Thursday, August 14, 2008

Wednesday the 13th

Wednesday the 13th, 9:30 p.m.

Things have been a bit different this week. I started three new classes for the month of August, and they are trying to dump more on me because I am going to be here for the entire month. Luckily, not all the classes will fit. But for now I have class at 12 noon every day in Alquerias, a break from 1:15 to about 3, and then I have to jump on my bike and ride out to the beach-front area for a 3:30 class, at 4:45 I have to jump on my bike and hustle to get back to Burriana for my class at 5 and at 6:30 I am done. So that is what my days look like for the rest of August. I am sure there will be a few more odds and ends tacked on as the other teachers start to fade out.

The exodus has already begun. Today, Joe from Ohio left. He is going to Bordeaux for a few days and then home to Columbus via London, I think. He will be returning in a month or so to Bordeaux to study French and teach some English on the side. If one has the wherewithal to be able to flounder for a bit, I think this type of work would be much more lucrative for a person working independently.

I have been trying to go to the beach more. I enjoy swimming in the ocean, but for some reason recently I have been neglecting to find my way down to the beach. Joe and I went down there about 7 or so in the evening on Monday. It is the best time to go if you are not interested in getting a pre-skin-cancer tan in about 30 minutes. But usually it is still quite warm and sunny, but not overly so, and the water is not cold. When we got there Monday evening the beach was under a “bandera roja” or red flag. These folks here are used to such tranquil water that when they get a bit of wind and waves over 5 feet tall they shut down all swimming. So I just sat and looked at the water for a while and felt the wind in my face. It was a bit too cloudy for the Spanish folks.

The sunset on the way home.

I actually ended up going alone to the beach yesterday afternoon, kind of on accident. I was told by my boss to be at a lesson at 1:30 at the beachfront, which was a bit of a stretch because I had a class in Alquerias until 1. I hurried home, grabbed some materials and headed out as quickly as I could. I made it with a minute or two to spare… but I was sweating a bit. It was 43 degrees Celsius… with a heat index of 48…that is somewhere around 109 with a heat index of 119… It was hot, especially at 1 in the afternoon. However, It turned out that somewhere along the way, I got the wrong orders. I was not supposed to be there until 3:30. So I went out to the beach, swam a bit, and baked myself dry. I think it took about 15 minutes to go from completely wet to completely dry. Then I went and sat in a café and had an orange Fanta (which I love here in Spain) and a baguette pizza. I then ordered a café cortado or cut coffee (espresso with milk). The girl at the café repeated my order back to me “CafecortadoSi?” and I agreed. She came out to my table carrying one espresso shot and one espresso shot cut with milk. I then realized that she had said to me “Café y cortado, Si?” … “Coffee and Cut, yes?”, and then I remembered, the café cortado is usually just called a cortado. Ah well. Five bucks for lunch and two coffees isn’t so bad. So I went to my 3:30 class ready to rock…

The 3:30 Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday class is a tough one. I have two girls, 12 and 13. They are painfully shy and timid. I sometimes forget how tough it was to be that age. I can’t imagine what it is like for them… 12 and 13 learning English from a stranger at your own dining room table, and the stranger is a foreign man with a beard that always shows up looking like he just rode 10 kilometers on a bike to get there (which I do) and his breath usually smells like coffee… Yikes.

The girls names are Mar and Paloma… Sea and Dove. (Mar is a very popular name around here.) I got them loosened up a bit today (after trying to get them to learn some boring adjectives) with a reading of the book Stephanie’s Ponytail in English. It was loaned to me by a friend back home that knows a heck of a lot more about teaching than I do, and true to her word, it was a big hit. We didn’t finish, which is good because it gives us something to look forward to tomorrow… And if everything goes well we might just play some UNO at the end of class. That is my reward for the younger ones. We goof off for the last fifteen minutes or so of class. The parents seem to fully understand, and it’s their Euro… so if it’s good for them, then it’s good for me. It always cracks me up because my students, who of course are learning English, always say “ONE!” instead of UNO. I like it.

I was told by one of my other new students, an eighteen year old from Madrid who is living in Alquerias for the summer, that the reason Spanish people don’t have beards is because beards make people look dirty. I said “Well, thank you,” and he just smiled and said “You’re welcome.” It’s no fun to be ironic or satirical in someone’s second language. That is unless you are one of those who likes to be the only one who gets the joke. If you are, you would have a great time as an ESL teacher. Not me. I like a bit of reciprocity. Entiendes?

Did I mention already that all of the new native English-speaking teachers are going to be Irish? Well, they are. They should begin to arrive in a couple of weeks, about the time that I am intending to be winding down. It should be interesting. Maybe I can brush up on my Irish accent before I head home.

This is a festival week for Spain… Something like the festival of the Mother of God I think. There have been fireworks intermittently throughout the nights and days recently… but that could also be a marker of every time that Spain scores a goal or wins a medal at the Olympics… who knows. I do know that it is a national holiday on the 15th, which is Friday. They are having bulls in the streets in a lot of towns around here. It is the usual fiesta behavior in most towns with enough money. Pamplona just gets all the press. If you want to see something really ridiculous and a bit uncool look up “toro embolado” on Google. I think it mostly means “bull on fire”. They tie some kind of sparklers or other flammable thing to the ends of the horns and then let the freaked out bulls chase people around with flames on the ends of their horns… I they are doing that here Friday. I have been told by several of the Spanish with whom I have chatted about bulls that someone who is not Spanish could never understand the “toro” culture… I must admit, at least for now, I think they are right.

I got side tracked, sorry. What I was going to day about the 15th of August is that it is supposedly the turning point when summer begins to wane here… In my experience back home the 15th of August is when the proverbial “mierda” hits the “ventilador” when it comes to heat… But I will take their word for it, and hope for the best.

Today was cloudy and a nice 24 degrees…(about 76 I think.) It was really nice for a change, although the Spanish here seem to prefer the oppressive heat and endless sun to a cloudy day. Today there were people wearing long sleeves in some places… I think they must have just been over exaggerating to make a point… Surely.

That’s all for now…

This sign is how i know i am getting close to home when i wander. The land is so flat between the mountains and the beach that you can see it for miles.


1 comment:

Who Sees the Seven... said...

I've really enjoyed reading your postings for the past month or two as I will be embarking on a Spain adventure of my own in just under a week. Your writings have been a little insight to what I may encounter myself when I get to a brand new country. Good luck with the remainder of your trip...And with your future cafe orderings!