Showing posts from September, 2021

Dawn, 1 - 7. Inflection Point.

I am falling back into the old ways of writing every few days rather than every day. In part, it's because the newness of the pandemic, and the necessity of recording its ever-changing nature has disappeared. We have become more or less inured to the illness and the numbers that we are still barraged with every day. Those numbers are now going down, though certainly not through our actions. The beginning of the new school year has brought thousands of students together in university towns and cities. In Santiago, thousands have had to be hounded off the streets by riot police where they were binge drinking and keeping the neighbors awake with their revelry. In Barcelona in recent days, forty thousand were rousted from the largest plaza in the city. With these enormous get-togethers, with the flux of tourism this summer, and with our complacency, the numbers should have gone up. But vaccination is a wondrous thing. Over seventy percent of the total population in Spain is completely

Not So Fast, 76 - 80. Yes, It's Real.

That there are people who deny the pandemic, is only to be expected. Viruses are invisible, and the illness is a bit hit or miss; some people get very sick and die, while others seem to have a mild flu and go about their lives.  Then, last winter when the storm Filomena walloped Madrid with unprecedented snow, there appeared the snow deniers. They crunched up a snowball, tried to melt it with a lighter, and got a blackened snowball. That the snow was cold in their hands didn't mean anything. The deniers immediately claimed the snow was a plastic fake. Never mind. From there we jump to those who claim birds don't exist, that they were all killed to be replaced with robots that watch our every move. Tin foil is not enough for some.  Now come the deniers that missed out on entire classes of earth science in elementary school. Last Saturday, a volcano erupted on the Canary island of La Palma, just where vulcanologists had suspected it would, along the side of a volcano that had alr

Not So Fast, 67 - 75. September.

And life swishes on by. This week is supposed to be the week of our town's festival, the Virxe de Guadalupe. Once upon a time (over a hundred years ago) it lasted three days, from Saturday to Monday. For the last half of the twentieth century, it lasted from Saturday to the following Wednesday. In this century, the festival has been amplified from Friday to the following Friday, with the last day a local holiday to make a three day weekend. The highlight of the festival is the last night, with three bands. At two in the morning, the lights of the plaza turn off, everyone who was fortunate to get sparklers lights them, and, one after the other, the three bands sing the Rianxeira, with everyone joining in. It's not a good idea to wear one's best clothes this evening, because not everyone keeps their sparker high in the air.  Ondiñas veñen, ondiñas veñen, Ondiñas veñen e van. Non te vaias, Rianxeira,  Que te vas a marear!   This song, A Rianxeira , was written back in 1947, i

Not So Fast, 60 - 66. Discovering Peña Trevinca

On Monday, I took one of my days of being out from morning till night. I had really wanted to visit Porto again, but, even though contagion is going down, the idea of being in the midst of a lot of people, having to wear a mask, was off-putting. So, I decided to visit a corner of Galicia I had never been to, Peña Trevinca. Peña Trevinca is the name of the highest mountain in Galicia, at 2127 meters (The highest mountain in Spain is in the Pyrenees, Pico Aneto, at 3404 meters.). It's right on the border between the provinces of Ourense and Zamora, which means it's also on the border of the two autonomous regions of Galicia and Castilla-León. It's really part of a group of mountains, in a protected area, though it's not yet a national park. It has trails all through it, visiting both the summits, and the myriad of glacial lakes.  My intention was to try to find a short trail to at least one of the lakes. That was my intention. In reality, I spent most of the morning and e

Not So Fast, 58 & 59. Setting Up Classes

I am now on vacation. It's an unpaid one, but I get to have my days all to myself. This, however, doesn't mean I can forget all about my classes. This is the time of year I start pulling my hair out by the roots. Mothers (almost always mothers, as if the fathers had nothing to do with their kids' education) start calling me to set up their kids' English classes. I have little room, so I can't take more than three, or, stretching it, four kids an hour, preferably all of the same or similar ages. Here's the problem. There are five hours of classes in each day, but it seems some children have more than ten hours of busy time each afternoon. "Tuesday's a bad day because Johnny has football practice and then he goes to kayaking. After that, he has a swimming class. Thursdays he has trombone practice, and theater, followed by some more football. Have you got anything for him on Fridays?" "Not for his age group. I do have an hour on Wednesdays he can