After working at the Plant Place for four months I decided to up root and Au Pair in Spain. It was a great idea in theory, summer in the sun, money, travel, nice family. My sister obviously Au Paired in Paris and had a lovely family even if the kids were little shite’s. I had found a nice looking family and I was all set to go.
I hopped on the plane and in two hours I was in Madrid. I was greeted by my Spanish mum and ridiculously hot weather in comparison to England. I practically stripped in the middle of the parking lot. The Spanish Mother who I will name R spoke very little English. This was one lie of many which she had posted on her profile. She said I didn’t need Spanish because apparently she was fluent. LIES.
My first afternoon/evening in Spain was pretty awkward. I awkwardly greeted the kids and the Grandma. I had an awkward lunch. I even had to join R and kids to E (older kid’s) birthday party. I am naming said kids E and M. The party was pretty horrible, I wasn’t really told what to do. I ended up being stood on the side of the crowd. Everyone spoke Spanish and no one knew a word of English, or if the did they didn’t bother speaking to me. I was surrounded by so many people yet I have never felt so isolated before. I spent the evening trying not to burst into tears.
The following day I was packed into the family car and driven four hours from a suburb of Madrid down to Cordoba. A city we explored at midnight, the heat still rolling around us. It was in the high forties even at the latest hour of the night. I saw the lit up walls of the Mosque and chased geckos with my eyes. It was exciting exploring a new city with new people.
That night I partially boiled in a room shared with the family. M snored ALL night. I hardly slept. The next day we continued to Fuengirola, a tacky coastal city. It was basically the Inbetweeners movie. Sex, Clubs and Booze. I have never seen so many strip clubs in one place before. It was also at this place where I found out that the children didn’t have a bed time. What I didn’t know that first night was that for the rest of the week I would have to stay up until midnight entertaining the kids while R explored the city.
I spent the next week sat by the pool keeping an eye on the kids. I thought we would do some exploring in the area, maybe even go to Sevilla. But instead I was up at 8am and in bed by 1am. The hotel did provide free activities which I did really enjoy, such as archery, shooting, aqua gym and a game where you slid wooden disks into little point brackets.
I was homesick and when I received a text from my mother saying that she hoped I was having a good time. I felt like breaking down. It was after the first two days when R started to get really horrible. For anything and everything she had a massive go at me. With her broken English she would go into rants and tell me off. On the drive back to Madrid I spent the majority of the six hour drive trying not to cry.
I thought that when we returned to the house and got into some form of routine that it would be okay. I thought that maybe R was just stressed and tired. But it didn’t get any better. Even when she was at work the Grandma was still in the house, she even had a go at me a few times. The children still didn’t seem to understand that I finished work at 4pm and would barge into my room near 10pm and expect me to play with them. I couldn’t get five minutes to myself.
But it was the way the children were raised which I couldn’t get my head around. They were eleven and eight, neither of them flushed the toilet, they refused to dress themselves, they didn’t brush their own hair, neither child had any respect for adults. I would tell them to do something, for their own safety and they would ignore me. They couldn’t control themselves in front of food. It was as if they had no stop function, they constantly stuffed food into their mouths every minute of every day.
When I finally managed to speak to my mother, I ended up blubbering about the whole situation. She told me to get on the next plane out of there. The next day I plucked up the courage to tell R. She seemed to take it okay, but then she asked me for the first week’s wages back. She said I didn’t do any work. I was completely taken back, but I gave her the money because I meant I could get away. My flight was booked for two days after I broke the news, it was expensive changing my flight but I wanted to be home.
From the minute I told R that I was leaving to the day I actually left, she completely ignored me. At dinner she spoke entirely in Spanish and didn’t even look at me. On the Saturday when the children were at their father’s I got up early and took the bus to the train station. I spent the day exploring Madrid, I walked for six hours in forty degree heat but I saw everything. What I forgot about was the Spanish siesta, everything at 2pm shut. So when I arrived back in the town where I was staying, I had to walk three miles back to the house, and it was ALL up hill because the buses had stopped running. When I reached the house I was literally drenched in sweat.
That evening R took the children out for dinner, she didn’t even tell me. I was just suddenly aware that I was alone in the house. A similar thing happened the Friday after I told R I was leaving. After lunch the children went to their father’s, I only found out because when I exited the bathroom the kids were gone and I managed to get the word “Padre” out of the Grandma. I went to the office/my room and watched a few episodes of White Collar. When I next surfaced to get a drink, the Grandma had disappeared and had been replaced by a cleaner who didn’t speaking English. I almost had a heart attack.
I didn’t say goodbye to the family, because when they returned from their evening outing it was near 1am and I was asleep. I did wake up when they slammed the front door but I just rolled over. I was awake at 4am and sat for an hour and a half until the taxi arrived. I knew R was awake when I left because I could hear her wandering around upstairs. I had a text from her at 1am which told me to leave the house keys on the dinner table, nothing else.
I escaped in the dark hours of the morning without saying goodbye. I have never been so happy to get away.
The taxi driver didn’t speak English but he did get me to the airport really quickly. He swerved across lanes and took bends at a lean on the empty motorway. There were moments where I thought I might die.
Landing in England was a bit hairy, the plane wing on the left almost hit the ground before the wheels. I was tensing myself for the crash position. Luckily the pilot knew what he was doing and managed to save us all. To be fair I think I was the only who noticed the near death situation. It was cold when I stepped off the plane and onto the tarmac. It was lovely. It was maybe twelve degrees but compared to the forty I had been sweating in for the past few weeks it felt like bliss.
The next day after arriving back in England I returned to my old job. As soon as it went south I emailed my manager and he replied within an hour saying he would be happy to have me back. It feels as if I never left.