Monday, November 7, 2011

Para vivir...

Life has been quite adventurous the past few weeks in Spain. I have celebrated Halloween at school, travelled with some friends across the coast, and fallen more in love with my students every day.
For the week of Halloween, we focused on the American culture of Halloween. In Spain, the children do not celebrate Halloween. It is only celebrated in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South America, and East Asia. So, it was fun to introduce them to different ways we celebrate this fun holiday in the States!!
Each class was taught a Halloween song to perform at the festival to the school, which was so much fun! Some of the classics were “Monster Mash”, “Dem Bones”, and “Trick-or-treat”J They had a blast singing and dancing at the festival with my coworker, Encarni! Also during the week, we read them fun interactive Halloween stories with creepy dialogue to help them with their reading and speaking in English! I really have the cutest witches and Draculas in Spain, hands down!
The baker in me, well sometimes it comes out, decided to bake some fun goods for the kids to try as we celebrated Halloween! I really, really wanted to make pumpkin bread but I could not find pumpkin for the life of me in my townL So I made banana nut bread, which was perfect for my kids! My kids are not used to pumpkin and many don’t like pumpkin. So it was nice to make new lovers of Banana Nut bread in the world!! Don’t worry, I made enough for all the staff as well! That could have been my last step of initiation, haha!
At the festival, there were 3 stations of Halloween fun. Mine was story telling or “Cuenta cuentos”. My heart for books came out, and I don’t think I would have wished to do anything else on that day. It was such a joy to share a fun Halloween story with them, and since they are ESLs (English as a Second Language) there was a ton of acting and silliness to help with comprehension. The story I read was called The Big Pumpkin by: Erica Silverman. I strongly recommend it, for ESL students!

After reading/acting out the story, I had our Halloween picture cards ready to review some characters and to see which character was their favorite. I am happy to announce that all my students at Juan XXIII love Dracula!!! They think he is the coolest Halloween character ever!
Then, I re-told the story with their helpJ  You could say they told about the majority of it back to me, success!!!!!!! Then we played a fun game to end the session!
The other 2 sessions were lead by my fabulous coworkers, Encarni and Melissa. Encarni did singing and dancing, while Melissa did Science Experiments!
The day was a full of laugh, joy, silliness, creepiness, and lots of sweet tooths!

A few of the teachers at Juan XXII
As the Halloween festival came to an end, I was not even close to being done with my day. I came home for a run on the beach and to de-stress. Then, I began cleaning the house with the roommates for the arrival of my friend, Kristin and her 2 fabulous friends, Lauren and Emily. It did not take too long until I was instant friends with these fun girls, and we painted the town everywhere we went that weekend!!
That Halloween weekend we had off Monday and Tuesday, as well as the previous Friday. For me, I showed up for the Halloween festival on that Friday just because I couldn’t bare without it after the planning of it all!
They arrived after midnight Friday, so Saturday we started fresh for our travels! They stayed at my apartment comfortably Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night-which was so fun to have them stay!!!
Saturday we drove that roomy rental car to Chiclana and Vejer de la Frontera for the day! To our surprise, Chiclana was having a festival for All Saints Day and raising money for children for Kings Day or “Reyes Magos”.
The “Reyes Magos” day is based on three wise men who took gifts to Jesus. In celebration of this event the Spanish traditionally give and receive presents, just like Santa brings presents on Christmas Eve. The “”Reyes Magos” deliver presents to all the children throughout Spain on the night of the 5th and the children tend to leave food and drink for the “Reyes Magos” and their camels. On the 6th of January the children open their presents and eat the sweets that the “Reyes Magos” have left. Some other countries call it the “Spanish Christmas.”
So, this is Spanish culture at its finest!! From the food to dancing, we had a great afternoon with in that town! We caught some flamingo dancers and our favorite, the Dancing Diva!! This precious little girl was not afraid to show us her moves, and I for sure used them later on that night!

I only hope you enjoy it as much as I did... view my Facebook page for this classic cinemark!

After our fun dance party, we trotted to Vejer de la Frontera. Vejer is a small town conveniently located on top of a mountain.
I am not completely convinced this picture gives it justice, but you can definitely have a glimpse of it for nowJ


Plaza de España in Vejer

The girls and I spent a few hours seeing the town, and we had a refreshing drink at a local “restaurante jardín” (garden restaurant). It was nice to have some simple girl talk and get to know these lovely girls. I’m thankful Kristin, shared her friends with me! They gave me some great insight on working here and traveling.

restaurante jardín

Lauren and I chatting it up

To end our day, we went to Los Caños de Meca for the sunset.  I’m all about taking in God’s beauty and sitting in disbelief that such beauty is even possible. That’s the best part of it, it is so possible! Beauty is something you can’t always describe or put into words, but you can feel it and experience it always. Maybe that’s why it called beauty…

Lauren, Kristin, and Emily

As night began, we headed back to my town to cook dinner and get ready to dance the night away. We went to Mercadona “HEB” and got everything we needed to make a dairy- and gluten-free meal. I made an easy appetizer I ate in a restaurant the past week. It was simply tomatoes, goat cheese, and balsamic vinegar. It’s delicious! Kristin made a gorgeous and quite colorful salad, while Lauren breaded the chicken cutlets with rice flour and gluten free bread crumbs. Also, Emily started to make a Spanish sauce/mayonaisse called “Aioli”. Sadly, after all of us tried to whip it up it never reached full texture, but we used it as our pasta sauce instead. It was a yummy dinner after a fun day of sightseeing on the coast!
La Cena
After dinner, we had some downtime which was much needed after our long day! I devoured my dark chocolate peanuts, which were wonderful!!! As the other girls took a quick power nap while Kristin and I cleaned the kitchenJ Then, before we knew it…we were all ready for a night with Spanish friends! We practiced our Spanish, hit up botellon, and had a fabulous time!

The next day we woke up and headed to Cádiz! Cádiz is the one of the oldest cities in Spain, and it has that “big city” feel that just makes me feel so much more comfortable!! We decided that we had been doing so great at saving money on food, we should go had a seafood meal for “lunch din” (that’s one of the many words my daddy made up). We found a place that we could get 2 entrees, a drink, and dessert for a little over 9 Euros. It was located in one of the many precious plazas in Cádiz.
While eating and enjoying our meal, Emily saw a friend of hers walking the street. So, we meet another person from our program here in Spain. We decided to meet up later that night before we headed back to my town!
After sightseeing in Cádiz a bit, we decided to see the sunset here as well. Kristin and I were extreme on our people watching skills. There were many precious couples simply coming to enjoy the sunset as well, as there were moms screaming at their toddlers for who knows what, and the dog walkers who I always greeted with a warm “hola.” This is simply a typical atmosphere in any Spanish town on any given evening.

After taking pictures at the sunset, we decided to find a good place for a quick drink. Of course on our way, we found some English speakers who were from the States as well. They also were in the Navy. So we invited them to join us, and went to a few different places in Cádiz to eat some tapas and such. Emily’s friend joined as well!  One of the Navy guys was a skater, and taught me how to skateboard. I am not going to admit if it was the best or worst idea ever, but I will admit it was extremely fun! As the night continued and the Navy guys had to leave to make curfew, I started talking to this guy from Peru! He works for Royal Caribbean, and has been for about 6 years now. So, it was fun to talk about different trips and places around the world. Cádiz was a great time, and I will have to confess I would not mind living thereJ
The next morning the girls woke up, and I was super sad they were heading back to Málaga. We had a wonderful weekend in the different cities we visited, so they of course invited me to go back with them. And I did!! Halloween in Málaga, yes please!!
After packing a quick night bag, we headed out to drive to Málaga!!! Along the way, we stopped in Tarifa, which is on the coast and super close to Morocco like 35 minutes on boat!!! Tarifa is actually quite unique, because there is a part of it where it touches the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. We took some time to take some fun pictures and draw in the sand, until we met yet another person in our program who took a group picture of us. He went to BU, Boston University, and was convinced he knew me from somewhere…but seriously how could that be!

Tarifa with the girls
As we drove on, the route along the coast was breathtaking. How can there be everything from mountains, sea, and forest all together! I loved everything from the views to our jam sessions in the car...and at some points we had some random music!!
Kristin and I were back seat riders!

Emily was our GPS and DJ!
After we arrived in Málaga, we had to return the rental car and take a train to Lauren’s apartment. It was super quick and we were in the city before I knew it! We decided to purchase our bus tickets for us to return home the next day. I had planned on riding home with Encarni, because she was flying home to her hometown that night (which was an hour away from Málaga) and was driving back to our town the next day. Sadly, the only bus to her hometown was super late and it is a 3 hr drive to our town. Instead, I took the 730am bus straight to La Barca which is 10 minutes away from my town, and my wonderful landlord, Meli, came to pick me upJ I called Meli the night before to ask if she wouldn’t mind, and she graciously accepted! So, that was a blessing!
My night in Málaga was Halloween, and I was a “pirata” (pirate). There were so many people in the center of town, and it was a bit difficult to get into any place due to all the long lines. But at the botellon, we met some different people. Some were Emily’s roommates, who came to Málaga for the night as well, and others were law students at the university in Málaga…yes, they were cuteJ

Streets of Halloween
So, the night was still fun and I may or may not be waiting anxiously to have another night out in Málaga! But really, who’s to say? J
So, this past week I have been recovering on my sleep after my travels. Thankfully, I only had to work 2 days this week. We are teaching the kids about different activities and sports, which has been so fun with all the songs and stories we have been using during class! Vocabulary building is key for learning any languageJ
Also, I got my first present from one of my students this week!! She painted a ceramic of a child with a box, and told me to keep my rings in itJ Very sweet thought! I was completely caught off guard!
I guess life is always going to be full of surprises, new people coming in and out of your life, new experiences, new joys, new laughs, but most importantly, some of the best memories to hold onto for a lifetime.
Tu vida es para vivir.

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