Sunday, January 15, 2012

Sweatpants, board games, and Percocet...

...pretty much sums up my 3 weeks at home, and let me tell you...they were AWESOME.  I want to send a big thank you to everyone who took care of me after having my germ balls amputated (tonsillectomy)!  All I can say is I have some great friends and family who deserve a lot more than a thank you for everything they did...for the Frosty runs...for the homemade soup.....for waking up every few hours to feed me Percocet and applesauce....for bringing me ice, and then tea, and then ice again....for playing games and hanging out with me while I complained...for coming over to visit even when the weather was crap....and for not letting me drink alcohol while on painkillers, I APPRECIATE YOU.

Despite the medical issues, still managed to have a great time back in the states enjoying things that I don't have access to here in Spain, such as: people I love, Cleveland sports, large quantities of BBQ sauce, an oven, heated living space, Target, 8000oz draft beers, a quality bathrobe, cats that aren't homeless, a clothes dryer (drier? Hi, I'm an English teacher.), and my car.

First thing I heard upon entering JFK, in line at the Passport Control: "Goddamn it, that goddamn foreigner line is twice as short as ours, they don' even haveta wait!  Why can't we go in their line? What's happening to this goddamn country!?"  All I could do was smile and be comforted in knowing that my plane had landed in the right place.  Which, by the way, almost didn't happen since we ran out of gas and made an emergency pit stop at a military base in Maine.  Thanks for the memories, American Airlines.  Joder.

Now that I'm back in Spain and blogging again for no good reason (hope my adopted Asian grandchildren enjoy this someday!), I think it's time to fill you readers in on what's been happening!  All 2 of you!

1.  Remember grumpy old toothless neighbor man who turned into nice old toothless neighbor man who now acknowledges my presence sometimes?  Well, I named him Brian.  And we're secretly best friends.  He wears Bill Cosby sweaters everyday...I may buy him a new one for Valentine's Day, we'll see how things go.  Here's Bill Cosby impersonating Brian's toothless perma-frown:

I just realized this is probably only funny to me.  Oh well, welcome to the internet.  I am the 99%.

2.  BARCELONA.  You know how sometimes people build things up too much and then they turn out to be not that awesome?  Like the movie Insidious?  Well, Barcelona wasn't like that at all.  In fact, it exceeded my already outlandish expectations and is now one of my favorite places (sorry, Algeciras, you didn't make the cut...or even the top 100).

Here are some highlights:

Our hostel had a great view of Barcelona's manliest building

The port

Cooking throw that rice, Fernando

The best paella on the planet


Sagrada Familia 

New friends!  Some of whom shoot kangaroos on the regular (you know who you are)

Not really "in" Barcelona...but closeby: the Dalí Museum

So that's our Barcelona weekend in a few photos...we were also there for the post-game celebration (riot?) after Barcelona beat Madrid.  Needless to say my photos of that didn't turn out very clearly.

3. Planning our next trip!  In Februray for Semana Blanca (a week that is somehow important in the Catholic world...aka a week off of work) we are heading to GERMANY!  and the CZECH REPUBLIC!  Yes.

4. Just found out that Paula Deen has diabetes...big sad face, no surprised face.  Does this mean I really can't put an extra stick of butter in everything?  Good thing that here in Spain everything is only deep fried in oil, what a relief. 

Have a great week and eat healthy ya'll!

Friday, December 2, 2011

It's unbelievable...

...that our population has passed 7 billion.  I can't even fathom what that number would look like in money, M&Ms, or any other objects they used to make us count in elementary school.  Just so many people...

...and with so many people in the world, it's hard to get along with everyone.  What I'm trying to say is, right now I could easily rattle off the names of 10 kids in my classes that make me want to punch walls and kick small animals...or children (I'm talking about you, Jose Luis).  This week, one called me "mama," one poked my butt repeatedly, and another peed on the floor...

...but let's not waste our time on the spawn of the devil when there are happier things to discuss!  Like tonsillectomies!  I'm writing this post while suffering through my 3rd bout of evil, feverish, huge tonsil disease (strep? tonsillitis? who cares, it sucks) since arriving in Spain.  Now, the last thing I want to be doing during my time here is laying in my bed watching How I Met Your Mother reruns online for 3 days in a row.  Therefore, I'll be heading home for break a week early (yay!) to get a tonsillectomy on December 19th.  I hope Mariah Carey releases a new song this year called "All I Want For Christmas is For You to Chop Out My Freaking Tonsils"  Just another adventure.  Wish me luck or send ice cream, please.  Thank you!

On to an actual happier topic, GRANADA! (Disclaimer: Málaga, I love you unconditionally and you will always be my Spanish home.)

Last weekend we went to Granada, and I fell in love.  It's the land of the Alhambra and free tapas (for the Spanish impaired: you order a drink, they give you free food).  This "free" tapas thing is kind of deceiving seeing as you generally pay a little more for your drink, but it's still fun.  Here's a photo of me eating bull:

Yes that's right, I've become a reluctant carnivore, purely for survival purposes.  After Spain I have no desire to eat ham or beef for a very long time.  The tapear-ing in Granada is the best (so far) because you get SO full after just ordering a few drinks. In one awesomely tacky Medieval-themed bar, we were each given a big ol' sandwich and fries (with ketchup...won me over) to go with our first round of beers.  They left us no choice but to be fat and tipsy...and for that I am forever grateful.

Oh, did I skip the rich historical sights and go straight to talking about the food?  Normal.

There's a little place in Granada that I like to call the Alhambra...

...the rest of the world likes to call it that, too.  This "Alhambra" thing is actually composed of the beautiful Generalife gardens (think Alice in Wonderland), 3 palaces, an alcazaba (recently discovered that this is the general word for a Moorish fortress and is not, in fact, the name of a cool "castle" in Málaga.  Still learning.), and some of the most amazing views of Granada.  I won't go into historical details because that's not my place in life but if you're interested, Wikipedia will be happy to help you.

We spent all day wandering, taking photos, and stalking tour groups in an attempt to listen in for free.  Note: This method doesn't work so well with the Chinese-speaking tour guides.  Speaking of the Chinese tour group, here's a hot new style tip I picked up from one of the women:

...leopard socks and pink crocs?  Yes, please!

On day #2 we ventured to Guadix, a small town just outside of Granada.  Guadix (pronounced "Gwah-deeks") is famous for their cave homes.  That's right people, we went to MIDDLE EARTH!  Take a look...

...did you see Frodo?!  Neither did we.  But we DID have a small boy demand money from us and throw glass shards when we refused.  Here he is confronting Laura:

Other than the child from hell (I'm seeing a pattern here), Guadix was lovely and the people were incredibly friendly.  We spent the day exploring the cave district and attempting to go horseback riding, which ultimately was a failure due to time constraints.  I also made friends with several local cats:

Overall a good time, I would recommend visiting Guadix if you're going to be anywhere near Granada or have a love of caves and felines.

Later that night, after returning to our pizza-scented hostel for a shower and heading out for tapas, we decided to venture to a discoteca to see what this song is all about.  Arriving at 1:30 in the morning, we figured we'd be coming in at the perfect time.  Wrong.  We paid our cover ("Are you on the list?" and walked into an empty club.  Uhh, what?  By 3:00am, the place was just starting to fill up.  "Johnny, la gente está muy loca."  It ended up being a great time...they even played some reggaeton(!), which reminded us of being in back in Ecuador.  Oh, the memories.  We stayed till 4:30 (weak, by Spanish standards), bought ham pizza on the street (naturally, what other toppings would they offer?), and then crashed for the night.  Granada success.

This coming week we have 2 days off of school for various holidays (one of them honoring the Spanish constitution?  I need to do some research.).  Here's the math: my usual work week = 4 days.  Let's subtract 2...that leaves me with...2 whole days of work!  Gosh, I hope I can make it.  To celebrate this glorious week, Ashley and I are heading to Barcelona on Thursday for what's looking like an awesome weekend.  Cooking classes and ice bars will be involved, stay tuned.

I hope whoever is reading this is in good health and happy wherever they are.  Here's a high-budget Christmas classic to get you in the holiday spirit:

Feliz almost Navidad.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

a normal week

This week was a "normal week," meaning that I actually had to go to school all 4 days and there were no random assemblies about buddhism or boogers.  However, a normal week is never boring! In one of my classes of 4 year olds, we worked on Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes.  Since I'm such a fantastic and experienced teacher, they're really starting to master it and I've graduated them to fast-paced rendition of Ankles, Elbows, Feet, and Seat (whatever, it rhymes and they don't know the difference).  As you can imagine, the choreography to this version is quite something.  There's booty-smacking and hip shaking and all kinds of awesome straight from a Sisqo video.  In this particular class there is a boy who is half the size of all the other kids, which by my calculations makes him 11 inches tall.  He may or may not be a "little person" (is this still the PC way to say it?), but seeing as I'm not sure we'll just call him tiny, awkward, and adorable.  After the song was finished I went to stop the CD and saw the teacher laughing so hard that tears were rolling down her face.  Loudly, in Spanish, she says, "OH MY GOD, did you see Hector dancing?! It's HILARIOUS! You HAVE to play the song again!"  So, not wanting to disobey the seño, I of course played track number 4 again.  Although cruel, she was right, it was awesome.  Not 100% sure on this one, but I'm pretty sure it's not okay to repeat an activity for the sake of laughing at a child?  Thoughts?

Another normal part of my normal week was an uncomfortable British English conversation.  While practicing "Do you like...?" and "Yes, I like..." in a private lesson, my bright pupil asked, "Do you like rubbers?" while smiling and pointing at her eraser.  Kids say the darndest things.  

Off to Granada in the morning, if anyone wants a "my friend went to the Alhambra and I all got was this lousy t-shirt" shirt, let me know.

Monday, November 7, 2011


Quiz time:
1. Is your house old?
2. Are your clothes old?
3. Is your cat old? (Hang in there, Kasey!)
4. Are you old?

Answers: No.

Last weekend I realized that I've been using the word "old" wrong my whole life.  "Old" isn't a house built in 1940, a coat from 2 years ago, a horrible fat cat that won't seem to die, or wrinkles on your face.

OLD is something built in a year that doesn't start with 1:

Banos Arabes, Ronda, functional around the year 800

OLD is naming something Puente Nuevo, or "New Bridge"...even though it was built long before your great great great great grandparents decided to get married (or maybe they didn't, scandalous):
Puente Nuevo, Ronda, construction started 1751

OLD is a country that had its shit together early enough to send someone to go explore the Americas:
Iglesia Santa Maria, Ronda, commissioned by Isabel y Fernando in 1485 (for those of you who missed your Spanish History class, they were the ones who sent good ol' Columbus on his way.  They were also the OGs of the in they liked to kill people who weren't Christian enough.  What a fun couple.  For more on the Inquisition: click here).  Built on top of the town's original mosque.

Just about everything in Ronda made me reconsider my perception of what is old.  It's a beautiful town with a ton of history and some of the most amazing views I've ever seen.  The only thing that was actually new was our hostal, which has only been open for a few weeks.  And by hostal, I mean 3 bedroom apartment that some broke Spanish party boys bought and now rent rooms to help them make their payments.  That's my theory, anyway.  Great view, strange crowd...oh well, what do you want for 16 euro?

Here's a few other things I consider to be old: dinosaurs, the earth, and the man himself.

Oh! That reminds me.  Today, my previously hateful neighbor smiled a big toothless smile at me and said hola.  I WIN!  He also qualifies for the "old" category.  Next goal: conversation.  Stay tuned...

Friday, October 28, 2011

fake England and things I find hilarious:

Life here is funny.  Sometimes "ha-ha" funny and sometimes "that's awkward" funny (usually the latter).   Since I love lists so much, here's a rundown of some things I find funny:

1.  The old man who lives in the crappy house next to our building.  I wish I had a photo, but a description will have to do.  This particular old man, whom I see AT LEAST once a day in various places throughout Rincon, has a perfect muppet frown (think Beaker), I'm not sure if this frown is caused by the fact that he has lost 100% of his teeth, or if it's caused by the undeserved hatred he feels for me.  Probably a combination.  He also has that dark leathery look that tells me that he's lived in Rincon for approximately 457 years.  The fact that we are neighbors predisposes us to seeing each other often, so every time I see him I smile and say hola, hoping to turn that frown upside down.  He has yet to respond with anything more than a glare.  Womp womp.  

2.  Kids.  Those of you who know me well know that I love kids more than anything in the world (false)!  However, I'm slowly figuring out that some kids are awesome.  We had a presentation from "Ciencia Divertida" (Fun Science) last week, you know, those assemblies where they blow things up and make silly putty to teach kids some basic chemistry and physics.  Well, one of the presenters jokingly asked the 3/4/5 year old group to help him with a "chemical reaction" by picking their boogers and passing them to their neighbor to form a huge booger ball.  It was unreal how fast all those little fingers entered those little noses and started digging.  They didn't understand at all that he was joking, and watching the teachers scramble to stop the booger plague was super divertida for me.  I've never seen so much snot in my life, and it was hilarious.  Thanks for being gross, kids.

Also, I've decided that stickers (pronounced eh-steekers) should be illegal in elementary schools.  This week I did a Halloween activity in class where the kids could earn stickers.  Terrible idea.  What I witnessed was worse than any episode of Gangland, it was the Mickey stickers vs the Hello Kitty stickers, and shit got ugly.  There may have been minor injuries sustained but overall I think I won them over with the eh-steekers.  Yay bribes!

3. Spanish schools...or should I say, how laid back they are. On any given day, I hear more than a few students announce that they need to hacer piss or caca.  REALLY?  If I had announced to my class in 3rd grade that I needed to go take a dump, they would all laugh at me.  This is one of those times when I say Good for you, Spain!  We are just too uptight sometimes at home.  Another huge difference is the display of affection.  This is the land of the double cheek kiss greeting, where you're actually allowed to hug a student without getting sued, imagine that!  Also, they do Halloween how it should be done: decorations include demons and witches and bloody things like this:

 Yay for holidays in school!  No "fall harvest" parties here.

4.  Fake England, aka Gibraltar.  A couple of weekends ago, we did a quick weekend trip to the Rock to see what it's all about.  Basically we hiked the rock, ate fish and chips, drank tea, and marveled at the fact that we were only 2 hours away from Rincon and completely surrounded by Union Jack and people with British accents.  Solely based on geography, Gibraltar really should belong to Spain, it's such a confused place.  No one knows if they should speak English or Spanish to each other, they use the pound instead of the euro (but still accept euros), and there are monkeys (apes?) running wild.  What?!  Anyway, it was a good time:

Also, this really isn't funny at all but we managed to make a legit Spanish tortilla last week:

...just wanted to brag!  Off to Ronda in the morning, more adventures to come...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

FALL ! ...sort of

I have news!  Everyone gather round:

Today...IT RAINED.  I'm not talking morning dew or a light passing sprinkle, I'm talking about an all-my-clean-dry-clothes-soaking-wet-outside-on-the-line kinda rain.  Now, I can't say I wasn't warned.  On Thursday (the last day of my working week) I was told on 3 separate occasions that it might rain this weekend.  You'd think the apocalypse was coming with all the hype (it was supposed to happen Friday, actually).  Well, lo and behold it did rain, for the first time in about 4 weeks I'd say.  Everyone at home in Ohio will hate me for this, but I was really excited to have a day that actually felt like FALL.  Send me pumpkin flavored things please?

We had a great day visiting some friends and eating authentic AMAZING homemade Spanish food.  Tortilla (of course) and something called porra which is sort of gazpacho-y but is made with bread? (not to be confused with a porro)  Me da igual, it tasted awesome.  Who am I anymore, enjoying foods with ham in them?  Spain is ruining me.

My school is planning some sort of Halloween celebration for next Monday, they keep asking me what games we play in the US...any ideas?  I'm pretty sure they won't like my suggestion of dressing up in costumes and drinking rum apple cider.  

Also I've recently learned that here, they like to dress scary for Halloween...what?!  No sexy nurses or Chippendale dancers?! I say good for you, Spain.  I'm thinking of going as the ghost of Franco...too soon?

No photos this time because, well, my camera is all the way in the other room.  Stay might rain again tomorrow!  

Love to everyone reading this, hope you're having a wonderful weekend...and seriously, send me pumpkin things.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

life as I know it

HELLO WORLD!  Today is a great day.  Let me tell you why:

1.  I started a blog, so you will now be able to stalk me with great ease.  Why a blog?  Well, a few reasons...I want to record this year in Spain...I want to be able to share some photos with those of you outside the Facebook world...and I LOVE hearing Spanish people try to say the word "blog."  (usually "bloogh" or "blahguh")

2.  Today for the first time, I truly felt good about what I'm doing here (what AM I doing here?).  For once, my lesson plans actually worked, all of my classes (3rd, 2nd, 1st grades and preschool) behaved well, and my students were speaking English to me...small victory but to me it feels like winning the whole battle.  Teacher points for Katy!

3.  I'm super wealthy.  Actually that's a huge lie, but I did teach my first clase particular today, which means that my wallet will see some action more than once a month.  15 euro to play Go Fish for an hour?  Yes, por favor.

4.  It's starting to feel like "fall."  Here in Rincón de la Victoria, that means you can go outside without sweating through all of your clothes in 10 minutes.  I keep waiting for the palm fronds to change color but it doesn't look like that'll happen anytime soon.

5.  There is awesome soup waiting for me in the fridge.  Yes.

Don't you hate it when people are nothing but positive?  So do I.  To compensate for the previous list, here's a list of things that annoy me in Spain (so far):

1.  PASSING ON THE RIGHT.  Let me clarify:  They drive on the right side of the road, like we do in the U.S.  HOWEVER, for some reason this does not translate to the sidewalk, where everyday I am forced to the left side while passing.  Why, Spain?

2.  Siesta.  Although the idea of a daily siesta is just fabulous, the fact that everything closes for 3 hours in the middle of the day makes life just a little more difficult.  What if I want to buy shoes at 4pm?!  (note: Restaurants DO stay open, and the majority of the people drink alcohol during this time...go Spain!  I'm still trying to decide if this outweighs the negatives.)

3.  The Comisaria de Policia.  This will have to go without an explanation because I can't say anything about the comisaria without employing a shit ton of 4 letter words.  Whoops.

4.  The Spanish mistrust of peanut butter.  Well, okay, I don't know if it's mistrust, but only carrying 1 kind and charging me 4 euros for it sends a strong anti-PB message.

5.  British English.  If one more 7 year old asks me to borrow a "rubber," I will lose it.  I'm on a mission to convert these kids from rubbers, chips, and toilets to erasers, french fries, and bathrooms.  Amurrica.

6.  The vosotros verb form.  Dear college Spanish, why didn't you help me learn this?  Sincerely, only using ustedes.

7.  We have no oven.  NO OVEN.  Why, you ask?  Good question.

Well that felt great!  Now enjoy some photos from my new temporary home:
my lovely roomies and I outside the Reales Alcazares in Sevilla

some awesome tapas...minus the green fish jello

lookin nerdy outside my school, CEIP Carmen Martin Gaite

the view from our balcony!  come visit please.