The Spanish People

The language school barrista
The language school barrista

Wynette: Almost without exception on this trip, every person I have spoken with in the shops, bars, on the street has been kind and helpful and patient. Many of our dealings with locals have been here where we are living on the non-touristy side of the river so we are not dealing with people who are fed up with tourists and that may make a difference.

The above photo is the man who runs the little bar/cafe at the language school I attended. I bought many delicious cups of coffee from him (also an amazing pasta salad chock full of fresh vegetables and good ham sandwich). He is a lovely man and always has a smile for everyone and enjoys talking with the students. Today I told him it was my last day and asked if I could take his photo. He was surprised I wanted to do that but seemed to be happy for me to take his picture. I’m so glad to have this photo to remember him by.

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La Clase Fue un Éxito

Left to right: English woman, Italian man, Irene (la profesora), and the German woman (Heike)
Left to right: English woman, Italian man, Irene (la profesora), and the German woman (Heike)

The class was a success! (Yes, éxito means success. Isn’t that strange?) In what ways was it a success? Well, I had great fun  (1) learning a few new things in Spanish and (2) getting to know my teacher and classmates and (3) getting lots of practice conversing in Spanish. The teacher was maravillosa. (Bet you can figure that one out.) The class was at the right level for me for conversation: early intermediate. I think it really did push my ability to speak and understand spoken Spanish further. That magical day hasn’t arrived when suddenly I can understand most of what is said on the street, but I’m heading to that. I surely am thinking in Spanish more, being surrounded by it here. Often, especially say while walking home from class, much of what I think is in Spanish. That is an important step to conversation because when you are speaking and listening, there just isn’t time to translate into English in your mind.

At the end of class today, as we were leaving, I asked if I could “sacar una foto” and everyone gladly posed for me. Too bad, the nice Belgian man (Mark) wasn’t in class today so he is missing but this is everyone else. I hate to admit it but I did not completely get everyone’s name.

Walk to Class

Wynette: We’ve had some cloudy, rainy days since we’ve been here, but today we had beautiful sun. I snapped some photos on walk to class.

Crossing the bridge from Los Remedios into the Old Town
Crossing the bridge from Los Remedios into the Old Town
More virgins
More virgins
"Gluten free" is a thing here as well
“Gluten and dairy free” is a thing here as well
People waiting outside El Corte Ingles
People waiting outside El Corte Ingles
Drive up bank machine (actually, just a sidewalk)
Drive up bank machine (actually, just a sidewalk)
Carriage driver taking a break
Carriage driver taking a break

Sweet Street Music

Jazz/Pop/Big Band
Jazz/Pop/Big Band

Wynette: Last week, when Charlie and I walked down the main street in the Old Town of Seville we heard a band playing jazz a couple of blocks ahead. I pictured black ties, slick guys. But it was this rather humble looking group playing great American jazz. Yesterday when I was walking to class, I again heard them in the distance, but this time they were doing a popular Spanish pop song, Bailando. (If you check out the video at the link, watch at least a minute — it’s catchy and there’s some good dancing. Bailando means dancing.) As I walked by the band, they finished Bailando and then switched to In the Mood. Today when I passed they were back to jazz. Looking forward to see what they are playing tomorrow.

If you look closely you'll see that this band has lost its head.
If you look closely you’ll see that this band has lost its head.

La Clase de Español

Mistakes in our conversations -- we had to correct for homework.
Mistakes in our conversations — we had to correct for homework.

Wynette: Today Charlie took a train to Madrid to meet his sister Pat at the aeropuerto. She is joining us for two weeks while we are here in Spain. Charlie and Pat will sight-see around Madrid till Friday then come back here to Seville. I stayed behind in Seville to take a Spanish class at a well-recommended language school called Clic. The class, Conversation and Grammar Review, started on Monday and will meet every day this week from 1:30 to 3:10. It’s a pleasant 30 minute walk from our apartment to the class location in the old town.

There are 5 students in my class: an Italian man, a German woman, a Belgian man, an English woman, and me.  (It’s like dinner at an albergue on the camino.) So, we all speak Spanish with a different, not-very-Spanish, accent. I have the hardest time understanding the Italian man. He speaks Spanish fast. I really like the class, the teacher, and everyone in the class. The teacher’s name is “Irene”, pronounced “ee-ray-nay”. I am by far the oldest in the class, but the German and Belgian might be in their late 30s or 40s. The Italian and Brit are probably only in their 20s.  I bet everyone in the class, except the teacher, speaks better English than Spanish, and the teacher speaks English, too, but, everything is in Spanish including instructions for exercises, etc.

We have met two days now. The first day, among other things, we talked about idioms that derive from parts of the body. Think of some we have in English such as “to turn your back on someone” or “on the other hand” or “stick your neck out”. Well, there are jillions of them. Some we learned in Spanish are “dar la espalda”, which literally means “to give the back” and means pretty much the same as we mean by “turn your back.”  Another is “cree que es el ombligo del mundo”, he thinks he’s the belly button of the world, which means he is self-centered.  “No tiene pelos en la lengua” literally says “he doesn’t have hairs on the tongue” and means “he doesn’t mince words.”  The Spanish say “toma el pelo”, he’s pulling your hair, to mean what we mean when we say “he’s pulling your leg”.

The teacher had us break into (very small) groups to talk about situations we’d experienced where those idioms applied. We didn’t know she was spying on us and was writing down mistakes we were making in our conversation. Without naming names, she put our mistakes on the board at the end of class to discuss. We didn’t have time to finish so she had us take a photo with our phones and correct the mistakes as homework.

Today for the grammar review part we talked about when to use the various past tenses in Spanish. There are several in Spanish — more than are always apparent in English. For example, the Spanish use a different word for “walked” in these two sentences:  “Yesterday when I walked to the store, I fell” and “Yesterday I walked to the store.”

The little cafe on the main floor at language school. The young man at table on far left is the very nice Italian man in my class.

Metro Man

image

Charlie: I took the Sevilla Metro to catch the fast train to Madrid to meet Pat. First time on it. Just starting, only one line.

Note how it is designed like the trams in airports. The fixed doors at the station don’t open until the train is stopped. Much safer.