Published: December 9th 2011December 9th 2011
Brian and Shannon here.... we're finally writing a blog together!
We've gotten a few messages from some of you wondering about our blog. Sorry for the delay! It's not broken, time just gets away from us. We're still here and we can't believe that two months have passed since we arrived in Spain. Yesterday we arrived in Bilbao, after driving from Logrono, the capital of the La Rioja wine region. Bilbao is in the Basque region and home of tapas and the Guggenheim museum. Tapas and wine have been a constant on our trip! More on this vacation real soon (we promise). We've had this week off because of two national holidays. The holidays fell on a Tuesday (Constitution Day
) and Thursday (Celebration of the Immaculate Conception
). As we understand it, because there is a work/school day between the two holidays they call it a "puente" (bridge) holiday. Fortunately for us, our schools are flexible and we've been able to be on the road exploring the county. Tomorrow, we'll be on a bus to Santander, for the last leg of our trip. :(
Holidays are aplenty here in Spain and so far we've had a generous amount of days
Shannon and a student, Maite, in the gym playing with peons in traditional Magosto games.
off work. Our first official holiday was in our second week of work - October 12th for National Day
of Spain. Two weeks later we had two more days off for Halloween and All Saints Day
. In Galicia, Halloween isn't officially observed. They have a holiday called Samhain
. Although thematically similar, the enthusiasm for the holiday isn't what it is in the States. Trick or treating doesn't really happen in Galicia either. Brian's school set up a mock trick or treating scenario and haunted house. Some of the kids were confused as to why they were getting candy and some were genuinely frightened to tears by the scenario that had been set up. The children of a co-worker of Shannon's went trick or treating (not on Shannon's suggestion) and when they didn't get treats they decided to pull a trick. They put some garbage on the homeowner's doorstep, were caught in the act and their Halloween experience ended right there. Luckily for us, Shannon lives with a Guatemalan woman who enjoys Halloween like we do and we were able to celebrate in a familiar manner by participating in a costume party at the house. Also in attendance were a couple
Chestnuts roasted on an open fire...
from Peru and a couple from Columbia and everybody brought some interesting food to share. It was fun to see all the costumes and enjoy a fantastic meal in Spanish. The different dialects were interesting to hear...very different from the Galician-style castelleno and gallego
we hear on a daily basis.
A little less than 2 weeks later, we experienced a Spanish tradition called Magosto
. We didn't receive a day off but it's a fun custom. Shannon actually went to school on her day off to see how they celebrate. All the kids make paper baskets to hold the roasted castañas (chestnuts) and after lunch, all the kids went into the gym to play organized games with their "peons”. We call them tops. After an hour of games, the kids joined family, teachers and the rest for roasted chestnuts outdoors. Shannon's first roasted chestnut experience was great. Just watch out for little worms!
Our next holiday - Thanksgiving! One of the holidays we knew that we would miss the most, and of course is not celebrated here. So instead of missing it, we decided to throw our own. Shannon being the party planning pro organized a potluck style get-together
Shannon's vegetarian roommate wasn't too thrilled! 6.6ish kilos = 14ish lbs!
with a few other Americans from surrounding towns as well as bringing a few Spaniards and 2 Guatemalans into their first Thanksgiving experience. Living in a small town and Thanksgiving not being a custom it was a bit challenging to organize. For one, you must pre-order the turkey from a carneceria in kilos. Then find the person who is coming from the largest town and ask them to find cranberry sauce. Shannon tackled her first turkey brining, turkey roasting and gravy, and they were all excellent - Brian's words. All the guests brought amazing traditional Thanksgiving food and the locals added a Spanish twist to the menu with seafood empanadas and desserts. Yum! In all we had 10 guests and not much food left over. Even though nothing can really compare to Thanksgiving with family our less traditional celebration couldn't have been better.
And now we've come full circle to the current week of holidays we mentioned earlier. Thank you to the Constitution and thank you Immaculate Conception - because we are travelling in Northern Spain and it is beeeeeeeautiful! Only 2 more weeks and we will be on another long vacation. Let's hope they understand some Spanish in
Celebrating the Immaculate Conception.