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.


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