Tuesday, October 20, 2009

mi casa


my school, "Villa de Autol"

This is my 'adoptive Spanish family' enjoying the Sunday tradition of a massive lunch in their bodega (wine cellar).

Walking through a local vineyard, i stumbled across a family picking grapes

and they were so kind as to give me some to take with me

view of Autol from a hill

The Picuezos (rock formations) with an old castle (to the right) and the local cathedral in the center.

...many many more pics via Facebook

Pig Feet and Strobe Lights

So last friday i got to experience some Spanish night life in Logrono, the capital city of La Rioja. All of the professors and myself went there for a dinner party. Given the fact that they are older than me (upper 20s-mid 30s), I really did not know what to expect; were we going to just have dinner? Coffee and desert possibly? Maybe some drinks afterward, perhaps? Feeling a bit reluctant to ask about details, I ultimately opted to let the evening come to me and let the chips fall as they may, that approach would be more exciting anyway.

Man, was I in for a surprise.

We had a couple of drinks before at a bar and then off to dinner we went at around 10:30. Due to some suffix-translating error on my part, I misunderstood the waiter when he was calling out our main course options. I thought I heard "patatitas" (which literally translates to 'little potatoes') when in reality he said "patitas" (pigs feet). Everyone got a laugh out of it and it became the running joke of the evening. I didn't mind, I have always wanted to try pigs feet anyway; besides, I told myself when I came here that I was going to venture into the culinary traditions of Spanish cuisine. They were actually very tasty, reminded me of chicken wings.

After 11 bottles of wine amongst 12 individuals, and an after dinner drink which was abruptly followed by a shot of herbal liquor that is supposedly good for the digestive system, the dinner was over by 1:15 am. I figured that the night had to be close to over as well, but I was dead wrong.

We ended up bar-hopping until about 4:30 and then it was off to the club (discotech) until about 6:30 in the morning. By the time we returned to our respective homes (well, I ended up sleeping at one of the teacher's homes) the sun was up.

Gotta love the Spanish night life.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Importance of Being Earnest

Also, I would like to give a shout out to Sarah Babin. Her play, "The Importance of Being Earnest," opens this week. you should all do yourselves a favor and treat yourselves to the show and watch Buns perform.

wine caves and shoes

I Just finished eating dinner. My friends Emley and Alberto (who is Spanish) came in a couple nights ago, which was really nice. We all found it strange that the last time we saw each other was on the opposite end of the globe; and meeting up in a random, small, and seemingly insignificant town made it even more unordinary and special.

I took them out on the town, Autol style, and introduced them to Patricia (my landlords daughter), her family and local friends. Afterwards, I cooked them dinner at my place (pan-fried lamb filets, grilled potatoes and onions with dewitt’s seasoning, and a fresh salad) and we drank local wine before bar-hopping around the town and catching up with each others’ lives. Anyway, they were so grateful that the next day they went shopping and prepared a lunch for us to eat together before they left for Segovia. It was a delicious soup containing potatoes, onions, carrots, beef, red peppers and tomatoes. Alberto gave me his recipe. Anyway, they made enough for it to last, and it is what I just ate for dinner.

This week went well. I actually enjoy teaching the older kids, the class is more engaging and the older kids seem to look up to me, and yet they treat me like a buddy but respect me at the same time. I actually stopped by the local soccer field tonight because there was a practice going on and some of my students saw me and we played soccer, which was fun. I do not have vitamins; I may buy some. However I have been sleeping better, especially thanks to the Spanish national sport-the marvelous and unparalleled siesta.

My cord ought to be in any day now, as soon as I get it pics/vids will be posted…trust me I am as eager as you are.

I think tomorrow I will pass my day-off in a close by city called Arnedo, only about 10 minutes away by bus. It is about twice the size of Autol and is famous throughout Spain for the shoes manufactured there.

By the way, did anybody see the Flaming Lips on Conan? Oh my, I wish I could go to Voodoo.

Monday, October 12, 2009


So I decided to not attend the Pilar Festival in Zaragoza this weekend, rather I elected to take it easy in Autol and save some money. Also, I have felt perpetually tired since my arrival in Spain. While it would not seem like someone in my position ought to be tired much, as I am not exactly working a '8-5' job or anything, it's the truth. My body is not tired; my mind is, however. I am forced to always think in, hear, speak and comprehend/translate Spanish, it's as if my brain is constantly doing math problems or something equivalent throughout the day, and I must say that it wears on me.

However, I think not attending the festival was a good move on my part. Instead, on Saturday I decided to walk to some vineyards close to the town. While walking through one, I came across a family picking grapes for winemaking. They were very kind, especially considering the fact that I was just strolling through their boss’ vineyard, and gave me some fresh grapes, which are still chillin’ in my fridge-they are sweeter than normal grapes and very tasty (I have pics, but you’ll have to wait). Also, my landlord, Carlos, introduced me to the manager of Autol’s local winery which produces a wine called “Marqués de Reinosa” (it’s very good) and he was so thrilled to meet an American that he decided to give me a private tour of the place. By the way, the winery is not open to the public except for a few times a year; you are not allowed to take pictures inside the premises (however I sneaked a few, and will display them in due time).

Sunday was relaxing; I was again invited to join Carlos, Fanie and their family for lunch at the bodega. Instead of bbq, which we ate last week, this meal consisted of seafood ranging from fish, mussels, clams, shrimp, fried sardines, eel, veggies and of course, wine. I think I may still be full, to be honest.

Today I did not have to teach; it’s Columbus Day, which in Spain is an excellent excuse to not go to work and thus a national holiday. Tomorrow I start teaching older kids, around 12-15 years old, which ought to be interesting…I must admit I am a bit nervous, kids that age tend to be difficult, but we’ll see. However I am really excited about tomorrow night, my friend from Vigo, Spain (Alberto, the one who gave me my sangria recipe) and his girlfriend Emley, a good friend of mine from LSU, are coming to visit me for the night, so I am sure it will be a good time, showing them my town and going out and everything.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Alright so i am at school right now, enjoying my 2.5 hour lunch break that the teachers get between 12:30 and 3. Yesterday was my first day teaching and i must say, it is a little different than i expected. The school is quite nice, it is only a few years old and resembles some of the better looking schools in America. I have met most of the professors, who have welcomed me with open arms. Some even invited me to joing them this weekend in Zaragoza, a large city a couple hrs from here, for a massive Spanish festival similar to San Fermin, minus the bulls; i think i will join them, should be fun.

I have had a good time with the students thus far, and since i am the only teacher from the program in Autol, it looks like i will be teaching all levels, from 4 yrs old to 15 yrs old which should be interesting. The little kids are pretty easy to handle, teaching them songs, playing games,etc. However as the students get older we begin teaching letters, numbers and eventually grammer and conversational skills. Something i did not expect: a lot of immigrants from Morocco. Many of whom do not speak much spanish and thus no english, so that will certainly be a challenge.

In other news, i have internet in my flat, i am borrowing it wirelessly from my landlords who are not charging me so that was a pleasant surprise. And although the signal comes and goes at times, it was stong enough for me to skype with davey n shelbs, juice, and my family last night (my skype name is chriscrockett0).

I ordered a camera cord, but am not sure how long it takes to get things shipped to my location. However as soon as i get it, i will provide pics and vids.

Monday, October 5, 2009

lucky situation

So I made it safely to Autol, despite some problems with Rail Europe (but I’m not going to go into that). My apartment turned out to be much better than I expected, it’s actually larger than mine was in BR, with a small-town Spanish twist, which is a fresh change from my modern set-ups in the past. (I have a short video tour of it, actually, however I seem to have either forgotten to pack or have misplaced the camera cord that connects to my comp, but I’ll post it asap). It is, however, more expensive than I originally thought-a translation error on the program’s side, I suppose-however my situation is fantastic, if not at least better than most of the other teachers I talked to in Madrid. My landlords, Carlos and Fanie (Stephanie) are super nice and have basically adopted me into their large family. So far, I haven’t needed to cook or buy a meal, as I have either dined with them or one of their two kids, who are both in their 30s and have families. Moreover, Carlos owns some land for growing crops so he said he would provide me with potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, garlic, and several fruits while I’m here for free. If that’s not enough, Fanie’s family owns a bodega-basically an underground cellar used for storing wine-that is over 150 yrs old, and every Sunday the family, about 20 in all, gather there for lunch. Yesterday they invited me to join them for a massive feast consisting of wine,olives, salad, tomatoes, bread, lamb ribs, chorizo (sausage), bacon, asparagus, pork ribs, fried fish, potatoes, sautéed peppers, fruit, desert, and coffee. It lasted 4 hrs.

Also, being the new person in town, the family has introduced me to just about everyone and their grandmother. It’s kind of crazy how literally everyone in the town knows each other; I have never witnessed a community as close as this before. In fact, I feel as though I already know half of the town, or at least half of the town knows who I am. And everyone is so generous and kind, it kind of throws me off. I’m really looking forward to becoming a part of this place for the next 8 months or so.

photos and vids coming as soon as I either find or replace my camera cord.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

3 hour tour...

So i finally made it to madrid last night around 6 pm (11 am lafayette time) after what proved to be a strenuous and exhausting trip across the pond. i was supposed to fly from nyc to dublin then to madrid, however a 2 hr delay leaving nyc pretty much screwed up the rest of my flights. the good news: i was flying áer lingus´, an irish airline and was thus traveling with many irishmen. now, the good news about traveling with irishmen is that they share a similar mentality as me when it comes to long layovers in airports, that being spending a solid time at the airport bar close to your gate. so we began drinking around 330 like we were going to board at 530, only to realize that we would not, in fact, be departing until around 8. so what´s a man to do but return to the bar and continue with story-swapping over pints of guiness. i won´t go into details, but i will say that some of the irishmen were singing songs and tackling each other in the tunnel on the way to the plane, it was a good time.

After arriving in dublin i was immediately re-routed to london, which i must say has a pretty confusing and rather large airport, especially if one only has an hour to catch his flight (however i did get to finally experience what it feels like to be one of those assholes sprinting throughout the airport trying to reach his gate). so after a 26 hour trip that took me through 5 airports, 4 flights and 4 countryies i finally arrived in spain, only to realize that my luggage was stuck in london...but i have it now so everything is good. also, i have met many ppl in the program from all over europe so it looks like i will have contacts if i choose to travel not only throughout spain, but europe itself (well, so far only in france and germany).

tomorrow i leave for autol by train and i am really excited and quite curious to see what my home will look like for the next 8 months or so. i´ll keep ya´ll posted about it and hopefully upload some pics and vids for you guys.