Full of firsts

October has flown by; I cannot believe we have just had the school Halloween fair!

This month we have really got into life here. I have settled well into school and even into teaching Science for the first time. Its fun doing something different and performing experiments. It was also really lovely to have a half term again. The first term in schools is always the hardest and in Spain it was super long; by the end of it every one would be flagging and fighting off some sort of illness so it was a very welcomed break in the middle of this month.

We have also become accustomed to pool Fridays and beach weekends. After school on a Friday the boys go and play football with the school kids while us ladies go and sit by a pool and catch up on our week. At the start of the month us newbies also tried paddle boarding; it has been entertaining to watch from a sun lounger when we have seen others try it, but how hard could it be? Well, I managed not to fall off but failed to be able to control where I was going or how to turn around. Most of the others fell off in one way or another and we got some great videos on the Go Pro. Definitely something to keep trying!

Another first for me this month was taking my scooter test! Myself and Raúl (an already experienced scooter rider) were booked in together and after speaking to the women in the booking office we were assured it would only be from the police station to the airport. This is nearly a straight drive, very simple and nothing to worry about. I had a few practice rides with Jay and it was going fine…nothing to worry about. On the day of the test we were watching as the two men booked in before us started the test by turning right out of the car park. Great, it is just to the airport, easy.

A few minutes later they were back and it was our turn. The police man did his paper work and then said; ‘Okay so we will turn left out of the car park and ride thought the Vallee de Mai to the car park at the top, turn around and come back’ My face dropped and Raúl glanced worriedly in my direction and mouthed ‘You will be fine, you can do it’ (It you read my earlier post where I describe the winding roads and crazy drivers you will understand me when I say I was panicking). I started sweating but got on the scooter and volunteered to go behind Raúl. We took it nice and slow, I followed perfectly the position of the scooter in front and managed to survive those hair pin bends. We passed! My feedback was ‘become one with the scooter’. I have since not become one with the scooter but got very comfortable perching on the back and holding onto Jay while he rides me around the island!

Still on the subject of scooter, we had our first experience of driving in heavy rain this month and unfortunately not just the once. These are the times I miss having a car. When there is a shower it can be quite refreshing whizzing around on the scooter; it cools you down. But when we are in the middle of the Valle de Mai and it suddenly buckets it down it is not so enjoyable, the rain feels like lots of tiny pellets shooting your bare legs and when you get off and stand up you always have a rather unpleasant wet patch on your crotch from the rain dripping down the helmet. All this you can get over if you are on your way home but not when it is on the way to work!

After rain comes lots of flies and I don’t just mean a few more than usual, there can be swarms! We were in the house one morning and after a heavy shower there was a sudden swarm of flies, piling into the house, there was that many knocking into each other that the majority were losing their wings in the fight to get in. We had to run around shutting windows and doors to stop any more and brush up the remains of what managed to get in. It is not only swarms of flies we have had either, we get rather a lot of birds in our garden. I have became a little bit of a bird lady. I have been feeding the birds quite often and there are some really amazing ones and some quite cheeky ones that like to come inside and ask for more!

Living on an island that is in the middle of the Indian Ocean means you have to have a go at diving! And so we did. Along with the other newbies, Jay and I booked a discover scuba diving course. This consisted of training in a pool then straight out to 10 m in the ocean. For Jay this is one step further into pursuing his Marine Biology dreams but for me, this was overcoming a bit of a fear. I am not a strong swimmer and have always been quite wary of the ocean, especially after reading up on some of the strange things that lurk in these waters! I have to say though; it was an amazing experience. Yes, I had a bit of a panic, my brain would not compute that I can breathe under water and those eels are evil looking things, but I did it and those who know me well will agree that I should be proud of myself (I must say that everyone I told had very shocked reactions).

Now even though I did enjoy it in the end, I am unsure if I will do the open water course. Jay however has already finished his open water course and is now looking to do the advanced and rescue diver course. He loved it and it is wonderful to see him so passionate about this; hopefully this will open a lot more doors for him out here.

We certainly had a few wow moments this month; this included a night sat on the beach under the stars with pizza and beers. The skies are so clear here and unpolluted it is just stunning. We sat chatting in the dark just gazing at the stars until we got too fed up of the pesky mosquitos biting us. The end of the first half term we joined some of the other teachers on a sunset boat trip.

We went around the edge of the island, stopping at a few spots to snorkel then watched a beautiful sunset on our way back.

A fabulous end to a great first half term!



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