Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Patience is a virtue y mi amor

For a long time, I was a very impatient person. I would find myself getting irritated for little reasons, especially when I had to wait for people. But then I began my training to be a teacher, and found that I had an extreme amount of patience in the classroom, which was an incredible and useful revelation for me. Yet, outside of the classroom, I still found that I struggled with my patience tolerance.

But then I moved to Honduras, and a whole new level of patience, in every aspect, was needed while living there. From the very beginning, when I stood in line with Mr. Rodrigo to open a bank account for 2 hours, and then later standing in line for 3 hours to take out money in Tela with Larua Beth, I was constantly having my patience put to the test.

I then moved to Spain, which much like in Honduras, no one is ever in a hurry. It is easy to get frustrated with the “no pasa nada” (no worries) style of living as you sit there, trying to get the servers attention to bring over the bill.

Overall, I feel that my time in both countries has allowed me to become a much more patient person.

With that said, thank goodness for my 6 months in Honduras and my 8 months in Spain, because I needed every bit of that patience training when I arrived at the airport last Saturday to pick up Rachel. The last part of her journey took her from Madrid to Malaga, and before I left for the airport the flight’s status online was “on time.” Well, when I arrived in Malaga, I was greeted by flight information informing me that in actuality, her flight had been delayed FOUR HOURS (for the record, it is only a one hour flight…)! All I wanted to do was see my girlfriend, and now I had to sit in the airport for 4 hours for that to happen. I will never mention this 4-hour time period ever again.

Rachel and I shortly after our delayed reunion

Rachel has come and gone her second time around, but we were again able to enjoy each other’s company and do some traveling. I won’t bore you with all of the sappy details of our journey, but I will provide a quick narrative and pictures of what we did.

She arrived in Malaga and we headed straight towards Ronda, where we were going to spend Saturday night and Sunday. We arrived, found our hotel, and went and saw the famous bridge. We then grabbed a bite to eat at a restaurant around the corner from the hotel.

Sunday morning we woke up and took a walk down into the gorge where you are given the best view of Ronda’s famous Puente Nuevo (New Bridge). Check it:

We then walked around the outskirts of the city and back through the historical center towards the famous bullring, where it is said modern bullfighting was born.

While at the bullring I had my world reduced to the size of a marble. While walking around one of the museums at the bullring I recognized another tourist as someone who worked at my high school in Holland. I could not remember her name, so I finally asked if she was from Holland, Michigan and if she worked at West Ottawa High School. Her immediate facial expression proved my intuition. It was Mrs. Kiekover, one of the athletic trainers from my high school. Here we were, in the middle of Spain, and West Michigan found me. She was there with several other teachers on a spring break trip, and I found out that a few other West Ottawa teachers were with her, including Mrs. Eberly, my senior year Expository Writing teacher. I regret not getting a picture with them, but I was pretty stunned.

After chatting with them for a while, we continued to explore the city, but the poor, rainy and cloudy weather kept us from really enjoying more of the town, so we headed back towards Motril.

Monday, Rachel came to school and academy with me and hung out with my students and watched me “work.” That night we went up to Granada and I surprised Rachel with an hour appointment at some Arab Baths. That. Was. Relaxing. We then met up with Emily and her friend Liz, who was also visiting that week, and some other friends, and had tapas and returned to Motril

Tuesday Rachel went to the beach with Liz while I worked, and then to academy class to watch me with my 6 year olds. She helped me quiz them on the alphabet. It was a lot of fun, and Rachel quickly picked out my favorite student (but really, teachers don’t have favorites…). That night we went to the flamenco store and studio that my bilingual coordinator owns with her husband. We watched one class lesson and then Rachel was able to try on a flamenco dress. I was also able to put on a jacket and hat...

Wednesday our traveling adventures continued as we drove up into Las Alpujarras and visited three towns.

I had visited this town with Michael Lynn and her teacher back in December, and really enjoyed walking around the stores and visiting the chocolate factory. I took Rachel on the same tour I was given months ago. I bought a rug for my room and some chocolate.

I had asked my teachers if they had any recommendations for a good place to eat and my math teacher recommended a restaurant in this town, just up the mountain from Pampaneira (all three of these towns sit on the same side of a valley stacked one on top of the other at different elevations). Rachel owed me a free meal for my victory in the NCAA basketball bracket, so this was my chosen meal. Look at these pictures. Mmmm…

We then went up to Capileira, the highest of these three villages, checked into our hostal, and walked around town and checked out the views of the valley and the Sierra Nevadas.

Thursday morning we took off and took the long and curvy scenic route back to the coast. It took longer than I excepted, and it was a little frustrating at times because the mountain roads were not that well marked. But it was a beautiful drive.

At one point, I thought we were lost in the coastal mountains. We eventually found the major coastal highway and headed up towards Cabo de Gata near Almeria. There were a few more frustrations navigating through the park (poorly marked roads, no roads at all, “Rachel, we have no food…”) but we eventually settled down on one of the beaches there, only to be pelted by sand. Although the views and scenery were incredible, it was not a beach day--the wind was simply to strong. We gave up with sand in our ears and noses and went off to explore the rocks and other beaches.

After grabbing a quick bite of Spanish salad and calamari, we headed back to Motril.

After a few long days of traveling we relaxed on Friday and even went down to the beach for a coffee with my roommates. We then took of for Malaga and relaxed the rest of the night. Saturday morning I took her to the airport, and after standing in line for 45 minutes to print off her boarding pass, I saw her through security and the countdown now starts for my return home in June.

It was an awesome week.

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