Archive for September, 2010
This is an English immersion program for Spanish professionals to (obviously) learn English that we volunteered with this past week. Tonight is our last night and I have to say it is one of the best experiences I have ever add. We have been so busy meeting, speaking, befriending, and really starting to love these people that we have had absolutely no time to update our blog.
Basically, a group of twenty Spaniards and twenty “Anglos” or native English speakers are taken to the beautiful Spanish coutryside in Cazorla (Andalucia region) to only speak English! We spend hours and hours talking with Spaniards and talk about everything from the weather, to poverty, to religion, to economics, etc. In return for our 100 plus hours of talking, we get to stay in a four star hotel and enjoy amazing meals, wine and tapas. It is really hard to explain how wonderful the program is and later I will need to write all of the details of Spanish culture I have learned. It feels a bit like summer camp and throughout the past 7 days, we have fallen in love with this country and the people here on this program! It is truly an experience like no other!
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Back to Spain and A Flamenco Show
Well, our flight back to Madrid was delayed three hours! Sadly, we are getting used to the delays. We met a very nice South African man named Andre during the delay process who ended up being an absolute saint. Because of the delay, we wouldn’t be able to get to the hostel until after midnight. Andre used his cell phone to call our hostel to make sure they would wait up for us (checkin was going to close before we got there) and then drove us from the airport to our hostel after midnight!! The people of Madrid have been the absolute best. We have had 6 separate instances like this where people in Madrid have gone out of their way to help us.
The next day we ran into a bit a problem when we realized we had forgotten to set our clocks back two hours. We woke up at 8AM, had breakfast, and went out for a run only to realize during our run that it was actually 1030AM. We cut the run short so we could still meet up with our Pueblos Ingles group. We had a fantastic Paella lunch at a traditional Spanish restaurant – now I know why all Spaniards say this is their favorite dish. Then we walked next door and were invited to watch a Flamenco show (check out video above!)
Watching Casablanca in Casablanca At Rick’s Cafe
We were off on our way to Casablanca after the tooth drama with just enough time to make our 8PM reservation at Rick’s Café. Now before we got to the restaurant we were over charged by every cab driver, got in a wreck in a taxi, and we were taxied to “Rex’s Café” in a very dodgy area of Casa. But, somehow we made it!
Rick’s Café is based on the movie “Casablanca”. We had an absolutely wonderful dinner at the fancy and swanky restaurant – probably the nicest place we eaten at so far. We were also able to eat dessert and have a bottle of wine in the lounge while we watched the entire movie. Jackson had never seen it so it was really cool to watch it there! Really, the rest of our time in Casablanca was nothing to write home about.
We were moments from heading out the door to catch a train to Casablanca when I heard these words last Tuesday morning (sept 21). My mind raced and a jolt of fear ran down my spine as I tried to register what was meant by “My tooth fell out.” Images of Haley’s front teeth missing flashed in my mind. Did she fall? Did something hit her in the face? What would she look like?
Once she finally came out I thankfully saw that it was her back tooth that had just popped out of her mouth! We called Summer’s Mom who is a dental hygienist for advice and she advised that Haley get it filled as soon as possible-just one problem, we needed to fly out of Morocco the next day and had to be in Casablanca that night. We were recommended a dentist by our friend Mark and this same dentist was recommended by the US embassy. We decided to just show up and see if the tooth could be filled right then and there without an appointment. Amazingly enough, we got to the dentist and Haley was in the chair after only thirty minutes of wait time. Haley found out the tooth was actually a large filling that had just cracked and fallen out. The dentist filled it up and all was well except for the part where he did not use novocaine and Haley got to experience what it really feels like to get a filling and it only cost us $60!
We were able to catch up on our running / training schedule in Morocco. Peter and Summer joined in with us and showed us a great park to run in. Peter set a personal best with running 6 miles and Haley also set a personal best. On Saturday, Summer ran with Haley and I for the first 4 miles. Then Haley and I ran another 9 miles. It was the furthest Haley had ever run before and equaled the distance of a half marathon. It was really incredible. I was so proud of her. It was a real accomplishment and after seeing her do that, I really feel like we can do this marathon together. I am really excited about the opportunity to finish the Athens marathon together and believe it could be an incredible and once in a lifetime type opportunity.
Amazing and Traditional Moroccan meals
The five of us (Peter and Summer have a lovely baby girl named Hazel) had an incredible Moroccan lunch on our first full day in Morocco. Couscous is a very traditional Moroccan dish, but it is only is served in restaurants on Fridays. We had intended to go to a hole in the wall restaurant that another friend of ours, Mark, had recommended, but after walking around lost for quite sometime, we settled on another place that Peter found. It turned out to be quite a find! From the entry way, to the menus, to the veranda with a tent, it really felt like the genuine thing! Check out the pictures!
Also, in Morocco, they use Dirhams as the form of currency and the conversion rate is about 9 Dirhams to 1 US dollar. It was nice to be able to have the dollar go further, since the Euro has continued to climb higher since we have been over here. Peter and Summer took us to another great lunch at the Moroccan version of the Trump Tower (or at least it felt that way). The hotel was extremely nice and we ate like kings for only a small amount of money. It was great!
Here are some of our favorite photos from our time touring around with Peter and Summer in Morocco. We visited some amazing places with them and they were wonderful tour guides.
DESCRIPTION OF PHOTOS
Du Chellan – Ancient Roman ruins from when Arabia was an Roman province
Moroccan Mint Tea –
After touring the city of Rabat, we headed to a café by the coast and enjoyed a nice hot cup of Moroccan Mint Tea. I felt the phrase, “Would you like some tea with your sugar?” was much more appropriate due to the copious amounts of sugar they put in the tea. Also, since alcohol is forbidden in Islam, drinking this tea is commonly referred to as Moroccan Whiskey and men challenge each other with seeing who can drink it with most sugar.
Touring the City – Haley and Summer enjoying a nice breeze as we walk through Mohammed V’s Mausoleum. Peter just collapses from exhaustion after serving as host, translator, and tour guide. The guards who protect the Mausoleum were kind enough to stop for a quick pic. Haley poses for a photo as we look upon the Atlantic Sea.