This was a week of mixed emotions (as is with all weeks) and it felt like it was looooooooooong. In short, this week I barely worked, made some soup, had a mini break down, got sick (twice), went to a feria/fair, and now feeling a little better about the situation (except for still being sick – but all of Spain is sick). So… here are the details:
The (Lack of a) Bridge
On Tuesday, all of Spain had a day off of work and many people got Monday off as well (called a Puente which I believe means Bridge). However, my school doesn’t believe in extra holidays (how un-Spanish of them!) and had flyers posted all around the school saying THERE WAS SCHOOL ON MONDAY, that the only extra days off were one day in December and one in March. Anyhoo… I went to work, my roommate went to Jaen, and I was completely alone for about 48 hours. You could say I went a bit stir crazy, I didn’t understand why I was here, how I would survive here with my (very) limited Spanish, knowing no one in my town, etc etc etc. Think of 48 hours of just stewing in that. Thanks for everyone who I made listen to my rants, and tried to calm me down. Let’s just say I am a bit more balanced after the last weekend.
La Feria – Imagine the State Fair a million times dirtier
Some others and I originally had the crazy idea of renting a car, driving to Cadiz and seeing a free concert, but that failed. Instead, I took the bus to Jaen (after a morning at the beach) to invade Barb’s new piso. I met Barb in MN a bit before we all headed to Spain, and it turns out we grew up just a few blocks from each other in STP. But she went to Nativity and I went to Groveland, so of course we never interacted. She was kind enough to let me crash at her piso (even though she moved in just the day before) and follow her around Jaen for the weekend. It seemed like a very small world that weekend: meeting another auxilare from MN, seeing Joanna on the streets (I met her through one of my high school friends and met her in Malaga), and seeing many of the same people again over the weekend.
The main even that weekend was the Feria, or the fair. It is somewhat like the MN State Fair, but minus the animals, agriculture, butter sculptures and fried cheese curds. But there was a lot of churros (I ate none!!! WHAT?), pizza, bocadillos, kebabs and other Spanish food along with amusement rides (they go 10x longer than rides in the US and a bit sketchier) and at night there are tents of music. Next time, I might just wear my rubber boots to the feria because it was disgusting. I am scared to clean my shoes… very scared. But it was a lot of run dancing, listening to the crazy mix of music, people watching and the Spanish guys (except that one with the dreads – silly boy).
I also got to experience my first botellon, which is where all the young people gather in a park (there was a playground) and drink themselves silly before going to the feria. We were supplied with cups, boxes of wine and some lemonade and proceeded to drink the night away (don’t even ask about the bathrooms… or lack of). It wasn’t at all like drinking in the states (or in Canada). Instead of drinking an insane amount in a short period of time, you drink over several hours (I think we started about 10pm and were out until 6am or 8am). Very different cultures.
This week I got to do my first lessons at school, which are difficult. Everyone tells me that I need to speak slower, because no one can understand my accent (even when I speak veeerrrrryyyyy sllllooooooowwwwly and enunciate all of my words). I guess Minnesotans are the Andalucians of the US, where we only pronounce half the words (I guess I pronounce T's like D's?) and slur the rest. Crazy. The majority of my conversations recently have been very slow, disjointed and a weird mix of Spanish and English.
Sometimes I wonder what these kids will learn from me since my lessons are always too hard for them to understand and I spend most of my time in this room speaking to their teachers:
How to Keep Myself Occupied and Not Crazy
In order to keep myself occupied (and try not to spend all my days in the flat with a broken TV that hates me but loves my roommate) I am giving myself a quest. I am to befriend a baker in the panderia and then once they somewhat recognize me, I am going to bomb them with this weird request: I will work for free if you teach me how to bake. The bread, crossaints, cookes (they have ones called Sonrisas!) are all just so tasty.
My current errand is to buy some more shoes, because wearing my bright blue Keds and red sneakers is getting somewhat tiring. And I start spanish class tonight!