Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Back to work!

This past week was absolutely fabulous…so many things happened that reminded me exactly why I came back to La Rioja. I saw things that WE WOULD NEVER SEE IN THE UNITED STATES. It all starts with Anguiano…. Anguiano is a pueblo about 40 minutes outside of Logroño. Our friend Gonzalo drove me and a few friends to the pueblo to see an amazing spectacle. It is quite difficult to explain…apparently it is a toned down version of the same tradition that is performed in the summer. Basically, these insanely guapo men are dressed in traditional clothes that include a yellow skirt (random I know), and a very colorful vest. The most important item they wear, and fundamental to the performance: stilts. These men dance on stilts while playing the castanets. FURTHERMORE, after the initial dance…they move towards a cobblestone street that is QUITE steep and spin around and dance one by one down this street while playing the castanets. I must say, I have never in my life seen something so fascinating…my jaw literally dropped and I couldn’t stop replaying what had just happened in my mind. Thank goodness I took videos that you all MUST see. They are below. After the show, we were able to meet a couple of the performers and after seeing their dance, I felt like I was meeting celebrities!

This week was also my first week back at the schools. My first school day was with my new school “El Arco” in a pretty neighborhood in Logroño that is far removed from the center. I work with a teacher named Guillermo and he is very nice, about 25 years ago he was a Spanish teaching assistant in England. He lived in England for a year so his English is phenomenal. The school is gorgeous because it only opened last year! My first day was INTERESTING…there was an emergency with one of the students and the director and Guillermo had to call an ambulance and while they waited for the ambulance they asked me to man the phones for 5 minutes in the office in case the parents finally called back….. I instantly switched into PANIC MODE. I don’t know how to handle Spanish emergencies!!! Thank goodness no one called, but those 5 minutes were the slowest 5 minutes in my entire life. I think the child is fine now, but I’m not sure. However, the classes I had that day were nice, the second one is quite rowdy but Guillermo puts them in their place.

Then… the next day was the return to Las Cuatro Villas. YAYYYYY. It was absolutely phenomenal to see all the students again. I cannot even describe it. Multiple times in the different schools I was attacked with these huge hugs from the kids. It felt like nothing had changed and it felt so normal. I brought Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for my coworkers and I forced them to try them in front of me…and besides almost eating the second wrapper they all LOVED them.  I am so thrilled to be back. I brought stickers to give to the little kids and you would think it was like I brought back an enormous bag of toys the way they reacted to the stickers. Bottom line: it was a fantastic week back in the schools. I still haven’t been to Ribafrecha or San Roman yet, that is this week’s schedule.

I have picked up two new private classes so that’s good, and the kids seem very well behaved which I am relieved about. I also will be practicing English with one of the professors, her boyfriend and also a friend of the jefe de estudios.

Now, about my roommates….this week was our first official week as roommates. I have two Spanish roommates. They both are very nice. One works in Logroño, but is from a pueblo not too far from Logroño. She is 28 and outgoing and talkative. The other roommate studies in Logroño during the week and she is from Navarra. She is 22 years old and a little more subdued. The downside I discovered was that both of them return to their respective locations on the weekends, which I didn’t know going into this. They go back because all of their friends and their boyfriends still live where they come from. I mean, I guess it makes sense to go back if everyone they go out with is in another location and they don’t really know anyone in Logroño. So, to take advantage of talking to them in Spanish, we always eat lunch and dinner together and then after dinner we’ll watch TV together. We’re all new to each other so we are still in this awkward getting-to-know-you stage. Hopefully, we’ll get past that soon.

This past weekend I did a couple of things that I have never done in the United States. I went with friends to a mute play. It sounds strange but it was actually very beautiful. It basically tells the story of the life of a couple and all the challenges couples normally face. Their performance included only balloons and ladders and yet somehow you were able to understand exactly what they were doing. So fascinating. Then, last night was el clásico… the ever-popular MADRID vs. BARCA fútbol game. I’m a Barca fan. After living in Mallorca, I really had no choice BUT to be a Barca fan unless I wanted to be shunned by everyone I knew. I don’t follow it really, but when it comes to these games, I always cheer for Barca. I went to watch it in a bar that was evenly divided between the two teams. This made is more interesting for sure…people jeering back and forth which each other jokingly (more or less).  In the end it was a tie. I honestly don’t understand how games can end in ties. The concept seems so strange to me.

Anyway! That’s it for now! Until next week!

Initial dance in front of the church
Dancing down the steep hill! 

Group shot of the Anguiano dancers

Us with the dancers!