The good side of Facebook

I have felt displaced many times in my life. As a matter of fact I think I have felt displaced most of my life. It could be because I’m a little weird but I like to blame it on my parents and all the moving around the world.

That’s what it’s like when your a ‘global’ child – you move here you move there, your mother’s from there, your father’s from here and the children are from over there. Then you find a husband who is from over there and you move from there to the other there and then over here. In the end you are so confused you can’t even remember how many over there’s or over here’s you have lived in. True story!

The good news is that one learns to live with it and fine tune it from very early on. If you are like me you move over here or there and you just get on with it.

It’s harder when you’re an adult and have to deal with displacement because adults are supposed to have it all together. That’s when displacement can take many different shapes -loneliness, resentment, anger, indifference or depression. I’ve known all of those emotions at some point in my life.

I also know lots of people who suffer from depression because they feel displaced here in Norway. Mostly foreigners but quite a few Norwegians themselves have to deal with depression because they feel lonely. Actually you will be amazed at how many people seemingly get on with their lives but are struggling with depression.

We were hit hard by it the year my husband got ill and couldn’t work but that’s another story.

We are not good at including new people into our lives. The world would be a much kinder place for everybody if we could be more inclusive. Sometimes I think that we should have a ‘invite a stranger home day’.

Of course inviting strangers home could be a tad risky but there are other ways of doing things – enter social nettworking and Facebook.

A couple of years ago I started a South African group for Women in Norway. The group has become much larger than I thought it would and the ladies have developed a much stronger bond than I ever thought they would. They do a good job of reaching out to oneanother on rainy days.

Facebook made this group possible. Of course there were groups and associations before Facebook but Facebook changed the dynamics and created social media in a way we had never known it.

Now we have ‘bring a stranger home day’ everyday.

But Facebook or no Facebook – remember to reach out. You can make a difference in somebody’s life!

 

Three weeks left

The days have just been whizzing by. There’s been visitors, birthday parties. 17 mai celebration, school trips to the Angry Bird park and Palmitos Park and sick kids. Not to mention cleaning – lots of cleaning.

Finally we are down to three weeks left. If I weren’t so excited to go home I would be sad. But at home we have friends and camping at Vøra in Sandefjord not to mention the boys are going to South Africa for four weeks. All the promises for a fun summer holiday.

I sometimes wonder if my children will ever understand how privileged they are to travel the world the way they do or if it has just become a way of life.

It’s been an interesting year. Not always happy, not in any way how I expected it to be but a wonderful learning experience. At times I have found myself at the edge – the ‘I’m out of here’ place.  But we managed to hang in there.

The lesson learned is – never consider a year abroad unless you have the financial back up to pay for the year up front!

For us this year was not an extended holiday. It was about going back to basics and managing with as little as possible. It’s been fun, it’s been interesting and it’s been frustrating. The kids have had a good year and we all take with us some really fantastic memories.

No doubt we will find ourselves on this sunny island some time again in the future.

MaspalomasAnfi del MarMaspalomas sanddunesMaspalomas

 

Countdown

My mother was disappointed – ‘Can’t you just move to Alicante?’.

‘Mum, I’m tired of moving now and the kids are missing their friends. They want to go home now’. I replied.

It’s hard when family members live in different countries but we all have our own path to follow. My mother doesn’t want to live in Norway – we do.

My week in Norway was well spent. I found a house, signed the lease paid the first months rent and decided on the interior decorating. When I returned to Gran Canaria it seamed that many of the other Norwegian families had the same idea because the number of pupils at school has dwindled to half of what it used to be. It’s spring – the Norwegian winter birds fly home.

The next seven weeks will fly by. We have visitors arriving from Norway, the 17 mai celebration and my son’s birthday party – not to mention that my husband won’t be here and I have to do all the packing and final arrangements for leaving myself with three kids and two dogs tagging along.

It’s countdown.

Meloneras sundown

 

 

 

Girlie gadgets

Yesterday morning whilst enjoying my first cup coffee in bed I heard a blood curling scream. With visions of amputated limbs and blood gushing from arterial wounds I jumped out of bed and rushed down the stairs.

What happened?? I asked with a pounding heart.

The brush electrocuted me!! hubby yelled clutching his right hand with his left.

Who the hell has an electrical brush!! What could you possibly do with an electrical brush besides kill somebody!! he yelled hysterically still clutching his right hand.

Active ions instantly restores healthy shine‘ I informed him. ‘Well, the fucking ions tried to kill me’ he replied with gritted teeth.

Oh stop being such a bloody wuss‘ I mumbled grabbing my hairbrush.

This morning I woke up and noticed that he is glowing – kinda got a halo going on around his head. Haven’t dared to point it out though…..

 

Puppy love

We have two dogs that I have a love hate relationship with. They love me – I hate them.

It’s not my fault really – I had a very traumatizing experience during my childhood. One of those little fuckers nearly bit my finger off!

Ever since then, my whole life basically I have had an intense dislike for small dogs especially those with flat noses. Give me a St Bernard, and Alsatian or a Siberian Husky – now that’s a dog!

My mother knows this about me, she was there when the little shit bit me. But what happens – she turns sixty and suddenly she decides to join the old lady brigade and get two Yorkshire terriers.

Never mind that, she decided to start breeding them and produce more of the little gremlins.

Gizmo and Stripe where born in Spain on a sunny March day. I thought my mother had plans to sell them to make money but she had something much more sinister in mind.

She was going to get revenge for all those years of teenage rebellion that I put her through. That would include that time when I turned sixteen and came home with a purple mohawk (mohican) and shaved sides. I had been asked to be a hair model at this big fashion show. The hairdressers managed to persuade me that short hair would bring out my eyes. I’m not sure about my eyes but my mother’s eyes nearly popped out of their sockets.

Her plan was well thought out and very detailed. She must have planned it for months.

Christmas holidays – we arrived in Spain to spend the holidays with granny. On our arrival she presented us with our Christmas gifts – two microchipped gremlins with their very own passports.

Imagine our surprise.

The children were delighted and we thought – oh well, maybe it’s not such a bad idea. After all, animals and children always make a good combination.

On our return to Norway we had to go through customs. I handed the officer the passports with a smile – confident in my ignorance.

Are they street dogs?‘ he asked. ‘Of course not, they are Christmas presents from granny’ I informed him.

Oh, thoroughbred then‘ he asked with a raised eyebrow.

I don’t know‘ I replied.

‘Hmmm Yorkshire thoroughbred – the value on those are about Kr 25  000 each’.

My neck hairs started to rise, where was he going with this.

You do know that you have to pay ‘moms’ (tax) on these dogs?‘ he said firmly.

But they are gifts??!! From granny and I didn’t even want them!!

That doesn’t matter, you still have to pay tax on the value that they have in Norway. The value on thoroughbred Yorkshires with papers are kr 25 000 a dog.’ he replied.

I took Gizmo and Stripe out of their cage and told him to keep them. Within five minutes we had agreed that no way could anything so ugly be anything else but gremlins and thus not worth so much money. We left the airport with our gremlins and our credit card in balance.

Two years later and the gremlins are still here. Every time I decide to get rid of them they love me more and I hate them more. They are by now seasoned travelers and we are never stopped by the customs anymore.

Gizmo

 

 

The naked truth….

We have the privilege of living next to a real desert which is fantastic entertainment for the children. Last week I was looking after my friend’s son who is the same age as my daughter. He was adamant that he could show us the biggest and best sanddunes that the Maspalomas desert had to offer.

Had I known at the time that this would involve playing spider man climbing up sanddunes the size of the Empire state building I would have stayed at home.  But the boy was unstoppable – I had no choice but to keep climbing.

Somewhere in the middle of the desert I dropped to my knees with exhaustion. Not only had I lost sight of the kids, my one shoe and a bottle of water but I had lost my dignity as well. To hell with it I thought as I crawled up yet another Empire State sanddune on all four.  By the time I reached the top not only were my lungs full of sand but so were my eyes – I was temporarily blinded. Coughing and wheezing I took a minute to rest and rub the sand out of my eyes.

As I looked up I was faced with the strangest mirage. In front of me stood three Adonises – naked  – all but for their tattoos. I stopped breathing,  rubbed my eyes and checked if the mirage was still there. Yip, three naked body builders standing chatting casually in the middle of the desert. Oh what a sight for sore eyes.

That’s when I saw my two little chickens running straight towards my mirage. My first reaction was – I am so not in the mood for having the ‘some people like to run around naked in the desert’ conversation with two six year old’s. Especially since my friend’s boy really has a dislike for naked people (I have no idea why and I really don’t care).

I called for the kids to return and walk on the other side with me. My daughter heard me but spider man was too far away.

Why do we have to go this way mum?

Because there are naked people over there and I would prefer to go this way I replied.

Oh. Spiiiiiiiiiiider Maaaaan She yelled.. Mum said that it’s not appropriate for small children to be with naked people.

Huh, what are you saying? Spider Man yelled back.

She repeated -  even louder ( I didn’t think it was possible)

At this point little spider man was standing right next to the group of naked Adonises. I watched in complete despair as the boy walked up to one of the men and stopped right in front of him. With his head tilted he stared straight at the man’s private parts. The other two men turned to look at the boy.

My daughter yelled at her friend ‘Mum said that you are not supposed to stare at naked people – it’s rude!

The boy responded with yelling “Why does that man have an earring on his winky?!’

I did the only reasonable thing I could – I found another sanddune to hide behind. As I lay in hiding I could hear the boy yelling ‘The man has a bull ring in his winky – you have to tell him that it’s supposed to be in his nose not on his winky!!!!

So if you ever find yourself on the Maspalomas nudist beach and see a crazed fully clothed woman crawling up sanddunes – don’t worry. It’s probably just me playing ‘spider man’.

*All the yelling has been translated from Norwegian to English for the benefit of a broader audience. Nobody was hurt or offended during the spider man games. The three naked men in the desert were an Englishman, an Irishman and a Scotsman. (I kid you not).

IMG_7750

 

 

 

Winter season starts in Gran Canaria

It’s the middle of November and the temperature is absolutely perfect here on Gran Canaria. We have moved from Arguineguin to Meloneras. Arguineguin has been invaded for the winter season by thousands of Scandinavians desperate to avoid the Norwegian winter. We had to make a run for it – it got too overwhelming.

We now have to drive the kids to and back from school everyday but that’s really one of the highlights of the day. Lots of opportunity to practice singing ‘Just another lemon tree” and ‘Tequila’. On second thought maybe I shouldn’t be teaching my 6 year old the lyrics to ‘Tequila’….

Mercadona and El Tablero are now on our doorsteps not to mention the new fantastic hospital San Roque – not that we need a hospital on our doorsteps but it’s nice to have one close – just in case.

We have done the local stuff such as visit the famous Palmitos park. Expensive but the kids loved it. It reminded me of the movie Jurassic park.

In the evenings we take the dogs for a walk along the lovely promenade towards the Maspalomas light house. From the light house the promenade leads on to the sand dunes. Very picturesque – especially in the evenings when the sun sets. That’s when I’m not sulking feeling sorry for myself because I’m so homesick I can’t see the wood for the trees.

I feel as if I am on a never ending holiday and frankly I’m starting to get bored. Somewhere on the other side of those rocky volcanic hills referred to as mountains is a little Canarian village with soul waiting to be discovered. It’s time to move on – away from the repetitiveness of the holiday spots.

Sunset Meloneras

Calima

The difference between mainland Spain and Gran Canaria are many. To be honest – I have no idea why Gran Canaria belongs to Spain, it’s a different world. But keep in mind this is merely the ramblings of an ignorant expat.

It is currently very hot here in Gran Canaria. They (the locals) keep referring to it as ‘Calima’. When I say locals I mean any persons from anywhere in the world who lives here permanently – and believe me there are a lot of them. At first I thought it was just another word for ‘heatwave’. There are lots of those in South Africa – air so hot you can’t breath. But then I googled ‘Calima’ and found that it is a special kind of heatwave.

“The Calima is a hot, oppressing dust and sand-laden, southerly to southeasterly, sometimes easterly wind in the Canary Islands region.”

Durban is tropical and thousands of miles away from the Sahara. There’s no dust or sand-laden wind involved at all.

I can’t remember any sand-laden wind in the Costa Blanca either. As for Norway – well that speaks for itself.

And to think the Calima has a big brother by the name of Sirocco. I’m not looking forward to meeting him.

 

Ayuntamiento and Empadronamiento (it’s a mouth full isn’t it!)

It’s easy to find the yellow building next to the Catholic church in Arguineguin. The church has a cross on it’s roof indicating that it is a church. The yellow building next to it is easy to see as well. The not so easy part is finding the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall). The Ayuntamiento is next to the church in the yellow building but not in front – at the back.

So standing staring bewildered at the church for ten minutes, looking at the police station next to it and trying to find another yellow building – I remembered the South African Cremora advert. “It’s not inside, it’s on top”. We found the Town Hall entrance at the back of the yellow building next to the Catholic church.

That’s how I feel about life right now. “It’s not inside, it’s on top”.

Inside the Ayuntamiento there was hardly a queue. I was relieved – finally something going according to plan.

Or maybe not. The wonderful helpful lady inside spoke better English than I speak Spanish. She patiently explained the procedure to me.

“Señora, forget everything you have read on google. This is how it is done!”

“Come back with copies (I can not believe I fell victim to the ‘copy trap’ again) of your passports and your lease. Then we send it to the police in Maspalomas who are currently working on your NIE number (pronounced ‘Knee’) and they will authorize us to give you The Empadronamiento.”

I must have had a certain look of despair on my face because her voice became soft and she said “I am sorry but the Spanish system is very bureaucratic”.

“I’m learning fast” I replied.

Driving loco

“It’s a one way!!” I screamed. Hubby assured me it wasn’t.
“The sign indicates it’s a one-way!!” Again he assured me that it wasn’t a one way – a little more impatiently this time. I pointed out that the road was narrow and the parked cars all faced the other way. This time he ignored me.

Just then we met an oncoming car. Fortunately there was a gap in the parking side so we managed to swerve to safety. It took ten seconds for the other driver to get his eyeballs back into his eye sockets and then the hand gesturing started.

“Un momento, un momento” said Michael Schumacher calmly while searching for the window button. He found the window wipers, the emergency button, the radio and eventually he managed to find the window button and rolled down the window. By this stage the other driver had stopped the hand gesturing and was just sitting there with a stunned look on his face.

“Hablas ingles?” hubby asked with a friendly tone. The driver came to life again and started yelling something about “loco” and other stuff we couldn’t understand. Hubby turned to me and said “I think we might be driving the wrong way…”

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