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Marruecos Marruecos Chef-Chauen y otras noticias

November 21, 2010

Part 3:

Last Sunday (I really can’t believe it was just last Sunday) we spent our last bit of Morocco in Chef-Chauen, probably the most beautiful town we went to. There was a long drive to get there through beautiful countryside – rolling green hills, not exactly what I had thought of Morocco. And the little white and blue town was right in the hills towards their peaks. There was a big creek running through it where women were doing the laundry, and lots of shops similar to the ones we had seen everywhere else.

What really surprised me was how touristy it was. There were definitely more foreigners there than anywhere else we had been to (I am sure Asilah has just as many in the summer, but when we were there it was just us and one other group that had this really jerky British guide who kept saying things like “Let my people go first!” and “They are going the wrong way but I am not going to tell them!” even though we definitely had no intended direction). I would never have expected so many tourists, being that it was November in a mountain village I can’t imagine would be very easy to get to. But all the same. It was adorable.

Again, we were basically just given time to shop. The worst part about all the bartering is that I ended up buying things I didn’t really want. When you have a rapport with your salesman, it is harder to walk away. And that is what happened there.

After the morning in Chef-Chauen we rode the bus back to the ferry and to Sevilla. The ride from Chef-Chauen took forever because we had to go right by the animal market, which was especially busy because last Wednesday everyone in Morocco killed a sheep for a religious holiday celebrating Mohammad. We were originally supposed to be in Morocco this weekend, but because of the festival (apparently no one works, the streets are filled with blood, and it really, really smells) we changed weekends. Thankfully.

It was a really busy week coming back. I obviously didn’t do any homework during the trip, and there was a lot to do late Sunday night and Monday. Lesson plans, especially. It is really hard to manage teaching with everything else I am supposed to be doing for my classes, which today is a lot, a lot of reading and a presentation with a partner who hasn’t emailed me back.

Thursday my teaching professor observed me for the first time, and it went really well. I didn’t do some things I was supposed to (like have a warm-up… oops), and I talked too fast, and I did too many examples.  But these were all things that I knew I could improve during the lesson, and even really before I did it.

I have really been enjoying teaching, more than I thought I would after we did all of the observations and the class. There are a lot of things that are really awkward about the way the program frames our relationship with the class, the professor, what they want us to do, and what the professor wants us to do. It is kind of messy, and it has been really frustrating. But when it gets down to just being in class, it’s just me and the kids  and I just do what I can. I have really good groups. I am really lucky.

This became especially apparent after Friday, when the TDP program when to Huelva capital about 40 minutes outside Sevilla. The program arranged for us to meet with a woman name Natalia who had done a study abroad program with CIEE in 2004 and was now doing their Teach in Spain program. She’s here for the year as an “auxiliary”, which a position a lot like what I have now – she goes into a few classes once a week to help the teachers. Except in a lot of her classes she doesn’t do a lesson plan or have very much control of the environment at all. Where the school I am teaching in is between a public and a private (I can’t remember what it is called in Spanish) and the kids are pretty privileged, she works in a public school in a very low-income neighborhood. She said that the class we sat in on was incredibly well-behaved because we were there, but that they are usually the best class she teaches. But they were not half as well-behaved as my classes are usually. I am not sure if I could handle her situation.

After her class, we went and wandered around Huelva for a while. Huelva has a reputation among Sevillanos for being dirty and smelly and ugly. We saw the downtown, which was really very cute, and then went to lunch. An amazing, expensive lunch all paid for by CIEE. I had woken up late that morning, thrown on paints and kept on my giant red t-shirt that I had slept in, thinking we would go to the school and a grungy tapas bar and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. I was wrong. Oh well. I had some amazing saucy meaty thing. There was a sea bass appetizer that was delicious, and some artichoke-y ham-y plate, and dessert after our giant meals. We all had a few beers during the meal, and then the waiter brought out complementary shorts of caramel vodka as an aperitif. They are candy. My professor ordered another round. I stumbled back to the bus around 4:30 pm. Oh, Spain.

Yesterday early afternoon I spent in a restaurant/cafe around the corner called conTenedor, complete with weird capitalization. I have kind of been wanting to go in forever. You could pick it up, drop it in Portland, and some installation, and no one would ever know the difference. I had been once before, but there is a really awkward waiter there who made the whole place less comfortable. But yesterday we sat on the couches, and Bon Iver – who I could call my favorite – was playing. And then that album ended, and on came Devendra Banhart’s latest, which I more or less listened to on repeat in August. It was beautiful. Portland in Spain, almost.

This place also has amazing looking food. Past was hanging from the ceiling, and they were making these amazing cakes in the morning. So we went back in the evening for cake.

It was a beautiful, stormy, rainy, perfect day.

Today, more homework. But first, here is the Alhambra I promised:

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