Semana Santa Almeria 2014

semana santaalmeriaI am super upset because I forgot to bring my camera charger on this semana santa trip. Things have been crazy between planning this trip, tying ends up at work, helping the visiting parents, applying and interviewing for grad school; it has been a few crazy weeks. But I’ll never regret more not capturing the most epic Easter procession in Almeria on the night of Palm Sunday or Holy Monday. I was left dumbstruck, hypnotized by the power of the music. I couldn’t reach for any form of technology I was motionless. It wasn’t until my suegra hit me that I realized oh my god I haven’t been recording this beautiful moment, and maybe it is better that way but deep down I wish all the world could have experienced this incredibly moving night. Here is a clip after the most emotional cornet solo ended, the solo that left me weak in the knees and the soloist who disappeared in the wink of an eye. If anyone knows the name of this group or can link to an updated clip of this night and the solo, it would make my night.

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February Bulletin Board ’14

mobile 071 This year I wanted to try something new.  Many kids at my school and others make fun of the Asian students calling them names or in some way poking fun at their culture, language and lifestyle.  I hate this.  I love to learn from other cultures and I want the kids to learn to respect where people come from, their culture and learn from it as well.  There are so many aspects of other cultures that these kids have adopted already without paying tribute to the origin.  So, for February I created a Chinese New Year English Board Poster.  In Spain this holiday is celebrated by many because there is a large Chinese immigrant population here.  I know by my apartment there were fireworks going off and in Parla they sent off Chinese lanterns to bring in the New Year.

mobile 073For the year of the horse I created a large horse silhouette, below it I showed the snake slinking away as last year’s news but he left wchinese new yearishing the kids good luck in the New Year.  I also posted interactive flaps the kids could lift to find out what their sign was or learn the history of Chinese New Year.  I hope some kids liked it.  At least, I know they liked the horse stickers because the lil buggers stole them.

Camping on the Vineyard

MV2013 072We try to spend a part of every summer or late September on Martha’s Vineyard.  It has been a summer tradition for Tom’s family since the 60’s and now my new family tradition.  On the off season it is fairly affordable to book a bed at the Youth Hostel on the Island; they are super friendly and you have all the amenities that you will need.  Otherwise the next cheapest option is Martha’s Family Campground (which the price range has risen extensively over the recent years).  It is lush camping really, with indoor/outdoor showers, a necessity shop, toilets not port-o-potties, fire rings with grates, an arcade, electric hook-ups at an extra cost.  They also have some cabins for rent but for an added cost.  And the only vermin to watch out for are the skunks and the late night campfire singers like us who try to push the curfew.  (No really we are respectful and try to end all shenanigans by 10pm).  If you are down for camping then this may be your cheapest bet for housing on the island.

Dentist Check-Up

Whenever I am lucky enough to have medical/dental insurance I take total advantage of it.  The last time i had good dental insurance I practically lived at the dentist.  Through this program as an Auxiliare de Conversacion I am eligible for Mapfree basic family insurance.  It has been good to me so far but I haven’t explored all it offers.

But the other day I went to the dentist and boy did it make me miss the good old days when I could afford a good cleaning in the States. You know that feeling, when your mouth is so clean and your teeth so smooth and every bit of your mouth has been scraped clean and is incredibly fresh.  Well, I was expecting to receive the same cleaning that I’m used to in the States but boy was I surprised.

I went off of many recommendations from an auxiliare’s forum; bad move (turns out most of the recs came from those who were wooed by good looks).

The dentist and his assistant were very nice and he even explained a couple words to me in English when necessary, which helped. Granted i was only there for a cleaning; I received a water pick cleaning and a tiny bit of fluoride on my front teeth, nothing more.  I was hoping I would have had a routine xray before even seeing the dentist, as per usual (in the states) but he didn’t even have xray capabilities in his office.  The whole point of this visit was 1. because I have 1 free cleaning at a mapfre dentist annually and 2. because I know I need my wisdom teeth out and was hoping he could xray and have at them right away.  But now I have to make another appointment with a dental hospital associated with his clinic to have my xrays taken to see if they can operate….I miss my old dentist in Oregon.  Unfortunately, medical/dental work in the states costs an arm and a leg, so I’m willing to jump hoops here to get anything done.  Sadly, I know it won’t be as good as the work I’ve had done in the past.  For example, I have a fake tooth, or rather part of a fake tooth from a bad bicycle accident I had years ago. Anyway, this dentist in Madrid was soo awestruck by it he called his colleagues in to marvel over it during my cleaning, which made me feel like I was in a third world country; I expected more from Madrid.

I guess next time I need to shop around and ask more locals who they go to.  However, I am lowering my expectations as I’ve talked to others since then and most say their dental experience in Madrid as been very ho-hum and along the lines of my visit.

If anyone knows of a great dentist in the Madrid area even if he/she doesn’t speak any English PLEASE comment with details.

3 month mark

I’ve almost reached the 3 month mark since I arrived at this school and I must say it has grown on me.  It always takes  a while to adjust but usually by the third month you know if things are working out.  I have a set schedule now and work mostly with 4th grade then two days of the week I work with 3rd grade teaching English and Science.

I absolutely love teaching 3rd grade! The kids are so adorable and super attentive (for the most part) and interested in the topics, especially during Science class.  They love to participate and show off their knowledge and they try so hard to use the English they know to explain themselves; I’m really proud of them.  It is really cute when they try to teach me Spanish words and have me pronounce the words just like I make them practice with English;  I could go on and on about how much i love 3rd grade, we just have so much fun.

Through this program we really are only “assistants” who help out with the classes, sometimes teach topics/culture, drill pronunciation and prepare the students for the Trinity exam.  But it varies depending on the school you are placed at, some teachers like to use you a bit more than our contract states.  At my school I welcome the opportunity to teach the classes and I’m lucky enough to have some great teachers to watch and learn from.

Recently, one of our teachers was absent for surgery and we weren’t positive when she would be back so another assistant and I covered her classes until they could find a replacement or until she returned.  It was the best thing that could have happened for me because I was still feeling awkard in my position and this gave me the opportunity to really get to know the students and receive some aknowldgement and respect from my peers and the students.   The classes went smoothly and I even had a chance to teach 5th grade which was a new level for me.   I’m glad I jumped on the opportunity to teach these classes because it really solidified my decision that teaching primary is what I want to be doing.

Bus Pass

This is the bus pass that you can buy at many farmacias and other places that have a sign outside with a picture of this card and the words “Tarjeta Prepago”.  You buy the card for $1.70 and then fill it up with however much you want.  One bus ride costs 25 cents so if you aren’t taking it every day then $5 will take you far.  When you run out of money on the card then you just go into any place with the sign and refill it.

There are other stores with signs outside that say “Prepago” and have pictures of cards on them but these places may just sell the parking meter ticket that you need to fill out and put on your car if you park in certain areas of the city.  If you don’t do this then you may end up with a giant ugly sticker stuck to your car window which is actually your traffic ticket.