11/9/15 - 11/29/15
Since we last spoke, I had another weekend of travel (Barcelona baby!) followed by a few days hosting a visitor here in Mahón (my best friend Lily!)... and then: two weeks of settling into my apartment, accepting that although winter here is no polar vortex it’s still winter, and working through the inevitable feelings of loneliness and homesickness that can take arise if I’m not proactive. And of course teaching!
Clearly, I don’t learn from my mistakes. In my last post I struggled with writing about 3 weeks (and probably let a few great details or anecdotes slip through the cracks) and now I’ve gone and done it again. And it’s not that I’m lacking the free time, au contrare I’ve more than I know what to do with. Anyways, I’ll do my best to give you the 411 on my life, and will try to get back to weekly blogs moving forward.
Week 1 - Barcelona!
My trip to Barcelona was Thursday - Monday (12th - 16th). The start of the week was spent preparing for said trip. Since I was more-or-less in charge of the Barcelona Itinerary, I peppered Lily with questions on what kind of things her and parents like to do when traveling (of which maybe 25% were answered :p, but ’twas enough), and put together an Evernote* note we could pick and choose from once we got there. Also, learning from experience (I totally understand why our teachers would get so mad when “read this before class so we could discuss” instructions were ignored) (*cough* paris *cough*) I made sure to bug Lily a few times about reading the note before our rendezvous. I also bought tickets to see Baauer at one of my favorite venue’s in Barcelona - Razzmatazz (the very same place Diplo signed my forehead in 2012).
And last but not least, I cleaned. I organized, and I cleaned. A week in my apartment was enough to… make it evident that it was inhabited by Dank, but I wanted to impress Lily so I tidied up to the best of my abilities. Spoiler alert: she didn’t comment on the cleanliness (but then again she didn’t comment on any messiness either! and surely it wouldn’t be so “cute” in it’s prior state).
Finally, Thursday arrived! Thursday’s I have a bit of an odd schedule: 1 hour class, 1.5 hour break, 1 hour class, 1.5 hour break, 1 hour class. I took advantage of my breaks to run home (aka a brisk 5min walk) and pack, tidy up, eat, take out recycling (easier said than done)** and at 5pm I caught the bus to the airport. By 7:30 I was getting off the bus in Plaza Catalunya (right in center of BCN) and walking to meet the Wangs at the AirBNB.
*Evernote is a note-taking application, one that I highly recommend. Also, if anyone needs help coming up with a holiday/birthday/anyday gift for me, I'd love to update my account to Pro ;) *
My love affair with Barcelona began a little over 10 years ago, and the spark is still there. That first trip we only spent 3 days there, but after 6 months there in 2012, I consider it my home away from home. If it weren’t for Chicago’s crazy-easy city plan, I’d say I know my way around Barcelona just as well as Chicago. On our first night there I was able to lead Lily and I to La Ovella Negra,the first bar I ever visited in Barcelona and one of my favorites, located in the ancient part of the town where there isn’t much rhyme or reason to where a road may lead. Okay, I admit I pulled my phone out in a moment of uncertainty, but only to confirm that the crowd down the street I was considering turning down was indeed in front of the bar!
Anyways, as I mentioned, my familiarity with the city put me in charge. I’ve hosted and guided many groups of people around BCN, but I still am nervous every time. It’s a lot of pressure to make sure people get the most (or the least, or whatever they like when they travel) out of the city, but I lucked out with this crowd - Mrs. Wang tends to look displeased regardless of what’s happening, and Mr. Wang only seems to know how to smile, so ultimately there’s no way I could’ve screwed this up. Lily… well she’s like a sister, and we all know how much brother’s care about their sisters’ happiness (hint: they don’t). Just kidding… Lily was feeling a little off (physically) by the end of the trip and it may have but a little cloud over the sunshine that Barcelona is, but I think she still enjoyed the city and got an idea of why I’m so obsessed. Maybe she’ll leave a comment below and let you know, but last we spoke she hasn’t read my blog (which was good, else I’d’ve definitely ran out of things to talk about 😛 ). Even though most of the landmarks we visited weren’t new to me, that didn’t make me enjoy myself any less. Our AirBnB was in a part of town I hadn’t spent as much time in - El Born (also in ancient part). Coincidentally, it was near the Arc de Triomf, just like my AirBnB was next to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.
- I met the fam at the AirBNB, unpacked, watched Lily almost break the slide-out-double-bed thingy we were sharing, hopped in the shower, and we promptly headed to La Paradeta. La Paradeta is a seafood restaurant where you walk in, purchase everything you want to eat by weight from a market-like setup, deciding the method of preparation (for some of the sea creatures you have options, others no), paying, and sitting down waiting for your number to be called. The food is fresh, delicious, and luckily they serve your food as it’s ready, which means consistently listening for your number as you eat, but also not running out of room on the table as we certainly would have. Razor clams, calamari, shrimp, clams, other shellfish of various sizes, and more. NOMMMM
- After dinner we strolled along the coast to the Columbus Monument, and then up Las Ramblas. I told the Wangs there was a reason why Columbus is pointing the wrong way (he points S/Sw, which is not towards the Americas) but I couldn’t remember why — well the real story is not that exciting, the theory is that they decided to point him that way so he was pointing out to sea (and not into the heart of the city as the correct direction would be). Read more here
- We put the folks in a cab and went to Ovella Negra. A few shots of [incredibly cheap] Jameson and a pitcher of Sangria de Cava. The sangria was a little too sweet (even for me!) so we gifted it to a Samantha, a friendly, tipsy British lady whose group had settled in right next to us and whom I suspected of trying to hit on Lily :p.
- Next, we learned the lesson of you can’t always get what you want… or rather you always get what you don’t want. I led us.. to the wrong place. To be fair, I just landed 6 hours ago! I was trying to get us to the street with all the cocktail bars - Rambla del Born… but confused it with Rambla del Raval, the street with all the delicious ethnic food. We weren’t hungry, we were thirsty. Fast forward a cab ride and a cockail and we are hungry, with no food to find. Luckily there were cookies at the apartment.
*let me say that I’m surprised at the level of detail my memory is providing*
Friday + Saturday:
- This day we hit the highlights. La Boqueria, Las Ramblas, Passeig de Gracia, Casa Batló, Sagrada Familia, Parc Guell, and to top it all off, dinner at my favorite restaurant Asador de Aranda. And that’s just the daytime!
- Mercat de la Boqueria AKA La Boqueria is the most iconic [/touristy] market located right off of the most iconic [/touristy] street in Barcelona, Las Ramblas. One pro tip I forgot when we first walked in is that the further in you go, the cheaper things get. We bought our first fruit juice for €2, only to see vendors selling them for €1.50 and even €1 deep inside. We got another juice each for a €1 while we snacked on some more seafood.
- I’ve been hearing the word “ramblas” for years, and only just now did I finally look it up! As I suspected it’s a type of roadway similar to an esplanade (which is indeed an English word and one I’d never heard of, definition here)
- Passeig de Gracia is one of my favorite streets to walk down in Barcelona. This is the most expensive street in Barcelona and where many rich folks commissioned architects (especially those part of the Modernisme movement) to build their homes and shops. Some of these architects are: Antoni Gaudí, Lluís Domènech i Montaner, and Josep Puig i Cadafalch. When I studied abroad I took a class on modernism and urban planning and it ended up being one of my favorite classes from my entire college career
- The Sagrada Familia is a ginormous, amazing, intricate church. It is Gaudí’s magnum opus (“great work”) and he is laid to rest in the basement. It’s really an amazing building and I recommend clicking through to the wiki and learning more about it. I hadn’t been inside since that first trip in ’05 so I was very happy to get a look inside again. It is still under construction as it was in 2012 and in 2005, and has been since it commenced in 1882. I can’t wait to come back one day and see it without scaffolding and fences… only 11 more years to go! P.S. buy your tickets online!
- Parc Guéll. <3 <3 <3. I was a little distraught that unlike most everything else we visited, it was not exactly the same as i’d left it. It’s no longer free! Well… about 10% of the park, the post iconic part to visit, is now the “monumental zone” which costs €8 to enter and only lets in a max of 500 people every hour. From what I later saw online, this seems to be more-or-less favored because even though it ain’t free, it’s not a clusterfuck of people either with the entrance limits. There were lines for tickets so I tried to buy online and my 3G service acted more like 0G so that didn’t pan out either… The park is built on a hill and is a lot of pseudo-hiking so Lily’s parents headed home to rest before dinner while her and I explored the other 90% of the park. Luckily they open up the “monumental zone” to anyone for free.99 at the end of the day for an hour, and although the sun had set, we were able to pop in on our way out and complete our tour. I was quite satisfied.
- Asador De Aranda. I love this place, but not for it’s food. It’s an old mansion turned restaurant. Before or after dinner, a stroll along Avenida del Tibidabo to check out other mansions is a must. Make sure to click through and check out the slideshow of the building. The facade, the terrace, the ceiling, the walls, the details are just beautiful. Oh, and the food is good too! We shared a few orders of roast baby pig and roast lamb.
- Friday night was the night we had tickets to Baauer! For those who don’t know, Baauer is a trap/bass/trill producer best known for his track “Harlem Shake” which became a internet meme in 2013. You can read about the whole Harlem Shake story here and watch some great ones here or in the embedded compilation video below. “Dank, there is no way you weren’t a part of a Harlem Shake video!” You’re right… but my family reads this, and if such a video did exist I cannot guarantee I was wearing pants in it… so I think it’s best it stays buried for now 0:). Anyways, the show was really fun! Honestly we were a little disappointed in the set itself and his DJing (or lack there of) but Razz always provides a great atmosphere, and there were 4? other rooms with other DJs for us to pop in an explore.
- Saturday night we checked out the Grand Casino with the folks, and then Lily and I departed to one of the beach-front clubs, Opium. It’s my favorite of the beachfront clubs, which is not to say that it is my favorite place to go out. I’ve had many fun times there, but it’s a loud crowded shitshow of a place… which is true for just about any club that focuses more of its energy on selling bottles than booking talent. The DJ that night was actually not bad, but of course his repertoire consisted solely of the top 40 hits of 2010-2015. I definitely recommend checking it out once. We had a good time, and afterwards we strolled along the beach, some drunk teenager tried to rob me (he kept asking me if I like to salsa and grabbing a hold of me to dance.. yes i’m sure he wasn’t hitting on me, yes this is a technique to get close enough to pickpocket you, and no I wasn’t drunk [enough] and promptly told the lil’ jagoff to stop touching me) and along the strip of more ratchet clubs that were fun to observe but we dared not go inside.
*Okay… so my memory is not as great as I thought. Instead of scrolling up and deleting my first “footnote” I’m going to go ahead and write another.*
*As I filled out Sunday I realized I skipped Thursday, wrote all of Thursday's events as Friday and then all of Friday and Saturdays as Saturday, and who knows what I wrote in Sunday. I’m needed to save the memory mana for the rest of this post so I decided to “fuck it” and leave it as. At this point I also wouldn’t trust the chronology of anything else I write in this post, but it did happen and that’s what’s important!*
- As you can tell, FriSaturday was a hell of a day and hard to beat. Sunday we walked around some more around Port Vell, took a taxi to the top of Montjuic (after realizing the wait for the funicular we wanted to take would be at least an hour), soaked in the view from atop Arenas (a bullfighting ring turned mall), went to the Aquarium, and dined at a more traditional catalan restaurant called 7 Portes (it was okay, but nothing crazy).
- I always knew that Montjuic was the name of the hill/area, but in my memory it referred to the beautiful Palau Nacional that could be seen from Plaza Espanya, from which I lived 2 blocks away when I studied abroad. I’d been there a bunch of times, often going on runs from my apartment to there and back. So I was a little surprised when the taxi passed the palace and kept climbing higher and higher. OH yea! There’s a castle, gardens, and a whole ton of stuff up there. I’ve never been up there! Something 100% new to me, cool! Apparently what I was thinking of is the “Magic Fountain of Montjuic”.
- We made a mutual decision not to actually enter the castle and instead walked downhill taking in the sights and checking things out. For the longest time there were noises that we thought were animals, then recognized as construction, and finally as we approached their source… we discovered that it was a racing track… for RC cars. It was actually really cool to see, below is a video I found online from the very same track
And here are some more Barcelona Pics:
Week 2 - Dank and Lily take on Menorca!
Our flight to Menorca was quick and easy, and the person at the counter checking us in was nice enough to change my seat so that we could sit together (it costs extra to choose seats on Vueling, same as with Spirit in the US). We landed around 8am, got back to my apartment 10minutes later, I put Lily to sleep and made it to my 9 am class. I came back, napped, snacked, went to my other class, and finally around 3pm came home and woke Lily up. Needless to say, she was well rested, and any signs of the aforementioned ailment were gone. Phew! I had planned for us to have dinner with some of my new friends at my apartment dinner later in the evening, so we had a few hours to explore Maó-Mahón. All you really need is 30minutes… so I took us through the center, down to the port, and did my best to get lost as much as possible.
- Our first night in town I invited some friends over to cook dinner together. We met at the grocery store, picked out what we could cook (we ended up settling on burgers!) and a bottle of wine [each!] and headed home. Nothing else to say about this other than it was really nice to have old and new friends together and it was a nice night :)
- We checked out the Xoriguer Gin factory one day. They don’t do tours unfortunately, but there’s a sizable gift shop and there they have multiple windows that allow you to see into the factory (albeit I think the areas we see are just for display and possibly no longer in use). In lieu of a physical tour the factory allows for a drinking tour -- there are self-service tasting stations where all 15-20 gins and liquors that Xoriguer produces are available for consumption. It was a little early to fully take advantage so I just had a few sips of the most interesting looking bottles, and we called it a day. After paying for a few souvenirs, we chatted with the cashier and found out he was a [german] student of a fellow Auxiliar, and he promptly insisted on refunding us part of the purchase, what a sweet heart! I’ll definitely be back to try the rest of the spirits and probably buy some souvenirs of my own.
- One afternoon we were walking around Mahón again, taking some alternate routes, climbing back up to the city from the port, and saw the cutest kitty. We’re standing still, staring at the kitty, and another one points his head. Then another! Then they disappear! We go up the path a little to where the kitty’s disappeared to, and suddenly it's like I'm back at Deanna India's house (she's one of my friends since kindergarden and was/is known to have all of the cats, and all of the parties :p). At one point there were NINE cats and kitties of various colors that we could see all around us… and all-in-all we saw at least 13. We said to each other there’s gotta be a reason they all hang out here, somebody’s got to be feeding them, and semi-seriously joked around about going to get some food and returning. Before we had the chance, a lady approached with a tupperware of food and a big jug of water. I guess I’ll have to find my own stray cat friends 😔
- We had wanted to rent a car (or scooters, but I struggled to find a rental place for those that wasn’t closed for the season) for a day to explore the rest of the island, and that day ended up being Wednesday. I usually only have one class, and luckily I talked to the teacher and she let me skip it and make it up another day. The car was dropped off at my apartment in the morning and we set off for the day. We visited:
- Cala en Porter - A beach on the south shore. This one is touristy/developed, but still pretty and even more so when we’re the only people there. Us, and the man who brought two of his pets along, his dog and his horse. It was a good way to start the day no hiking involved to see this one :p)
- El Toro - The only legit mountain in Menorca with a height of 342 m (1,122ft). You can pretty much see the entire island! The jesus statue isn’t as large or stunning as the one in Rio, but it is still a pretty cool sight. There is a hermitage up there (which was closed to the public that day so we couldn’t check it out).
- Cala Pregonda and Platja de Binimel-lá - We followed signs leading to Cala Pregonda along a quite rocky small “road” and ended up parking at Platja de Binimel-lá. This actually ended up being perfect because it gave us the opportunity to hike past 3 (?) coves/beaches on the way to Pregonda, at which point we decide to backtrack to the 2nd cove and plop down for lunch and a nap. Yes, you heard right, it was mid-november and we took a nap on the beach.
- Cap de Cavalleria - Cap (catalan) or Cabo (castellano) means Cape. What does cape actually mean? Neither I nor Lily had any idea, so I looked it up: "a headland or promontory." WTF is a headland or promontory? Well I looked that up too: a “a narrow piece of land that projects from a coastline into the sea” and a "a point of high land that juts out into a large body of water,” respectively. Well that’s exactly right. It was a a narrow piece of land projecting into the sea… and it was high.When we walked to the edge and Lily sat down with her feet over the ledge (and looked down) it gave me tingles and made my palms sweat. Matter of fact, that’s literally happening as I write and think about it. Now my keyboard is moist -_-. The terrain was really cool — it was this gray rough (like pumice on a larger scale) rock, the entire coastline is super interesting and i’d love to go back in time and watch a time-lapse of it being shaped/beat-up by the water. Speaking of which, this area was also a death drop for ships. Over 700 shipwrecks took place between the 14th century and the construction of the lighthouse here on this cape. Even with the lighthouse there were still wrecks, leading to two more being built on the north coast (making 7 total on the island). More lighthouse info here. This cape is definitely in the top 3 of place I’ve visited in Menorca so far.
- Ciutadella - If you watched Lily’s snapchat story, you have been misled to believe that this was the name of the mountain (she mislabeled it), but it is in fact the other “large” city on the island that I’ve mentioned before. I didn't really know what there is to see in Ciutadella, and we were both down to 5% battery, so we looked up the locations of restaurants I was recommended, did our best to memorize the location of the car, and began to wander around. Without knowing what we should see, I don’t know if we saw it all, but we found the port, walked the main pedestrian street with all the shopping, saw at least 3 plazas and 1 really old church, so I think we got the gist of it 😛 and then we got pretty hungry, found out all the recommended spots weren’t open for dinner yet (it was 6:30, food isn’t served until 7, 8, or sometimes 830) so we tried something that was already open (meaning it was for tourists. okay food, but great seats for people watching).
- Stars - Lily had a great idea - let’s stop on the way home, as far away from any light pollution as possible, and look up at the stars. WOW. In Maó I already have noticed that the sky is more… full. But out in the middle of nowhere, it was full, it was bright, there were layers and layers. I could stare for hours. This was also one of my highlights for the day, and really my time here so far. Maybe when it’s warmer I can camp out somewhere remote and fall asleep staring at the sky.
- I took Lily to the airport around 5am on Thursday, a 20min roundtrip and I was back asleep as she was getting through security. Good visit!
Friday Bike Ride!
Max and I decided to take advantage of this beautiful day by biking. We started off with riding to Es Castell, a neighboring town where some of the other auxiliars live. I’d been to the town square for an art show of old english people’s work (literally, a bunch of retired English grandma and grandpa’s, we were invited by a fellow auxuliar’s student who’s grandma had some pieces in it) but had seen nothing else. The port was precious, much prettier than Mahón’s massive port, and the rest of the village was quaint and a very short bike ride to see.
We headed further west to see another cove that Max had heard mentioned, good call Max! This area is actually where the Mahón harbor starts so it was really cool to see where it opens up to the rest of the Mediterranean Sea.
The terrain and the landscapes, as usual, were astounding.. but our highlight was manmade. We explored a [what I later researched to be] 18th century defense tower.
There are ruins (and not so ruined structures) from various time periods around the island, and I many you can tour, or explore on your own reading plaques and staying behind railings, but this was not the case. No guides or signs (or foolproof measures to keep you from falling into deep holes which luckily Max’s smartphone-flashlight helped us avoid). We had to do a little climbing to get into the entrance, and from there were able to both go down into the basement as well as up on the roof. The inside was as expected, dark and quiet, and the roof was also as expected, awesome to be on and a great view. Here's a little walk-through video that Max took on his phone (unfortunately I left mine in my bag and didn't want to climb back down for it):
I later read that these towers are all along the coast and from each one you were able to see at least one in each direction, and when there was an emergency they would light a fire and start a chain reaction until all the towers were warned. This specific one was constructed in 1798 and is called Torre d'en Penjat or Stuart’s Tower (later renamed to Hangman’s tower) and the type of small defensive fort is called Martello. History is so much more interesting when you can walk (and climb) around it!
Above is another thing that sparked my interest: [what I assumed to be] a man-made bath that would fill up naturally with sea-water. I haven't gotten to the bottom of it yet but will continue researching.
And here's more pics from the bike ride (hover for captions, if any):
Week 3 - Thanksgiving!
This week was all about Thanksgiving. 10 presentations and 2 dinners.
At school, I presented a lil slideshow about the holiday and its traditions to all of my students. It was interesting and challenging coming up with the presentation for two reasons. The first is that the history of the holiday we were taught as children is not accurate (AT ALL) and I didn’t feel there was any value in teaching it. I left it out of my presentation, rather concentrating on the important ideas of Thanksgiving itself (thankfulness and family) and if a teacher did bring it up, I’d give a brief summary of this joyous multi-ethnic dinner but emphasize it was a Story and not History.
The second thing, and something I’ve been thinking about a lot in general, is the challenge of conveying both my country’s culture (which itself is not homogenous) and my personal/familial culture (which is unique in it of itself and not always representative of a typical american, if such a thing exists). When I have to make a presentation about traditions, I always am conflicted on what to include, since every family does things differently and there are plenty of traditions that I have heard of or am aware of via series and films but have never witnessed in real life and am not sure just how prevalent they are. Some might just not have made it to my family’s thanksgiving, others perhaps are antiquated, others regional… sometimes I don’t know! There’s a Facebook group for all of the Auxiliars across Spain and many post their teaching resources for others to use or be inspired by.. and often I’ll scroll through and there’s one or two slides l see and wonder “is this really a thing? For example Max and I were discussing how we’d prepare the sweet potatoes for our dinner (coming up in this post) and he mentioned that some people use Marshmallows in their recipe. I have NEVER heard of that (though I later experienced it, it’s not bad). Another example is football; I saw “football” slides in almost every other presentation so I included a slide in mine too, but for the life of me had no idea if there is any actual significance to football on turkey day, or it just happens to be on TV and families are stuffed and sedated after dinner so they happen to watch together. My family certainly doesn’t.
Halloween was pretty easy (not much variation there); Thanksgiving had a few things I wondered about; but the holidays is what I’m really worried about. My family doesn’t celebrate Christmas, and we barely celebrate Chanukah. We celebrate New Years Eve. Covering the variety of celebrations that are observed during the holiday time in the states is just too much information / new vocabulary for most the grades, and a recipe for confusion.
Maybe I’ll just put together a presentation where I bitch about the snow in Chicago for an hour, discussing traditions like “dibs" or getting your car towed on the night the parking ban starts (Here in the news broadcast you can see my friend Colin’s car being towed at 1:32, it’s the VW in the background).
What I’m getting at is that culture can be looked at on so many levels, and as the [potentially] sole representative of my own to people here, it’s interesting to think about who I am representing and/or who they are perceiving me to represent. Culture is a "way of life of a group of people…” and this group of people can be as small as the friends I hang around with, to my neighborhood, my city, my state, region, nationality, religion, ethnicity, SPECIES, etc. And then there’s subjective culture vs. objective culture. Phew really a lot to think about, and I’m going to put a cork in it for now until I’ve processed my thoughts a little more and am able to articulate them better. More on culture coming soon!
Anyways, the kids enjoyed my Thanksgiving presentation, especially the video of the Macy’s parade and the food porn. Can anyone tell my WHY there are giant balloons at the parade? or why there’s a parade in the first place? Luckily no one asked me those questions because I am clueless.
The week itself outside of class was pretty chill, and mostly spent mentally and literally preparing for the Thanksgiving/Friendsgiving feast Max and I were hosting at my place. We traveled far and wide to track down turkey (failing for a full one, settling for a bunch of shoulders/breasts), pecans (only a week later realizing it was walnuts), cranberry sauce (we failed to find the berries, or sauce, but settled for cranberry jam found at the german grocery store Lidl), etc.
The feast was a success! The food all turned out delicious and surprisingly close to the real thing. We made: green beans, sweet potatoes (mashed), olivye (russian-style potato salad), avocado deviled eggs, mac’n’cheese, turkey and gravy. And for dessert I made pecan pies, and our guests brought a brownie cake and a chocolate mousse “T” (/penis) cake. Oh and wine, lots of wine.
This was the first time I’ve ever prepared/served a dinner with so many dishes. It was an eye opening experience and made my respect my mom and grandma’s culinary expertise even more than before. I’m slowly learning to plan each week's meals, as well as when I’ll cook them, when I grocery shop… but this was the most multitasking and planning I’ve had to do. We prepared some of the dishes in advance, others that afternoon, and somehow (without a microwave) were able to time the cooking and reheating to get everything out on the table nice’n’hot and at the same time. I was proud! I even was able to whip up a 2nd pecan pie during dinner. We ended up using pretty much every plate, pot, and spatula in my kitchen, and that’s just for cooking and serving. Without plasticware we would have been left eating with our hands. Luckily someone brought some of the utmost highest quality, and thus we were able to get a good laugh every time someone’s fork or knife broke (which happened about every 5 minutes 😛 ).
Friday was spent in a food/wine hangover
Saturday, another Auxiliar named Gillian (from NYC) was hosting a thanksgiving potluck luncheon at her place. My “pecan” pies were a hit on Thursday, so I decided to make a few more as my contribution. Naturally, I was running late, and bumped into people on their way to Gillian's while I was on the way to the store for more “pecans” (walnuts). I arrived 2 hours late… and right as dinner was being served. Perfect timing. It was a nice assortment of dishes and tasty (I’m biased, but I'd go out on a limb to say the food we cooked was better 😛). Dinner ended up lasting into the night and those who remained headed down for some antics at Texas bar on the port. Sunday was spent dealing another food/wine hangover, though I did pull myself out of the apt to go and read overlooking the harbor (one of my favorite pastimes here).
I am loving my students and having fun getting to know them little by little. To be honest, I am struggling a little to be happy overall at the school because the duties they have me doing are not quite in line with what I expected (and what is expected of me according the to program)… but no worries, I am being proactive and talking to whoever I need to talk to in order to work it out. The gist of my concern is that I know that my presence could be more beneficial to the students if things were a little different and I had more time to coordinate with the teachers.. but ultimately this is my concern and from their end everyone’s happy. I’m making do, and the kids don’t know any better anyways 😛 (and of course they all love me! it’s not rare for me to walk in a room to grab something and be attacked hugs and “hellos”).
One highlight from last week was getting to sit in on a short presentation where a couple came in and talked to the kids about various toys and forms of leisure that are not digital (which they heavily emphasized and I appreciated), ending off with the guy showing off his skills with a Trompo, a "whipping top" that you wind up and release with a string that reminded me of a detached yo-yo. If you have a hard time getting the gist of it from the video below, I’m sure youtube has more and here’s one to start you off.
Another school related highlight is that I was in the newspaper! I vaguely remember someone asking me about it, or asking for permission, but I totally assumed it was the school paper not the one for the city/island. Sure, they misspelled my last name and got my birthplace wrong, but I’m still honored. I believe they want an interview with me too 😛 (really doe).
I received another delightful surprise at school, I was gifted some fresh art for my new apt.
Oh, and and one day a group of girls came back from recess and wanted to do an impromptu performance of Cheerleader for the rest of the class. Sorry for the short video, I was caught off guard... but it was really good! They did a few verses too!
There’ll be another post up in a day or three so I’ll talk to ya soon!
*i tried to proofread this, but it's a long one... please [privately] message if/when you find something that makes no sense :)*