Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Florence Tomorrow

I am leaving for Florence, Italy tomorrow.

I am leaving on the train to Valencia at 6:30pm or so, and from there, departing for Pisa at 9:30, then a train/bus at around midnight from Pisa to Florence. I am glad the hostel has 24 hour check-in because we will be arriving about 130 or 2 in the morning I think. I will be back sometime Sunday night, hopefully in time to catch the last train from Valencia back to Burriana. It should be a nice respite from the classes I have been teaching, and the environs of a different world-city that I have never seen should be fun. I was encouraged toward Florence by nearly everyone with whom I spoke about Italy. So, I expect it will be nice.

Today was market day in Burriana. I went to the market with my house-mate Katie to see what all the fuss was about. The thing was much bigger than I expected. There were many different vendors, selling anything from kitchen utensils to clothing and shoes to fruits and vegetables to meats and cheeses… unbelievable variety.

The market... Katie is in the second picture using the language that we all use along with our Spanish... Sign language.

It was fun. I do believe that I will buy my vegetables there from now on, but today, since I am leaving tomorrow, I bought nothing. Most of the stalls are covered with a drape of black netting that shades the patrons while allowing the breeze to blow through. It was nice in the shade, but in the sun, it was a scorcher. About 35 or 36 degrees Celsius, which I think is about 96 or 98 degrees Fahrenheit… I’m not sure though. It was hot to say the least.

This is the tower for which Burriana is famous. There are T-shirts sold here with the Eiffel tower, Big Ben, and the Burriana tower displayed equally on them.

Some doors that i liked... The city is full of big old wooden carved doors.

A street in Burriana

Today was my last class with Daniel and Ana. They only had classes through the end of July, so I am now back down to about 10 hours a week if nothing else comes through… So much for breaking even. Although I must admit, I do like the free time. It is summer, after all.

And I can hear the old women and men sitting just outside the back door of the academy as I type. Ever since it has been hot during the day the people sit and stroll about until 12 or 1 in the morning. Without air conditioning the houses take a while to cool off in the evenings. And they like to sit near the street or in the street. Otherwise the breeze is minimal. It is nothing like a neighborhood back home. All of the buildings in town are residences are almost all are about 4 stories tall, even in this town of 3900 people. Above every shop, there are apartments. So the blocks of buildings block the breeze on the side streets and in the courtyards. In the streets the breezes blow. The temperature here drops quickly when the sun sinks below the mountains to the west, but the thick walls of the masonry architecture here take time to give up their pent up heat to the cool breezes that surround them. And the old men and women talk to me when I come in. It is “Buenas Tardes” or “Bona Nit” (in Valenciano) as I ride up on my bike. Last night as I left one of the old women said to me in Spanish “Well, we’re still here…”, and I said, “Well, are you not always here?…” and I got a big laugh. It was an accident, but I’ll take a laugh anyway I can get it.

Tonight, I am preoccupied with a couple of things one of which is a trip to Italy for which I have yet to pack… and I must pack frugally. I am only taking my carry on. Therefore I must go.

Look for more from me round about Sunday when I return from Italy…

Thanks again for stopping in.


p.s. FYI, If you click on the pictures you can view them as larger images.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday the 28th

Today is a Monday.

Although it doesn't feel like a Monday in the tradition of the negative connotation generally given to the day. I got a lot of sleep this weekend, and i did nothing of consequence. (Other than some serious grocery shopping and cooking.)

Perhaps my mood has something to do with the fact that i know this will be a short week. I leave on Wednesday for Florence, Italy, and I am not taking my computer. So it will be "radio darkness" for blog land from Wednesday to Sunday unless I am able to randomly use some internet at the hostel. I am not entirely comfortable lugging my computer into a hostel and either having to leave it there or carry it around with me all day. I bought a much smaller euro-man-purse for my daily carrying needs, and a computer gets heavy after a while.

I also realized that i am past the halfway point for this hitch... I am closer to coming home than i am to the date of my arrival.

I plan to give you a little more meaty writing to chew on while i am gone, but today, right now, i am hungry.

I'm headed home to make some food. Fresh tomatoes,(courtesy of one of our Spanish teachers) fresh basil (from my plant on the patio), and some fresh mozzarella, baked on a baguette in the oven... I think that will do the trick.

hasta luego

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The 22nd

It is Tuesday the 22nd of July.

Just a silly video to see how well it works. A short snippet of my ride to work on my bike.

Tuesdays are a busy day for me relatively speaking. I have class at 9:30 to 12 and then come home for lunch and siesta before riding 9 kilometers out to the beach for my 4:30 class, which has begun starting at 5 for some Spanish reason. I think my boss talked the mother of my students into a two-hour class even though she really didn’t want to subject her boys to such a long class. I actually appreciate it even though I lose about 2 and a half ours a week in pay because Fran, the eight-year-old, has a hard time staying with me for two hours. Nando, the twelve-year-old plays tennis quite often so there is a chance that the class could be cancelled on ay day in favor of tennis, which he likes much more than English.

Getting started this morning was tough. I woke up, begrudgingly forsaking my bed, at 8:45 this morning after having fallen asleep definitely no earlier than 4. It has been hard to get to sleep early here for some reason. I think it is in part because I relish a bit of time to myself after everyone has gone to bed and the house is quiet, and here that means at 1:00 am or so. Although last night I was awake until 2:30 preparing for my classes today. I spent time locating the type of exercises that I wanted for my advanced class and tailoring them to my desires on the computer. Then I tailored some reading comprehension and vocabulary questions for the exercises and printed them all out. Quite a bit of work. I remember hoping when I agreed to this job that there was a bit of curriculum already in use and I was just going to step in and teach from a currently existing base, but it seems that it is up to me to decide what and how the students learn. It would be great if I had some personal learning theories that I wanted to test out or a method that I preferred, but since I do not, I’m struggling a bit. It is nice for a change though. A challenge.

I was riding home from Burriana today and realized that there are many small things that I have said nothing about.

As I ride down the roads between the orange groves I am usually riding next to open concrete irrigation ditches; it can be a tad dangerous fur a careless motorist. Between the road and every field there are irrigation canals of various sizes and depths that are usually flowing with water. There is a system of gates(much like locks on a river on a much smaller scale) that open into various fields that are operated by hand-crank wheels which allow the raising and lowering of the gates to alter the flow of the water.
The caretakers who are responsible for the various fields ride around on little Vespina mopeds in their dirt-covered clothes with a milk crate usually strapped to the back filled with tools for tinkering with the gates and such. This irrigation system is a remaining legacy of the Moors here in Spain. The method of water transport and usage is so sound that it has not changed in over 800 years. The Moors valued water highly because of the scarcity of rain in this region, and the chosen crop, oranges (,which are also a Moorish legacy,) love to be watered. Think about a fruit that is mostly juice having to grow in a climate where it rains only 45 days a year… The irrigation has to be good.

The fields or campos are not filled with grass but are solid dirt; the orange trees usually reside on a bit of a hump or ridge a few inches high to allow the trunks of the trees to stay out of the water and to allow the water to flow freely through the fields. I have never seen anyone using a tiller, and the keepers are always covered in dust, so I assume that most of the care of the grounds is done by hand. The entire length of the roadside next to the fields is littered with trash and debris. (The Spanish are notoriously and admittedly infamous litterers.) I’m sure it takes up quite a bit of the caretaker’s day just keeping his irrigation canals relatively debris-free, but the debris is just thrown in the field. So even though the orange trees or los naranjos are picturesque and beautiful they are generally surrounded by a smattering of wine bottles, water bottles, paper, and just about anything else people throw out. I have also seen a suitcase, some wooden stairs, a thrashed mo-ped, and an armchair, just to name a few of the stranger things. (But to be fair to the Spanish, as a community here in the Communitat Valenciano, they are much more faithful in their recycling efforts than most of us Americans. There are bins on just about every other corner for paper, cardboard, plastic, and glass, and the people are always making time to put their used products in the bins.)
In nearly all of the sections of the fields, which are usually defined by the surrounding roads, there are old small rundown houses that are empty.
These are las alquerias after which my pueblo, or town, is named. Las alquerias is an archaic word meaning “the farmhouses.” The houses are usually small, concrete or a similar substance, and roofed with tile. In the past the caretakers of each individual grove would live in the house the better to care for the surrounding trees. I am not sure why this practice was abandoned, but now they are generally used for storage or for nothing at all. The occasional old house as one nears the beach has been renovated by a wealthy town dweller into a summer home, although the vestiges of the original structure are generally lost. There is not a huge trend here that I have seen toward preservation or restoration of older homes to their original state. People with the money build a new house, and everyone else is content to live in a flat. I really enjoy the old Mediterranean style architecture. There is beauty in its simplicity and function. It is definitely a practiced and learned response to the climate in which it is found.

Nothing like a bit of Anarchist graffiti in support of the environment. “NO MORE TOXINS IN THE ORCHARD ” is the message.

On another note, Happy Birthday to my brother Matt. He turned 24 on Sunday.

I had my first slight bout with homesickness a couple of days ago. Nothing major. Definitely not a cry-myself-to-sleep affair, but I was reading a book that I found here in the house that I actually had read about 15 years earlier on a recommendation from my grandfather. It was The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter. It is an enjoyable nostalgic autobiographical account of a boy growing up with his grandparents in the mountains of Tennessee. It made me think of family, and home, and mountains, and streams, and all of the things from childhood that I remember with fondness. It’s just that kind of book. In reality, I know it is hot and humid back home, and the only things biting are the mosquitoes, and the creeks are drying up, and the grass is getting brown. I would probably fail to spend enough time with the people I care about when I’m on the other side of the ocean anyway. But, it’s the idea of those things. It’s easier to love the people and things you love when you can’t reach out and touch them for a while. Then I remember that I will be home soon, and at that point I will miss riding to the beach and swimming in the ocean everyday, eating fresh from the boat Mediterranean seafood, taking siestas, sipping café cortado in the café on the corner before class, watching the old men in the square, and the ever present fact that it actually cools off here at night in the summer.

My Street.

Bright bright blooming flowers.

Self Portrait on my evening paseo, Almost home… (The green light at the end of the street is the neon sign for a brothel.)

This is the bar/cafe on the corner about 200 meters from my house; believe it or not I have not yet been there.

Oh, yes. I’ll see you all soon, and will be glad of the meetings, but ‘til then, I think I’ll make it just fine here.

Hasta Luego.


Thursday, July 17, 2008

thursday july 17

Today is Thursday the 17th. I am sitting in Los Naranjos café in Burriana. My afternoon class today was cancelled for the second day in a row as I was riding my bike this direction and as a result I have 2 hour break during which I have nowhere to go and nothing specific to do. I have been quite busy during the last weeks preparing for classes and what not even though I have only 15 hours of classes in a week. I do not have enough language to walk into a class and wing it; therefore I must prepare material for my classes. I have a new class this week. I am teaching Daniel, a 4th year civil engineering student and his girlfriend Anna, a college graduate with a degree in early childhood education. They both speak passably good English, which makes the class much easier to teach. We spend the class mostly talking and practicing conversation and doing reading comprehension exercises. I teach them Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30am to 12. Today I had them read aloud an article in TIME magazine and I asked them questions about the article to see if they had understood what they read. The article was about immigration issues in America. We then had a discussion about immigration issues in Spain. Spain is the gateway to Europe from Africa, and thereby has problems with illegal immigrants crossing the Straits of Gibraltar in shoddy boats. They have generally paid what amounts to their life savings just for the opportunity to attempt to come to Europe. I asked Daniel for his opinion about immigrants and policy concerning them. I was a bit surprised by his answer, probably because I am accustomed to staunch opposition to illegal immigrants back home, and because of the fact that here in Spain the cultural and national pride runs so high I expected an anti-immigrant attitude. However, he said that he believed that the best policy was to learn to live with immigrants and grant the illegals the asylum that they seek. When I asked him why he said that he guessed his reasoning was that 20 to 30 years ago the Spanish were in the same situation as the immigrants in that they were forced to look elsewhere in the world for gainful employment because of the lack of jobs and opportunities in their home country. The idea of a sense of national pride and strength that causes the bearer to desire to allow others a chance to make their own way in the framework of ones own culture is vaguely familiar… The poor, tired, and hungry. The huddled masses yearning to breathe free. I remember reading about a culture like that. I remember hearing about the land of opportunity, freedom, and equality, about a place that was a “melting pot” of cultures in which the cultural identity was the diversity of the culture. When did that idea start to develop a negative connotation? I must admit that I don’t like the idea of my personal history and the culture that I have known fading into a multinational oblivion. Yet, is a personal identity not stronger in the face of assimilation? When a way of life and traditions of a people start to fade, the people culturally revolt and cling fiercely to the way of life that they cherish. The ones who don’t like it are welcome to change. That is a right I want to have and would like to extend to others in order to retain it myself. Young people in any nation are prone to rebel against the ideals of their parents. Yet every generation returns at least in part to the values and traditions of their fathers. Otherwise there would never be a new generation of social conservatives. There is a happy medium in here somewhere… where it is, I do not know.

I’m not trying to have answers here. Just thinking in print. Thinking on a subject courtesy of an English class. This is why I love language. It is an all-encompassing medium for our opinions, thoughts and desires. Everything is fair game for a language class. I think in the next class we will read some poetry in English and see how the translation treats the artistically written word.

Speaking of poetry, I feel as though my musings have become less about the soul of this place and more about the daily routines, but no; I think i just changed my mind. There is poetry in daily life. Perhaps it simply takes the mindset of a poet to perceive it.

And as I sit here in the café, old men come and go. The same old men that I saw yesterday in this same place sit in the same chairs and talk about life. It is like a play, acted out every day, and the players move in and out of each others lives, each is his own character with his habits, flaws, demeanor, and actions, and I am the unimportant player, who changes the tone of the drama for an act, and then is gone, hardly remembered by the main characters, only significant for the reason that I am actually occupying a chair that is usually frequented by another. I am a topic of conversation. It works both ways,though. They are merely the setting for my life, fading out as the scene changes, possibly to return in the next scene, possibly to fade from my memory and the rising action of this drama that is my life.

Today I have the desire to tell it all, to know it all, to be everything, all of the hopes, dreams, plans, failures, successes, truth, lies, wisdom, folly, happiness, disappointment.

I am only limited by my ability to translate these things to the page.

In an email today to an old friend, I found myself telling him quite a bit of unsolicited information about my hopes and ideas for the future, things I haven’t voiced in quite a while.

It’s interesting how having to use your brain in new ways in a different environment reopens your neural pathways. Every time I go away and change my setting and my routine and mix up my life a bit, I find that things that I have forgotten resurface, sleeping thoughts awaken, and latent dreams are reanimated. I remember why it is that I love to go. It is not only about the destination but the therapeutic reawakening of the self that I remember exists beneath the things that I say and do. It is often, in the rut of daily life, crushed into the mud and gravel of a well-trod path, hidden beneath the moss that gathers on a sedentary stone.

Sometimes i can be a bit verbose. Thank you for wading through my musings today.


Sunday, July 13, 2008

Sagunto Sunday

Looking down on the town of Sagunto from the Castle Arse (yeah, that's really the name)

Fishhooks have not changed much in 2000 years... and neither have tweezers. I love artifacts. They give my imagination so much food for thought.

Celts, Iberians, Romans, Moors, Crusaders. everybody added something up here... I'm not sure which is which. I want to go back when i have learned a bit more about what i am looking at

This street was so steep that it has a ladder entrance similar to that found on the side of a swimming pool, and of course a handrail all the way up.

Me in front of the doors to a 14th or 15th century Gothic Cathedral. There is a part of the wall of this cathedral that was a temple to the goddess Diana in this same spot prior to Hannibal's invasion in 219 B.C. It was one of the only things he did not destroy.

*Evidently i was quite tired sunday night when i wrote this because i forgot to post it, but i thought i had done so.

I hope you don't mind. i might write little and put some pictures up tonight. I need to get some things done for my classes this week.

Todays destination was Sagunto. It is a town about 30 minutes by train down the coast that was founded by the Celts/Iberians. It is quite old. The town has been continuously inhabited for about the last 3000 years. The streets are extremely narrow and are paved with stones that are generally square and usually patterned in circles. They twist and turn through the city like footpaths or goat trails, both of which are probably correct. There is some great history in this town. It was besieged by Hannibal for 8 months at the start of the 2nd Punic war, but i won't get into all that.

My apologies.

I'm a bit tired today.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

one month to the day

Friday night.

Well, I have to make myself sit down and write a bit tonight. I have been slacking off in my commitment to keep an up to date account of the highlights of my trip thus far… I almost need to read what I wrote last time to remember where I left off. As best I can remember it was last Sunday which means I have not yet written about the class that I am teaching.

I started on Monday teaching at what is called The Grau. I am still not sure what the accurate translation of Grau is, but to the best of my knowledge it means something similar to lagoon. The Grau area is at the far end of the beach at the Puerto de Burriana meaning that it is a good solid 30-35 minute ride from my house, and there is really no way to avoid traffic on the ride there. I arrive every day sweating profusely. It is generally quite warm and sunny at 4pm, and though it is not an altogether unpleasant ride, it is still a bit of a chore every day. So every day from 4:30 to 6:30 I am teaching two boys, ages 12 and 8. Their names are Nando and Fran. They remind me a bit of my brother and myself actually. The older one is slim and tall and smart and good looking and the other one is …well a child… Ok, ok I jest. Yet they really do remind me a bit of my brother and me. The age difference is the same and the interaction is familiar. They are both good students and working hard when I give them work to do. I must admit that it is much more difficult to know how to go about teaching than I thought it would be, especially when there is very little that I can explain in English alone. I usually have to explain words and ideas in English first and then in Spanish. Nando can communicate with me a bit, but the younger Fran really cannot. It is most certainly a challenge, and a good bit of exercise getting to and from work.

One nice thing is that I can go early and go to the beach when it’s hot or I can wait until after and go to the beach when it is a bit more pleasant. I swim in the ocean on most every day.

I am teaching the boys in the downstairs of a flat where their grandmother lives. The family uses the downstairs as a kind of storage area for their trips to the beach. Yesterday (Thursday) it was quite hot and we were sitting with the window open looking out onto the beach having a vocab lesson about things that we could see from the window, kind of like playing I Spy. The grandmother came downstairs and asked if I liked leche meringada or something like that when I expressed confusion she asked if I liked lemon and I said I did. She proceeded to bring down a homemade concoction that was pretty much like a lemon ice cream. She said it was milk, sugar and lemon. It was frozen, a bit slushy, and one hundred percent excellent.

I have spent several late night hours this week poring over lesson plans and activities and such, but last night I went and watched a movie outside at the beach. Cine en la Playa. The movie was “I am Legend” or “Soy Leyenda” with Will Smith. Luckily I had already seen it or I am sure it would have made little sense. Movies and TV are really hard to understand because so many words sound similar when you can’t see lips moving clearly, and they don’t slow down for you when you ask them to do so.

I start another class on Tuesday. It will be Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:30 am ‘til 12… it will be a bit tough for me because I have been lazily sleeping in until about 10 or 11 every day. It will also be tough because it is one student only for two and a half hours at a stretch. Luckily he is older so maybe we will mostly be working on conversation. Perhaps I can talk him into starting the class at the coffee shop down the road every morning so I can have time to get my bearings.

We have a houseguest again this weekend. Dave. He is an independent web/computer graphics designer from London and an altogether pleasant fellow. He is friends with Ariel, the room mate who “lives” here but mostly stays at her boyfriends house so he is staying in her room. We were all planning on going with Dave to Valencia for the weekend, but every hostel in the city is booked solid. So we are staying here and heading down to the beach tonight or something comparable. There is a corrida or bullring set up at the beach and the Circo Aquatico with live sharks and crocs and such is in town and set up down there also, and there is a drama presentation tonight at 11:30… speaking of which, it is 10:45 now, so I must wrap up here.

Tomorrow at some point we are considering going to Teruel (perhaps it is spelled differently) for the culmination of a weeklong Fiesta that celebrates the town’s founding. It is an 11th century Moorish town in the mountains complete with old mosques and the whole bit. It is about three hours away, but Ariel’s boyfriend Jaime has volunteered to drive. The celebrants do something like climb a tower and hang a handkerchief from some crazily inaccessible point on the tower and make a wish or something like that. I mean it wouldn’t be a fiesta without a little bit of danger right? At least not in Spain…

Hasta manana.


* edit

So it is 1:30am and we just returned from the beach. We went to the drama presentation, which happened to be in Valenciano… meaning that the only person who could understand anything was Ariel’s boyfriend Jaime. So we left and drove from the Grau down to the beach are. We got some food from a really good roach-coach kind of mobile food spot that mainly specialized in churros. I had a bacon pizza thing on half a baguette and some fries and a super chocolatey chocolate dipped churro for dessert. Next we wandered down to the clubs, which were completely empty as a result of the “bulls” in the rodeo (not to be confused with a rodeo) around the corner. So we wandered down to see what it was all about. It was not a bull but a cow in the ring. Which is actually quite dangerous because the cows are more easily agitated, they run more, and are much more agile. There was none of the pageantry or anything. Just a black cow and a bunch of young guys running around teasing it and almost getting their backsides punctured by its crooked horns.
Sweet. Dave the Englishman has just informed me that he has a mobile phone with an internet connection, therefore I can post this tonight and not have to wait until tomorrow.

Jaime, Jeff, Myself, and Dave sitting on the beach wall eating chiringuito food

Cheeky Dave getting brave in the bull ring

Alright. That’s it for now.


Sunday, July 6, 2008

San Fermin...and a birthday party

It was another Spanish weekend night.

My roommate Jeff and I loaded up in the car at about 9pm with another roommate Ariel and her Spanish boyfriend Jaime and headed to the beach in Puerto de Burriana for a stranger’s birthday party. I am becoming accustomed to randomly attending functions here. We arrived an hour or so before dark and sat around drinking Coca-Cola, don’t call it Coke, that will get you something other than a drink, Coca-Cola. Many of the Spaniards in the bunch ( this was a relatively young crowd, probably all sub-30) were drinking extremely cheap red wine mixed with their Coca-Cola… I declined to try this concoction because, well, if nothing else, it just doesn’t sound very tasty. We sat around and talked about general topics that come up when strangers are present and gradually our novelty subsided and conversation became comfortable. I think all of the people at the party were couples with the exception of us stangers. The women and the men just sort of naturally broke up into different groups and stood around and talked. As it began to get dark the guys started working on trying to get the fire going in the grill that someone brought as guys generally do. Also coinciding with the sun set there were fireworks down the beach a ways for some reason or other and we all broke out into a chorus of “ Cumpleanos Feliz” as if we had been waiting for the fireworks as a cue. Jaime broke out some “tortillas” that he had made and put them on one of the tables which just happened to be in front of me.

For clarification, tortillas in Spain are not little wimpy corn or flour creations for making burritos or rollups. A Tortilla is actually a big thick omelet type creation with some kind of vegetable in it. The tortillas that Jaime made were potato (which is traditional), onion, and sweet pepper. They are about an inch thick and cut up in cubes and eaten like finger food. And they are good. I have a feeling that the Spanish in the New World were being a bit sarcastic by referring to the meager manifestations of “tortillas” that they were resigned to eat. I could be wrong though; it wouldn’t be the first time.

Where were we… tortillas…right. After the tortillas were consumed by all as a bit of a appetizer, the guys began cooking the meat. I have not seen any beef since I have been in Spain. I have, however, eaten several cuts of pork that I have never tried before. Most of what they cooked was a pork rib/backbone chop type cut, which was really good, as well as some excellent local sausages that I am going to assume were pork also. Then we fell into the Spanish main course of every meal or gathering, conversation. I was mostly listening, but I did a bit of talking too… It is coming easier.

At the “beach” that I am referring to, we are not all sitting around in a circle in the sand near the water. There is actually a big wide sidewalk type thing (I think they call it a paseo) that runs the length of the beach about a hundred yards or so from the water. It is about 80 feet wide and has a small half-wall on the side nearest the ocean. There are palm trees and streetlights alternate about every hundred feet or so in the middle of the paseo. Palms also grow at irregular intervals on the other side of the short wall toward the water. All up and down this big wide walk-way there were families and friends gathering for different reasons with folding tables and chairs sitting and having dinner about dark. There are the usual kids running around with a soccer ball of course.

About midnight or one in the morning the older people and the families started filtering away from the beachfront one at a time while the younger groups started packing up and walking down toward the chiringuitos or beach clubs. We decided that since we were already in the vicinity that we would do the same.

It was pretty warm even for an outdoor club with a sea breeze blowing in, and I was downing orange Fanta from glass bottles like it was going out of style. I love it. About 3 hours and a hundred techno songs later I was done. So I leaned against a tree and watched for a while. I was accosted by a muscled up bouncer who was admiring himself in a piece of plexiglass to my left and caught me smirking at him. He asked me if I was selling drugs because I was in the club, not with a group, and not dancing. I pointed out my friends to him and emptied my pockets for him and told him I was tired, but he kept strolling by and giving the proverbial “eye” as long as I was there. I think he was mostly embarrassed because I busted him out flexing and checking himself out in his tight black bouncer t-shirt.

As we wandered back down toward Jaime’s car he stopped at a stand and bought some churros that he munched all the way back to the car. They looked a lot like Taco Johns churros, but I didn’t try any. I was not in the mood for anything sweet…I just wanted some water and a nice place to sit down. We made it in a bit after four a.m., a relatively early night by Spanish weekend standards…

I definitely slept the first half of the day.

"Uno de enero, dos de febrero, tres de marzo, cuatro de abril, cinco de mayo, seis de junio siete de julio, ¡SAN FERMÍN! "Uno de enero, dos de febrero, tres de marzo, cuatro de abril, cinco de mayo, seis de junio siete de julio, ¡SAN FERMÍN! A Pamplona hemos de ir, con una media, con una media, a Pamplona hemos de ir con una media y un calcetín."

Today is the first day of the Fiesta del San Fermin of "The Running of the Bulls" fame. It will last until the 14th of July i believe. San Fermin is the patron saint of Pamplona so like most of the other festivals in the summer it is localized. Thanks to Ernest Hemingway the world just happens to know about Pamplona and their festival. Actually just about every pueblo has something similar to a bull running at one time or another during the spring or summer. Which is one of the reasons Spaniards are more adept at dodging bulls and the silly tourists get run down in the street in Pamplona... Practice...

Not a whole lot is happening here in Les Alquerias, but there was a band concert in the plaza when i cruised by on my bike on my way to the academy to use the internet.

I need to find a schedule of these big festivals so i can go and join in the spectacle while I am here.


Thursday, July 3, 2008

the 3rd

tomorrow is the 4th of July right?

it should be interesting to see what happens here... i am not sure but i am going to guess nothing.

It will be the second time that i have been outside the states for the 4th. the first was France way back in 1996 or thereabout... As i recall a friend on the trip went to the top of the Eiffel tower and dropped his pants exposing his American flag boxer shorts and sang the star spangled banner. I don't believe i will be so crass... but seeing how it is a Friday night, I'm sure there will be enough partying to make me think that they are celebrating the 4th anyway.

I have been living in a kind of limbo here waiting for the Academy to schedule some classes for me... but nothing as of yet. they told me July is when i would get my schedule, but if it is anything like the problems the other teachers are having then i might just be waiting around. the other two teachers that live in the house with me have had nearly all of their classes cancelled for the last week, and have only worked about 10 or 12 hours. this might just turn into a free place to stay for the summer... But i could think of worse...

I have been heading out to the beach about any chance i get. i went yesterday for a bit and enjoyed the rising surf for a change. Usually the waves here are between one and two feet tall... not much fun if you want to body surf or just get jostled around a bit. however, for some reason yesterday about 6 they were like 5 and 6 feet tall. it was a blast. they changed the Flag at the Red Cross station to yellow alert and warned people that the undertow could be dangerous. i was a blast though.

This weekend should be interesting. i'm sure i will have some entertaining stories one way or another. Either i am going to a fair on the other side of Vila-Real with my roommate Katie or I will be going down to the chiriguitos by the beach possibly both. They are going to let us have a key to one of the academies that is near to the beach front so that if we stay late and don't want to come home then we have a place to go. that will be nice since these Spanish "nights" last til daylight sometimes.

I could tell you hundreds of stories...

but instead, i think i might go out and live a few more.

More from me soon