Wednesday, November 28, 2012

I'm backkkkk!

When I left on the train two years ago, I never thought I'd call Navalmoral home again. Funny, a short year later, and... I'm back. Here. In my second home. My home away from home. Where I feel 100%, absolutely myself.  They say you don't know what you have until it's gone, well, I would have to agree. Navalmoral, it's nice to be back, de nuevo

For starters, I found out my good friend, Rachel, was also coming back -- just seconds before I boarded the plane to Spain in the end of September. So, with visions of the year -- she and I together -- back with all our friends -- in the place we love -- I couldn't get to Spain soon enough.  And, like that, I was here. Rachel arrived the next day. We were all set. 
Compis in El Benito, one of our favorite bars because of the anti-crisis drink prices!
After orientation, I finally was able to settle into my new flat, which is of course on Navalmoral's main street. We had to pick the piso with the best view of the street for Carnavales. Alright, it's not until March, but we couldn't pass it up. Ok, central heating AND air-conditioning were also a big help and I couldn't be more satisfied with our choice. I have to say, I have really moved up in the world from butano, braseros, and radiators.

I want to pause and just take a deep breath after that. Ahhh.
Our living room, with the balcony (with amazing views) out the back left door!
My room, at its cleanest.
Life in Navalmoral is as it always was. Tranquilla. We go out for cañas. We go out for tapas. Usually, they are one in the same, as tapas are served free with drinks here. I love saying "Adios!" o "Hasta luego!" to people when I pass them. I like that I have to leave ten minutes early to arrive on time, when I only have to go five minutes away; I absolutely love running into people on the streets. I also like that we know the bartenders and get free shots. A lot. I like that we have our favourite restaurants and our favourite dishes. That we crave, 90% of the time. The other 10% of the time is because we have just eaten there a day or two before we are to go back again. We must begin to eat at home more!

I have lots of work, if only we could get paid on time by the government. Two years later and everything is still being blamed on the crisis. I work in two schools: a primary school in Navalmoral and a high school in a nearby village, Talayuela. Most of my students are Moroccan or Gypsy. So, yes, it's safe to say I'm learning a lot this year. It's quite strange to enter a classroom where nearly half (at least half) the students speak Arabic. Or, going the other way with it, barely speak Spanish. I mime a lot; more this year than in past years.(Family, brace yourself for Christmas!)
The primary school where I work every other week.
I am officially sick of hearing my name when I walk in the door. "WHITTTTNEEEYYYYYYY!!!!!"
We had tortilla and gazpacho for recess one day...
Castañas to celebrate Calbotes Festival at school. No class the last two hours! YES!
Jose, the little boy making the funny face, is a favourite of mine... he asks me if I will give him one of my bracelets - every time I see him. "Joooo, tienes muchas... solo quiero una!"  <3
Happy Thanksgiving from 3rd grade! Still not sure if my students know this is a turkey and not a chicken...
I have to talk about my favourite student, Hamid. Hamid is in the third grade and to say "entertaining" would be an understatement. He is the cutest little boy, with the longest eye lashes you'll find around. He is also a holy terror. One afternoon at home, his mom put him in his room to punish him, and he jumped out his window to go to the fair. He is 8 years old. Eight. I could pick his voice out of a room of 1,000 people. "Maestra! Maestra!" he ALWAYS says. "Take away my star for the day, I don't want to go to recess anyway." or "Today I won't go out for recess, I don't feel like doing this worksheet." Basically, he has little ganas to do anything. Well, that was until he saw me out in the street a week ago. I got the biggest wave from him and his brother, and since that moment, he has been paying attention in class and colouring - on his paper - and not painting war paint on his face. Yes, war paint, like the Indians. I had to walk away before I burst out laughing!

My weekends have been nothing but fun.
I still travel until my heart is content and I'm glad I do. 

One weekend we went to our friend Jose Miguel's town, Alcuéscar, where we literally became friends with everyone and their cousin... and their cousin's friend, too. We rode the "Toro Loco" my favourite ride at the fair. It was by far the fastest one I've ever been on and was actually quite scared for most of it. We botellon-ed. We danced to Gangnam Style when the song wasn't playing, and everyone danced like us. We were THAT guay. We went to a church auction the next morning, pretty hungover, and saw them auction off a live rooster. I wasn't sure how to react, so I took a picture so it could last longer. 
Watching the people make their way to the church in traditional costume... from Josemi's balcony!
De botellon in the afternoon with Mamen and Rachel!
AMIGOS!!!!!! (just before we all got thrown around on the toro loco behind us!)
Jose Miguel, Ledesma, Rachel, Me, Emma, Oscar, Mamen
Another weekend, Rachel and I went to Córdoba, a wonderful city in Andalucía in southern Spain. I could write a whole blog about that trip, but who am I kidding, it would take months for me to get around to it. So, to sum it up, the rain stayed away and we were blown away by it's small city charm. I finally saw the candy cane stripes inside Córdoba's famous Mezquita... and agian, was dumbfounded. Everything was yellow and white and occasionally blue. We literally walked around for hours and were never tired of seeing what was around the corner. We stopped for Moroccan tea. We stopped for coffee. We stopped to take 100s of pictures. We barely slept, due to two loud men who snored like crazy both nights and literally shook the bunk beds. 
Walking across the bridge. When I hear street music I am reminded I live in Europe.
Tons of potted plants, everywhere you looked!
(Pre-existing hole) Making our own fun!
My hair hasn't been this long since high school!
Another view of Córdoba...
A third weekend was spent in Salamanca, in plan "reunion"... I was able to see all of my favorite Salmantinos as well as my good friend, Court-knee Panties. Kortney and I met in Salamanca in 2009 and have been amigas ever since. Strangely enough, it felt like no time had past. (Thank you, Skype.) I also saw my friend Jen from Valladolid, who was my partner in crime last year. We were all able to have a wonderful 24 hours together... and we topped the night off with kebabs, just like we did in 2009.
Kortney, Lizzy, Me - back where we all met...
(Kortney and Lizzy studied in Sala in 2010. - Kortney and I met in 2009.)
Jen and I - Pucelanas taking on Salamander together!
De fiesta en La Chupi. Reunited!!  Kortney, Me, Jorge, Pino, Alvaro, Lizzy
A fourth weekend was spent touring a small town near Navalmoral, Garganta la Olla. We went with good friends of ours and had a really nice afternoon touring the village and having a huge lunch. We walked down some of the smallest "streets" ever, which may or may not be streets. I had to turn sideways once, which means one of two things: 1) street was extremely small or 2) I am gorda
The traditional, fall edition.
Minerva and I against a background of green.
Tiny street, I had to turn sideways a little further down the pathway.
A wonderful day with wonderful people. Rodrigo, Paquita, Minerva and Jose Antonio
Garganta la Olla
Bird's eye view of Garganta.
I'm also super content being in Navalmoral on the weekends though, to go out all night and stop to have churros before calling it a night/morning around 7am. I really wouldn't trade my weekends in Navalmoral, they really make me happy! We have gotten in trouble for coming in at 6am with heels on... and for having a few late night dinner parties... but, in the end, we are good girls and only party when our work is done. My weekend starts on Thursday night; I take full advantage of jueves social by going out with my friends for our usual Thursday dinner.
Twister: fun at every age. (First party that upset our neighbors.)
Walking from bar to bar... what a fun night!!! DOCE!
Halloween in the country with amigos: Me, Mamen, Josemi, Emma, Rachel, Diana, Oscar
Night out with the other guiris: Jaimie, Agniete, Rachel and Me.
One of the more important Thursdays... THANKSGIVING!!! Rachel left me minute by minute instructions on how to prepare the food. She had done all the preparation in the morning and I was to put it in the oven. 8:00 pm, Preheat the oven. Cut the apple and put it on the turkey. 8:15pm, Put turkey in oven, covered, with a little hole in the top of the foil. ETC. Well, around 8:45, I was to put the potatoes to boil - but I decided to dry my hair instead. I blew a fuze. After flipping it back on, I called all my friends to come help. I knew I couldn't boil the potatoes, cook the turkey, heat up the broth for the stuffing, AND dry my hair at the same time... I needed backup. Andres and Diana both came to help, which helped greatly. I was so thankful for their help, on Thanksgiving. But, I think I was most thankful when Rachel finally got home and relieved me of my duties. Finally, the food was ready. Our friends were at our house. And we opened the bottles of wine and ate all the delicious food, WE had prepared for them!

*This was the second time we upset our neighbors and received, yet another, nice phone call from our landlord. I guess our neighbors were upset we didn't invited them.
Fall decorations to really set the mood.
Hard at work in la cocina.
Let there be food. And plenty of it.
Mustache bash while we ate pumpkin pie.
Rachel, Juan, Josemi, Mamen, Oscar, Me (Diana was taking the photo!)
Pin the "no se" on the pumpkin. Rachel was the winner. Mamen lost.
All our spoons were dirty after eating dinner, so we played "pens" :)
This probably upset our neighbors.
I can't say how happy I am to be back here. I am absolutely ecstatic. Everyone has welcomed me back with open arms and I have leaped into them, no holding back. It's nice to feel at home when I'm so far away from home. Home, de nuevo.