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Posts Tagged ‘spain’

Day 149: Madrid

September 10th, 2011 2 comments

I have to say that I can sense that there is more to Madrid than meets the eye but that you need some time to find it and I couldn’t really do that unguided in the three days that I was there. Although I couldn’t meet with any local couchsurfers or friends, I did make the acquaintance of some fellow traveling couchsurfers and we looked at some of the typical Madrid sites. The most beautiful thing for me was the Catedral de la Almudena which had recently been remodeled to meld modern art into the gothic architecture.

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Day 148: Sunshade, moonshadow

September 9th, 2011 6 comments

It’s a strange feeling to be disconnected. Not alone, but just disassociated. Like being Jupiter’s outermost moon, Megaclite, following the great planet about on its journey around the sun but at a different perspective from any other satellite. it’s how I feel now as I sit in a bus of Spaniards and Anglos (English-speakers), all of whom I’ve spent the last six days with in an intensive English-speaking tutoring program for the Spaniards. Each Anglo, was paired up with a Spaniard for almost every hour of the day from 9:00am to 9:00pm and we had to converse with them only in English and help them improve their English speaking fluency and confidence. The Spaniards (or the companies for which they work) pay for the program and the Anglos volunteer their time in exchange for a place to stay in a beautiful (remote) part of Spain and plenty of food and cheap wine. After six days of intense conversations, one-on-one and in groups, about everything possible from family lives to philosophy, politics, religion, and music, it is an odd feeling to be disconnected. The people on the bus are on their phones, talking to each other and making plans for what they’re going to do next week, catching up on email, watching downloaded TV series they’ve missed on their laptops, or planning the next part of their holiday. It appears everyone has something to go back to.

I’m on the bus back from the program. It seems that many people put their lives on hold for this program in the middle of a valley (Valdelavilla) in central Spain and now that they were heading back to their normal lives, it was time to reconnect. Valdelavilla was in a valley with no cell phone reception, one public computer, very slow wifi, and a landline at the front desk that cost about 40 cents/minute. Valdelavilla used to be a small Spanish village that was eventually abandoned and then bought by a hospitality company that now uses it as a type of resort for this English-speaking program and a few private events like weddings and parties. No one lives in this village except for the resort guests. At night, it is just the guests and the wild beasts in the surrounding woods (deer, wild boar, foxes). It made for a very intense program with a small group of about 30 people. When it was over, people left the valley with a mixture of relief and melancholy. The Spaniards were relieved that they could speak and communicate uninhibited in their mother tongue, and everyone with a little melancholy at losing the camaraderie developed over the last few days.

In addition to the fascinating people I got to know at the program, I learned a lot in this last week. I learned new English phrases that I’d never heard before like “hot mess”. What is the difference between shade and shadow? I participated in a Quemada, a Galician tradition to ward off witches.

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I picked up a slight Liverpudlian accent (gone by now). I learned some new jokes from a lovely Australian lady.

Did you hear the one about the centipede?

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How about the lizard?

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I heard (but could not repeat) a Yorkshire ditty.

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And a great game to play when drunk – do you coffeepot when…

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Zaragoza

September 8th, 2011 Comments off

Luis was one of the Spaniards on the English-speaking program in Valdelavilla. Here he is speaking (in English) about his hometown of Zaragoza, Spain:

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Valladolid

September 8th, 2011 Comments off

Another Spaniard that I met at the week-long English tutoring program in Spain, this is Frank speaking about his hometown of Valladolid, Spain:

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Toledo

September 8th, 2011 Comments off

Danny, on his hometown of Toledo, Spain:

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Murcia

September 8th, 2011 Comments off

Alex on his hometown Murcia, a small town in eastern Spain:

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Cadiz

September 8th, 2011 Comments off

Esther on her hometown in the south of Spain, Cadiz:

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