Monthly Archives: February 2012

¡Viva Carnaval!

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So, there’s not too much I probably need to explain on this, my post about Carnival (or Carnaval, in Portuguese), but just in case you’re unfamiliar with the tradition…Carnival is a pre-Lenten fiesta celebrated world-over, (though curiously not in the U.S.). In Spain, or at least in my little corner of the country, it calls for a day off of school, kids dressing up in costume the day before classes let out and on the day of, big crazy parades and of course: more costumes.

It’s vale la pena (worth it, worth the trouble) to be in Spain, or for that matter, anywhere except the U.S. for Carnival. Yeah, I know Mardi Gras is cool, but another day in the year to dress up? I will take that over drunken, bead-throwing madness any day of the week. (Obviously there was still some drunkenness that occurred on the Saturday night of Carnival down in the bars area, but what do you expect?)

Anyway, let me simply continue minus words–it’s better that way anyway.

My darling 4 year olds mustached, goatee-ed, and eye-patched up for their year's theme--Pirates! Have hardly seen anything so cute in my whole life!

Ha! Some of my first graders getting a little restless....the last few hours of the day they did "Cuentas y Chocolate" which is "Stories and Hot Chocolate" and one parent was reading a particularly lengthy one....

One of the crazy groups filing through during the parade (which conveniently ran right in front of my apartment window).

The guys hanging out the window watching the parade....we actually had several people watching us instead of it (the parade), haha!

My peacock costume.... (in Spanish "pavo real" that's right, I'm a royal turkey).

Jake and Jason, aka “Thing 1 and Thing 2” of Dr. Seuss fame. Didn’t always get recognized, but guys this big in red jumpsuits and blue hair definitely will get a few laughs/stares.

The awesome signs advertising Carnaval in our town. And yes those are indeed wine corks with mustaches.

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¡Feliz Día de San Valentín!

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¡Feliz día de San Valentín! Or as we say in English “that holiday in February that mostly only Americans pay any attention to.”

Not too much to report, but I did have to share this…was doing a little fun poem-creating with my 5th graders using the basic “roses are red, violets are blue” format, but letting them have a little of their own creative license…

The finished product, an original masterpiece from 5th level B in Albelda:

“Hearts are red

The sky is blue

Bananas are fantastic

And so are you.” 

Pretty much Lord Byron, I know. I was asking them to brainstorm adjectives that “are nice to call people we like” and then objects that can also be described by that same word to fit in the poem. I just about lost it at the enthusiastically suggested  “BANANAS ARE FANTASTIC!” (and perfectly correct, but hilarious all the same). Maybe I just find this hysterical and random because I’m their teacher, but perhaps you might get half a chuckle out of it too.

Happy heart day everyone! ¡Besos y abrazos a todos!

Cumpleaños! (Birthday/trip to Toledo & Segovia)

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Late again, I know.  But where were we? Ahhh yes, my birthday (January 26)! Birthdays are always great fun and this one did not disappoint.

Some fun highlights of the day itself:

-Had to work, obviously since it was a Thursday, but the director of my school played the Beatles singing “Happy Birthday” over the loudspeaker in my honor. Got lots of birthday wishes, besos and love from my colleagues and students.

-Came home to an ENORMOUS bouquet of lilies, irises and daisies from my fiancé, Jake and a sweet note. He is pretty much amazingly awesome and knows very well how much I delight in getting flowers.

-For all the faults of Facebook, it sure is fun on your birthday. I was overwhelmed by a mountain of birthday messages from family and friends in the U.S., friends in Spain and friends from the world-over and in several different languages, to boot! It was seriously splendid.

-Went out with a few friends for tapas (my favorite meal, of course) and hung out with a bunch of people at a friend’s flat before catching a 1:30 a.m. train to Toledo. I was fortunate beyond REASON and lucked out with the day after my birthday being a fiesta…meaning NO SCHOOL!

So we used the time to a bit of traveling. We spent all day in Toledo, which, though rainy and foggy, was quite amazing. It’s a gorgeous, medieval looking walled city that actually used to be the capital of Spain prior to Madrid. Here…just let the pictures do the talking.

View of foggy Toledo town from the top of a cathedral. The Alcazar is the large building to the left and the main cathedral to the right.

So mysterious looking at night...

A fascinating (and EXPENSIVE) antique shop with their selection of swords, of course...medieval weapons seem to be the preferred souvenir there, haha.

Gorgeous views...

Intricate embellishments on the walls of a synagogue we visited...one of only 3 remaining in Spain.

The next day we headed to Segovia— an easy daytrip from Madrid and a worthwhile one, I would say. It’s not a huge city by any means, but it’s worth the visit to see the awesomely old Roman aqueducts (built in the 1st century….FIRST CENTURY!) and the incredible fairy tale-looking castle that is the Alcázar.  We did, however, nearly freeze our hind-parts off. I recommend going in sometime other than winter! 🙂

The incredible Roman Aqueducts! (They are not held together with mortar or clamps or ANYTHING! Just incredible engineering.)

View from the Alcázar. Feels like you've gone back in time.

El Alcázar. So so awesome.

And THIS is what it looks like from the other side...hard to access unless you go down the cliff and probably quite far away from the city. Or from a helicopter. Photo via http://mevoydeviaje.wordpress.com/2011/06/

Last but not least…we had attempted to get churros con chocolate about 5 times during the trip —and either the place didn’t have them, we got there and they were closed, or what have you. But finally…FINALLY we found some in Madrid and sat enjoying them in a park for the two hours we had till our connecting bus.

I call this: "triumphant churro face."