15.01.2012 - 25.02.2012 15 °C
A blink of an eyelash and February is ending. It’s a good thing we’re in a leap year, as we can use the extra day in our lives.
Shortly after we all went back to school (after the Christmas holidays), our house turned into the an infirmary. First Ansley got sick (again)…really sick. She didn’t move from her bed for one day and spent the next three days glued to the sofa. Then, just as she was starting to feel a little better, Marleigh got sick…and then as she was starting to recover Andy got sick. Me…I managed to escape that round of the ‘sickies’ but felt like I was in a really bad movie…not only was my family sick, but every other person on the street was hacking away. It felt like “last man (woman) standing” and sooner or later I was doomed to fall.
So far…so good..knock on something or other. Finally, things are more or less back to normal, whatever normalcy is in Spain. Sometimes normalcy is running out of butane in the middle of cooking or in the middle of taking a shower with a hair full of shampoo. Sometimes normalcy is forgetting that all the stores close at 2:00 pm and there’s little food in the house to eat (like bread or butter or eggs). Sometimes normalcy is remembering that we have to walk nearly 30-minutes one way to make photocopies and that opening at 10:00 am is really more of a suggestion. Sometimes normalcy is eating dinner at 10:00 pm and saying: “yeah...so?”
Still, our lives have taken on a new rhythm. Andy and I continue to compare notes about our classes each week. Sometimes everything clicks and feels really good – like we’re making a difference and the students are becoming more confident in speaking English…and sometimes…well…sometimes….it’s still just very hard to make everything sync together. We come home exhausted and feeling a bit defeated and wonder what we can do to ‘make a difference’.
We have English/Spanish intercambios with teachers both inside of and outside of our school schedule. To me, this is a real highlight of the day and week. A way to connect with folks here, to learn more about their lives and to have fun together struggling with our respective languages we’re acquiring. And – it feels like some days we’re communicating (more or less) in Spanish and some days it’s all we can do to pull out a handful of words.
As I mentioned before in my not-quite-so-famous book (you know the egg and cigarette thing)…learning to communicate in a foreign language is an amazing experience for the head (I suppose I didn’t say it quite like that) and we often end up at the end of the week with headaches and find that not only can we NOT speak Spanish, but that our English is deteriorating at the same time. Really – it’s true – sometimes we struggle to find the word we want to say...in... ENGLISH! We could chalk it up to our age…but when Ansley and Marleigh have the same experience, all we can say is “Major Brain Overload”. (OMG…MBO). They are having their share of MBO....and then on top of that...Marleigh has French...of course in Spanish....and art...in English...so her brain is switching languages multi-times each day.
While all you Americans were out celebrating President’s Day, here in Spain and in Latin America, CARNAVAL was the holiday. Carnaval in Spain is celebrated quite differently than Carnaval in South America, but it is equally as wild. We decided to take our four-day holiday and go to the Andalucian city of Córdoba. It was nice to head out of Plasencia and see some other parts of Spain. The weather was fantastic (I think Spring is on its way!) and we enjoyed ourselves. Imagine halloween with a major twist of debauchery and you've more or less got CARNAVAL.
Viewing the Mezquita was an amazing experience...but it also felt a little odd to me. It's now called a cathedral, when it fact it was built as a mosque. It's a true clash of religions and conquest...maybe not a 'clash' but it felt rather 'clashy' to me.
The cherry blossoms in the south were already starting to emerge and my ‘profesora particular’ (Marta) told me today that her pollen allergies are starting, so indeed – Primavera – Spring – is on its way to Spain. We managed to escape most of the hellaciously cold weather in Europe...thank goodness.
We are more than half-way through our time here and through all the crazy difficulties we have had, or continue to have – one starts to get used to it…like an old pair of shoes. The girls are such troopers…they miss their friends dearly…they realize how lucky they are with respect to their education…and the fact of the matter is that they are anxious to go home….but at the same time, they are having the time of their lives. Their Spanish comprehension and conversation skills are fantastic (they have surpassed us) and they are having a cultural experience that I am sure they will never forget.
As for Andy and me – of course we are looking forward to returning to the USA and Oregon and to our jobs and stability and sanity and family and friends….but I’m already thinking of the people we’ve gotten to know and how much we’ll miss them and how much we’ll miss all the walking we do. Somebody once told me that Spain ‘grows on you’ and indeed it does. I’m sure that once our lives resume normalcy (whatever that is!), we’ll look forward to when we can come here simply as tourists to see our friends and maintain some level of Spanish.
In the meantime….más intercambios, más clases, más viajes y ya está…vale…vale…venga.
Con abrazos y besos- Shari y familia