Settling and Traveling

More and more I feel like I am settling into a routine here, which is both positive and negative. It’s certainly rewarding in the sense that I feel like I have a definitive place in Arcos – that I am a valuable member of the community, and that I belong here. There are 190 students at Riofrío, my elementary school, and all but the 3 year-olds know my name. And even those who refuse to attempt to express themselves in English in the classroom are more than happy to greet me with a thickly aspirated “Helloh, Leenco’!” if we cross paths in the playground.

But like my school, Arcos de la Frontera is a relatively small and self-contained place. It would be incredibly easy to allow myself to allow my routine to become my life. I am working on making Spanish friends, who will hopefully become a large part of my life here. I tend to try to get away when I feel suffocated in one place, but traveling from here is significantly more complicated than, say, from Madrid (I have to take a 40 minute bus ride to Jerez de la Frontera before I can actually embark to   most  destinations). Now that I am settled, though, trips within and without Spain will begin filling some of my weekends.

This past weekend I went to Madrid to see a day of the Masters Series tennis tournament (I saw Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal, respectively the numbers 3 and 2 players in the world, and the latter currently one of Spain’s most beloved national heroes) as well as to visit some of my favorite bars and restaurants from when I lived there two years ago. It was great to get out of the small town bubble for a couple days and immerse myself in constant stimulation and human interaction. While I cannot deny that Arcos is a cultural city, the culture here is a type of provincial, folkloric culture that gives it an air of charm and wisdom, but ultimately little sophistication. To be able to go to the Thyssen-Bornemisza museum and see some ATP tennis, while visiting with friends, provided an enjoyable contrast to the slow-motion Andalusian lifestyle.

I also have trips to Sicily, Morocco, Sevilla (fairly close to  Arcos, but still worth its own long weekend) in the works, with eventual trips to Paris, Copenhagen, and several other Andalusian cities and towns possible. I just need to start teaching private English classes to be able to fund this…

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~ by lincolnbrody on October 23, 2007.

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