Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Chatting over Coffee in the Spanish Countryside


View of a rainbow from my room :o)



At first, I was nervous about where to sit at meals... I had flash backs of school cafeteria social rules. Luckily, we had one rule to follow at meals. Every table should have 2 Anglos and 2 Spaniards. Except there was one 6 person table, which would become the party table. 

So each meal I would walk into the little hotel restaurant and sit at the first seat where an Anglo was needed. By the end of the week, everyone was friends with everyone and people were starting to clique. Meals were the perfect setting to let loose a little and get to now each other even more than we already did. We became family and I didn't feel an ounce of homesickness the entire time.

Unfortunately for me, I became very ill mid-week, with the worst enflamed sore throat and my nose was running like a faucet. I was a mess and I think I can tie the source to the very sick girl in my bunk room at my hostel the night before I left for Vaughantown. I bet she got everyone in that room sick.... She was coughing and rolling around in her bed the whole day and night I was there.

One on One conversation sessions

I kept going to my conversation sessions the second day when my ailments were hitting me full force.... unsure of what to do. Luckily, my second session that day was with a doctor from Madrid. As soon as I realized what she was, I started pleading for help and she was most gracious. She took me in the bathroom and shined a light in my throat. No white bumps, so she loaded me up with ib profren and just like that 30 minutes later I felt 100% better!

I wanted to cry and I ran over and gave her a hug! My throat had gotten to the point with all the conversation that it felt like it was bleeding, but I didn't want to fail my obligation as a volunteer. All of the Spaniards were so interesting and I wanted to meet them all. I would warn them to sit away from me so I wouldn't get them sick and I kept my sentences short.

Aside from my medical issues, I tried to take advantage of the experience as much as I could. Every night we would have entertainment whether it be a skit or sing along, etc. One night we did pub style trivia. We formed 2 teams and my team turned out to be a good team. All the trivia was in english, but some of the questions were geared towards European music and movies, so it was a good mix and we came together and won! It was very exciting... I think alcohol was on our side that night.



Later in the week, we were given a free afternoon to go to town as a big group and explore. So we went to the little castle at the center of Barco de Avila and took a couple group shots. We shopped for the specialty of the region: white beans. I bought a big bottle of hard cider to share with my new british friend that night. We had coffee in a small shop on the main square with a cute fireplace that we all gathered around.

On the cute bridge in town

Special beans from the region
The river in Barco de Avila

It was the perfect afternoon to cap off my week of emerging in Spanish culture. It was probably a funny site to the villagers, 30 people walking around speaking english in a town full of quiet senior citizens with little tourism.

The next day we had a big banquet style lunch before loading onto the bus to go back to Madrid. I was sad to leave my private hotel room in the remote hills of Spain, but I was looking forward to my plans to bar crawl in Madrid with my new British friends. I would have 2 more nights in Madrid before my flight back to the US. Stay tuned for the story of our bar crawl... it was quite eventful!

Our final lunch all together!


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