Saturday, November 28, 2009

Día de acción de gracias, 2009

Besides my week of Spanish flu when Mom was in town when I wanted nothing more than my pillow-top mattress and an English-speaking doctor, this past week brought with it the biggest dose of homesickness yet.  Mostly I've been busy and enjoying myself enough that although I often think of home, it doesn't bother me terribly being here instead of there.  But this Thursday was Thanksgiving, and  pictures, phone calls, and even Facebook statuses reminded me of just how homey and wonderful America can be.

However, I got two packages from family that helped make Thanksgiving over here a pretty great occasion.  My Florida family made sure I was included in some very important family traditions concerning thankfulness and candy corn.  :-)  And Mom made it possible to make honest to goodness pumpkin pie all the way over here in Spain.

My roommates and I decided to host a Thanksgiving dinner last night.  We split the dishes and the cost, and we came out with: turkey (and by turkey I mean two chickens), mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, bread, corn, and pumpkin pie.  I was in charge of the beans and the pie, and although both were about as simple as cooking gets, I was nervous about the outcome.  Based on people's responses at dinner, though, I think they were both pretty successful.

It was quite a feast, and we had some great company.  At one point, I sat back a bit and looked around the room: we looked like a mix-n-match family that just happened to all be around the same age.  The Americans talked about everything from regional phraseology in the States to really out-there movies from the 60s and 70s.  And the Spaniards joined in with equally great conversation.  The room was warm, the wine was tasty, and we had just the right amount of food to go around.  Also, we made feather headdresses with leftover craft materials from one of my Thanksgiving lessons--terribly politically correct AND entirely appropriate for wearing both at the dinner table and out to a few clubs afterwards.

And so, Spain can be homey too.   And I love it.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Waiting, Restless

I always have extra time between leaving my first school and arriving at my second.  I'm working on finding the best Waiting Spots between the two.  Today I tried a little square about a block from my second school.  It was perfect for the couple of boys kicking around a football, and the white and blue tiled benches were also perfect--for waiting.  Not too long after I sat down, I was joined by Andrea.  She's five.  She plopped herself down right next to me and proceeded to look over my shoulder at my cell phone.  She was sure she'd seen my exact phone on television, so I showed her all the "special features" (it's my American phone, mainly used for alarms and time keeping because I have yet to find a watch I like).  We were fast friends, and she began telling me all about her family in Argentina--"I'm half and half.  I'm kind of like Argentina but I'm also kind of like Spain."  (All of this, of course, in adorable Kid Spanish.)  She also informed me I looked prettier without my glasses.  It was precious.  Our time was cut short because Mom was finished shopping, but Andrea made a quick trip back to the bench to check: "Wait, are you North American OR South American?"--"North."--"Okay! Bye!"  I ate it up.

There's another bench I've found for waiting, almost right outside my second school.  My waiting companion there is an old man named Juan Martin Something Something.  I'm supposed to remember his name because he used to be the chief of police (though I'm not entirely sure it was in Almería) and people KNOW him.  Drop his name, I won't get messed with.  Well, I have half of it down; it's just that his nearly-toothless, old man Spanish is a little too broken and fast for me to catch every word.  I'll work on it.  I just might need that name someday.

In similar news, I'm an old man magnet.  I don't know what it is, and I think it has more to do with them than with me, but something as simple as eye contact or a smile translates into an open invitation to discuss whatever might be on their minds.  Common thought processes: the weather, their dogs (alive and dead), estranged family members, dangerous Spanish men, and why I don't have a boyfriend.  This last one happens to be my favorite.

I love my jobs.  I still don't care for getting up early or lesson planning, and sometimes being with so many different kids makes me long for a "regular" elementary job in the States, but I really love what I'm doing here.  My first graders are always ready with hugs, and curiosity about English is building in almost all my classes.  Things are also feeling more successful on the teacher side: I've actually (appropriately) joined in the recess gossip hour a couple of times.  The teachers' faces when I did this were priceless.  In the same vein, I now know just about 275 names--and the faces that go with them.  Feels good :-)


I find it almost impossible to believe I've been here over a month.  I'm pretty used to calling my apartment "home," and I'm feeling pretty familiar with my little coastal city.  There is plenty more to see here, I'm sure, but I'm growing restless.  It's November, and I'm ready to see more.  A trip to Granada is in the works.  I feel a little behind when I hear about (or see pictures of) others in my program already traveling throughout Spain and beyond... but then, I remember how good it feels to be a bit settled here in Almería, and it's okay.  I'll get started soon.  There's still time.  It's going quickly, but there's still time.  And I can't wait.