Monday, February 21, 2011

Why are you yelling?

When it rains, the children play inside.  They pound up and down the ancient tiled floors of the school and scream.  Not shout or yell, just scream, a primal "AHHHH" ripped from their lungs.  They crash into each other and eventually collapse to the floor.  They lay there gasping for breath until they are trampled or nearly so by another child, at which point they find their lungs and legs again and stampede down the hall in the opposite direction, another wordless wail without meaning rising out of their tiny selves.

I go for coffee, hoping to escape the din, and my beloved coffee lady is angry at the man who has brought her bacon instead of ham.  They shout the same sentence at each other again and again for twenty minutes, hands banging on the table and flying up around the face, a delicate dance of jilted customer and frustrated bearer-of-bad-news.

Back to school, where the children are taking an exam.  This should mean quiet, but instead means they constantly shout out the answers and shriek about the ease of the exam.  The Spanish teacher is nonplussed, and my lips hurt from the constant shushing.  I teach another class, which again turns into a lesson based solely on the concept of raising one's hand and then not shouting the answer, this time to sixth graders.

I ride the bus to Madrid for class.  I see the loud woman in front of me in line and purposely sit as far from her as possible.  Even with my head phones in, I still hear her entire conversation shouted into her mobile during the suddenly-so-much-longer 50 minute ride to Madrid.  I get on the metro, where I am jostled and shoved.  Where people rest their bags on my bag.  I give them an offended look, and they shout loudly to their friend about the injustice of their life.

Some nights I stay in Madrid.  The following mornings, I catch the first bus back to San Lorenzo.  I always try to sleep but I rarely succeed as someone always insists on shouting into their mobile or to their friend seated next to them at 715.

The passionate "Oles" I so love about Spain are a lot less endearing when they don't stop, day in and day out, in all situations, for several months straight.  My head is swimming with other people's conversations and it's starting to hurt.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

January in Spain

So I got back to Spain on January 10th.  I fought my suitcases, both 50 lbs (22k) and one full only of delicious goodies brought back from America, through the airport, metro, bus, and up the streets of my town to my home.  A few short hours of resting, and it was back to work on the 11th.  The first week back was pretty uneventful.  The kids were crazy and unhappy to be back, and so were most of the teachers.  The one notable thing is that my one class of teachers, the ones I am preparing for the PET exam, asked to be given more work and homework and to be made to move faster.  It's very unusual for such a thing to happen, I think!  I also finally got my NIE (Spanish green card), which was a huge relief.

That weekend was the celebration of Carissa's birthday, so I headed into Madrid for a botellon in Retiro Park.  After the police shooed us away at dusk (drinking in parks is technically illegal in Spain, but not really enforced) we continued to a few other places for dinner and some magic beer.  Seriously, if you ever come to Madrid, hit up Naturbier in Plaza Santa Ana.  Two and you're singing.

The second week of January was characterized by frantic writing in an attempt to finish everything needed for the second module of my master's program.  I managed to do so, with what I considered great results for my "teaching writing techniques" class: I created a literature-based question set at the C1 (upper university studies) and the C2 (graduate) level, in Spanish.  Since my most recent placement test put me at a C1.8, I can assure you that this was quite the challenge!  It would certainly be difficult to teach a language to people who speak it as well as or even better than I do.  The work for my other class, linguistics, I was less pleased with.  The professor wanted very detailed information on a very specific subject area, and it left little freedom for the project.  Plus, I just don't think I did that good of a job.  So we shall see about that.

That weekend my friends were lovely enough to come visit me in San Lorenzo.  Friday was a totally relaxed girls' night, watching movies and talking.  Saturday I cooked a huge pot of mole for dinner and we had a bit of a party, including descending upon the town's only disco.  It was a lot of fun and craziness and just so nice to be able to do so in my town without having to go to Madrid.  It was also a beautiful weekend, and we managed to walk around town and all over the parks in the sunshine.

The next week my flatmate was traveling for work, and the cat turned into a needy ball of meowing, kissing, and leg rubbing.  He even slept on my bed.  I feel as though we really (finally!) bonded.

The last weekend of January my friend Mate came to visit me from Hungary.  He greatly enjoyed Madrid's new non-smoking law (as do I... it is so nice to come home from grabbing a drink after class and not have to wash my hair and febreeze everything on me).  We spent Friday exploring La Latina and eating vegetarian food, Saturday exploring Madrid, and Sunday exploring my pueblo before he had to head back to BP.  We were blessed with some nice weather on Saturday and I got some good pictures.  It had snowed a lot the week before, and it was still there in my town, so we got to enjoy that as well.

Plaza de Espana 
Templo de Debod
The Royal Palace, which we went inside.  I hadn't been inside since 2005.  It continues to be ornate.
the front view of El Palacio Real
Catedral de la Almudena
Pope John Paul II behind the cathedral
snow on some shrubberies... ni!
San Lorenzo panorama with snow

Sunday, February 13, 2011

250th post

This is my 250th blog post.  That's a quarter of a thousand posts.  I don't remember my 200th post, but my 100th yes... I was moving out of my first flat in Budapest and a man was cutting trees with a chainsaw, using only a rope for protection.

I started this blog on August 19th, 2008.  That means I am writing this 250th post five days before its two-and-a-half year birthday.  Or, that I write about 100 posts a year.  That's about two a week, though I certainly go in fits and starts.  And it's really amazing how something so silly as a blog can mean so much to me.  Because I really do love this little place, and writing in it.  It's been such a help for me to have a place to work through my thoughts and reactions.  This blog was where I wrote about crazy Hungarians, the fears and excitement of a girl abroad, the joys of festivals and travels, my loneliness, my happiness, my heart break at leaving Budapest, the trials of a Spanish masters program, my students, my friends, my pets, my family, and my life.

Thanks for reading.  I hope to keep writing for a long time.