When you begin to thank God for something and you realize you have yourself to thank as well, well that is something to be proud of.
I am so thankful to be given this opportunity for such monumental growth and discovery, and I thank myself for taking it.
Loli and her husband Antonio live across the street from me and when Rebecca and I stand at our balcony, watching the people come and go below us, the older Spanish couple call out, “Hola” and we wave back. My apartment here in Baza is unbelievable in the fact that it is furnished, beautifully decorated, and amazingly cheap in rent.
From buying a cell phone to buying groceries, and spending time with my Irish roommate Rebecca and her extremely giving mother, Margaret, I am reminded that people are the same all over the world. In the U.S. I forget to remember that people in Europe travel, use cell phones, read novels and take Christmas vacations just as we do. I was under some arrogant impression that the U.S. was king, and that Europe, Asia, and South America merely copied everything we did. It is nice to be in a place where I am reminded that humans all over the world really just go about their days, getting up for work, drinking café, spending time with friends, and loving their families.
It has been one week since I left the States and most of my time has been spent settling in. I ate one night at a Chinese restaurant—which was entertainingly odd to see Chinese women speaking quick, accented Spanish. The Spanish do not believe much in the way of vegetables, sticking to mostly eggs, meat, and cheese. For me this will be a challenge. It has been nice to have Rebecca’s mother here, although she speaks no Spanish, she has done all the mothering—from helping us pick out sheets for our beds, to buying our first month’s supply of groceries. She is a petite woman with quaint pearl earrings, and says things such as “here ya fellas” and “Oh I wouldn’t...not in a month of Sundays mind you”.
From Hello to Hola
My Spanish speaking skills have come back more quickly than I imagined, with words like huelga (strike) and mosca (fly) coming out of my mouth before my mind has time to muddle them over. The accent here is not too thick and I was lucky enough to make a friend on the bus down from Madrid and spend four hours speaking of wine, Franco, bullfights, films, and Disneyland. Citizens of Baza are excited to use their English with me, although it doesn’t go much past “Yes!” , “Go!” , “Hello.”
My coordinator, Nati, the woman in charge of the Bilingual Education Program at I.E.S. El Fuerte (where I begin teaching next week), has exceptional English and I enjoy listening to her speak in her formal British accent, selecting each word carefully before using it. Nati is a brilliant woman, who just accepted her PhD on Monday for her studies in South African literature. Nati calls me daily to make sure I am doing okay, adjusting to the changes in home and in culture. She is warm, welcoming and accommodating. Just as I did with my family in Chile, I managed to be connected with the best of the best in Andalucia.
This weekend I will head to Granada, the bigger city and I'll begin classes on Monday. My school is clean and nice, not to mention very advanced—each student is given a laptop to take home. I will assisting the P.E. teacher, the math teacher, and the Geography teacher instruct in English and I will be helping Nati develop her Bilingual Education program at IES El Fuerte. You can never know for sure, but something tells me I am going to love being back in the classroom.
Thank you for reading.