said...

a huge hurrah! for this interview! I love jane and her photos and her blog (though I participated in corner view only a few short months). It's so good to hear her talk about herself, because --you're right -- she doesn't do it much.