August 13, 2002

8/13/02 Hacinas

Learning a new culture

Even though I don't speak Spanish, I feel as if I'm a long-lost uncle of Javier. Everyone treats me as one of the family. But with such large families, maybe by the end of my four weeks here, I'll be able to clearly organize a family tree.

During class today, I discovered some cultural differences that could have made for some embarrassment. In Spain, you have your given first name, then the last name of father followed by your mother's last name. When I was told that my hosts were José María Cámara Sebastián and Natividad Urién Montero, I had assumed that they were not married. But no one changes their name when they get married. And their son's name is Javier Cámara Urien. Confusing? Just another reason why I want to be here long enough to learn more about the people and their culture.

I was a little sad that Agnes was leaving this afternoon to return to Germany. Maybe I can keep up with her and use my Spanish in the process. We played one last game of dominoes where I got trounced.

Today was the last day of three-days of storytelling. The difference today was that they storyteller was from England, but he had a talented woman who translated besides him. José and I actually heard them three times: once with a children's group in Salas, once in the small village of Castrovido and then again in the Salas town square tonight. And that final performance in the plaza drew hundreds of people even though it didn't start till midnight.

More storytelling

This evening, Javier was part of the procession of people in traditional dress (black cloth, white lace, red accents) that were presenting flowers to the Virgin Mother at the Iglesia de Santa Maria. The church was built in the 15th century. After the alter had been completely covered with flowers, a choral group performed to a standing-room-only crowd.

Javier presenting flowers for Santa Maria

One thing that will shock most of my friends and family is all the foods that I've been eating. For example, I ate several sardines tonight, and liked them. While in Spain, I'll try everything once. So far, I haven't lost any weight if that's any indication.

I still wish the language was coming faster. I seem to forget it as fast as I learn it. I must be patient.