Monday, December 26, 2011

Daily jobs

Our jobs in Betel tend to be varied and interesting. We never know what we will be assigned to do until the night before, when the leaders write up the list and post it on a bulletin board outside the office. Here is a collection.

Taller de Manualidades (Arts and Crafts workshop)
Everyone knows I am a crafty person, so of course I love this job! But you would not believe how much I am learning and the new techniques and ideas I am picking up from working here. R is the mastermind behind the projects we do here, and her imagination is seemingly limitless for crafts that we can do with a minimum of cost, materials, and time, that turn out well enough to sell.

Cocina (Kitchen)
I also love to cook, so the kitchen is also a treat for me. Here is a pot of garbanzos. MMMMmmm...

Rastro (Secondhand shop)
 Here we spend our time folding clothes and organizing things, taking money from customers, and keeping warm from the cold!

Colegio (cleaning the elementary school)

Publicidad (Passing out leaflets advertising Betel)

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Spanish Food

My family and other people often ask me, "So what is Spanish food like?" And I have often stammered out an unsatisfactory reply. So--I made it a point to take a photo of almost all our meals for a week or so. Here is typical Spanish cuisine. These dishes don't have names and are not made with recipes, but they are what we typically eat in any given week.

All of the food we eat is delicious, but the soup on the right above was the only thing I have not liked. It was boiled for about 4 hours and the greens were really bitter. Other than that, everything has been amazing.

Roasted chicken, potatoes, my favorite ciabatta rolls, and fried green peppers. Seriously, people, we are missing out for not having invented fried green peppers. Next year in our garden, when we have a ton of green peppers coming on, I know what I'm making. Whoa! 

NOT a normal Spanish meal, but definitely a normal Spanish party! Canapes, Lamb ribs, asparagus, cheese, jamón serrano, chorizo, and shrimp. YUM!

Fried fish and potatoes with greens. We eat this at least once a week.

Fried fish, this time with the yummiest tomatoes (sprinkled with onion, garlic, and balsamic vinegar). Ah! Such a pleasant way to consume your cold remedy. 

Fish soup with hard boiled egg

Some kind of meat, roasted potatoes with tomatoes and green peppers, and chicken noodle soup.

Wow, this was yummy. Skewered chicken, yellow rice with roasted red peppers, and fresh tomatoes.

A light dinner...chicken broth with noodles and green olive salad.

Lentils, rice, and sausage.

So now you know what Spanish food is like! I only wish you could taste it!

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Spanish Christmas

For Christmas Eve, we all dressed up fancy and went to the church for our Christmas dinner. The doors opened at 9:00 pm, and before we ate, there was a service with some singing and preaching. They had asked me to lead the Christmas carols with Mako, a Japanese missionary.

We sang Joy to the WorldWhat Child is This? and Silent Night. There we were, in front of all these people!

I don't usually get nervous for things like this, but after we were done, my face was red for practically the entire dinner. The picture of us at the piano was posed after the fact, so you don't see the microphones, but they had the volume up really high, and the acoustics in that room were really echo-y, so it was impossible to escape the knowledge that everyone was listening to me.

After our singing, Mako's husband, Pedro, preached a great message.

Dinner was DELICIOUS. I have to say without reservation that it was the best Christmas dinner I have ever tasted! First there were the appetizers: Spanish jamón serrano, lomo, and chorizo, plus shrimp, deviled eggs filled with a tuna-based filling, and bread.

Then came the yummiest seafood soup! Ah! It made me wish the camera could reproduce tastes.

I wanted more soup when I had finished mine, but it was already gone. Then came our next plate: roast beef with vegetables. This doesn't look as good as it tasted, but everything, especially the vegetables, was fantastic.

I didn't get a picture of our dessert, but it was a typical Spanish dessert called natillas, with a great variety of traditional Christmas sweets to choose from as well.

After dinner, the girls started being crazy...

R, E, and A2

U, C, D, and Y

Q, U, C, D, and Y

C and U

D, Y, U, and C

A after our gift exchange back in the house, with a little extra lipstick...

I received a lovely red tam (hat) from my secret pal, who turned out to be Q. I gave my secret pal (C) a scarf and two facial creams that she likes. 

Friday, December 16, 2011

Free Day in Madrid

Last Saturday, Lucy, Marlene and I went out to Madrid for some free time. I have one free day every two weeks, and this is the first and last time I will get to go with the girls, as they are leaving the 19th. We had a great time!

Starting out the day: Marlene, U, Lucy, and E in the metro station where we get on. (U and E were going to clean the hotel, so we all rode the metro together.)

On the train...whoa, we all got a seat!! :-O Left to Right: U, Me, E, and Lucy

We got off the metro in a well-known plaza called Puerta del Sol (gate of the sun). Here a rather funny thing happened. There were a ton of people walking around, and I saw one person dressed up as a large blue stuffed animal. Before Lucy and Marlene noticed him, he came up and put one arm around each of them. I stood there looking at them with a look on my face like “Oh Pleeeeeease!” and I was congratulating myself that he hadn’t gotten me. I also knew that you have to pay these guys if you take a picture of your friends with them, so I made no move to get my camera out, but simply stood there waiting for him to let them go. Lucy kissed the cheek of the big blue animal head and then Marlene kissed the other cheek and he let them go. But then, horror! He went straight for me and grabbed me in a full front hug, drawing me up to have the kind of kiss that you see in the movies. Well, I’ve never kissed a guy, and I certainly wasn’t going to have my first kiss be on a blue stuffed animal head! I turned my head away and pushed back, but I had to actually struggle a little bit to get away. “That’s enough already!” I said (in Spanish), and he let me go. Creeeeeeepy! Haha…

These people are standing in line in Puerta del Sol to buy a lottery ticket. It's like a cultural thing to play the lottery to try to win the Christmas jackpot. Every time I've been to Puerta del Sol, there have been people standing in line here, and there's an equally long line in another lottery office right across the street.

We ate lunch in the "Museum of Jamón," which is basically Spanish ham. They shave it off in thin slices and use it for sandwiches and so forth. 

The store was really cheap, so it was packed with people.

We each bought ourselves a sandwich here and ate right there inside the store. Only when we were almost finished eating did we notice the sign that was right above my head. (I photoshopped in the translation for your convenience.)

Here I am in the Plaza Mayor, one of the most famous plazas in Madrid. The guy standing on the pyramid behind me is a real person dressed up in metallic paint and acting like a statue. 

Yeah...uh...there was this fat guy in Plaza Mayor dressed up in a Spider Man costume, getting paid to pose for pictures with tourists. Scary! There were also two SpongeBob characters walking around. Aaah! Help!

Plaza Mayor is full of random sights. For instance, here is a bunch of artist's paint just sitting on the sidewalk, with no one in sight and a million people walking by. 

Here's the picture the artist was painting. 

Here is a headless man. 

And here is a person dressed in a costume with a ram's head, walking around on all fours. 

All these people are out here trying to earn money. I don't know about you, but I don't think it would ever enter my head to think, "Let's see, I think a sheep costume would be really profitable..." 

Lucy and I waiting for the train on our way home.

Oh, and I can't resist posting a picture of sweet baby Juan Carlos (F's baby). Awwww...