Hello! I know this is four days late, but better late than never, right? Still, I apologize. It has been quite a busy week and have a lot to fill in, but I will start with Monday, my afternoon in Sonseca.
Sonseca is a pueblo 15 miles south of Toledo, of about 10,000 people. My school (San Juan Evangelista) is located there. I had been communicating for a few weeks with the director of the bilingual program, Maria Jose, who is essentially my mentor in the school. She asked me to come on Monday to see the school and have lunch. I told her I would catch the 12:15 bus from Toledo. And the adventure begins...
I stopped by a mobile phone store to try to fix my cell phone from Salamanca (no luck). I checked my watch when I left, and it read 11:45, plenty of time to walk to the bus station and get the bus.
I start my trek, which has an easy beginning, down escalators which take you essentially outside of the old city. I did not really know where I was going, but I had a general direction. I found myself wandering through winding streets, a bit confusing, but I just kept heading downhill. At this point, I looked at my phone to check the time, and it read 12:07. What?!!?!? So, I took off at a sprint (wearing sandals on cobblestone streets). I then remembered that my watch recently began to slow down. It wouldn't stop, but every couple of weeks it just slows a few hours. Perfect timing, right?
Actually, my huffing and puffing paid off, as I literally ran to the ticket counter at 12:14. The man told me to run downstairs, all the way to the back, because it was the last bus (of course). But, he called down and told the driver to wait for me. Sweating buckets (it is still summer here, more on the beautiful weather later), I collapsed into an empty seat, and just to be sure, asked the lady behind me if that was the bus going to Sonseca. It was.
Thirty minutes later, we pull into an older, sleepy looking town. Maria Jose asked me to call her from the bus station, which I did. About ten minutes later she picked me up and we drove to the school.
Maria Jose is wonderful. Very kind, soft spoken, and gentle. She gave me a gift of the local pastry, a take on the region's specialty: mazapan. We arrived to the school as the children were leaving (the school day lasts 9:00-1:00 in September and May, and 9:00-2:00 the rest of the months). I stepped into a class of 4th graders before they left and introduced myself (in English), but when asked if they understood me, their sheepish grins told the truth.
I met every teacher in the building, and found most, if not all, to be very warm and welcoming. They all praised my Spanish skills (!) which is very encouraging. The school is actually divided between two buildings, with the preschool-2nd grades in one, and 2nd-6th grades in another. I will spend most of my time with the older students, and one day a week with the younger.
After the grand tour of both campuses, Maria Jose and I went to a local restaurant and met four other teachers for lunch. It was my first real meal since I had arrived, which was extremely nice. The lunch was just lovely, getting to know the teachers a bit and just listening to some school "gossip."
We finished lunch right around 4:00, and got to the bus stop in time to see the 4:00 bus leave. Maria Jose kindly offered to drive me back to Toledo. She needed to return something to the shopping mall on the outskirts of town, anyway.
After walking through the mall and browsing a few stores, we left, deciding to have a cup of "cafe con leche" before. She took me to the Parador de Toledo. Paradores are common in Spain; they are old, historic buildings, usually on the outside of a city, which affords incredible, post-card like views. They have been turned into luxury hotels, and have a restaurant/cafe on the terrace, with the beautiful vista. The Parador de Toledo is no exception. We wound up the mountain, and enjoyed conversation and coffee (although we agreed something cold was more fitting considering the weather).
I realized only as I was typing this post, that I didn't take a picture without me in it. Darn! I guess I will have to find another beautiful vista!
Maria Jose drove me close to my hostel and we said goodbye. It was such a wonderful first afternoon. I felt so welcome and comfortable there.
Sorry for the rambling!