If You Thought Ibiza Was Wild, Wait Until You Hear This

As I mentioned in my first post, I am a “North American Language and Cultural Assistant” in Ibiza, Spain, an au pair, and a private English tutor. Not familiar with Ibiza’s reputation? See here, here, or here. I started all of this in October, but, better late than never, right? Here is some skeletal information for my friends and family who wanted to know, but look out for more details coming soon: I’m writing as speak from what I call my tiny house (not to be confused with my cousin’s actualtiny house) – my small house next to the family’s house. In this post and in future posts I will refer to the family members as “mom,” “girl,” “grandmother” and “cousin” to respect their privacy and intimacy. I do, however, plan to dish a lot because I think it’s entertaining and often times worthy of further investigation. Their property is a like a compound, a series of white painted typical-Ibiza houses – casas payesas (read about them in English here) meant to keep out the heat in the summer and conserve heat in the winter… but I think my tiny house is different. Nothing compared to what most of the world goes through, but let’s be real, it’s not pleasant to sleep with your winter coat and gloves on in your own room. I live roughly 20 minutes by car from the school that I “teach” at. That’s all it takes to get to the center of the island to the west coast. When I couldn’t drive a stick shift yet, or when my car ceases to function, my “mom” would drop me off at this mega-grocery store called Hiper Centro along the Ibiza- San Antonio highway, where I would wait for one of the teachers from my school who lived in Ibiza to pick me up and take me the rest of the way. The carpool of teachers who picked me up were always nice about it, but I still feel kind of annoying when I do it. Because they would pick me up around 7:40am, they always had those sleepy looking eyes and the obligatory polite-yet-not-so-happy smile. At the beginning, sometimes they would try to talk to me either to make me feel more welcome or to practice their English “how was your weekend? Do you like the food here?” and other times would either sit in silence or speak to each other in Ibicenco. One of the teachers insists on playing loud classical music in the mornings, and on the way back some Alanis  Morissette or another whiny female vocalist.  As we got to know each other more, the conversation became more familiar, and now I appreciate the rides so I can ease drop on the school gossip that no one thinks is relevant that I know. I think they know I can understand ibicenco… yet I get a rush out of thinking I’m understanding something I’m not supposed to. I get to school at 8:00am, usually just before the first bell rings- which, in case the though popped into your head, isn’t a bell. I would have loved in high school to hear music to signal the changing of classes. At the beginning of the year, students are allowed to put in song suggestions. One of the most entertaining for me is hearing Linkin Park between second and third period and then Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer” between third and forth. I think the all-time favorite is an unknown Spanish song (I’ll see if I can confirm who it is) that begins with a soft female voice, and then around 15 second into the song turns into a screamo rager. I’ve even caught the class clowns performing ridiculous corresponding dance moves. As I’m walking in with the other teachers I carpool with, the students are usually standing around the entry way in their social groups. I’ve taken notice of the “cool” kids sitting in a way on the stairs that make it really annoying for teachers to go up to the second floor to get the teacher’s lounge. Usually as I walk in, students get really frazzled as I walk by. It’s almost as if they like me because I’m young and they try to talk to me, but at the same time are worried I’m going to reprimand them for looking at their phones or hearing them say puta or coño. On a good day I’ll get eye contact and a quick and brief wave of the hand as a greeting. After I finish my classes (another post to come about those specifics!), I either drive myself home or get dropped off at Hipercentro and picked up, and come back to the casa payesa to have lunch with my “mom,” the grandmother if she’s around, and perhaps one of the mom’s friends. Our lunches are big, delicious, and typically healthy, but I’ll also get to that soon. Shortly after, it’s off to the prestigious private school to pick up the girl I look after. I either go alone or with her mother. I’m in an au pair situation with a single mother (parents are separated) and the mom doesn’t work. She views my role as a sort of mentor/tutor/helper rather than taking over all of the responsibilities. We’ve figured out how to work in unison and have different functions for the girl. I eat dinner with the family, which is considerably smaller and less organized (my understanding: much less important). Once the girl has her dessert, or two, or three desserts, she puts on her pajamas and I stay with her to watch TV as she falls asleep or until her mom will tell me I’m free to leave (It’s really a mystery to me when the girl showers. I’ve only seen it happen twice). It’s then that I return to my cold cave, watch the news, read, or study, and sleep for the next day. I’m usually so tired that I fall asleep by 10pm. I had always considered myself a night owl and typically do my best work late at night, so this new sleep patterns has come to a shock to me. I’m not trying to fight it though- I love sleep. You know what I always say – “waking up is the worst part of my day.” It only goes uphill from there. Because I’m only at the school Monday through Wednesday, my Thursday and Friday mornings are filled with private lessons to the mom and two of her friends, among others, a workout here and there, and if I can organize myself properly a hike or related outdoor activity. The girl doesn’t get up until around 8:00am, and she has to be at school at 9:00am. This means that on the days where I get to “sleep in” (Thursdays-Sundays), I’m usually woken up anyway, either by her banging on my door asking where she left her uniform jacket the day before (“I don’t know what you do with your things after I go to bed” is my typical groggy answer…oops) or simply by her shrill and persistent screaming “MAMAAAAAAA LA MOCHILAAAA” or the frequent “MAAMMAAAAA MI PACKLUNCH.” Really though, I’m living the life with my private lessons. I roll out of bed around 9:10, brush my teeth, go into the main house for some water, and around 9:15am begin my private lessons in the kitchen. I don’t have to go anywhere (it’s soooo hard walking across the patio to get to the kitchen), and my students, at least as far as I know, don’t mind that I give the class in pajamas. Thanks for listening to me spill all my schedule details. It was only to prove that it’s possible to live in Ibiza and go to bed around 10pm every night… If at any point in this post you got the sense that I am complaining or ungrateful – it’s only to satirize my situation. I understand fully how lucky I am for everything that I have and how kind people are to me. Stay tuned for my perspective on many more things!

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