I’ve mentioned a few times that I’m giving English classes to two adorable spanish boys, right? Well, these two boys, Iñigo and Cosmic, ages seven and five, have certainly found their way into my heart!! I now eagerly look forward to Monday and Wednesday afternoons, wondering what little English phrase they will latch onto this time. So far we’ve had a huge attraction to octopus, one hundred, airplane, and butt… yeah, I tried to avoid that last one for as long as I could but I am dealing with little boys here and you know how they are. We’ve played uno and bingo to practice numbers, games with dice and random shapes to learn colors, and a connect-four game with fruits. My secret hope is that in addition to learning some basic English, they’ll pick up on my repetitive use of the word “awesome” in practically every sentence and start using it in everyday life : )
Ironically the 4 hours a week I spend at this spanish family’s house and in the local parks playing with these boys, using English words mind you, have given me the biggest insight into the Spanish culture of anything so far. I’ve watched interactions between Kristina (the mom) and their housekeeper (a typical addition to any spanish family with small children), heard stories about the dad who is always at work (even when I get ready to leave at 7:15pm), held the baby sister and seen her take her first steps, meet cousins and aunts and grandparents, and been invited to my first birthday party – mind you it’s over a month away but still super sweet. There is so much energy and happiness and maybe a little drama going on in this household that, although I know I am an outsider being paid to teach their children, the way they’ve accepted me with open arms, countless smiles, and lots of hugs makes me feel right at home. Furthermore, since Cosmic and Iñigo know very little English I must follow my english phrases with spanish ones => conversation practice at its best! If I string together a mess of spanish words in the wrong tenses or throw in some spanglish every now and then, these little fellows won’t simply infer or guess what I mean like Carmen or my teachers and friends. Instead, they give me these adorable looks of confusion followed by giddy retorts of ¿cómo? until I work out an answer in real spanish that is then happily received and responded to. Sometimes I think I might be getting more out of these lessons then they are, oops! Living with just a host mom yet having the opportunity to experience all of the excitement of a spanish family every once and a while = the best of both worlds!!
Moving on from my obsession for my little students… it appears that fall has finally arrived in Bilbao. Now how many times have I been told this before?? Several! Maybe I’ve even relayed that exact sentence to you in the past ??, I can’t quite remember. You see, northern Spain is known for its rainy and cool fall season bla bla bla and yet I can count on one hand the number of times it has rained since I got here. In fact, I can tell you explicitly that it has rained 4 times because I still remember the exact days during which I grumbled about the weather, obviously not having taken to heart the 247 times I’d been told that rain was typical in Spain. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good rainy day but there is just so much more you can do on a sunny one and I’ve certainly gotten used to those activities!
Take this weekend for example: Friday I went for a run along my favorite path by the sea, sat on a bench along the coast where I could hear the waves crashing while reading a book, and took a nighttime stroll around downtown Bilbao. Saturday I headed to that lovely bench again, this time with some post cards that need to be written and a little homework. Later two of my friends and I explored a park up a nice long set of stairs in Casco Viejo. And Sunday I joined the hiking club for what may have been the most beautiful trip ever. Cue an hour lunch on the top of Mount Urregarai – which did not take serious rock climbing to summit, mind you – and this girl was one happy camper. (After two distinctly different yet amazing trips, the basque mountain range may have also found a special place in my heart) Fortunately for me and my current sun-loving/anti-rainy season tendency, my recent perusal of weather.com has informed me that there are still some clear skied days ahead of me, arriving just in time for a quick day trip to France (tomorrow) and a nice 7.5KM race around Bilbao (Saturday).