Baby, you can sleep while I drive / Nene, puedes dormir mientras conduzco

La versión en español está después de la versión en inglés.

I, AND ALL MARBELLA, SURVIVED my first of five driving practice sessions. Each double-session is one and a half hours. A long, boring time to be behind the wheel for a local, repetetive, practice drive. But it went fine.

More than 40 years of driving develops some bad (or more casual) habits. And there are different rules here in Spain from those in the United States. For example, the driver is never to turn their head to look behind when the car is moving — not to check for cars when entering the highway, not when backing out of a parking space, not when parallel parking. It’s not an easy habit to break. Fortunately, the instructor, a nice guy (we’ll see what I think after another 7.5 hours in the car with him), is familiar with American driving rules. I tend to turn the wheel like a racecar driver. He would laugh and say “Las manos” [the hands]. I told him I was going to be dreaming about las manos tonight.

There was a significant discount if I purchased a package of 10 sessions (five doubled), so that’s what I did. That’s I think going to be too much practice time. As I said, an hour and a half is a long session. At least I’ll know the exam route by heart.

The shopping center where the office is located has some great cafes. San Geraldo selected one and I even had time for a coffee before my appointment. I asked afterwards for a recommendation and was told the café we chose was the favorite of the staff.

I found it all a bit stressful, but was pleased to hear Javier say that we would simply do my paid-for practice sessions (one a week for four more weeks) and request an exam appointment for as early in June as possible. San Geraldo and I celebrated with ice cream after lunch today (as if we need an excuse) and we are about to have a siesta. Moose woke San Geraldo at 5:30! I was up out of bed at 6:45. Despite the stress (and las manos), it felt great to be back behind the wheel. I’ve ended the post with photos of just a few of our cars over the years. We didn’t have as many cars as we had homes. I think there were only nine others.


MARBELLA Y YO SOBREVIVIMOS MI primera de cinco sesiones de práctica de conducción. Cada doble sesión es de una hora y media. Un tiempo largo y aburrido para estar detrás del volante para un viaje de práctica local y repetitivo. Pero feu bien.

Más de 40 años conduciendo desarrolla algunos hábitos malos (o más casuales). Y hay reglas diferentes aquí en España a las de Estados Unidos. Por ejemplo, el conductor nunca debe girar la cabeza para mirar hacia atrás cuando el automóvil está en movimiento — no debe verificar si hay automóviles al ingresar a la carretera, no al dar marcha atrás en un lugar de estacionamiento, ni al estacionar en paralelo. No es un hábito fácil de romper. Afortunadamente, el instructor, un buen tipo (veremos lo que pienso después de otras 7 horas y media en el auto con él), está familiarizado con las reglas de conducción estadounidenses. Tiendo a girar el volante como un piloto de carreras. Se reía y decía “Las manos”. Le dije que esta noche iba a estar soñando con las manos.

Hubo un descuento significativo si compraba un paquete de 10 sesiones (cinco el doble), así que eso es lo que hice. Creo que será demasiado tiempo de práctica. Como dije, una hora y media es una sesión larga. Al menos me sabré de memoria la ruta del examen.

El centro comercial donde se encuentra la oficina tiene excelentes cafés. San Geraldo seleccionó uno e incluso tuve tiempo para tomar un café antes de mi cita. Luego pedí una recomendación y me dijeron que el café que elegimos era el favorito del personal.

Encontré todo un poco estresante, pero me complació escuchar a Javier decir que simplemente haríamos mis sesiones de práctica pagadas (una a la semana durante cuatro semanas más) y solicitaríamos una cita para el examen lo antes posible en junio. San Geraldo y yo celebramos hoy con helado después del almuerzo (como si necesitáramos una excusa) y estamos a punto de hacer la siesta. ¡Moose despertó a San Geraldo a las 5:30! Me levanté a las 6:45. A pesar del estrés (y las manos), se sintió genial estar de vuelta al volante. Terminé la entrada con fotos de algunos de nuestros coches a lo largo de los años. No teníamos tantos coches como casas. Creo que solo había otros nueve.

• The Isuzu Trooper, with our color-coordinated Mad River Canoe, on a camping trip to Maine from our home in Connecticut.
• El Isuzu Trooper, con nuestro Mad River Canoe de colores coordinados, en un viaje de campamento a Maine desde nuestra casa en Connecticut.
• Our Subaru Forester as we were about to drive off from San Diego for our new home in San Francisco.
• Nuestro Subaru Forester cuando estábamos a punto de partir de San Diego hacia nuestra nueva hogar en San Francisco.
• Subaru Forester outside the hotel we owned in Palm Springs, California.
• Subaru Forester fuera del hotel que teníamos en Palm Springs, California.
• Ford Explorer purchased before we moved from Palm Springs to Santa Barbara.
• Ford Explorer comprado antes de mudarnos de Palm Springs a Santa Bárbara.


Author: Moving with Mitchell

From Brooklyn, New York; to North Massapequa; back to Brooklyn; Brockport, New York; back to Brooklyn... To Boston, Massachusetts, where I met Jerry... To Marina del Rey, California; Washington, DC; New Haven and Guilford, Connecticut; San Diego, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Santa Barbara, California; Las Vegas, Nevada; Irvine, California; Sevilla, Spain. And Fuengirola, Málaga..

27 thoughts on “Baby, you can sleep while I drive / Nene, puedes dormir mientras conduzco”

  1. Practice #1…..check!
    I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t turn and look behind while driving/parking/checking. Guess that is what the mirrors are for?
    Which was your favourite car?

    1. Jim:
      The turning and looking was so drilled into us. It takes some getting used to. We had a Honda Civic Wagon in 86 that we loved for her versatile it was. But, by far, our first Prius (2004) was our favorite car. We love our current Prius but its turning radius is not as tight. We loved the Subaru Forester, but ours turned out to be a lemon.

    1. Debra:
      Yeah, shoulder checking is tough to give up! I love Melissa Etheridge and kd lang. And the two of them together… Heaven!

  2. I would have a hard time with this.
    It’s almost like reLEARNING to drive and I am an old dog who loathes new tricks!

    1. Bob:
      Exactly. Fortunately, SG did this first. There are two different licenses. One for only automatics and the other that allows you to drive automatic or manual! He tried on a manual (because we’ve driven them for years). At the time we didn’t have a car and it’s hard to find automatics for rent here. Most of the driving schools don’t even have automatics. Anyway, SG learned that according to Spain he didn’t know how to drive a manual. There are rules about when you shift. You MUST downshift — no going into neutral and coasting to a light, etc. Immediately failure. He finally found the driving school in Marbella with some automatics and an instructor who spoke both Spanish and English. Saved me a lot of trouble — although my instructor and I spoke only Spanish yesterday. (You can’t guarantee the examiner will speak English and it could go against you if that’s what you require).

  3. If I hadn’t doubled-checked (triple-checked, actually) when backing out of a parking space in Annapolis (aka: land of the “entitled ones”) last week, another driver, across the way and two spaces over, would have plowed right into my Subaru (Outback). He never looked at all. He was within inches of hitting me as he quickly backed up (when I was already more than halfway out in the lane). I quickly threw the my car into drive and pulled back into my space. Then the dumbass proceeded to leave his backed out car in the middle of the parking lane and got out to talk to someone. I had to maneuver around the jerk’s car to finally get out. So, no. I am always looking over my shoulder.

    Also, thinking that, clearly, the Spanish driving regulators have never driven the 405 through LA…at rush hour. Never heard of blind spots in mirrors either. Ei yi yi.

    Maybe you should wear one of those neck braces during the test…you know, the ones that won’t let you turn your head. Wishing you the best of Spain driving luck! 🙂

    1. Mary:
      Yes, the turning and looking is deeply ingrained. I feel very unsure when only using the mirrors. I think after another 6 hours of practice (argh) I’ll be less concerned when not turning my head.

  4. There was an article in the Washington Post about driving instructors teaching driving in this area from drivers from around the world. It was entertaining. In some parts of the world, One Way simply means traffic can only pass in one direction at a time, if no one is coming, go ahead and turn up that one way street.

    1. David:
      What’s hilarious is watching all the drivers around me breaking all the rules I’m being told to follow. We have a one-way street that cuts into our sidestreet. The law here says that means only one exclusive way. Drivers think it means, whatever way I’m going as long as no one’s coming in the opposite direction.

  5. Does the hands thing mean you are not supposed to cross hand over hand while turning? Or is it something else? A friend (from the UK) was taught to never cross hand over hand and instead took many little baby inching steps on the wheel. Looked far more dangerous than getting it done in one smooth move.

    Here’s to five more celebratory ice creams in days to come!

    1. Wilma:
      Oh no, hand-over-hand is expected. And I do that. But I also tend to flip my left hand into an underhand position on some turns. I had no idea I was even doing it. I can’t imagine being told to NOT do hand-over-hand. Let me know when your friend is on the road … so I can avoid them.

  6. LOOK AT THE GAS PRICES in the canoe pix! we ain’t never gonna see the like of THOSE again! and I’ll say it again, you two are SO DAMN CUTE!

    1. anne marie:
      Those gas prices. Yes! I thought the same thing. And we were already complaining that they were climbing so high. That was just a few years after all the gas pumps had to be upgraded to allow for three digits before the decimal. Remember that? I had a friend who thought it was the end of the world. He also thought it was the end of the world when Carly Simon married James Taylor.

  7. If I’m not allowed to turn my head I think I would need a rear-view mirror three times the normal size.

  8. During my driving exam here in France (2005), the examiner questioned why I put the car in first gear when I parked it. In France, the car is supposed to be in neutral when parked. I had to explain, in French, that I previously lived in San Francisco where we curbed our wheels and parked in first gear. Hills. It was a habit.

    The examiner passed me without really finishing the exam. You can obviously drive, he said. He was really interested in talking about San Francisco. I was a little preoccupied with trying to drive correctly. But it all worked out. Our licenses here are for life, so I don’t think I’ll have to take another test. I hope they don’t change the rules!

    1. Walt the Fourth:
      I hope I get a pleasant examiner. SG got one who visited with his instructor almost the entire time. A breeze for him.

  9. My driving exam, in Michigan, in the 1970’s was driving around a square mile, making four left turns, two at traffic lights, and parking it in a 10 acre parking lot without hitting anything. I passed.

    1. I failed my first exam when I was 17. No idea why. New York examiners were mostly painfully unpleasant, and I looked like a hippie. My second exam, I knew I aced everything. It was perfect. Even my parallel park was like a pro. The examiner was, to be kind, a prick. He made me do the entire exam again. Everything. Broken U turns, parallel parking. We took so long, my father thought I was in accident. I told him I had been perfect but the guy clearly wanted to fail me. At that time (and maybe still) they didn’t tell you immediately like they do here. You got a letter in the mail. I was stunned a few days later to learn he passed me.

  10. That’s so strange, that you can’t look over your shoulder while driving. I wonder what the rule is here. I feel like just relying on mirrors is pretty risky! Love all the photos of you guys! What hotel did you own in Palm Springs, and when? Maybe I stayed there!

    1. Steve:
      Not being permitted to turn your head even slightly is really hard to get used to, and feels risky to me, too. We had a small B&B style hotel called Viola’s Resort. It was the first and only hotel for gays and lesbians, their families and their friends. We catered to same-sex couples with kids. Sadly we only lasted from February 2001 until around two years later. It started well, although it was a smaller market than we projected. But 9/11 changed any chance we had of succeeding. Fun while it lasted.

  11. Okay, I’m officially confused. How can you back out of a space without looking when there are blind spots in the mirrors?

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