TWO BLOG POSTS IN ONE DAY! The last was a little somber, so I decided I needed to add a bit more about what’s been going on in mi vida.
I really enjoyed work teaching last week. We started the Paleolithic period and the kids seem to be enjoying it. I most enjoy following along with what the other teachers have planned and then adding my input whenever I want to or they need a little extra help. It has been going so smoothly. I spent most of this morning planning my lessons for next week. They suggested I do whatever I want, rather than follow their English books (go figure), so I’m doing everything related to Halloween. Since I’m working with infantil and primeria this mostly includes YouTube songs like “Five Little Pumpkins” and “The Skeleton Dance.” I came up with a skeleton craft to start with naming different body parts. For the slightly older ones I will be teaching some Halloween vocabulary and then they’re going to listen to songs and find the words they are learning in the lyrics. Monster Mash will be a necessity, of course. We’ll see how it goes!
This week has been a little crazy because of the English academy I have been working at. Commuting to both of the schools I’m at during the week has made me really have to stretch to make it to my classes in the evening. Honestly, by the time I get there I have no energy or will power to do the lessons how they should be done (with 4 and 5-year-olds). I’ve been griping to Jay about it for the past couple weeks, and finally I decided I would tell them I had to quit. So on Monday, I did. She was a little upset and for good reason, they were already stretching to cover the classes I couldn’t make. But we came to an agreement that I would still teach until they were able to find someone else.
Then the second English teacher got sick. So not only was I still doing my classes, they asked me to cover hers too. Talk about a long week. I do not know how she does it. She teaches the classes that are even younger than mine, which basically consists of over-animated actions and songs while the kids stare at you and pick their nose. Haha! I’m going to try to stick with older students after this. They should have found someone by this upcoming weeks, so I may be finished. On Friday, one of the owners kindly gave me a sack of grapes/pears/apples from his dad’s bodega and they are so delicious! I took it as a nice parting gift. They truly are great people, I just still need time to get fully settled.
Settling down here has been a long process. Longer than I thought it would be (almost been here for a month-what?), but when I look back I don’t know how it could have been shorter. It’s a huge change from my life at home! Poco a poco means little by little. This is what my teachers always tell me when they ask how things are going for me at home and I give them an exasperated answer. It’s true. Slowly but surely I am making a place for myself here. Last weekend we were able to get away and visit Laguardia in Pais Vasco. It was full of beautiful mountain views and I had the chance to step back and remember where I am.
School is in full swing and I feel like I have a presence in my classes. The hardest part about it so far is not knowing what will be too hard or too easy yet for each grade. I guess that will come with time. Jay has been doing a lot of work at his schools at a more advanced level of English, and has also managed to accumulate eight students for private English lessons. He’s making an extra 120-150E a week! I’m so proud of him. Word-of-mouth travels like crazy here and he has had friends of his teachers and students contacting him for lessons. I think that once I’m done with my academy for good and he fills up his schedule as much as he wants to, I’ll start taking the leftovers.
I almost joined a soccer team here in Logrono. I went to a practice with some other auxiliars and it was a strange (good) feeling to be back on a field in the crisp air. The team was pretty dang good, but a little odd. The age range was from 14 to 26-years-old. I still am a bit confused because I just assumed soccer is huge in Spain, but it turns out that baloncesto is more popular here in La Rioja and so they have to extend the age range to have enough girls. So most of that team is younger girls, and then there are a couple older than me. I don’t want to sound too proud, but one reason I couldn’t do it was because I didn’t like a girl yelling at me on the field (which is just a part of a team sport) when I played soccer longer than she’s been alive…? I know how it sounds. Plus with those little energetic people running around, I felt old. Another reason is that it cost 150E to play (even though it came with jerseys, practice gear, and warmups!) and I’d rather spend that on other things. Like pinxtos. I hope I don’t regret turning down that opportunity for exercise and rekindling my love for the game, but it’s done. I will have to meet Spaniards another way! Next week I plan on signing up for an intercambio which is where you meet with a person who wants to learn English, and you spend half the time talking in English and then half the time talking in Spanish. I’ve heard good things and I’m excited about it.
Another part of settling down has been making our apartment feel like our own. It’s beautiful, spacious, and in a great location but still needs personal touches. The bed Fran left for us is horrible. It’s a slab of stone on a squeaky cot. We spent the past week trying to get mattress pads, but to no avail. Instead we managed to get a new set of sheets, fuzzy blanket, huge down comforter, and a memory foam body pillow. None of these things help the state of the mattress or the “cot,” but we pretend it does! I also finally broke down and bought a hairdryer. I had to because it’s gettin’ cold! However, I haven’t been able to find a flat iron for under 75E or a curling iron at all… I guess I will keep going all natural, most women here seem too. It’s never humid. Next mission is to find a set of knives, particularly a bread knife for our daily baguette, which appear to not exist here. The search continues…
In other news, I’ve had the best time this weekend just hanging out around Logrono and trying new foods. Jay and I had churros for the first time yesterday. They are strips of deep fried dough served with a cup of hot chocolate for dipping. This is what they serve in heaven. We live one street over from Calle Laurel, which is famous for pinxtos and it’s hard not to just go pick something out every night. We are definitely finding our favorites, including: gambas, langostino con pina, secreto iberico, croquetas de jamon, patatas a la riojana, baca lao tempura y foie de manzana. To say I am loving it is an understatement. Still just getting used to the different meal times. Breakfast food doesn’t really exist besides toast (tragic), lunch is the largest meal and is served around 2-3pm, and dinner is after 9m and no one seems to eat more than pintxos.
The end of October is going to be wonderful. Next weekend we have decided to travel to Bilbao and San Sebastian (both famous for gastronomy, I’m definitely on a food kick). I can’t wait to see the Guggenheim-Bilbao! We are also going to travel to Bakio to see the church of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. Sometimes I just can’t believe how close I am to these amazing places. We are hosting a Halloween party next Thursday for the auxiliars… costumes required. Should be a great time! Finally, for the start of November we are traveling to San Asensio for the 5th Annual Fiesta del Pisado de la Uva at Bodegas Lecea. I’ll finally be able to make that wish to squish grapes with my feet a reality as we celebrate the grape harvest! Being in La Rioja is fun. More to come soon! Hasta luego!