Estoy en Aguilar de Campoo
I have not been posting because I have had limited internet access since coming to Aguilar de Campoo. My home had wifi but my computer couldn’t find the network. That is fixed now so I will be posting more often.
I have only been in Aguilar for three days but I feel I have so much to say. Most importantly, I love it. I am so glad I applied to this program and I am excited about the next three months. I barely know where to begin (warning, this post is long).
Aguilar de Campoo is a village located in the northern mountains of Spain (in Palencia in Castile y Leon). It is about 900m above sea level which has given this Florida girl some trouble. My host family and their friends thought I was drunk last night after a very small amount of wine. Upset stomach, headache, dizziness, and a racing heart. I didn’t think I was drunk (I think I would be a more obnoxious and less inhibited drunk). After talking to my brilliant Sarasota mother and some internet research, I was able to put my finger on it. Altitude sickness. Having lived at sea level my entire life, even this not so high mountain country is too much for my head and stomach. Fortunately I am feeling much better today. My host father keeps telling me I am not eating enough and now I have an explanation for why I’m never very hungry.
I will post more about Aguilar itself later on. I haven’t been carrying my camera with me and I want to include pictures with my description. I don’t think I could adequately explain without images.
I began teaching in my school right from the start. On Monday I met my host family and toured the school. Tuesday I was teaching English with no book and a teacher who only speaks Spanish. I definitely have NOT had to worry about not being included. I spend at least one hour each week with levels 1-6. My school is fairly large (for rural Spain) and has 2 classes for each level (excluding 6). Many of the children that I am teaching come from small villages in the surrounding area. Some of the teachers speak excellent English and others speak none at all but all are very kind. I have been giving a presentation about myself, my family and Sarasota in each of the classes. The kids especially loved my pictures of pizza, squirrels, lightning, my brothers and my dog. Theo (mi perro) definitely steals the show every time.
The language barrier has been very difficult for me. I like to talk. A lot. Here, I can’t. If I speak in English, I have to speak slowly, clearly, and simply so that those who do know English can understand me. If I speak in Spanish, my vocabulary and verb tenses are very limited. Already, I have improved but I am impatient and I want more. I have been searching on my Kindle for books that will help me with conversation and vocabulary.
My host family has been so kind. My first night here, I was told, “this is your house now”. They have given me slippers, obtained a bike so that we can ride to school together, and told me: “anything I need, I simply ask”. (That is my rough translation). I have a room of my own upstairs with a bathroom. They are very concerned that I have privacy when I want it. They feed me and introduce me to their friends and buy me food whenever we are out. They have plans for us to go to Salamanca, Santendor, Burgos and many of the villages that are important to them and near here. The kids ask me lots of questions about my family and my life in America and the electronics that I brought. My host mother is working very hard to help me learn Castillano (Castilian Spanish).
Life here is so different. I get up around 8:30 and we are at school by 9:30.My host mother also teaches at the school and the kids are students there. Classes are an hour long each with a “lunch break” during which we don’t eat lunch. I bring a piece of fruit or something small with me. School is over at 2:30. We typically go to a bar and drink a corto with my host father. A bar is similar to a community center in the way that Spaniards use it. It looks like a bar but children are welcome and nobody is drunk at 2:30 in the afternoon. A corto is a very small glass of beer. We don’t sit down while we are there. We simply stand at the bar and drink and talk. We walk to our flat and then my host mother finishes preparing lunch (there is a lady who comes in the mornings and cleans and begins the cooking). I will post about the food later on otherwise this post will be way too long. We then hang out around the house for a couple hours. We eat a snack of some sort around 6. In the evening, we go for a long walk or go see friends (or combine the two) or simply eat dinner at home. Whichever we do, it involves more food and if we are with friends it also involves wine. The kids go to bed around 10:30. I have been staying up until about midnight to catch up with my family. Life seems to move slower. I work and stress less here than I did at school. I think the Spaniards have described themselves to me well. “We eat a lot, we drink a lot, and we walk a lot.”
Comemos, bebemos, paseamos. Mucho, mucho, mucho.