Let's see, what's new? A few weeks ago I began teaching english to two little girls during the week. I've spent no more than 10 hours working with each of them one-on-one, and I am already impressed by the mental capacity these little fireballs posses. Maybe I'm easily impressed, but the 5 year old is fluent in Spanish, French, and Basque. She has no experience with English, but she's catching on quickly. I began by reading her stories that she was already familiar with in languages she knows, The 3 Little Bigs, The 3 Bears, you get the idea. Anyway, from there we moved to learning nouns that are more less similar in French...There are more than you might think: blue, cat, etc. She's made tremendous progress, and I am very proud of her. The second chica is 8, Ines attends a German school, speaks Spanish/Basque with her parents, and is also fluent in French as well as English. I understand it is not uncommon to know several languages here, but this little girl retains information with unprecedented ease. Therefore, keeping her challenged has been a challenge for me. We have a test every week, and she is in the middle of writing four short stories in English. I have enjoyed sharing my language more than any job I've ever had. Did I mention I get paid? What?
Last Friday my friends and I left for a trip to France and San Sebastian, Spain! By about 11 am on Saturday we were in St. Jean de Luz, France. A smallish vacation, coastal city right on the boarder between France and Spain. Its beaches and marinas were positively beautiful. There was a market going on Saturday morning as well; we had a blast exploring each vendor's booth. Also, the cheese...I have never seen such massive blocks of cheese in my life! I have also never cursed my lactose intolerance more. Alas, I indulged a little. Some things are worth a little digestional discomfort. The most humbling thing about my hours in France was how completely clueless and helpless I felt not knowing a lick of French. My brain understood I was in a foreign place...My survival instinct was to speak and respond when spoken to in Spanish. You can imagine the awkward masterpieces that created. Their eyes said it all, "Who is this strange blonde woman trying to speak bastardized Spanish to me...in France?" I learned my lesson quickly.
French street artists are actually a thing that exists.
Later that day we made our way back to Spain...by boat! That's right, we crossed back into beloved España in a boat floating on the ocean. It was surreal. We arrived in San Sebastian by late afternoon and checked into our hotel (Hotel Codina, it was great should you ever visit!) and took a tiny siesta. That night we explored the city and settled at a cider house for dinner and drinks. Cider is huge in San Sebastian and the surrounding area, I now understand why. I paid 5 euros for unlimited cider that shot out of huge wooden barrels just like the movies. Obviously, we stayed there the entire night, getting drunk on cider, eating too much bread, and laughing inappropriately loudly. Time slipped away, it was the first time I'd been intoxicated in quite some time, and let me tell you: the situation was ideal. My friends and I enjoyed learning about each other and shooting the breeze. The next morning we hiked to the top of a mountain that boasts the coveted Jesus statue of San Sebastian. I've never made so many jokes about finding God in my whole life. After our hike, we visited the city's aquarium and spent the afternoon exploring the old part of town.
That night we rode back to Bilbao as we had plans for Sunday: Hike the notorious Bosque de Oma! Yes, the painted forest you are about get a sneak peak off is only about 40 minutes by car from my apartment. My host parents drove Damaris and I there on Sunday morning. It is a small section of forest in the mountains near Gernika that was painted by a single Basque artist, Augustin Ibarrola, about 10 years ago. Now art students from a local university come every so often to touch up his work. The trees are painted in such a way that when standing in 30 marked vantage points, the trees together form different pictures and designs. It was like something from my dreams. If you know me well, you know that.
That's all for now, but this weekend I am traveling to Paris. Expect at LEAST one entry from that trip. All my love. -Jenna