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.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Back to Basics

As expected my way of life is different here in Spain compared to The U.S.

Spain, in many ways, is very good about conservation, recycling, and consuming only the necessities. Many public bathrooms have timed lights, which can be a pain if they aren't timed long enough. You rarely find paper towels to dry your hands with in the bathrooms. Rather than throwing the trash all into the dumpster there are separate disposal containers for the pieces of trash; for instance: compost, paper, glass, and sometimes batteries. Impressive right?

Now....imagine living without a dish washer, an oven, a microwave, and a dryer. Fortunately, I have an oven and a microwave, but I am lacking a dish washer, which I miss so much, and a dryer. I never really noticed when I studied abroad how basic the Spanish home is. Most all homes have gas stoves, which I love, but my house is one of the few with a hot water heater, meaning that most other houses have propane heaters to heat the water as they use it. In my mind this seems like a characteristic of an undeveloped country, but I know that is not the case. The Spaniards don't see any reason why they need these high-tech machines to do work for them that can easily be done with a little time and patience.

Coming from a country on the majority, every household has a dryer. I grew up in one of these households, therefore, I had to learn a few tricks how to hang my clothes on a clothes line to properly dry, which can be tricky especially if you live in a climate with temperamental weather. At night we have a heavy dew and a high moisture level, but during the day the sun is bright and the wind is usually blowing. So, take these two different weather characteristics into account, and imagine how difficult drying clothes outside can be. Yes, the sun and wind are wonderful BUT the wind makes your clothes hard and crunchy; and the sun fades the colors. Now, at night if my clothes are on the line, they most likely will be damp in the morning, so I never can put anything on the line to dry a few hours before sunset that I want to wear the next day because more likely than not, the clothes WILL be wet. There are the few times that I am afraid my clothes are going to blow off the line, down into the parking lot below, due to the strong winds, but "knock on wood" that day hasn't happened yet. After a few trial runs, I seem to have gotten the hang of drying clothes in the natural conditions. My clothes do have a nice fresh smell to them, which is the bright side of a clothesline! This was an ideal drying day!
                                                                      Back to Basics!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Puente de Los Festivos

Compared to the U.S., Spain possibly has triple the amount of Holidays celebrated throughout the year than the U.S, meaning Spain will find even the slightest reason to have a fiesta. The following holidays are a handful of holidays celebrated throughout the year: Dia de la Virgin (each pueblo has one), Dia de Andalucia, Dia de Educacion, All Saints Day, Entire week for Semana Santa, Reyes de Los Magos, and etc. Each one of these holidays are bank and government holidays, meaning the pueblo/ province/ Autonomous Community/ Country is/are shut down.

Yet again Spain is entering a "Puente" weekend, meaning either it is a long-weekend, as we would say in the U.S., or there are holidays within the week. For instance the first week of December 2011 was a puente. We had school Monday, off Tuesday, school Wednesday, and off Thursday. I enjoy the long-weekend puentes more because I find having holidays during the week very inefficient, as well as unmotivating for students to return to school and workers to go back to work. At least on the long weekends people are able to catch "Ryanair" flights to Belgium, Germany, England, France and etc.Normally I try to take advantage of my "Puentes" and travel, but since I am saving up for my trip to London the first week of April; I decided to stick around the Cadiz-Sevilla area and enjoy my time off here.

Let the fiestas commence!

El Gallego

After finishing classes at 3:00pm, a group of Castillo de Luna professors and I headed to lunch at the Galician restaurant in town called "El Gallego".

I knew from the beginning that this restaurant was going to be a treat!

Lunch started with a nice cold cana of Estrella Galicia, my favorite beer in Spain. There is nothing like socializing over a good beer. Mercedes, a wonderful friend of mine, ordered all the raciones (portions) for the whole group; 13 total. Lunch began with the typical Croquetas, which are basically creamy delicious balls/nuggets deep fried. They would be very popular in Texas. Next was the mini green fried peppers with sea salt. Delish! I wish we had these in the states. Supposedly during Feria, the famous fair, these are the food staple plus a cana of cerveza. After the mini peppers, was the pulpo, Octopus, drizzled with olive oil with some paprika for seasoning. The way the pulpo is prepared is truly Gallegian. I would love to actually visit Galicia and try this in it's homeland! Next were the orange colored Mejillones in shell. They were much better that I expected, especially with lemon drizzled on them. Then came the salad with toasted goat cheese, bacon, and pine nuts! Yet again delish! Lastly was the carne Roxa, a type of stewed cube meat with garlic and parsley, and of course you can't forget the patatas fritas (fried potatoes)!

At the end I was happily full and feeling very blessed with wonderful people!

...and of courses we made a stop at another cafe to "take a cafelito" (to drink a small coffee).  

Thursday, February 2, 2012

El Escorial Monasterio

This past Friday, January 27th, I visited "El Real Monasterio del Escorial" in the small pueblo, El Escorial, outside of Madrid in the mountains. We couldn't have picked a more frigid cloudy day to visit. Fortunately, our purpose for visiting was indoors rather than out.

Coming from Madrid, we were able to pick up the Madrid bus from Moncloa directly to El Escorial for a cheap price. The bus takes almost an hour, but like usual you can enjoy the scenery, take a nap, read your travel book as Saki did, or whatever you please. The last stop for the bus is within walking distance to the Monastery and not hard to miss.

The building itself is beyond large. We walked through several hallways just to begin our tour starting with several small museums of art, tapestry, construction tools (that freaked Saki out), models of the monastery (commonly found throughout Spain), and more artwork. Next we proceeded through a dinning room/grand hall of some sort that was adorned with doors of numerous types of woods. So far the parts we had seen had been very typical Spanish-European sights that were not too outrageously exciting.

But at this next moment....

We found the hallway leading to the chamber that housed the Royal Mausoleum. At the time of our arrival, the chamber was temporarily off limits and we had been asked to make a detour and return in 20 minutes. Saki and I continued our Monastery adventure through several casket chambers that seemed eerie enough to make Saki walk a little faster than usual.

Next we found a staircase leading up to an area with a beautifully painted ceiling that proceed to get me yelled at in Spanish that I did not enjoy very much. All that matters is I have a nice picture of Saki posing with a look alike Sistine Chapel ceiling.

Walking past the basilica into the vast courtyard we then found our way into the next incredible part of the building; an ancient library. This library housed books dating back to at least the 12th century. The room smelled wonderfully of books, but of course we were prohibited from opening one up and cuddling in a corner to enjoy the essence. Instead, we were able to peer through the glass window onto the beautifully painted pages with elaborate hand writting.

After finishing in the library, we peeked inside the basilica, which looked like any common high-vaulted ceiling stone structure in the shape of the crucifix to worship our Lord.

Now the best for last...

I then followed the instructions given to us by the lady who explained the temporary closure of the Mausoleum. We were specially escorted through the large sanctuary doors, through the red velvet curtains, and back to the beginning of the hallway where we were then escorted down into the Mausoleum chamber of the Spanish Royals! This Baroque style Mausoleum was specifically built as a tomb for the Spanish Kings. Unfortunately, King Ferdinand and King Philip V are not buried at this location.

Our favorite part of the entire tour, despite the bitterly cold weather, was the outdoor gardens over looking the countryside, mountains, and the incredible view of the monastery/palace itself. We found the gardens to be peaceful and quiet, which were most likely the intentions of the designer itself.

This is one of the 20+ UNESCO sites found within Spain. The architecture, artifacts, and history of this building support the reasoning why this place should be included on the preservation list.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Gypsy Market Madness

Every Wednesday from 9:00-2:00 a caravan of white vans are unloaded to sell cheap goods, which is known as the Gypsy Market.

You can find a little bit of everything at this market from clothing for all ages, scarves, fresh olives, socks/leggings, fabric, jewelry, shoes, etc. While walking past the booths and tents you can hear phrases being yelled out such as, "Aproveche, Aproveche, Aproveche" meaning to take advantage of the cheap prices. This market is known for being extremely cheap. For instance, I bought a pair of tights for 2 Euros one time.

At this time of the year every store is in their "Rebajas" period, meaning things that didn't sell for the past season are held until after Christmas time and sold for extremely cheap. So it seems the Gypsy Market participates in this wonderful affair as well. Normally a pair of boots can be bought for as cheap as 10 Euros. Today I bought a pair of boots and a pair of sandals for 8 Euros TOTAL! Although, I am not buying quality, I am buying shoes that will keep me walking through these next 4 months. Deal for me!

Normally I can't resist the olive booth at the market because the smell is enticing. I have a favorite I usually buy, Garlic Stuffed Olives.There are usually two olive stands that have buckets and buckets of all sorts of colors and sizes of olives. You can find pickle stuffed olives, almond stuffed olives, pickled onions, pickled eggplant, pickled beans, and so on. When I have people come to visit me here in Spain, for instance my family and Saki, I buy these delicious olives because they can't get any better than this.

I plan on attending this wonderful little market as many Wednesdays as possible before I no longer have the chance.

Sevillana La Primera!

Tonight I had my first Sevillana class taught by the lovely Pepi inside the garage of her house.

Sevillana is a form of Flamenco created by the Spaniards of Sevilla. This is the type of dance that is common during Feria, a fair for food, horses, Sherry, Flamenco dresses, and socializing. More towns other than Sevilla have Ferias, which will give me the opportunity to put my new dance skills to use come the middle of April until I head home in May.

There are 4 different sequences of the dance, which are usually danced between a man and a woman. Tonight I learned the first sequence, which involves several steps, passes, points, and the most important the grand finale spin ending with an Ole!

I am sharing this wonderful learning experience with my good Swedish friends, Lotta and Tommy, as well as several Americans here in Rota. Tonight was a first for all of us!


Friday, January 20, 2012

Bienvenidos a Rota

As the title says, "Welcome to Rota"

After a 13 hour travel by plane, night over in Madrid to visit friends, 4 hour train ride to El Puerto de Santa Maria, and a mystery bus ride to Rota; my life began in Spain on September 29th, 2011 to be exact. I then commenced to find roommates, a place to stay, and finally the joy of unpacking my overly stuffed luggage.

Rota is located right on the beach of the Altantic Ocean. Upon arriving the weather was still warm but the water was the least bit inviting to me since coming from a place that had bath water for swimming rather than the kind of water that makes your skin crawl at first touch. From La Costilla, the main beach of Rota, you have a clear view of Cadiz the capital of the province, which is claiming to be the oldest city in Europe. You can find numerous bars along the beach path, where you can enjoy a beer year round while watching the runners on the beach, kids play in the sand, and listen to the waves crashing on the shore. During the summer, June-September, Rota will be swarming with tourist mainly from the Sevilla area, but we also attract the Northern European citizens from the Swedish area because of our favorable weather year round.

Other than the nice beaches and golf course, Rota is famous for the American Naval base. Having to pass the base on the way into Rota, it's not hard to miss with large carriers sitting on the Tarmac and the large Naval boats silently floating in the harbor. At all hours of the day you can hear the sounds of carriers, fighter jets, helicopters, you name it occupying the sky. Unfortunately, I do not have permission to enter the base, even being American. I must receive clearance or enter with important military heads. The base has been in Rota since the 50s, which over time has Americanized Rota. If I feel like meeting Americans I know where to find them: enjoying themselves at bars along the beach, playing American football in the sand, Irish pubs, or walking the central part of town. Because of the American influence many people speak English here in Rota, which at times makes it difficult for me to be forced to practice my Spanish. Although, I do believe God intended me to be placed with some English speaking people, so I may feel less culture-shock.

Along the beach is the Piney Woods Boardwalk where you can find runners, families on walks, and even owners taking their dogs on a walk. I find this a wonderful escape from the noisy Vespas and everyday life. My senses are relaxed by the smell of the pines on the trees, sea-salt in the air, and at times the blooming Fresia flowers.

Although the characteristic of Rota is less ancient Spain, and more modernized beachy; the beach and sun are my continuous reminder why Rota is a relaxing carefree place to live.

Soon the weather shall be warming up and I will begin to fully enjoy the beach once again.

Thanks for following my time here in Rota, Cadiz, Andulacia, Spain, and Europe.