Posted by: Cat of Sunshine and Siestas | July 7, 2009

Summer Camp, part 2

We´ve just finished our second day of teaching. MAAAAAN i am wiped! Being an auxiliar really didn´t prepare me well for coming to a camp and teaching four straight hours, seeing as I have to plan everything (worksheets and listenings and materials provided) and think about routines and classroom management. I have a group of 15 14 year olds (2º ESO) who are, for the most part, well-behaved, minus the last hour of the day where they revert back to Spanish and get lazy and restless.

On Saturday, we spent the day level testing, correcting exams and getting familiar with the cirriculum and each other. I´ve got the fluency group, so we´re doing super fun grammar like passive sentences, conditionals and the like. The days are broken down between grammar, vocab (I get to teach men´s short haircuts tomorrow!), listening, oral skills, projects, videos and drama, so we´re kept busy. I have been lesson planning like a maniac trying to find something that the kids will enjoy doing at such a difficult age group. Everyone has been more than willing to share ideas and resources, and there´s even another guy here from Sevilla who I met thru the auxiliar program. That night after dinner, we all went down to the city of A Coruña, which is beautiful, to have a few beers in an enormous plaza. The five of us have become a little group and went out later that night after dinner. Everything in A Coruña is a lot cheaper, so we were drinking beers and small jugs of wine for cheap at seedy little bars. From there, we hiked through the old town to a bar called Mardi Gras that played oldies and got craaaaazy. Let´s just say stir crazy teachers drinking can lead to some good stories the next day around the lunch table!

The camp seems to be well organized. Claire, the director, has been running this camp for the last several years, and many people have worked under her. I feel all official running around in the basement grabbing supplies and signing out boomboxes. After we teach, we have a meeting to troubleshoot and go over any announcements, then we have lunch with the kids. The food is bland and repeats a lot, but today I got broccoli with a little flavor, some pork and FABADA!!! I almost passed out, I was so happy! I´ve got some snacks in my room in case I get hungry, though, and tonight we´re going to go down to the city and have something. They run a complimentary bus from the camp down along a route that runs by the city center and the beaches, so it´s easy to get out of the camp. And since my computer is on its last legs, I appreciate that!

It´s all been distracting me from the big breakup. Kike and I are no longer dating, but I won´t get into it here. Just a lot of pent up feelings and worries about the future ultimately led to me iitiating it, and it´s ended up pretty peacfully. I´m not 100% sure what I´ll do next year, but I´m leaning towards staying in Sevilla. I paid 31€ for my residency card to get renewed..how can I not stay?

Posted by: Cat of Sunshine and Siestas | July 3, 2009

Summer Camp

This post may be a little preliminary, seeing as I don´t officially start teaching until Monday, but I´m preoccupied with a few things and need to just disconnect from my brain a bit.

Today has been awful. I had to wake up at 4:45 to catch a 7am flight to A Coruña after not sleeping much the past few days. When I arrived to the airport, I was informed by the lady at the check-in counter that the information listed on my printed boarding pass regarding luggage was erroneous – I had a limit of 23 kilos (about 50lbs) between both bags, not 23 in each. I was at 39 kilos, so I had to chuck a whole ton of stuff away. Out went some souvenirs (paper stuff, really), two pairs of shoes, some old pictures, a book, half of my markers, two sweaters that I likely won´t wear and half of my shampoo and conditioner. So sad, but the lady was impressed with my esfuerzo and ignored that I only had 25 kilos, so I didn´t have to pay 180€ for the extra weight. To think if I were going home, I wouldn´t even need most of it because it´s all teaching crap!!

I got on the flight and to the site without a problem. 75 degrees was a welcome change from 110 in Sevilla, and I still marvel at the fact that grass exists in some places in Spain. There was another girl there, so we had breakfast together and went to the city center to get snacks for our rooms. We´re staying in a residence high in the hills over the bay in doubles. It´s just like being back in Burge, but with a burner and a bathroom. The bus with most of the others didn´t arrive until 6pm, so it wasn´t until then that I met other people and my roommate for the next three weeks, Jessica. We had a general meeting in which we went over the rules and the campgrounds, found our classrooms and prepared for the exam tomorrow. Our director seems really great, and most people have worked under her before, so it makes me feel better knowing that the camp here runs smoothly and a lot of people return to work again. Tomorrow we do the placement exam and start planning classes with the othe teachers assigned to our level. I think it will all work out fine, even with our makeshift classrooms and little chulos running around – I think there´s like 600 kids!!!

Matt Khynn – Pictures of Croatia as soon as my computer connects to the internet, promise!

Posted by: Cat of Sunshine and Siestas | June 25, 2009

A Coruna Bound

It’s here – my last sweaty week in Sevilla. The lazy summer groove has officially given away to scramble and panic: Packing and moving my things into Sanne’s room, a whirlwind of despedidas (goodbyes) and trying to spend as much time with Kike as I can before he goes pirate hunting again. Coupled with the heat and late nights, it’s been pretty much impossible to accomplish anything, most specifically my lesson planning for camp!

Next Thursday or Friday (still unclear when and HOW I’m getting to A Coruna), I’ll be starting my job at Forenex Summer English camps. I was placed with 15 year olds. NIGHTMARE. These kids, according to the website with their levels, are aiming for fluency, meaning I have to teach the things I dread most: Relative clauses, reported speech, conditionals. VOMIT. The coursework is more or less laid out for us, but it’s up to us to provide additional materials, tools, activities, etc. I’m stressed out just thinking about it, and I haven’t even started packing my school supplies away. I’m hesitant to do too much planning without knowing the kids and their likes and dislikes, but I suppose the smaller group size and strict cirriculum will be helpful.

One thing that was a little alarming was the one page about how the first day of class should be run, testing levels and doing a grammar review, while there were close to five about discipline. Whyyyy did I say I didn’t want to teach little kids?!
The bad news from all of this is that a) I’m home later than I would have been (today, June 25th), and that b) Kike is no longer taking me up because I’ll be working a lot more than I was led on to believe. I asked about weekends. I was told, until 12pm saturday teaching, then meeting, then you’re free until sunday at 2am when we have to make sure you’re accounted for. The first weekend is full of meetings, placements tests, etc., so Kike has decided to not drive all that way to not see me and just use his airline miles to buy me a one-way ticket. I can’t say I blame him. I feel horrible that he had to fanagle his way out of two abroad missions to keep his promise to take me, meaning he has less flight time before Somalia and will likely have to do similar missions later.
So, I’m off to discipline little kids and eat seafood and Tarta de Santiago!
Posted by: Cat of Sunshine and Siestas | June 15, 2009

No Hay Nada Como las Noches de Verano


School’s been let out for summer (for language assistants, anyway), providing me with four blissful and sweltering months all to myself. In my break between Olivares and A Coruna, I’ve made the most of long siestas during the unbearably hot afternoons, a few trips to the beach, a five-day trek to Croatia’s Dalmatian coast and back, and plenty of Cruzcampos and caracoles (snails).

The biggest downside is that all of my Erasmus friends/Auxiliar friends are getting ready to leave, then all of my Spanish friends are stuck studying for their exams until the end of the month. All of my teacher friends are busy grading exams and conserving what little energy they have for the last two weeks of the school year. While I can’t complain too much about my lazy summer, with another trip left to Madrid and Segovia this weekend for a wedding, I’m worried I’ll start getting bored soon! That, and that Ill melt. You know the weather is sweltering when people are wearing flip flops (a HUGE faux pas) and walking single-file down a wide sidewalk in the only shade a building can provide.

More about Croatia when I have a moment! And I’ll be back in Chicago on Sunday, July 26th. Besos!

Posted by: Cat of Sunshine and Siestas | May 26, 2009

La Estrellita

There’s a cutre little old man bar on the corner of San Jacinto and Plaza de Miguel Porres in Triana. Named for a virgen (clearly), it’s one of those bright, napkin-covered bars that old men stand at while drinking their coffee and chowing down a tostada con jamon.

Today, my class with Javi got cancelled because he STILL has a hangover from Sevilla Futbol Club’s most recent win, so I wedged myself in between two old dudes and ordered a media con tomate from the owner, a guy in his mid-40s. I got knocked in the side several times by the teetering old men who were having their morning hierbabuena, despite a sign over the alcholo shelf reading NO SE SIRVE ALCOHOL por la manana .

My toast was a little bit burnt and had way too much olive oil, but I was content to listen to a man who was three beers in (this was 11 a.m., mind you) before I had finished half the toast and was arguing with the other bartenders about the lastest fracaso in Sevilla – whether or not Real Betis Balompie would descend to the second tier of the national soccer league. A Betico against a bar full of Sevillistas, he soon changed the subject to El Rocio, an annual pilgrammage to a church in the middle of a national park. People (most of my student included) rent or own a small home on wheels and walk from their villages to see the likeness of the Virgin of the Dew.

He said: “Semana Santa. Feria. El Rocio. Feria de Sanlucar. Las cojo todas!!”

I replied: “Lo haces bien.”

Posted by: Cat of Sunshine and Siestas | May 17, 2009

Wedding Crashers

After an exhausting day in the teeny town of Helicheville, accompanied by my students and a few nativos, I spent Saturday afternoon, evening and early morning at a wedding, the first of three for the season.

On any given Saturday in Spain, you’ll run into at least one wedding, if not several. Sevillian weddings, in particular, are a bit like the circus. They stop traffic with their outrageous fashions, high-end catering and the millions of extras that truly go over the top.

Manolo, a friend of Kike’s from the academy, and Tamara got married in a beautiful chapel called Las Adoratrices here in Sevilla. And, seeing as most Spaniards are Catholic, we had a longgg mass to sit through. You could tell people got bored halfway through Manolo’s father’s speech before the mass even got started. People chatted on their cell phones and others left to go smoke. Kike made a mockery of the institution of marriage, and I was sitting so far back I couldn’t even get a good look at the couple actually getting married.

The mass continues much like the one you attend Sunday. A lot of talking and me starting to pay more attention to the people around me in their parade of colors and the crazy things they stick in their hair. Spanish women dress up like they’re going to the prom with fancy hair-dos, satin dresses of every color, gaudy jewelry and those ridiculous birds nests in their hair. I think the only woman who pulled it off successfully was the mother of the groom. Anyway, I felt that my jewelry and simple dress made me stick out even more than I already do, what with my pale skin and freckles and nose that isn’t constantly upturned like a Sevillana’s.

After the rice and flower petal throwing, the couple took their pictures and I felt kind of abandoned while Kike greeted everyone from the academy. It’s evident that Spanish people have weddings in place of high school reunions. The couple then got into a vintage car instead of a horse carriage, and only because we had to traveled 10 miles outside of town to the reception.

This was all different from Jose’s wedding last year on Gran Canaria. He and his wife are both Catalan, from Barcelona, and the wedding was much more simplistic – no mass, no classic car and no fancy hats. He also invited a small number of people, so I didn’t feel so lost in a sea of people.

When we arrived at Hacienda la Pintada, I was overwhelmed by how andalu everything was – a vast courtyard in the middle of olive groves, a woman in Jerez-style dress serving Manzanilla sherry from a oak cask, waiters coming around with trays full of pates and caviars and croquetas. And clearly everyone was drinking. As soon as the bride and groom showed up, fireworks were shot over the courtyard and everyone was ushered into the dining hall, accented in corals and celestes and tans.

We sat at a table with three other couples and a suelto – Kike’s friend Fran whose fiance couldn’t come. Once again, we were the only couple not engaged or already married. But I didn’t care about this, just the seafood in front of me – gambas blancas, tiger shrimp, crab, clams, and all kinds of other stuff I can name in Spanish but not English. Then there was more garlic shrimp, grilled shrimp, more stuff that I can’t name. In between courses we had a fantastic apple sorbet and then came the fancy hamburger with potatos, vegetables and baby lima beans. Ufff me harte de comer, de verdad. I tried my best to save room for the desert buffet, but I just couldn’t.

By this time it was already 1:30 a.m. and the wedding started at 6pm. We went to the dance floor and the bride and groom did their normal first dance and the DJ totally goofed on English pronunciation while people were more entertained by their cubatas, but, being a Spanish wedding, it was no sooner that we’d taken our first sips that a man with a guitar and another with a cajon broke into Sevillanas. Kike wasn’t drunk enough to dance, so I grabbed a Madrileno who had about as much of a clue as I did about Sevillanas. He was a good sport and I marveled everyone (hardly) with my arte in dancing.

Despite sore feet and fighting off extreme exhaustion, I lasted longer than Kike. While I can’t say it was the most exciting wedding I’ve ever been to because I didn’t know anyone, I had a good time with my man and his friends, and I will finally know someone whose wedding I’m going to later this summer!

Que vivan los novios!!

Posted by: Cat of Sunshine and Siestas | May 10, 2009

Mas Sonrisa, Menos Prisa


One of my bilingual students, Irene, asked me a question last Thursday in art class: “Will you stay here next year with us? Please?”

I had to explain to her the complicated process of retuning again for a third year. If you remember, the Junta de Andalucia, my employer, is reducing the number of assistants in each center and giving preference to new applicants, making my future at IES Heliche uncertain.

Her reaction? “Well, if we can’t have you back, I hope they don’t send someone boring. You’re really funny, Cat.” AWWW. I give you a sobresaliente.

So, after a quick nervous breakdown, I received an email from the Junta de Andalucia telling me my application to complete a third year at the high school had been accepted and my documents would be at my school shortly. HUGE sigh of relief! I spent Thursday afternoon at my school, eating lunch with my coworkers and attending a risoterapia, or laugh therapy I guess, workshop. Despite all of the problems in the administration at my school, I think my coworkers have been some of the most welcoming people in Spain. Neme offered me winter coats last year while I was waiting on one! I feel like one of the gang now, as I’ve been a member of the faculty for longer than some of the other teachers. And I get the benefits of no meetings and free fridays!

On Friday evening, I took four other Americans to my pueblito by bus to the Mercado Barroco, a yearly market set in the Barroque times. My town’s fame (whcih doesn’t surprise me in the least!) comes from a man famous for his cruelty and riches, Don Gaspar de Guzman y Pimentel. More famously, el Conde Duque de Olivares.

This man is celebrated in my little town of 7,000 – his painting adorns all of the nearby businesses, some of which bear his name, his palace is the top touristic spot in the town. Serving under Felipe IV, he inherited titles and created his own and wiggled his way to the King’s right hand. He became the first to be both a count and a duke, so many still refer to him as the “Conde-duque” the spanish words for both. Eventually he became royalty in becoming a minister and the head of Spain’s foreign policy, though his life at the helm was tainted with a lot of losses abroad – Spain’s renewed interest in conquering the Netherlands, entering war with northern Italy, and the failure to create a peninsular state. All these contributed greatly to the decline of Spain after its golden age. If it were not for his death of natural causes, he would have likely stood trial for treaty under the Inquisition.

Anyway, Olivares (the town, not the disgraced leader) holds a weekend-long barroque fair each year next to the Conde-Duque’s palace (know home to the town hall, a pena betica and a socio’s club) to honor him and the city’s history. The plaza is filled with brightly colored flags and booths selling everything from pancakes to mixed drinks. Anyone working in a stand was dressed in period gear, too! I was attacked every three seconds by another student or a creepy old dude working in a puesta. I think five young americans have probably never been all togther at the same time in Olivares before.

On all of the roads that fanned out of the main square, there were kiosks selling jewelry, velvety turron, Portuguese liquors and all kinds of other crap. Cubatas in hand, we stop only when free samples were offered or for me to snap another picture of my kids in costume. Lindsay have Americans a bad name in the church, Kelly got bored after about .2 seconds (the time it took to be cat called upon entering the fair) and we ate nachos with my 1ESO kids at Tabby, which was renamed Posada de los Gatos. A few hours later, and several alcoholic drinks later, we caught the last bus back to Sevilla and serenaded the bus driver, who I ALWAYS see when I leave early on Thursdays, with Barbie Girl. I could not make this up.

I love my kids, I really do. Even though they’re awful students, every single one of them sought me out and the reaction I got from all of my friends was, “Your town and your kids are so great.” They are, anyway, until you give them a quiz.

The Main Square decorated for El Barroco
Some of my kiddies all decked out
I dragged Lindsay, Bri, Kelly and Jenna to Otown, but we had fun!
Oh, then I went to Sanlucar la Barrameda for a day for the beach. Que vida la mia!
Posted by: Cat of Sunshine and Siestas | May 7, 2009

Fin del Curso

YA?!

All of the sudden, I’m tearing another page off the calendar in my room (and, yes, it’s a really Spanish one with the Virgin de la Esperanza that I got at Las Golondrinas and includes the names of the saint days. TOMA. I am practically half Spanish.)

I can’t believe it’s May already. Last year I was doing a lot more traveling, going out till all hours of the morning, and the time passed quickly. Clearly. But this year, I don’t know how the time has flown by . I consider myself fortunate enough to be here in Spain for three more months, but the uncertainty of next year is giving me that hurried feeling I get when things wind down.

There’s a saying in Spain: “Las cosas del palacio van despacio” which pretty much means that beauracracy really slows things down here. I know this all too well, as do Spaniards, and the province of Sevilla has a bad reputation for tardaring even mas. I’m still waiting to hear whether or not I get a grant to teach again, then apparently I have to wait for a school assignment. Fine, but my documents expire in mid-June, and they need to be renewed before I leave the country or else I need to get a new visa in Chicago this summer, which pretty much guarantees I can’t start the school year on time in October. Vaya tela.

Today I got that feeling that things are quickly coming to an end. I stayed late at school this afternoon to go to Convivencia, which is pretty much like team-building and learning how to be a good citizen. We started with a two-hour lunch of tortilla, chachinas, fresones, queso fresco, ensaladillas and other goodies. I realized how much I would miss not working at Heliche next year – surely no one would welcome me to school every morning by calling me a bug like Emilio does (or a varitation of “Hola, mediobicho/gato/saborilla!”).

It’s funny – I’m not a real teacher, but I have my own mailbox and pin to the copy machine. I’ve been at the school now two school years, which is more than a significant number of my compis. I know high schools change drastically every year, but I feel much more a part of that school than ever. I write the consejeria funny notes when I send kids down for chalk, Felisabel tailored my flamenco dress, and I eat lunch at Nieves’s house every so often. Sure, I’d miss my students, but I would really extranar my coworkers and their dirty jokes.

One of my bilingual students, Irene, asked me today in art class if I would be sticking around next year. I said most likely, and that I wanted to. She said, “I hope so. We’d probably get someone who isn’t as funny and nice as you.”

Ojala.

Posted by: Cat of Sunshine and Siestas | May 3, 2009

La Feria en Crisis

I recently took one of those facebook quizzes because it honestly called my attention (there goes my English getting more Spanish!) The result was feriante - someone who loves the April Fair, six straight days of dancing and drinking. I like drinking and dancing is something that happens when I drink too much, so this holiday was clearly invented for my own enjoyment.

The fair origins go back centuries, but in Andalucia the first was in a town just east of Sevilla called Mairena del Alcor. La de Sevilla started in a park with a few marquees, known as casetas, and has since grown to include over 1000 of them in a new location south of my neighborhood. The casetas are owned by businesses or families, whom are known as socios, and every year they must pay hundreds, if not thousands, to maintain their caseta.

Feria begins every year with a pecaito frito, a dinner for the socios. At midnight, the main gate to the fairgrounds is lit up in a ceremony called the alumbrado. It’s wonderful to watch the different parts of the fairgrounds light up, with people botelloning underneath. Then the party starts – flamenco music begins to drift out from the casetas and people begin to dance in the street. Most of the casetas are private, but there are about 50 public ones for political parties, neighborhoods, etc. We spent most of the time in public casetas that night, drinking rebujito (a half liter of sherry mixed with 7up) and dancing sevillanas, a four part dance.

The following day was the celebration of Sevilla’s patron saint, San Fernando. The Real de la Feria was hasta las trancas with people, many of them dressed in typical flamenco gowns or riding suits. Horse carriages and horses march in and out of the portada and to the bull ring, where there’s a corrida daily. I went with Kelly to a friend of Kike’s from his village, where we danced Sevillanas and drank rebujito. I right away felt welcome by Fabian, Carlos and Julian. We did our normal caseta-hopping, going to see Melissa’s friend, Carlos, Susana and Alfonso, Jessica’s boyfriend. Dressed up and dripping Spanish from my tongue, I danced and drank and had a great time.


And it showed the next day in my face. Vaya cara de sueno! I spent the whole day craving a nap, but decided instead to follow some of my coworkers to the fairgrounds. After a quick beer at Serafin’s, we went to the portada by day – white with yellow accents and looking like the front of a Feria tent. Against the blue sky, it was beautiful, and it was fun going to the fair with first-timers like Raul and Lourdes. After a quick walk around, we went to one of the nicest casetas I’ve ever been in – it looked like a home with its mirrors and fancy dining room flanked with bull heads. We ate croquetas, tortillas, puntas de solomillo and other Andalusian foods for less than six euros a head. In this caseta, there was a raised dancefloor and there was a little girl not older than seven in a short pink traje who danced better than all of the women aorund her.

We went to Calle del Infierno, a huge amusement park where gypsies sell carnations and toys, kids play drop the crane for prizes and two gigantic ferris wheels spin on either end. We walked through the stalls and hamburger stands, marveling at girls in trajes riding on the rollercoasters without managing to mess up their hair (LACA’d up!).

Although I didn’t notice it so much until the weekend, it was clear that the financial meltdown affected the fair – there was a sign in most casetas called “A Feria Goer’s Manual Against the Crisis” with a guide to saving money (I didn’t bring my horse this year because they wouldn’t allow it on the metro, etc.) On Saturday especially, the fairgrounds were empty and the casetas half full. It’s odd to think about how the crisis has affected everything here, and I experience it every single day. I’m really happy to have a job because of it!

My companeros de trabajo – Serafin, Manuel, Lourdes, Raul and I at C/ del Infierno

I am sick of writing about this because I’m still so tired from Feria and this weekend, so I will just include some more pictures. I pretty much spent the week running in and out of casetas, drinking rebujito but being more careful this year to stay sober and alternate with beer or pop, dancing sevillanas (I even succeeded in getting Kike to dance, though I’m sure he did only because he was drunk) and hosting Jeremy and Isabel, two friends who teach in Madrid, for the weekend. I really enjoyed myself, and I think now I’m able to stand on my own two feet here. I impressed people with my musing of saying I was from Chicago de la Frontera (a take on a town called Chiclana de la Frontera), firing off Spanish puns and dancing with mucho arte. Even though Kike was only down for a few days,I had no problems entertaining my roommates and coworkers and friends.

Que viva la Feria!! I’m already thinking of the color complementos I want for next year!

Tocando el cajon y cantando sevillanas en la caseta de Alfonso
Kike’s brother, Alvaro, and I, along with Victor’s head. I love Victor. He’s from Vdoid.
Twilight (crepusculo, thanks to the book) on C/ Pasqual Marquez
My roommate, Melissa, and I como gitanas
In one of the more memorable episodes of Feria, I stepped on a toothpick and it started bleeding, so a nice waiter patched me up with a bandaid and some food. Buena gente.
Me, Kelly and Sara at Sara’s boyfriend’s work’s caseta (and this is an easy relation!)
HORSIES all over the place (followed by a street sweeper)

Kelly and me

vaya pareja mas guapa!
Posted by: Cat of Sunshine and Siestas | April 27, 2009

Ya llega el verano (y la feria…ole!)

After a few weeks of scrambling to try and find summer plans, I have the month of July figured out. I fell in love with northwest Spain after spending a weekend there last May. It’s beautiful, green and not an infierno like Sevilla is during the summer months. I applied to a job there teaching English at a summer camp, had an interview last week, and have since accepted a job there teaching 10-16 year olds (I’ll find out in a month once registration closes).

I’ll work in La Coruna, a town of about 250,000 on the Cantabrian Sea. Don’t expect me to come home with a tan – it’s a region known for rain and fog. I’ve already given thought to the books I want to read and the gym I want to join! I’ll teach 4 to 4.5 hours a day, then have a teacher’s meeting, lunch and the entire afternoon to myself. I’ll also be paid room, board, transportation and health insurance, plus 1,100E for just three weeks, July 3-24.

As for June, I’m scot-free. No work, probably just lessons, laying by the river, Cruzcampo at night and some light traveling. Now that I have July worked out, I can start to hammer all of that down. Nothing huge, but maybe renting a car and driving around Andalucia, visiting Melissa in La Linea and visiting Colleen in Murcia. There’s a ton of great flight deals, too. I thought about Valencia – Murcia – Sevilla. And Kike will still be in Madrid, so I can go there, too.

Speaking of which, I went up last weekend to see him. Madrid overwhelms me with its size and the people. We stayed near the center the first night and kept losing each other in the crowd! The rest of the weekend was really tranquilo – drinking beer in the sun and visiting his family. His cousin, Bea, just had a baby girl, so we spent time at the hospital with her and his mom and brothers. I feel fortunate to have a great boyriend with a great family. His mom is wonderfully inviting and always includes me like I were her own daughter. My friend Isabel made the comment to me this weekend that I seem to fit in naturally, despite my accent and pale skin. Yaay, ue contento mi corazon!

Today starts the Feria de Abril, a week long celebration of all things andalu – sherry wine, flamenco and horses. Ole!

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