I will explain the name of my blog, "Queso de Tetilla." It's a kind of cheese made in Galicia that is delicious and creamy, but it's called Queso de Tetilla because it's shaped like a booby:
As I said, so much has happened in the past week and I hope I remember the good stuff, but if I forget to put it in this post, I'll start another. Let me just jot a few things down before I forget:
- My horribly exhausting and problematic time in transit
- The first few days in Pontevedra (Meeting Celia)
- The apartment search
- My school and the teachers
Initially, the plan was for Victor and I to fly via US Airways to Madrid with a stop over in Philly on Sept. 28th and then we would arrive in Madrid on September 29th and then take another flight into Galicia. However, much to my dismay the air traffic controllers decided to strike on September 29th. I heard about this about 5 days before my flight and tried to call US Airways to see if I could change my flight to the day before but US Airways said they didn't have anything in their system about a strike. So, I waited a few days and then Victor called them 2 days before we were supposed to leave and apparently they had changed our flight to October 4th without telling us because of the strike. So, long story short we had to go through a lot of BS, 1-800 numbers, being on hold, etc. and because that Victor had to leave 2 days before me and I had to fly into Portugal on the 29th. So Victor went to days before me and it was all good, but when I arrived at LAX at 6am to fly US airways my flight to Philly was delayed an hour which meant that I would miss the connection to portugal. So, they transferred me to a flight at 2:50 on Lufthansa and I was at LAX waiting for 8 hours. Fun!
I flew directly into Frankfurt, then waited a few hours, then flew to Lisbon, Portugal. My plan was to take a train from Portugal to Galicia, but I wasn't sure if the train would be running in Spain because of the strike. So, when I got to Lisbon I took a 4 hour train to Porto which is closer to Spain, but by the time I got there it was around 8 or 9 and there weren't anymore trains to Spain and I was sooo exhausted from travelling. I had been in transit for over 24 hours straight at this point, so I had to stay in Porto for the night. I left the train station and asked a taxi driver for a cheap hostel around 20 Euros, but he was pretty sketchy and took me to a place that just looked like his friend's apartment and said I could stay there for 20 Euros and I said "no no no no no, hotel hotel" So, we got back in the car and was saying "you said you wanted cheap, that was a hostel, if you go to hotel it's more expensive" I said, "That's fine." At that point I was sketched out and just wanted to go somewhere else and not sleep in a random dudes apartment and stop carrying around a 2 suitcases and a backpack.
He took me to a regular hotel that was 50 euros a night and I was bummed that it was so expensive for me, but at the same time I just wanted to sleep. So, I called victor at that point to see if maybe he could find a cheaper place for me on the internet, but when I called him and told him what happened he said "just stay at that hotel! I just want you to be safe and get some sleep, please check into that hotel, i will pay you to check into that hotel!" So I did.
The next morning I took a 2 hour bus to Vigo, Spain and from there a 30 min bus to Pontevedra. Victor met me at the bus station and we went to the house in which we were staying. Ay yay yay! Retelling that whole experience was exhausting!
First few days:
Emma, Victor and I found a local person to stay with on couchsurfing.com. If you don't already know about it, it's a website where travellers offer their couch for other travellers to stay on, or where you can find a couch to crash on. We found Celia. Celia is awesome.
Celia lives very close to the city of Pontevedra (about 10 mins. walking) in a town called Poio
The day after I arrived I had orientation at my school. My school is called CEIP lourido and it's an elementary school. It's in a small part of Poio called Campelo. On my first day the director Manolo showed me around and I met the English teacher with whom I will be in class with. Her name is Elisa and I like her a lot. I was sort of expecting a matronly stereotypical teacher type, but she's quite the opposite. So I sat in the class for 20 minutes that day and all the kids were so excited that I was there. When it was time to go, Elisa offered to take me home (to Celia's house).
She asked me "where are you staying?"
I said, "At a friend's house in Poio"
"Oh good" She said, "I live in Poio too. Which street does your friend live on?"
"Oitaven? I live on Oitaven too! What number?"
"7" I said.
"7?! That's my building! I live in the same building!"
"Who are you staying with?"
"Oh! Celia, i know her. I live one floor above her"
So, I thought that was pretty funny and also a prime example of how small this town is, this kind of stuff has happened quite a few times so far. Anyway, my teacher Elisa is so nice and so helpful and accommodating. When she drove me home she said, "if you need a place to stay come to my house, you can stay as long as you want while you look for an apartment." Then she showed me her house and said that we should go out for drinks sometime because her boyfriend's brother owns an irish pub in Pontevedra.
By the time I arrived in Pontevedra Emma had already found an apartment to share with a Galician couple named Sabela and Alejo. They are very nice and fun to hang out with. The day Emma moved in we went over and had beers and they made a tortilla. In Spain a tortilla is nothing like a mexican tortilla, it's much more delicious. Its like a crustless pie made with potatos and egg, it's delicious and they have it at a lot of restaurauntes as a tapas dish.
|View of the river from Ponte do Barca (The bridge that we live next to)|
After Emma found her apartment we were anxious to find one too. We looked at a few that I didnt like very much. Finally we found one that was perfect, It just on the other side of Ponte do Barca (a bridge that goes from Poio to Pontevedra). It's close to where we need to be to get rides to our school and just across a bridge from Pontevedra, about a 3-5 min walk into the city. It's also just on the other side of the bridge from Emma's house, so it's convenient all around. It has two bedrooms, for those who want to come visit! It's also right next to Carrefour which is like a spanish wal-mart and it is awesome. I'll post more pictures soon.
|First dinner in our new apartment|
As I said my school is called CEIP Lourido and so far I've gone 3 times, so I've mostly been watching the class before I participate, but the kids are really funny and really excited to have me in the class. There are kids from ages 3 to 12 in my school and I am in one of the English classes with each grade each week. This week in all the classes we have been playing a detective game in which the students have to ask me questions in English to find out who I am. For example they will ask: whats your name, where are you from, how old are you, etc. and then the teacher will show them a map of california. I also showed pictures of San Francisco and it was so funny to see their reactions. I would show a picture of Lombard street and the entire class would erupt into oooohs and ahhhhs. All the kids were so excited to ask me questions. They asked my favorite color, my favorite food, what kind of music i like, etc. Each answer would cause another round of chitter chatter and excitement. I feel like a celebrity. I overheard 2 of the boys in the 5th grade class whisper "esta guapa." Today after the 5th grade class a group of girl in the class asked me if I could watch their dance routine and we went into another class room while they showed me their choreographed dance to a Shakira song. It's been pretty fun so far.
Anyway, I think that's it for me today. I'm glad to finally have the internet so I can keep everyone updated and finally call home.