Something fishy…I mean swiney

As the midway point of camp arrived, all of my students were getting lethargic. During the day, they have absolutely free time to rest or realx…it´s class, lunch, buses to activities, showers, dinner, parties, bed. But of course sending kids to bed at 11pm doesn´t mean they won´t stay up late talking to their friends or texting their boyfriends. Every morning this week, the kids have looked more tired and more bored with class.

For this reason, I devised a gigantic camp newspaper project to keep them interested. We had to study reported speech and expressing opinions on the grammar side with a study of headlines and oral news reading, so I split the kids into groups according to interests and we devised a masthead (Forenews) and article ideas, identified sources and wrote questions, and then I tracked down all the sources and they came to my class (some with a translator so the kids would be forced to speak in English!) In reading over the transcripts, I was impressed with their enthusiasm and great questions, and was looking forward to reading the investigative piece about who wrote on a bus seat and seeing the pictures my students took at various parties.

Then, the biggest story of camp broke: SWINE FLU CONFIRMED AT LANGUAGE CAMP. Yes, my friends, all those sick kids were coming down with nasty colds and coughs and flus and there has been at least one case of swine flu. The sickest children were contained and isolated, all the kids have been tested and monitored, and we, as teachers, are responsible for reminding them to wash their hands and not be smooching all over the place. The press is stalking, waiting at the bottom of the driveway and parents have been coming for their kids from all over Spain – resulting in a mass exodus from the camp. Yesterday I had 15 students, today 12 and Monday I´ll have just four. I understand the parent concern of so many kids with such a strange disease that has been fatal, but I think the camp is doing the best it can to continue classes and meet super high health standards. I had a monitor test my temperature and got a good report, and I´ve just been tired from going out and not sleeping so much.

I’ve got just a few more days in A Coruña. Tomorrow is parents day, so were recommended to not go out I don´t want to be tired anymore, so we´re ordering pizza and the monitors are hosting a Feria de Sevilla night for the kids. I´ve been told I have to come help teach Sevillanas to the kids, and they’re going to make me a traje de flamenco. Hope it will be fun…then off to Santiago de Compostela for the day mañana!

I can´t believe I´ll be back stateside in a week…Eleven months is a loooong, long time! Hasta la pastaaaaa. I´ll post pics of camp and my kids and los teachers soon! maybe once my computer isn´t broken…oh life.

Were the Reyes Magos good to you?

Yesterday, January 6th, was Dia de los Reyes Magos. Spanish kids write letters to Balthazar, the Moorish one of the three kings, who brings them their presents. Santa occasionally visits houses, but not very often. Kiddies open their presents on this day, after watching parades in their neighborhoods with bands and floats carrying the Three Kings.

Of course, the students were quick to ask me, “Que te han traido los Reyes?” Or, What did the Three Kings bring you? When I asked them the same question, nearly all of them had gotten a new computer, a new mobile phone and an XBox or Wii.

I thought the whole world was in a financial crisis?

While the Reyes brought me things like Ugg boots (ugly but so calentitas!), plane tickets to Austria and to China, they also brought with them a flu and a cold. I got sick just a few days before New Years, and despite my best attempt to take it easy (which is very taxing on me!), I remained a little malita throughout the trip to Austria. Lots of sneezing and hacking and bundling up. Flying home only exacerbated the problem and I got off the plane with a really nasty sinus infection. My lovely suegra couldn’t understand what I was trying to tell her amidst all of my coughing, so she merely sent me home with half a bushel of oranges and some lemons. I’m feeling better today, just stuffy.

I had a really nice, looooong, 18-day break. It was nice to sleep in someone else’s bed and have heat and be cooked for! But really, for my first Christmas away from home, it was really enjoyable. I mostly stayed put in Andalucía, but I did go to the Sierra Nevadas, just outside Granada, to snowboard with Kike and his brother. I spent a little bit of pasta to buy some ski gear and then had to pay for rentals and lift tickets, but it was really fun. There aren’t any trees on the whole mountain! It was also windy, leading to the lift closure and tons of people on the lower slopes. For Kike’s first time snowboarding, I was really impressed at how well he picked it up. He did a lot less swearing at the mountain than me on my first day!

On New Years, I had dinner with some friends and a group of parents and rang in 2009 at Plaza Nueva. It’s Spanish tradition to eat twelve grapes on the twelve strokes of midnight for good luck – I only managed to pop 9 in my mouth because i kept swallowing seeds! It took me three hours to find a cab, resulting in me walking around Sevilla to every taxi stand I knew and calling every taxi number I have in my phone. Crying, I finally went to a hotel near my house and asked the receptionist for more numbers. She and the doorman were able to find a taxi for me and all ended well.

Lots of luck and love and happiness in the new year, especially for the new Mr. and Mrs. Pat McHugh! I’ll write about Austria as soon as I get the chance!

Estar de limbo: Getting Sick in Spain

No, I’m not bending over backwards, but I’m pretty sure that would be more pleasant than the tos seco, dry cough, I’ve caught. Just like my computer crashing before finals week, my health is deteriorating just before my parents come and the marathon that will be the next month begins. I’ve got lots of things to blame – my hectic schedule, my lack of exercise, my poor health habits, all the germy kids I teach, a house with no insulation and no central heating. But the fact of the matter is, I’m sick as a dog, up all night coughing and miserable, with no end in sight. I’ve had a cold for about two weeks now, and the horrible coughing started last Thursday. My body tricked me into thinking I was all better, but I realized I was mistaken on Monday morning when I could barely speak.

My Tuesday lessons were a little shaky since I was feeling dizzy and hacking up a lung, but I struggled through work at school, then work at We Love Spain. I arrived home and said goodbye to Eva. Senna, the adorable British girl who now lives with us, installed herself (damn you, Spanish!) just an hour later, not giving me much time to think about Eva leaving. I waited and waited for Franco, my intercambio, to call so we could meet up, but he instead went to the gym. Kike came over to plan our trip, but we opted for pizza and Shrek 2. I then realized just how shitty I felt. I spent the whole night keeping my roommates up with my cough, which I’d assume is like smoker’s cough, and the next day looked absolutely dead at my lessons. My poor 3esoG…Anytime I opened my mouth, it was to cough. My wonderful director, Nieves, insisted I went to the health clinic, and she drove me there during my last class period. As it turns out, I have an inflamed throat and a bad cold, so she prescribed me some drugs. I have this weird liquid stuff that smells better than it tastes called jarabe. I have a little shot glass, and I need to put back 10mL every six hours. I also have this soluble powder stuff that tastes AWFUL, too. I can only take this when I eat. I haven’t got much of an appetite, though. I usually line up the shot glass, the soluble stuff in a little glass with as little water as possible and a bottle of water. I shoot the jarabe, gulp down the Algidol and chug my water. Then, I generally take an excedrin to help with the body ache. It’s awful.

I hardly ever get sick in the US, and when I do, I’m not going at 100 miles a minute, so I can recover. I’m not at school right now so I can get better before my parents come this weekend. On Sunday, they’ll arrive about 21:30 into Granada, then we’re traveling around Andalusia and Morocco. They day they leave, Kike and I are flying to Scotland (pretty awesome Christmas present, I’d say). We get back the 8th, then Nance comes on the 10th and Brian and Matt will be here sometime then, too. I’ve got to gather up all the strength I’ve got to make it through the next four weeks and be a good host and traveling companion. Now back to bed all bundled up!

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