Travelling in Time and Language.

SPAIN (written in Estepona by Grant Rayner)

So although we’ve already had several months in the UK we didn’t really feel like we’d started our travelling adventure, not least of all because London is Home for Julie and where we spent most of our first decade together, and of course because it was winter.

Getting to Spain, warmer weather and walking down cobbled streets surrounded by white washed houses, thousands of potted flowers and of course a foreign tongue it finally felt like we were travelling.

Would you rather everybody spoke English or nobody spoke English when travelling?

I once spent 2 weeks in Guadalajara, Mexico, and learnt some very rudimentary Spanish, mainly to order beers, that was 18 years ago, since then we had a 2 week trip to Gran Canaria 2 years ago and I barely remembered the basics I’d learnt the first time, so finally this time with 2 months in Spain I’d get to extend my knowledge, right?

The thing is, we’re a family that actually get along pretty well, we’re not actively trying to meet people so our conversations tend to mainly be with each other, also we’re on a tight budget so other than cafe’s for a drink or treat we’re mainly eating at home, so we’re speaking English 99.9% of the time, and when we should use Spanish we trip over ourselves as it’s just not becoming a habit yet.

And of course, as often as not, these clever multilingual Europeans speak English so they switch us to English rather than listen to us murder their mother tongue. But whenever we wander into a shop where the shop keeper speaks no English and we battle our way through with what little Spanish we have and hand gestures (which is a big part of speaking Spanish anyway) we feel much better than when the shopkeeper breaks into English as soon as they see us.

Of course there are times when English is completely necessary, like when we’re in a Pharmacy trying to get the right medication, and then we’re very glad to meet a multilingual local, and Google Translate on the iPhone is a life saver.

International time zones can really make your head spin.
I have always been a big fan of Daylight Savings in NZ and in the UK, for me the Daylight Saving period could never come soon enough, giving us some daylight in our evenings rather than finishing work just as it goes dark and of course the oncoming summer would also further stretch the day as the weather warmed.

But now I’m working for a New Zealand company doing NZ hours while on the far side of the planet, Daylight savings sucks! When we first got to England New Zealand was still on Summer Daylight Savings and the UK was on regular British Time (GMT) this meant when I worked till 4am in the morning in the UK it was 5pm in NZ I then slept till lunchtime and got a nice 8 hours sleep.

So then we moved to Spain, Spain is 1 hour closer to NZ time, luckily my very understanding bosses had said I could slide my hours a bit while I’m over here, but I was determined to change my work hours as little as possible to avoid any resentment of my global wandering. So I continued to finish at 4am locally which was now 4pm in NZ, not too bad.

Then Daylight savings reared it’s ugly head, my former friend had turned on me and we were going to have to go our separate ways. First NZ came out of Daylight savings, so now finishing at 4am would only be 3pm NZ time, that’s a very early finish for a full time worker, and the kicker was coming a week later when Spain started their Summertime Daylight savings, now finishing at 4am would be 2pm NZ time, something would have to give.

Making up the time.
The answer was obvious, or more like the alternative was impossible. We just couldn’t continue on Spanish time, the time difference would mess with our heads, if I continued to work NZ hours then I’d be getting up at 2pm to start my day, but the rest of the family would be rising at 8am to do school. Everyone would be stir crazy by the time I was up, even if I was willing to go straight out the door without breakfast etc.

So we decided to move to our own time zone, being exactly 12 hours different to NZ time. I start work at 8pm Rayner Standard Time and finish at 4am, our youngest goes to bed at 8:30pm Rayner Standard Time (RST) and gets up about 7:30am RST we have lunch (breakfast for me) at 12pm RST and Dinner at 5pm RST.

Headache Time.
Julie was initially resistant to us moving to our own times and the first few days messed with our minds, especially when discussing how the time differences and Northern and Southern Hemisphere daylight savings periods were changing.

Lunatic’s time?
Now just in case you think we’re mad, and that our strange hours wont allow us to fit in here in Spain here’s a few things that made us realise this was actually a good idea.

Spanish kids play in the moonlight.
The Spanish keep very late hours, (thanks historically to their famous siesta’s, which are no longer as commonly taken) their kids are out on the streets playing football, screaming and laughing at 10pm their time (8pm RST), they’re more likely to see bats flying in the sky than birds.

Turning early risers into night owls.
Our normally early to bed and early to rise boy is actually now going to bed at 10:30 local time and getting up at a previously unimaginable 9:30am local time, the amazing black out shutters on the bedroom windows have been a huge help of course.

Evening Shopping.
The Spanish shops close from 2 until 5 or 6pm each day, so we find them opening again at 3 or 4pm our time and they stay open until about 7pm our time. If we go out to Dinner we’re still earlier than the late eating Spanish who wont show up till 10pm but at least the eateries are all open for our 5pm RST (7pm Spanish time).

Midnight Parades;
One night in the week of Easter (in Estepona) we heard a marching band and the shouts and applause of a grateful audience, but it was late, in fact it was midnight (Spanish time), it was obviously an Easter procession but still midnight was a crazy time for such loud and raucous noise in this quiet town surely?

The noise carried on for another hour and a half, it was actually after 2:30am local time before it went quiet. Looking back I wished we’d already moved to our new time difference already, we did wander down and have a look at the processions, they’re certainly an experience, the costumes are reminiscent of Burqa’s and Klu Klux Klan outfits, while the marching bands have a tune to them that reminded me of the Mexican Mariachis, all pretty surreal at 2:30am for a family from conservative NZ and UK origins.

These Parades happened for pretty much the whole week of Easter. They were whole family events where even the late living Spanish children looked knackered and ready to head home.


A philosophical view of clocks.
We’ve now realised time of day is a completely manufactured concept, early is when you’ve just got up, late is when you’re ready for bed, everyone is different, the only reason we keep common times is so that we show up together for group events, like work or dinner, otherwise we’d all march to our own time.

So I now swear by having our own family world clock, it very rarely works against us, and more often than not is completely to our advantage. Unfortunately we’re expecting a delivery tomorrow, between 6am and 12pm our time (8am and 2pm Spanish time), so it’s going to arrive at some point during my ‘night’ and as it’s a new internet router I’ll need to be on deck for any instructions. On the bright side we’ll have our ‘afternoon’ completely free still.

In a month’s time we’ll be in Portugal which runs to the same time as England so that’ll minimise the international time difference by an hour for a few months.

So although Time and I have our differences we are finding some middle ground.

3 thoughts on “Travelling in Time and Language.

  1. sblackley May 9, 2015 / 10:08 pm

    I love the idea of living in your own family global time zone while travelling. RST is a great idea! Glad to hear you have found a workable solution.

  2. Ruth Wiley May 10, 2015 / 8:18 pm

    Sounds very confusing Grant but as long as you have it in hand I am sure it will work for you all.
    All part of the fund Spain sounds great.

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