Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Forward Population of Palencia

Castille and Leon is the largest autonomous community in Spain in terms of geographic space. Land-locked, it is a dry region with hot summers and freezing winters. Rain, snow, and wind are rare occurrences in the local weather. Despite being such an enormous province, the population per square acre is very small.
Palencia is a small city, located nearly equal distances from Burgos and Valladolid, two other cities of the region.
I have been assigned to an elementary school on the southern side of the city as an English language assistant. I'll talk more about this job in another post. For now, we'll talk about the city.
 La Calle Mayor (Main Street) is filled with enchanting old buildings, with a shaded passage supported by pillars, to protect shoppers from the hot sun during the afternoon. In some places, through art and architecture, the old meets the new with traditional buildings and contemporary art.

  It is a beautiful place with a lot of gardens that are full of trees and grass, despite the low humidity.
A coworker told me that they say the people of Castille and Leon are like the weather here. They can be warm to you, or cold to you, but they will most certainly be dry. I am not sure yet how true that is, but in general I do not have issues with living among serious, dry, people. Thus far I have not found anyone particularly cold.

The Spanish in general are a very friendly people. They are open and good listeners, despite being VERY good talkers. And shouters. They are also good lookers. Not necessarily in the sense that they are pleasing to the eye (they are not displeasing, however they certainly don't look Hollywood), but certainly in the sense that they like to look. Spanish men, especially those of older generations, stare. Passing glances for a Spaniard feel like a long, awkward moment of checking-out a stranger to Americans. There is also a serious lack of personal space and boundaries, as compared to what an American is used to. Greetings and conversations with strangers and acquaintances are more intimate than those I have with my closest friends and family back home. My first day at the school, upon meeting one of the teachers, I was grabbed by the hand and pulled along like a child as she showed me around the school. Although it is just briefly on either cheek, I am kissed by more people in one day in Spain than in an entire year in the US.

Later in the week, I went to the train station but arrived too early, and found myself sitting and enjoying a park nearby. I sat down on a bench to read and was approached by an older gentleman who asked if I was passing the time by myself. I told him I was waiting on my train, and he said that I should wait for him on the bench, and he'd find out exactly when my train would leave. He came back to tell me I had an hour to wait. Then elected to sit beside me and tell me all kinds of things. I cannot say that Palencians are unkind in anyway, but they are more forward, perhaps, than other Spaniards that I know. He spent the better part of our talk flirting with me. He caressed my arm and recited a poem, and then confessed his undying love for me. Something that would paint him an audacious and disgusting old man in the US. In Spain, they might call him a 'viejo verde' or 'old green guy.' In all seriousness, I now feel the need to avoid the park side of the train station just to avoid him. Rana of course says that it is a simple fact of life in Spain, and I either need to get used to it, or be bold enough to tell off creepy old men.

Although it is a charming city, Palencia is not meant for heavy tourism. It would not be advisable for a tourist to go out of their way to stop in Palencia. But if one was taking a trip through the region, and needed a place to stop and stretch their legs, it is a good place for taking walks or having a refreshing drink. It has all of the basic living essentials, and even sports a bowling alley (a true rarity in Spain, and something I missed dearly last year).

I'm looking forward to sharing more experiences and photos with you all.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

A New School Year, a New Adventure

I am very excited to announce that I will be returning to Spain in just ONE WEEK to be an assistant English teacher in a bilingual grade school!

The city I have been placed in is Palencia, a pleasant, land-locked, regional capital, near the top of the autonomous region of Castilla y Leon. Expect updates throughout the coming year as I explore the small city, surrounding areas, and beyond!
In the mean time, this coming week I am doing a road trip through Oregon, California, and Nevada with my parents and younger brother. It is essential to be aware that a global perspective includes one's own country and even one's own family. This will be my first trip to Nevada and I am looking forward to observing the regional differences between the three states as we make our way through.

There are so many wonders to see and think about.