Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Spanish from an English Perspective

Andalucian's are known for speaking rapidly, never pronouncing the "s", and eating the ends of words. It is said that if you can understand a Spaniard from Andalucia, then you can understand any Spanish speaking person. 

In addition to the unique Southern accent, I live country that...

***(Note: You must remember this is all from a English-Speaking Mentality.)***

Has two letters in their alphabet that sound exactly the same "V" and "B".

 "H"s are invisible.

"I"s sound like "ee".

"R"s sound like "L"s and sometimes "D"s. 

"S"s sound like "Z"s and "C"s, and "C"s sound like "Q"s.

"J"s sound like "Y"s, and "Y"s are actually "LL". 

If this isn't evidence that proves languages are good for the brain, then it's like saying running doesn't tone muscles.

There are several phrases Spaniards use between one another that when translated into English are rather funny, odd, or friendly.

When Spaniards answer the phone they usually say, "Si" or "Dime", which mean "Yes" and "Tell Me". Seen from an American point of view, this is very odd. Typically, I like to start a phone conversation with "Hello", which seems like a logical word to start with. As for the Spanish, they are very up front and forward, "Yes, Tell me, what do you want" is the impression their greetings give me.

As Spaniards are parting ways, they say "Adios", "Nos Vemos", or "Hasta Luego". 
Adios = Bye
Nos Vemos = See You Later
Which are both common parting phrases used in American English.
Now the phrases that are interesting and could be philosophically dissected are:  
Hasta Luego = Until Later (this phrase is almost like "see you soon", but without a set time)
Hasta Ahora = Until Now (this phrase is also like "see you soon", but meaning that you will be seeing the person at a set time)

Walking down the street with restaurants, on the windows or signs out front you can find the word "Hay", which in english sounds like the letter "I". "Hay" means "There is" or "There are" so in this case, the restaurant is saying they have a specific type of food. "Hay churros" they have churros. "Hay bocadillos" they have sandwiches.

In restaurants, to ask how many people are in your party or group they will say, "Quantos son?", which translates to English "how many are you?" The response in Spanish is, "Somos Tres", "We are three."

Another oddity about Spanish compared to English is the concept of years and being hot/cold. Rather than saying "I am cold or I am 23-years-old." they say, "Tengo frio o Tengo vente tres anos" meaning I have cold and I have 23-years. The conditions don't own you, you have them.

Change, as in money back, is a very simple yet interesting concept. The preposition is changed from "and" to "with" meaning we say "Ten Euros and fifty-cents", as for in Spanish they say, " Diez con cincuenta" "Ten with fifty." 

The food in Spain is never "delicious", it's "Rico(a)" meaning "rich", but not as Americans use the word because it's a positive word in Spanish. Such as the food is rich and full of flavor.

A word that has endless meanings, that I continue to learn on a daily basis is, "Que", which typically is known as "What" is Spanish. The definitions do not stop there. "Que" depending on the sentence and situation can also mean, "so, have, than". There are other uses that are yet to be discovered.

Other words that you might hear on a regular basis walking down the streets or sitting in a restaurant are:
Vale = Ok
Claro = Sure, Of Course (but also is an adjective for "clear")
Venga = Come here, Let's Go, Alright
Entonces = Then
Pues = well
Pues Nada = Well then ("Nada" is also nothing, so you could read this phrase as "well, I have nothing else to say..."
Besitos = Little Kisses
Abrazoo = An extended/long hug
Anda = Wow
"-ito" on the end of the word makes the small and gives it a friendlier cute context.
"-isimo" on the end of the word exaggerates it to huge, grand, or great.

If you found this interesting I recommend you to study Spanish or move to a Spanish speaking country, you know what my country recommendation would be, Espana!

Ojala Nos Vemos Prontos,
Besitos and un Abrazoo

Friday, March 23, 2012

Los Caballos de Dia de Andulacia

Sometimes, there is no better way to explain something than with a photo.

Flags of Spain and Andulacia

Andalusian with Talent

Side-Saddle Classiness

Bridle Tassels 

Flamenco Dresses & High-Heels

Ladies of the Parade

Horse & Carriage

These photos were taken on the street in front of my apartment. I was in my apartment and heard the sound of a drum roll and commotion from the street. I look out and first see a Marching Band then behind the group was a heard of horses and riders. I quickly threw some clothes on, grabbed my camera, and flew down the stairs. I thought this was some sort of parade for Dia de Andulacia, which is very common for just about every holiday in Spain. Come to find out, the group of riders were headed down to the fair grounds for a horse show in honor of Andulacia. So I ran back up, got ready for the day, and not long later was tearing down the stairs of my apartment building again to join the onlookers at the horse show.

This is what I saw...

A Breath Taking Fresian

Typical Riding Suit

A Cold Beer + A Horse = Bliss

Another Happy Spaniard


Alternating Serpentine

Criss Cross 

Blanco Buddies

Princess Flamenco dancers fighting for the Prince's heart


Typically Spanish Pole Riders

Daughter & Father

How do they keep the horses from tripping on those poles?

Circle Pole Drag

It was a wonderfully unexpected day. Possibly one of the best days I have experienced here in Rota. There were beautiful horses, beautifully dressed people, a short flamenco show before the horse show began, cold beer, good friends, and of course I got my horse fix.

Also, several of my students from my school were riding in the show. Here are two of my students from my First Grade class at San Jose Calasanz. 

Prince Pablo & Me

The Brave Mario and his big horse


Arranque de Rota

For Dia de Andulacia in my high school, a group of students learned how to make Arranque. While they did all the hard work of mashing the food, I got to act as a food critic and watched them make the food then was offered several bowls for a tasting. I gave them two thumbs up!

Arranque consists of a Spanish type of green pepper (shown above), garlic, peeled tomatoes, bread-Pan de Pueblo, a few pinches of salt, and olive oil. Simply, you mash everything together including the bread into a bowl, so in the end you have a mush of deliciousness.

Now the question is how do you eat arranque? The answer is "Pan con Pan" meaning "Bread with Bread". Arranque is made with bread but you also scoop the arranque and eat it with bread. Typical Spanish style. They love their bread. I have also eaten it with tortilla chips and a spoon. It's up to you!

A Typical Andalucian Casa

For most of the year Andalucia is hot, but I happen to live the majority of the time during the frigid cold of the winter.

An Andalucian house is built to keep the inhabitants cool during the summer heat, therefore, they are not insulated and central heating is far too expensive because all the heat would escape. This is a very economical and logical idea that caters to the summer heat, but the winter on the other hand was absolutely miserable.

I feel I can safely post this blurb about the bitter cold because we have officially began spring based on the calendar. Normally during the winter a long sleeved shirt and pants, with a pair of socks on occasion, is suitable to sleep in at night in Texas. Well, this year I learned what it's like not to live in a luxury American home with heat , insulation, and carpet.

Now my house only receives direct sunlight into the kitchen which is on the back side of the apartment. The rest of the house is tiled and shaded from direct sunlight. Therefore, my house never heats up due to direct sunlight during the day, and your feet are always freezing cold. Therefore, my house was frigid during all hours of the day. To bed, I wore fleece insulated leggings, tall socks to my knees, a pair of PJ pants over that with a pair of knit booties over my socks with my pants tucked into them. On average I would wear 3 layers of shirts: a tank top, long sleeve, and a sweater; but on the cold nights I even had to sleep in my North Face fuzzy coat. Most always I slept with a scarf around my neck, and a pair of gloves with the tips cut off. Now, the blankets on my bed. I have an extremely soft, cuddly, warm fleece blanket that holds my body heat in; a sleeping bag; a fleece sheet, a thick heavy blanket, another sheet, and a light blanket on top that mainly serves the purpose of decoration. With 6 layers of blankets/sheets, and several layers of clothing, I still was not warm enough. So, to solve the problem I got one of my old, clean, socks and poured half a bag of lentils into it then tied it up. A perfect temporary solution for a small area in my bed! I would heat the bean sock up in the microwave and cuddle around the warmth to feel a bit more relaxed when going to bed. Also, I picked up drinking tea several times a day just to feel a bit of warmth and it's glory.

Not only was my house miserably cold but the schools I work in aren't any better because the buildings are also built to be cool during the summer. I couldn't wait to go sit around the "Mesa Camilla" during recess, which is possibly one of the most dangerous but brilliant ideas; a table with a heater underneath with a blanket type table clothe draped over the table to hold the heat in. If it weren't for the Mesa Camilla, I might have lost toes this winter. haha

Most Spaniards improvise with space heaters in almost all their rooms, which I got to enjoy on occasion. Even with a space heater I found living like this near to impossible. I have never had such a hard time getting out of bed in the morning. It was literally painful at times. Sometimes my house would be so cold that it would be warmer outside!    

All in All in glad it's spring and we are slowly moving closes towards warm weather. I'm born and raised in Texas, and I will proudly say I enjoy the heat and sun.

Words Ending in "eria"

Upon my arrival to Spain I noticed many stores ending in "eria". There is an explanation for this reason.

Many if not all stores have specific names given by the owner, but almost every store is some sort of "eria". This is because "eria" means "store". If you look up "eria" in a Spanish-English dictionary you most likely will not find this translation because the word for store in Spanish is tienda. Therefore, "eria" is a cultural influence and is understood through observation.

Here is a short list of the "eria's" you can find in Spain:
-Fruteria (Fruit and Vegetable store)
-Carnceria (Butcher)
-Pescateria (Fresh Fish Market)
-Paneria (Bakery)
-Cafeteria (Cafe with Coffee)
-Churreria (Churro Store)
-Colchoneria (Mattress Store)
-Zapateria (Shoe Store)
-Peluqueria (Hairdresser)
-Teteria (Tea Shop)
-Joyeria (Jewelry Store)

If that isn't straight forward, then I don't know what is.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Semana Santa Practice

Now don't let the title confuse you, I'm not the one practicing for Semana Santa (Holy Week). Actually, I will be heading to the great city of London. Many of my Spanish friends are flabbergasted I wont be in Spain to participate in the festivities of Semana Santa. Although I am slightly disappointed I wont experience one of the most incredible and important holidays in Spain, I can't say that I'm not excited to see the historically wonderful diverse city of London. Rather than experiencing Semana Santa in it's full glory, I have been delighted in 3 separate occasions of observing the men practice the march of Maria.

On my way home last night from swimming laps at the municipal pool, I was walking down the main street in Rota, and happened to get distracted by a group of men practicing for Semana Santa. Now, I can imagine you are wondering how a group of men are practicing at 11:00pm in the middle of the street. During Semana Santa, many if not all of the churches build thrones portraying statues of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Jesus. The carriages are extremely large and take at least 25 men to carry. I suppose they need to build endurance for this week long trek, as well as practice the steps to the music that will be played live by a band, which I also hear in the evenings.

All three of the times I have witnessed the groups practicing in Jerez, La Carolina, and Rota I have been amazed by the teamwork but more so the devotion these men give to God. For one, time is a precious thing, so their sacrifice of time to God is inspiring. Now the times I have seen the groups practicing haven't been the most agreeable times; for instance, late Friday night and early Saturday morning. Not to mention their conditions aretn' the most desirable either. They are walking underneath what looks like an over sized bunk bed with weights on top and around their waist stuffed underneath this frame shoulder to shoulder. Then they have to march in sequence as a group to the rhythm of the music. No wonder they begin practicing a month in advanced!

Jerez Practice Group

Last night after passing the group and going on my merry way, I couldn't help to notice the shuffles of their feet and the calls from the guide. The resemblance of this practice for Semana Santa parallels the life of a Christian, and how important it is to live a life that pleases God. These men are out late at night carrying heavy weights, and shuffling their feet as brother of Christ to please the one that gave his life for humanity. Now if that doesn't make you appreciate the blessing of life then I don't know what will.

This metaphor will sit with me for the entirety of my life.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Boquerones: Pescaditos.

Boquerones are a delicious food by taste but not so much by looks. Here in the Bay of Cadiz, a normal dish you will find on a menu are Boquerones. This is a little fish fried whole with a light batter. When I say whole that means from head to tail. Although the sound of eating bones and all sound absolutely absurd, the taste is quite the opposite. With a little lemon squeezed over the fish, there could be nothing more marisco tasty than this!

Tonight I enjoyed these little fish for a countless time, and i'm sure it won't be the last.

I recommend all of you Spain travelers to try this special little fish if you are ever in the Cadiz area.