Friday, June 27, 2008

Time change, bed, and fragrant shower

1. On the plane from Madrid to Chicago, I sit next to a girl who's been studying in Sevilla for six months. Even though I'm tired, we have an easy conversation about our time in Spain and how we're excited to go home. As we're descending, we get a clear view of Chicago's skyline which looks like a toy model of a city. The flight attendant announces the time which is seven hours earlier than in Spain and the girl next to me says, "I'll change my watch when I'm ready, but I don't feel ready yet." I think this is an appropriate statement and symbolizes re-adjusting to home after you've been away for a while, even if it means having an extremely distorted sense of time.

2. I try to unpack, but as I fall asleep as I'm walking from the bathroom to my room, I collapse into bed and don't wake up for a long time. There's really nothing like a good, deep sleep.

3. Washing the dirt of traveling the whole day and being out the whole night before in the shower is like cleansing my soul. To make it even better, my mom has set out fragrant new shampoos and soaps complete with a white robe and slippers.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Hasta Luego Valladolid

Today is my last day in Valladolid, Spain, so I decided to go for one last stroll around the city and take some pictures...
"Mother Goose" in Campo Grande, Valladolid

Peacock in Campo Grande, Valladolid

Fountain in Campo Grande, Valladolid

Vacant plaza in Valladolid during siesta

Plaza Espana, Valladolid

View of the cathedral, Valladolid

Plaza Espana Market, Valladolid

This'll be my last post from Spain, but not my last post as a blogger abroad. I'll be continuing a new blog in France in the autumn for my fourth year as an English teacher overseas. But for now, I say good-bye to Spain...

On my last day in Spain, I love...

siestas, because I can walk down winding streets where the sun catches some windows and misses others and not see a single soul. The city is mine and I can walk as slowly as I want, swinging my arms as high as I want.

an old lady who is admiring a sparkly gown in a shop window. She's in a moment and I smile, thinking about how she may be much older than I, but a lovely gown continues to grip her attention. We're all different, yet the same.

menu del dias. I don't stop to eat one, but the idea is perfect for the Spanish anatomy of a lunch.

the park, because the sky is blue, the trees are green, the birds are chirping, and my favourite white geese immediately walk up to me when I go to pay them a last visit. I don't have any food, so they cease honking, yet they continue to nest beside me. I stare at one duck and realize he's staring back at me. I wonder what he's thinking. As I walk away, I like to imagine he winked at me.

the weather, because it seems appropriately Spanish. Everything is perfect in the city I've lived in for the last nine months today. It's entirely called for, seeing as tomorrow, I will leave.

Shakira on the radio in Spanish.

my favourite shops, because they have clothes that seem to jump out at me and into a bag. I'm sucked into a shopping hole where a few hours disappear, hours that should be spent packing, but I'm content to indulge, because it is my last day and I'm content to flutter around town alone in and out of shops.

that my eyes get a little teary while walking past certain places that reincarnate memories of the early months spent on these streets.

that I will miss Valladolid, even if just a little bit.

that I survived this year.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The slide of La Concha, musical lunch, and high school reunion

1. Even though the weather was a tad misty, cloudy, and cool, John and I still went for a swim in la Playa de la Concha in San Sebastian. We swam out to a platform with a slide. From afar, the slide looks like a child's blue and plastic toy, but John seems a bit terrified at the top and screams all the way down. When it's my turn, I feel like I'm suddenly nine years old again and hours at the playground as a child flash before my eyes. I'm delighted that the simple things still continue to exhilarate. When we meet up with Maggie again, John comments that we swam around the whole bay and there's an air of pride in his tone.

2. After a long walk along the beach promenade, Maggie and I go for lunch in a funky restaurant that's playing 80's music. I pair my spaghetti ali-oli with two glasses of white wine and so does Maggie. We chatter non-stop and pause only to punctuate an easy flowing conversation with the name of the song or band we hear playing around us.

3. I meet up with a friend from high school who's in San Sebastian at the same time. We meet in a plaza that has been converted from a bull ring (still sporting numbers under each window). In the middle of the square, a group of Basque dancers in traditional costume skip around in a circle as it starts to rain, lightning, and thunder. We sit at a table of five sipping drinks and I'm happy to coincidentally meet up with so many people on holiday.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sandy sights, clearing my desk, neighborhood shots

1. As I step off the bus after another day at work singed with drama and tension, I feel myself relax. I walk out into the center of Valladolid and into Plaza Mayor where people are out for a slow paseo. The sandcastle pieces look finished, so instead of rushing home, I pitter around the square with my camera. The details of some pieces are so minute that they cannot be captured on film, so I pause to see them in the warmth of what feels like a real summer's night in Plaza Mayor.

2. As my last Wednesday class leaves for the day, a weight (mainly of paper) is lifted. All the tests, flashcards, reports, worksheets, and handouts can be recycled, handed back, or passed on to someone else. What's important is that I'm freeing myself from a paper prison and I feel like a bird who is about to take off to different skies.

3. I'm taking photos of my neighborhood so that my mom and dad can see what it's like around where I've lived for the past three months. I've always appreciated the intricate architecture that lines Calle Gamazo, but tonight, the sun hits the buildings perfectly bathing them in a warm glow.

Monday, June 16, 2008

El ultimo lunes, video class, and gettin' in a run

1. Today was my last Monday of teaching at IH Valladolid. Whoa, never thought it would feel so good.

2. Combining my teenage class with Lauriane's to watch "Death At A Funeral." Seeing the kids laugh and be so into a film was a nice change from their usual stone-cold bored faces.

3. I got in a morning run by the river and made it home before the sky exploded with rain for the rest of the day.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Miss and no miss...

...this is what my English has come to after months of teaching eight year old Spanish children and stubborn adults how to speak English. Hahaha....hopefully this summer, someone will be willing to engage in a conversation where I can use words from my university English compositions or better yet, just audible, logical sentences where I don't have to concept check every few minutes.

On that note, I was thinking of a few things that will pull at my heart upon departure and things that I'd have gladly waved off a long time ago.

Things I will NOT miss when I leave Spain:

* The god-forsaken cigarette SMOKE! Along with the bull, the cigarette should be a symbol of Spain. I'm tired of walking into clouds of hovering smoke on the streets of Valladolid and not being able to find anyone smoking. I'd rather walk the streets of America and inhale Krispy Kreme doughnuts and fried hamburger. At least my hair will smell tasty and not reek of the bar when I go outside.

* Distinguishing between the preterito perfecto and the indefinido past tenses. There's a point when too much becomes too much and I just can't be a part of the interchangeable Spanish past tense world.

* Uh, the messes my roommates leave in the kitchen whenever they make food. Oh, did I mention the sour milk drip on my food?

* Old Spanish women elbowing me out of the way when I happen to walk in their designated path.

* People staring at me when I speak English.

* People looking at me as if I'm a three headed mythical beast when I try to ask for something in Spanish.

* The never-ending RAIN. When will it STOP? This is supposed to be SPAIN!

Things I will miss when I leave Spain:

* The friends I've made here. They know who they are.

* The following phrases: VALE, claro, creo que si, todavia no, entonces, pues, estas seguro?, tu tranquila...

* The extremely cheap price of medication at pharmacies.

* Hikes in the mountains.

* Zapatillo cookies and sweet wine at Penicilino

* The fact that even though I get up late in the morning on the weekend, or even during the week, the shops are still not open until later. Because everyone's relaxing, I feel more relaxed. This can also prove to be a pain in the ass sometimes.

* Cafe teas, coffees, Cokes, sangrias.

* Spanish classes with Kathrin.

* Chats with Maggie.

* Segovia, Sevilla, Puerto de Santa Maria, Madrid, Barcelona.

* Tortilla

* The Sunday evening paseo

* My students

* The peacocks and white geese in Campo Grande

* Discovering expositions or random parades and festivities occuring around the city. It's almost as if there's always something going on. (Today's sandcastle competition with artists from around the world- for example.)

I'm sure there are things I've left out, but this is what I've come up with for now...

Monday, June 2, 2008

Art daze, park thunderstorms, long lost songs

1. Walking through El Prado museum, I find myself losing track of time, entering a calm state of being where all other people disappear and it's just me and the paintings before my eyes.

2. After coming out of the Palacio Cristal in Retiro Park, Kathrin, Maggie, and I come upon the rose garden. Once we walk into the garden circle, a heady scent of roses emanates from all around. Above, storm clouds gather and the sky begins to rumble.

3. In the bar "Huerta Uno," Maggie and I enjoy some sangria and cava on our first night in Madrid. We find an alcove of bright red pillows and decide to camp there. Our conversation peels away the time and as the hours become later and earlier at the same time, the crooning and fiddle of my favorite French group, Louise Attaque can be heard from the sound system.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Gracias, conditionals, and rainbows

1. In my second to last class with the Tuesdady/Thursday Lourdes bunch, many students come up to me and say "Thank you for your class" in English. I'm utterly shocked and a little confused to why they're professing their goodbyes when they still have to endure one more class with me. But I'm more surprised by their kindness, especially when one girl says, "We," referring to them screaming and throwing their arms in the air, and then "You" referring to me by looking extremely serene and calm to the point of looking drugged. All in all, their "thank yous" made my year here feel so important.

2. After going to an exposition on Leonardo Da Vinci with Kathrin and our Spanish teacher, Pablo, we get teas and coffees afterwards. I do my best to speak in Spanish and we all manage to come up with an answer to Pablo's question, "if sleep were an object what would it be?" Answers vary and while walking home, I feel the satisfaction of having had a pleasant Saturday evening.

3. This weekend, I managed to see three different rainbows in two straight days. One, coming out of the exposition near Plaza Mayor (Pablo remarked that it was only a "trozo" or piece of a rainbow). The second was during the Picos de Europa after a light drizzle during a hike in the mountains. And the last was on the bus home from Asturias. Even as the rainy weather continues to sodden everyone's mood, there's still a literal sliver of hope in the prisms of the sky.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Snaps from Bilbao and the Guggenheim Museum

"The Old Town" or Casco Viejo

On the River Nervion

"Puppy" and Me outside the Guggenheim

Guggenheim sails


"Maman" the Spider outside the Guggenheim

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sleeping duck, spring trees, post-rain jog, and student note

1. Walking home through Campo Grande, equipped with my smallish and now bent umbrella that successfully keeps half the rain off, I noticed two ducks standing near a puddle, incidentally without umbrellas. They stood there looking as if they had never been cozier (maybe perhaps if they had been sitting down). The rain lightly pelted their backs, but this seemed to soothe them. One closed its eyes in drowsiness.

2. The bony hand trees (part of the banana tree family? I think?) of Valladolid have now, after 6 months of no leaves nor foliage, begun to sprout green. It makes the city look like an entirely different place.

3. After my Friday classes and sporadic morning downpours, a dry sunny patch of weather sailed into town approximately when my week ended and my weekend began. Since I've finally shaken my cold, I decided to go for a jog on the river trail. I ran into 2 other people, but other than that, it was a solitary journey. I like the feeling of taking advantage of the city when everyone else is home for siesta.

4. I can see 9 year old Celia writing a note over the span of a week. She's been drawing a picture and today I saw that my name was on it. It's not really unusual for young children to draw pictures for their foreign teachers, but this is the first one I've seen this year. Then in the middle of the lesson, she told me to close my eyes. Needing to keep some type of authority, I told her that I'd close my eyes at the end of class when we were finished with the activity. I knew what she was getting at the whole time, but when I finally did close my eyes, she slipped the picture into my bag. When I looked at it, I was surprised by how nice it felt to receive a portrait of myself from my student. I didn't have devil horns coming out of my head or a sneering expression like some past students have drawn. I looked happy and nice.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Pesto, slobs, and sweet discovery

1. Pesto is my new best friend. It's always there for me when I'm hungry and so easy to deal with. I know I need to branch out soon, but when the kitchen is overflowing with food, it's sometimes difficult to find room for ingredients that'll only be used for one person. My weekly pesto jar is small and can fit into a refrigerator anywhere. He'll stay good for a while too. If only pesto could feel appreciated....

2. Listening to my roommate vent about another roommate who is an absolute slob, so much so that he showed me, we'll call this person, "Piggy"'s room (al lado de mi). You literally couldn't see the floor and I suddenly figured out where all the smallish plates and forks had disappeared to. The stench was almost too much for us. While Oscar spoke in English, I told him in Spanish how I had to clean out a pool of curdled milk that had collected at the bottom of the fridge where my food had subsequently been sodden by absolute sourness. We both had a bit of a laugh and I was praised for my cleanliness.

3. Discovering a piece of cheesecake that Lauriane had made for our dinner party at the back of the fridge and untouched by sour milk.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Bus ride, mountain grass, and making it before the rain

Above: Lauriane, Don Quixote, and me.

1. My favorite part of the bus ride to a mountain trail near Zamora is after the coffee break at a cafe that boasts, "Hay Pulpo Gallego" or Galician style octopus. After everyone powers up on coffee, Coke, tortilla, chocolate or perhaps even pulpo, the bus takes us up through winding mountain roads to the start point for our hike. The mountains come into plain, unobscured view and as we swing around a corner, a massive lake flashes before our eyes. My body starts to relax and calm after seeing such spectacles of nature.

2. The terrain of today's hike resembles tufts of straw like hair, blonde and disguising the past week's rainfall in cunning spirals. At one point, I feel like a character out of Super Mario Bros. hopping from one grassy toadstool to the next, attempting to save my dry feet from "mucho frio." Yellow cups of flowers dot the landscape, while cows and bulls from nowhere munch happily in the distance.

3. Lauriane and I chose the Option A hike which was only four hours as opposed to the seven hour hike that the hard core walking stick equipped group trekked out on. We figured this was the best option as Lauriane was wearing new boots that came with a fear of blisters, whereas I had no boots, just my airy trainers that are starting to develop holes. With the possibility of rain, we thought four hours might just be enough. Just as we came into the village for a museum and cafe break, the rain started to come down. Que suerte!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Apellidos, el principito, and new music

1. My 8 year old students tell me their full Spanish names and it seriously takes them a good long 5 second breath to spit it all out (Maria Sanz Garcia Rodriguez...) When they ask me my full name, I say three words. They come out of my mouth like a deflating balloon while their Spanish sequence comes out like a string of dynamite.

2. I've started to read my first Spanish book, "El Principito" or "Le Petit Prince" en francais. I've successfully read about three pages but seriously intend to keep going.

3. After having a dinner party with a few friends last night, we traded some music and as a result I can listen to some new tunes, particularly calm ones that I can relax to.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Impressions, fairy talesque, and accents

1. After our first day in Sevilla, when I close my eyes at night, I can see only bright splashes of flowers, intricate tiles, ostentatious buildings, and trees flowering the color purple. A clear blue sky is the perfect backdrop for a wild setting with too much going on. Nevertheless, I slept soundly.

2. When Maggie, Kathrin, and I arrive to our hostel in Sevilla, we open the door to see three identical twin beds with flowered spreads, a wardrobe with mirror, pink walls, and long curtains. We feel as though we'll be staying in a dollhouse and when the proprietor says that we have to be in by 1am, we then feel like Cinderella. This all fits in perfectly with our all-girls weekend away and we indulge girlishly.

3. In Andalucia, Spaniards drop the 's' in most words. Hearing a new Spanish accent makes my ears perk up in curiosity and I attempt to try it out myself, but am completely satisfied being able to understand basic phrases in a different region of Spain.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Sixth sense cat, beach, and geese

1. I've had a rough day. I've had a cold for about two weeks and I can't seem to get through the night without intense coughing fits. As a result, I'm tired and cranky. There isn't much time to nap during the day so I have to fight through it. Today I could barely open my eyes to get dressed for my early class. On the way home, I fell down the stairs and landed on my knees. Spanish teachers had to catch me. After finishing my second class, the beach and the warm weather was calling my name and I headed to the river beach. Sitting alone in the sun got me thinking about the past and memories gone. I got a little sad and had to get up and walk. On my way home, I stopped to watch a pick up football match near the beach and sat on a ledge. I got lost looking into the river and the sparkles of sun dancing on top of it, when a white and black cat brushed up against me on the ledge, nearly surprising me into the river itself. It wouldn't let me be, but continued purring, pawing, and nuzzling into me. It made me think of a cat that could sense distress and would nuzzle sick patients just before they were about to die. I couldn't help but wonder if the cat could sense my stress. At some point, I had to leave the cat and just as I did, two small children came up to it and tried to pet it, but it backed away in a fright.

As I proceeded to go shopping in order to further make myself feel better, I found a gray T-shirt with a cat that looked so similar to the one on the ledge and therefore HAD to buy it for talisman purposes.

2. In the entire time I've been in Valladolid, I've never spent proper time on the beach. Today I packed a towel, my book, some water, and sunscreen and set off for uncharted territory. It's not much of a beach as there are overgrown weeds and only a river shore, but it's perfect for people watching and relaxing. I managed to finish my book, finally feel a bit rested, and warmed from the sun.

3. I took frequent breaks from reading my book and noticed that my favorite white geese had come ashore. At first they pecked at the sand, then stood preening, then finally just as the warm sun had got to me, they began to look dozy and settled themselves into the sand. I enjoyed watching the simple movements of animals going about their daily routine and marveled at the fact that I didn't have to be anywhere any time soon.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Hiking in the Basque country

Super-calcetines, hiking help, from a distance

1. After weeks of rain, my friends and I set out on a hike with a local mountain climbing club to the Basque country on Sunday. As I was humming happily to myself, I missed hearing a fellow Spanish hiker warn me not to step in a huge puddle of mudwater disguised by a thick layer of leaves. I splashed into it full force and felt the cold sink into the "breathing holes" of my meager running shoes. Minutes later, the cold disappeared and I could hardly tell that I'd stepped into water. I suddenly remembered that I was wearing my SmartWool socks that my mom sent over months ago. Before the hike, I had wondered if they could block water, and instead of feeling stupid for not paying attention, I chalk it all up to an experiment gone well.

2. Going up the mountain is hard work, especially as I'm still in the cold zone and find it hard to breathe, however, going down is almost as much work, seeing as we have to surf the ubiquitous mud slicks to get back. Another hiker offers his walking stick "baston" and I feel like a skier tackling the mud in the same way I'd take on the snow.

3. Once we reach the top of the mountain, there are pockets of snow ponds and mucho viento. We are above the birds and a guide points out that the city of Bilbao, its coast, and the glint from the shiny Guggenheim museum are visible from the top.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Entertainer, brothers, and a night in

1. As a result of chaotic management and parents of private school students, my colleagues and I now teach on Fridays and are working over-time. This will however mean that we'll have less classes for the month of June. One of my Friday classes just happens to begin at 8:30 in the morning which is tough when I teach until 10:05 the previous night. Today I walk in and I'm tired, my nine year old students are tired, and they have circles under their eyes. They almost resemble old, docile dogs who are content to sit in an armchair all day by the fire. The perk of teaching at this hour is that they are fresh. I'm their first teacher of the day and they all sit in the front row looking up at me expectantly, tiredly. I have to start their day and mine as well.

2. I explain to one nine year old Spanish boy that "Bros." in Super Mario Bros. means "Brothers." I see him diligently taking note of this in his exercise book. He writes "Hermanos" and crosses off the last half of the word.

3. I've got two movies, a pack of chocolate covered almonds, and overly excited to stay in tonight in order to miss the windy rainy weather.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Laundry, postcards, and las cosas espanolas

1. I hang my laundry on the line outside the window and because it's siesta, all I can hear is the howling wind and the cries of the peacocks from the park a block away. They don't sound like birds, but cats meowing furiously.

2. I've begun to decorate my new room with postcards of my travels from this year and as a result, it's starting to feel a little more like home.

3. Maggie's sister and sister's boyfriend are visiting from England for the weekend, so we do typically Spanish things like have churros con chocolate for breakfast after a late night out, and sit at a cafe munching on tortillas.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Walk through the park, weekend plans, rain relief

1. As I walk to my first 8.30 class at Lourdes this morning, I walk into Campo Grande, home to peacocks and ducks waddling everywhere. As I enter the park, there are at least four peacocks displaying their irredescently green feathers and I have about 20 eyes looking at me from their plumage.

2. Maggie's sister is coming to visit, so we're all planning to meet her and have a good time out.

3. Today is the first day in about four days that it hasn't rained nonstop throughout the day. The sun is shining and I feel a little less watered down.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

La cena espanola, alto bajo, no tiempo

1. Having tortilla and chocolate cake for dinner.

2. Playing a card game in Spanish.

3. Being so busy that I don't have time to think about anything.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Barcelona photos

Breeze, Aromas, and Sun

1. Feeling the breeze on my bare arms while walking through the forest during our hike to Pena de Francia on Sunday.

2. Lauriane pulls off a piece of frosty green plant from a bush in the trail and we can't identify it, but it reminds us of lavendar.

3. The sun is out for most of our hike and provides the best lighting for good conversation, warmth, and a much needed outing from Valladolid.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Friday, April 4, 2008

Wii Sore, hablo un poco mas, Spanish hot chocolate

1. I'm actually sore from playing Wii tennis (particularly from serving) at a bar on Thursday night. Video games that get you up and moving...what will they think of next?

2. I had my first long conversation in Spanish with my new roommate. Ok, so it wasn't really perfect and it wasn't really that advanced, but I was and still am proud of myself.

3. One night after work, Michelle, Maggie, and I go for cups of hot chocolate at a cafe and experience the gooific wonder of rich and creamy, liquid, Spanish chocolate. Not the watered down powdery excuse for a drink back home.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Quiet Calle Santiago, morning cafe olives, the weather

1. Last night, walking home on a normally bustling shopping street, but being the only one save a few others. It´s peaceful, dark, but not too cold on Calle Santiago and I am happy to be there alone.

2. This morning after Spanish class, Michelle, Katrin, Maggie and I went for tea and coffee at a cafe and could actually sit outside in the sun. I needed the tea to thaw the morning chill, but after a quarter of an hour, I switched to a cool Cola Light as the sun became more powerful and nibbled on olives for breakfast.

3. It´s warm! And it´s actually starting to feel like the Spain I thought I´d be going to! Warm and sunny at last...

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Comida del gato, my new roommate, improving Spanish

1. As I´m walking to the bus stop and up the stairs to the bridge, I notice an old man dangling a glass bowl full of cat food from a fairly sturdy rope. We´re not talking a few feet here either. As I´m ascending the stairs, I see a spotted white and black cat sitting patiently yet anxiously looking up at the bowl.

2. I have two new Irish roommates and a Spanish roommate. So far, everyone has been beyond nice. Even though I was exhausted after my first Monday back on the job, the Irish girl, Liz and I stayed up and talked. I feel more comfortable in a new place where the inhabitants are so friendly.

3. After finishing my first class at Lourdes, two girls walk out with me and we have a conversation in Spanglish. I can understand just about everything they say now, whereas before I was utterly hopeless. However, this doesn´t mean that I can have intelligent conversations about the meaning of life in Spanish. I´m still working on that.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Barcelona bound, Semana Santa, new beginnings

1. I´m going to Barcelona in two days!! Can´t wait to see more of Spain.

2. Religious processions are taking over the streets of Valladolid in honor of Semana Santa or Easter as we call will come shortly.

3. I´m moving into a new apartment at the beginning of April. This is bittersweet, but with new beginnings come new hope.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Midnight crowds, continuing on, and cloudy river

1. Only in Spain are the streets absolutely ghost town empty at 3 in the afternoon for siesta and bustling with people of all ages at 3 in the morning on a weekend.

2. Somehow I get out of bed, into the shower, and to work today. A day that´s extremely difficult to face.

3. On a walk from school to school, I admire the windy ripple effect on the river, and how I can still see undistorted puffy white clouds in the reflection.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Kat is back for now...

1. As I´m running to catch the early bus before the siesta rush at my newly discovered bus stop, I pass under a couple trees blossoming pink and catch a scent of spring.

2. I get a text from Sarah telling me that a parent of one of my students is very happy with my classes and wants to meet me.

3. An ache in my side has been slowly residing.

4. Blogger still remembers me!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Psychological day

I had one of those days yesterday where I knew how tired I´d be before I even woke up. Going from 7:30 am until 10:00 pm on two bocadillos, energy fumes, and constant reminders of how corrupt this renowned language school is made me collapse as soon as I put my fork down after dinner.

Today, I woke up at 11:00 and felt the exact opposite. Not bouncing off of walls opposite, but ready to face the day. After a real doozy of day, doozy in the bad sense, is it more likely that the next day will be better?

Just a thought. Really, I´m trying to stay away from the blog seeing as my head is a bit fatigued and blahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Long time no post...

The past few weeks have been a bit dreary. Not in the sense of weather, but my colleagues and the drama of working at this school have started to weigh me down a bit.

On the upside, I´m still appreciating my time here. For me, Spain, like coffee, was an acquired taste. I don´t really need it, but I´m starting to like it more and more.

The other night, I walked past a non descript church, the same one I walk past every night on my way home, but this time, the doors were open and I could see inside. I saw colorful murals and statues tipped in gold. Now, everytime I walk past, I think about not judging books by their covers.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

¨Carnaval¨ kids, Segovian getaway, hunchbacks

1. Everywhere, children are dressed up as if it were Halloween. It´s carnival season and there are miniature pirates, knights, princesses, ninjas, tigers, cows, and more walking the streets.

2. Exploring a Spanish castle and seeing an amazing view of Segovia from the top.

3. After trying to explain what a camel hump is, an eight year old student tells me that old people have them too.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Ñ, sit down, and new student

1. After putting my beautifully colored and laminated alphabet cards on the board, I ask students to tell me how to say each letter. Then I tell them that two letters are missing, because it´s just too difficult to do the activity with ¨V¨ and ¨X¨. At least three children in different classes couldn´t believe that ¨ñ¨ wasn´t in the English alphabet.

2. I´m feeling pretty sick on the last day before Carnival weekend, so I play a game with the kids called ¨Whispering Dictation¨ where I can sit in my chair while the kids run around the class whispering sentences to each other.

3. I have a new adult student in my late class. He´s a bit nervous when he first arrives, but I can already see the two outgoing women making small talk so that he feels more comfortable. By the end of the lesson, he´s laughing along with us.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Blackboard compliments, last minute coffees, and runnin on empty

1. I walk into my first class today to find that Celia has drawn a formal looking paper on the board with the words, ¨Kat is a very good teacher.¨ She comes up to me and asks what the paper is called and I tell her, ¨scroll.¨ When I start the class, I notice it, look at her and she smiles.

2. On the way to our first lessons, Krista, David, and I stop into a cafe for some quick cafes con leche and hot chocolate. We have approximately five minutes before we start teaching, but in Spain, this is plenty of time to get a drink and warm up.

3. I have a cold and in the mornings, I can barely move without coughing or dabbing my nose. But somehow, once I get to work, I am able to work through it as if my body knows I need to be ¨on¨ and is functioning for me so that I can get through the day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

River ducks, listening, and planning

1. Seeing white ducks paddling around in the sunshine of the river below as I walk across the bridge to an afternoon-evening of teaching.

2. Listening to a colleague describe how she´ll spend her four day weekend in the south of Spain just walking through a national park, alone. Sounds soothing and peaceful. She describes how she´s unsure of going about it alone, but is motivated by the advice, ¨sometimes you just have to start something and from there, it will take care of itself.¨

3. Planning my own weekend trip to Segovia and looking forward to seeing new things.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Out, up a hill, out of town

1. Going out with one of my favorite people Saturday night.

2. Discovering a peaceful hill very close to but far enough away from the urban bustle of Valladolid. Then hiking up that hill, breathing fresh air and basking in spring like temperatures. From the particular view, the only historically Spanish building in sight was the bell tower. Everything else was identically modern and too practical looking. It could have been any country.

3. Seeing a different part of the city I temporarily call home. In the suburbs there are chicken huts with crowing roosters, intricate gates to actual yards, and winding stairs that cut through ivy and other overgrown plants. This is so unlike the blocks of apartment buildings in central Valladolid, that I feel as though I´m in a different city.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The boys, the breakdancers, and barrel o´laughs

The BOYS (from left top) - Diego, Diego, Jorge, Jorge, Pablo, Nacho,
and Javier. All students aged 8-10

Always dancin´, doing the splits, or cartwheels before the lesson starts:
(From left) - Andrea, Julia, Marina, Clara, Aihnoa, Ivan, and Eva.

Always giggling: (from left) Gonzalo, Guillermo, Jaime, Nico, David,
Maria, Laura, Miriam, and Elisa.