12.26.06 0 °F
Tuesday, November 28
It was lovely to sleep in a little later and arrive for a 9:30 breakfast. This day would end up being very light for us and we were going on an excursion to the village. The rain was a bit of a worry, but we caught the buses at 10:00 and after 4 trips, we had all arrived.
First we had a tour of house built somewhere between 1100 and 1500. It had been turned into a museum and was a tribute to the current owners grandparents who lived in the house. In the bottom level, all the animals were housed. Concealed in the horse manager, was hole about the size of a bowling ball where the valuables would be hidden.
PHOTO OF WALL SAFE
After the war years, when many families returned to the village, a fair number of them found considerable wealth had been hidden in the walls of some of there homes. Some villagers are still living off the proceeds from the finds. The next level had the grandparents’ bedroom complete with chamber pots and tiny or at least very short, double beds. Before electric lights, it was all candles. Even when lights were installed, there was one light that straddled the wall and covered both the hallway and this bedroom.
Down the hall was the best bedroom where you only went for three reasons - your birth, your death or if you were sick. Next to the room was the larder. Up the stairs to the next level, we found the kitchen, an insulated room that acted as a fridge, the outside porch where bathing happened and the butcher room where the pigs were slaughtered (Yes! Two stories up the pigs were butchered). Up the last set of steps to the attic area that housed the workshop and the oven for baking bread and food storage. Fascinating and especially poignant as the grandson of the house was leading the tour.
Next a little time for shopping before we met in the square for lunch. A funeral procession was coming through the square and based on the mourners, we could tell it was for an elderly man.
I found a few little things that caught my eye including the Christmas specialty of Turron, nougat only made in Nov and Dec.
Back in the square and then down the lane to the bodega (wine shop). If you didn’t know where you were going, you would pass most of the locations as they blend so completely into the row of houses/shops. We were treated to wonderful red wine, bread, salami and hams and a fabulous hard cheese. During this stop, we all participated in pouring red wine down our own throats from the wine skin. The aim is to get a thin stream of wine into your mouth, they pull the bag further and further away and count how long you can drink. Early people achieved 8-12 seconds and Pam was the first person and Anglo who broke 20 seconds. The first Spaniard with a high number was Miguel with 25. I accomplished a 7 second drink. The outstanding winner was Bernardo with 52 seconds. Most of us were just a little light headed as we went back to the square for lunch.
Lunch was paella, which I avoided as it may have been the culprit for my runny tummy earlier this week. I ate the bread and dessert that was a lovely ice cream confection. I exchanged interesting book names with Ros from England, Jesus L. and Shannon. We had a fantastic discussion about knowing when you have met the “one”. Two of the four of us have found them. Shannon and I are still looking.
As we had worked and partied so hard the day before, we were treated to an extended siesta time between 3-6
6 – Pedro – Phone session – We worked through 2 scenarios in 20 minutes - Wake up and Throw in the towel
7 – Jesus F. – Pass Out and Scratch the Surface – We had a fascinating discussion about his police work and suicides.
Both these men had wonderful English and great comprehension. It made the time just fly by.
8 – Entertainment – Groups 2 and 3
Group 2 – Fortuneteller –Dani as the fortuneteller with balloon breasts and mysterious ways was the hit. This group tied together many of the facets of PI including taking a toy boy home from Spain, the psychological damage done by too many one-on-one sessions and the birth 9 months after the fact of a very large baby girl named Phil.
Group 3 – What men and women say and what that really means – 4 cross-dressed couples described what the sexes say and what they really means. You can imagine.
As there was time to spare before dinner, Shannon entertained the group with the guitar. A talented guitarist, he played a wonderful melody by a Spanish composer and then a blue composition from a personal friend. Finally, we tried a sing-a-long to a Beatles song, Shake it up Baby. We all started fine, but after the first verse, it was determined that the lyrics off the web were incomplete so we died out.
Dinner – James, Pedro, Jesus L. – We discussed many the wonders of Australia as both Jesus and I had both visited recently been down under. Slight disconnect with James regarding my perception of the inconsistent wildlife laws between the various states in Australia. Once again, my opinions seemed not to be based in fact, but that didn’t stop me from airing my views. I was encouraged to review the US laws that cross state lines before I begin to comment on other countries perceived inadequacies. Thank you! Point well taken.
Tonight is the beginning of the Secret Friend campaign. I am the secret friend of Tracy, who is James’ wife and in my presentation group. We have been encouraged to do nice things for our secret friend from now until Thursday evening. We are encouraged to not spend more than the price of beer. My brain is whirling to see what might be nice for Tracy.
During dinner the other night, Tracy and I sketched out the outline for our performance tomorrow night, a game show based on Jeopardy with all the questions using idioms. Jez had said that if I type it out, we could make copies. I spent some time working on the order of go, stage directions and who would say what. We will have a moderator, tv host, Vanna White, three Spanish contestants and one over enthusiastic stage mother (me). Went to bed late, but had the script done for the group to review tomorrow. We had heard that one of our Spaniards, Jesus F., might be leaving tomorrow, so we may be one short. We will see tomorrow.
Wednesday, November 29
9 – breakfast – received a lovely glass of orange juice with little orange sections decorating the plate. My first gift from my secret friend. It is going to be a great day. Christine caught me and said that Pedro’s secret friend had requested that most of the women go up and give him a kiss on both cheeks from his secret friend. He received all the kisses with appreciation and calmness.
Also during breakfast, I printed off the script that I had developed the night before. After circulation to the group, they decided that they liked the concept and that we might make minor changes during our rehearsal. We were definitively going to loose Jesus F. from our group, so we enlisted the assistance of Rafael or Rafa, who is a true card for our third contestant. He will be a welcome addition to the group. As we will not have him at rehearsal, we will try and have lunch with him later today.
10 – Juan Jo – Catch on, Twist my Arm
11 – Phone session with Jose – Check out, Drag your feet. Our phone session went fine, I was making reservations at his pretend hotel. As we discussed the phrasal verb and idiom, I could tell we were not connecting. As we walked back to the meeting room, I did a pantomime of drag your feet, which I think, finally led to comprehension.
12 – Walked to town with Paloma for our session – clear up, a hard nut to crack – This was my first walk to town, the weather was fine and it was good to move. We discussed her three kids.
1 – Free time – Post cards and delivery of my note to my secret friend.
Lunch was good as usual with more little squeals of delight or clapping as another gift was delivered. As you looked around, you would see people disappear around the corner together whispering frantically. I had been requested to make some deliveries of drinks or notes to different people. Just as dessert was being served, a delegation arrived at my table and all the Spanish men at my table stood up. Suddenly, I was being serenaded by 4, then 6, then 12 of the Spanish men, as men from all the other tables leapt up and made a semi circle around me. It was absolutely charming and luckily, I have a little bit of it on video. The song was Cabrellitos. The basic gist of the song is - I bring to you flowers, flowers of my heart. If I don’t bring you flowers, it is not that I don’t love you, it is because they are not available. (Apparently this is a popular song to sing while you are at University and go to various dorms and serenade the young ladies). I felt truly touched. I have a suspicion of who my secret friend is, but I won’t know the real name until tomorrow. Based on the song, I suspect it is a Spaniard. Time will tell.
At 3:30 the vast majority of our group went into town, mostly to shop for our secret friends, but also to enjoy the fabulous weather and to see the village in sun. I walked with Roy, James and Tracy the back way into the town avoiding the highway. It was charming with country lanes, cats, moss covered rock walls and alleyways and beautiful colors as most of the leaves are still on the trees. One surprising sight was Chinquapin Chestnut trees, just like we had in our yard in Virginia. How well I remember the spiny seed coats that resemble brown sea urchins with nasty spines. My job in Jr. and Sr. High was to collect the green or brown seed pods amidst the fall leaves so that Dad could rake or mow the leaves. Never my favorite job, but seeing them brought back many happy memories of VA.
Roy and I wandered around the village and he showed me many back roads that I had not explored. I picked up some throat lozenges because more and more of our group is succumbing to the cold and I know that someone will need them before we leave. On the way back, I saw more cats and a lovely black Iberico sow that was very cute and posed for a picture. We arrived back just minutes before we were needed at the group activity.
5 - group activity – Write an alternative ending to the Hockey Sweater using random words that the group had developed. Each member of the group was supposed to contribute at least one sentence to the ending, which had to be 10 sentences long. Our verb- piss off, our adjective – cute, our noun - leopard (that I supplied to the selection of words). Our revision of the story went as follows - Our young boy after telling the curate in the story to piss off was sent to a reform school in Brazil where he was trained as a leopard handler. He took a nasty bite in the rear and was nursed by a cute Brazilian girl who later became his assistant. They became world famous and he always performed wearing his favorite Hockey Sweater.
6 – 8 – Group 4 rehearsal for our performance. We had a fun time getting our play staged and collecting all of our props. The three contestants were very excited to don their partial costumes, Cuti with a camo hat, Gerardo with a Mexican hat, apron, maracas and wig and our final contestant, Rafa as our Japanese entry, complete with camera and Japanese/Spanish accent. After 45 minutes we were very ready and relaxed.
8 Entertainments – Groups 4 and 5
As we had had the performance room to rehearse and prepare and the other group had only the last 30 minutes to rehearse in the room. As they were last in the room, they were the first to perform. They were also doing a game show, but they had chosen the dating game. Very cute and amusing, they incorporated many of the inside jokes including the typical Spanish pronunciation mistake for breakfast, (Breast – f**k) and the now expected and requisite Spanish man-dressed-as-a-woman (Nando) with huge balloon breasts and outrageous purple long wig.
Our presentation went very well, but the longer the play went, the more actor improvements showed up during the show. Two of our performers got more and more exaggerated in their movements and expressions, and our 10-minute show was closer to 20. Well received, we trooped back down stairs for dinner.
More secret friend gifts appeared during dinner including sponsored massages by James (who is a sports massage therapist), beautiful serenades by Shannon, huge wrapped gifts including small bottles of champagne and pate and the best the PEDRO poster with every letter followed by a superlative about Pedro. I have a feeling that the Anglos are spending the money and the Spanish are being ultra creative. All will be revealed tomorrow night so we only have another 24 hours until we know whom to thank.
Thursday, November 30
10 – Jesus L. Walked to town for shopping – Run into, Under the Weather – Health administrator - Lovely man
11 – Omar – Lawyer - Sign up for, Weather the storm – a fan of the US, we had a political discussion on the US’s role in the world.
12 – Free time
1 – Miguel – Turn around, Once in a blue moon – Took the back way into town and found a little old man, who told us he used to be a bullfighter and gave us wormy apples
During lunch today, we had several people leaving, one of them was Pedro, who turned out to be my secret friend. I knew my friend was a Spanish man! After lunch I walked back down the lane between the pastures to take pictures of the waterfall that I had visited with Jose Santos.
5 - group activity – Read the last of the revised Hockey Sweater stories. Then Christine had all the Anglos do musical chairs. During the game if you had not found a chair, you were either given a tongue twisters or a difficult word to spell. If you got them right, you could take someone else’s chair and continue in the game. Christine’s point is that even Anglos have difficulty with pronunciation and spelling. I managed a complicated tongue twister but went down my misspelling Samurai. (I forgot the second a)
6 – Conference call Magali, Raquel and Rafael – Radio interview PI/Sex Education/Lonely Hearts club – This was a scream! Magali was the Master of Ceremonies of PI, Raquel a Spanish participant who wanted to find a nice Spanish husband, and Rafa was from the US (Oklahoma where he had lots of cows). I was the radio interviewer on a live talk show and soon we took a turn from our assigned mission. During my interview it was determined that PI in addition to a language school, also a sex education center and lonely hearts club for people seeking a mate. Rafa was hysterical with his love for his cows and complained that PI didn’t have many cows, Raquel looking for a Spanish husband was encouraged by one of the three callers to the radio show to widen her search and consider other men. Magali kept giggling into the phone, but it ended up that Magali would be changing the housing arrangement so that Rafa and Raquel could be in the same house and both of them promised to keep me posted on the progress of their budding relationship. It was very good fun!
7 – One on One – Rafael, but we also added Hazel and Magali for a 4-way conversation.
At this point in the week, some people were repeating who they had one-on-one’s with as we had lost several Spaniards. There was some thing going on for the Guardia Civil and several of them had to leave before the week was over, including Jesus F. I never had a one-on-one with Raquel, Bernardo or Magali, so I tried to sit next to them at one of the final meals to get a chance to talk to them.
8 - Entertainment – Groups 6 and 7 and the entire group of Anglos singing leaving On a Jet Plane. We had been warned that there are usually many tears on the last day of the program and this had some of us a little misty already during the song.
We were bused into La Aberca for our final dinner in town. We were in a lovely room and after dinner, all the Spaniards sang a wonderful good-bye song during which Lourdes danced.
Best Smile – Cuti
Best Laugh – Trudi
Best Dancer – Lourdes
Best Actress – Paloma, I was awarded a 2nd place tie with Nanda (Fernando in his cross-dressing role)
Best Actor – Nando and Dani
Best Improv - #2 – Fortune Teller
Most entertaining Anglo – James
Most entertaining Spaniard – Omar
Most Improved English – Jose Santos
They had opened the town disco for us and we arrived at Midnight. There were several ladies dancing as a group. (I have noticed as I travel around the world that in many countries people dance in groups, without specific partners. I have also noticed that a lot of the world whistle or sing their way through the day. Does that happen in the US?) I was pooped so I was on the first bus back to the lodging and we left the Disco just before 1 am. I was in bed by 1:30 am.
Friday, December 1
We lost a lot of Spaniards this morning during breakfast so our ranks were dwindling. Lots of hugs and goodbyes.
10 – Group Photo and course evaluations
11 – One-on-one with Fermin
12 – Graduation ceremony – we all received certificates.
1 – Lunch – Jose Santos, Sally, Magali
PHOTO _ GROUP
Can you find me?
We loaded on the bus by 2:30 and the ride turned out to be very hot with most of us napping. I spent some time chatting with Shannon and Phil and then after our stop, with Jose Santos. His English has improved exponentially since our first bus ride and he very much deserved his award last night. As we were getting close to Madrid, I looked at him at one point and said that I time was almost over. He said but it is only almost. What a lovely energy he has.
Our party arrived at 7pm in Madrid and many taxis refused our group, probably due to the amount of luggage. Shannon and I shared a cab. Shannon and girl friend will be in Philly in Jan. Hopefully we will be able to meet up at Annie’s
Info from Spain
Spain drives on the right hand side of the road.
The right hand ring finger is the wedding ring hand except for Catalan where it is the left hand.
Common English pronunciation mistake by Spaniards – beaches and b**ches, also sheet and sh*t.
i.e. Da b**ches en Spain r berry berry nize.
What I learned at Pueblo Ingles
What a wonderful experience! It was fabulous to be around such diverse and interesting people. These people were working hard to be better at something and everyone was interested and anxious to help them, while having a good time of course. It was fun to be back in a larger community, and yet have the opportunity to remove myself when I needed.
I had a few surprises during this placement both physically and mentally. Getting sick could have been just a build up from 5 months straight of work with limited breaks, but it was also a signal to me that I might not be seeing things clearly. I have had the beginnings of feelings of inadequacy and nervousness about not knowing exactly what I will be doing when I get home. When I have a moment, I try and look ahead and envision what I want. Nothing is coming right now, which tells me my mind is not quiet and ready to accept input from the universe.
I had several disconnects with people over the last few weeks not only in communication but also in the flow of the trip. In my tired state, they seem bigger than they probably are, but again a signal to me that I am not creating positive experiences for myself.
I leave Spain feeling that I am very much the same person that I was when I left the US 11 months ago. Currently I can list many of the things within myself that I had hoped would grow and mature, but what I see are the judgments and smallness that still remains. I don’t feel I am being down on myself, but I am looking at what is currently in front of me. It is my choice how to view it, and when I don’t select the highest level of self-love, then I get what I create.
Just another example of wherever you go, there you are!
Thank you Spain and Pueblo Ingles. I had a marvelous time and I will be back again!