So I'm sorry I've been a bit silent over the last few days, but I got caught up in everything. So here's what I did!WEDNESDAY
: I had to present a thing in class, basically (warning: TEFL Jargon coming up) an expansion of the core dialogue. That was fun: "A thief stole my DVD player/television/wife!". I got to draw pictures too! After the course I just went home. I was tired from all the exploring I'd done on Tuesday. Whatever, I got the opportunity to sort out some things in my folder, and had entertaining conversations with Tomás and Isabel over dinner. (Chinese food with what I thought was avocado but was actually...something else. I don't remember its name and I couldn't find it in my Spanish dictionary.)THURSDAY
: A big exploration day. María recommended that I should go to the cemetery in Recoleta, so I headed that way after class, but went further north than I'd intended and ended up going along Avenida Figueroa, where there are a lot of parks and other touristy things, so I took the opportunity to take some pictures. Then I went back down to the cemetery and wandered around. Saw Evita's grave. The cemetery wasn't a grass and tombstone affair, but it was more like a minor city, with streets and a square in the centre, and all the graves arranged liked miniature buildings. Dinner was chicken with rice.FRIDAY
: We did some simple grammar exercises, and it turns out I do know what some of these things are, I just learnt them under different names. The crazy thing about English grammar is that so much of it is superfluous and confusing because of the different names given to different things under different systems. Pizza for dinner.SATURDAY
(today): I woke up quite late (doing TEFL all week is tiring, especially in this heat!), but promptly left the house and went south to the Government Square. The Government building is modelled on the US Capitol building and, like all important buildings, has barricades around the whole of its perimeter to prevent protests. Of course, people just hang posters and things from the barricades. Then I went east to Plaza de Mayo and then north along a street with lots of shiny financial buildings into the Recoleta district, where I found a place in Lonely Planet and had lunch there. It was very very nice!
And now for a little digression about the food. Porteño food combines four key aspects: (1) French immigration = excellent pastry and desserts, (2) Italian immigration = excellent pasta and ice creams, (3) Pampas cows = excellent beef, seriously, the best I've ever had, and (4) native spices and herbs and things (ooh, maté). These, put together, make an INCREDIBLE cuisine. I had gnocchi with Parmesan and tomato sauce with chopped beef in it, plus bread, two bottles of sparkling water, and two scoops of rich chocolate ice cream FOR NINE POUNDS. And on the topic of price, near the school is a little place that sells empanadas (basically tacos made with pastry and filled with beef or tuna or whatever) and I can get two of them for $A4.50. THAT'S SEVENTY PENCE! £1.40! FOR AN ENTIRE MEAL!
Anyway, then I went still further North to Plaza San Martín (the liberator of Chile, Perú, and Argentina, I think) and took many pictures of the Falklands Monument. Seriously, what was that war about? Little islands that no-one wants to live on. Obviously it makes so much more sense for them to be English than Argentine, being right next to Argentina. Sigh. Then back to the house via a bookshop where I actually found La Fiesta del Chivo
(break reading...better get started on that).
So, the TEFL course. It's quite fun. It's full of lots of jargon (as you saw earlier) and the teaching style is focused a lot on eliciting the answers from us rather than just telling us, and that carries through to the way they're asking us to teach English. We were taught Irish Gaelic using the method for the first three days (not just that, we did other things as well) in order to give us an experience of how the method works and so we know what it feels like to be on the receiving end. It was actually quite incredible - we were having conversations by Wednesday! Quite limited ones, I grant you, but still... The teachers are nice. One's from England, one's from America, and one's from Ireland (he's the one who taught us Gaelic).
It's not as communal as I thought it would be, but it's still fun, and I'm getting on well with the other 7 people there: Kane (from Perth); Miles (North England - I can't understand what he says...); Brianna (America); Mike (America); Jeff (America); Nathan (America); María (Argentina, but she speaks very good English, which is why she's allowed to do the course). We haven't taught yet, but we'll be doing that on Tuesday...in pairs, of course. Scary.
The book I managed to find, La Fiesta del Chivo, is our holiday reading. It's about 500 pages, and it jumps about quite a bit in time, but essentially it's about dictatorship in the Dominican Republic, and it's extremely well written. I remember a passage from the first few pages because it's one I had to talk about for my interview, where Urania is talking to herself.
Did you do the right thing in coming back? You will regret it, Urania. Wasting a week of holidays, you who never had time to get to know as many cities, regions, and countries as you would have liked to see - the mountains and the snowy lakes of Alaska, for example - returning to the little island which you swore never to set foot on again. A symptom of decadence? Autumnal sentimentalism? Curiosity, nothing more. To prove to yourself that you can walk along the streets of this city which is no longer yours, return to this alien country, without it provoking sadness, nostalgia, hatred, bitterness, anger. Or have you come to confront the ruin that is your father? To find out what impression he makes on you, after so many years. A shiver runs from her head to her toes. Urania, Urania! Understand that if, after all these years, you discover that, under your stubborn little head, organised, impermeable to disheartening, behind that strength that others admire and envy in you, you have a tender, terrified, shredded, sentimental heart. She starts laughing. Enough foolishness, my girl.
I particularly like the last sentence in Spanish: "Basta de boberías, muchacha." There's no real way of translating it into English.