Conversation with My Son

Ermenegildo: Should I shave my sideburns?

Me: If you want, most men shave them.

Ermenegildo: But if I start to shave them they will grow out stronger and stronger all the time, and the more I shave them the more I will have to shave them.

Me: Then don’t shave them.

Ermenegildo: But they are very noticeable.

Me: Then shave them.

Ermenegildo: But if I start to shave them they will grow out stronger and stronger all the time, and the more I shave them the more I will have to shave them.

Me: Then don’t shave them.

Ermenegildo: But they are very noticeable.

Me: Then shave them.

Ermenegildo: But if I start to shave them they will grow out stronger and stronger all the time, and the more I shave them the more I will have to shave them.

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A Month at the Gym: Is the Gym Really Worth It?

I was sooo lucky that my boss gifted me with a month’s free pass to…… not just any gym, but THE BEST, the most expensive gym in Malaga.

And was it worth it?

Well, here is my experience.

I’d never signed up to a gym before. I might have tried out a month here or there at some point in my life, but always at cheap gyms that didn’t have very much to offer, maybe a couple of classes, lots of weight lifting apparatuses and that was pretty much it. So I got bored very quickly.

But the gym my boss gifted me to was, not just any gym, but the O2 Gym, or Oxygen Wellness Centre gym chain, which was started in India over a decade ago and is, in my opinion, the best gym I have ever seen.

O2 Wellness Centre

O2 gyms combine traditional gym equipment and activities, such as weightlifting apparatuses, static bikes, running machines etc., with more alternative options such as yoga, pilates and TRX.

The gym in my city, in particular, offers a greater variety of classes than any other fitness centre that I’ve ever visited. Here is just a selection of some of the activities you can take part in:

  • aerolatin dance
  • zumba
  • step
  • aerobics
  • TRX
  • cycling
  • calisthenics
  • body balance
  • combat
  • boxing
  • circuit training
  • fitball
  • abs-gluts-legs
  • Spartans
  • Tai-Chi
  • yoga
  • pilates
  • crosstraining

As well as a whole bunch of water sports, and not just the typical swim classes you would expect, either.

In fact, O2 Gym is one of the very few sports centres in Malaga that even offer a swimming pool at all.

My ex just happened to sign my youngest son up to this gym for swim classes, because he has scoliosis (a twisted backbone) and the doctor recommended it. The centre is quite close to my ex’s home, but it’s a bit of a walk from my house.

If you happen to live in Malaga, the O2 Wellness Centre is near the Vialia shopping centre, which also houses the train station.

In addition to ALL those marvellous and exciting activities, the gym also offers a full and complete spa centre and jacuzzi.

The spa centre includes 4 different pools with varying water temperatures, water massages, a sauna and a Turkish bath.

I tried out most of the apparatuses, except the running machine. As I watched people working out on the running machines, I thought, gee your lives must be pretty pathetic if you have to come to the gym in order to get the chance to run haha!

Okay, maybe that’s a bit mean of me. But, I mean, I’m running the whole day long every day. I do NOT need a machine to get all worn out running just living my life every day.

I thought the machines were just fine. They were state-of-the-art, with plasma screens in front of you telling you all different stats like how fast your heart is beating or how many minutes you’ve been running/rowing/cycling or how far you’ve run/walked/cycled/rowed. But, let’s face it. These are fairly boring, redundant, monotonous activities.

Fortunately, there is a huge panel with a row of plasma TV screens in front of you, where you can watch every public TV channel available.

I took part in a few classes. The classes are very well spaced out, and most activities are offered 3 times a day during various time periods, morning, noon and evening so, unlike in most other gyms, they are well adapted to most people no matter what their work/study schedule is like.

I enjoyed classes such as zumba and step. However, since I’m anaemic, I don’t really feel I was able to get the most out of these activities.

In addition to which, most of them consisted of choreographies that had already been set up at the beginning of the school year, and which students had been learning for several months already. So if you arrive new in December, like me, everyone already knows the steps except you.

Which makes you get left behind. Since, of course, they are not going to teach all the steps again just for you.

I would have perhaps preferred it if in every class they invented new, easy to learn choreographies, since these are classes where new people are always joining. But since that was not the case, well, I felt a bit left behind.

In the end I ended up going mostly to pilates and yoga classes.

I’d practised yoga pretty much most of my life, ever since I discovered a yoga book when I was just 12 years old and set to work learning all the exercises and routines in the book. However, I’d never actually been to a yoga class before.

I found that, perhaps thanks to the fact that I’ve practised yoga at home all my life, I found myself adapting easily to the yoga and pilates exercises, and taking to them like a fish to water, even though I’d never gone to a yoga class before and had never taken pilates.

And of course, as always happens when you find something easy enough to do that you don’t get discouraged or tired, but with just that added amount of difficulty to keep you challenged, these were the classes I ended up relishing the most.

There were still a ton of activities I didn’t try out. Some because they simply didn’t appeal to me, such as boxing or weightlifting.

And others because the hours when these classes took place simply didn’t combine well with other classes that I was interested in. Because, after all, I wasn’t going to spend the whole day at the gym, just so I could try out more classes, was I?

In addition to which, going to the gym is tiring!

So it’s not like it’s something you want to be doing the whole day long!

But I do have to admit that I LOVE going to the gym. I don’t feel lazy at all about working out. I love it.

What I did feel lazy about was having to put up with the excess of walking I had to carry out every day in order to get to the gym. I felt I got more aerobic exercise just walking to the sports centre than I could have at any class there.

My life changed the day I checked out the spa.

Okay, perhaps that’s a bit of an exaggeration. But I am a person who LOVES, LOVES LOVES bathing in water.

And it’s true, during the summertime we do get to go to the swimming pool.

But it’s not the same. The swimming pool, even on the hottest day, is never quite hot enough for always freezing cold little me.

Nope. I’m the kind who only enjoys almost scalding hot water. Like the kind you can get in your bathtub. But we don’t have a bathtub.

So the spa is pretty much the only place I can go to get a truly HOT bath.

The spa at the gym includes 4 pools with different water temperatures. I enjoy using the one that is 32ºC to chill out in. It has several different types of water massages and waterfalls.

I don’t particularly like the water massages. I think they’re too hard. And I’m soft and delicate haha.

But I do like that it has steps at different depths, so you can sit with the water at the level that you like. This would have been a great pool to bring my kiddies to, except I couldn’t because they don’t have an entrance ticket to the gym.

My favourite pool is the one heated to 35º. For me it’s a most comfortable temperature. Relaxing, but at the same time not cool enough to give you shivers. Apparently, most people seem to agree with me, because this appears to be the most popular pool and there are always a bunch of people hanging out in it.

There’s a tiny “frigidarium” whose water is only 18º. I don’t know how anyone can have a good time in it. For me, personally, freezing to death is not my idea of a good time but at any rate, to each his own. A few people do actually seem to enjoy it.

For me, the most awesome pool is the hot pool at 37º. If it were up to me, I’d spend my whole life in that pool! Seriously. It is THAT. GOOD!

I would prefer it over the 35º pool, but after I’ve been in it for a while, it makes me sleepy. Which, I suppose, on the other hand, is probably its objective anyway.

But since I later have a long trek home, I don’t want to fall asleep haha.

So, have I noticed any effects or improvements after a month of going to the gym almost every day?

Well, I didn’t weigh myself before beginning. I cringe at the idea of even coming close to a scale anyway.

I don’t think I look any fitter, more toned or more slender now than I did one month ago.

However, I do feel stronger and more flexible. I can do things I couldn’t do before, such as stand up from a lying position without using my hands. Or climb up several flights of stairs without getting tired and breathless.

And speaking of stairs, in this gym in particular, as soon as you enter, there is an enormous flight of stairs that covers one and a half storeys from the ground floor to the first floor. There is also an elevator you can take, if climbing stairs is not your thing.

And it did make me wonder, how is everyone supposed to be able to negotiate such a tall flight of stairs without getting tired?

But then, I thought. You probably wouldn’t expect to find a lot of unfit, unhealthy couch potatoes at a gym. Most people who frequent a sports centre would probably have no difficulties climbing one and a half floors without getting winded.

So there you have it, couch potatoes. If you’d like to be able to climb stairs as if you weighed the same as a feather, sign up to a gym!

So after one month, do I think a gym is worth it?

You bet!

And even if outdoors activities is more your cup of tea, if you’re a weekend athlete, going to the gym on weekdays will still help you be able to carry out your weekend hiking, biking or marathon activities with greater ease.

So, here are a couple of factual facts. If you are in Malaga, you can find the O2 Wellness Centre at calle Plaza de Toros Vieja, number 5.

It’s just a couple of blocks from the Vialia shopping centre. Walk down calle Salitre and turn to your right at the second street after leaving Vialia.

The all-inclusive pass costs (as of this writing) 59.40 euros if you pay monthly, but they do offer special prices and discounted rates.

And while you’re here, could I beguile you with a few book ideas? It’s great to improve your health, but just as fantastic to cultivate your mind. And what better way to do it than with a few psychological thrillers? If you like reading (or even if you don’t usually read, but you do like something that gets your heart rate going), why don’t you check out my creepy, scary, suspenseful novels here, at: Thrillers by Moi.

So how about you? Have you ever been to a gym or a spa? What has been your experience? Do share. I LURRRVE to receive (positive, non-spammy) comments!

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

A Hike in the Rain in the Montes of Malaga

Kayaking in a Storm in Nerja

The Carratraca Trail And a Water Party

Spanish Beaches

Rant About Lambs

I am not vegetarian. But I refuse to eat lambs.

Lamb

Photo Credit: Nevit Dilmen / Wikimedia Commons

I used to love lamb. But I swore I would never touch lamb again after having babies. Remember that lambs are BABIES! They’re innocent little baby things that the only thing they have ever tasted in their lives is their mother’s milk. And the only thing they have ever known is a mother’s love.

And the lamb you are eating never had the chance to run around in a field and enjoy life. And it was taken away from its mother, who like all mothers probably misses it a lot.

If we all chose to never eat lamb again, people who slaughter lambs for food would have to stop doing it.

Now, I realize that a beef cow or a chicken is also an animal, who used to run around. But I dunno, grown cows and chickens don’t really speak to me as lambs do, I guess. I don’t like beef at all, but it’s because I really hate the taste and feel of the meat, not because I really care anything about the cow, hehe.

End of rant.

Hiring Expats and Immigrants in Spain

I’ve noticed that there’s a lot more work in Marbella than in Malaga, even though Marbella is much smaller. So of course that set me a-pondering. I wondered why a place that’s a tenth of the size of Malaga would have more work.

And I thought, Marbella is richer than Malaga. It might be small, but it’s where all the rich foreigners settle, bringing with them their money and their boost for the local economy.

And it also made me observe, places that are richer have more jobs. How many jobs there are doesn’t really seem to depend so much on the SIZE of the place as it does how rich the place is.

Which I suppose is one obvious reason why unemployment is so high in Spain, and even more so here in the deep south.

Canada, by contrast, has a prosperous economy. (Okay maybe not so much as the US, it isn’t on the list of the top 10 richest countries in the world but it’s doing well.)

And I personally feel (and keep in mind that these are only my own observations, opinions and experiences, not hard facts) that maybe one of the main reasons why the Canadian economy is doing so much better than the Spanish one, is perhaps because of how Canadian society ALLOWS FOREIGNERS AND IMMIGRANTS TO PARTICIPATE IN SOCIETY.

Here in Spain, the mentality (in my opinion) is just so backwards with regards to how they treat foreigners, expats and immigrants. Here, everyone congregates in little segregated colonies based on their country of origin.

You’ve got little English conclaves. Little German colonies. Moroccan and Arab immigrants only socialize with other Moroccan and Arab immigrants and Chinese immigrants only socialize with other Chinese immigrants. Ditto the Africans. To the point that many members of these groups even refuse to learn Spanish, even though they are living in Spain.

Maybe 100 years ago, Italian immigrants in the US and Canada could ONLY own pizzerias. (Or maybe work in the mafia haha.) Chinese immigrants HAD TO own laundromats or Chinese restaurants. Blacks were only allowed to sing, but no one was willing to hire a Black banker or financier.

Today, fortunately, things are different. But that was the mentality that existed back then. And that is the mentality still here in Spain, today — where things always seem to be about a century behind the rest of the world.

In contrast, in Canada today, immigrants participate fully in the world. Canadian society makes room for them. And most importantly, CANADIAN COMPANIES HIRE IMMIGRANTS!

I think so many people overlook and ignore the fact that IMMIGRANTS ARE PROBABLY ONE OF A COUNTRY’S GREATEST TREASURES.

People from other cultures bring so much knowledge that is unknown in their new country.

And more than anything, immigrants bring the desire to work and contribute to their new society.

Immigrants contribute so much to the companies that are willing to hire them. Proof of this is how in Canada, Canadian companies routinely hire immigrants, and these companies prosper and are doing stupendously.

On the other hand, in Spain, as a general rule Spanish companies never hire immigrants or expats. For a job that requires high-level negotiations with English-speaking Americans or EU companies, they would rather hire a local Spaniard who can barely stutter out “My name is José” rather than an American, Canadian or Brit who would, of course, have no difficulty in carrying out these negotiations in English.

Even for tourism jobs, such as hotel employees in hotels whose clientele are mainly British and American tourists, Spaniards whose knowledge of English is limited to “What is your name?” are preferred over American, Canadian or British job candidates.

(Or perhaps “preferred” is an understatement. Okay, what I mean is that hotels outright WILL NOT hire any American, Canadian or British candidate, no matter what, if there is so much as one Spanish candidate in the line-up, because they simply won’t hire foreigners, period.)

Well, if you were going on holiday abroad, which would you prefer? To stay at a hotel where you can understand the staff and they can understand you, even if the staff consists mainly of immigrants / expats? Or to stay at a hotel where all the employees are local people, but none of them can talk to you?

Well, if I went to Moscow or Athens for my summer holidays, I know what I would prefer. (Taking into account that unfortunately I don’t know a single word of Greek and my knowledge of Russian is limited to “da” hehe.)

Okay, I’m not saying that companies should never hire locals. I’m just suggesting that it’s just as unfair for a company to ignore, exclude, reject and discriminate against a qualified job candidate just because that candidate is foreign-born.

On the other hand, it just makes me so mad when I see people from rich countries going to poor countries and not doing anything to help the locals.

I don’t mean that you have to set up a charity or an NGO. But you could get out there and try to meet local people. If you have a blog, you could feature local businesses that you’ve become familiar with. If you went to a hotel or a restaurant, or hired a service, you could talk about them on your blog.

You could make friends in your new country and talk about them on your blog.

Here in Spain I’ve observed that most British expats ONLY socialize with other British expats. They don’t even try to make friends with Spanish people. They don’t show any interest in learning Spanish, and they only participate in the most stereotypical Spanish events such as going to watch Holy Week processions or frequenting flamenco shows.

Now, I’m not trying to single out British expats and put them down as opposed to expats from other countries. It’s just simply that, at least in my part of the world, British expats are more plentiful than people from other countries.

But as I mentioned earlier, my observation is that immigrants and expats from other countries around here, such as Moroccans, Chinese, Germans and Africans also don’t cultivate the custom of socializing with local Spanish people either.

And in part, I suppose it could be because Spanish people don’t show any particular interest in getting to know the foreigners and immigrants who live in their midst.

But couldn’t it also be because the immigrants and expats themselves also don’t possess even the smallest iota of interest in getting to know the local people in the country that they themselves have chosen to live in?

I mean, you LIVE here now, for crying out loud. You CHOSE to live here. I understand that it’s sometimes hard to make new friends, especially after a certain age.

Marbella Street With Flowers

It’s true that from what I’ve observed, once people finish their schooling, they seem to lose all interest in making new friends. So I suppose it really is a two-way street, and oftentimes adult Spaniards are just about as blasé about making new friends — be it with foreigners or with other Spanish people outside of their extended families — as foreigners and expats are.

But if you’re a foreigner / immigrant and you’re now living in a new country, could it really be that hard for you to go to a language class and pick up a few notions of the local language (which is probably also the official language of your new country, unless you just happen to be living with a small ethnic minority tribe)?

You could chat with shop assistants when you go shopping. Maybe take a course or sign up for something at a cultural association. If you’re not shy, you could even shoot the breeze with the people around you while you’re in a line-up or someplace else waiting for something.

I’m very shy about speaking with strangers, but I know people who aren’t, and they make friends everywhere — with bakers, with the people sitting next to them at restaurants, with other people waiting in line at the bank. I envy them. I’m too shy and bashful to do that sort of thing.

But if you’re not as shy and bashful as me, and you’re an expat living in a country that you weren’t born and raised in, why can’t you make an effort to make friends with the local people around you?

And if you’d like to read some exciting thrillers and recommend them to your friends, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few, so if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

Rant About How Tough It Is to Make New Friends

Best Friends

How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

The Meaning of a Friendship

Overprotective Parents

If you are an overprotective parent or a helicopter parent, and proud of it, PLEASE BE WARNED!

THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN OF OVERPROTECTIVE PARENTS!

Overprotective Parents

As an only child, all my life my parents kept me locked up in the house so I never played with other children or talked with any people other than my parents. My parents were isolated socially, they had no friends so they never left the house either except to go to work and they never talked on the phone. The result is I never learnt how to talk on the phone and even today it’s hard for me to hold a phone conversation.

No one ever came to visit us and we never went to visit anyone. My parents forbade me from having any friends. They were against friendships, which you can see as they themselves had no friends either, through their own choosing.

When I was a child at school kids soon learnt to stop inviting me to playovers and parties, because they already knew what would be my generic response: “I can’t, my parents won’t let me.” I could have spent my entire childhood with that logo pasted to my forehead, and saved people the bother of asking me if I could go to their party or sleepover.

University was just as hard because for the first time I had the opportunity to talk to other people who weren’t my parents. But I didn’t know ANY social rules.

If I was in a group I didn’t know how to figure out when I was supposed to talk and when I was supposed to be quiet, or what were the appropriate things to say or not say. The only time I’d ever spoken in groups before was in supervised situations at school where the teachers chose the person who was going to speak, and gave guidelines as to what you could talk about.

I couldn’t understand gestures, looks and expressions, take a hint or understand hints or know what you were supposed to do or not do in different social situations, since my parents had always kept me locked up at home, so I’d never had any sort of social relationships with anyone except my parents.

Finding a job was just as hard. My parents found my jobs for me. They forbade me from getting a job by myself and if I ever tried to get one, they forbade me from going to work.

Need I say they didn’t let me study what I wanted, either. They chose the career I would study, and forbade me from studying anything else. The result is that I studied a career that I hated and could never find a job that I liked, because I always hated my career, since I hadn’t chosen it.

But as I was saying, it was hard for me to find a job as well, because I had no social skills and because if I did find a job and my parents didn’t approve of it, well, I simply wasn’t allowed to go to work.

My parents found my jobs for me, and made me go to work in the places they had chosen for me. Fortunately, I actually enjoyed one of these jobs and worked there for 3 years. After that I left because it was only a student job, and I finished university. I wouldn’t have liked to work at that job for the rest of my life anyway though.

Finally after university I left the country because I had the opportunity to do so. My parents idolized university professors, so a professor from my university took me abroad on an exchange programme. I never returned home, and that is how I found my freedom.

But even so even today sooooo many things are still so hard for me. Every time I have to make a decision, be it something as difficult as the next right career move or as simple as what to wear each day, I still look around expecting my mother to give me the answer, and I STILL feel lost even today when of course there is no one around to tell me what to do.

The learning curve for learning things at the age of 40, that you should have learnt at the age of 14, is just soooooooooo much steeper and it is just sooooo much harder than it would have been at the age of 14.

The saddest thing is no longer having my mother there right next to me telling me what to do whenever I don’t know what to do. Of course I hated it and it certainly is not healthy, to have a person constantly by your side constantly telling you what to do, but there is a strange comfort in it.

You feel like you’re always going to be taken care of and you never have to worry about anything. Even though it’s only an illusion, of course, because your mother doesn’t have all the answers and she is also certainly not always going to be right.

The hardest thing is still trying to learn all the things that I don’t know and I SHOULD know, because all other people know these things. It’s like the wiring in my head is all wrong and things are just not connected, that are supposed to be connected and are connected in other people’s heads.

As if connections that should have been made when I was a child simply weren’t made, and now I’m too old for those neural connections to grow. Like there’s a certain age in which the brain is prepared to learn certain things, and after that age, it just can’t form the right connections anymore.

Like the age for learning language, you must learn a language by the age of 5 and if you miss that window, you will never learn language. The brain changes somehow after the age of 5, something hardens in it so it is impossible to learn language if you haven’t done so by that age.

They’ve done studies with feral children so they know that the right age for learning language is before the age of 5. Feral children who hadn’t learnt language by that age were never able to learn it throughout their entire lives.

Or I’d read a study done with people who had been blind as children, but they received an operation that restored perfect eyesight to them as adults. In spite of the fact that their eyes worked perfectly, they were unable to SEE using their eyes, because their brains were unable to process or understand what the eyes were seeing.

They received lessons on how to use their eyes and identify the objects that they were seeing, but they were still unable to learn it. The neural connections just simply had never been made in their brains.

Connections that in seeing children went from their eyes to the processing area of their brains, in blind children, the connections were formed between the processing area of the brain and other senses, like hearing or touch, and the neural connections with their optic nerve never occurred, because they just couldn’t be formed as adults.

Well, this post is real. But if you’d like to read some of the ravings and imaginings of a mind that grew up in social isolation,  I’ve written a few thrillers so, if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

The Meaning of a Friendship

How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

…And It’s a Rainy Night In Malaga

Anti-Vaccinations: Dying To Be Natural

I Wish!

I Wish

I just received a letter from a company I’d applied to work for. They told me they’d be happy to consider me for one of their positions if my circumstances changed and I acquired my own means of transport (a car, motorcycle or motorbike). But I know I won’t be able to get a car, not at any time in the foreseeable future (and the way things are going, probably not as long as I live either).

I’m really really really sad I couldn’t work for that company. I really liked that company. But I guess you have to work with what you have, not think of all the things that you want that you can’t have.

Like a friend of mine, Maria*. She also wanted a hotel job and they told her, the job is yours if you had a car. But she didn’t have a car and she couldn’t get that job. In the end she had to resign herself to working at jobs she could get around the city. Well today she still doesn’t have a car, but she has a much better job. Maybe it wasn’t the hotel job she wanted but it’s still a good job, today she manages a tearoom.

So what she did was she just decided she’d do the things that she COULD do where the lack of a car wouldn’t be an impediment. So I guess I just have to do the same thing. There’s no point in even talking about something that’s not going to happen.

I guess that would be a bit like saying: “Oh I wish I would grow 5 more inches so I could become a flight attendant”, because you’re 5 feet tall and you need to be at least 5 feet 2 to be a flight attendant, but you’re an adult now and you’re never going to grow anymore.

Or saying, like I do: Oh I wish I’d grown up with a whole bunch of brothers and sisters (I’m an only child). That’s something that’s just not going to happen. It’s not! Not ever as long as you live. So there’s no point in even thinking about it.

BUT OH I STILL WISH……….!!!

And if you’d wish to read some exciting thrillers before bed tonight, not to sound like a sleazy saleslady but I’ve written a few, so if you’re into creepy, scary, suspenseful novels, I’d love it if you’d check them out here: Thrillers by Moi.

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

How Much Do YOU Value Your Friends?

The Meaning of a Friendship

Everyday Scenes From Everyday Life in Spain

Poetry by Hermenegildo: Bienvenida Sea La Primavera

*not her real name

Rain

I love rain.

Rain

And there is no better time for a night-time walk than when it’s raining.

The streets are sooo quiet. Even on a Friday night there’s room at the bars and restaurants, unlike a normal Friday night, so you don’t have to wait for a table or fight with other hungry people hehe.

Rain

If you enjoyed this post (I really hope you do!), maybe you will also like:

…And It’s a Rainy Night In Malaga

Walking in the Rain

A Hike in the Rain in the Montes of Malaga

The Orange Trees