Salamanca in the morningEarly (07:45!) morning walk again. Dark, as I walk down the passage to the front door of my building.
And, I can never go past some of the more recent carvings on the new cathedral, the rabbit and the monster with the ice cream.
The view both ways across the bridge is always spectacular. Whether to the south, away from the old city of Salamanca and to the Paradore (a modern version of the hotel chain) or, to the north to the cathedral and everything that makes this city so special.
As I knelt on the bridge taking a photo I quite disconcerted a women riding towards me. She couldn’t change her trajectory and swerve to my side. Nup. She halted. Odd! At last. A rider who makes me look good.
And then back. Most restaurants were nearly set up by now. Time for porridge, the last serve in the box, coffee and a quick check of my homework – that I’ve done it all and have it ready to take.
Five of us in my class. A good number. Let me describe them. The order is how we sit. Yes, everyday we flock to the same seats.
M is 18, on a gap year from Holland. Cutely boyish he blushes easily as one of our teachers gently teases him about things like football. He is doing 3 months of Spanish in Salamanca and then going to Ecuador as a volunteer. There, he will be teaching english and football to adolescents. Having heard his english accent well, let’s say, it’s unusually broad for someone whose compatriots usually speak it very well and he will be teaching it! He confirms for me the value for kids of a year off between school and future life. And what a wonderful way to spend it, some here, some in Ecuador and I don’t know what else. But an idea to encourage. I wonder if it works as well for those heading into the professions. He will do humanities in future. From the high level of approval of gap years from another teacher I’ve learnt it’s usual here and she has a son of a similar age.
C sits to his left. She, like him, is new to our class this week. Like me she is what the teacher calls a ‘language traveller’. Yes, she is near-pensionable age, an engineer who has spent recent time travelling, doing a bit of Spanish here and a bit there. She is American, Californian, and has just spent six months in each of the past two years in Ecuador, learning Spanish and volunteering. For what I don’t know. After talking to her I am convinced I don’t want to go to Qito. The southern city in Ecuador, ?Cuencia, can’t remember, sounds like a good place to visit. Anyhow, she is sensible, doing extra classes each day, as I should. Outside class she is inseparable from her husband who is in a lower level class in the school. Her focus is the imminent arrival of their daughter in Spain.
The third member of class is R. She is young enough, 22, that she includes her age when introducing herself to new class members. From the UK she seems to be spending a postgrad gap year but is really completing a practice year for her legal registration. She is small, obviously has predecessors from somewhere in the subcontinent, and leads a busy social life, coming to class most days a little late and half asleep. She wakes quickly and is a very sharp analyst. She is ahead of me in class, that’s for sure. She is obviously enjoying her freedom in Salamanca, with her work experience already organised for somewhere in Spain. And it’s obviously where she will have to use Spanish. Sadly, Brexit may well change the options for people such as her who want to live or study here.
M sits on R’s left and next to me. She is older, maybe early 40s, I can’t tell. French, and learning Spanish to get a new and better job. She was a buyer in a large technical organisation with problems and is now defunct. Not that that seems to describe her well. Her political comments on the divisions in France are very interesting: of those in her original town, in Paris and generally. Her family are in the Caribbean, and originally from there. Anyhow, I like her. She is a much more fluid speaker than me but I often get more of the homework answers correct. She is very serious and has two months before she will sit the DELE test to formally establish her level in Spanish.
Next week my class will move up to level B2. I wonder if I return if I’d get into B2 or would need to repeat the last week of B1. This week, feeling better, I’ve caught up a lot and feel as though I’m on the lower end of the top of B1. So after a few weeks away, repeating B1.5 would be fine, as would starting B2. I’ll see.
Yes, I’ve started to think about coming back here. I’m glad I won’t be here next week thou. A huge group of students is starting at don Quijote, 65 or 75 of them. As this is in response to advertising by the school, and as the annual saints day for Salamanca is on September 8, most probably they’ll be very young.
Lots of parades, life in streets, all culminating in bonfires. The culture lecture last night mentioned this type of Spanish festival. I realise now how lucky I was to see the huge bonfire in Antigua (Guatemala) in 1998, and this year, the fair (feria) in Jerez and Semana Santa (Easter) in Avila. Wow! Thanks JP for the encouragement for both.