August 11, 2002

8/11/02 Hacinas

Chants at Santo Domingo de Silos

Fell asleep trying to write last night. After eleven hours of sleep I feel much better. Rolled out of bed by 9am because Amparo, Santi, Agnes, another Spanish student who is from Germany, and I are going on a field trip.

The biggest problem with learning a new language is saying "yes" when you don't understand what is being said. Before I knew it, Nati was serving me double portions because I said "yes" when I didn't understand she said "more?" At least that's what I figured out.

The temperature was a little warmer today, but they tell me it's still cooler than normal. Santi tells me that the Clint Eastwood movie "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" was filmed near here. Deep canyons, high buttes, soaring vultures overhead all remind you of the American West.

The monastary at Santo Domingo de Silas is a well known retreat for famous people in Spain like the president. But the choir is know the world over because of their Gregorian Chant music. We heard just a small bit when we went to Sunday service.

Monastery at Santo Domingo de Silas

More of the day was spent exploring Silas, a canyon nearby and another village called Covarrubios. The church architecture, while plain, was built to last centuries. At lunch I ate lamb. Very different than in the US.

We met Nati, José and Javier at a storytelling performance across the river from Salas. Even though I didn't understand any of the words, the storyteller had thousands of facial expressions, much to the delight of the children.

Storytelling

After dinner, we returned to the city square, called a plaza, for more "adult" storytelling. Now I think I've met most of Nati and José's family. Nati has five brothers and a sister. José has eight brothers and three sisters. Nati's brother, Victor, is the mayor of Salas. And one of José's brothers teaches English in Burgos.

So it's 2am and I need to be in bed because tomorrow is my first day of Spanish class. Did you know that no one wears hats here? And I need to be careful when greeting people because I I know I bruised Nati's mothers face with my glasses when I attempted to kiss her checks. Santi tells me that getting around in any town by wheelchair is near impossible because of the ancient buildings and roads. And last, my head is imploding with all the new words, sights, and cultural differences. I just don't know if I can learn all of it.

If anyone can teach me, it could only be with the patience of Amparo, Santi, Nati and José. They are the greatest.