July 4, 2005

7/4/05 Málaga Spain

Fourth of July!!!

Ah, you know how the first day of school feels – the anticipation, the questions, a little excitement along with a little fear. No matter how old I get or how often I sing up for a new class, I'm always the same. That's probably a good thing.

I did even worse on the introduction test this morning than I did on the school's online test. I guess 'worse' isn't the correct word. It was just a placement test so they could figure out my level of Spanish.

I'm in the Elementary (as opposed to Beginner or Intermediate) class along with seven other students, three of whom are continuing from last week. There is Pedro (Peter) from Switzerland, Klaus from Germany, Ondrej from the Czech Republic, two more girls Sweden, and two kids also from Sweden that seem to be together. I'm the oldest by one year and the youngest is sixteen I think. Klaus and Pedro are ahead of most of us, in at least actually using Spanish.

Our teachers are Isa and Ramón. Isa always has a smile and tries not to go to easy on us. Sometimes she speaks pretty fast, but then it's still a lot slower than the Spaniard on the street.

Ramón is the director of education and you can tell he loves his teaching a lot. He really tries hard to get everyone to participate and make it as non-threatening as possible. I know it's only my first day, but I think I'm going to like it here very much.

Oh, and got instructions on how to use the propane (A simple lever on the bottle needed to be flipped on).

The only downside today is that I am sore as hell after my run yesterday. Hence, the day off the running schedule. Maybe I need to take a dip in the school's pool. [smile] For those of you who know me, this won't come as a surprise, but I don't cook much. But here in Málaga, not only do I have to dust off those rusty cooking skills, but I have to do it with a slightly different set of ingredients.

For example, the best lettuce reminds me of Romaine lettuce. Their ice berg lettuce are about the size of a softball. Almost no celery and those that they do have are pretty sad looking. Tomatoes are pretty plentiful as are peppers and onions. They definitely have more of a selection of fruits than I'm used to. As far as I can find, they don't sell ground meats. I guess because you couldn't see what it is made of. And the store has a fish section but it's only open certain days when the catch is fresh.

I was hoping for a bakery close by, but will have to settle on the breads in the supermarket. Most things seem more expensive except water. A huge two liter bottle of water here costs 30 cents. No wonder you see everyone drinking it. For me, the tap water is as good as back home, so I'll stick with it for now.

I did something that shocked me today. I took the bus downtown and survived. I don't know why that is so scary for me. Maybe with walking and biking, I'm always in control. Anyway, I got on, asked the driver “donde?” and put my coins where he wanted and got a bus ticket for 90 cents. Bus #11 does a back-and-forth route from somewhere near the end of the boardwalk to the center of town. Unfortunately, everyone had the same idea as me as we were packed in like sardines. Oh, and it was 6PM.

Bus #11

The bus took a few turns so I wasn't sure where to get off. Tilde at school told me where all the shops were and I was only a few blocks short.

What I found amazed me. The entire area was for people on foot only. And it was huge. Hundreds of shops down every which way. I spent 2 hours walking around and I think I only covered half of it. And I didn't even go into any stores.

But no that I know what to expect, I want to go again. [smile] The only downside to this hot, dry climate is dust. And while waiting for the bus back home I seemed to be right in the path of a major dust tunnel. My eyes watered the whole way back. Might have to get some eye drops at the drug store.

After studying for a while, just had to go out for an evening walk like the rest of Spain. Time, 10PM on a week night. Saw my classmate Klaus and we attempted to tell each other about our day in Spanish. Amazingly, we understood each other.

Too tired to study any more and still very sore from my run on Sunday. Need to do a little stretching before my evening meditation. A good end of the day none-the-less.

Oh, and Happy 4th of July!!!