Not My First Rodeo

What an awesome walk to “work” this morning!  Up and down narrow, cobble-stoned streets with the Cathedral’s bells ringing and all the doves cooing from the balconies and rooftops.  I’m pretty sure they are pigeons but after a long discussion with the ESTO director, well, she used the Spanish word for dove and I explained about my ideas of pigeons versus doves but she wouldn’t be swayed.  Why is it there is never a good ornithologist around when you need one?  Whatever the heck they are, they really added to the morning.  The sun was just coming up and golden against all the stone buildings and, …and I don’t know.  The morning just seemed custom made for a great beginning.

Being “not my first rodeo”, I understood a little better than some of the students that I was only half-sure of where I was supposed to be and left early enough to feel my way around the buildings where the majority of classrooms are.  The University bought up several blocks of centuries-old churches, a monastery and a convent and restored them into a beautiful, interconnected complex of patios, classrooms, the main library and I don’t know what else.  The photo above is of all of us with Dr. Juana María Blanco Fernandez, the Director of Academics, in front of my very first classroom in Spain (the door on the right).  A couple of people got there late this morning, I guess this WAS their first rodeo, and someone would get an “I’m lost” text and someone would go out and find them.  It all worked out just fine.  I have grilled a lot of the students and have been told some stories.  Yesterday had many thinking themselves lost at some point in their wanderings, a couple of people were “locked-out” of their homes (really just one of those tricky-lock things) and, I don’t know if one student even knows this, but his “mom” got worried that he hadn’t made it home at some point and was already calling Leticia at home before sending out the cavalry to find him.  Leticia says it really wasn’t that late but the host families sometimes over-worry, especially on the first day.  I’m not going to rat out the offenders.  Nobody did anything that isn’t expected as we get settled.  When I studied abroad in Mexico a hundred years ago, I had one of those tricky-lock moments.  It was aggravated by the fact that across the street was a bus stop full of waiting people having a good time watching the gringo who couldn’t even open his own front door.  It’s hard to preserve one’s Joe Cool image in these situations.

I think we’re off to a good start!

2 thoughts on “Not My First Rodeo

  1. We are so excited to experience this journey of many “firsts” with our daughter Anna. She had never flown on a plane before, let alone fly out of the country!
    We are sharing this adventure with her and we are enjoying the pictures and quick updates and recounts of her day. Her dad wants to know when he will see a picture with her with a study book opened! Ha, ha!!

    Thank you so much for the time, hard work, and dedication to this trip Keith. We feel beyond blessed that Anna gets to be a part of it. This “slightly terrified” mom is a little more at ease knowing our daughter is in good hands there!


  2. Hi Anna’s mom,
    I’ll see what I can do about getting some photo proof of her studying. I haven’t even taken my camera out of the bag yet. I CAN confirm that she was in my classroom on Tuesday and seemed to be taking notes but she could have been doodling for all I know.
    You know, the question you asked back at the meeting was one that all the parents were working up the nerve of asking and I’m sure they appreciated you taking the lead. I did. It was the 800 lb. gorilla in the room.
    “Blessed”, what a perfect word! It’s how I feel too. Thanks for your kind comments.


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