Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Soldier in the Ceramic Store

A little mix of masculinity and femininity under one roof.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Wednesday Afternoon

followed briefly by a (mostly) peaceful protest.

Fortunately I learned early on that "caracoles" are snails and you should never join a mob in a foreign country.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


This is the lamp post at the intersection of my school. I often wish this lamp post led me to Narnia or one of the Dharma stations and not to Spanish class. Nevertheless, I walk past it everyday and find myself at Escuela Internacional.

I won't be here too much longer though -- only 3 more weeks. After that, Andrew and I have a lot of change ahead of us. Last week Andrew finally "branched" at OCS; meaning, he chose his MOS; meaning, he has to buy different ACUs; meaning, why can't the Army use language people understand? All that is to say, he chose his career in the Army. Andrew branched "Signals" which is essentially computers.

Your choice of MOS determines where you will move, how long you will study, etc. So our news is this: it appears we will be moving to Augusta, Georgia sometime in March or April for another 6 months of training. We don't have a lot of information other than that, but we're hoping for a small break in between Andrew's OCS graduation and his Signals training to be able to return to Oregon.

In the meantime, more Spanish and cold weather here in Spain. More missing my husband. More Army acronyms. And more watching LOST on Asian internet channels. Ciao.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

On Being an Outsider

I think it's safe to say I've experienced my first real case of culture shock here in Alcala. Walking home from class each day, I usually find myself thinking about The Tower of Babel. Surely it's a curse that we don't all speak the same language!

I spend 4 hours every morning trying to understand and speak a language that has different possessive cases, gendered nouns and articles, written accents and tildes and a verb tense that doesn't even exist in English (thought); not to mention you have to say everything with a lisp (sorry Andrew). And all this without the ability to ask a single question in English because no one would understand my "foreign" language.

Because of this, I often feel like an outsider watching from a distance what's unfolding right in front of me. Unable to be involved in the thick of conversation, in the intricacies of communication, or in the freedom of expressing yourself, I'm forced to sit and listen and painstakingly try to put together (incomplete) pieces of a picture.

If there was a way other than slow and arduous learning to close this gap or tear down this proverbial wall, I would march around it however many times necessary. But alas, the language barrier remains and I don't have an army -- just a little pickax of stubborn intent, hoping that the crumbling will begin shortly...