Thursday, March 29, 2012

Open the Gates and Seize the Day

Open the gates and seize the day
Don't be afraid and don't delay
Nothing can break us
No one can make us
Give our rights away
Arise and seize the day
-"Seize the Day" from The Newsies

Today all of Spain is planning to "seize the day" and strike against their prime minister (Mariano Rajoy)'s new budget cuts (which are going to affect workers' salaries and benefits). Yes, that's right, the whole country is on strike today. And that means that although these budget cuts have little to do with me personally (as far as I know anyway), I can't go to work. The buses are running at absolute minimum capacity, and I simply can't get there, even though the school technically has to be open. Supposedly only "absolutely necessary" staff have to be there, because some parents will send their kids to school anyway. However, as there's no possible way I could be construed as truly necessary, I don't have to go.

I'm interested to see what this strike is exactly going to entail. I'm sort of worried that some of the demonstrations might turn violent, but we'll see. I'm also curious to know whether it will be bigger than protests I've been to in the US, like the ones against Wisconsin's Governor Walker.

As far as my feelings on the issue, I'm both glad to be in a country where workers can stand up for their rights and at the same time annoyed that everything is going to be closed AGAIN today (everything was closed yesterday in Vigo because of the Reconquista festival, celebrating the city's citizens kicking out the French in 1809). We really need certain items like toilet paper and soap. Things are starting to get desperate around here. But that's life in Spain for ya! 

Luckily, after this weird week I get to go on vacation and relax for a while. Phew!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Love Letter to the City of Bilbao

Dear Bilbao,

I know we had our ups and downs in the past. I may have even professed to hate living there during a time when I was very homesick. But that's all it was--homesickness, I swear! I didn't mean it!

I had the chance to visit you this past weekend for the first time since I left you in 2009, and I realized that I had forgotten how beautiful and dynamic a city you really are. I hadn't thought about how much I missed you until I returned, but I now think that I was far too harsh on you the first time around. You really are a great city. A bit expensive, maybe, and perhaps you like rain a little more than you should, but everyone has their faults. It's OK. I love you anyway.

 I just thought you should know how I felt, in order to clear the air so that the next time I visit, you might feel compelled to have a little better weather.

...maybe that's too much to ask.

Regardless, I hope to be back soon.


p.s. Here are some pictures that you look really great in, in case you were having doubts about putting me back in your good graces.
Athletic Bilbao and Euskal Herria flags hanging from so many balconies

The Guggenheim, looking cool as always

Beach at Sopelana (not technically Bilbao, but nearby so I figure it counts)

Overhead view of the city

Plaza Moyua all lit up at night (aka my favorite place in Bilbao)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spring Has Sprung!

Ironically, a few weeks after I post about snow and cold, spring comes early to Spain! We've had an uncharacteristic warm (and dry) spell and spring has officially sprung! 

Well, technically it started "springing" two weeks ago and now all of the flowers are starting to turn into leaves. But regardless it feels so early to me! It's so much fun to walk down the street by trees that are covered in flowers. My favorites are the magnolias, although I only ever seem to see them when I'm in a car and can't get a good picture. But they're beautiful!
Flowers, Feb. 27th, 2012--Vigo

The yellow ones are called mimosas, and they're EVERYWHERE on the hillsides here. And I have a fun game that I like to play with Spaniards who tell me the flowers' name, where they say "Those are called mimosas," and I say "Like the drink!" and they say "Huh?" ...great fun. Then I obviously explain what a mimosa is and how it is delicious.

How is your spring? Has it put a spring in your step? Does it make you want to say "la primavera, la sangre altera?" ("spring fever," more or less, or "love is in the air" maybe)

I've got a spring in my step, that's for sure. No love in the air around here, but I'm always hopeful!

Friday, March 9, 2012


So this week I've been doing a unit with my students on places in Chicago, giving them a description of a bunch of famous places and having them tell me why they would like to visit certain ones and why (surprise surprise, Pizzeria Uno was the most popular!).

This led me to a random-but-interesting (to me) grammar question. I included Soldier Field on the list of places one might visit in Chicago, and so that led to many of the boys trying to tell about their favorite American football team.

Now, their example sounds (in a Spanish accent) like the word "beers," but as I was taught not to lie I'm going to give the correct example of MY sentence below.

"The Green Bay Packers are my favorite football team."

OK, cool, you say. The Pack are pretty awesome. So what? Well, what if I wanted to switch that sentence around?

"My favorite football team are the Green Bay Packers." No, not right. It's "My favorite football team IS
the Green Bay Packers."

Now imagine me, on the spot, trying to explain to 25 teenagers why we say it in two different ways when the two sentences are identical apart from the subject placement. Except I don't know the answer. I guess it has something to do with "team" being singular but "Packers" sounding plural. So technically (TECHNICALLY although we'd never say it that way) the first sentence is wrong and should be replaced with "The Green Bay Packers is my favorite football team."

Yes? No? What do you think? Have I lost my grammar nazi touch? Why DO we do it that way? Does it even make sense? A little help, please?
We are cheeseheads for life (that sentence I'm sure about).