Our time in Salamanca is coming to an end. We leave in five days.
Spanish classes have run the gamut. The amount of information that has been crammed into this tiny old brain of mine is hard to fathom.
In keeping with the whole “student” experience – last week I succumbed to the sickness being passed around the school – right down to losing my voice and making conversation class impossible. I didn’t want to be selfish so shared with Bill – one week later and we are both sick.
It is cold, cold, cold. On certain days the fog rolls in and clings to the antiquated buildings, making the town feel ominous. We long for our fireplace…
Bill walks 3 – 5 hours a day. He has learned the landscape of Salamanca hither and yon.
He starts near the Plaza Mayor where we have fallen in love with the formally appareled Spaniards, dressed every day, all day in their Sunday best. The woman are complete with full length fur coats, hair coiffed and make-up worn with precision – age not a deterrent. Husbands and wives walk arm in arm. Infants are bundled in their prams and children frocked as if they were heirs to the throne – a throwback to a bygone era.
He heads away from the scene in the snow globe toward the other parts of Salamanca, down winding paths along the river – home to a cat lady and her 20 plus felines, a homeless camp with a man huddled next to a fire to keep himself warm and families strolling with their dogs.
We had a fun and welcome break two weekends ago when Mark and Jonel came to visit. We indulged – libations, pastries, food, pastries, sight seeing, pastries and cards – fun times!
A classic Sunday breakfast – blueberry pancakes with Aunt Jemima syrup – thanks to the American store that opened around the corner. One would have thought we bought caviar considering the price but Ohhhh was it worth it!
We took a nice long walk on this glorious fall day. Grass is still green but the trees are changing and there’s a chill in the air.
I just finished my second week of Spanish classes. Odd how going to school can make me feel stupid….
Immersion school consists of 3 classes per day starting at 9am and ending at 2pm (subject to change).
The people in the class can change every Monday.
My class currently consists of a 19 year old named Lukas from Germany who spends most of the class playing on his cell phone. A 28 year old Afghani, Farhad, raised 70% of his life in London and has traveled to 130 countries. A 44 year old Korean lady who goes by the name June. Her 2 sons have been in school here for the past 2+ years – an escape from the rigors of Korean schooling. A 22 year old Chinese gal who goes by the name Emma (her real name sounds like Ciao). She arrived last week and will study until July (makes my gringa accent sound pretty good). Her parents sent her to the US when she was 16 to study English. Lastly, Fred a 40 something guy from Scotland who took 3 months to ride his motorcycle here. The first week’s class had a 31 year old Brazilian named Anderson who has since gone home. Potluck – wonder who will be here on Monday?
Lukas, Fred, Emma and I are all for the long haul. I think Fred will pass us up…
Last friday night Bill and I joined 16 of the students for “Rua de Tapas” – bar hopping and all it’s glory. We watched schoolmates try and master the parrón. It was like watching the water gun carnival game – the person with the most dexterity walks away with the prize – an unstained shirt. The “adultos mayor” commented about doing the same with bota bags.
Last weekend my mother and stepfather came to visit for 2 nights. My sister and her husband just left after being here 2 nights.
Now we will settle into some sort of routine…
The days are warm and the nights are cold. Trees are just starting to change. The parks are stunning – the flowers and green grass on their last hurrah. The night time landscape is changing too. Gone are the copious amounts of people packing the streets eating dinner until wee hours in the morning. Just a few thick skinned diners frequent the terrazzas. After a warm afternoon bike ride last night proved to be too cold for our outside dining experience – the layers of clothing did not help against the cool breeze – we longed for a fireplace to warm our chilled bodies opting for a Drambue night cap and arroz con leche.
I started intensive Spanish school today – 5 hours a day – 5 days a week. Bill said the total hours are equivalent to 7.5 semesters of school.
Bill also walked me to school and took my photo – I felt like I was 5 years old again. He also picked me up for lunch and gave me permission to walk home allllll by myself!
The accent is Spain is difficult to understand – they talk with a lisp. Poco a poco.
We walked 1.2 miles (our feet still hurt) to the grande Carrefour store (similar to a Walmart with food) with the intention of taking a taxi back home with all of our treasures. The taxi stand was empty and we left our new Spanish cell phones home because we were together – who else would we call??
The man at the lottery booth instructed me to go back into the store and use the pay phone to call a taxi.
After several unsuccessful attempts I asked the security guard for help. It’s been about 19 years since I used a pay phone – in Spanish no less. I was happy to find out that the pay phone was broken and not operator error. The security guard kindly called us a taxi.
It rained again last night – so it was dark and eerie when we left Santiago de Compostela this morning. Our 4 hour train to Medina (where we would catch our connection to Salamanca) turned into a 5 1/2 ride making us miss our connection. The ticket master was as pleasant as could be and asked us to wait. 5 minutes later taxi showed up and drove us to Salamanca – a one hour drive at no charge. We were shocked – thought we’d just catch the next train!
We are now unpacked in our comfy apartment – so excited to see our jeans, clogs and a extra shirt! After wearing the same 2 outfits for the past 40 days we got excited to see just another change of clothes.
After 5 months we are looking forward to not living out of a backpack for the next 3 months. Well… not exactly 3 full months – we’ll be exploring Portugal and other parts of Spain on the weekends.