Sunday, November 22, 2009

Madrid

I've been in Madrid for the last two days. What a city! They say New York is the city that never sleeps, well, they haven't been to Madrid. My hostal is at the corner of Sol. There is music, cars and people milling about all night. I thought things would die down around 4 am, but at 5am there were still groups of young people hanging out, talking and laughing.

We stopped last night and had a Calamares sandwich. Amazing! It is simply very fresh calamari deep fried and stuffed into a baguette. Great drunk food.

Next we stopped at Las Cuevas de Luis Candelas. We had a variety tapas that included chorizo, sardines, and manchego cheese. Later Mariachis came and sang by our table. Everyone in the room sang along. The wine was flowing and everyone was in good spirits.

Tonight we are going out again for our last dinner. A few more Spanairds will be joining us. It should be a good evening though another late one I suppose.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Excusion day into Cazorla

Yesterday was excursion day into the town. Generally a guided tour would be very interesting and a great opportunity to learn about the area. But, the evening before was "The Party" where we were expected to socialize with each other until 3am which by Spanish standards wasn't that late. This also wouldn't have been too bad if we were allowed to sleep in but we are expected to be at breakfast at 9 am and the excursion started at 10am. I managed to get to bed about 3am but many of my new friends didn't get to bed until 5 am! Hangover, exhaustion, was common for the day. Fortunately, every day we have siesta, and yes, I too took a nap.

There are new photos on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=166296&id=790363272&l=c698aa27f6

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Anglos and Spanairds




Yesterday was my first full day at PuebloIngles. We start the morning at 9 am with a Spanish styled continental breakfrast and sticking to the rules for all meals, 2 Anglos and 2 Spanairds per table. We eat and talk and laugh. Then for the morning hours we have 50 min. 1-on-1s, 1 Spanaird paired with 1 Anglo. We are assigned one phrasal verb to discuss, ie, "catch up" and one idiom, ie, "beating around the bush". We walk, we talk and we laugh.





Because there are more Anglos than Spanairds in this session, the Anglos are getting an extra free hour each day. Yesterday, Joan, Dawn and I went to the Sunday market. This is not tourist market at all, everything you would buy at mall is available at these markets and everyone from town comes to shop, socialize and hangout.



At 2pm we have a full lunch, 2 plates, wine, water and desert. More talking and laughing. Then siesta! This is very important as the program lasts each day til 1 am and we are non-stop interacting and talk all the other time. This is also our free time to go shopping, email, read, etc. Then at 5pm we start with group activities. Games, problem solving, tricks. Last night me, 2 other Anglos and 2 Spanairds put on a play for the whole group. We spent and couple of hours practicing and then, the big show! I have never laughed so much for so long.


After group time, dinner at 9pm. Same as lunch, 2 plates, wine, water, desert. Then at 11 it's time to socialize. We go downstairs to the bar. Last night we learned Salsa dancing, sang songs, drank, played pool.


This is really a crazy busy schedule. But, what an opportunity to get to know 20 new Anglos and 17 Spanairds. Many of these people will be my friends for a life time!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Corzola!


I started my morning by going to a lovely little breakfast across the way from where I was staying in Madrid. I had a cafe and a creme croissant. I think it was some of some of the best coffee I've had in a long time.

I caught a taxi and met the bus and the rest of the people I would be spending the next 8 days with. The4 1/2 drive to Cazorla was uneventful and went quite quickly. We arrived in Cazorla and it was truly more than I expected. It looks like a postcard. The room by European standards are quite lush. I have a private entry, toilet, sitting area, balcony, and bedroom. Of course, during the high season, these accommodation would be shared.

The food is generous and quite good. Traditional to my experiences in Europe in general, is it simple and wholesome.

After dinner we are expected to social for 2-3 hours. I of course order vodka and soda and then listen to my cohorts talk about the day, their jobs, families, and general joking as done in any bar throughout the world I have been to.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Metro in Spain

My flight was uneventful and actually quite pleasant. I had the most congenial travel mates on my flight from Seattle to Philly and I ended up sitting alone flying across the pond. All in all quite nice. After landing in Madrid, I turned on my cell phone. I had preset the roaming configuration in Philly, so I would have phone service here. Currently, I still have no service. I'm not happy and it has definetly made my life a bit more difficult.

Getting through customs in Spain was a breeze. Probably the easiest I've ever done!

After collecting my luggage and exchanging money, I decided to take the Metro to the city rather than hiring a taxi. The Metro was only 2 Euro! What a great deal. I did have to change trains twice but that was not going to discourage me from having an authentic experience. After lugging my 43 lb. suitcase up the 4th set of stairs, my blazer was soaked with sweat.

Once I got out of the subway at Gran Via I followed the signs to Montera. Unbelievable, the Hostel Hjerez is right across from the entrance! But alas, the business is on the 6th floor. Oh please I prayed, let there be a lift.

Since my flight arrived 45 minutes early, my room of course is not ready. However, their lobby is pleasant and sitting has given me a chance to cool off and regroup. Next on the itinerary, dinner at Casa Patas. Wonder if I'll be able to find it?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Suitcases

Luggage is checked through to Madrid. I did an excellent job of packing; bag weighed in at 43 lbs. Waiting at the gate for the first leg which take me to Phil

Philly

Philadelphia; never been to that airport before. Can you believe I actually have butterflies?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

More than English

The program I'm participating in, PuebloIngles, literally means "English village" This is an English immersion experience for Spaniards in lush countryside of Spain in Cozorla, Jaen. They will house and feed me for a week and in exchange I promise not to speak any Spanish and engage in lively conversation with the students. I'm really excited. I've always wanted to teach English in another country, but since I'm not bilingual I've never really found an appropriate opportunity.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Time to go!

I leave Wed morning to start my adventure in Spain. I am super excited, picked my clothes for the 13 days I'll be gone.

I will leave Seattle around 8:30 in the morning to head to Philadelphia for a 3 hour layover. Then on to Madrid where I'll arrive around 10:30 a.m. Upon arrival I'll be meeting a co-volunteer Naomi who is flying in from Florida.

We have a full schedule starting with dinner at 2 p.m. at Casa Patas followed by a Flamenco show at 4:00 p.m. Then it will be out to enjoy the night life with my new friends!