I´m going to type furiously, as I only have about 15 minutes left in my free time, and the internet here is terribly slow.
Things are fantastic. The people here are so kind, polite, intelligent, and committed to this program that it´s a delight.
Sunday night we had a Quemada (sp?) ceremony. Essentially, they mixed a lot of alcohol (40% proof), sugar, coffee, and spices in a large metal bowl and set it on fire. Jose Marie, Caro, and Imran dressed up as witches and read incantations to chase away evil spirits, while Sabela and Jez mixed the flaming drink until the flames turned green. Then they served it up to everyone (except me ;) ) and we toasted and drank. Then each country´s group of people sang a song from their country. We have people here from Canada, Australia, England, Scotland, New Zealand, the States, and, of course, Spain. Sabela, the program director who used to be a classical violinist, played a few traditional songs, and we all enjoyed the night and the alcohol fumes.
Yesterday was party night. They cooked paella for everyone in a huge pan, then after dinner (about 10:00) we all met up in the meetingroom, which had been converted into a club for the night. Music, drinking, dancing, tons of fun. Jez and I were the only ones not drinking, but that didn´t keep me from dancing! Rachel and Emily would have been proud of me. :) Marcial in particular kept pulling me out to dance with him, including a redition of the Sevillianas (again, sp?), which I had no idea how to do. So I twirled and snapped my fingers, and copied Sabela and Clara as best I could while Marcial strutted around me, his black shirt unbuttoned rather far.
As the evening progressed, some of the drunker folks confessed many things to me, not all of which I think they remember today. Juan insisted on buying me a drink because he was so grateful to me for teaching him English, and he was upset that I didn´t want a real drink. He said that Sabela and Jez had explained to the Spaniards at the beginning of the program that some Anglos don´t drink like the Spaniards do. Once I explained (several times), that I was very, very happy with the bottle of water he got me, he let it go.
About half of the group danced and sang along to the music until they turned on the lights at 3 am. That included a very boisterous rendition of ¨Bohemian Rhapsody¨, which most of the Spaniards didn´t know. They quickly caught on to the ¨Mama!¨ at the beginning of each line, and would all sing it very loudly with each verse. Then again, they all went nuts over a song that I´m guessing was called ¨Follow the Leader, Leader¨ and pulled everyone into a large congo line.
It was kind of fun to watch people get progressively drunker and simultaneously more relaxed and confident as the night wore on. It lead to better dancing in many cases.
When we all finally walked (or stumbled) back to our houses, Fernando M. lingered singing ¨Waltzing Matilda¨ loudly, which he had learned from the Australians.
This morning we had breakfast at the normal time, 9:00, but then all went to a hike around the mountain to visit the next closest village. This is one that was built around the same time as Valdelavilla (the 17th century), and was abandoned at about the same time (1960s), but this one isn´t restored.
When we got back, we had a barbeque/picnic on the lawn, which lead to a nice, long siesta in the sun. I got mildly burned, nothing too bad, and we all lingered drinking wine (or water), talking, and dozing off.
It sounds peaceful, but it was actually the first long break we´ve had since the beginning of the program.
Oh, and now it´s time for my next 1:1 with Fernando G. Gotta run. Bye!