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.

One of my students, Peter, introduced me to Alfonso and helped explain some of the more difficult concepts whenever I got lost. But in general, I understood everything, which is a nice confidence boost. My speaking ability isn't quite as good, but I can get by. 

Afterward, as Peter and I were walking back through Teruel, I made a remark about how I loved the ceramic Mudéjar decorations around the city. He decided to introduce me to his friend whose family owns a little factory where they make the ceramics in question. I got a firsthand tour of the factory and a look at projects in different stages of development. He even explained everything in English because Peter had spoken first in English and it gave him the impression that I didn't know any Spanish. He explained how they use chemicals like copper to paint details on the ceramic and how after they come out of the kiln, the color is bright and pretty. Given everything Beth explains to me about chemistry, I was concerned with what terrible things might happen as a result of eating off of one of the plates.

Tomorrow I have to rise earlier than the sun in order to catch a bus to Madrid. Beth and I are planning on visiting Toledo, so I expect to have some pretty pictures soon. I'm sure the city will be pretty too.

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