Jumpstart English Camp in La Cruz, Guanacaste, Costa Rica


I spent January in the small town of La Cruz teaching English to twenty-three seventh graders for four hours a day. Jumpstart camps are held all over Costa Rica to prepare kids for entering high school in February, when the Costa Rican school year begins. (Seventh grade is when Costa Rican kids enter high school.)


The Beginning …

lorenzo 2017-01-17-08-21-082017-01-17-10-52-20

Most Jumpstart camps are run by Peace Corps TEFL volunteers, but the Oregon chapter of Partners of the Americas fields three or four camps a year, depending on how many volunteers step up to teach.

The Jumpstart curriculum was developed by a former government organization called Multilingüe, and has been taken over by the Peace Corps.  My first thought on seeing the curriculum was, “That’s the kind of stuff I write for beginners!” Of course it’s much, much better. The short-term camp format allows for lots of speaking practice, games, activities and colorful materials. The curriculum came with everything we needed. We spent most of our planning time personalizing the lessons for our group and making posters and signs for the classroom.

This Is Me Teaching!
We had to put up pics of our own families, so someone with sharp eyes will see my brother and his family. Cristina is the other teacher in the picture.
Airon coaching a brave speaker

I had three partners in the classroom: Cristina took a two-week vacation from teaching English to young adults in the INA program to come to La Cruz and teach to a younger group. Daniel, a Peace Corps volunteer, came to replace Cristina for the second two weeks. Airon, an SED Peace Corps volunteer working in La Cruz was also there almost every day. She knew lots of good games, and organized some wonderful snacks from a local baker.

The four Oregon camps are coordinated in Costa Rica by the organization Aliarse through their Evolc project (www.aliarse.com.) Our camp in La Cruz is sponsored by the Santa Elena Development Corp. They’re interested in helping locals learn English so they can work in the local tourist industry.

Here I am wearing the Spanish Hat, which allows me to speak in Spanish. (My limited Spanish mainly gave the kids a model of someone communicating in a language she was learning.) Students had to ask for the Spanish Hat before they could speak Spanish. We didn’t enforce this 100%, but it got them asking for things in English (especially if they wanted something from me!)

While there was a large luxury resort, developed by Santa Elena, on the peninsula 22 km away, as well as several smaller hotels and several excellent beaches, I didn’t see too much of the tourist industry.  I preferred to spend my weekends relaxing at home. La Cruz is an unspoiled small town with a couple of small hotels and restaurants but virtually no tourist-oriented retail. The town has spectacular views of the bay. Walking downtown to view the sunset was a pleasant evening activity.

This little homestay apartment had a tiny bedroom (mine), a loft (first Cristina and then Daniel,) a bathroom and a little kitchen with a rice cooker and a coffee maker. Cold water only … morning showers were very refreshing!
The Asian House Gecko makes a friendly chirping noise at night while it’s going after insects.
This is an Urraca or Magpie-Jay going after a ripe papaya.
This is an Urraca or Magpie-Jay going after a ripe papaya.

In La Cruz, Aliarse uses a homestay with a family that rents out small apartments very close to the school where we worked. We had room and  board: eating the delicious home-cooked Costa Rican food left us plenty of time to work on lessons (and recover from each day with a nice siesta.)


My four weeks of teaching was hard work, but energizing and positive. It was wonderful to spend part of the winter in warm and windy Guanacaste Province enjoying the good food and incredible views while at the same time helping a bunch of seventh graders gain some confidence in communicating in a foreign language.

You don’t have to live in Oregon in order to volunteer for this program: our teaching group this year included two people from Portland, one recent Portland State University graduate, a couple that someone had run into in New Orleans at a Habitat for Humanity project, and two people from London. We had two camps in San José and two camps in Guanacaste. Spanish fluency and/or EFL teaching experience are the main skills looked for. Volunteers pay only their own expenses; there are no additional charges for the privilege of volunteering as with some other programs. https://www.facebook.com/JumpStartCR/

Graduation Day: they look so quiet and attentive here, don’t they?

Tropical Relaxation: Earned!

I’m coming to the end of a leisurely weekend with perfect weather in La Cruz, Costa Rica. Temps have been in the mid-80s: perfect for that slightly sweaty feeling that you’ll never be cold again, but not hot enough to be enervating.

My weekend activities have alternated between total relaxation and materials preparation for our Jumpstart English classes next week. As a jubilada (retired person) I continue to find it curious that real enjoyment of leisure is contingent on some kind of project or work to recover from. If I didn’t have four hours of teaching, five days a week to prepare for and obsess about, I’d be threatened with ennui.

Jumpstart is a program to get rural or disadvantaged kids ready for studying English in high school, which starts with 7th grade in February. Many of the camps are run by Peace Corps Costa Rica, but Oregon’s Partners of the Americas also fields some teaching volunteers. Here’s the Facebook page link for Jumpstart: https://www.facebook.com/JumpStartCR/ As of the date of this post (January 22) the kids in the top set of pictures are our students.

People have outside sinks here for laundry. All the water is cold, so it doesn’t much matter whether you’re doing the wash inside our outside.
Morning View of the Bay
The white lines are grazing cattle. Many of the cattle are white, with humps and floppy ears which are characteristic of the varieties of cattle that do well in the tropics.


Cuba from East to West

Beginning the Cuba series with a cliche
Beginning the Cuba series with a cliche: a minor bus breakdown in Havana led to a bonus taxi ride for us all!

These posts show some photos from the 17-day Road Scholar tour I just took in Cuba. We flew from Miami to Santiago de Cuba, the main city in the southeast of Cuba. We had a comfortable bus and drove all the way from Santiago to Havana, with stops (mostly in cities) along the way, but also the Unesco World Heritage town of Trinidad. The U.S. Treasury Department Office of Foreign Asset Control specifies requirements for Educational and People-to-People travel. We’re supposed to have two educational and/or people-to-people events every day. This makes for a trip with a lot of interesting content: lectures from university professors and other professionals; dance and music demonstrations; meetings with artists; and a lunch with some seniors who run an activity center for jubilados  (retired folks).

I’m going to concentrate here on showing you some interesting photos rather than try to explain what we learned about life in Cuba, its situation in relation to the U.S. etc. As I write, I’m at Amy’s house in Miami for a couple of days. As soon as I get home I’ll be busy looking for a new apartment and preparing to teach English in Costa Rica during January. So we’ll see how many photos I manage to publish of Cuba!

Santiago Bay- Spanish fleet was penned in here during the Spanish-American-Cuban war.
Santiago Bay: The Spanish fleet was penned in here during the Spanish-American-Cuban war.
View of Santiago de Cuba
View of Santiago de Cuba
Snapshot of the countryside from the bus
Snapshot of the countryside from the bus
The Cubans make nicely carved cane chairs. Don’t know why these are in the street (!)
During economic hard times in the 1990s (the “Special Period”, Cubans returned to using horses for public transport.


The cities we visited had pedestrian malls that ran two or three blocks. This is the city of Guantánamo. It’s a pretty mall, but shopping for Cuban residents is very, very sparse: not only do they have very little money, there’s not a lot on the shelves. (¡Cuidado! With a little reflection, most will realize that the bay and prison were named after a city where people have actually lived for a few centuries.)

Quick shot from the bus.

My Seaside Recovery in Cádiz


I really enjoyed myself in Cádiz even though I spent most of my time there lying around recovering from GI problems I picked up in Morocco (Netflix Spain had the Matrix films, so I watched those. I also had lots of thrillers and mysteries on Kindle to read.) After Morocco I switched to touristic apartments for Cádiz, Seville and Lisbon so that I could have absolute privacy and eat from the grocery store instead of always having to wait until dinnertime at restaurants. (I found tapas to be unsatisfying, because by early evening I’m generally ready for a full meal.) This was a good thing when I discovered that I needed some serious downtime when I got to Cádiz.

Playground with a theatrical theme
Playground with a theatrical theme

I had a sunny, comfortable apartment that overlooked a town square that was essentially the neighborhood playground. Every evening between around 6 and 9 the square was filled with kids playing and parents gossiping. No one was terribly hungry, nor were mothers worried about cooking dinner, because the kids went home from noon until 2pm to have a big lunch and a rest. Supper would be something that could be prepared quickly after the evening outing (at any rate, these are my assumptions.) The other wonderful thing about this apartment was that it was a five-minute walk from the sea.

This slide seemed pretty popular

There were a couple of (mis-named) supermercados very close to my place. One of my go-to supermercado comfort meals in Spain was frozen breaded chicken breasts, which I fried slowly in olive oil and usually had with couscous and a little salad. I was also addicted to anchovy-stuffed green olives. I always found oatmeal, but usually in large packages so I traveled with open packages of oatmeal, cans of olives, a little jar of Nescafe Classico instant coffee in case there wasn’t a coffee maker, and a package of tiny plastic vials of olive oil.  I found a type of turkey ham/salami that made a really good sandwich along with some cheese, but I also made great sandwiches with small packets of sliced chorizo. Across the plaza I also discovered a vending machine area where hungry visitors could get something to eat after all the stores were closed.

Vending machine mini-mart
Vending machine mini-mart
Food packed and taken to the next apartment
Food packed and taken to the next apartment. There’s a story about how I learned to make coffee without one of those Bialetta coffee makers.

When I felt up to walking, there were miles of seaside esplanade to stroll along. Part of my walking route went inland and high for views of the port and the train yard. Cádiz is a beautiful, clean city with an old town and another more modern area with wider streets and higher apartments. The yellow color of its buildings gives it a cheerful sunny atmosphere. I took a couple of buses along their routes to see some of these other parts of the city. Finally I ventured into the old town pedestrian areas, which were pretty much the same as the neighborhood I was staying in.

Port, trains, bridges
Port, trains, bridges
I finally found out the name of these trees, which were blooming all over Spain while I was there, but I didn't record it because I said "of course!" - then forgot...
I finally found out the name of these trees, which were blooming all over Spain while I was there, but I didn’t record it because I said “of course!” – then forgot…
Narrow street in the old town area
Narrow streets in the old town area
Nice old stone, impossible-to-photograph, church on a narrow street


Ceramics III: the Ibero-American Exposition

plaza-esp-mapsIn 1929 the Spanish hosted the Ibero-American Exposition in Seville. They went all-out with the ceramics. Everything that could be rendered ceramically or decorated with tiles, they accomplished with ceramics: balustrade posts, stair risers, floors, ceilings, wall friezes, etc. There are decorative jars all over. The interior of this huge semicircular building houses government offices. The exterior has stairs and galleries with ceramic ornamentation throughout.

Perhaps the most varied and interesting work is the Provincial Alcoves, where each Spanish province has a map and a representative painting in an elaborately decorated alcove. These run along a huge semicircle on the bottom wall of the main building. (Note: I try to keep my fellow tourists out of my photos, but don’t assume there were none. There was a large and noisy class of Spanish kids, plus numerous tourists from all over the world.)

I had to be patient to get this shot: these alcoves were in the shade and made nice resting places for visitors. Sometimes people lingered. I still remember a shot I never managed to get at the Alcazar garden: a woman just sat there for over an hour. Later, the light was wrong but there was still something about the location that attracted sitters…

plaza-esp-ceramic-map plaza-esp-Toledo plaza-esp-detail

Balustrade around the pond, with the magnificent Plaza España buidling in the background

The Parque de Maria Luisa was also part of the exposition. This is where I found the frog fountain shown in Ceramics I, as well as decorative jars on pedestals.



There’s also a little open seating area that’s a meticulous monument to the novel Don Quixote. donQ1 donQ2  donQ2-3

Ceramics II: Triana

My visit to the Centro Ceramica Triana in Seville gave me a nice overview of the history of Spanish ceramics. The Triana ceramics factories closed down during the 20th century, but someone had the foresight and funding to build an attractive museum to commemorate the work of these artisans. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, ceramics was an important medium for sign-making and other exterior decoration.

Triana was actually outside of Seville for many years. Potteries are often away from cities because of smoke from the kilns (also true for Morocco.) Triana now is a lively neighborhood of Seville, but this painting shows what it was like when it was an artisan village.

Triana, 1889 by Emilio Sanches Perrier in the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville
Triana, 1889 by Emilio Sanches Perrier in the Museum of Fine Arts of Seville
Mill wheels for grinding minerals for enamels in the Centro Ceramica Triana. “These mills were used to grind the mineral required to make the different ceramic pigments to paint the pieces, a different colour for each mill.”
Panel decorating the exterior of Cento Ceramica Triana
Panel decorating the exterior of Cento Ceramica Triana
A ceramic “frame” on a house in Triana, about two feet square.
At the Triana end of the bridge, these buildings demonstrate ceramics for domes.
Business facade
Facade with a ceramics sampler
I call these "roof jars"
I call these “roof jars” but they can also be found on walls, balustrades and pedestals

Ceramics I


My sister Amy & I have been collecting small ceramics from Italy for a couple of decades. I try to add to her collection when I travel. Unfortunately, on this trip I didn’t have a lot of extra luggage space, so instead of a plate, all you get is this post, Amy!

Modern tiling in Córdoba

The use of ceramic tiles in hallways and on fountains adds to the color and sparkle of Andalucia. The colors can be intense, ceramic wears nicely outdoors, and tiles can be copied and replaced if necessary. The use of ceramic tiles for building ornamentation came to Spain during the days of Al-Andalus, so there are many similarities between the ways tiles have been used in Morocco and the way they have been used in Spain. In addition, Spain has its own heritage of glazed and painted pottery and decorative tiling.

Modern tiling in Córdoba along the right wall

Amy and I generally found that Italian ceramics follow a historical design lineage, so that modern potteries are still producing traditional Italian designs, or newer designs are derived from traditional regional practices. In Spain, however, I ran into trouble trying to find examples of “traditional” ceramic pieces being produced today. I found out why at the Centro Ceramica in Triana (see also the following post.)

First, there was a hiatus in Spanish ceramic production during the late 17th and 18th centuries, so that any developing traditions were rolled back to basic household pottery. Then, when these factories got going again in the late 19th and early 20th century, they promoted ceramic tiles for all sorts of uses, including commercial signs of all sizes, street signs, house numbers and of course interior decoration. One important and traditional technique that they did import from Italy, though, was creating entire paintings with glaze on large tiles.


In the meantime, there is a definite connection between Moroccan ceramics produced today and traditional tiling found in both Southern Spain and Morocco dating from the 13th and 14th centuries.

Mosaic-style fountain at a ceramics showroom in Fes

Since the use of ceramics for exterior and interior building ornamentation came from the Muslim world (who probably got it from the Romans and their Byzantine successors) it was interesting to see how tiles and mosaics were used in Morocco. I didn’t visit any mosques: only a few large houses that had been renovated in traditional style.  In general, the Moors decorated their lower walls and fountains with ceramic tiles and used more fragile carving for higher up. Morocco still sticks with tiles made from small shapes (i.e. mosaic.) The Spanish moved on to painting their tiles: something which opened up all sorts of possibilities.

My customary  guided tour in Fes included a visit to a ceramics showroom that also had some of the requisite artisans working to provide tourists with demonstrations of their crafts.

In Fes, this guy is making a tile from hand-chipped mosaic stones. (The target combo-tile is upside-down.)

The riad where I stayed in Fez had been completely renovated and redecorated in the traditional style for large houses. Carved wood and mosaic tiles made up most of the wall ornamentation, but there was also some of the intricate carved plaster work that has also survived in Spain and Morocco in mosques and madrasas (mainly, I think because it’s high up.)

Rooftop room with fireplace at Riad Rcif in Fez
Rooftop room with fireplace at Riad Rcif in Fez (the tiles on the mantel and the upper part of the wall are painted; on the floor and behind the sofa are mosaic tiles.)
While Moroccan mosaic tiles stuck close to traditional designs, jars and bowls are very imaginative within the strictures of Muslim art.
While Moroccan mosaic tiles stuck close to traditional designs, larger jars and bowls are very imaginative within the strictures of Muslim art. (Actually I don’t know if all these designs are Moroccan or if all this work was done in Morocco.)

Sevilla’s Alcazar

While Granada has the Alhambra, finished in the 13th and 14th centuries by the ruling Nasrid Emir, Seville has the Alcazar. Seville was reoccupied by Christian monarchs earlier than other cities such as Granada. The Christian monarch Pedro I built the main palace of the Alcazar in Mudejar style. (This is what’s architecturally fascinating about Andalucia. While the rest of Europe was going Gothic, Christian Spain was honoring  Muslim architecture by preserving and restoring it, imitating it, and combining it with Gothic elements.)

This is a tile painting in the Salones de Carlos V of the Alcazar. This room is surrounded by tile panels.


A spring with naturally carbonated water: “La Gaseosa” near Ferreirola in the Alpujarras
Pomegranates in Granada


Fountain in Alcazar garden, Seville

And finally—Lisbon

What Lisbon did with ceramics was cover entire buildings with tiles. Lisbon is well-known for their azulejos; however, I found Lisbon frustrating because all the building facades were dirty. I longed to see a block of buildings covered with sparkling clean tiles, and wondered whether these tiles from the late 19th century were cleanable or whether pollution, water and rust have permanently deteriorated their surfaces.

New or cleaned tiles on the building to the right.





Morocco – Eight Days was Enough

sunshineFrom the beginning of my travel planning for Spain, some wise part of me decided to do just a quick reconnaissance of Morocco. I knew that I’d regret not taking the ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar and at least checking Morocco out. So I booked small hotels (renovated old houses in medinas) in Tangier and Fes, with a round-trip by train between Tangier and Fes, and a day trip by bus to the “Blue Village” Chefchaoen. I stayed in renovated large houses in the medinas of both Tangier and Fes.
2016-06-01 03.26.33Travel can be still be rewarding even when it’s not being enjoyable. I can’t say that I enjoyed Morocco: I found it very stressful; in fact I just realized that my lack of appetite while I was there was probably due to being stressed out by the whole place. One problem was that while the medinas are what I came to see, they are very difficult for visitors to navigate. Tourists constantly get lost. Boys and men constantly and aggressively interrogate any tourist that pauses and looks around for a moment, or wanders into a square where there’s nothing for tourists: “What do you want?” “Where do you want to go?” “Do you need something?” These guys are hoping you will give them a tip for guiding you someplace, but they often come across as aggressive and rude, or even hostile. I often couldn’t stop myself from answering a bit rudely or telling them they needed to work on their English. And then those interactions would fester in me for a couple of hours. Another annoyance was that (male) waiters and guides tended to touch me too much, as if they had retained the colonial “courtesies” of “guiding” Western women by the arm or shoulder. I’m pretty sure they don’t try to physically steer non-related Moroccan women around the same way.

Lamp Store
Lamp Store

The notorious touts I found to be less obnoxious; in fact I had a long conversation with one of the shopkeepers after he had walked me through his store and I didn’t buy anything. The mobile trinket sellers seem to target groups and didn’t bother me. (One afternoon I came back to the front door of my hotel in Tangier and found a cluster of seven or eight of them waiting outside the shop across the path, while a huge group of day trippers off the ferry was being shown the wares inside. But these guys just ignored me.)

Looking out the door from a museum set in a renovated foundouk

As for the women, most of the women in the medina wear hijabs (shoulder-length covering for the hair and ears) and loose clothing. In my mind, I came to associate this head covering as projecting humility and subservience, perhaps because in the West hairstyles and headgear for either sex often signal various types of confidence, pride, arrogance or even affluence by making the head appear larger. At any rate, Morocco reinforced for me Western cliches about Muslim culture. In the traditional medina, Homes are focused towards the interior and have few external windows. Women stay at home except when they’re shopping or taking the kids on a family outing to the beach (or the mall, if they’re rich.) Men are the ones you see on the streets except when the women are shopping for food. The only people hanging out in cafes drinking tea and coffee are men. I did see two hijab-clad women enjoying some coffee at an outdoor cafe, but all the other times it was tourists and Moroccan men. (This is all based on my observations of street life in the medina: I’m pretty sure that there are plenty of Moroccan women who go to jobs in offices, schools, hospitals, factories etc.) At a riad I stayed at, the women seemed to be expected to work ceaselessly all day while an additional staff person could have made their jobs a little less hectic. The owner’s mother has put the riad on the worldwide tourist map with her cooking, but I wonder if she ever gets a day off.

Plumber Advertisement
Plumber Advertisement

At any rate, in Morocco I ended up feeling kind of like Paul Theroux, who’s noted for his curmudgeonly travel writing.  I’m left exploring the question of how travel is still valuable when it is uncomfortable. To what extent might I, personally, pursue more challenging travel? Right now in my burnt-out state, my plans for India or other poor countries (Cuba?) are trending in the direction of expensive guided tours.

Bookstore in a non-renovated foundouk (caravansery)
Bookstore in a non-renovated foundouk (caravansery)
Old window over a medina street
Old window over a medina street

After a comfortable night at the Tangier Hilton, which was so American it even had washcloths, getting off the ferry at the Spanish beach town of Tarifa was like opening the windows on a bright morning after a long night! The first thing I did was find my way to Cafe Azul for a brunch of an omelet, toast and smoothie served by a friendly female waiter, then headed to the bus station for the short trip to Cadiz.

Friendly Spanish Restaurant (Actually, I did find an equally cool cafe in Fes called the Clock Cafe.)
Friendly Spanish Restaurant (Actually, I did find an equally cool cafe in Fes called the Clock Cafe.)

Morocco has Pungas Too

Nuts and Pungas

Morocco is another Peace Corps country – it qualifies as possessing crucial needs that American volunteers might address.

(Goal #1: “To help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained Volunteers.” As a sidelight, I see that the wording has changed. It used to say “in meeting their need for trained men and women” which I interpreted as deliberately ambiguous in order to mean both the volunteers and the host country citizens who also receive training from and with volunteers.)

The Tangier Medina from the roof of my lodging Dar Souran
The Tangier Medina from the roof of my lodging Dar Souran

To get back to the topic, I find that average per capita income in Morocco is 40% of the world’s average (~$5,000), while Moldova manages only 27% (~$3500). Although in Morocco I’m encountering a very different and sometimes bewildering culture, there are many things that remind me of my life in Moldova. I think this is because there are certain patterns that humans adopt for living in villages and towns. I’m spending most of my time in the medinas of Tangier and Fes. A “medina” could be perhaps be defined as a dense, ancient, urban village. These are the “old towns” of Morocco, which are connected to more modern, sometimes equally poor areas. (These newer areas and the countryside remind me of Chisinau:  in that context I can’t resist noting that Morocco knows how to maintain its walking pavements for secure footing, and manages to build stairs, ancient and new, with consistent riser heights. Maybe that’s the 40% vs. the 27% but probably due to thousands of years’ more experience with urban pavements and multi-story buildings.)

Fruit Seller
Fruit Seller (Fes)
The Berber Sunday Market in Tangier outside of the Catholic Church

My amateur anthropological observation is that there are universal market patterns. People bring fruits and vegetables into the city markets every day: in Moldova by car or bus; in Morocco sometimes by donkey or mule. The markets are made up of hundreds of tiny stalls, as well as people sitting on the ground among their fresh fruit, vegetables, cheeses and milk. Markets in remoter areas are held on certain days of the week, just as the market in my village in Moldova occurred on Thursdays and Sundays.

The Fes medina market streets are extensive and well-developed - both the renovated and the older parts.
The Fes medina market streets are extensive and well-developed – both the renovated and the older parts.

In Morocco, there are towns whose names are a day of the week, after the day of their traditional market, even if it’s no longer held. In Viet Nam, we visited a Sunday market attended by people from rural tribes; in Tangier, many Berber women come in on Sunday to sell vegetables and cheese. As I travel by bus or train through Morocco, I see people on the road. Often they are on foot, in horse-drawn carts, and little three-stroke vehicles. The standard American Bible illustration of Mary and Joseph traveling by donkey is the sort of thing you can still see in Morocco – and it looks hot, slow and uncomfortable.

Local Freight
Local Freight
Hard work’s over for the day …

Thankful for my high station in life, I am always impressed by the human spirit – working hard in hot fields and then taking a day off to make a long trip to the market. There is the perennial hope that the year will be a good one, that there will be enough rain and that the summer won’t be too hot, but if things don’t work out for the best humans just keep doing their best to survive.

Roadside "stand" of Moroccan herbs
Roadside “stand” of Moroccan herbs
Medina Fruit Seller - has a large room, sells to hotels
Medina Fruit Seller in Fes – he sells to hotels & restaurants so he has lots of room.
Tangier street outside of the medina
Tangier street outside of the medina

And so there are pungas here. Punga is a Romanian word for a bag or pouch (see πουγκί – “punki” – translates as pouch) so this is the word that Moldovans use for the cheap, strong woven-plastic bags of all sizes that the third world uses for carrying practically everyhing. Ever since I saw them in Romania and China I’ve looked for them in the U.S.A. to use for emergency luggage. (And indeed, I’m using one of my Moldovan pungas now for the overflow luggage on this trip – hopefully I can check it through on my flight home.)

Bought a cushion cover in Fes so got the punga out. Here, it's also loaded with leftover groceries as I head to my next tourist apartment in Seville.
Bought a cushion cover in Fes so had to get the punga out. Here, it’s also loaded with leftover groceries as I head from Cadiz to my next tourist apartment in Seville.

María Auxiliadora

It seems like the Spanish eat nothing but meat and potatoes, so for my second dinner in Ronda I just went to the first Italian restaurant I could find for a salad and some pasta. It was on a side street, no Trip Advisor sticker, they sliced their lettuce with a knife (although the salad was good), the wine tasted like it had been sitting around for awhile. But it was a decent meal, and just as I was finishing, a parade went by! First I saw the little girls in their first communion dresses (and the boys in their snazzy little suits), then I heard the band. It was a good procession put on by the Parish of María Auxiliadora. I was the only one eating in the restaurant that early, so the staff and I went out and watched, along with everyone else in the street.

The two floats were carried by a bunch of young men with turbans on their heads to pad them. The main float has a little plaque: “Viena 1683” – an antique baroque “carroza” for this annual fiesta. They were heading towards the church for the last day of the fiesta, where the new communicants would be presented to the Virgin.

Girls Boys Kids las-senorasauxiladore-float2 auxiladore-float

The Devotees of Maria Auxiliadora
The Devotees of Maria Auxiliadora