I woke up this morning to the sounds of fireworks in Sagunto, a true sign the Fallas vacation has finally arrived! At last, finals are over and we enjoy five days free. A lot has happened but with every day so busy and the internet the way it is (sometimes I think dial-up would be faster!) it's been a bit difficult to get blogs up and posted! I'll try to get you all caught up on the latest.

Our trip to Valencia for El Ninot was postponed on the first Monday so we ended up going last week. Ana was very excited about it and told us we would go rain or shine. We also stayed for La Mascletá which is basically 5 straight minutes of the loudest fireworks you've ever heard. They do it at 2PM every day in March leading up to Las Fallas, followed by the official "Valencia en Fallas" song. It's all a bit strange to me, but it's the biggest holiday in Valencia and everyone loves it. I'll explain Fallas more in detail as we go to the festivals every day, and since Ana taught us all about each day of Fallas in Folklore class, hopefully we'll know exactly what's going on. 

Last Sabbath those of us "new" to Grupo E got to go eat at Ana's house after church. Ana, like all the teachers here, works so hard at ESDES but also puts in so many extra hours doing activities with students, inviting them over for lunch, running errands with them, or talking to them about how everything is going. Eight of us ended up going and she made some fantastic food followed by dessert, chatting, and infusión (tea!). She spent time talking to each of us about where we are from, what our lives are like back in the States, and what our parents do. Even though she's known us for almost six months, it was nice to have some time away from school to chat. 

Lunch with Ana was a great way to relax before finals week. Sunday was very busy with a potluck from the culture class, studying for tests, getting our books read, and writing last-minute papers. It's amazing that I couldn't even fathom writing a paragraph in Spanish last August and now we write papers all the time! Sunday night a group of us studied Literature together and Monday the test was pretty easy. We had a History final on Wednesday and then the core class finals started Thursday. Thursday night we also had to teach our English class in addition to studying for Grammar and Conversation. It was a busy week but by yesterday afternoon I couldn't believe the second trimester was over! 

Instead of vespers last night, Rachel, Sara, Eloise and I went over to Cristian's house and made dinner and cookies. It was so much fun to be together and actually be in a house on Friday night. Since I'm not in Conversation with Cristian any more I don't talk to him a lot, and I was happy to discover that I understood him perfectly. We stopped at Mercadona on the way and got some pasta and bread for dinner and then Eloise led the effort in making monster cookies for everyone. They were so delicious and tasted like being at home. We stayed at Cristian's house for several hours and it was the most Spanish I've ever spoken at one time. However, I am realizing that we are getting to the point where it's easy to forget that someone is even speaking Spanish because they are just talking and we can finally understand. 

On the way back we thanked Cristian for having us over and talked about how the teachers at ESDES always open their homes to us. When we went to Ana's apartment last week she told us "Now you know where I live, so if you ever have any problems, you come straight here! Unless it is between midnight and one AM. Then wait until I'm awake." Teachers here love sharing their food, their families, and their lives with us and even our parents if they visit. It doesn't matter to them that our Spanish is grammatically flawed, or that we would rather eat dinner at six than at nine. They accept us with our awkward differences and show us what it's like to spread love to a bunch of Americans that wound up in Sagunto.
Sheri Seibold
3/16/2013 06:52:08 am

Once again I enjoy hearing about the local life and I love the stories about your teachers and how good they are to you kids; a very different but true home away from home. I can't wait to be in your casa next week and meet these teachers.

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Auntie J.
3/16/2013 07:00:30 pm

Shel...it was so fun to see your tiny little fuzzy image today on whatever that thing was! I cannot wait to see the slightly bigger real you in just a couple months. ;-) So great that you have teachers who love all you kiddos over there, what truly special folks they must be. And...you get to see your mom and gma' in just a few days....have just alot of good fun with those two gals. Be safe and hugs.

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