Yesterday afternoon, Ashley, Laura and I went to our favorite little cafe to do some homework. Ken, the English tutor from Georgia, was there teaching a lesson. We chatted and he asked us for cultural updates about the United States to tell his students. He joined our table when his lesson was over. We all got to talking and eating and drinking and talking and talking and eating and drinking. The two guys that were working that night, Paul and Paco, are both students of his, so they occasionally joined us. We spoke Spanish and English. We had an incredibly delicious Spanish version of cheese sticks, little chunks of crispy fried brie on top of a cranberry marmalade. We had little green peppers, roasted and salty. Of course we had patatas bravas, one of the better ways to prepare potatoes, fried and topped with spicy red sauce and aioli. Ken left at about closing time but we ended up staying after to talk some more and to listen to music with the waitstaff. They had Bob Dylan on someone's iPod and we all sang along. Different accents, same lyrics. They wanted us to sing the Fresh Prince of Bel-air theme song. The translated version of this song is one of the funniest things I have ever heard. They think it is WAY COOL to do the high-five, snap sequence.
We all went out afterwards to one of our favorite bars. It was kind of a neat moment. We had to put up our study stuff in our rooms, so we told them we would meet them somewhere. We were able to easily make plans to meet at El Negrito. Because we know where it is. Because we live here.
Meeting people is so interesting here. They truly have a different point of view of the world and a different mentality of thinking. They want to talk about the same things we talk about at home: movies, books, music, friends, going out, etc. But it's all slightly different in a way that's hard to explain. I am speaking in Spanish all the time. Learning new words and phrases and mannerisms. I am telling jokes, kind of, and understanding more and more. In some ways I feel like I am going through a reconnection with myself. Does this sound to dramatic or cheesy? I generally know how I am perceived at home, because we are all speaking the same language and my mannerisms are always appropriate and I know the social norms. When I first got here I felt like I was forced to project a different image because of my lack of vocabulary and understanding. I relied mostly on body language and facial expressions. As I learn more and understand more, I can slowly but surely become more myself through my words. I can more adequately express who I am now than I could three weeks ago. A reconnection with my outward self, but the Spanish-speaking version.
Tomorrow we go on an excursion to Requena, a small medieval village inland from Valencia. We will go wine-tasting and then to the famous cave system there. I will definitely be taking pictures and will post them ASAP. Un abrazo fuerte.