Speeding Along

30 01 2010

I have just passed the second book of the series that my school uses for learning Spanish. And my teacher, in an attempt to be incredibly encouraging, suggested that I might even get through some of book 4 by the time I leave the college. After spending 10 weeks labouring my way through the first two, it wasn’t that encouraging to hear that she thinks I’m going to need 4 times the time to get through the next 2… But that’s life I guess…





The Hole in the Wall

27 01 2010

Have you seen the movie Stardust? There’s a whole in the wall which joins two very different lands, that of the magical realm, and the world where we live. Córdoba also has a wall. Built by the Romans in most places only small patches remain, but near my house there is a good long stretch which separates our neighborhood from the city centre. On the other side there a little narrow streets that weave around on themselves and there is only one gateway in the wall coming through a gorgeous park. The problem is – most of the time, I can’t find the whole in the gate! So I wonder around the little streets trying to push my way but it’s like a Labyrinth. But I think I finally have it worked out now…





Rebajas

13 01 2010

I hit the sales the first day they opened. I fell for H&M – loads of cheap good stuff I’ve been hanging for, skirts for church, extra layers for the cold, and a pair of sippers to keep my feet warm. The only thing I couldn’t find (that I really need in all this rain) was boots wide enough… I’m suffering through being huge. Apart from withdrawal symptoms from lack of second hand shopping and the fact that I routinely think – Oh I’ll buy that when I get back to Australia (which is nonsense since its three years away!) The problem is that Spanish chicks don’t have calves. So the boots don’t fit.

And I worked out today why Europeans where boots, it’s because when it rains you absolutely can’t keep your jeans dry unless they’re tucked into the boots. Right now my jeans are soaked and my shoes are sopping wet – silly suede things from Rivers! At home, the standard shoe size is a 7 so I normally do fine. You wouldn’t look at me and think “massive chick, huge feet”. Here that’s a 39 and the standard foot is a 34 or 35. So I’m like Ian Thorpe without the swimming ability (or the tragic hair). And I’m a size large in every store. It’s hysterical really.





Snow

10 01 2010

Today it snowed. Apparently it’s the first time in 4 years and when it started everyone assured me it would last on the ground but within a few hours the cards were covered with a blanket of snow. On the way back to my house I practiced signing my initials in car windows all the way home.





Reyes

8 01 2010

The Spanish focus of Christmas is Reyes, on the 6th, when the Wise men bring presents. The kids leave their shoes out (rather than stockings). The grand kids all stayed over at out piso, and before they went to bed the night before, they left out milk and chocolates with the name one of the 3s King on each. When they woke up, some of the milk was gone as well as a few of the chocolates; and the shoes were full of presents. We had a huge family meal. And the kids opened their presents one by one.

The tradition in the morning is to eat a Roscón for breakfast. Roscones are large circular cakes like huge donuts filled with cream and topped with glazed sugared fruit. Inside, there is a figurine (often of a king) – and a haba (bean). Whoever finds the figure is crowned and becomes the king (or queen) of the banquet, and whoever finds the bean has to pay next year’s roscón. It’s an awfully rich way to start a day filled with eating!

 So in effect the Spanish have had 2 Christmases! While it’s really tiring to spend so much time trying to do large groups in Spanish, I love the lifestyle of fiestas and family. And of course the food! The holiday period has been a blast 🙂





La Cabalgata

7 01 2010

Each year, the night before Reyes (the 6th is the day the Wise Men/Kings come) there is a parade or procession through the town of floats full of kids dressed in theme, throwing lollies to the crowds. And I mean throwing! I nearly lost an eye and quite often the whole row would have to duck with hands over heads as kids barely a metre away put all they had into pegging these boiled lollies at the crowd. The trick is that people take umbrellas and turned upside down they collect the lollies as they fall (mind you, when it started to sprinkle people forgot their loot and turned their umbrellas right side up). Otherwise you’re reduced to doing what we did and scrambling on the ground to pick up the ones you can see fall. Pretty soon the whole street it littered with boiled lollies and the wheels of the cars in the parade were sealed with sugar and wrappers. Even walking home afterwards you can feel your shoes peeling back off the bitumen with every step.

Each float has a different theme within the whole – which this year was Disney. We saw dancing Smurfs, and I danced a jig with a wood-elf. Drumming Pharaohs, Princesses in castles and giant ants passed by with the parade culminating in the grand finale where rather than lollies, the last float were giving small soft toys of Disney characters – SpongeBob, Looney Toons… only a hoard of teenagers were running alongside the float plucking them out of the air carrying bags of fallen prizes. I wonder what you do with 30 Tassie Devils?!





Noche Vieja and New Years Day

4 01 2010

I was going to come home around the 29th but it was so nice I caught the bus back on the 31st. The downside of that was that I got off the bus at home only a few hours before I needed to go out to the New Years eve party. So I went from a little English world straight into three days straight of large groups speaking Spanish…

On New Years Eve we had a dinner at church with menú (served to the table). We had a dinner at a long table that stretch through the church and seated close to 70 people. We started dinner at 9ish, then around 11:30, with everything cleared away, we made a circle and the pastor led everyone in praying and singing which took us into the new year. Traditionally people eat 12 grapes, one on each of the twelve strikes of the clock at midnight. I was looking forward to it, but it’s for good luck so the church doesn’t choose to do it during their celebrations. I can understand the thinking but I was up for a game of chubby bunnies’. In the Plaza Tendillas here in Córdoba and many times on the television, they actually slow the clock down so people don’t choke 😛 But with my head down, I didn’t even know when the New Year began! Then while we were praying a whole bunch of people had come (people who’d eaten at home and come to pray in the new year) and then we waited until 1:15/1:30 for the people who were doing the dinner and countdown/grapes at home to arrive. Then the Young Adults group put on a review with different skits which were really clever and very well done. By that stage though I was really struggling to stay awake and had to go sit up the back so I didn’t fall asleep in the front row. Then they pulled out more dessert and hot chocolate (which here is more like chocolate syrup with a dash of milk!) By 3:30 I was praying someone would take me home and scanning for all the people who live near me to see when they were leaving. But Marina and Nicolas decided to leave close to 4 so I was in bed by just after.

Then the following day, all the family and some friends came around for lunch. Who does a big lunch on New Years Day??? All together there was 19 of us. Lunch started at 2 and everyone stayed well into the evening. When the last were leaving around 9, another family arrived! So much Spanish in large groups with everyone talking at the same time – my head was fried!