132 – Immersion, not Drowning

132-eatingYou know you’ve got a good bunch of people, when the kitty (bote) keeps growing.  Nobody wanted to under-pay, everyone was chucking a bit extra in “just in case”.  The kitty grew.  We began by stopping for ice-creams late at night on the way back to the hotel to use it up but it wasn’t enough, and in the end the final meal was paid almost entirely out of the remnants of the kitty. Continue reading

130 – A Village Christmas

Poco a poco, paso por paso ….  Little by little, step by step.  Each Christmas and New Year in a new country represents another step forward in learning about and understanding my new environment.  The first Christmas day here, I went to a lovely English-run bar for turkey and all the English trimmings.  The second, I stayed with an English friend in a Spanish hotel, and we had a traditional Spanish Christmas Eve dinner AND a traditional English Christmas Day lunch!  Followed by a German-style enormous buffet meal that evening!  This year, Christmas number three, was a strange mixture of Spanish, Argentinian and English traditions at home. Continue reading

128 – That Time of Year

128-lights1There’s never enough time in December.  It’s as though the whole month is given over to preparing  for Christmas, cooking for Christmas, shopping for Christmas, pre-Christmas gatherings, visiting Christmas lights, visiting Christmas nativity scenes, and generally focussing around Christmas. Continue reading

127 – After the Exam

Mostly, the whole experience of doing exams is almost forty years behind me.  And the Spanish GCSE, taken in 2011 at Poole Adult Education Centre, was a walk in the park.  But this DELE Spanish exam is no joke.  It’s the internationally accepted standard, so they have to be rigorous.  I wrote last week about the oral exam in “Testing Times”.  Two days later we all returned to Málaca Institute for the main ordeal, three more exams – reading comprehension, listening comprehension, and writing. Continue reading

126 – Testing Times

126-malacaIt was hard to remember exactly why I was doing this.  Arriving in the patio, the place seemed full of Italian teenagers.  The only two adults in view were their teachers.  It seemed as though I would be the only “mature student” taking the DELE Spanish exam.  One by one they emerged in varying states of nervous excitement and reported back on what the topic had been for their 15-minute oral exam.

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125 – What Can 5€ Buy?

The thing was, she didn’t ask for money.  She asked for food.  Well, technically, she asked for leftovers, scraps.  What we had pushed aside.   She politely waited in the shadows, almost out of sight, until we seemed to have finished.  She stepped forward, apologised for interrupting our meal, and asked if we would allow her to eat the off-cuts and remnants on our plates.  She hadn’t eaten for three days. Continue reading

124 – Season of Mist and Matanza

124-fire Autumn has blown in with a vengeance.  After a balmy October, the wind and the rains of November led to a rush to the wood suppliers, searching in bottom drawers for the warmer duvet, and random jabbing at the air-conditioning controls to work out how to change it to heating. Continue reading

123 – Passport to Paradise

123-goldbeachThe DVD was in a pretty case.  La Oficina de Turismo had spent a fair bit.  The little film sang the praises of this beautiful part of Spain – interesting architecture, good restaurants, a casino, pleasant hotels, an ancient fortress, sandy Mediterranean beaches, idyllic scenes.  A great place for my birthday weekend. Continue reading

122 – Of Acorns, Olives, and Old-Andaluz

122-1pigs1The pigs definitely won.  Out of everything in this amazing multi-cultural language immersion week, the pigs definitely won.  And the horses, the dogs, and the miles of rolling countryside and beautiful holm-oaks.  Or maybe the food?   Or perhaps achieving the challenge of a week without a single word in our own languages?   Or possibly …. no, never mind.   It was the pigs. Continue reading

121 – Walking Under The Moon

121-MoonTree“Un Sendero Nocturno”.   A night-time walk.  It had sounded beautiful.   A relaxed stroll in the moonlight, chatting with 30 friends and neighbours.  Starting from the next village, Casabermeja, and wandering gently up to Torre Zambra, an old Moorish lookout point and beacon, under the bright light of the October full moon, to be followed by a meal in a bar.  Lovely. Continue reading