Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Chapter Five: Return of the Tres

Chapter Five: Return of the Tres

Living with the Navarro family has been outstanding.  Each of them understands my English really well, and they speak English smoothly.  Alberto and I have so much in common, there was never a cultural gap between us.  We talk about classic rock, Clint Eastwood, zombie films, the 80's, and politics in a fashion I find more comfortable than conversations with most Americans.

What season is it again?

For four days it was very cold!! The weather went from 60 degrees (fahrenheit) to 40 degrees fahrenheit (or 4.44 degrees celsius, or 277.59 degrees kelvin).  I'm glad I overpacked, because that included some warm jackets.  Can the same be said for the other toppers?

With the weather being poor, we cancelled our trip to the Pyrenees for the weekend.  That's okay, there is plenty to see in Barcelona.  I went with my host family and some of their friends to the Musuem of Science.  It was a rather large place with a plethora of exhibits on physics, history, and it had an aquarium/rainforest!  Here's the pictures...

Song and Dance: the genuine Spain experience
Rallying once again with my travelling pals Rachel and Nichole, we went to the famous Palau de Musica.  We picked up our tickets and crossed the street for some most excellent crepes.  The crepe that I had was like a massive rectangular pancake folded in half with chocolate inside and ice cream on top.  I finished it off with a hot cup of vanilla rooibos tea.

The show that we went to see in the opera house was called Opera y flamenco (Opera and Flamenco).  Flamenco is the Spanish dance that you expect it to be: fiery, juxtaposed, well dressed, frilled, and with a Spanish acoustic guitar fiercely strumming to every stomp, snap, clap, wave, and intense stare.  But then it also included opera so the acts would alternate between fiery flamenco and powerful opera.  It was a genuine Spain experience.  However, the house and stage was so impressive that that alone was worth the admission price.

Sagrada Familia

Another day (so much goes on each day that it blends together) I met up with Rachel to tour the Sagrada Familia.  If you ever want to visit Sagrada Familia, PURCHASE YOUR TICKETS ONLINE AND PRINT THE TICKET!!!!  I'm very glad that I did, because I would have had to wait in line for two hours just to print a piece of paper with a barcode on it.  I could write a poem about the light shining through the stained glass windows, or the view from the old towers, but I'll let the pictures do the talking...

El Rojo Torres

After Sagrada Familia, Rachel went off to meet with her host family, and I enjoyed lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant.  I had a pizza with meat (that's about as much of the menu that I could understand).  And had a gelatto nearby and emailed home.

I didn't know where to go next so I spotted the mysterious building with a curved top that I had seen before, and went that way.  I walked for a while and came across this nice park where I rested on a bench under the shade of a tree for 40 minutes.

After a coffee (you can always count on quaint coffee shops being nearby), I walked down a strip where I was passed by pedestrians on rollerblades.  I suppose rollerblades are popular to adults in the city where the terrain is flat.

At last I reached my destination.  It appeared to be a business district because I walked past a convention center.  The architecture in the area was very dynamic.  Geometric ponds stretched around in unexpected patterns, Large glass cubes sat in grassy pastures, and there was my goal: Torres Agnar.  It was a large red tower used for businesses.  I was amazed to see that there was still cityscape as far as the eye could see, despite how far I had traveled.  I thought Barcelona was big, but this showed me that it was even bigger.  It was very serene out here.

Back in the classroom...

On Friday I gave the students their science exam.  I graded them over the weekend, but I haven´t given them  the final score because I wanted to discuss how to score some of the questions with Mr. Albert.  Mr. Albert is the teacher whom I am cooperating with.

Managing the classroom

When it comes to managing the 5th grade classroom, it isn't that complicated.  The school may not use the same procedures and discipline model that I am accustomed to in American schools, there is one method that I have learned through experience that works for me.  This method was inspired by the procedure-focused style of esteemed teacher Harry K. Wong.  All you have to do is tell the students...
  • What they will be doing
  • How they will be doing it
  • What they should do if they need help
  • What they will do when they are finished
    • Why they need to do that when they are finished
 No need for weeks of practicing how-to.  When the students know exactly what to do at all times, they won't have to find something to do.  If a student frequently misbehaves, I just have to tell him that he can either listen to me or Mr. Albert can tell him what he needs to do.  Easy for me.

The boys are very energetic and playful, but when they get their books open and focus, they make intelligent input.  When reviewing material for a test that they had in history, I found the students were very enthusiastic and engaged when I challenged them to quiz me on the content.  They were racing to find information in the textbook that they could ask me in an attempt to stump me.

This week's cup of coffee:

El Rebost De Collserola.  This coffee shop is close to where I am staying.  When I'm running late for the metro and don't have time to make breakfast, I grab a cafe con leche (or if you speak Starbuckian that's a solo short whole milk latte) and a croissant.  You'll typically find a black dog tethered out front of this store.  It's most likely the owner's dog.

"This fish will go in your blog"
-Alberto Navarro 

Alberto said he had a special dish for me for dinner: it was called Dorada a la sal (fish with salt).  He said that the fish will taste like it has seasoning, but the fish naturally tastes that way.  The next big surprise was that when he cooked the fish in the oven, it was covered completely in a pile of salt.  However, you could hardly taste the salt when you take it out and eat it.  It was some really good fish.  He was right, the fish had a lot of flavor for a dish that was only seasoned with salt.  In America, the only fish I really cared for was in sushi form, probably because it was wrapped up with vegetables, sauce, and rice.  However, in Spain, I've had a lot of good cooked fish.

I used to get queasy when I had to dismantle the exoskeleton of a shrimp just to eat it.  But I'm a pro now.

This was something that I kept forgetting to share each chapter.  The Spanish dialect of the Spanish language uses a "th" sound in words that use z, c, or s.  Typically this is applied to the second or third consonants in a word and not the first.  I will have to investigate further.

Next time on the blog: Massive parks, the beach, a monastery, a festival, the farewell, and a great uphill trek on foot.  It's the prologue!  Stay tuned for all this and more!  Same Spain time, same Spain place.

Until next time...

 I stared at them for a while before I realized that they wouldn't move...

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