So …. I have been here a week!
Alot has happened in the last few days.
This weekend we had a record storm/windstorm and some of the tile and plaster outside my room has to be repaired today.
Santo Antao do Tojal (SAN-too an-TAY-oo doo tow-JAL [soft ‘j’ sound]) is a quiet little Portuguese village that seems much farther than a few miles from Lisbon. There are narrow little cobblestone sidewalks, narrow little roads barely wide enough for a bus and a car to pass, old houses leaning out over the roads, and pastures all around. There are modern windmills on the hills surrounding the neighborhood. It is very quaint and pretty.
My language classes started on Monday, and they are fun and exciting so far. Eunice, my teacher is GREAT and she makes the classes very fun. She is encouraging and doesn’t laugh at me too much when I can’t quite pronounce all the sounds in Portuguese correctly. 🙂 She said to consider my language learning like a job, and to be working on it about 8 hours a day. The more I immerse myself in Portuguese, the faster I will learn the language. I feel very grown-up and knowledgeable while learning Portuguese. I get to read from books like “Aristogatos” (“The AristoCats”) [a-reesto-GA-toos] and still can’t pronounce all the words or know what they mean.
My schedule looks something like this.
Get up in the morning, shower, read Bible, check e-mail, do homework, eat something, walk to bus stop, catch bus to language class at 1135, get off bus @ 1152, walk a few blocks to studio (in the rain), greet students leaving school, class from 12-2, get homework assignments, back to bus stop, hop off at supermarket/stores to get food for evening/run errands, use what Portuguese I can, catch another bus, home at 4-5pm, check bread truck that delivers bread everyday at 5pm, study/homework, dinner around 7pm with Kevin and Angela (two other Portuguese language students living at the Bible school), somedays we make tortillas at this point, 8-ish back to room to study, write e-mails or Skype about 10pm, go to bed around 11pm. The other night I couldn’t fall asleep so I started conjugating verbs. I think I fell asleep pretty quickly, I don’t remember much.
The other day after class we ate at a little Portuguese cafe with my teacher, Eunice. It was so much fun because she explained everything and what their specials were and told me about typical foods and true Portuguese dishes. It was delicious! Lima beans are in season in Portugal right now, and they make them into a delicious stew (for all you vegetable lovers out there). After the meal was over someone listed the dessert for us and Eunice translated and described them to us. I wasn’t really considering anything until Eunice said “Camel drool”. I did a mental double take and then asked her what in the world that was. 🙂 She described it as very good, and because of the name I decided I had to order some “Baba de Camelo”. It was VERY tasty. A light carmel tasting mousse. Eunice says I have to try “Ox Drool” and “Sawdust” next. Speaking of food, another big dish here is cod. So far I have had it in a hash/casserole and it was very good.
This week I bought a bike to help me get around the neighborhood/rural area where I can’t ride the buses. They are delivering it this weekend. I had to have it delivered because the back road that I would have to ride the bike home on has been flooded since I got here because of all the rain. It runs through a field and is completely submersed in several inches of water for a really long distance. And it is very muddy because it is a dirt road. I suppose if I had thigh-high waders I might be able to just walk it across, but it would take forever, and there are several deep holes. It is pretty amazing actually.
I also caved and got a cell phone at the insistence of everyone since we all live spread out across the city, and Eunice needs to get ahold of us often about classes. And since I am traveling around the city it will be nice in case I get lost. So all of you who were worrying, don’t anymore. I have a way to call for help if it is ever needed. 🙂
This week Angela and I made Tortillas in the evenings. They were delicious if I do say so myself, and I am impressed that they tasted just as good as I remembered. I learned the recipe and technique from some ladies in the church I worked with in Mexico last summer. I will forever thank them and will never forget that life class. 🙂 In fact, several of you reading this were probably there with me!