Monday, November 17, 2014

New Home, New Family, New Town: Daimiel!

I ate burritos and apple pie this weekend.
Also, I moved to a new town with a new family!

Since three months is kind of a long time to commit to hosting a stranger, I get to have two families while I'm here! On Friday, I moved from Ciudad Real to Daimiel which is actually the town where my school is located. This means no more waiting outside for a ride for a 30 minute commute! Daimiel only has about 18,000 people so it's much smaller than C.R.'s 75,000 people. It only takes a couple of minutes to drive to the city center and my school from my new house, and it's not a bad walk either. I had a few tears when I left my host family in Ciudad Real; my host mom started crying and said it was just like having another daughter in the house and so that made me all kinds of emotional. I wasn't expecting to get so lucky again with host families on this trip but it seems like I really have gotten put in the best possible circumstances. We saw a huge, gorgeous rainbow on the drive to Daimiel and that really made me feel better about the relative unknown of my new situation.

Anyways, my new family is great! I'm staying with the French teacher from my school, Edith, her husband Jesús, and their 3 kids: Carolina (17 yrs.), Jesús (14 yrs.), and Valeria (10 yrs.). Carolina and Jesús I knew a little bit already from being in their English classes which was nice, and Valeria is a ball of energy and we've just gotten along wonderfully since I arrived. I already feel at home which is awesome; I think it has something to do with the fact that I come from a family of 4 kids and I'm used to the general commotion and sibling debauchery that goes with that. I'm also used to having younger siblings so this is super comfortable. It almost feels like I've been transplanted into my family of about 6 years ago! I'm also glad I've had experience working with kids and teenagers of all different ages, it makes things a lot easier.

On Friday night we took a little walk through the town and picked up a map for me so I know where I'm going, and I also met Edith's parents. Her dad is from France and so most of the family can speak French at various levels! I hope I pick up a bit during the month that I'm here!

On Saturday, we took another walk and I saw where the gym and swimming pool was, and then I was invited to spend to day with one of my students, Andrea, who is a dual citizen of the US and Spain and whose family is bilingual. Her dad, Caleb is from Texas and her mom, Mercedes, is from here in Spain and so since Andrea and her brother Ian were born their dad has spoken to them in English and their mom in Spanish. Andrea, who is 14, has only spent about 3 months total in the US, and hasn't been there since she was 7, but her English is perfect! Ian who is 6 speaks very well also, but he's still learning. They said it was nice the Andrea and Caleb could be tag-team teachers for Ian. I ended up spending the whole day with them from 12:30 to about 9:15 and it was wonderful! It's such a unique situation, and the mix of languages and cultures is so intriguing to me. The kids have such advantage, and an invaluable skill in this day and age. I could go on for days, it's so awesome. My kids WILL be bilingual - and if I have to move back here with them for that to happen then so be it. ;) It's was strange getting to speak English for practically the whole day, because I usually don't speak so much unless I'm traveling with Katie or the other Americans in my program, but it was great.

We had burritos for lunch!! I have been craving Mexican food so it really hit the spot. Mercedes also made a delicious apple pie! It tasted like America mixed with a little bit of heaven.

After lunch, we went up to La Mirador de la Mancha. It's kind of a weekend getaway/tourist spot/restaurant/venue for events and weddings. They have cabins, a pool, and a giant wooden Don Quixote! It's set up in the hills over Villarrubia de los Ojos, which is a tiny town about 15 minutes away from Daimiel. Here's the website with some more pictures and a video at the bottom of the page so you can see what it looks like. There's not a lot of wood buildings here so seeing this place in the middle of nowhere practically was pretty cool. 

Even though it was a little bit cloudy, windy, and rainy, it still made for some pretty spectacular views of the countryside. They said that in the summer it's even prettier, and you can see even more. 

Here is a panoramic view of the courtyard...I think I will get married here - I just need to find the lucky guy! 

Of course a selfie was needed with Andrea and Ian! Ian was super duper cute, he told me he loved me and asked me for a kiss while we were having a drink in the restaurant/bar area! I feel like I've found yet ANOTHER amazing family with whom I hope I'll be able to spend time and keep in contact, not just for the next month and a half, but for many years to come! 

That night when I got back, I went straight out with Carolina to get Chinese food with her and some of her friends! It's just like Chinese food in the US, very tasty. It was awesome to get to know and spend time with her and her friends, who I only know from seeing in class! On Sunday, we had a super relaxing day. Everyone stayed in their pajamas pretty much the whole day, and that's when I knew for sure I could fit in here! I did some backyard archery with Jesús and Valeria with suction cup arrows, then played lots of games with Valeria. 

We played a Scrabble kind of game, and we used English and Spanish words which was great for both of us. Then we played Trivial Pursuit Jr., which was pretty hard for me because the vocabulary for the questions was all very specific, but there were some that I surprised myself by knowing and I learned a lot of new words (and trivia!). I also taught her how to play Crazy 8's - the playing cards are different here apparently, but I haven't seen a deck yet. 

That night we finally got dressed and went for a walk with the grandparents through the town again. We got some candy, and their grandma got me a barquillo, which is pretty much an over-sized waffle cone! Delicious. 

In the main square of town there is a fountain and this olive tree...which is supposedly about 1000 years old! WHAT. How cool. 

Of course, a selfie with the sisters in a mirror on the ceiling of a shop! Shortly after this Valeria told me this was going to be the best month of her life and I almost cried. The family is worried that she is always bothering me, but I don't think I will ever get tired of her! Super sweet. When we got home Carolina and I watched Gran Hermano (Big Brother) together - everyone here loves it! 

The food has been delicious, as usual. We had pork chops and roasted potatoes yesterday for lunch, and ham and cheese omelette (tortilla francesa) for dinner. Today, it was penne pasta with cut up hot dogs and cheese! So far the meals are not very different from meals I've had in the US! I'll keep you posted though of course. 

There are also Pringles here, therefore duckface! 

That's it for now I think! Enjoy your snow all you Ohio people, I'm enjoying the sun and 50 degree weather! Next weekend I'm going to Granada so stay tuned!

Abrazos y Besos,

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