Thursday, February 26, 2009

The past few holidays...

Well, the last two and a half weeks have been full of holidays - mostly just full of Valentine's Day and then Carnival (which is about a week and a half holiday in itself) so I have been rather busy!

Valentine's Day isn't as big over here as it is in the States but as a teacher from the States, you know I made it a big deal in my classes! We made Valentine's and learned some phrases to do with Vday. The kids love anything arts and crafts, but it was fun to watch them make thier valentines for thier secret valentine who they wouldn't dare say who! All of my kids are convinced I have a boyfriend, so everytime I would make a valentine with them, they would nottttttt stop asking me what my boyfriend's name is, where he lives, how did we meet, the works haha. I always just said I was making it for my parents, which they thought was pretty lame, oh well. My mom, awesome as she is, sent me a Valentine's gift box and in it, candy valentines!!!! Do you remember those know the little packet of colored sugar with a white stick that you lick and then eat the sugar? Well she sent me a bunch of those for me to hand out to my kids. They thought it was the coolest thing in the WORLD! Not only did I give them candy, which I rarely ever do, but they were getting candy from the USA - something I don't think they have ever imagined. They were so shocked that my mom sent them all the way from home and that they were tasting American candies ha. They were also suprised when I told them that in the USA kids thier age exchange valentines with everyone in their class - probably like 25 students. I always walk the kids out after class and make sure they get to thier respective parents and all of the kids were so excited to tell thier parents about this American candy, and most of the parents looked really suprised that I had managed it haha. I had a few leftovers and gave them to Erika's class as I was leaving the school for the weekend. They were a class of probably 15-year old girls and I said 'oh, I have some extra American candy, do you think your class would like them?' and thier faces just dropped when Erika explained that my mom had shipped me American candy for my students. Honestly, it was probably the most exciting part of thier week! Feliz Dia de San Valentin!! Thanks Mom! They loved it!

The following week, the kids were all preparing for Carnival - the huge week before Lent starts. The kids were pretty confused as to why we don't celebrate it in the States since it is so big over here. Eventhough its not big at home, I thought it would be fun for the kids to make masks for arts and crafts that week. I always do a run-through of the arts and crafts project for the week so I can make sure it works and then give them an example to make ideas off. Funny thing is that most kids just end up copying exactly what I made. It's amusing to me that they fight over where my mask sat on the table and who could hold it and for how long. Ahhh kids. Here is a picture of my 6-year olds and the masks that they made. They love to walk out to greet thier parents with thier masks on and pretend they are different people. The funniest was that one of my students walked out and her little brother, who is probably only 2-years old, was so scared of her mask he started screaming. The week of Carnival, most kids dont have school, so attendance has been spotty, but the kids who do come to class love making masks and telling me about thier great costumes they have planned! I had a class of 12-year old girls who came from school, all dressed up and one was dressed as an Arab and had her face scarf on and I legit didn't even recognize her haha.

My costume for Carnival was not so disguising. I found a costume box of kids costumes in the back room at our school and was lucky to find a cowboy hat. I grabbed a gun and sheriff badge from the china store by my house and then a plaid shirt and ta-da I was a cowgirl. My friends and I hit the town with our guy friends who thought it was sooooo fun to dress up as girls. I think that the majority of the boys in San Sebastian think dressing up as a girl is the best idea for Carnival. I saw more cross-dressing boys that I ever did in NYC haha. It was a really fun night, full of parades, bands in the streets and really fun costumes.

The rest of the weekend called for a lot of resting up but I was happy I could be part of the Carnival! Traditionally in Christianity, they say Carnival was the last big party before Lent so everyone went all out, using up thier special foods and celebrating before they gave things up for the next 40 days. This is where the name even comes from - carne vale means goodbye to meat in Latin - and this party was when the communities would use up all the meat before Lent. Thought that was kind of a fun fact to share ha.

Hope you're enjoying your week!


Saturday, February 21, 2009

My first visitor!

Well, it seems like it has been ages since I wrote in my blog! Sorry that I haven't been writing for so long - for a long time we didn't have internet and then the first weekend that was had it (last weekend) I had a friend in town.

My friend, David, and I went to high school together (go Scots!) but didn't really stay in touch through college. Turns out he is stationed in Bavaria and has been to Basque Country before and wanted to come visit. Since us Americans rarely know many other Americans in Europe, we decided we should visit each other's countries! Dave came last weekend and I wanted to make sure to show him a good time in Pais Vasco (Basque Country).

The most important thing on my list was taking him to a sidreria - a place where they make cider. Here, cider is very very popular. It is midly alcoholic but tastes just like apple cider. The Basques make barrels of it, and its sold in basically ever supermarket. When you visit a sidreria, you get all-you-can-drink cider along with a manly dinner. Along with my friends - Madeline (from Britian), Esther (from California) and Paul (from Ireland) we headed off to experience Basque Country at it's best in one of the best-know sidrerias in town - Petritegui. When you walk in, they hand you a glass, tell you where your table is and then you just put your stuff down and head to the cider room. They keep in the cider in HUGE barrels and then the workers just open the tap and you actually catch the cider in your cup as it squirts out! The room with all these barrels was gigantic, but was packed. Turns out you can buy a ticket to just stay in the cider room and not even eat dinner, which seems silly. You just stand there all night and drink haha. Well we ordered dinner and it was delicious. We started out with a tortilla de bacalao (cod omlet) followed by some more cod, then the chuleta (steak)! The restaurant is very 'rustic' (I don't know if that's the best word) - huge wood picnic tables, stone walls, dirty floors and all. It's like a huge wood cabin where you happen to be having a great dinner! For dessert we got some sheep cheese and this special apple jelly. The sidreria was filled with Basque people, it seems as if we picked a very local spot which was good! I think we were the only foreigners, but we made friends quickly, singing songs and sharing cider! Since I had never been to one of these sidrerias before I was really excited to take my friend and we all had a great time!

Sunday we went to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim. I have already been, when I first moved here, but the exhibition was different so it was nice to go back. The weather was perfect (finally) so it was nice to walk around and explore. The Bilbao soccer team was playing so we watched some of the game on a TV at the bar and just relaxed most of the day. Sadly, Monday always comes. Dave went home and I went to work for another week. Since he came here, I have now planned a trip to Germany woo hoo. The second week in March I am Bavaria-bound and can't wait! You will hear all about it! Don't you worry.

This weekend in San Sebastian is Carnival. I have already seen a million people walking around dressed up in crazy costumes (disfrazes). I miss my costume box that I have in the States with so many fun peices, but alas, I have decided to be a cowgirl. My friends and I are all going out tonight, and I am sure I will have some fun pictures to share with you early next week :D I hope you're having a great weekend, and I now that I have internet, I will make sure to keep the blog updated a lot more!