As I mentioned in last week’s post, the staff and students have been on strike for two days this week. Since nobody knew how many students or, indeed, teachers would turn up, I had to prepare very flexible classes suitable for large or small groups. I’m not convinced that many of the younger children understood why they were striking but wasn’t surprised that very few of them turned up; what school children would pass up the chance of a day off!? As it was, my largest class was of one student and I felt too guilty making her do a class while her friends were sleeping/watching telly, so instead we played Guess Who? and Articulate for an hour! It was fun but frustrating to have wasted hours planning, however this was mitigated by being bought coffee and lunch and getting to play with the school’s flash new camera (d’you see what I did there…). Here’s a fairly awful picture of me but I like it because it’s with one of my favourite teachers.
Caught mid-laugh… If I die/get abducted/ get arrested, please don’t let the media use this!
For a while now, a colleague has been calling me pionera, which means pioneer. I thought this was a bit strange but decided it must just be a friendly term of endearment, just as we might use “mate” or “pal.” However, I noticed this term seems to be reserved strictly for me and started to worry I was the butt of an in-joke, so this week I finally got round to asking what it means. It turns out that they have noticed that some of the female pupils have started wearing the front of their hair up in two clips just as I do, to keep my hair out of my face. Pionera is a shortened version of pionera de moda, which means trendsetter! Now it’s been pointed out, I can’t believe I never noticed it before. It’s both very flattering and very funny – despite the fact that none of the other teachers do, I feel the need to dress fairly conservatively for work so I’m shocked anyone would consider me a style icon!
So I’m picking up slang and my intercambio partner thinks I’m starting to speak more fluently, making me feel like my Spanish really is improving… until I make a huge faux-pas at the post office. For some reason, I convinced myself that the word for stamp was franco, but this is actually the frank… and also the name of Spain’s most recent dictator. You can imagine the look on the post woman’s face as I repeated insistently, “Quiero un franco/ I desire Franco!”
Giving myself a (clearly much-needed) break from the español, this weekend I headed up to the neighbouring Basque Country, where they speak vasco/ Basque, a language that sounds more eastern-European than romantic. Along with some other auxiliares, I visited a beautiful 15th Century town called Laguardia. It’s the sort of town I imagined I might be appointed to when I applied to work in northern Spain, which might be why Logroño has been a bit of a disappointment!
It would have been rude to go to Laguardia without paying one of its most famous bodegas a visit! We visited Ysius, a very recently built wine cellar. It’s architecture is in stark contrast with the rest of the town, but I think it’s beautiful.
With views like this, the walk to the bodega was in competition with the tour and tasting for being the best part of the afternoon! It was really interesting to see how the wine was made… maybe I’ll appreciate my drinks more now I know the long process of making it! I’ve never toured a vineyard before, however, and being that it was so modern, it maybe wasn’t the best one to start with. Other than the picking, almost all of the other processes were done with machines, and the lady kept vaguely comparing their functions with “traditional” ones, which most people knew about but I didn’t!
Wine, glorious wine!
After the tour, we were given two enormous glasses of wine and a lesson in how to taste them. As someone who could only make distinctions like sweet red and dry white before, I learned a lot from it! Though I can’t promise not just to knock it back in future…