Yesterday Diane, Cait, myself, and one of Cait's private lessons Mikel decided to spend the day doing something different than hanging out in Logrono on a Saturday. We piled into Mikel's car, survived the steep curves and crazy driving of a Spaniard and made it to a national park called Urederra. Urederra is located in Navarra, the province of Spain right next to La Rioja. Urederra is fairly close to Estela in case anyone feels the need to look on a map and find out exactly where it is! It wasn't the most beautiful of days, but we made it work! We packed our bags with jamon and queso bocatas and some water and set off on an absolutely stunning hike. The hike is about 3 hours long there and back and it was well worth it. Urederra means beautiful water in Euskara (Basque language) and it was aptly named! Throughout the entire hike you come across these amazingly blue pools of water and waterfalls. The hike wouldn't take 3 hours if you didn't stop and gawk at the serene pools of the most vivid blue you can imagine. We definitely felt like we were in some sort of paradise or in the movie Blue Lagoon. Multiple times we had to stop ourselves from trying to jump in, as clearly the water is that blue because of some sort of acidity level or bacteria. All in all it was a wonderful day and I hope to have many more days of hiking and seeing the beautiful country where I live!
This year is already different in many aspects from last year. For starters, I am teaching at a high school and not at an elementary school. I have never taught high schoolers before so was a bit nervous going to my first day of class last Monday, but I love it! They can understand me when I talk to them, they have a great sense of humor, they listen, and they don't pick their nose and then wipe boogers all over you! What a joyous day when I can come home from school and not be covered in slime and snot. Not that I don't love the nenes, but this is a wonderful change! I am teaching at the oldest high school in Logrono and it is only a 5 minute walk from my piso.... definitely a different commute than last year! Not only are the students amazing but so are the teachers. They are so warm and welcoming and have made me feel a part of the school in just one week. I have already been invited to numerous lunches and dinners and am treated as a colleague, not just the 'lectora de ingles'. Sadly I don't have the same schedule as last year with no class Mondays or Fridays, but I do have Fridays off and only have 2 classes on Monday. I am done every day by 1:45, which leaves me plenty of time to do private lessons! Which leads me to reason number 2 why this year is different....
Last year I had some wonderful private lessons and it was a great way to supplement my income from the program, but it was more pocket money than anything else. This year I have a whopping 12 lessons a week so far! Can you say cash money?! They certainly keep me busy in the afternoons, but not too busy so I can't enjoy a little siesta or some gym time or a beer with friends. It will definitely be nice this year to be making more than pocket change with my lessons (I'm making the equivalent of our monthly 'income'... cha ching!)
And last but not least I am not starting off in a new place this year like I was last year. When I got back to Logrono, I was coming 'home' and it felt like I hadn't left for more than 2 weeks. Now some people may consider this bad, but for me it's a great feeling! I know where I'm going (well most of the time anyways), have a great group of friends (both Spanish and American and all different parts of the world), I know what and where the good pincho bars are as well as the other bars, and overall I am just very comfortable being back here. I certainly miss Chicago and home and family and friends, but (Mom this should make you feel better) it's a good feeling to know my city and love it so much that I wanted to come back for another year!