My heart’s soaring. Not least of all because I’ve got my Africa playlist on full blast, but that’s not the real reason. Eights months and x days after submitting my paperwork to the Year Abroad office at Elvet Riverside, I finally have a destination. Next year has a name at last and it’s VILLAFRANCA DE LOS BARROS.

I’d love to dive right into an entire evening’s worth of trawling, if just to get a real feel for the place and its environs, but that’s easier said than done with a murderous-looking Arabic comprehension in for tomorrow. Even without that, Ali Baba shuts at six o’clock, at which point Andrew and I go necessarily radio silent until ten o’clock the following morning. (It’s a liberating existence, being completely out of contact for half a day, every day – I highly recommend it). So no aimless surfing tonight. But according to Wikipedia Vilafranca de Los Barros is known as the City of Music, which means the wizards at the British Council know what they’re doing. I owe them that much. It’s also in a very decent spot indeed, in a town large enough to have most convenient amenities, a lively atmosphere and possibly a good range of accommodation options. It might not be as small a town as I wanted, but that might not be such a bad thing. At least it’s smaller than Amman. At any rate, it’s close enough to a serious mountain range to keep me satisfied. As expected, Google Images isn’t swimming with material, even in a town of some 14,000 inhabitants, so Villafranca de Los Barros gets to keep a little mystery from me for the time being. And that’s no bad thing either.

Andrew zoned out a couple of minutes ago. He’s still waiting for the Versailles branch of the BC to get back to him with similar details. Trust Spain to jump the gun for once and beat France to it! We’ve been working flat out as usual (and working out flat to boot, every morning – my limbs are getting mutinous) so he’s taking a well-earned nap. The air con’s on and it’s going to stay that way for a little while longer. As for me, I’m going to spend the next hour or so finishing King Solomon’s Mines and then learning as many animals and birds in Arabic as possible after finding myself at a loss in this morning’s Arabic Alphabet game. Sure, osprey might not exactly be a word you use everyday, but who wouldn’t want to drop iqāb nisārī (essentially, Judgement Hawk) into a conversation? They might not have been very inventive at naming the swan, the cormorant or the manatee, but the Arabs sure knew how to put a name to a bird of prey. BB x

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