Happy last day of February, and happy birthday to all you leap year babies out there! Can you believe this month is almost over? Well, it just means we’re that much closer to Spring. Hooray!
I’ve got a long update today, but luckily there are plenty of humorous stories sprinkled in here and there, so hopefully they will get you through. Well, here goes nothing.
A couple weeks ago, we celebrated our 100th day of school with Pajama Day! The kids (and teachers) were so excited. Everyone wore pajamas (there was quite an assortment), and in many classes, we got to read books and do some fun activities. I even got to share my favorite children’s book, Dragons Love Tacos with my kiddos and they loved it. I was also surprised that many of my kids had never tried tacos before (blasphemy!), but we got to learn some new English words, like spicy and mild. It was a lot of fun, but of course, very exhausting as all special days at school are.😵
Vacation to Gran Canaria
Thank goodness for long weekends, because we needed one after Pajama Day. So, Selena and I headed off to the Canary Islands for some relaxation! Everything went without a hitch…until we arrived. After landing at the airport, we had to take a bus to get to our hostel. Well not being familiar with the public transportation system there, you can imagine there would be some snafus. So we’re sitting in the bus, right? We’re both on our phones trying to figure out we needed to go next, when suddenly we looked up and saw that there was nobody left on the bus. So we laughed at ourselves for being so unobservant and then grabbed our things to get off…only to realize the driver was also gone and had locked us on the bus. 😅 Crap. There were people outside laughing at us until finally the bus driver came back to let us off. Then we had to sprint over to the next bus we had to catch. What a great first impression we made in Gran Canaria.
But at least the island made a good first impression on us, because the weather was beautiful. It was sunny and in the 70s, so we took advantage of that and hit the beach right away. It felt amazing to lay out in the sun and feel the sand between our toes and the waves crashing over our feet, even though it was super cold. The highlight was the thong-clad self proclaimed “Professional Beach Boy,” aka an older man that was a little too friendly and decided to try to make conversation with us even though we were clearly wanting to be left in peace. Oh well. The things you see on the beach. And of course, even after applying sunscreen multiple times, I still got burnt 😒.
After that, we went back to our hippy dippy hostel to check in. We were sharing a room with these 2 guys, but we didn’t introduce ourselves right away because it sounded like they were speaking another language. So Selena and I referred to them as “the German guys.” That is, until about a day later, we made the realization that they had actually been speaking English the whole time and were actually from Glasgow 😂😂😂. Their accents had been so strong, they didn’t even sound like English. I think I need to get my ears checked.
That night, we headed to the Mercado del Puerto for dinner because we saw that one of the stalls had fish tacos and strawberry mojitos! Yum! So the waiter brings out the fish tacos…but all we see on the plate is chunks of fish, some cabbage salad, and potatoes. He left and Selena and I looked at each other. We agreed he must be going back to get the tortillas. But he came back empty handed. So then he had to explain to us that fish tacos are just a style of cooking fish there, not tacos like you think about in Mexico. We were laughing and were a little disappointed in the “false” advertising, but we enjoyed the meal all the same. We ended the night listening to a Brazilian band play along the beach and got some rest to prepare for the next day’s hike.
We started off the morning with a delicious breakfast and some fresh orange juice, only to find out that Selena’s debit card had gone missing! We retraced our steps, but to no avail. Luckily, she remained calm and cancelled her card before anyone could use it. But then we had to catch 3 buses to get to the starting point of our hike. We got some incredibly helpful advice from a kind man who worked at the local museum/tourist center (which was in a cave!), and we headed on our way.
The hike was beautiful! We had perfect weather and enjoyed walking past several different cave neighborhoods and fields and mountains and little bodies of water called presas. Despite having very specific directions and a map, we constantly felt lost and second guessed ourselves every step of the way. Once, we almost took a path that lead straight uphill until we decided we had better be completely certain we had to take that path before starting it. Luckily, we didn’t! We saved ourselves about an hour of unnecessary climbing because of it!
We made one stop along the way at a little bar called Marcelino’s where we got a beer and some chicken wings. It was just what we needed to refuel for the continuation of our journey. So we continued walking…and walking…and walking…oh, and did I mention walking? Our feet were hurting, our knees were hurting, the clouds were rolling in, and it started sprinkling on us. Suddenly, this dad with his kids in a stroller came running down a hill with the mom following close behind – the first people we had seen in awhile! Selena asked them how much farther, and the dad warned us to be careful and stay along the road, because just a week ago, two German girls were hiking and a tree fell and one of them lost a leg! We thought, Oh crap, what have we gotten ourselves into? The family said they would take us down the mountain, except with the kids in the car, we wouldn’t fit. We thanked them anyway and continued walking. But then, they shoved the kids in the backseat with the dad and told Selena and I to squish in the front. Woohoo! The took us partway down the mountain and we thanked them for doing that, because we were exhausted!
After continuing walking for awhile, we came to an abandoned bottle factory, which was so creepy and cool! There were smashed crates and bottle caps everywhere. We also passed an abandoned hotel, all in the middle of nowhere! No wonder they went out of business… But again, we were tired, so the next time a car came by, we stuck our thumbs out, and luckily a guy stopped for us! He was exactly who you’d expect to pick up hitchhikers…he was an older dude with a VW van and a dream catcher hanging from his rear-view mirror 😂. He was very friendly and took us to the bottom of the mountain to the bus stop. When we were about to get on the bus, these adolescent girls jumped the line, so these 2 Spanish grandmas started yelling at them that Selena and I were at the bus stop first and should therefore get on the bus (guagua) first. And those rude girls continued on the bus anyway! Youths these days 😒.
Later that night, we checked out the Carnaval celebrations! Carnaval is basically a giant party celebrating before the start of Lent, and it is taken very seriously in Spain. People dress up in costumes and drink and party for about a month, or even more! In Las Palmas, they had a giant stage where large groups of people sang satirical songs about the government. There were also a ton of people meandering about in their costumes (lots of men dressed up as sexy nurses) and consuming alcohol and dancing to the music. Selena and I made it a point to find the coolest costumes and take selfies with those people! It was hilarious.
The next two days were more beach days to relax our aching muscles from the hike. We drank lots of sangria and laid out, and I even got a quick massage from a lady wandering around the beach offering them. Hey, treat yoself, am I right?? We even went to this hippy dippy bar where they had people playing live, and it was really neat to see!
Unfortunately, all good things come to an end, and we had to return back to work the next day. Bummer. But overall it was a great time with a great travel partner!
Carnaval at School
So of course, since Carnaval is such a big deal, we had to celebrate at school! Our school’s theme was Los Opuestos, aka Opposites. Each grade level had a different set of opposites, such as cops vs. robbers or black chess pieces vs. white chess pieces or villains vs. heroes. The auxiliares decided to go as jocks vs. geeks, and it was hilarious. We spent most of the day helping to set up the decorations around the school for when the parents came to see the costume parades. Plus, we danced around like maniacs in the process, and I even sang “Stacey’s Mom” for karaoke in front of my devoted 6th grade fans 😜. Some of the 6th graders even challenged me to a dance off, and at the end of the parade, some of the boys asked if they could talk to me via WhatsApp 😂. I was like, uhh, you’re students and I’m a teacher, so that probably isn’t the best idea. But hey, I was flattered 😂.
Since the weather is finally getting warmer, Nicole, her roommate, and I went on a really cool hike to Las Cascadas del Hervidero. It was about a 13k walk and it was really pretty, especially the waterfalls we saw at the end. It was a really great day, until I started feeling like I was about to pass out because…
I spent Saturday night and all day Sunday in bed with a terrible headache, back ache, and sore throat. I was dizzy and had the chills too. I figured it was just one of those 24 hour flu bugs, but I woke up Monday morning and felt even worse! I could barely swallow, and I knew I had to go to the doctor. Problem was, I didn’t know how. I tried calling one doctor, and they hung up. Tried calling another, and couldn’t understand the options in Spanish. Tried calling and English-speaking one in Madrid, but they didn’t really speak English, so as I’m trying to explain my insurance to them in Spanish, they told me I had to call a different number. So I called that number and they said the original number I called was wrong, so here’s a new number. I was like, screw it, I don’t want to go into Madrid when I’m feeling this bad anyway. So I texted Anahí and she said I should go to the emergency room (I knew it would be too expensive) or there was a private clinic in the next town over where I’d have to pay 100 euros (also too expensive). I decided to call the 2nd one again, only to find out they had closed for the afternoon. So I waited another hour (and spent most of the hour crying and wishing for my mom and feeling miserable because it was just too complicated) and called again to make an appointment for another hour later. Finally, after about 4 hours of trying to figure things out, I made it to the doctor. He took one look at my throat and shook his head, it was that bad. Tonsillitis, he told me. He prescribed me some antibiotics and told me to take lots of ibuprofen. And finally, after all that, I’m feeling so much better and was able to go to school today, even though I’m still taking it easy this evening. It was rough, and I did have a break down, but I was pretty proud of myself for being able to do it all in Spanish. See dad? My Spanish is improving 😜.
I had been in the process of taking a Google Educator course online to teach me how to use Google applications in the classroom. I took the exam online last night and passed! I am now a Google Certified Educator Level 1! Woohoo! I hope my future school has a plethora of technology to use, because I’m excited to incorporate my newfound knowledge in my class!
Wow. That was a lot of things…sorry for the long post. I need to work on that…
Mom: My mama just started her new job at State Farm! Wish her luck during training this week!
Yashas and Kourtney: Thanks to you two for listening to me whine and complain all weekend about how sick I am.
Lauren: My awesome roomie entered my quarantined sick room without hesitation this weekend to bring me water and homemade mac and cheese. Dedication!
My birthday: 12 days!
Trip to Valencia: 17 days!
Grandparents and Kourt come to Spain: 19 days!
So many exciting things coming! I can’t wait!
Also, check out my friend Sam’s account of a Sunday afternoon we spent together on her blog: http://teach-english-abroad-blog-spain.ciee.org/2017/02/around-town-now-featuring-rain.html