Saturday, July 30, 2011

Los 3 cerditos and other news

It is day 3 at the farm in Orgiva, Granada and my muscles hurt in places I didn't know existed. But I love it! I came looking for a different part of Spain and a different experience through HelpX and so far I'm having a great time. Kay and Bernie (my hosts) have been very helpful and generous and know a lot of people in the area so there are visitors in and out all the time. 

I arrived on Wednesday night not knowing what to expect as I sat in the middle of a strange town waiting for Kay to pick me up. Fortunately, she did come for me and showed me to her lovely white house on the outskirts of town. I settled in to my new surroundings and enjoyed the change of pace from busy city life in Madrid.

The 7 AM wake up call the next day for work came as a bit of a shock. I rolled sleepily out of bed for the first part of the day's work. Kay and Bernie keep an amazing garden which is where most of my work takes place. I walked around to take pictures of it today for my lovely readers only to realize I left my camara chord in Madrid. Woops! Anyway my work so far has consisted of everything from weeding to compost pile-moving to planting to more weekding. It is hard work but it is nice to work with my hands for a change. On Thursday whilst I was pulling away at stubborn weeds a surprise came chugging up the driveway...PIGS (or in Spanish cerdos)!!
Random photo from Google but this is what they look like

Bernie and Kay had been waiting to buy more pigs and raise them for ham/chorizo making for a while and I was the lucky helper that finally saw them get here. I took pictures of them too...darn camera chord. There are 3 pigs Cider, Apple, and the littlest one Rosie. They are adorable but kind of freaked out at the moment. I go to visit them everyday even if they bolt when they see me... I'll have to be working on that as well as developing my green thumb!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The next step

This is my first summer not being home in the US and so far it's going great! I definitely miss my friends and family, but it has been nice to use the free time to have new adventures. I have already survived ESL teacher boot camp by working at a summer camp in Gredos (read more below) so what's next? Well, I got the idea to do a help exchange from my friends at camp Sarah and Ron as well as my friend Elizabeth. And I have been dying to do it ever since.

What is Help Exchange or HelpX? It is a program where anyone who has work on their house or farm that they need help with can write to look for "helpers". The helpers, like me, go to their house and stay with them for however long they want. In exchange for help, the person or family provides full room and board. A pretty good deal right? As someone looking to save money and have a "vacation" I think so!

So for the next 10 days I'll be going to Orgiva, Spain which is about an hour south of Granada. I will be living with a British couple and working on their garden. I'll be planting, weeding, irragation-ing, pruning olive trees, and other stuff. I have no experience gardening (minus helping my mom's frequent attempts to keep a garden) so it will be something new. I'm excited but really nervous since I don't know these people from Adam. However, they have gotten great reviews from everyone that has stayed so I know I'll have a great experience. They also have interenet so hopefully I'll get some blogging in, between my turns as a gardener. Hmmm I wonder where my overalls are...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Surviving Campamento Part 2

Hear that? It's the sound of me breathing. For the first time in 3 weeks. I have finished my last week working for Forenex in Gredos and it has been a wild ride. Although it has been some of the best teacher training I could ask for, I would be lying to say it hasn't been stressful. Here's what a typical day looks like:
Wake up around 7:30 try to make as little noise as I get out of my creaky bed, shower and get ready for the day. Roll to breakfast and eat some cookies with a bowl of coffee. Yep, a bowl of coffee. Run around like crazy to get everything ready to start the day at 9. Class with the chavales until 10:30 when we have a quick break. Another class until 12 and then we break until the afternoon. Everyone meets with our Director of Studies to talk about the day and go over any important news. I usually work to prepare activities or grade papers until lunch at 1:30. I am usually starving so I scarf down whatever "food" the Gredos kitchen staff gives us. Scramble around again to get ready and try to control the somewhat distracted kids for 2 more hours. Hopefully they learn something hahaha. Classes end at 5 and I usually try to plan for the next day before dinner and get some fresh air. We have have a plate of  fried food that they call dinner around 8. Sometimes its hard to get down but hey, its free! Then a group of us go to the closest pueblo to patron the amazing place that is Antonio's bar. Cold beer and tapas are the perfect ending to a day at camp. 
Reppin the USA! Photo courtesy of Sarah Gonski
Although the food and living conditions weren't perfect, I had a great 3 weeks at Gredos. I met amazing people (seen above)which made the experience so much better. At the end of the day, I was a huge stress relief to have people to joke about camp life with. And we can do a mean electric slide. First step of my summer-ESL boot camp: check. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Surviving Campamento

I have survived my first quincena or 2 weeks at Gredos! And it feels good. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel because this will be my final week. However, I am super busy and don't have tons of time to post regularly. Mostly because I am running around like a chicken with my head cut off lesson planning and writing student reports. Gah. However, we do have a camp blog written by the fabulous Sarah from Love&Paella and its ah-mazing. Check it out and maybe you'll get to see yours truely! If you're lucky. Til then I leave you with some pics. At least I get to de-stress in the beautiful countryside. 

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

How I became a real teacher by working at camp

It's day 2 here at summer camp in Gredos and geez it is really intense! I have never worked so hard at teaching and being an auxiliar is a piece of cake compared to this job. However, I think that I am settling in well and all the other teachers have been amazing! We have all been sharing ideas and working together which has been really helpful. The camp is really isolated but it's after being in the busy city of Madrid. You can actually see stars! Fortunately, there is a town with a bar close by so we can all get some much needed relaxation. 

On the first day, we had to orally interview every child and make sure they could keep up with the curriculum that we are required to teach. It was a really long and tiring day that was followed by meetings and planning for today. Whew!

I am responsible for 14 students and have my own classroom! Most of them are 7 or 8 years old which is nice because that is the age group I have been working with. They are all really good even if they are energetic. I have been having a good time so far but I can't wait to get the hang of things in the next couple of days. Until then I've got to get some rest! More to come...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Hi ho, hi ho its off to summer camp I go!

If you know me, you will know I love summer camp. And if you don't know me, now you know! I worked at the YMCA since I was 16 and even through the humidity/heat and sometimes whiny kids, I love it.  So what am I doing this summer in Madrid? Working at summer camp of course! This July I'll be living and working as an English teacher for Forenex in Sierra de Gredos  mountain range which is about85 km outside of Madrid. From what I have heard they are an amazing company and really great to work with hooray! I'll be working with kids from 4-9 years old in the beginners level. I am really excited because I'll get to experience the joys of summer camp: songs, stories, and general shanagins. But I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervious because I'll be with the kids 5 hours a day, 5 days a week. Yikes! Being an auxiliar is a pretty cushy job, so teaching here will definitely be a challenge. However, I am looking forward to more responsibility and creative freedom in the classroom. I will do my best to keep blogging throughout the camp as supposedly there is working wifi.