Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Just so you don't think it's all work and no play...

In an act of gratitude, the Spanish church we've been working with threw a party for us last Friday night. There was lots of food, music, and (Bethel-appropriate) dancing.

Here's a little snippet. Be warned, you might get motion sickness.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Some Nibbles

While we were settling in on our first day, a friend of Sammi's (the apartment's normal resident) stopped by to say "Hello". Wanting to get to know us better, Javi invited us to his house at 6:00 p.m. on a Friday in order to enjoy some "nibbles".

Friday came, and Javi swung by our apartment to pick us up. He drove us to his house, a small, red, single-story home on a hillside overlooking Cocentaina.

We arrived a little after 6:00, and we spent the next 3 hours enjoying various local snacks while we each shared about our homes, jobs, families, favorite foods, etc...

True to his Indiana heritage, Ian's favorite part of the evening was driving (and parking) a small John Deere tractor.

Apparently Javi enjoyed our time, because a week later Ian and I joined him and his friends for a barbecue. Then, this past weekend Javi's family came over for some "nibbles" at our place, followed by a walking tour of Cocentaina (both Javi and his wife grew up here). This next Sunday, I will be joining Javi for a 6 a.m. hike on a nearby mountain. I'll be sure to post pictures. Assuming I survive.


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

La Capilla de Sant Jordi (St. George's Chapel)

The view of St. George's Chapel from the school
No matter where you go in Alcoy, you can almost always catch a glimpse of a lovely blue-domed chapel situated in the center of the town's valley.  The chapel is dedicated to St. George, the same St. George of British legend, who purportedly slayed a dragon in Libya, saving a princess and returning home a hero.  As it turns out, he's a hero in Alcoy, as well.

In the latter part of the 13th century, Alcoy was being invaded by the Moors.  As the story goes, in the thick of the battle, when all looked lost, St. George appeared on horseback in between two mountains overlooking the city and led a victorious charge on the Moors, thus saving the Alcoyanos from certain ruin.  With gratitude, the locals pledged to build a church in honor of their savior, and hence, St. George's chapel was designed and raised.

Nowadays in April, there is a yearly festival in honor of this event in which the people of the town dress in medieval costumes and take part in an epic "battle" of Moors and Christians, which is always won by the Christians following the appearance of "St. George."  It is widely considered Alcoy's main attraction. The Lonely Planet travel guide even goes so far as to say that for 51 and 1/2 weeks out of the year, there is no reason to visit Alcoy -- this festival occupies the half-week exception.  Of course, we obviously don't agree with this sentiment and have found many reasons to be here!


My job in Spain is a little bit different. Instead of working at the morning camps or teaching English in the evening, I'm the housekeeper, cook, babysitter, CFO, and of course, driver.

I've discovered there are two rules to Spanish driving:

1. Pedestrians always have the right-of-way when stepping onto a cross walk. They won't even look to see if you are coming; they just step right into the street at full speed.

2. Don't turn on red.

Actually, there's a third rule as well, but it relates more to parking than driving:

3. If at least two wheels are inside the parking space, that's good enough. It doesn't seem to matter which two wheels...

Thankfully, I haven't had too many scary moments at the wheel. For the most part, I find Spanish drivers to be the perfect mix of aggressive and law-abiding. Traffic flows really well.

The one mishap I've had though occurred when we were returning to Alcoi from Alicante on Saturday. Our TomTom kept putzing out on us, and we ended up taking about a 15 km detour. I had forgotten to bring my laptop (it had all of my good maps on it), so we spent about 15-20 minutes in the middle of nowhere trying to figure out how to get back home.

Fortunately, we made it and only wasted about 35 minutes.

Here's to two more weeks of accident-free driving.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pizzaria Pirata

On the first Monday night that we were here, we had just had a loooonnnnng day at kids' camp and a hectic evening of registration and placement tests for the adult classes.  Hannah, Ben, and I were pretty late getting home and Eric had already had supper with the boys, so the three of us ventured out around Cocentaina for something to eat.  Completely missing the tapas bar that had been recommended to us, we stumbled upon a restaurant called Pizzaria Pirata and decided to give it a try.
Holy yumminess.  Yes, that IS an egg in the middle of my pizza.  It's accompanied by whole green olives, tiny slices of chorizo, a perfect amount of cheese, and a thin layer of a simple tomato sauce, all on top of a crispy, bubbly crust.  Pure deliciousness.  Here's a close-up:  
Since then, we've made Saturday nights our Pizzaria Pirata night.  We all order our own pizzas for a little over 6 Euros each and have a feast.  I'm fairly certain that this will be one of the many things we'll miss after we leave.  

Monday, July 18, 2011

Ian & Jordi

In the first session of the kids' camp, Ian made friends with a six-year-old named Jordi.  It's been fun to watch them play together, eat together, and get in trouble together, even with the language barrier.

These two dudes have had so much fun together these past two weeks.  And here they are having some more:

Jordi fell on the playground last weekend and broke his arm.  Hence, the cast and the scrapes on his forehead.  This situation only gave Ian the excuse to a) pretend he was injured, too, and b) be a "helper" to his friend all week.

In his prayers at night, Ian has been thanking God for his friend Jordi, because "he's so funny."

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Not-So-Local Celebrity

Our kids' camp made the Alcoy newspaper this week, and look who was the star!
For those of you who can read Spanish, here's the whole article (just double-click on it to enlarge): 

Tobin's Groupies

Tobin had some admirers these past two weeks!
These two loving ladies (among other people) were always more than happy to cuddle him, feed him, and entertain him so we could have a break now and then.  Consequently, he's been a super happy dude!

Thanks, Shannon and Sondra!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Trienta y dos

It's someone's birthday. 
Can you tell how excited he is?  

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The House

Although our trip to Alcoi was in the works for a little over a year, we didn’t know where we would be living until a few days before we left Indiana. Originally, all of our team members were going to stay with host families while our family lived in its own apartment. The missionaries had trouble finding host families and that idea had to be abandoned.

Providentially, a Finnish couple that knew the missionaries was going to be leaving for a couple of months, and they offered their home for us to stay in. Even better, this couple had three children: ages six, four, and 7 months (born 4 days later than Tobin). This meant that their house was perfectly suited for our family.

Given that the house was so large (2 ½ baths, 4 bedrooms, and a loft area with another 6 beds), we have been able to also take care of the Bethel students that don’t have host families. During the first two weeks, this is just Hannah and Ben; however, the second two weeks will see us living with Ben, Allison, Whitney, Garrett, and Katie. I thought that I was just going to be taking care of 2 children; now it looks like I’ll have 7.

The house is spacious. It’s narrow, but very long front-to-back. On the entry level, there is a staircase leading to the second floor, a large kitchen, a ½ bath, and a sitting/living room that opens up to a back deck. The back deck has steps leading down to a patio that contains a small kiddie pool (it’s a couple feet deep) that is a house favorite during siesta. The second floor has 4 bedrooms and two full baths. Each bedroom opens onto a short balcony. The third floor has a large open room with a sitting area and bunk beds.

We feel very blessed to have this house to stay in. After only a week, it already feels like home.
Back Deck
Living Room and Dining Room
Our Bedroom

Monday, July 11, 2011

Adult English Classes

Yesterday, we told you about our mornings; today, we'll explain what goes on in the evenings around here.

After siesta time (during which both boys get naps, but not necessarily their parents), we eat a light snack, called la merienda, around 5:00 to tide us over for a late dinner, which the Spanish call la cena.  Then I get in the car with Ben and Hannah, the two students currently living with us, and drive into Alcoy to the church for the adult English classes.  The classes are held at Iglesia Bautista "Monte Sion" de Alcoy (translated:  Mount Zion Baptist Church of Alcoy) in the heart of downtown.  The church graciously repainted the entire inside of their building and even installed air conditioning in some of the classrooms in preparation for this event.  Hosting the classes is a good advertisement for the church, which is one of only a couple evangelical churches in the area due to the fact that many people here view Protestant churches as part of a cult.  Their hope is that by hosting these classes, people will not only become more comfortable with the church, but will also be able to form relationships with some of the members.
Iglesia Bautista "Monte Sion"
At 6:00pm, formal classes begin, during which the students are split into three groups:  beginner, intermediate, and high-intermediate.  They're taught by Jessica, Katie, and Ben, the three Bethel student teachers who came with us.  Then at 7:00pm, we split the students into groups of 4-6 to have some free conversation time.  The other American volunteers (comprised mostly of people from northern Indiana Missionary churches, along with the extra Bethel students we brought with us), give up their evening to come to the church and lead conversation groups.  We're very grateful for their help, as the Alcoy residents eat this time up.
Pastor Pedro with Inez from California and Jessica from Indiana
At around 8pm, everyone is exhausted and ready to head home...so we do.  Ben and Hannah and I usually arrive back home around 8:45, where Eric is laying out a delightful cena on the table on the east balcony.  We feast and chat and rest until it's time for bed, which happens for us old people around 11:30pm, while our students usually stay up for a bit longer to get some work done in preparation for class the next day.  

The next morning, the whole schedule starts again.  Thus our weekdays go.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

English Camp Alcoy

Whew!  That was a crazy week! Our first seven days here were a whirlwind of activity and adjustment, but we made it, and now it's the weekend.  (Hallelujah!) We thought we'd take this lazy Sunday afternoon to catch y'all up on what we're doing here in southeast Spain.
Ian with two of his classmates spelling the word "ant"
The bulk of our weekdays are spent at Escola Oficial D'Idiomes (Official Language School) in Alcoi.  We eat breakfast (el desayuno) together at 7:15, leave home around 7:45, arrive at the school around 8:00, have devotions and a general meeting time with the other American volunteers, then start English Camp at 9:00.  There are four sessions with a mid-morning snack break, called almuerzo.  The children travel in their age groups from station to station, which include art, sports, music, and English.  My Bethel student teachers and I hang out in the English classroom all day where they teach the same lesson four times...with a few tweaks to accommodate each age group.  We get to love on the kids and play lots of fun language games.  The camp gets over around 1:00pm, at which point we eat a catered lunch (la comida), with the other American volunteers, then depart for home around 2:30 for siesta.
My student Katie, teaching about England
Ian hangs out in the 5-6-year-old group all morning and has started making some cute Spanish friends.  One in particular, a six-year-old named Jordi, has been dubbed Ian's favorite.  The two boys often have to be separated for having too much fun together.  :)

Eric's morning involves driving me, Ian, Tobin, and one of our students to the school every day (the other student living with us right now gets a ride from the missionaries running the show), leaving with Tobin around 9am to swing by the grocery store for the day's victuals, putting Tobin down for a nap at home while taking care of household details (cooking, cleaning, budget-keeping, baby food-making, etc.), heading back to the school around 12:30 so Tobin can get his lunch from me, then taking us all home after lunch.  He's taken on his role as administrator/house-husband like a fish takes to water.  I'm so stinkin' proud of him.

Check out tomorrow's post to find out about our exciting afternoon/evenings!

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Hola, España!

We're here in Spain, safe and sound!  The trans-Atlantic flight was terrible, but we made it, and we're happy to be here.  We're actually living in a "puble" called Concentaina, just outside of Alcoi, about a 10-minute drive from the elementary school where we'll be running the kids' camps every day.  Some wonderful Finnish people, Sami and Noora, are loaning us their beautiful home while they take a family vacation back to Finland for two months.  We got to spend some time with them yesterday before they left, and we're so blessed to have known them, even for such a short time.

Today is being spent cleaning, unpacking, and getting some rest.  Everything closes down on Sundays (personally, I think that's the way it should be), so we're just hanging out and putting off errands until tomorrow.  

Strangely, we've taken no pictures yet (gotta get that camera out), but we'll be sure to post some soon.  

Hasta la vista!