La Rioja

What to do in La Rioja, Spain

And finally we have made it to the weekend! For some reason this week felt very long. (I do 10 hours of private lessons and 12 hours of teaching in 3 days, so that could perhaps be it.) I am so excited for this weekend because I have six days off. Which I’m lucky enough to say is just one additional day to my normally five-day weekends every other week.

But it means that many people have long weekends too, so everyone is traveling.

On Wednesday we held a roommate international night in which everyone made a dish from their country. We have 1 American, 1 Australian, 1 Spaniard, 1 Bulgarian. I made Cheeseburgers because I’m that original. Daniel made Pavlova. Sara made Revuelto de gulas y ajos frescos (fish with eggs). And Mira made Potato/Chicken stew. And I’ve never been so full and happy in my life. It was a feast.

A story.

On Wednesday, I was watching one of my students/girl I teach English to, and we were at the playground. It was a gorgeous day, though one of the colder ones since I’ve been here. The playground game here is strong, as is the shoe game, and the baby carriage (pram) game. I sit and watch the kids all run about screaming. There are around twenty on this particular playground in the center of Arnedo. The moms are strolling by with additional small babies in the most gorgeous carriages. Like English Royalty kind of stuff. All white and pink and plush. And they are all wearing the craziest but most beautiful shoes. Shoes that sparkle and have glitz and velvet and silver reflectors. I mean the shoes here are a big deal, and Arnedo is famous for theirs.

So I’m sitting, minding my own business and admiring the carriages and shoes, when a grandmother walks her child purposefully towards me. The little girl is hopping from one foot to the other. She must have been 3 or 4. The grandmother lifts the girl up to the grassy area behind me, and proceeds to undress the girl, helping her to squat and pee.

Directly behind me. I, for a moment, am so shocked I don’t react. She leaves her for a moment to fetch a towlette, wipes her bum, and redress her. Then she looks at me, shrugs, and smiling says, “She had to go, hmm.” It is then that I give into the laughter and shaking of my head. Yes, I suppose she did. But there is something so crazy about the way concepts go here. She had to pee, so we just picked a nice patch of grass out in the open and had at it.

To a degree, I appreciate how the Spaniards make no pretense at situations. They tell the truth and get tired of endless “thank you’s.” They are straight forward and live most of their life that way. It’s refreshing and sometimes shocking.

Excuse the quality. Also 100% sure she knew I was taking a picture. But example A of crazy shoes.

An Attempt at Travel

About two weeks ago I tried to get my act together and book a trip to either Palma or the Canary Islands. I found a great hostel and a crazy cheap flight, but the more I tried to get the bus schedule and everything to add up, the more complicated it all became. Traveling from Calahorra can be so hard. Often I have to just suck it up and accept that fact if I have any hopes of traveling. So I gave up and decided to instead spend six days just being here in this beautiful region with friends.

Pincho Pote

Yesterday was pincho pote which means lots of good food, beer, and great people.

Horseback Riding

Today I went horseback riding with a friend of mine. She is working with a different program and part of their program requires them to become involved with the community here in Calahorra. So she is working with this gentleman and his horse farm. And I was lucky enough to get to tag along this morning.

I haven’t ridden a horse in years, not since my childhood vacations in Arizona. But it was so much fun to meet all the horses and take a reckless attempt at riding one. Which I did just fine, surprisingly. I also trotted and cantered for the first time. The owner got out there and encouraged the horse to run, and for a brief moment I was convinced that would be the moment I lost it and fell. I started screaming and laughing so hard because it’s a way different feeling then walking with a horse. The owner was dying, telling me to calm down, calm down, and then the horse finally stopped and it was all I could do to stop laughing at myself.

Here’s to four more days of freedom. Tomorrow we go to Haro!