Saturday, May 12, 2007

A week of silence (probably)

I'm headed to a thing called Vaughan Town (it sounds like a cult, doesn't it) tomorrow morning in the province of Avila, west of Madrid. It's a 6-day long program that puts together 15 native English speakers with 15 Spaniards who are learning English. The idea being that people learn English best speaking to native speakers, and even better when exposed to the different accents of the English-speaking world (so I'm exposing Spanish people to a Maritimer accent - I'll have da ticken' it up a bit, eh dere b'y?). The anglophones volunteer their speaking services for the week in exchange for free accomodation and food basically. I heard about the program from Fraser who did it in October and it seems like it'll be fun. We meet for a reception tonight that involves food (tapas) and then tomorrow morning hop on a bus at 9am and arrive around noon, I believe.

So the week of silence is that there's not convenient internet access, so I probably won't be updating until I get back to Madrid (where I am now, just off the train from Portugal this morning). It won't be a week of verbal silence, since they want me to talk, and we all know that I can do that without being pressed.

On the topic of silence, it's been interesting being in countries where I don't speak the local language, namely Spanish and Portuguese. It certainly cuts down on the casual conversations that one often has with people in shops or at the train station (generally eliminates them altogether). I've been doing a lot of smiling and nodding or shrugging. My lack of comprehension didn't deter one Portuguese lady from chatting away to me for several minutes, complete with gestures and pats on the arm, of which I understood "nada".

Something I found amusing - the metro in Madrid is so old-fashioned that the signs say that seats should be reserved not only for the elderly, the disabled, and pregnant women, but also for women in general. Enforced chivalry.

Well, I'm going to find a laundromat and clean some clothes, and then perhaps check out some sights in the city.

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