La Sara en México

Mexicali 2015During Spring break this year, I spent a week in Mexicali, Mexico, interpreting for a mission team from Michigan. I went on the same mission trip two years ago, after arranging a photo show in a venue attached to the church. (We flew into San Diego, and apparently the one full day I spent there was convincing enough to move later on!) Living in a large camp with many other youth groups from around the U.S., we shared daily meals and devotions before heading out to various assignments at churches and charitable organizations. I was with a group that was running a bible camp at a local church. It was the same church I worked with two years ago, so it was good to see familiar faces. We had daily bible stories that the kids acted out, crafts, memory verses, and lots of time just to play with them. Read more of this post

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Trying to continue my Arabic studies before my trip to Marrakesh. Unfortunately my vocabulary is limited to essentially useless words that coincide with the letters I have mastered.

(Incidentally, I like the word for worm because it sounds like “dude”… although that little dude looks more like a caterpillar. Either way, I don’t know if this will help me much.)

I have faith (that I will understand someday)

For some reason this week I am less exhausted. Sometimes I wake up before my alarm. Take time to drink a cup of coffee, to sometimes (& accidentally) catch the bus on time, to meander into school early and wait outside the doorway of my first class – papers and flyswatters in hand – before the bell rings, instead of scrambling things together at the last minute.

Maybe there's just something about the sea air.

Somewhere below my feet (or below my skin) I can feel the slow almost perceptible shifts – things connecting. Getting It Together.

In school I am hearing a lot more Hellos and less Holas.

Nodding heads and ah, vale vale vale or even okay, of cooooouuuuurrrrse are replacing panicked blank faces.

We are drawing superheroes using comparatives and superlatives, who can throw hotdogs from his eyes or transform into a chocolate.

Occasionally my name is morphing from the familiar SAH-rah into a more deliberate SAWR-AH. (Not really phonetically closer to my native pronunciation, but paso a paso, eh?)

In classrooms and hallways students stop to ask me questions about the United States. (I haven’t had anyone ask me about England in weeks.)

Somewhere the 6th graders learned oh my god (I don’t think it was me) and like to use it with gusto.

(One learned asshole and used that with gusto, too – again, I swear it wasn’t me.)

And slowly we begin to move forward.

More than anything, I notice that when I am speaking to individuals or classes in English, students listen to me with trust instead of apprehension. Trust is big in language classes. I didn’t realize this at first, but it is. Trust and confidence are both far more integral to language production than boatloads of grammar. Similar to my first days in front of my American students years ago, during my first lessons here in Spain I was met with a sea of furrowed brows and many glassy stares. Even if I was repeating instructions that the teacher gave in Spanish or Valencian, these kiddos were totally at sea.

Write your name and the date at the top of the paper using pencil.

At first, despite wild gestures, brandishing utensils, and pointing to the date on the board, I imagine I sounded a lot like the adults in Charlie Brown. Bwah bwah BWAH bwah bwah BWAH bwah BWAH.

With some time, individual words began to emerge – thanks to some cognates, some basic vocabulary, and the fact that English is a stress-timed language. Bwah bwah NAME bwah bwah DATE (exaggerated indication of the date on the board) bwah bwah PAPER (waving around a paper) bwah bwah PENCIL (by now a few kids are on board and assist me in my wild pencil waving.)

Now, students watch me closely, perhaps trusting that somewhere in the sea of seasick vowel sounds there will be a life raft – a gesture, a cognate, or – even better – a word that now connects firmly to some image or idea in their heads.

Today in English a 4th grader made a joke.

Me: That looks like my cat. I have a black and white cat, with green eyes.
Kiddo: Pues, tu cat is old.
Me: Old? What?
Kiddo: Black and white photos? Old?

I am so proud.

So as the calendar Marches on (get it?) and with a date set for my return home (July 30th) I am hanging onto hope, and reigning in my building anxiety about returning home. I am going to trust that clarity will arrive when I need it.

Mid-Year

I feel like most things in my life recently are a little retrasado (and I mean that more in the running late sense, and less in the mentally delayed way – but who knows?)

So more than a week after the fact, I am taking time to comment upon the many impressions and inspirations that I was left with after spending several days in Valladolid for Fulbright´s mid-year meeting. This included all the English Teaching Assistants from all over Iberian Peninsula – from Valencia, Cantabria, Madrid, and Andorra – and all the research grantees here in Spain, researching everything from cancer to Antarctica to flamenco.

Hint: this is not a cheap student hostel.

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Oceans Away

Oh boy! Another long pause followed by another long post!

Two months of living in Spain, and I am beginning to find my stride. I have several students for clases particulares (private classes), several intercambios (language exchanges), and have just signed up for a yoga class offered by the community center next to my school. I’ve made a few American friends and a few Spanish friends, so that I have some relationships to neglect now that my schedule is getting busier. I’ve had the opportunity to go on two field trips with various classes: one to a nearby park where the 2nd graders learned about traffic laws (including the chance to practice on a bike course complete with signs and traffic lights), and another to Jijona to visit a turrón factory and some caves up in the mountains.

On the bus with the entire Secundo Ciclo (3rd & 4th grade)

We could see Alicante from the mountain! (The kids were curious... ¿Dónde está tu casa en Michigan?)

Las cuevas...

Field trip finish early? Don't want to go back to school yet? Let your students run around in the park for approximately three hours!

In between, during the normal school day, I think I am finding my place here. (The next step? Learning to be content with that place.) I have four English classes a week with the teacher, with the fifth and sixth graders, and the rest of my sixteen weekly hours are in plásticas (art) classes. The English classes are wonderful – I feel like I am learning a lot about teaching ESL, and even though I only have one hour a week with each class, I can see progress. This week I am starting my Fulbright side project – a pen pal exchange with elementary classrooms in the United States. I’m excited about this project – the Fulbright side projects are meant to be aligned with Fulbright’s goals of intercultural exchange, in a way that is challenging and educational for both the auxiliar (me) and the students, and I think this will be all of those things.
I feel less excited about the plásticas classes. With the older grades, I sometimes am able to plan my own activities that combine art with language – or at least I am given ten or fifteen minutes to teach some vocabulary related to what they are working on. The teachers let me do Halloween activities with the kids, and most have agreed to let me bring in other holiday activities and lessons. The rest of the time I am circulating around the room trying to find things to say in English. Particularly with the first and second graders, whose plásticas activities are primarily coloring, cutting, and occasionally gluing, I am finding it hard to impart more language than “Oh, great job! That looks good! I like his red hat! What a nice blue house! Do you know where your scissors are?” They’re experts at colors, because it’s difficult to talk about much else, when I don’t have time for songs, activities, or more direct lessons… so often when I say anything to them in English, they just start holding up their crayons and saying proudly: “Green! Yellow! Rrrrred!” I think they see me as a weekly visitor whose sole purpose is to check that they know their colors in English. (It’s understandable. That’s a pretty fair assessment of the role I am currently given.)
After spending three years teaching in Detroit, building a language program from scratch, and preparing six or seven lessons a day at different grade levels, and letting my teaching job devour nearly all my free time, it feels foreign and increasingly frustrating to spend so much time hovering around at the back of classrooms. You would think that being this useless would be less tiring – but between the extra strain of speaking two (or three!) languages and the long days, I am just as exhausted by the time I go home.
It might sound like I am whining, but I’m not. (At least, I shouldn’t be.) It is easy to whine. It is easy to compare the current situation to others and to some imaginary ideal in your head, where you have boundless time, materials, support, and the rapt attention of (no more than a reasonable number of) bright, clean little faces. Teaching is never going to occur in an ideal situation, because it is a job working with the most young and chaotic members of our already-unpredictable human race. Especially as a teacher in ESL and/or foreign languages – which are not on the big standardized tests and often less funded or organized – I can expect a career full of unreasonable expectations, meager resources, and creative solutions.
So here I am – teaching English, learning more Spanish, and most importantly, trying to foster intercultural exchange. I think the only thing more eye-opening than teaching itself is teaching in a foreign country. There are so many confusing, revealing, and thought-provoking reminders that I am oceans away from my comfort zone.
Por ejemplo…
  • The loud THWACK of a plastic folder on the head of an overly talkative student, when an irritated teacher smacked him with it hard enough to send a bit of plastic flying across the room. Back home this event might have been followed by a lawsuit – here it was followed by a collective gasp, a brief tirade in Valencian, and restored order in the classroom.
  • The birthday celebration for some teachers during el recreo last week, where the teacher’s lounge erupted into activity: snacks materializing from somewhere, a few liters of beer circulating in little plastic cups, regional pastries unfolding themselves from paper cartons brought from someone’s pueblo, congratulatory dos besos for the birthday folk, and a loud jumble of laughter/Valencian/Castellano/Spanglish. I sipped beer self-consciously (with the noise of the students on the playground outside) while the primary school teachers tried to refill my cup whenever they noticed it was empty.
  • The very, very young students in the building – although I don’t work with infantil, it is bizarre to see the tiny three year olds in the hallways, in their little gingham smocks called babis, hanging onto each other to create very slow-moving and haphazard trains, or occasionally carried by their teachers (also dressed in babis, which is pretty genius if you are going to be hugged by so many grubby little people.)
  • A distinctly European level of comfort with the human body, with anatomically correct posters to teach all the bits and pieces, a detailed discussion of childbirth in the kindergarten class, a student changing into his karate uniform in the fourth grade hallway, the discussion about the Birth of Venus (and a student’s commentary: We have that picture in my house – but my dad cut out the face and replaced it with a picture of my mom…) Let’s not even talk about the fair where I stumbled upon a father helping his small son pee on a wall at the side of a crowded street…
  • A general lack of anxiety that has been hard for me to assimilate, as approximately a hundred 3rd and 4th graders ran amok on a field trip – wrestling, piling on top of each other, hanging off railings over a very scenic and very high cliff. The other teachers must have noticed the panicky look in my eyes, because they just shrugged and said – “eh… es normal para los niños.” There isn’t the paranoia that I am used to in lawsuit-happy America – the paranoia that manifests itself in safety railings, warning signs, first aid kits, fire escapes. Then again, maybe there is something to be said for a lack of paranoia. I haven’t noticed an inordinate amount of children falling off of castles or down into caves.
  • Further nonchalance in the area of sanitation. I am used to certain things in American schools – the vats of hand sanitizer, availability of tissues, and reminders to cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze – that simply are not here. (Terrifyingly enough.)

Niños in high places.

Note the welding that is going on while we are below in the caves. Not only is this very loud during the tour, but there is also a lot of sparks and a half-constructed railing as we all file past on the wet steps...

On the other hand, there are some things that have been comfortingly consistant from one continent to another:
  • Students are excited to see me anywhere outside of the classroom: at the store, on the bus, in the city center, in a nearby pueblo at a fair… just like my students in the United States, they are fascinated to discover that teachers do things outside of the school.
  • Being a teacher is a like being a rockstar. People are always screaming your name in the hallway or in the street.
  • In drawings, if there are people dancing there will always, always be a disco ball present.
  • Tattling and whining are both phenomena that easily cross the language barrier.
  • First graders will always be a little bit insane.
  • No matter how strictly or tightly controlled the lines are, the creativity of children will always, always spill through the cracks in some way.
(I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.)

Halloween Jack-o-Lanterns

We talked about the difference between scary and fun when it comes to Halloween. Most people chose scary. The sweet little third graders were particularly bloodthirsty.

Input Plus One: Educational Distress

Alternative Title for Language Pedagogy Nerds: Krashen Burn – Input Plus Too Many

Things out of reach.

I learned some new things this week.

  • I can catch the early, non-crowded bus at a different stop than the one I have been using, giving myself a few extra minutes to get there and get a newspaper.
  • The free local newspaper, 20 minutos, is exactly the right length for my – you guessed it – 20 minute bus ride. (It probably takes 20 minutes for a native Spanish speaker to read the whole thing. I can only do it because I skip the sports section.)
  • If I catch said early bus, I can arrive at school early enough to drink a cup of coffee at the cafeteria up the street, on the sunny and increasingly chilly patio.
I was feeling pretty good about my mornings until yesterday, when I got to my stop, picked up my newspaper, and settled in to read about local escapades and international demonstrations. However, in the midst of all my carefree confidence I didn’t actually catch the correct bus. I ended up in a strange remote neighborhood, wandering aimlessly and following useless or contradictory directions until I finally caught a taxi. At that point my flimsy sense of competence fell apart.
I think that is a big part of moving to a new country – the roller coaster of elation at the simplest accomplishments, like taking a consistent enough route every day to orient yourself along the way, followed by plunging depths of the despair. I have found this to be particularly true with my language immersion experience, and the resulting state of constant confusion.
The teachers here have been so friendly, despite or perhaps because of the fact that I am apparently an idiot. During the morning coffeebreak I try to keep up with and participate with conversations, but by the time lunch time comes around I am physically and verbally exhausted, and even less capable of intelligent conversation. Sometimes I can contribute a comment to a conversation, usually via some syntactical disaster, but mostly I stick to nodding wisely and laughing when everyone else is laughing, with a vague fear that someone will ask me for input, which will reveal how little I am actually able to keep up.
I know things will get better. I felt victorious this week because I caught myself understanding Valencian. My first week or so here I didn’t even comprehend the differences between Castellano and Valencian – I only could tell what language it was based on my level of confusion. (If I was totally lost, it was probably Valenciano. If I was only somewhat lost, it was probably Castellano.) Gradually I began picking out sounds and phrases of Valenciano – nouns with their final vowel dropped. Syllables that sound French to me. Then this week in the 5th grade Castellano class, one kid didn’t know how to say a word in Valencian and I was able to tell him. Later, at lunch in the teacher’s lounge, I understood a conversation between two teachers in Valencian. I was elated. I felt like a rockstar. Then (of course) someone asked me a simple question in Castellano – which I have been studying and speaking for nine years now – and I couldn’t respond.

In communicative language teaching, Krashen has a theory about the ideal comprehensible input  – language should be understandable but still challenging, for maximum learning potential. I know this because I sat in classrooms and learned about it, but also because I have stood in classrooms and walked that fine line: between letting students get the gist, or tipping them over into paralyzed confusion. The littlest ones have the least tolerance for my foreign gibberish, and the least qualms about letting me know that they have no clue what the hell I am saying. Es que… es que… es que no te entiendo. Ni una palabra. But after simplifying everything, adding a lot of pictures and arm-flailing, they are the ones who are singing number songs in English when I pass them in the hall.

It is good for me to be a language learner parallel to being a language teacher. It is good for me to be pushed just beyond my own limits.

So far my time here in Spain has been a lot of things. Beautiful. Confusing. Peaceful. Frantic. Lonely. Crowded. It is an overwhelming jumble, but even when I feel submerged I can appreciate the value in being submerged. Language immersion leads to language learning, obviously, but it’s the kind of linguistic growth spurt that is so dramatic that you ache with the adjustment. Limbs tingling. Joints creaking.

I hope to write more soon. Tomorrow morning I leave for Madrid for the weekend, to visit a friend and attend a manifestación – a protest against the educational cuts here that are similar to what U.S. schools have suffered. More on that later.

 

 

Summer Schooling

Blue Skies

I can’t believe how fast this summer is sliding by. It’s been in the low 80’s (instead of the high 90’s) for a few days; I needed a jacket last night when I was out, and a blanket in bed. This is the time of year when I would usually begin feeling the creeping panic that heralds the return of early mornings and lesson plans. Instead, my anxieties are tied to a flight date, waiting for an elusive visa, and goodbyes.

I have been busy, but in the best of ways. I have been scraping by on babysitting, housesitting, and some photography gigs. I took the city to court (after a big towing mess) and won, which was incredibly empowering and also will help the aforementioned income. I am gradually organizing and packing and getting rid of things. Around and in between all of that, I have been able to experience a lot of Life Lessons… otherwise known as Really Good Things.

#1) Using Another Language.

This may sound like I’m pushing my own professional agenda, but I think part of the secret to enlightenment is in new languages. I have had some incredible conversations in Spanish – I am hungry for practice and I know my rusty grammar needs tweaking. A few of the best and deepest conversations I have had have been in Spanish – about God, about spirituality, about grief, about relationships, about dreams and goals. I remember when I was in Spain a few years ago, and my roommate and I doggedly tried to stick to Spanish, even in our room alone. It got exhausting, as immersion always exhausts you because it is unceasing, but also because I felt stuck in small talk. I lacked the eloquence I needed to talk about anything that really mattered. Now, I value my stilted attempts at meaningful conversation in Spanish. Talking about real, important things in a new language clarifies them in some ways, because you don’t have cliches or your own pre-packaged ideas. You have to fight through with the vocabulary you know, and rethink what you are saying, and break out of the lines you have been walking your whole life. You are forced to push through to what matters, even if you have to twirl circles around it with broken syntax.

#2) Night Swimming.
That has happened a lot this summer. We have been driving out past the streetlights, down winding roads, and stumbling along dirt paths into darkness. And when your eyes adjust and the water opens in front of you, with the fireflies and the starlight and the rubber-band voices of frogs, you become suspended between the cool water and the cool air and you won’t care about sunlight anymore. (Also, sometimes you run into other strangers who are just dark shapes in the water, and who want to talk about literature. So far we have only met cool people. Please don’t let any assholes in on the secret.)

#3) Getting Some Kid Perspectives.
I’ve been happy to have a pretty Grace-full Summer. How is she four already? She was born around the time I was getting back from my study abroad trip to Spain, which doesn’t seem that long ago. And now she is old enough to call me out on being too silly. I have also been babysitting a six year old girl this summer, which has been pretty great. Six is an age that is generally very creative, very excited, very silly, and very wise in surprising ways, and this girl has a special dose of all of the above. Spending time with one six year old is different then the necessary orchestration of approximately thirty creative, excited, silly, and wise six year olds (and is 99% less stressful, as it turns out.) We went swimming last time I was babysitting her (during the day, in a public pool – night swimming is not for the young) and she kept yelling for me to go further and further out, so she could swim to me – splashing towards me with water in her eyes and a smile so big that it was probably holding her up on its own. She always told me to stay put so she could swim on her own, and I always followed her anyway, and she always screamed “Catch!” as soon as she got afraid, but as soon as she felt my hands on her waist she wanted to push off me and swim out further. Then we got home and instead of the usual bedtime story I let her help me wreck my journal. We poked holes in it, wrote down some signs, chewed on a page, and threw it down the stairs. She was captivated, and went right to sleep after.

#4) Live Blues.
My boyfriend’s parents gave us their tickets to go see Taj Mahal play in Ann Arbor last night. We didn’t know anything about him – other than some last-minute research – and at the show I felt a little embarrassed to be completely clueless among a crowd of people who had obviously been loving his music for decades. As it turns out, he is an amazing musician who puts on a very dynamic live show. Live music always makes me very happy… though currently I am on my porch with coffee and a very long Taj Mahal playlist, and that isn’t half bad either.

I always have some half-cooked ideas about what I want to write about, and usually it trails off into caffeinated rambling. My apologies.

I leave the country in three weeks.

Then again, “He had already run out of the room” seems unnecessarily long.

This morning I called upstairs to another teacher about a student who I sent up to her, and said “He’s on his way; I tried to give him a pass but he already run out the room.”

I hung up the phone and did a double-take. Run out the room? I never say “run out the room.” I know my prepositions and phrasal verbs… believe you me.

Language is such a fascinating thing. It sneaks in around the edges. I catch myself reflecting parents, friends,  favorite books, roommates, students… uh oh.

Blame the Inanimate Objects

My Spanish 2 student and I have been talking about how in Spanish, you get to blame the inanimate objects. You get to be the victim of clumsiness, sinister objects, aching limbs. It’s not your fault!

  • A mi se me cayó el plato. The plate went and dropped itself!
  • A mis estudiantes se les olvidó la tarea. My students’ homework went and forgot itself!
  • Me duele la cabeza. My head hurts itself to me!

Ah yes, I like Spanish.

Nice things that have happened recently:

  • Dinner and good conversation with Anna.
  • A visit at school from Gretchen!
  • Noise band show… making noise is very therapeudic.

Things that me enojan:

  • Companies that don’t know how to ship things.
  • My right earlobe, which doesn’t seem to want to stretch at the same pace as the left.
  • My school’s stupid administration and the hoops we have to jump through.
  • Mysterious projectile objects in the sixth grade, that are nobody’s fault! (A ellos se les volaron los lapices!)
  • Breaking up fights… two this week.
  • Cleaning up after cats who manage to get an unreal amount of kitty litter strewn throughout the entire apartment, every day.

Things I am looking forward to:

  • Books and jewelry coming in the mail.
  • Spring break.
  • Friday night.
  • Salsa.
  • June.

Now that I have gotten some lists out of my system…

I apologize for the lack of interestingness. I am apalled at my own lack of interestingness these days. My life is very busy and yet still very lame. So busy and so lame, in fact, that I seldom have enough time to fit in all the mundane things that I need to do… along with the frustratingly difficult things, such as teaching Spanish, or influencing young lives.

Yesterday a kindergartner was blowing air at his classmate, who got irritated and pushed him off his chair. I made both offending parties sit out on the carpet. The one kid kept saying “But Ms. K, he blew me first! HE BLEW ME FIRST!!!” …with rapidly rising volume.

Five year olds are so scandalous. At least I have the constantly boiling vat of childhood and adolescent drama to keep me both entertained and befuddled.

My little sister just got engaged! Holy crap. The wedding may be coming up fast… perhaps too fast… and it’s a little overwhelming to think about. It’s shaping up to be a pretty wedding-ful summer. Everybody’s growing up. I feel old… except for when students’ parents meet me and laugh in my face.

One and a half days, nine classes, one tutoring appointment, and it will be the weekend.

The Finer Arts

Yesterday I went to Madrid to see El Museo del Prado with a few people. I liked the very small piece of Madrid that we saw, because there were, surprisingly, so many trees.


(There’s a lot of sky in this view of the Prado… because I like sky, but also because there were some random tourists in front that I didn’t want in my picture. Sorry, random tourists.)

I’ve been hurting for an art museum, so it was a good trip. We saw a lot of Goya, which was interesting especially considering that we’ve been studying him in our culture class. I like his portraits a lot, and his “darker” works are definitely… dark.

“El Bosco” has some crazy surreal stuff. I couldn’t stop looking at El Jardín de las Delicias (The Garden of Earthly Delights). Hell is the stuff of nightmares.

It was strange to see all the paintings I’ve seen in books for years, like St. Catherine of Alexandria. Much bigger than I imagined… and I loved the red of her cloak. Things like that don’t come through in prints.

I think the sculpture was still my favorite. I can’t imagine what it must be like to carve such intricate and expressive details into a block of marble. Maybe it’s the three dimensional aspect of sculpture that I like. Maybe I still just want to go back to the “touch gallery” at the Art Institute of Chicago, where you can touch the sculpture. I’m just as tactile as I am visual, and I really just want to touch art.

…perhaps not as creepily as that sounds?

The Prado still wasn’t as enormous as I’d imagined… maybe because so many parts of it were closed. It only took us a few hours to wander through it. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant… oh man, I haven’t eaten Thai food in forever. As much as I like Carmen’s spanish food, I miss the international flavor of the Ypsi-Ann Abor area. Especially the cheap international flavor. I’m going to cook a lot of spanish tortilla when I get home, but I’m also going to be very happy to go eat at Dalat and Al Noor and maybe even a little Temptations. 🙂

We were delayed by an ice cream emergency of sorts, and got on the metro a half hour before our train was supposed to leave.

Here’s us, not being on time. Despite running up some escalators like crazypeople, we missed the train. Luckily the lady changed our tickets for free, and we got on the next train leaving for Ávila just fifteen minutes later.

It was a good trip, and now that I’ve taken the metro and the train a few times I’m a little more confident of my abilities to shlep around Madrid. I plan on going back sometime next week to see the Reina Sofia… I’m looking forward to seeing some more modern art. After culture class today, I’m especially excited to go see Picasso’s Guernica.

In class we learned a little bit about the history of Guernica: a town bombed by German planes during the Spanish Civil War. The horse and the bull in Picasso’s painting have been interpreted various ways– the bull as Franco’s army and the horse as the town, or as Spain itself under Franco. I think all the interpretations are interesting because of the roles of these animals in Spain. Although the strength of the horse is traditionally more controlled than the bull, both are used by people for their own devices. It’s tradition to provoke the bull to violence, which is very interesting in the context of this painting and the identities usually attributed to its components.

The painting itself was painted in France, and was in the US for many years, until it returned to a democratic Spain.

Speaking of bulls, I may go to a bullfight in Ávila this Sunday. I’m very unsure about this. I want to go because it’s such a tradition in Spain, and because people get so excited about it, but on the other hand I don’t know if I can handle it. Basically, I don’t want to go watch the bulls die…. but I do want to go watch the people watching the bulls die. ¿Vale?

We’ll see.

It’s also possible that I may go puenting this weekend.

Puente = bridge
Hacer puenting = A word based on “fake english” that basically means throwing yourself off a puente. AKA bungee jumping.

(They say “hacer footing”, too, to mean jogging. Silly Spanish.)

When the moment comes, someone may have to throw me off the puente, but I’m determined to be brave and do as many ¡con dos huevos! things as possible on this trip.

And speaking of Germany (that is, Germans other than those who bombed Guernica) we’ve been learning a lot of really interesting things about the German language and culture from Bernd, a German student who is in Ávila for two weeks to study Spanish. He’s living with Anna and I, though he’s going to a different school and program. The señora has trouble pronouncing his name, so most times she just yells an anonymous “¡Bajate para comer!” (Come down and eat!) up the stairs when it’s time for dinner.

I can’t really pronounce any German either, as I’ve discovered. But we’ve learned the German word for “mullet” (which I can’t remember or pronounce) and some insults, which are fascinating… for instance, one major insult is to call someone “a person who parks their car in the shade so that it won’t be too hot when they return.”

…and I do believe that I’ll leave you on that note. Some Spanish socialization tonight, and our class trip to Salamanca tomorrow. Assuming I survive puenting, I’ll see you later. 🙂

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