My mood was much improved yesterday, after a good night’s sleep and a lazy morning, and the world seemed like a much better place. I was finally able to see some of the beauty here, underneath and in fact because of the shabbiness. It is a vibrant, alive, and energetic place, which is exciting but also exhausting. Particularly when combined with the effort of trying to understand as Gabe negotiates apartments and bank accounts, plus the physical effort of climbing hills shod in flip flops over smooth and slippery cobblestone sidewalks…!

In the morning, we went to see the university where Gabe will be working, then had a quick (and surprisingly excellent) sushi lunch with his colleague. We wandered around for a bit afterwards, and by the time we got back to the room in the afternoon, I was more than ready for a break. The place felt like an oasis of calm and quiet, when just the day before it had seemed small and dirty. How things change!

We went out again later on to meet with an estate agent nearby. We were only gone for a couple of hours, but even so, I still got to the point where I was so tired I could no longer think straight, much less face ordering dinner in a different language. So we got a roast chicken to take home instead, and once again ate dinner in our little dorm kitchen, then finished the night with some more of the movie we had started the night before.

Or so we thought. Turns out everyone here operates on Gabe’s schedule — the estate agent was on her lunch break at 5 PM, so we went for a walk, and saw a huge group of children who were just getting out of school. Later on, after the estate agent couldn’t find a single furnished apartment in our price range, Gabe emailed some people about holiday rentals we found on Craig’s List. They turned out to be no different. By 10:30 PM, we’d received and answered three responses, including our phone number in one of our replies. We were not expecting to hear back again til the morning, but at 11 PM, the phone rang. It was a guy calling about an apartment, giving no apology, just launching straight into a discussion of when we can come by today.

After finally shutting down for the night around 11:30, this morning I woke up and ate some prune yogurt. Yes, prune. Welcome to living in a different culture, as seen last thing at night and first thing in the morning.

Here’s some pics I snapped yesterday — the first is of Gabe’s university, and the rest are of the amazing tile work on some of the buildings, as well as the Moorish influence and the amazing contrasts between new and old:

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