Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Día de Andalucía

Today (February 27th) we celebrated the "Día de Andalucía" at school!  I didn't really know what to expect; from what I heard from my private lesson students, every school celebrates a little differently!  Here's what you need to know. Día de Andalucía is a regional holiday celebrated on February 28th each year in the autonomous region of Andalucía.  It's purpose to to take time to celebrate the people, food, culture and costumes that give life to the southern culture most associated with Spain.  Because the holiday lands on a Thursday this year, we get both Thursday and Friday off.  Hence, why we celebrated the holiday a day early in the schools.

Anyone would immediately notice that it was not a normal day at school from the second you walked through the doors this morning. Many students wore traditional Andalucian clothes which meant flamenco dresses, dramatic make-up, and flowers in hair for the girls, and white shirts, black or red hats, suspenders and boots for the boys.  Needless to say, it was adorable.

My students performing a traditional flamenco dance!
In the morning, the kindergarden, 1st and 2nd grade students gathered in the "comedor" (multipurpose room) located just across the patio from the school.  There were a series of performances including a poetry reading, traditional flamenco singing, a flute ensemble, three flamenco dances, and a guitar trio, all performed by the students!  It was so inspiring to see students as young as kindergarden trying to master a dance as passionate and complicated as the flamenco at such a young age!  All of the students did a great job and their classmates seemed to like it too.  The second half of the morning, the 3rd-6th grade students watched the same show but I couldn't see it due to my teaching schedule.

At recess, a bunch of the mothers in town got together and feed the students a typical Andalucían breakfast which was a tostada (half of a toasted baguette) with either olive oil or a tomato purée on top. It sounds plain, but let me tell you, that tomato tostada is one of my favorite things here! Simple, delicious and fairly healthy.  It made me so happy to see the kids running around the patio so content and excited about their bread!  Kids ran back for seconds and thirds which we Americans might view as greedy, but considering a lot of these kids don't usually get seconds and thirds at home due to the financial hardships created by the economic "crisis," I was glad to see it.

Our art project on Día de Andalucía

Finally, in the afternoon class hours we did an art and craft project making 3-D Andalucian people, and quizzed the kids on Andalucian trivia (which I loved because I learned a lot too).  Overall, probably one of my favorite days at school so far because I got to see into the heart of the Spanish culture.  Tomorrow I'm off to Sevilla to eventually leave with a group from there to go to Morocco for the weekend!  I couldn't be more excited that it worked out that I get to go to Andalucía's captial city on the Día de Andalucía purely by coincidence!  Can't wait to see what Sevilla and Morocco have in store for me these next few days!!

Monday, February 18, 2013


So, I haven't updated in a while.  Sorry about that!  My life has been pretty routine lately, no traveling or big festivals, just living my average Spanish life (which is still great by the way) until this past weekend!

The past two weeks have been Carnavales in Spain!  For those of you who don't know, Carnavales (or just Carnival in English) is two weeks of celebration to kick off the lenten season!  I guess the easiest way to describe it to Americans is Halloween meets Mardi Gras.  Carnaval involves costumes, parades and lots of music!  My town, Almería, celebrated it on a small scale, like the majority of Spain.  There was a parade on the weekend, and costumes here and there in the streets, but nothing major.  However, there are two cities in Spain that celebrate Carnavales on a much larger scale.  The biggest celebration is in Tenerife on the Canary Islands.  They celebrate Carnaval more like Brazil with beauty pageants, drag shows, and tons of concerts.  Although it would be amazing to go to Tenerife, the flights are pretty expensive so it was out of the question.  So, we decided to go to the second biggest Carnaval celebration (conveniently located on mainland Spain) in Cádiz.
Parade in Cádiz!
I went to Cádiz with a student group from Almería and we had a blast!  Cádiz is located on the opposite side of Andalucia from Almeria; it's a costal city on the Atlantic Ocean.  It was about a 6-7 hour bus trip, so it was pretty long.  Lucky for me, I slept the entire way there and pack.  For those of you who know me well, that shouldn't surprise you ;)  Anyway, we were only in Cádiz for one night (from 5pm to 5am) but it was well worth the trip!  Absolutely everyone was dressed up in costumes of all sorts!  Also, the city was alive with Carnaval spirit with everything from parades and confetti in the streets to Spaniards singing songs in the streets!  It was a once in a lifetime experience, and I'm glad I got to participate!  My three friends and I dressed up as superheros.  We called ourselves "The Erasmusibles" which is a play on "The Incredibles."  Erasmus is the student group we went to Cádiz with, so everyone seemed to find our costumes pretty clever.  I've added some pictures so you can see for yourself.  Enjoy!