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.