Monday, June 8, 2009

Living Large in Salamanca

We were very excited to be joined by the Andrews family – who also decided to vacate Javea early and explore Spain a bit more. We would often meet up with them in the Plaza Mayor and head out for dinner and/or drinks and ice cream. And of course, we had to search for the elusive frog, carved into the plateresque facade of the university - those who can find it without assistance are said to receive good fortune! Their children, Grace and Emma who were 7 and 10 years old, gradually warmed up to the boys over time. We weren’t so sure how it would go, since they tended to steer clear of them when we would get together in Javea. Given Salamanca was a chance for Suzanne and I to relive some of our fondest memories, we set out to find caretakers for the kids during the day who could also work with them to further their language education. Rocio was the daughter of our apartment manager and she was looking to earn some extra money during a break for school exams. She would come in the mornings and spend time with the kids reviewing Spanish before taking them out to the local parks/plazas or out for an ice cream, speaking only Spanish. Of course, Casey relished the attention, as her command of Spanish was far superior to the boys. Over time, however, Kellen began to show his stripes - he obviously learned more at XIC than we gave him credit for! Christian, on the other hand, resisted Rocio’s efforts at every turn and his progress was much slower. It was a treat to have the mornings and afternoons free to explore the museums, monasteries and cathedrals, take care of errands and have leisurely lunches - without the frustration that comes from being with kids all day long. I think by the end of 3 weeks, they started to drive Rocio crazy, but she managed to handle it all in stride. I even took the opportunity to enroll in a local school for foreigners (Letra Espana) for 2 hours a day. It was a wonderful blend of classes – everything from interpreting Spanish music, watching videos, role-playing exercises and lectures on the formation of the Spanish government. I wish I could have kept doing it longer. By this time, all of us were quite weary of the Spanish cuisine and we unabashedly frequented as many non-native restaurants as we could find – Asian, Italian and even a little Mexican (not up to par with CA standards, but still a nice change of pace). Also, during our time in Salamanca, Suzanne headed back to the states to celebrate Kim Michelson’s 40th birthday and have some much needed girl time (talking, shopping, mani/pedis, drinking, talking, talking, talking). While I was happy to see her back in her element, it wasn’t the same to be in Salamanca without her, and the kids missed her a lot. By the time she got back, we were ready to pack our bags and head to the next stop on our adventure itinerary – Turkey.

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