Witty, interesting, refreshing... come see what Southern Spain has to offer

November 13, 2010

Guess what I saw...

Before I left home I had one wish.  However, a dream come true kind of got in the way (thanks Katie).  I wanted to go see the fall colors one last time before I left.  However, I had to settle for a day wandering the streets of New York for the first time.  So, I never got to see the beautiful Rocky Mountain colors.



Because I've just seen


More to come, so keep posted.
It just might be as good as the Wasatch in the Fall.

November 08, 2010

Here It Comes

So, I've been tinkering with how to organize my thoughts on this so called adventure.  While I'm not the most sophisticated writer, I am however, charmed by the idea of writing.  So, I've developed the following, a series of what I've learned, in monthly installments, aka. chapters for your reading enjoyment.  Don't worry, the anecdotes will continue, but by the end of this year, I'll have something to show for it, and something to reflect back on.  So here it is:

Intro - “Reading Lolita in Tehran”
“The theme of the class was the relation between fiction and reality... 
...Here and now in that other world that cropped up so many times in our discussions, I sit and reimagine myself... 
...But to steal the words from Humbert, the poet/criminal of Lolita, I need you, the reader, to imagine us, for we won’t really exist if you don’t.  Against the tyranny of time and politics, imagine us the way we sometimes didn’t dare to imagine ourselves: in our most private and secret moments, in the most extraordinarily ordinary instances of life, listening to music, falling in love, walking down the shady streets or reading lolita in Tehran.”  - Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books, Azar Nafisi.
And so it is, I in one country and my life in another, that I write this for you.  Like so many authors before me, what can I write that hasn’t already been written?  Much.  I can write my experience, and I can write how my experience has been influenced by people, both real and fictitious.  So, I will call on the great works that have framed my life.  Like a painting, you, both artist and acquaintance, define my life.  This is my life, and it is a work in progress.
I’ve always dreamed about returning to Spain.  The memories of my first trip as a student while at BYU to Madrid in the fall of 2007, will remain some of my fondest reveries.  While in Spain I flourished.  For the first time in my life, I was free, but more importantly I was honest.  Or, at least I began to be all of these things.  What I have forgotten about my first trip in Madrid, is the pain.  The pain of captivity by the lies which made up a facade, my life, which was not really my own.  Like a carrier pigeon, I was allowed precious hours of freedom and flight, but was always to return to a cage.  A cage which protected, but also prohibited me.  For three years, I dreamed about returning, but without a cage.  So, under the Auxiliares de Conversacion y Cultura, I was able to return to Spain in the fall of 2010, as a teaching assistant.
My story will be quite different from Nafisi.  My story, like Nafisi’s will focus on the transitions between freedom and oppression, however, unlike Nafisi, mine will be focused on suddenly being free, rather than being captive.  The freedom of being who we are, is just as distant for some in the “1st world power” as it is for others in a distant nation at war with itself.  While both changes involve a change of governments, ideals, and practices, Nafisi saw her world change without ever leaving her home, as Iran was consumed in fell swoop of tyranny; For me, however, leaving my home was the only way for me to experience freedom of being, and therefore, change my world, at least the world as it presently exists.
Nafisi and I will share one crucial aspect in our stories.  We will share the love of literature.  Great works of literature, whether fictitious or real, are inherently didactic.  And the characters, events, and morals form connections that develop and mix with our lives, becoming both intertwined and defined, in a way that can only be art.
Whether you are familiar with the works or not, my desire is that you will understand the themes and morals of each, as it relates to my life.  I say that, because, meanings change with our lives.  We come to understand each in a new way as we develop over the years.  Even though the works remain the same, in this way, great works, like great lives change together.  And so it will be...

November 05, 2010

Not Yo' Mama's Field Trips

When my school invited me to accompany them on a field trip, I accepted without a second thought.  The most important thing I've learned - Spain is hardcore!

Field trip I was to Cordoba for a Math exhibit.  This was a bit more traditional.  We started out the day with a stop at the ruins of Medina Al-Zahara.
This was a palace-city built in 900 a.d. by a Califa for his favorite wife Zaraha.

Next stop... Plaza Mayor.  After a walk through the historic district, we ditched the kids and grabbed a "traditional" bite to eat called Flaminkin (I could swear it was just like Chicken Cordon Blue).
What was originally the prayer tower for ancient muslims, now the bell tower.

And the big finally... drum roll please.

Why maths?
Students playing interactive math games.

Field Trip Number II - Antequera

Senderismo (hiking) comes from the spanish word sendero meaning trail or path.  So it's fitting that for my first experience haciendo senderismo I went on the Antequera - Atenas (Antequera - Athens) trail, one of the longest hiking trails in the world.

This is when things get a little more hardcore.  While I'm used to climbing mountains, this stretch kicked my butt.  Why? you ask.  Not because it's tall, not because it's steep, but because it's mile after mile of rolling hills, in the middle of nothing.  There were only olive groves and us...
oh and maybe a few sheep.

So, the bus drops us off, and we walk 10 hours, approx. 15 miles.  Great times!  Although, my favorite part might have been when we stopped for lunch, and heard the refreshing shhhh-'Snap'-'PoP' like oh so many PBR's.  That's right, at least someone remembered a cold one for this extra-curricular activity.  So, all anecdotes aside, was it worth it?
You be the judge.

Field Trip III - "El Chorro"

So, if you thought the spanish take on hiking was interesting, wait until you get a load of orientacion.  Orientacion is a type of P.E. exam.  If you're expecting sit-ups and a stop watch, well, you got half of it right.  But this is way more intense then how many sit-ups you can do in 60 seconds.

Students are separated into pairs.  They are then brought to the finish line, where they are allowed to go one pair at a time.

 hey are given a topographical map before hand with specific points they have to locate.
At each point they have to find a flag with a hole punch.

So what do you think?  Think you could do it.  Well, here's a view of the course.
Good Luck!