Monday, October 31, 2011


Miguel Espinosa


Hello all!

I have had a wonderful break. It has been so relaxing but also fun.

Yesterday, I went to the third annual Pepper festival in Nájera, a town that is 30 minutes away. This festival is held every year on the last weekend of October and displays the Riojan pepper and various pinchos (or tapas) that can be made using the pepper. Miguel Espinosa the manager of the National Geographic Cafe in Madrid (yes national geographic has a cafe), demonstrated the preparation of two tapas. He put some out for people to try, but I wasn't able to get to it. People swarmed all of them! Oh, well.

I tried the tapa that consisted of strips of pepper and fried eggs. Yum. It ofcourse was a tapa and wine meal deal for 2 euros. Fantastic. After I ate my tapa, I walked around for a bit and waited on my bus.

Last night, I went to my salsa class ofcourse and showed of my excellent following. Woohoo! Men lead. Ladies follow. Well, ladies don't follow in salsa rueda when the man doesn't know how to pass and could possibly interrupt the friggin' circle! In this case, I usually just pull myself around and pass myself to the other lead. Confusing. Mmk.

Today I found a secondhand shop! Yay! Everything was so cheap! They had leather jackets for 10 euros. Pants, shirts, and boots were 1 euro. A lady asked about the price of some boots, and she was surprised when the owner said "1 euro." She was so surprised and so asked again...

I purchased 10 items of clothing, and received a purse as a gift for buying so much stuff. It was only 10 euros. I'm going to go out again and look for other stores with a larger selection. Oh, I need to go out for lunch too. The lady of the house is obviously not going to cook today. I wonder if it's, because this is my last night here. Yes, my last night here. Woohoo! The family is going to pick me up in the car tomorrow. I'm so excited. I can't wait to have a 3 minute walk to the bus station. Let the good times roll!

And the drums roll!
Frying the peppers
Ah, the lovely display

pimiento con huevos fritos y vino joven, 2 euros. They give you bread with everything.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Some new stuff

These are some new word uses, colloquial word, and other random stuff that I've learned this week.

Pesado- it usually means that something is heavy. It can also be used to refer to an irritating person.

Me toca las narices - like saying "you are a pain in the neck"

Morcilla- spanish sausage

wit- ingenioso

chuletillas - little lamb chops

pimiento del piquillo- a pepper from navarra

carbón- coal, kids that are bad kit carbón from Los Reyes Magos for Christmas. Santa Claus (Papa Noel) is not as famous as Los Reyes Magos, the three wise men or the three kings who carried gifts to baby Jesus.

Sandy- a lemon beer without alcohol

Halloween- It was a Celtic tradition that was introduced to America and transformed into the modern day Halloween.

enseñar- it usually means - to teach. It is also used here when someone says that they will show an apartment. They do not say << voy a mostrar (to show) la habitación >> They say <>

lienzo- canvas

puente- it means <> but they use when they have a long break like the long Halloween break. One of my students said that he was going to sleep during the bridge...

chamizo- In La Rioja, a chamizo is a room where teenagers go to hang out on the weekends. They pay for it monthly, and it includes all kinds of activities.

Don't put all your eggs in one basket- No pongas todos los huevos en una cesta

People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones- No tires piedras a tu propio tejado.

Well, this does not include the stuff that I have written down.

Pura Vida!

5 day weekend!

Yes, 5 day weekend. I don't work any Fridays and everyone has Monday and Tuesday off for the Halloween festivities. I can't do very much, because I'm still waiting patiently to be paid. I. am. waiting. patiently. I am.

Because I still have no extra money, I'm going to explore Logroño this weekend. I've already roamed one side of the city today and discovered some cool stuff. There is a free book exchange. It's called book crossing. ( I can pick up free books from a cafe, read them, and then drop them off at another participating cafe. Also, the books have numbers in them, so I can look them up to see where they have been.

I am also going to see some a play today at CNT theater. Last night, I went to a mock auction at the same theater. Tomorrow, I plan on going to a pepper festival in Nájera, a small town 30 minutes away from here.

For Halloween, I think I'm going to go to karaoke. Everyone who tries to sing Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is rewarded with a free drink. I'll do it. On Tuesday, I move with the new family.

I'll update you later on how everything goes.

Pura Vida!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


So I move on November 1st. I know I said that I would probably rent a room in a piso and buy my own food, because it would be cheaper.Well, it's not. I calculated everything, and it would still be more expensive. I'm going to rent a room from another family that lives much closer to the bus station. I won't have to wait 15 minutes on the bus in the cold. As soon as my bus arrives back in Logroño, I can walk 3 minutes to my house. The family that I'm going to move with consists of a couple and 3 boys of ages four, six, and nine. Hello! I'm going to share a bathroom with the boys. Let's see how this works out. I don't want to leave the little girl, but I must. :(

When she hears me come in she says "Bionca, bionca, bionca. ¿qué haces?" (what are you doing). When she wants to play, she starts pointing to stuff and asks, "qué es eso? qué es eso?" (What is that?) Also, last week we were outside playing in the yard when a neighbor came out. She called the little girl, "Frida. Frida." Frida ran up to me, and she leaned against my legs as if to say "who is that women?" Tear.

I will miss her.


P.S. I live with a 6 year old boy too. I just can't seem to get a picture of him, because I never see him.

Difficult english words easier for a spanish speaker?

In my adult intermediate 1 classes on Monday and Tuesday, we read about traditional american families. I came across the article on a website about living in America. It was only two paragraphs, and I thought that it would be easy enough for them to understand. I learned in class that the article was a little above their level. The teacher stopped me as I begin to tell the meanings of several words from the text.

She said, "This doesn't seem that hard to me. Do we need to translate the text, sentence by sentence? This text should be harder for a native English speaker because of all the latin words. English is a made up language."

When the teacher said that English is a "made up" language, she meant that English has a lot of loanwords. I supposed she used "made up" to keep from having to define a more accurate term. Loanwords are words borrowed from other languages. Although English is a germanic language, you may find a few celtic, scandinavian, french, latin, greek, and other different loanwords in print.

The text that I had given the students had a lot of cognates and should not have been a problem. They were a bit confused, because the words looked difficult. The words would have been more difficult to an American who hasn't been exposed to the roots education or experience.

I'm not going ramble on about the awesome history of English, and how it came to be Present-Day English. I'll let you research this yourself if you want.

I'm going to fill my stomach and get ready for class today.

Pura Vida!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

More Pics!

Trip to San Asensio

I think Rebecca (another english assistant) was right. They did enjoy the free labor...

I just returned from a Wine festival in San Asensio, La Rioja. It is a small town about 30 minutes from Logroño. I intended to go yesterday, but I overslept. I wasn't going to go today, because I didn't feel up to it this morning. I was still upset about being locked out of the house yesterday. I'll tell you about that later.

I stood in front of the bus station for about 5 minutes trying to decide if I should catch the bus or not. I decided to go, because I remember someone telling me to take advantage of every opportunity. I'm broke, but the bus ride was only 2 euros. I'm glad I went.

While there, I visited a bodega Lecea ( )that was giving a short tour about the process of winemaking. At the end of the tour, I ate a chorizo sandwich and had a glass of wine. I promise you that wine was the only option for drinks. It was a meal deal: un bocadillo de chorizo y vino, 3 euros.

After I finished, I watched the process of smashing the grapes, but I didn't take part in the process just yet. I wanted to walk around for a little bit. At 1300hr, I threw off my shoes and jumped on the grapes to start smashing. Yes, they smash the grapes with their feet. You know when you say something is so good that it tastes like someone's feet have been in it? If you drink wine from Spain, someone's feet was in it. It may be my feet. How lucky you are!

It was a lot of fun, and it helped lift my mood. It wasn't as messy as I thought it would be. I envisioned something like Pamplona where people throw sangria in the air. I didn't really get dirty. I just had grape juice up to my ankles.

The workers loved that so many people wanted to help. I also think that they were impressed and probably a little turned on to see women stepping on grapes. I heard the interesting side comments and was asked why I didn't bring my boyfriend to help smash grapes.

After 1 hour, I cleaned up so that I could get ready to walk back to the bus stop. After I left, only the workers were stomping on the mound of grapes. I suppose the other people were dressed too nicely to stomp on grapes.

I didn't buy a bottle of wine, because...well, you know. I only live 30 minutes away, so I can visit anytime I want.

Stay tuned for more pics!

Pura Vida!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

What has been your experience here compared to US?

One of the 15 year old students asked me this question on Thursday. A ver...

1. You know that thing "personal space"? Well, forget about it here, because you are talking face to face.

2. The siesta! At about 1430 hr, most of the stores shut down. Everyone eats lunch and then takes a siesta or lounges around until 1700, which is when everyone goes back to work. At the schools, lunch is from 1300-1500hr. Sweet, right?

3. The apartments are really small, but they fit so much stuff into them. For some reason in America, we need gigantic houses with loads of space.

4. Kids run way ahead of their parents when they are walking around the city. It seems safer in Logroño (not the bigger cities) than it does in Augusta. Kids would probably be snatched up there if they were to run 10 feet ahead or lag behind. :(

5. The food isn't cooked in fat in Spain. It's cooked in olive oil. I love olive oil, but I hate olives. Hmm...

6. Wine is very cheap since it is made right here. In the center of the city, a wine of glass is only 0,60 euros. It's cheap, but it's good quality. And no, I don't get drunk. I didn't drink at home at all. If I went to a bar with my best friend, I would usually drink cranberry juice and make her look like a "raging alcoholic". She misses looking like a raging alcoholic! When I do drink, I limit myself to 2 glasses. More than 2 will most likely lead to intoxication. Not really my thing...

7. Bars in Augusta, close at 2am, but they close at maybe 6am here.

8. The drinking age in Spain is 18 years old, but my 15 year old kids can still somehow drink when they go out on the weekends. :S

9. Kids are out with their parents until around 1am.

10. It seems like everyone on the corner of every street smokes. Ugh! Hello lungs!

11. Of course, my beloved lemon fanta is here.

12. The bus schedule is fantastic here.

13. Ham is every friggin' where.

14. I miss the milk from home. :(

15. I prefer a medium sized breakfast to a little muffin and some coffee.

16. Everything is "no pasa nada". That includes pay checks. Oh you're not getting paid on time? No pasa nada. For everything else, I love "no pasa nada".

17. The orange juice in cafes is made to order.

18. Spanish men are direct here. It can be very creepy sometimes... Well, it's not creepy if the handsome bus driver is direct. :P

19. Waiters don't depend on tips.

20. I like my bread soft. Not hard as a friggin' piedra. I mean...rock.

Pura vida!

Breakfast woes

I'm always hungry after I eat breakfast at home. Breakfast here isn't the same as the US. Well, it isn't the same as it is in Georgia. I was prepared for this before I came, but I don't think that my stomach will adjust. I walk all the time, so I have to constantly eat or I'll be skin and bones. Breakfast here usually consists of a coffee and cookie, a coffee and toast, a coffee and magdalena ( a tiny muffin), and orange juice. It's not very much, so I always need tapas to satisfy me until lunch time. I always need tapas, because I always hungry! I'm hungry right now and lunch isn't until 2:30pm.


Friday, October 21, 2011

A spanish man in the kitchen apparently leads to disaster...

The husband tried to cook today. We had garbanzos (chickpeas), salad, and a banana. According to the the señora, the chickpeas were a little hard and the soup had too much water. He also put a gigantic piece of red pepper in our soup. He said he put a lot of water in the soup, because he doesn't like it dry. He asked me why I wasn't eating the salad, and I told him "eh, I'm trying to enjoy this stuff?" He also just told me that things are better when they are under done. Yeah ok... :D

I just had to take a picture of the disaster. He joked, "ayudame a coger" -Help me clean it up (coger = to pick up)

Pura Vida!

For those of you who didn't know.

Listen to him and hear the "th" in words with z, c. You can also hear it with d at the end of a word.

The early bird catches the train?

Yesterday in my Advanced 1 class, I went over some famous English Proverbs. I'm sure you know most of them. The students knew most of them.

The teacher and I passed out worksheets with 16 famous English proverbs. The students were directed to select the correct endings of the proverbs. Let me tell you about the ones that they guessed incorrectly...

1. People who live in glass houses shouldn't have secrets.

2. Where there's a will, there's a lawyer.

3. The early bird catches the train.

4. A miss is as good as a Mrs.

Although number 2 is wrong, it does make sense.

No comment about number 4...

Only one person chose train, but I thought it was worth mentioning here. Another student explains why the ending should have been worm. She used the literal translation of a similar spanish proverb. "A quien madruga Dios le ayuda." Which literally means God helps those who wakes up early. I then said, "So if the bird wakes up early enough, he gets the best seat on the train." It makes sense, no?

Pura vida!
I'm here right now! - The library
On the way to the Library. Calle Portales
Zona Peatonal? (pedestrian zone) Someone should tell him...

From bus to bus. Kind of ridiculous eh?

After last night, I have decided that I really need to move. I chose to live with the family, because I had been staying in a hostel for a week. It wasn't a quick decision.

After my bus arrived back in Logroño, I went to Calle Laurel to meet some of the other assitants. Well, I went with my laptop bag and my goody bag. Why didn't I take my stuff home? I have to wait 15 minutes for the bus, walk to my piso, then walk back and wait 15 minutes for the bus again, and then walk to the center of the city from the intercity bus station. It would have taken me forever to finally meet up with them, so I decided to lug my stuff around. Today, my arms are very sore.

I am also going to move because of the pay check issue. I really love living with the family, but I need to move to a piso closer to the bus station. It will be cheaper with the cost of food. I will rent a room for half the amount that I am paying the family and cook my own food. This is sad, but necessary.

Pura Vida!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Tortilla española. Total immersion baby!
Haro today- after the rain.
So it's about to rain, big time. A teacher from the primary school saw me walking and gave me a ride!


So there's a lot of drama surrounding our paychecks. I'm not going to talk about that now on my blog. This is my happy place. I will only talk about happy things here. Well, ok, I will only talk about happy things today. I'm feeling good today. I picked up my insurance card. I have health insurance. Woohoo!

I'm going to teach my intermediate 2 students the rules and terms of Texas Hold 'em. Hopefully it goes better than last night with the other intermediate 2 students. And I thought the Advanced 2 students were confused! It should go better tonight. I feel good about it.

I'll check back in later. I really need to practice my strategy for teaching poker tonight. I'm sitting in the cold park on a wet bench where I pick up excellent wifi. I need to hurry up and go!

Pura Vida!

Salmon on my pizza?

This is my dinner from last night. I returned home to a salmon and cheese pizza. mmk. Strange.



That is me trying to figure out why the 2 year old and 6 year old are watch in Sex in the City (Sexo en Nueva York)
The tiny washing machine next to me.

So I'm going to put an advertisement here, because I think this is a great deal. If I were in Augusta, I would be going to this. I'm not getting paid to post this, so don't yell at me!
Learn to Dance for the Holidays. 8 weeks of dance classes for $40. That's kind of awesome. It's usually $80 for two months worth of lessons...

Holiday Party Survival Course

Starts This Thursday, October 20, 2011

Show off your new moves at the next Holiday party!

Ballroom in Motion is bringing a new exciting dance series on Thursday evenings for adults. From 7:00-8:00 p.m. every Thursday from October 20th through December 15th the experienced staff will be teaching a dance series called Holiday Party Survival course. Dances covered will be Swing, Slow Dancing, and a little something Latin to warm you up.

The most unique thing about this dance series is that the class is $39 per person for the entire course! That's less than $5 a class! It will be a night of fun, fellowship and dancing, so spread the word! If you have ever had any interest in learning to dance, now is your chance! All you have to do is show up Thursday, October 20th , no pre-registration required. Come prepared to meet new people, learn to dance, and enjoy a wonderful evening of FUN & fellowship. Make this the last holiday season you spend hanging out at the punch bowl!!

Email me today with any questions:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


The first two classes were kind of stressful. The 5th level kids remembered only a little from last week. The 4th level kids, well, they remembered nothing. I didn't realize that their level of english was sooo low. Good thing the play is this week. I can get to the fun stuff next week. And they were bad (!) today. Bad. Bad. Bad. I'm looking forward to the 6th level. Hopefully they remember something...

So to de-stress a little, I treated my self to a big lunch! I usually grab some pinchos, but I was too hungry. I went to a chinese restaurant, which was one of the only restaurants open during lunch break. I'm sorry. I had to do it! Chinese food tastes way better than I remember it. I had a 3 course meal for 8 euros. How awesome was that!

Take a look

Of course, my beloved Fanta Límon, or Kas límon -same thing
Pollo con verduras, chicken with vegetables
Sopa de pollo con champiñones, chicken soup with mushrooms
Whatever the heck that was, I do not know. tasted like a fish wafer :l
All three Woo hoo!

Afterwards, I had coffee with milk in order to wake up for my next round of classes.

Pura Vida!

Monday, October 17, 2011

A 10am-8pm Day

So it's 5 in the morning, and I have been awake for 1 hour. :(

I'm trying to prepare for class today. I didn't have much time yesterday or this weekend. It would be really nice if they told me in advance about the things that I need to prepare for the night school. I don't find out what I have to do until I get there. Although I am an english assistant, I prepare my own lesson for the hour, and I lead the class. The teachers sit there and apparently lose all sense of reality, rarely helping me as I struggle. Bwah. It irritates me sometimes, but it will help me decide whether teaching is in my future. It may be. I was telling my friend the other day that all of this is strange. I am the quieter one in social situations, but I do feel comfortable in front of a classroom when I have something prepared. I'm not as nervous as I am when I'm sitting with a group of new people, trying to choose my words carefully and care enough to say anything at all. I have been working on that all my life. Oh well...

Yesterday was ok. It was great until I arrived at the official language school and was accused of doing something forbidden by the program. I'm not supposed to correct the written work of the students, because I'm not the teacher. Hmm. Well, I haven't been doing this, so I didn't understand the problem. I told the director that I didn't understand, and another teacher started speaking slowly and loudly like I was a level 1 English student. That pissed me off. She then proceeded to show me books to help me understand the problem. Mmk. I didn't understand the director's reason for telling me this, since I have only been correcting students' speech. She heard that English assistants at the official language schools in Logroño (the city I live in) have been correcting students' written work. I guess she thinks we all congregate under the clock somewhere and all decide to break the rules. I tried not to let it bother me too much, because I had to be happy for my intermediate 1 class.

Last night was my first time meeting the Monday intermediate 1 class. They were very cool and were very interested in my ballroom dancing. That took up a lot of time. I love it! There wasn't much of any classroom work. The objective was to get them ALL to talk, and not just the ones who obviously speak better English. It was a challenge until we started talking about sports. One girl has lived in the US and so likes US football. Everyone knows the spanish LA Lakers player Pau Gasol. He was here last week and received a Rioja prestige award.

We also talked about the Masters Golf tournaent and... the "feminine eteam", uh I mean, women's volleyball team. One guy thought that people only talk about the women's volleyball team because of the "lovely ladies". They were still debating this as I exited for the last bus to Logroño. I wonder how it ended...

Well, I'm going to finish preparing my lesson. Then I'm going to eat all the cookies that I can find and drink all the strange tasting skim milk that is left in the carton.



My stuff. And yes, that is water and my goofy bag which I wear backwards.

My lunch right now! 1410hr.

Tapas and Lunch

Good Day!

I am having lunch in a cheap restaurant while I wait to catch the evening bus. It's one of the few places that open past 1400hr. I am having potatoes, salad, and hot dog. :) They didn't have tortilla española! I am also going to try one of those strange looking tapas. I've attached some photos of the way tapas are laid out in bars and the ways ham hangs from the ceiling. Ham (jámon) is everywhere!

There is also a picture of typical apartments (pisos) and a fountain in Logroñ0.

Pura Vida!