Sunday, August 10, 2008

the 10th

The self-portrait on the way here... Just to let you know I haven't changed much and that i am really here...

 abandoned old convent on the corner near my house

Sunday August 10.

Since my last post, I have had my first bout with illness in this country. I came down pretty heavily with a ear/sinus/chest infection with fever and chills and the whole bit.

When I got back from Italy I was feeling a little tickle-pain on the left side of my throat that is usually a precursor to any kind of sickness I get. I was a tad worried, but I continued to take my vitamins and such. By Wednesday I couldn’t talk, couldn’t hear out of the left side of my head, didn’t want to walk, and was coughing deep heavy chest coughs with unsavory results. I paced around the house in my oversized lounging pants with a towel draped over my head and shoulders for most of the day. Finally, about 7pm, Dori, Katie’s Spanish teacher, showed up to teach Katie. She and Katie conspired to get me to a doctor who is the mother of one of Katie’s students. Health care here is not something I know much about, but I do know if you don’t have a government health I.D. card, it might be a little more difficult to find a doctor and get medicine. Luckily this doctor was home. She was off work and at her house, but she said that we could stop by. Dori drove me over there and stuck with me while the doctor (she was actually a pediatrician, but I wasn’t splitting hairs) checked me out. She told me I had a big serious ear infection that had decided to descend into my sinuses and chest. She said it looked like I had gotten some water in my ear and it had caused my infection. Thank you Italian swimming pool. She gave me some anti-biotics and some good pain/fever reducers. I am to call her when I finish my drugs for a check-up.

So I have been somewhat under the (extremely warm and sunny) weather. I only taught one class last week. Yesterday, for some vitamin D therapy, I went to the beach. It was surprisingly not too crowded. Although I did go a bit early in the day for beach-going. Usually the folks don’t go to the beach here until about 6 in the evening. It is just too hot. I got there about four o’clock I guess. I could only get out in the water up to my neck because the doctor told me not to get my ear wet. So I bobbed around for a while in the pleasant water and then walked up and down the beach until I dried. I still haven’t gotten myself any little European man-trunks. I think everyone might wonder why I was wearing my underwear over what looked like a pair of white thigh-length shorts… like superman…

The water has started getting warmer here, and as a result they are beginning to have problems with jellyfish coming nearer to the beach in the warm water. A few people have been stung here in the Burriana area. I am keeping my eyes peeled for anything colorful and bubbly… but so far I have seen nothing to speak of.

This is a huge piece of sculpture that is sitting by the side of the road in what looks like a scrap yard that is on the way to the beach. One had is rusty metal and the other is stainless steel. i like it.

I am getting a bit restless here on this fairytale working-vacation summer. There are a number of reasons for it.

I am only teaching about 10 or 15 hours a week… Not that I mind a light work load, but I have a 50 hour bond before I get paid… and lets see… I truly started teaching the first week of July… and it’s the first week of August… and 10 hours a week… Yeah, I have not been paid yet. I will be getting paid starting this week, but 70 euros a week is not much of a bankroll. Enough to eat on, yes, and I don’t have to pay rent (for now), but I won’t be coming home with much extra.

The teaching is not really what I expected. I am more or less thrown in with students for an hour or more a day for an undefined number of lessons and somehow expected to asses their knowledge, decide what they should learn, and improve their English. I feel as though the “Academy” that I work for is not very concerned with whether or not the students learn anything. They are simply concerned with hoodwinking the parents for a month or so with the guise of a “native English speaking teacher” and taking some of their hard earned money. In certain cases the teachers are nothing more than glorified baby-sitters making usual babysitters wages. The “Academy” charges anywhere from 18 to 30 Euros an hour for our services and pays us between 6 and 8 Euros an hour. In certain cases, though, a native speaker is all that is needed. Some teachers have students that are high-level business executives and simply need help with conversation and pleasantries in a business setting. Some teachers help college students understand English literature and assist in proofreading and editing theses for graduate students. And some teachers sit in a room with a class full of four year olds and try to keep them in their seats and occupied until their mothers get back from grocery shopping and then have to answer questions in a second language from angry mothers who want to know why little Elena is not speaking English fluently yet. It’s a bit like being thrown to the proverbial wolves… and being told to teach them something.

The wonderful housing situation that I have enjoyed up until this point is about to cease to exist. The owner of the house has begun to come by with other prospective renters to look at the property, and there are big “Se Alquila”(or For Rent) signs in front of our house. Jorge, our boss, has decided to stop paying the rent on the “casa de las giris.” (a Giri is like saying gringo but it’s Spain’s version, it literally means tourist, I believe.). Therefore, at the end of the month, I am not sure where I am going to live. I am sure like all renting situations that we are to be completely out of the house with no vestiges of our presence remaining by the first of September. In which case I will have just over 10 days to flounder around, but floundering can be expensive and possibly unpleasant if one is not well prepared. There is a possibility that my room mate Katie might be touring around the mountains in her big old camper van at the beginning of September which would make things easy for me; I would just tag along. If that doesn’t work out, the “Academy” is renting an apartment for classroom space down on the beachfront, and I could possibly negotiate a short stay there. But my current companions are fading out one at a time over the next 3 weeks… Joe is out on the 17th, Jeff is leaving on the 24th, Katie is done on the 31st, and I am here until the 10th of next month; so even though I still have right at a month left, I feel like I am already getting ready to leave.

Many of the businesses here are closed, closing this week, or partially closed for most of the day until September, which makes riding around town a bit strange. Luckily the grocery stores do not usually close. Although, this week is a fiesta week for the entire country I think. So who knows…

I am missing shade, and fresh water, and clouds, and thunderstorms, and certain people… And when I get home I will probably miss the ocean, and the sea breeze, and bakeries, and markets.

Time and distance and separation really help a person appreciate the things and people that they truly enjoy and love. Everywhere I’ve been I glean something new from the culture and the people and the lifestyle that I will keep with me when I leave. If I am able to continue traveling and absorbing, as I grow older, I can’t imagine what kind of lifestyle I will lead as an eighty-year-old man. I’m sure my grand-children with think I am “nutters” (that’s a nice Aussie term I think I’ll use.) They’ll laugh at my stories and my silly attempts at trying to teach them Spanish; but maybe, in one or two of them, I will see the spark of interest ignite in their eyes…the desire to seek truth and beauty and knowledge and wisdom… the desire to travel and to see and to experience… the tendency to dream. They will be the ones who had to touch the stove to know that it is hot...

I hope when the time comes that I can be a part of a good solid base to jump from as I have had.

So I’m a bit disenchanted and a bit sentimental today.

Thanks for bearing with me.

Exactly one year ago today... In Montana.

day on the creek last June

espere ...hasta lo suficientemente pronto


No comments: