The One With the Animalitos

Game of Thrones is a TV show that’s pretty popular in the US. The majority of my friends watch it, I read the books but the show is a little too gory for my tastes so I skipped it. But now Game of Thrones is here in Trujillo, filming in our castle. See that flag? That’s the flag with the lion of the Lannister family on it, most people hate the Lannisters, but they were still here in our castle. Apparently Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion in the series, was spotted eating lunch one day in Plaza Mayor.


Austin and I missed the casting calls to be extras in the show by a month or so depending on who you ask. If we hadn’t, yours truly might well be on her way to stardom right now. As cool as it is to have Game of Thrones filming just minutes away from us, they’ve parked some of their trailers next to my soccer field where I generally go for a pre-practice warm up. It’s been a little frustrating that I haven’t been able to properly warm up before practice in the past couple weeks.

This past weekend was also the 33rd Animal Fair/Show/Festival things that I’m really not sure how to translate into english. It was pretty small and most Trujillanos told us it was worth going too, that the “animalitos” were cute, but wasn’t that interesting. The first room Austin and I went into was full of different colored parakeets that were competing for a prize for the best coloring. My favorite were these bright orange ones, unfortunately the lighting was only so-so so I didn’t get many photos of the birds.


The next room had all the sheep and they were so cute. Look at their little faces….


Then we found three different areas full of cows and bulls. This was the part where we started questioning what Trujillanos thought were “little animals.” If we thought the other cows were big, these were gigantic. The largest ones were about an inch shorter than me at the shoulders and Austin and I were pretty convinced they could easily run us over.


Austin and I had the unfortunate luck to arrive right when some of the cows were being walked out to the show ring, and they were kind of feisty cows. So Austin and I were caught between walls and feisty cows and stressed out handlers yelling at us in Spanish and there was certainly a good thirty second period that I was sure a cow was going to run us over. Luckily we escaped down an aisle just to stumble onto camera behind a news crew. Our second chance to rise to stardom.


Some of the cows were hanging out with their calves who were super cute like this little guy. The mama cows, on the other hand, weren’t nearly as cute, had long horns, and were NOT happy that I was getting too close to their calves. More than once I almost fell backward after getting scared by the cows ducking their horns and heading straight toward me. Fence or not, Austin and I were quick to jump backwards out of range.

Afterward we returned to the hermitage on the edge of Trujillo so we could explore it in daylight. One building was very obviously and old church, Austin and I have seen the inside of enough churches to recognize it at this point.


The other building we assumed was where the priests lived. It was divided into rooms that could have been a living room, kitchen and separate bedrooms. It was falling apart and totally in ruins but really fun to walk around nonetheless.


Here’s a nice view of the church from the fields around it.


Thanksgiving is coming up and our American friends are doing a sort of friends giving/Thanksgiving dinner Thursday night. They invited Austin and I to come along and I volunteered to make the pie since they already had someone making mashed potatoes. I’ve never made an apple pie before though, so I decided it would be a good time to practice so I could figure it out before having to make one for Thanksgiving.

Cooking in Spain (or any foreign country) is a bit of an adventure, I’ve talked about the availability of ingredients in the past. So Austin and I hunted down the nutmeg and cinnamon, learned how to weigh and label fruit and the grocery store and tried to figure out how to peel, core, and cut apples without the fancy schmancy peeling/cutting/coring apple machines that are so prevalent in the states. Turns out you can buy a tool that cores apples, who knew? We bought another peeler because ours isn’t very good. And then Austin and I put on some good music and peeled, cored, and sliced the apples by hand.

They do have pastry dough here but I hadn’t been able to find it (after I made the pie, obviously, I managed to find it tucked away but anyways…) so I decided to try make dough by hand. I knew it was tricky but I found a good recipe and despite my constant “I don’t know if this is gonna work, Austin….” it actually came out amazing. I don’t think we used quite enough apples but it was really, really good! And the crust was perfect.


So Happy Fall and Happy almost Thanksgiving.

To celebrate the nice weather, and because we were bored, Austin and I hit the road on Saturday and started walking. And walking.

And walking.

And walking.


Since we’re out in the middle of nowhere, there are lots of dirt country roads that connect some of the small towns. There’s a road that goes past the hermitage and we’ve wondered where it went so we started wandering.


It was a beautiful walk through the countryside to the south of Trujillo and before we knew it, we turned around and saw this in the background.


In the center of the photo, if you squint, you can see the outline of the castle on the hill over Trujillo. Just in case that’s too small, since it is tiny, I zoomed in all the way on my lens so you could have a better view.


I guess it’s still pretty small. We were really far away.

We were about five to six miles south of Trujillo at that point, if we’d kept going for another two to three miles we would have arrived at the small town of Santa Cruz de la Sierra. We were about to start racing the sunlight at this point, so we turned back and took a detour so we could walk along the main road where we guessed it would be a little safer if we didn’t get home before sundown.

Our path took us so far in a different direction that we actually ended up walking right past this giant statue of a bull.


It’s kind of a famous statue, you can see it from the castle and Austin and I have talked about trying to figure out how to walk out to it for fun. While we were in Madrid there were postcards with shots of the bull on it so you can imagine our surprise when we realized that we were going to end up walking right past it. The entire walk ended up being just under twelve miles according to the health app on my phone so Austin and I spent the next day lazing around the house, refusing torture our sore calves.

I’ve noticed among some of my younger kids that I teach and that I see around town that Spaniards have this habit of dressing their boys the same. So when I see young boys around town, if they’re siblings, they’re dressed the exact same way. Often they also have similar hair cuts, if there isn’t a big height difference between them I get them confused all the time from behind. I have no idea why the parents around here do this.

Now that I’ve gotten to hang out with my substitute teachers and chatted with them a little more I’ve learned a lot more about how the sub system here works. It turns out, there are no short term substitutes. If you’re gone for a day for some reason (and generally teachers come to school even when sick here so it’s rare they don’t come to school) then which ever teachers have a break during your class will cover your class for you. Every morning there’s a book that says if anyone is absent that day and who will cover for them. For long term substitutions, they use other teachers to cover the class until a substitute from the government is assigned and they generally move to wherever they’ll be subbing for the duration of the substitution.

My music teacher is finally back from being on maternity leave so I was able to have my first music class with her today and I am so excited for this class! The students learned how to play the recorder in elementary school and she made it clear that we’d be beginning the year with percussion instruments and move on from there. She also said that we’d be singing and dancing, learning choreography, and in the spring they’re going on a field trip to see a musical in Madrid, I’m hoping I’ll get to tag along for it. Last year they say the Lion King; this year, they’re going to see Dirty Dancing.

The first day of school Austin and I realized that we are now allowed, finally, to go into the teacher’s lounge. I think we both came home the first day and just greeted each other with “I got hang out in the teacher’s lounge! Cuz I’m a teacher!” When we’re on break between classes we hang out in the teacher’s lounge and chat with teachers, read, prep, whatever we want. Because it’s starting to get cold, the teachers have turned on the world’s greatest invention in my teachers lounge: the brasero. If you know what a brasero is, keep reading because you can remember exactly how great of an invention they are while I obsess for a moment, if you don’t know what it is, keep learning so you can learn about the world’s greatest invention. Braseros are essentially electric space heaters, what makes the special is that they’re placed underneath tables which are covered by long, heavy tablecloths to keep the heat from immediately dissipating throughout the room. That means you can just sit down at the table, flip the tablecloth over your lap and enjoy the warmth. On a cold day, it’s the best thing to walk into teacher’s lounge and just sit at the brasero. Of course, the hard part is leaving when it’s time to go to class. You walk away from the table and everything is cold again. Translation sites say a brasero can be translated as a heater or as a brazier but I just don’t think those quite capture exactly what the brasero is.

Okies, last thing before I go: When I went to Argentina our program directors explained to us that Argentines tend to stand pretty close to one another. I remember while I was there that I didn’t notice it very often, but I also only spent so much time with Argentines and most of that was on the volleyball court where we had our specific positions. Austin and I were told the same thing when we came here to Spain, and I expected, as with Argentina, that I wouldn’t really notice it. And for the most part, I don’t really notice it, until I find myself backing up into walls, into heaters, into tables, you name it. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve been having a conversation with a teacher and I suddenly find myself backing up into a wall or table that was previously a good three feet behind me. So I don’t consciously notice that spaniards stand much closer than Americans do, but they definitely do, because I have caught myself unconsciously stepping backward multiple times at this point, trying to stand at the distance where Americans stand. At which point, the spaniard to whom I’m speaking corrects themselves so we’re standing close, and then I correct again and then suddenly there’s a wall behind me. I’m not sure if anyone I’ve been speaking to has noticed it, but there it is. Spaniards kiss on both cheeks when they meet someone new and they stand very close to each other when they’re talking.

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