Wednesday, June 13, 2012

And so it ends...

My last week in Spain was spent teaching and going to goodbye dinners. There was little time for sleep, which, in conjunction with the intense heat outside, did little to help my mental and physical state. When I did try to squeeze in a siesta, I was interrupted by the sound of open windows being forced shut and open again by the wind. I couldn't lock them shut because then I'd be too hot to sleep. As a result, I was kind of zombie-like for a solid four days. I enjoyed the company of students and colleagues and friends, but by the end of the week, I was having extreme difficulty concentrating on half the things they were saying. And while I had absolutely nothing planned outside of a few relaxing hours of packing, I was convinced to go hiking on my last day in Teruel.

It was Friday and the weather was incredible. Unfortunately, it was incredibly hot too. I prepared by applying sunscreen to every exposed part of my skin except for the back of my neck. I would later regret that decision. I met up with my friends, Libby and Eva, and we went hiking to the ruins of a small Iberian village about two miles from Teruel. There were signs posted that informed interested passersby about the history of the site, but it was entirely too hot and I was too sleep deprived to focus on it. I did find various pieces of broken pottery and Eva lectured me on the differences between Iberian creations and Roman handiwork.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Belchite, Escucha, and Sarrión

Friday was my very last day in the primary school. The teachers all left for Turkey as part of their international project they're doing and won't be back until the day after I depart for home. It was depressing to have to say goodbye to them and then just kind of stick around. I don't feel nearly as integrated into the high school, and the teachers that I do feel more comfortable around are gone to Andalucia as part of a student project. I still have the language school, though, where my coworkers and students are always really friendly. Unfortunately, the last two weeks have been day after day of saying goodbye to each class of students, as each day is the last I'll be there with that particular group.

This weekend, I went to Zaragoza yet again and stayed with the other Italian teacher from the language school. I met her family, which was really entertaining, and we all set out on a busy day trip to Belchite and Escucha. She had been wanting to show me Belchite for quite some time, but due to various scheduling differences and whatnot, we hadn't been able to go. I'm glad that during my last weekend, I finally got to check it out.

Our first stop was seemingly in the middle of nowhere, somewhere in the countryside a decent distance from Belchite. There was a bunker of sorts and some trenches from the civil war. It was quite different from the other places I'd been to, so it was a welcome addition.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Protests in Teruel

Yesterday in Spain there were widespread strikes and protests against the recent cuts in education funding, which have been quite significant. So I was stuck with the director of the primary school I work at in Albarracín and one other teacher as a result of the rest of the teachers striking. We took fifty or so kids hiking in the countryside around Albarracín because we couldn't follow the regular schedule and classes, which require several more teachers at minimum.

As we were leaving the school to go hiking, we saw the students and teachers of the high school joining up with parents from the village, wearing green shirts in solidarity. I don't really know they chose green outside of having some color for everyone to wear and because they wanted to avoid other colors with potentially negative connotations (red, for example). The little preschoolers also marched, all tied together by a rope so they wouldn't run off all willy nilly. I wasn't sure how to feel about the little children being a part of it all because they obviously weren't conscious of what was going on with the protest, much less the political and economic atmosphere of Spain. But it is something that is going to affect them and is currently affecting their quality of education, so I guess they may eventually appreciate the opportunity to be there, if only retroactively.

Monday, May 21, 2012


On Friday, I headed with my roommate, David, and his ladyfriend, Irene, to Huesca. Huesca is Irene's hometown and also the capital of the Aragonese province of the same name. The Pyrenees mountains run through the north of it and it makes up part of the border between Spain and France. The city of Huesca has about 20,000 more people than Teruel is much flatter, but overall isn't that drastically different in atmosphere. Zaragoza is definitely the outlier of the three Aragonese capitals.

We arrived late in the evening, so I didn't get a chance to see much of the city outside of some dimly lit streets and tapas bars. Irene introduced us to one of her best friends and took us to a local tapas bar called Da Vinci. It was quite the popular venue. We had to stand around a little table in a sea of people and yell our orders to an impressively composed waiter. He recited all of the specials without skipping a beat and added up our bill in his head by listing the price of every individual tapa from memory and giving us the sum. All of this was while he was getting beat and battered by passersby in the cluttered little bar and waiting on no telling how many more people aside from us.

I got to meet Irene's parents and they gave me a little room to sleep in. Her mom was ridiculously worried about me being comfortable and having enough blankets and whatnot. I guess that's just how moms act. It really puts me on edge sometimes, though. I told her all I needed was a bed or a couch and I'd be fine. She took that as a suggestion that I would rather sleep on the couch instead of a comment on how little maintenance I required.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Beth Anne comes to Spain (Part Two)

Following our day trip to Valencia, Beth and I returned to Albarracín for another day of work. Fortunately, I only had to work for the first bit of the day and we were able to explore a bit of Albarracín at the expense of our delicate skin. Summer in this part of Spain (at least from what I have seen) is devoid of clouds. There is the occasional wimpy fuzzball of a cloud here and there, but nothing to protect you from the sun. We were already a little burnt from Valencia, so getting burnt again was anything but pleasant.

Beth Anne comes to Spain...finally (Part 1)

Beth Anne came to visit a couple Sundays ago and brought with her incredibly warm and sunny weather. I made the long journey from Teruel to Madrid to pick her up. They have recently jacked up the prices of all of the public transportation in Madrid, making a trip to the airport by metro almost ten euros. The bus that goes from the airport to the city center used to be two euros and it ran us five each. It was definitely worth it all to finally see her again after about four months, though.

We stayed in a hotel in the Puerta del Sol in the city center. I arrived a day before and quickly determined that it was an excellent location from which to see the city, but a terrible place to try to sleep. There were people out all night, yelling in the streets. So I may have managed about three hours of sleep before I just got up and showered and jumped on the metro. I arrived at the airport over an hour earlier than when Beth's plane touched down. As a result, I was tired and half asleep by the time she came through the gate and found me.

Before I showed her some of the major sites in the city center, I had to feed her and get some caffeine in both our systems. One of the magical things about Spain is its coffee. I have tried all manner of coffee in the States and have yet to like it (at least not enough to drink it habitually). I think Beth has had a similar experience. For her first few coffees here, I had to order an extra packet of Nesquik for her. After a few days, she was drinking it normal. We are both going to have some serious caffeine withdrawals soon.

Friday, May 4, 2012

More research and a ceramic factory

I'm finally at a point where I feel comfortable enough with my Spanish that I want to talk to people in person about the civil war. I've been reading a lot of things and finding a lot of pictures and whatnot, but I've neglected to actually talk to people because, most likely, I wouldn't understand them to my liking. Though I have talked to random people about my interest in the civil war and why I want to research it, I haven't taken the time to meet with people who actually know what they're talking about.

Today I had the opportunity to meet a local lawyer named Alfonso, whose name I had heard long ago in relation to the topic. He's something of a local celebrity as far as The Battle of Teruel goes, and knows a lot about the war in general. He is a middle-aged, bearded man with a great voice for talking about just about anything. I followed nearly everything he said, but I was occasionally distracted by how nice his voice was. I didn't have anything specific prepared to ask him, so we just talked in general about the war and he gave me some book titles to look into. He helped me put a lot of things I had read previously into perspective and gave me some of the post-war story as well. 

I plan to meet up with him in a couple of weeks and he is going to show me his collection of civil war trinkets. He goes on walks through the countryside where the soldiers were positioned and searches for little things. He has all sorts of bullet shells and buttons and badges. He said he has three or four buttons from American soldiers there as well. I told him about the mortar shell that I was given as a gift and he told me there was little hope of me getting it back to the USA without being detained indefinitely or something. I kind of agree.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day Holiday - Zaragoza and Tarazona

As Beth is coming next weekend and I'm going to be traveling a lot with her, I decided not to travel too far from Teruel for the long holiday that we had this weekend. It turned out to be pretty exhausting anyway. I ended up going to Zaragoza, as I was invited by one of the Italian teachers at the language school, Mirabel. She introduced me to her son, Gabi, who is about the same age as me and has very similar musical tastes. He plays guitar quite well and does a great job imitating the English/American accents when he sings.

Mirabel fixed some pasta for lunch using one of her authentic Italian recipes. It was delicious. Her husband is Italian and they lived in northern Italy for a few years, so she apparently cooks Italian-style dishes quite often. Her daughter is about a year older than me and is studying her final year of chemical engineering in Copenhagen, Denmark, so I got to stay in her room. It’s so much bigger and, despite all of the girly photos and whatnot, is still manlier than my tiny Tweety Bird room in Teruel. I also had the opportunity to study the Periodic Table of the Elements in Spanish.

Mirabel struck me as a very nervous woman. She was constantly worried about whether or not I was comfortable or satisfied with any given situation. I tried to explain that I'm usually content with whatever situation, but she didn't seem to understand. This was a trend the entire trip and became quite tiresome for me. Apart from that, we got along just fine and she was extremely hospitable.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Castillo Peracense y Jota en Teruel

This past Monday was a holiday in celebration of San Jorge (Saint George), so we got the day off. There are a surprising number of holidays in April and May here. In fact, next weekend is a four day weekend. I'm having a lot of difficulty keeping up with why we're even celebrating, but I could get used to having all of these free days.

On Sunday, my roommate and I went to Peracense, which is a small village not too far from Teruel. I guess it would be more accurate to say we drove past Peracense, as we didn't even go through the town. Instead, we made a detour up a steep and winding hill to the real attraction, a castle. I've visited a few castles in Spain and Europe in general, but this one was quite unique by comparison. It's situated atop some giant rocks and, because of the color of the stones, blends into its foundation. From afar, I actually didn't notice it at first.

Note that when I say I didn't notice it, I saw it from another angle and from further away. I'm not that blind.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Dinosaurs and Mortar Shells

This Thursday, instead of having one of my normal English lessons, I got to go to the local dinosaur museum/theme park in Teruel. By theme park, I don't mean giant roller coasters or anything. The small attractions are mainly aimed at children. It's still quite impressive, considering Teruel doesn't really have anything else that's comparable in terms of being so technologically advanced. One of the students gave us a tour of the main museum, which houses several large skeletal reproductions and even some real fossils and fossilized footprints. I commend the student for attempting to give a presentation in English, given the number of really specific vocabulary words he had to use and the typical shyness Spanish people seem to have about speaking in English. It was a nice change of pace in comparison to being in class and I didn't really have to do anything besides help with pronunciation and a few unknown vocabulary words. I'm also glad dinosaurs still manage to retain their strange allure and weren't just a passing childhood fad propagated by Jurassic Park.

Today, I headed with some students to Monterde de Albarracín to take part in an English-speaking activity. One of the students, Santi, owns an old country house in the small village of Monterde, which is located in La Comarca de Albarracín (kind of like a county that contains several small villages, including Albarracín, where I work). We had originally intended to have a weekend-long retreat, but due to insufficient numbers, we limited it to

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Semana Santa III: Teruel

I spent most of last Friday resting up from my travels, but I decided to go out with David and his lady to the city center to watch the Easter processions. I knew, to some extent, what to expect, which is the main reason I agreed to go. It's such a strange ritual from an American perspective, given the outfit was kind of driven out of style long ago for us by bigots:

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Semana Santa II: San Sebastian

This is part 2 of my doings during Semana Santa. Part 1 is here.

I planned to use the midnight bus ride to San Sebastian as a moving hotel of sorts. As it normally takes around seven hours, I would ideally be able to get a full night's sleep and wake up in my destination. The reality was that the entire night was full of sleep-depriving terror as we sped through Spain. I would occasionally doze off momentarily, only to have my head slammed against the window, awakening me to the terrible shrill sounds of the brakes. Every time I woke up, I had to convince myself that I wasn't in a terrible plane crash about to happen. We ended up arriving about an hour early, as refreshed as you might imagine I would have been. Any other time, I may have been ecstatic to arrive early, but showing up in a strange city in near-total darkness, at least an hour before anything will be open, is not quite ideal. I suppose I was happy to have survived the bus ride, though.

I spent my first hour in San Sebastian wandering through the dark streets, trying to find a cafe or something that was open. A little after seven, I found one and had some breakfast and a coffee. I noticed that the newspapers on the bar were in both Spanish and Basque. Basque is not a language I can interpret based on similarities to Spanish or whatever, so I was thankful that most signs and museum information were displayed in Spanish as well. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Semana Santa I: Barcelona

The past week, Spain has been celebrating the Holy Week. Spanish Catholics apparently take Easter more seriously than anyone I've ever seen. Or at least their rituals and celebrations would imply that. I'll get to that later. The important part is that I've had the entire week off to travel. I chose to visit two cities that I've been wanting to visit for some time - Barcelona and San Sebastian. I'm breaking the week up into segments because there are lots of pictures to show and writing to do.

I found a Couchsurfing host named Victor who was willing to let me sleep on his couch for a few days in Barcelona, so Saturday I hopped on the 7:30 bus and headed that way. Along the way, I kept dozing off for lack of sleep. Eventually, I woke up and realized I couldn't read any of the signs. They were all in Catalan. We stopped at a little bus station and I went inside the bar to get something to eat. The bartender asked where I was from and I told him. He then proceeded to announce via microphone that we had an important American in the bar. He showed me his tongue-in-cheek "how to smoke in Spanish restaurants" device of which he seemed super proud. It was quite clever. In fact, here is a video someone took of the guy:

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Visiting Zaragoza and Madrid

Despite the situation with my grandmother, last week and this weekend were nice. I didn't have to work at the high school on Thursday because they were taking exams and Friday I went with the kids to Zaragoza on a field trip. From what I could tell, it was a joint field trip between the science classes and the history classes. I was tipped off by the fact that we went to an environmental science center and a bunch of Roman ruins.

I'm told that the kids at the high school are fairly well-behaved in comparison to other schools in Spain. I suppose they don't get in fights or bring guns to school or anything, but "well-behaved" is not an adjective that I would ever even think of using when describing them. Nonetheless, they are entertaining. They, like the kids in the primary school, assume that I don't understand a word of Spanish. I'm still baffled by how they could believe that, considering I've been living here for several months now. So when I have a grin on my face after they just swore or insulted one of the teachers under their breath, they get red-faced pretty quickly. It's weird because I don't

Monday, March 19, 2012

Descanse en paz, Granny Faye

The following is more personal than my travel blog normally is, but it is in some ways related to being in Spain (while not actually being about Spain itself). It's important to me and I think that being in Spain has made this situation even more complicated than it would have otherwise been.

Last week, I found out that my grandmother had passed away. I had known for a long time that this had been a possibility because of her poor health and complications. But even so, it came as a shock. It's the first time in quite a while that I've lost anyone that close to me in the family and experiencing it now, as a supposedly wiser and more mature twenty-three year old, I assumed it would be different somehow. I figured I'd be more prepared for a loss of this magnitude and be able to reason my way out of taking it too harshly. How arrogant I can be at times.

It's difficult to know how to react to something like this, even if you think you're wiser and more prepared for these types of things. But really this is just another learning experience. I think, on some level, the expectation is that all those years

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Valencia with David

I went to Valencia with my roommate, David, last Sunday. He had a short race to run in the park, so I tagged along to get a better look at the city than just the airport (which is all I had seen previously). We left early Sunday morning and made the hour and a half-long journey, listening to Mike Oldfield and conversing in the surprisingly effective way that we do (I speak in Spanish and my roommate speaks some kind of Spanglish). I probably drove him mad asking about just about every road sign or interesting-looking city between Teruel and Valencia.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Adventures in Archaeology!

I think I'm going to add archaeology to the list of things I want to do when I grow up. Monday, I went with Ricardo and his archaeologist friends to visit some excavation sites and hike around the area surrounding Rubielos de Mora. It's an incredible area to look at and we picked a beautiful day to go hiking.

We visited three different spots in the region - a ruined lookout fort, a mine, and a canyon full of caves where Islamic people lived in refuge during the Christian reconquest of Spain. The ruined lookout fort was constructed sometime during the period of Islamic rule in Spain (the professionals told me sometime around 1100-1200) as a way to lookout for enemies and to have a point from which the nobles could rule over the peasants below. A couple of centuries later, the Christians constructed a small "ermita" which is, from what I understood, a Christian temple of sorts to one saint or another. It's reminiscent of Greek and Roman temples to various lesser gods, with the lesser gods being replaced by a saint that provides some form of protection against something (storms, bad harvest, etc.). The group of archaeologists had been working on excavating this site for a while but had to temporarily abandon the project because of the weather in December. 

Part of the ruined wall.

Ermita from afar.

Inside the ermita.

The site from afar.

Next, we headed to a site that Ricardo had been looking for. I'm not sure where he found out about it, but there was supposed to be some kind of ancient copper mine and he was excited. We actually found the mine, but I'm not sure why he acted as though it was supposed to be some sort of legendary expedition:

I honestly thought we were going to have to pull him out by his feet because there was barely enough room for him to crawl in there. The region was quite deficient in copper deposits, so I assume whoever mined this hole in the wall was disappointed and left after digging for a few minutes. We spent an hour or so hiking around the area looking for pieces of pottery and copper. We found a few small pieces but nothing special. The view was gorgeous, though:

The third site was where the archaeologist team was actually working at this point. I got to meet the little team and watch them dig around. It was interesting, albeit tedious-looking. This site is down in a canyon where there are a lot of caves that Islamic refugees were hiding in during the Christian reconquest. The team found several graves of smaller children from that period and some ruined stone walls. I hiked around a bit and looked at the caves up in the rock faces. If people were actually hiding in these places, they had to have had a difficult time accessing the caves (I suppose that's part of the point). 

There is a goat peeing in this picture. It maintained eye contact with me the entire time.

Archaeology seems like a fun way to do historical work. I'm sure my entirely theoretical history degree would allow me to get a job digging around like Indiana Jones someday. But sitting in a library reading generally means you avoid snakes, so I suppose it depends on how adventurous I'm feeling.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Los Medievales

Here's me in an outfit again.

This weekend, Teruel was decorated like a giant Medieval festival and people came from all around to dress up like Lord of the Rings extras and get ridiculously drunk in the streets. I've been to a Renaissance festival in Ohio several times, beginning in high school. I like the Medieval setting and the garb and the atmosphere in general. But Teruel apparently makes Ohio look like child's play. Here, there were vendors lined up from the city center to the park, over half a mile away.

In the city center, there were all kinds of haymas, which are private tents and campsites that represent a group of Medieval characters. To get one of these tents, you have to pay a fee, write a research paper justifying your group's historical relevance to the time period, and then decorate the tent in such a way that it represents some aspect of your group's purpose. There were tents for the catapult launchers, the monks, the blacksmiths, etc. Outside the tents, they were cooking out and drinking; inside the tents, there were microwaves, mini-fridges, couches, and so on. They stayed out there day in and day out, all weekend, drinking and eating to their hearts' content.

Haymas from afar.

There were also a lot of interesting food vendors. Most of them were the usual Aragonese staples of cheese and ham, but there was also the occasional squid. A lot of people had desserts as well. And then others blatantly disregarded the Medieval theme and had rows and rows of processed candies. However, I was most interested in the herbal stands that offered all sorts of herbs to cure whatever may ail you. They had something for headaches, back pains, and even one for eliminating fat. I suspect that you were supposed to smoke whatever it was and you'd just not worry about being fat anymore or having a headache.

Assorted meats.

Cutting some squid.

Walking through the streets, you could find all sorts of people dressed up as knights and peasants, but my favorite were a group of wandering, crazy fishermen who "accidentally" slapped people with fish as they walked by. They had the fish hanging on their poles over their shoulders and would swing around and smack people as they walked by. They showed up everywhere, harassing children and old people alike.

Crazy fisherman clan.

As the festival lasted for three days, I got to enjoy having a Medieval-themed birthday as well. I decided to go early in the day Saturday to have a look around. It turned out that the crowd from the night before had somehow mutated into an unmanageable size, making it near-impossible to get around. I ended up buying some chocolate desserts and heading back to the apartment. I did snap a few pictures of the crowd before I left, though:

The viaduct, packed to capacity.

My roommate made me an awesome birthday lunch. I'm not sure what the first course was, aside from delicious, but it contained potatoes, bacon, hard-boiled eggs, tuna, and some sauce. It was kind of like a big salad of sorts. We also had freshly baked bread from the bakery on the side. For the main course, we had lamb. And the finale was a tiramasu cake, topped with sliced strawberries and candles in the shape of a two and a three:

Later, my roommate and I returned to the city center to enjoy the festivities. We split up so he could go meet one of his friends and I could have another look around. I ended up in the Plaza del Torico (the place with the little bull on top of a column), where I found hundreds of people staring apprehensively in one direction. I was confused until people started scattering and yelling and a bull ran through the square. I was quite dumbfounded but I decided to take a few pictures. I was convinced I was going to get my first shot of someone being impaled, but that didn't happen. 

I made sure to keep several layers of squishy people in between myself and the bull, so as to ensure my survival. There was little to worry about, though, because there were plenty of idiots willing to dance in front of the bull and annoy it enough that it had no interest in me. I took a few pictures and then ran away to find my roommate before I got trampled by the bull or all of the crazy people standing around.

I met up with my roommate and his entourage of teacher friends with lots of babies and we went to a Medieval tournament in the Plaza del Toros. Normally, it's a bullfighting ring (though usually only during the summer). This weekend, it was filled with knights and horses and drama. There were six knights in total, three on each team. Our section was represented by the White Knight, who was on the good guy team along with the Green and Brown knights. The other team had the Blue, Grey, and Black knights. The Black Knight was the villain and he was just really mean to everyone. Thankfully, he died in the end. Unfortunately, he was the last knight to die, leaving the Green Knight the victor. My original prediction was that the White Knight would defeat the Black Knight and satisfy the classic good over evil story. I guess this group was trying to push some kind of New Age, environmentalist agenda.

Score one for Mother Nature, Greeny.

Overall, it has been a very enjoyable birthday weekend. I need to have more Medieval themed birthdays in my future (that aren't just Dungeons and Dragons games). 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To the trenches

I went with one of my students from the language school Saturday to Sarrión, a small town about half an hour from Teruel. His name's Ricardo, an older guy that smells strangely similar to my grandpa despite being significantly younger and sporting much less hair. I'm not exactly sure what he does for a living, but he knows quite a bit about bird watching and botany. He also has a really difficult time walking and talking at the same time. It may have been a sort of pause for effect, but every time he needed to explain why something was historically relevant or why a plant was interesting, we had to come to a dead stop and ponder it for a moment before we could move on. We had to do the same when he stopped to pee.

Unfortunately, we never made it to our intended destination. We had planned to hike around a civil war site a few miles away from the town. We only made it a mile or two down the country road before we found a hill covered in a blanket of ice a few inches thick. We decided not to test our luck in his 2-wheel drive hatchback. Thankfully, Ricardo had a backup plan in mind. He took me to a fish hatchery.

The fish hatchery turned out to be quite small and unimpressive, but the trails that followed along the riverbank and through the hills behind it were enjoyable. Ricardo taught me quite a bit about the fauna of Aragón and some of its feudal and modern history. Apparently a great deal of the pine trees in this region were planted by Franco because no one would trade him any lumber. There are other plants that have stuck around since the Mediterranean was significantly more tropical due to their ability to resist extreme heat and cold, dry spells. And the little run-down buildings we kept running into while we were hiking around in the countryside were remnants of old farmer's houses that were vacated when Franco was paranoid about rebel soldiers living in the mountains (see: Maquis). I also got to see what he claimed to be an eagle, using his bird-watching binoculars. He probably could have claimed it was any larger, predatory bird and I'd have believed him.

We hiked two or three miles through the hills until we came upon a main road. We decided to look around on the other side of the road and found a big steep hill to climb. We stumbled across some smaller trenches in what was probably a good lookout spot during the civil war. I was excited. I cut myself up on wild brush more than I intended, but I got to see some trenches, so I was okay with it. We ended up having to walk back to the car in the dark because we budgeted our time poorly. The sun sets entirely too early in February.

After walking around in the cold for a few hours, Ricardo and I returned to Teruel and grabbed some coffee in a little bar near the hotel I stayed in my first few nights here. We got there just in time to watch the drunk patrons yell at the soccer game on television. The window of opportunity for that sort of spectacle is quite wide in Spain. I met one of Ricardo's friends, a gruff old man that reminded me of one of my college history professors. It may have just been the beard, the swearing, and the forwardness because he lacked any insightful rants about American history theories. I'm fairly certain this guy started smoking as a fetus. He came close to coughing up a lung on occasion and it was nigh impossible to understand him. It turns out he is a police officer. He had an ID card and everything. And just when I thought there was no way I could like him any more than that, he paid for our coffees.

Ricardo and I made plans to meet up at a bar called Casa Andalucia to listen to live flamenco. Someone screwed up when they made the advertisements or the band is going through some kind of identity crisis because it was certainly not flamenco. It turned out to be some kind of modern, South American-influenced music. There was an electric guitar that played a similar mellow solo 17 times too many every song. We decided to go to another bar for a rock concert instead. The rock band played the same upbeat guitar solo just as frequently and unnecessarily but at least it was exciting. I may never be able to hear some of those frequencies of sound ever again, though.

This week I don't have to work on Friday because Teruel is celebrating it's Medieval heritage this weekend with a giant festival that transforms the town into a Middle Age fantasy land. From what I've heard, it's like the Renaissance Fair I used to go to, except everyone thinks it's cool. I'm going to try to find a costume to wear. I'm sure it will be just as great as the last one I tried on.