Ok I am shamefully behind on the blogging. Surprise. I have about 20 drafts posted, but in the meantime, I thought I’d leave you with some highlights of what’s been going on in my life these past few weeks.
1. Ok, I am totally, head over heels in love with Logroño. Seriously, this might be my favorite of all the cities I’ve lived in in Spain (Córdoba, Madrid, and Salamanca). It is a wonderful size, not too big, not too small, and it has a great public transportation system that I have more or less figured out. Everyone here is really, really friendly. And sincere, which can be rare. People go out of their way to make me feel welcome here, and I have met so many new cool and amazing people. I’ve met most of the other auxiliares and fellow English-speakers, who are a great crowd and my community here, along with many people who are from La Rioja and Logroño. The city itself is so beautiful, and I live on a cute little street in the historic center, with a butcher’s, a baker’s, a gourmet cheese shop, local farmer’s market, a wine shop, a chocolatier, and only 2 blocks from the famous pinchos on the famous Calle Laurel. I can hear the cathedral bells ring on Sundays. Seriously, I could not be in a better location. I love my little apartment; I love my cute neighbors who bring me things like fresh grapes and ring my doorbell just to say hi to me; I love going running along the river in the shadow of the small mountains at sunset; I love the people; I love the wine, and oh my giddy god I freaking love the food!!! It is going to be a good year!
2. I survived my first week of school! I am here as an auxiliar de conversación, which means that I work 12 hours a week in the mornings at two public elementary schools. Both of my schools are in the city this year, thank god, so I don’t have to commute to a pueblo like I did last year. I do have to take the bus to them, though, which is fine. I was first really surprised by the level of English here; it is a lot higher than in Andalucía, and most of the teachers try to talk to me in English, and conduct their whole classes in English. I work with everyone from the adorable, little 3 year olds to the naughty 12 year olds. I was also really surprised by the ethnic diversity in my classes. 50% of my students are of non-Spanish decent, which is surprising and so exciting, after the complete lack of it last year. It makes me really curious about immigration trends, culture, and treatment up here in the north compared with what I noticed in the south (my academia side is coming out haha). I also have a pretty good schedule this year, which is promising.
3. Ok while I survived my first week of teaching, I barely survived this crazy 22 mile hike my friends and I decided to do last Sunday. My friend’s boyfriend J, who is from La Rioja, told us about an annual hike run by the bank of La Rioja called Hoyos de Iregua in the mountains in the southern part of the region. It is a huge hike, at least 500 people go on it. My thoughts were, great! Perfect! I love hiking! What a great way to get to know the new region where I am living, meet new people, blah blah blah. I really wish my thoughts had extended as far as to really think about just how far 37 km is. I’ve decided to play dumb American and pretend I didn’t understand kilometers. Basically, I thought-I run a lot, and I have done some really long, tedious, occasionally high-altitude trekking-this will be cake. Not. In Spanish the word for hike is “marcha” or “march,” and I don’t think that is all that inaccurate from what we endured. This “march” kicked my ass but it was also so incredibly fun and worthwhile, I would do it again in a heartbeat. I got to know all the people I went with in my group along with plenty of other people on the hike. Even though I hobbled around town for half a week and I STILL have blisters, it was such a great day, and it ironically was a great intro to La Rioja.
4. I finally have internet in my apartment. Nuf said.
5. My big news! I got hired at a private English academy to work in the afternoons. In Spain it is really hard for Americans to get “real” jobs, so must of us end up giving private English classes to make extra money for traveling, or if you’re me, traveling and shopping. It can be hard setting up a good, reliable base of students, and for me I usually have to run around all over the city from house to house to have classes (or run after the bus), but now ta-da! I have my place to work that’s right near my apartment with a set schedule and a lot of hours! Wahoo! I love the academy and the people who work there, and I think it is going to be an awesome experience, and I am so so so happy and thankful I got the job (and a reliable income)!
6. I am gearing up for a bunch of new trips! My good friend L is flying in from Boston this Friday to visit for 10 days, so exciting! The list includes Logroño (of course), Haro, Pamplona, Olite, Santander, and Oviedo (where we will live out our Woody Allen fantasies). If you have any advice for places to visit in the north, let me know!
Ok, I have some more awesome posts coming soon, get excited! How is your fall going? Are you back in school or teaching? Ever gone a crazy hike? Have you ever been to La Rioja?