So much crazy news in the world. On Wednesday Spain held a nationwide strike effectively cutting off almost all of the airline transportation in and out of the country and much of the domestic. In Madrid we still had the Metro running but it was pared down to something like 20% on off-peak hours and 50% otherwise, plus there were problems with the newspapers because a lot of their employees participated, and so apparently did many city workers because the streets were a MESS. President Zapatero's been trying to cut state-employee wages and raise the retirement age from 65 to 67, and the people no likey.
Meanwhile, Ecuador. Here again the President was trying to cut public servant wages so yesterday in Quito the POLICE attacked him with tear-gas and trapped him in a hospital until he could eventually be smuggled out amid gunshots between the police and.. the police. Correa gave a speech later in which he tore his shirt and shouted: "If you want to kill the president, here he is. Kill him, if you want to. Kill him, if you are brave enough." Umm, Correa?? Were you not paying attention the last few hours? Now there's talk of him cutting his Congress and just kind of, you know, doing his own thing when it comes to running the country.
Shake shake of the head.
In happier news I've got a couple trips coming up. One of the girls in my program, Lauren, taught in Hungary prior to this so we're Budapest-ing it for a weekend next month. Carissa's also coming. This girl won my heart when she showed up to class on Tuesday with three bottles of Coke, one for each of us. I took a whiff to find that ain't no simple soda, and it wasn't long before I realized grad class is infinitely better when it includes Cuba Libres. Plus, I can't be blamed because I'm just bowing to peer pressure?? That sneaky girl.
I'm also going back to the BEACH!! for a four-day weekend we have coming up. After being a bit unsure about the concept, I decided to sign up for Couch Surfing and at least check out the website. Who am I kidding. Five minutes after logging on I was signed up for a 20+ person road trip to camp on the beach in Cabo de Gata or wherever there's Mediterranean nearby. I will be in a tent with strangers by night and by day I plan on baking myself to a potato chip consistency of tan.
Yesterday was my first day of being in the classroom and it was .. Hmm.. First of all, all these students are used to hearing Spanish-accented English from their professors or British-English from their audio tapes, so I'm not sure how well they understood what I was saying. They would stare at me grinning then turn to each other and giggle after I finished a sentence. So either they like me, they think I'm a LOSER, or I had a piece of food stuck to my face. It's also really, really hard not to speak Spanish with them. I was trying to explain to one kid what "teenager" meant and I asked him how old he was. "Qué?" Laughter. "Hoowww oolldd arre yooou?" "Qué??" Laughs. "Cuántos años tienes - en inglés." When he got over the shock that I spoke Spanish he told me he was "five-teen." Then later he tells me, "My friend he ...how you say?.. like?.. you," at which point I pretended also not to understand his English.
It's going to be a challenge to be an authority figure with these kids because I'm really not used to interacting with them in that way. I like when kids feel like they can relate to me and be their sick little-kid selves, rather than that they have to behave a certain way since I'm older. I assure you children, I'm not that mature. I saw a girl sneak a candy in class (they're not allowed to have any food) and I smiled at her before I realized I was supposed to be disciplining the little delinquent. The other thing is that some of these classes are SUPER chatty and don't pay attention to their profs very well. They were listening when I talked (briefly), but it could just be the novelty of having an Estadounidense in the school. Then after I sat down and the professor began, I'd hear them asking each other questions about me, but I had to act like I didn't know it since remember I can't speak Spanish.
Funky-fresh, crazy-cool, twisty trees.