Monday, May 21, 2012

Hasta el año que viene La Rioja!

I can’t make any excuses for why I haven’t updated this blog in well over a month, but this will be the final post I make in La Rioja for this year…. because for those that don’t know, I’ll be back in Logroño for the upcoming school year this October!! It’s official! I’m really pleased with this decision and can’t wait to begin again. However, I am also over the moon to go home on Wednesday. My sister is graduating college and entering the real world and I can’t believe it is happening so soon. With this post I’m going to have to briefly sum up EVERYTHING.

Mallorca Trip
  • I had a phenomenal time visiting my Spanish family over April vacation. It rained nearly the entire time I was there so my beach visits were few and far between. My final day there, Xisca held a large lunch at their country house in Bunyola and Charlotte and I got to indulge in all her amazing food. I was spoiled rotten when I was in Mallorca this April; she made every dish I loved. Definitely a worthwhile visit. I miss them a lot!

Marisa and Jess Visit La Rioja

  • Two of my best friends visited me immediately after my roommate Jessie left Logroño. We had a fantastic time; I loved showing them around. I brought them all around Logroño, I brought them up to a part of the Camino de Santiago that is slightly removed from the city to see amazing views for miles, we went to a winery and took a tour…this was incredible, we saw them emptying a barrel of wine our tour guide was so excited we got to see that because it doesn’t happen everyday. After the tour we got to test their white wine and a red…our guide told us drink as much as you want so the three of us drank the two bottles…might as well take advantage right?? Of course, I brought them to La Laurel for pintxos…. and they were pleasantly surprised with them, things they thought they wouldn’t like they loved. Their final day in Logroño, I brought them to school with me and they got to interact with all my niños. All in all they had a fantastic trip and they told me they wanted to move to Logroño, so I think I get points as best tour guide ever.

Cultural Activities
  • A group of friends and I went to a flamenco show in the center of the city in Teatro Breton.  It was a fun night; we got some pintxos first, and then went to the theatre and watched from the nosebleed seats a fantastic flamenco show. Flamenco isn’t very common in the north of Spain, but it is one of my favorite Spanish cultural things; it was one thing I was immediately drawn to in high school and has fascinated me ever since I saw a show my junior year in HS. It always makes me happy to see a flamenco show.                                             
  • Two friends and I went to Museo Wurth, a modern art museum in Agoncillo, one of the towns I work in. I was shocked at the suggestion, because I had no idea there was a museum in one of my towns. I later realized why. In between Agoncillo and Arrubal are a row of factories…well, the museum is one of these ‘factories’ it was camouflaged the entire year. It was a rainy day and we struggled to find the entrance because the bus dropped us off in the loading dock area…so for 15 minutes we were walking back and forth trying to figure out how to reach the entrance…it looked like we needed to walk to the highway to get to the front, however we found a hidden staircase that melded into the grass. Yikes. Anyway, we enjoyed looking at the art. A perfect rainy day activity.

Goodbyes Begin
  • Throughout the month little by little our numbers have been dwindling. Jessie left the beginning of May, then two other American friends left and so we’ve been having goodbye parties. All have been fun, but that brings me to the “comida de despedida” … we went to a friend’s house outside of the city set apart from a pueblo, it was absolutely gorgeous. There were about 30 of us that went and we spent the day sitting, talking, playing with kitties, jumping on a trampoline and eating delicious food. It was one of my favorite days in La Rioja. The next day, the food we had eaten didn’t agree with most of our stomachs and so I spent most of the day in bed.
  •  I of course had to say goodbye to all of my private classes and their families. It was fantastic working with them and I will work with them next year as well. I was lucky to have such wonderful students to tutor.
  • Saying goodbye to my teachers and students was sad. It began with San Roman, at the end of the day all the kids gave me huge hugs and said ‘See you next year Stephanie!’. After that, Javier and Sergio took me out to lunch in the only restaurant in San Roman. It was DELICIOUS. The perfect way to say goodbye to Javier and San Roman. Then, next up was Ribafrecha. María took lots of pictures with me and the kids I got some Thank You cards and hugs from all the teachers there. Then finally, Arrubal and Agoncillo. These goodbyes were overwhelming. The kids made me so many gifts and cards. One class made me a memory book and they each wrote something inside. The oldest class in Agoncillo nearly gave me a heart attack when I entered the classroom. It was dark and as soon as I opened the door they were immediately in front of me chanting “We Love Estephanie!!” OVER AND OVER and I was so shocked and happy and nearly cried. I have so many pictures that unfortunately I can’t post here, but I have a few that are blog appropriate. With this send off, I knew I had made the right choice in renewing for another year here.
  •  My final goodbyes were to the two English teachers I worked with: David and María. I got drinks with both of them separately.  It was great and sad to say goodbye to both of them because I was lucky to work with such fantastic people. I won’t be working with María in Ribafrecha next year because she was only substituting for Juana for the past few months. I will work with a new teacher next year, but María and I will certainly keep in contact.

Which leads me up to now: my last day in Logroño. I am completely packed and shockingly it all fits and I don’t need to ship anything or buy a new suitcase. I don’t know how I managed that, but I’m so grateful. Technically, my final goodbyes will be this evening when I make my final pintxos run with my friends and then it’s off to Madrid tomorrow to catch my early flight on Wednesday.  This year has been unforgettable and I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to come back. So. … UNTIL SEPTEMBER!!! (Maybe next year, I’ll be better about updating this thing).