Friday, July 22, 2011

Final preparations

We have spent the week wrapping up classes and practicing for the Farewell program tomorrow evening.  The show is coming along quite nicely.  They will show their appreciation to their host families and spend the rest of the weekend with them.  The tears begin tomorrow and continue until we get on the bus early Monday morning to head to the airport.  The instructors refer to it as the "Autobús de las lágrimas" (the bus of tears).  They will be sad for a bit, but it won't last long. 

They will return to Indiana with a new perspective and a sense of satisfaction.  They will have spent 6 1/2 weeks in Ciudad Real and they should be proud of their successes.  There is no doubt that some of them will return to Spain.  I have been returning for 24 years now.  It doesn't seem possible.  I have traversed the country north to south, east to west.  It is truly a land of beauty and history.  I can't stay away for long - it is always calling my name, pulling me back. 

The photos below are from our rehearsal today.

Monday, July 18, 2011

The end is in sight

With one week left, the students are both excited to go home and sad to leave Ciudad Real.  Some are starting to think about the things at home that they have missed.  Some will be happy to get home to their normal time schedule.  Others will be glad to sleep in their own bed.  I, personally, belong to this camp.  There is really nothing like being home in your own space.

 Many of them will miss the food. While it is possible to make Spanish food in the states, there are simply some ingredients that you cannot substitute.  It is also quite difficult to duplicate the atmosphere that one experiences at a typical cafe here in Spain.  Going out for tapas is part of daily life - meeting with friends and family, enjoying food and drink together. Another custom that many students were able to enjoy on at least one occasion is spending a Sunday afternoon at a country home with the extended family.   This may be to celebrate a birthday or baptism or just because.  It is one of the only things to do on a Sunday since virtually all the stores are closed. 

I have included various photos this time.  Many were taken in the cafeteria.  We are fortunate to have an hour for lunch.  This has been a great social hour for everyone.  They have played many games of euchre after each meal. 

The Despedida (Goodbye) program is Saturday evening.  The choir will be performing several songs and the theater will perform two short plays.  We are preparing daily and looking forward to a successful event.

At Atocha train station in Madrid.

The cafeteria.



Castillo Calatrava el Nuevo

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Semana 4

It was a busy week with excursions to Almagro and Madrid.  Almagro is a lovely town dating back to the 13th century.  It is known for its annual International Festival of Classical Theater.  We saw "El perro del hortelano", a comedia by Lope de Vega published in 1618.  It was entertaining and very well performed.  It was a perfect evening to enjoy an outdoor performance.  We returned to Ciudad Real late and adjusted our schedule the following day.

La Plaza Mayor - Madrid

On Friday we spent the day in Madrid.  We took the AVE, high speed train, and arrived at 9:30.  We immediately headed to the Prado to see some of Spain's best works of art.  The highlights are the paintings by Velázquez and Goya.  There is nothing like seeing a work of art in person.  One cannot appreciate the size and perspective of a painting when viewing it in a book or on the internet.  We took a short walk afterward to visit the Congreso de los Diputados.  This is where the Congress holds sessions.  Upon leaving the Congreso, we took a short break before heading to the Gran Vía.  We made our way to the Opera house, the Palacio Real and the Almudena Catedral.  We then went to the Plaza Mayor and had a bit a free time.  The last visit of the day was to the Museo de arte Reina Sofía.  This is where Picasso´s ¨Guernica¨ is housed.  It was painted in May-June 1937 as a reaction to the attack on the town of the same name during the civil war.
The weather was perfect for our visit.  I only wish we could have spent more time because it is difficult to fully appreciate Madrid in one day.  

Group in front of the Palacio de Comunicaciones - Madrid

Group in the park next to the Palacio Real

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fourth of July

We celebrated on Friday evening with the host families.  They brought food: tortilla española(Spanish omelette), bizcocho(sponge cake), pisto manchego(roasted vegetables), jamón y melón (Spanish ham with melon) among other things.  The party took place on the patio of the school.  We sang the National Anthem, as best we could.  The host families seemed to enjoy our efforts.  It certainly does not feel like the 4th of July - no family cookouts, no fireworks, no hamburgers or hot dogs, no corn on the cob.  The only common denominator is the heat.  Actually, I think it's worse in Indiana.  The lack of humidity makes it somewhat more tolerable.  It also appears that we have a bit of a break from the heat this coming week - highs are predicted to be in the low to mid- nineties. 
We've reached the half-way point.  The kids want time to stand still.  Many of them would like to stay longer.  I know that they will have other opportunities to return in the future.  This summer will pave the way for many other experiences.  They will return home with a new perspective and independence.  They will have a greater self-confidence.  They will never forget this summer in Ciudad Real.  

Singing the National Anthem.