Monday, May 27, 2013

The Beginning of the End

Okay, I know I need to write and post this TODAY because a lot of things are going to happen this week and I want a separate blog post for all of that. Again, like always I’ve neglected the blog. This past month, I’ve stayed in La Rioja, with the exception of San Sebastián… so no CRAZY trips or anything like that. Which, for me…. is a good thing. Although I will be coming back to Spain next year, I want to soak up my last month in La Rioja. I am getting very nostalgic and no, I’m not ready to leave it behind… BUT, it has to happen. This month has been fun; my friends and I have done a variety of things. Let’s back up to the beginning of May.

The first weekend in May, a GIGANTIC group of us had an “Alice in Wonderland Tea Party” in the park. I’m not really sure what the inspiration was, but we had a lot of fun with it. I dressed up as the Cheshire cat, my friend Caroline was Alice, Emma was the rabbit, and our friend Matt was the Mad Hatter. There had to be at least 20 of us sitting in the park, eating, drinking, laughing and getting sunburns. It was so peaceful and fun to just lounge around in the park with friends. The weather was perfect: not a cloud in the sky and hot. We spent at least 5 hours in the park.

The following weekend a small group of friends and I went to San Sebastián, 2 hours north of Logroño by bus in the Basque Country, to visit our friend Katie. Although we only spent one evening there, we had a LOT of fun. The pinchos in San Seb are high quality, but they made me appreciate Logroño’s famous pinchos a lot because boy were they were PRICY.  We were lying on the beach for hours soaking up the sun… it was so relaxing. We then went to the mini amusement park that overlooks the city of San Seb. We rode a wooden rollercoaster that was easily 50 years old. It lasted about 10 seconds, and was precariously perched near a cliff overlooking the ocean. It made me feel a little uneasy, but it was a VERY quick ride. We really enjoyed it. Then, a few of us rode the “Mysterious River” Log ride. Which basically was a slow, lazy ride that lasted about 2 minutes. At the end there were Disney characters waving at us.

That evening we made our own pasta dinner with a little TOO much pasta and Hayley had made this INCREDIBLE Oreo cheesecake. It was heavenly. Over that weekend, we easily ate all of it. After dinner, we hit the town. This resulted in us sleeping in until 1pm., we had a great time though and it was totally worth it. The next day it was colder and cloudy and we decided to create “The Challenge” a dare for all of us to run into the ocean in our bathing suits. I’m not going to lie; I was scared because it was much colder that day. However, we all did it and to my surprise it wasn’t terrible! We finished the rest of our day with pinchos and ice cream and then caught the bus to head back to Logroño. It was a perfect weekend and I’m so happy I went.

This past weekend, our group of friends decided to do something a little quirky and we had a “fake prom”. We did this because my friend Emma and I had been teaching our students all about proms in the United States. I taught them about graduation traditions, prom, school spirit and basically the differences between our education system and theirs. Because of this, we were inspired to do our own prom. Fourteen of us dressed up and went out for a nice dinner. Our friend Sarah made paper corsages, which were gorgeous. We took the traditional prom pictures with those silly poses and sipped champagne (a small difference between our fake prom and our high school proms).  Of course a prom would be incomplete without dancing…. so we danced most of the night away.

As I mentioned, I am getting very nostalgic. So, I prepared a surprise for some of my friends as a goodbye gift. I made a slideshow of our two years here. I presented it yesterday because it is the last weekend we will ALL be together…. Which is really sad to think about. Next weekend, a few of us will be in Barcelona to see Rihanna in concert and then following that we will be walking the Camino de Santiago for four days. After that, people are leaving…. I leave on June 14th.

Finally, like always I want to have a portion dedicated to what’s happening with my schools. With my coworkers in El Arco, my Logroño school we had a dinner at the director’s house. The food was SOOO good. There were about fourteen of us I believe and the dinner was in this underground bodega…. that is the best way I can explain it because I have been told it isn’t a basement. We had a very fun night.  Last Monday, I had lunch at my coworker’s house with his family. Which of course, like all food I have had in La Rioja was fabulous. So hats off to him. His family was very welcoming and it was a great time.

Now, I will finish by talking about Ribafrecha. Last Thursday was my last day with two of my classes there. I will be in the school on Friday, but the English teacher I work with on Thursdays planned this big surprise for me with those two classes. To their delight at the end of both classes I spoke to them in Spanish for the first time which like all of my students they have wanted to hear since last year. Jose Ignacio planned the surprise by using the code words “take out your books” and the students scattered to their cubbies and they all had goodbye cards, one girl had made a cake and they individually presented their goodbye cards to me. Each student gave me the classic double-beso and in two of the cards there was jewelry, a beautiful ring and a gorgeous bracelet. I’m still wearing them now I love them so much. After receiving this huge, shocking surprise I thanked them for being such a great class, said it had been a pleasure to teach them English for two years and that I hoped they would continue studying English. Of course, I got teary-eyed and so did the students. One girl in particular started REALLY crying; I was stunned how upset she was. I reminded them I would see them on Friday when I finished with the other two classes so it’s not OFFICIALLY goodbye. After that day in Ribafrecha, I knew that this coming week was going to be so difficult saying goodbye to all of my classes.

I also told my students that I would be attending Ribafrecha’s first Artisan Fair that Saturday. I was very curious to see what they had. I spent a couple of hours there and was pleasantly surprised about everything they had to offer. They had really good food, local wine, jewelry, and music to name a few. I spent about 20 euros on homemade cheese, Ribafrechan wine (which is not AMAZING, but I wanted to try wine from at least one of my pueblos), jewelry, and a pin that says I <3 Ribafrecha. I just had to get it. It also made all of my students SO happy. They asked me to wear the pin and the jewelry I bought on Friday so they can tell the other teachers they saw me buy those items on Saturday.

Anyway, that is everything up until now. Tomorrow begins my week of “Last Days” … I am so sad to say goodbye to the people and students who have made these two years for me so special… but here goes! Until after the Camino de Santiago.

Logroño Prom

My Ribafrechans 

Two of my favorite high school bound students at the Artisan Fair

My students playing the drums at the Artisan Fair