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Monday, July 05, 2010

July Schedule

I am enjoying my summer schedule so far even if it means getting up at 06:30 Monday-Friday. I don’t need to get up at that ridiculous hour but mornings have always been the best time for me to work. I really enjoy summer mornings here on the Mediterranean coast. Even at 06:30 the sun has been poking around for a while. It is astonishingly quite with barely a bird chirping and with none of the street noise that will come soon enough. I have to time to really savor my first cup of coffee of the day. I would say that coffee is my favorite drug but I don’t want the other drugs in my life to get jealous—alcohol has a really bad temper.

I still don’t eat breakfast but I have started packing a sandwich that I eat at the very Spanish hour of almuerzo, the morning snack that is a daily ritual for millions of Spaniards. After my bike ride in the morning I absolutely must put something in my stomach. I never really understood the whole almuerzo thing before. At around 10:00 weekday mornings, cafés fill to the brim with workers who sit down for a sandwich, a beer, and a coffee. This was always way too early for me to ever think about food let alone a beer or a glass of wine. Now that I am commuting by bike I really need something in my tank at around this hour. Even as much as I like to eat I have still never really adopted the Spanish custom of having a big meal at around 2 p.m. This is even true now that I am commuting about 28 kilometers and finish up in the early afternoon.

La comida, or the afternoon meal, is more like a sacrament for Spanish people than a simple meal. This is why the country practically comes to a halt every day at 2 p.m. I will have a big midday meal on weekends but during the week I don’t go too overboard. I rarely go to restaurants at this time because the daily fixed-price menus are just too much food for me during the day. I much prefer to have my bigger meal in the evening. In the sense of my inner food clock I’m afraid that I may never be very Spanish, but you never know. I am eating almuerzo after all, a very new development (although my almuerzo is sin alcohol). A beer or glass of wine during the day just knocks me out but never say never! An afternoon drink is a luxury for me and one I can seldom afford.

As far as the teaching goes the kids are a lot of fun. It is a challenge to keep them entertained while making sure they learn English. Today we talked a lot about the verb “To Be” and how we use it in English compared to Spanish. I told them they can’t leave my class without learning that in English you say “I am 97 years old” instead of “I have 97 years” as you would say in Spanish. Then we talked about things we are afraid of which also uses this verb. They went through the usual litany of fears: spiders, snakes, sharks, and bees (which prompted the discussion when one flew in the class and I swatted it back out thus gaining the admiration of the kids). One of the kids asked me what I was afraid of and I told them that I didn’t like flying monkeys like in The Wizard of Oz, and I emphasized the plural of monkeys because I’m not afraid of one little flying monkey. But that isn’t the way those little villains rolled in The Wizard of Oz. You could never go up against just one of the little runts; there were always hundreds of them. In a fair fight I could stomp even the biggest monkey but I would eventually get overwhelmed by these little hirsute thugs. I hope I got my point across about the English construction “To be afraid of something.”

When it was time to go home I re-applied some SPF 50 on my face, refilled my water bottle, and shoved off for Valencia. I wasn’t really looking to break any speed records but I was sort of pressured into sprinting most of the way home just because that’s the way the traffic lights and train trestles. I would see a traffic light a kilometer ahead that I knew would be changing so I stood up and humped for all I was worth (total self worth $49.95 with coupon) to make it through. Once I began speeding up I didn’t want to slow down. So much for the mellow, reflective ride home.

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