Lately I've been spending an inordinate amount of time on Skyscanner and Sidestep, searching far and wide for somewhere, anywhere to go. As long as it was warm in January and it was located somewhere within the vicinity of Europe, Northern Africa or the Middle East. And I had to be able to afford it, that also was important. Also somewhere I hadn't yet been. And somewhere I could go on my own. Juliet, Carissa and I have been planning Malta for awhile, but I had nothing set for the week and a half in January before school resumes.
To Israel! I think it must be the universe correcting its temporary lapse of judgment, as I had thought prior even to arriving in Spain that I'd like to spend my winter break in the Middle East, but hadn't followed through. I'm really excited and I'm really really excited to be doing a solo trip because my last one where I was completely alone - not counting moves where I was part of a program - was Portugal almost two years ago, and I've been craving a sequel for quite some time. I need to read a book. I need to think quiet thoughts. I need to go on a tour of the holy land. Done, done and done.
Christmas is coming, weirdly enough, as I seem to have no concept of the passage of time or the approaching holiday in general since I'm away from my normal Christmas routine and WEATHER. I tried working winter vocabulary into my lessons but realized as I was trying to explain the words for frost or blizzard, for example, that it's not just the words these kids don't know but the very concepts themselves. It gets cold here sometimes, but right now it's 48 degrees. Minnesota has been in the news here lately for the roof collapse, and a lot of people have mentioned seeing it and are all quite amazed/disbelieving that people can bear the weather. Holla Minnesota badasses.
Monday was the holiday party at school. Each year the first year teachers have to do some sort of performance, so I was among about eight others standing in front of a full cafeteria of staff members, dressed as a shepherd from the nativity and singing Spanish Christmas carols. When I say singing I mean I clapped my hands a lot and occasionally made adjustments to the shepherd scarf tied around my head. Traditional Spanish dessert of chocolate con churros - which look sort of how I imagine deep-fried intestines would appear, after being dusted with a light sprinkling of powdered sugar. Magical.
Thassabout all I have to say about life right now. I'll be back in town for New Years - co-teacher Ana invited me to New Years Eve dinner with her whole family at her parent's house. Example of Spanish time: She told me if I wanted I could just come to dinner and leave when they finish eating around 1 AM, so I'll still be early for any parties. Yeah okay Ana, either that or I'll fall asleep when I'm stuffing my face with grapes at the stroke of midnight, as per Spanish tradition. Word on the street Spaniards eat x amount of grapes in the final minutes of New Years Eve because way back when there was a surplus of grapes and the King was trying to get rid of them so inducted this tradition. Maybe if the grapes didn't have seeds people would have been more willing to eat them before the numbers got so out of hand.
Another cool story Amaya told me is that people from Madrid are called gatos - cats - because at some point way back when the city was invaded and the people fought back by scratching at the faces of the enemy.
Badass, yes, but can they survive a Minnesota winter??