Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Valdelavilla Poeta

I'm at the Pueblo Ingles english teaching program here in Valdelavilla (the place is in the middle of nowhere...but it's got wi-fi amazingly enough), and one of the waitresses here gave me some poetry that she wrote about her life here, living in San Pedro Manrique, a nearby tiny village. I thought it was quite lovely.
mountain view from Valdelavilla, Spain
He hablado con la noche,
Quiero que baje la luna,
Bese a mi amor en la frente,
Bese a mi hijo en la cuna,
Lo arrulle hasta que vuelva,
En una nube de espuma,
Al hijo que yo mas quiero....
Quiero que baje la luna

I have spoken with the night,
I want the moon to fall,
To kiss my love on the forehead,
To kiss my son in the cradle,
Overwhelming them until it returns,
In a cloud of foam,
To the son I love most....
I want the moon to fall

Cierro los ojos al silencio,
Oigo la voz del recuerdo,
Memorias de mi infancia,
La tierra de donde vengo,
Mi Extremadura del alma,
La familia que alli deje,
El pueblo donde naci....
Los ecos de otros tiempos.

I close my eyes with silence,
I hear the voice of memory,
Memories of my childhood,
The land where I come from,
My extremities of my soul,
The family that allows me there,
The town where I was born....
The echoes of another time.

his words are pure poetry, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pretty Porto

After a week traveling in Salamanca, Spain and Porto, Portugal, I now take-off for my second week of teaching English at Valdelavilla in Northern Spain. The tricky part about speaking English to non-native speakers, is that you need to simplify everything, use basic words and phrases, and thus, you end up not speaking like your normal self. It can be a bit excruciating at times, almost as painful as speaking colloquial Spanish. So on that note, for these photos from Porto, I'm going to explain them in the simplest terms to prepare myself for this coming week.
pretty roofs
pretty view towards top of Porto
pretty city of Porto
pretty bridge in front of pretty city
pretty similar photo
pretty smooth, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Salamanca es salarific

The first time I heard of Salamanca, Spain, it was because of a bootleg Radiohead disk that I had from them performing live here in 2002. But after being here, in my humble opinion, it's an incredibly lively, young city due to the large student population. It's got beautiful cathedrals and an incredibly ornate Plaza Mayor. It has a great arts scene, and the standard start the night out at 3 am. Unfortunately there was a Feria de los Libros (book fair) here this week, with these ugly orange mobile book stalls staining the Plaza. On the other hand, there was free music all week long in the Plaza, so that was a tradeoff.
I've been surviving the last few days on falafel, since I'm getting tired of the standard Spanish fare. Unfortunately it's not like the falafel sandwiches back home, but the Spaniard version of it. So rather than hummous, eggplant, and tahini with the falafel in a pita, it's crappy iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, and this mayo concoction. It's more like eating a Big Mac without the meat.
The cathedral viewed from the Puente Romano
The dome inside the Catedral Nueva
Everyone loves a wedding

I wish I could have stayed for the reception
Climbing to the top of the Catedral
A church with a building in front with a scallop shelled facade
views from the top of the cathedral

Plaza Mayor
The view of Plaza Mayor at night from my hotel room with the damn book fair ruining the shot.
The concert stage is nice, but that ugly yurt tent thing is a real eyesore
Never an eyesore, just silky smooth, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Saturday, May 17, 2008

A Week in Spain of No Spanish, Only English

Just spent the last week in a little town outside of Salamanca called La Alberca. For the last seven days, I´ve been working in an Adult English Teaching Program with the company Pueblo Inglés. In exchange for free room and board and wine, we worked in a fairly intensive program where no Spanish was allowed. The Spaniards in the program could only speak English. I´m not gonna kid you, I originally volunteered to get free accomodation for the week, but I ended up leaving with many new friends. I cherish especially the Spaniards who taught me essential curse words and hand gestures.
The only bad part of the experience was the food, especially being a vegetarian. Everything was pretty much ham, meat, ham, ham or ham. Vegetable dishes consisted of overcooked, oversaturated, drippy, bland tasting, concoction of canned products from the Franco era. I ended up having to eat a lot of eggs, more than I´ve ever eaten in one week. I think I ate so many eggs that I might grow feathers out of my ass.
Vino, si si si.......Jamon, no me gustaBut now I´m in Salamanca and then heading to Portugal for a week before starting the next Pueblo Inglés program at a different location with hopefully better food. I know the next place Valdelavilla has free laundry, so that´s a good start since I´ll be going on 2 weeks since the last wash......thought I´d share that with you.
A mini procession in the neighboring town of Miranda del Castañar
This should have the photo I used for my friend Chad who passed away tragically. Sun and tree reflecting in a pond in La Alberca.
He's more ham than cheese, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Monday, May 12, 2008

for chad

descansa en paz......from la alberca, spain

for my boy chad, who took this photo back during our riding days in vail. hope your still going big wherever you are...

Thursday, May 08, 2008

After a week in Piedralaves, heading to La Alberca to teach English

A sign on a building letting you know that you´ve arrived in Piedralaves. If you´re in a car, 30 seconds later is a sign letting you know that you´ve left Piedralaves.
So I had this wonderful week in Piedralaves. Typical Spanish countryside of warm sun, bottles of vino tinto, and siestas everyday. Today, I had to make the move to Madrid to start this English teaching program just outside of Salamanca. The unfortunate part is that I don´t have a car and have to rely on public transport to get to Madrid from Piedralaves. The really unfortunate part is that I had to walk 3 km uphill from the house I´m staying in Piedralaves to the bus stop. The really really unfortunate part, is that of all days, this morning was the day that it started to rain. Super-duper unfortunate was that no smart Spaniard would pick up a dripping wet backpacker trying to hitch a ride to the bus stop. So by the time I got onto the bus, I was soaked. Puta madre.
He´s just as silky smooth, wet or dry, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Sobrino Numero Tres - I'm an uncle again

Since February 1, 2005, my sister and her husband Dave have had 3 children, with the newest one Charles David being born last week on May 1st. They are single-handedly populating the world. If they were Hindu, they would make a killing at their sons weddings come dowry time.
I am the only sibling of my sister, and of her 3 childbirths, I've managed to be out of the country for 2 of them. Henceforth, I am fulfilling my uncle duties above and beyond the normal call of duty. Obviously if anyone needs a babysitter out there, I'm your man.
Charles David Zahn born on May 1, 2008 at 10:17 PM, weighing in at 7 lbs. 10 oz.

For everything else, he's your man, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Sunday, May 04, 2008

A Quick Pit-Stop in Barcelona and a Sneak Peak into Next Month's Peasant Life in Piedralaves

Left Marrakech, Morocco and made a quick pit-stop in Barcelona for a couple of days. Spent one of those days hiking up Montserrat, a mountain about 1 hour outside of Barca.
The monastery high up in the hills of Montserrat

Pek, one of Jessie´s old dog friends before he moved to Barça with his owners. Unlike my dog, he doesn´t mine carrying shit on his back
A tiny hermito (refuge) high up in Montserrat
After Barcelona, I headed to Piedralaves for a week. It's a tiny pueblo in the countryside, about an hour and a half outside of Madrid. I'm here with the father of a French friend of mine who I met last year while volunteering at the Tibetan Refugee Center in Kathmandu, Nepal. He's showing me the ins and outs of his country home (turning on power, turning on water, land maintenance, and most importantly pool operation and maintenance). The house is 2 km from the main town (and about 15 km from will I survive without Vitamin I) and is located in a wide valley. The entry to the house is a long dirt driveway flanked by trees. On the property there are newly planted fruit trees, flower beds, and a 2 year old olive garden (still needs another 3 years to bloom). The house has 4 bedrooms, 4 baths, a separate workshop, a parilla (barbecue hut), and let's not forget la piscina.
Mi casa nestled in the hills, for 1.5 months starting in June
A green field next door
So I basically have this big-ass house for a month and a half starting next month on june 1st.....all to myself.......I am resigned to the fact that I will be one or a combination of possible things. Leading a peasant life tending the land (mowing the lawn, planting and watering, etc.), being a cabana boy (cleaning the pool and tanning my speedo-clad body), and also working on my own projects (a book and/or a film). I will either become Henry David Thoreau in Walden, Ernest Hemingway in Cuba, or Jack Nicholson in The Shining, or a combination of all three. But I'm not completely isolated (feel free to visit though, so I don't go crazy. My neighbors are this old guy Juan Gonzalez and his dog Yeti. Nobody around here speaks English (yeah, I think it would be a good idea for you to visit), so I'm anticipating my Spanish to improve greatly. There's also lots of cows and frogs to keep me company, and a bonus of a cleaning lady stopping by once a week.
One of my neighboring cows. This one I call Marta
Over the last couple of days, me and Philippe (the owner of the house) have been working the land. A couple days ago, at about 2:30 PM, while mowing, I started to get in the groove of working, when he shut me down for siesta. It's an unwritten rule that you can't make loud noise during siesta time (about 2:30 to 5:00 PM) since the neighbors are taking their siesta. I have to remember that Spanish time is not necessarily getting the work done, buy not pissing off the neighbors when they're napping.
Yesterday I transformed this pool from a green mucky, frog and beetle infested, smelly swamp, into a newly painted lovely piscina that I will appreciate a lot more than any other pool when I jump in it in June, since I scrubbed it completely clean by hand. I think that was a run-on sentence.
Starting June 1st, this will be my peasant to join me?

He's muy popular con la gente en el campesino, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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Thursday, May 01, 2008

Photo Heavy Last Couple Weeks in Morocco Without Much Text Except in Title of Entry

here's photos from the last 2 weeks in morocco. i think last year's photos were better (go here to judge for yourself). i'm back in spain now and will be here till mid-july. blah blah blah blah blee blah blah, can't think of anything to write. here be them photos i promised:
sunset photo in assilah while a skinny guy who looked like he was tripping was eying my shit
the most splendid gate in all of morocco, bab el-mansour in meknes
moroccan models in front of bab el-mansour. they follow direction well. here, sit.
and here, stand.
in this game in the plaza, you try to get the ring on the bottle. it´s like spin the bottle, only no kissing since it´s an islamic country. big fun.
acrobat again
some countries are dog countries, like india or most of south america. morocco is definitely cat country.
some people are just born with good style
a big ass mausoleum in the distance at this cemetary in meknes
i walked into this mosque, took a photo, then they kicked me out for not being muslim. what happened to the fourth of the five pillars of islam, charity?
zellig and stonework detail
a really rad door and accoutremants more detail
and even more detail
minaret kissing the sun
i want this courtyard in my house. so peaceful looking
in marrakech, there are these gigantic storks making nests on top of all these ruins and even in some of the minarets.
ceiling is pretty
ceiling is beautiful
renato is running out of ideas to describe this ceiling
stonework detailing in marrakech
it was really really really hot when i took this shot. i found it pointless to try to sell knit hats in 100 degree weather.
my homeboys trying to get their gang sign shit together
ouzzazade falls just outside marrakech. a full on brodeo with an occasional female swimming, albeit fully clothed.
inside the souqs of marrakech
Where there's a will, there's a Che, Dónde está Che Pelotas?

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