Name : Rafa Fuertes
Country of Origin : Spain
Occupation : Marketer
Years in China : over 5 years
I came to China by surprise and without thinking too much, after more than five years in China, coming was without a doubt a good decision, and the good memories are much more than the bad ones.
Right now, I live in Xiamen where I have been for over two years but my first city was Putian, also in Fujian province, I arrived with a position as a Spanish and English teacher, in Putian Number 5 Middle School, my first months were not easy, maybe it is something that happens to many of us, the scenery difference is brutal, and China is a new world that is not easy to get adapted to at first.
My first impressions with my new students were very positive, the respect for the teacher and their desire to learn were really good and I will always remember how much fun they had when I was calling the register with my non-existent Chinese, the tones were something completely new for me and even till today I still do not master and understand them well.
I got along with my co-workers very well, they helped me a lot to adapt and to know my new city more, being very good people as they were, however we did not have much in common. The meeting point for foreigners was a bar, meeting new people is always good, but my plan to go out is not to be in the same bar all night, the truth was there was not much more offer.
I liked Chinese food back then, now I do even more, but at that time it did not satisfy me. In short, everything was fine but I had not found anything that seemed special to me, something genuine from this unknown land, some discovery, but after a few months I found it.
One Saturday night, I went out to the bar, normally I was not there for long and soon I would return home, the game of pool never caught my attention and sitting in a bar is something that is done in Spain in the afternoon, at night you have to move around, it seemed boring to me, that day I did not return home and I started walking through streets that I did not yet know, that day I discovered the Chinese street barbecue (shaokao) , and it blew my mind, a Chinese secret that I was totally unaware of.
Apart from the food that was really good with its spicy spices which I discovered new flavors. What I loved was the atmosphere, the people in the streets, the noise, the loud talking, these things reminded me of Spain, because we also passed a lot of time in the street and we can also be described as noisy as we also speak loudly and we like to get together with our friends and to be outdoors and enjoy the night, that environment amazed me and since that day me and my new coworker Preston, since we met we became brothers, we went many times and we really enjoyed those barbecues.
我发现了香辣味的烧烤，这是不曾体验过的新口味。我更喜欢的是这里的氛围，街上的人喧闹嘈杂，大声畅谈，这些让我想起了西班牙，因为我们也喜欢上街打发时间，我们也喜欢大声说话、吵吵闹闹的气氛，我们也喜欢和朋友们聚在一起，在室外享受夜晚，那种环境让我感到惊喜。我和新同事 Preston 成为兄弟后，就一起去了很多次，我们真的很喜欢那些烧烤。
Although our Chinese was zero, Preston knew something and mine was Nihao and Duoshao, the people were always very kind and friendly, being a good host is something that is in Chinese DNA and without a doubt Chinese people are good hosts.
虽然我们的中文水平基本为零，但 Preston 多少懂得一点中文，我只会说“你好”和“多少”。人们总是非常友好，热情好客已经刻入中国人的基因。毫无疑问，中国人很懂得尽地主之谊。
There are countless toasts and people who came to take pictures with us, also the wechats that they exchanged, the only bad thing and I suppose that happens to many of us is the frustration due to the language barrier, Chinese is a very difficult language, and even having studied it for years I don’t think I will ever master it. Soon more friends joined us and our BBQ meetings were more large and lasted longer, I have very good memories of those nights and without a doubt they are one of the highlights of my life in China.
Since I moved to Xiamen I have not found such a place, I have found out that in Putian there are no longer BBQ in those streets, I understand that the neighbors have the right to rest in silence and that they are a source of contamination, in Jimei, where I live , there are very good quality BBQ near Jimei school village, I still go from time to time and enjoy the food and the company, but the atmosphere is not the same, however I think that Chinese BBQ is one of the best kept secrets and that I will recommend to anyone who comes here for the first time.
A little background on his hometown：
介绍一下 Rafa 的家乡：
I am from the province of Valencia, eastern Spain, a land next to the Mediterranean Sea. I grew up in Benetuser, suburbs of Valencia city, but I was born in the town of Oliva, my mother’s town in the south of the province, where I have spent my summers, Christmas and Easter.
The province of Valencia has a large gulf, the Gulf of Valencia, so it is quite flat, except where the gulf ends, and there the mountain and the sea meet, that’s Oliva location, we have sea and mountain, so you can have it all, just a few kilometers away, Oliva is famous for its beaches and beach bars, there were around 20 in the 90s, unfortunately now it is quieter, there are few but still good places to relax during the day and have fun at night.
巴伦西亚省有一个很大的海湾，叫巴伦西亚湾。它很平坦，一直延伸到海湾的尽头，山海交汇处便是奥利瓦镇。我们那里有海有山，驱车数公里就可以享受这美景。奥利瓦以其海滩和海滩酒吧而闻名，90 年代大约有 20 家，现在安静多了，但仍是白天放松、晚上玩乐的好去处。
The local festivities “The Moors and Christians” are in July, 4 days of eating, drinking and partying, the most popular drink is “the Burret”, little donkey in English, which is a coffee liquor mix with coke, so you can imagine that it keeps you up day and night, the bad will be when your stomach complain about it the next day.
Oliva is bilingual, as it is Valencia Province where we speak Valencian and Spanish, but Valencian is much more used than Spanish and people from Oliva has a recognizable accent for other Valencian people. As a historical site, we have a castle that dates from the Arabic period, over 1000 years ago, and that still stands and can be visited, honestly it is small but in a decent state so it is worth a visit.
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