Friday, November 30, 2012

Ten Random Trivia About Spain

Arches of the Great Mosque of Córdoba
 Random facts about Spain:
  1. For 800 years, the Moors (Spanish Muslims from Arabic countries in northern Africa) ruled in Spain, which is why there are beautiful Moorish (Arabic) mosques, bridges, castles, and other Arabic structures in Spain.
  2. The Moors allowed peaceful co-existence of Islamic, Christian, and Jewish religions. The Christian rulers were not so tolerant.
  3. Spain has more UNESCO World Heritage Sites than any other country in the world except Italy.
  4. 1492 was a key year in the history of Spain. You already know about Columbus, who sailed for the Indies that year. But that is also the year that the Christians finally drove out the Moors. It is also the year that the Christians drove out the Jews.
  5. One euro (€1.0) = US$1.30 on this day, November 30, 2012. A euro buys in Spain about what a dollar buys in the U.S., so the cost of living in Spain is about 30% higher than in the U.S. At the temple, our housing is partially subsidized, so our cost of living is about the same here as it would be on a mission in the U.S.
  6. Dates expressed in numeric form in Spain are day-month-year, a much more logical way than in the U.S. But in the U.S., Scott's birthday is an unforgettable 01-23-45 (012345), but here in Spain it is an ordinary 23-01-45 (230145).
  7. Most Spaniards (as well as people in most other Spanish-speaking countries) have four names: two given names, a paternal last name, and a maternal last name, in that order. Example: José Antonio Gutiérrez Ballesteros. We would call him hermano Gutiérrez, which is his paternal last name. Women don't change their last name when they get married. So we know a married couple (temple workers) who have different last names (Hermano Caso and Hermana Rioja).
  8. The official language of Spain is Spanish, or more properly (according to some authorities), Castillian (Castellano). Regional languages (Co-official) include Basque (Euskara), Catalan (Catalán), Galician (Gallego), and Aranese. Almost everyone who speaks one of these regional languages also speaks Castillian.
  9. Spain is the world's largest producer of olive oil. It produces almost three times as much as Italy, the number 2 country. And Spaniards love it. They put olive oil in almost everything, and seem incredulous and exasperated when we tell them that we don't use olive oil.
  10. Flamenco, for which Spain is famous, is not a dance but a musical form involving singing (actually wailing), hand clapping, often guitar playing, and sometimes dancing.
Just in case you'd like to know.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Elders Rigtrup and Levorsen for Dinner

Last night (November 27), we had two new elders in our area over for dinner. They were Elder Max Rigtrup of Washington, D.C., and Elder Colton Levorsen of Draper, Utah. Scott made chicken fajitas:

He tried to make about twice as much as he expected these young missionaries could eat, but they managed to eat almost all of it--each one had three huge fajitas--as well as eating up the fruit salad that Beverly had prepared! They seemed so appreciative, that Beverly sent them home with a batch of fruit salad, a package of corn tortillas, and the leftover fajita filling.

Before leaving, they shared a scripture with us (2 Nephi 2:25), an accompanying spiritual thought, and their testimony, all in excellent Castillian Spanish.

We took their picture before they left:
Elder Max Rigtrup (left) and Elder Colton Levorsen
These are such wonderful, enthusiastic, dedicated missionary. It was a joy to get to know them.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Guadalajara, Spain: City of "No Aesthetic Interest"?

On our day off Monday, November 12, 2012, we wanted to visit a city close to Madrid (that we hadn't visited previously). We reluctantly chose Guadalajara, a city that is hardly mentioned in travel books on Spain. In fact, one of our travel books says, "Despite its romantic name, Guadalajara is, disappointingly, a modern, somewhat scruffy city, of more historical than aesthetic interest." In other words, it's an ugly old town. We (Scott, Beverly, and our fellow temple missionary Miriam) went anyway, on a very cold and windy day.

To our amazement, this ugly duckling turned out to be a swan. Okay, that's an overstatement, but after the day warmed up, we had an enjoyable visit. Here are a few pictures of Guadalajara, Spain.

The city has a very nice tourist office, with a helpful staff (one man) and beautiful (free) brochures:

Palacio el Infatado, built in the 1400s as the residence of a Spanish duke; now it's a museum:

Miriam and Beverly at the Torreón (Tower) of Alvar Fáñez, built in the 1300s and now part of a nice park:

Beverly and Miriam in the courtyard of the medieval Palacio de Antonio Mendoza, now a high school:

A closeup of the beautiful tile lining the walls of the courtyard and stairwell:

The Ayuntamiento (City Hall) of Guadalajara, at one end of the nice Plaza Mayor (main square of the city):

An amazing chocolate cake that we spotted in one of the Guadalajara bakeries:

A group of old men strolling through the clean and attractive Parque de San Roque:

The magnificent Panteón de la Condesa de la Vega del Pozo, which looks like an ancient church but which was actually built in the 1800s (in the U.S. this church might be considered old but in Spain it is considered very new):

An Moorish (Islamic) bridge, built in the tenth century A.D. (yes, this is an old bridge):

We found lots of interesting sites in Guadalajara and really enjoyed our visit to this "very ordinary" Spanish city. We're glad we went.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Madrid Temple Square in the Fall

On a cold (38°F) and cloudy November, Scott took these pictures of the Madrid Temple Square.

Some of the trees are starting to change color:
Add caption
This a picture of the Madrid Temple Square, with our apartment building on the left (barely visible in the upper-left corner, behind the leaves), the stake center on the right, and of course the temple in the middle:

The grounds crew recently removed the summer flowers and planted these lovely yellow fall flowers (lower foreground):

The Madrid Temple Square is beautiful any time of year.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Teaching Piano Lessons

At the beginning of October, I (Beverly) began teaching piano lessons to some children and adults in our ward. (They were students of a Senior missionary sister who completed her mission and went home). I'm using the Basic Keyboard Course developed by the church, the same materials I used to teach students in Peru during our first mission.

The materials, written in Spanish, include (starting bottom left): the basic course book with CD and note cards for learning the names of the keys, a simplified hymnbook, and a cardboard keyboard. Some of the advanced students also play pieces out of the simplified Primary hymnbook and the regular hymnbook.

Here are some materials and motivators that I also use: my schedule of the lessons I teach, a sheet where students record the time they spend practicing, and stickers and candy that I give the students if they practice five days during the week and/or have a good lesson.   

Nearly all the students have their own teclado (keyboard) to practice on. They received the keyboards from a grant from the Harmon Foundation at BYU after they completed a course on directing hymns. The students may keep the teclados on the condition that they take lessons and are preparing to play hymns for church meetings. Many of the students will be playing in the Primary program this month.

Here are some of my talented and dedicated students (left to right, top to bottom): Abish Garcia (12), Dámaris Garcia (10), Samuel Pacheco (10), Gerlind Camino (13), Angel Diestra (12), Mari Diestra (10), Thedius Zegarra (11), Melani Ninán (10), and Adriana Rodrigues (12). Angel just turned 12 and plays in priesthood meeting. Mari broke a bone in her leg but still comes to her lessons (her father brings her in a wheelchair). 

Recently, a couple of teenaged boys have begun lessons. This is Hans Camino during his first piano lesson. He wants to learn to play the piano so he can be a better missionary.

I am also teaching some adults. This is Sister Duarte, a fellow temple missionary. Even though she can't speak English and I can't speak Spanish, we are good friends. We have a wonderful time Iaughing together during her piano lessons.

I love teaching piano lessons to these eager students. It's an added bonus to our wonderful mission.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Our Neighborhood in Madrid

We live in a great location within Madrid. Within easy walking distance are major transportation stations that can get us to anywhere in the city and almost anywhere in the world. Here are the major stores, shops, and bus and metro stops in our area.
Satellite view of our neighborhood. Notice scale in upper-left corner, where 0.1 mi = 176 yards.

Site 1 is the Madrid Spain temple. Site 2 is our apartment building:

Site 3 is Condis, a nice grocery store where we can buy some fruits and vegetables, nuts, raisins, tissue paper, canned and bottle goods, bread, breakfast cereal, meat, yogurt, milk, drinks, etc. It's fairly complete and only a few steps from our apartment.
Condis grocery store, below a large apartment building.

Site 4 is Casa Elias, where we buy most of our fruits and vegetables because they are the best in the area. It also includes other groceries:
Casa Elias grocery store, with great produce.

Between Sites 3 and 4 is an ATM where we get all our cash ($350-$500 per day per credit card is the maximum withdrawal from our U.S. bank and credit union):
Caja Madrid ATM

Site 5 is a bus stop, located right next to the temple. Here we catch Bus 32 that goes to the huge Walmart-like department store Alcampo (about 30 min) and to Madrid city center (about 50 min):

Site 6 is an area with many shops that we enjoy. Here is Beverly's hair salon:
Maja's Peluquería
Here (still Site 6) is Scott's barbershop, next door to Maja's:
Peluquería de caballero
Across the walkway (Site 6) from where we get our hair cut are three little stores that we use a lot. The computer store, where we bought our printer and WiFi router, and where we still buy our printer ink:
App Informática computer store

The hardware and electrical store (Site 6) where we bought tools, twine, plug adaptors, plug boxes, and other odds and ends:
Ferretería Electricidad Pavones
And a Chinese odds-and-ends store (Site 6), similar to a Dollar store in the U.S.:
Super Euro (Chinese Store)
Site 7 is a pharmacy, located near the hair shops:
Pharmacy on Hacienda de Pavones street

Site 8 is Lidl, a German-based grocery store, which has a different selection of items from the other two little grocery stores near us. Here we buy sweet-and-sour sauce (when it's available), a delicious whole-grain bread that we can't find anywhere else, and a other items:
Lidl grocery store
Site 9 is the Pavones bus station, with about six different bus lines that go to various places in the city:
Pavones bus station
Site 10 is the Pavones station of the Metro (subway). Some senior missionaries prefer traveling by bus, but we prefer the Metro. We have to walk a little more to get to the station, and we have to go up and down stairs, but the Metro gets us to where we want to go much faster, usually about half the time that a bus takes.
Pavones Metro Station

That's our local neighborhood. It's nice to have all these places within walking distance of our apartment.