It is rainy this afternoon in Jerez. It patters against the window and if feels like home. I hope that unlike home, it stops soon.

Last day of the first week of classes today. Lots of fun finishing the choreo. I got a certificate: 15 hours of class completed.

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Thursday
The only evidence I have that is indeed Thursday is the label written on my vitamin pills container, so I may be off.

Thursday means a break to the regular routine. I had class as usual this morning, but the show at the theatre tonight is not included in the pass, so we get the evening off. We have a plan to eat dinner at the regular time of 8:30-9:00 pm. Regular in Spain, anyway. (If you are wondering, I will probably have to have a snack or small second lunch before this.)

I enjoyed th show last night, and only partly because one of the dancers, Leonar Leal, has a short hair cut. There were a few parts where the dancers were doing flamenco with no shoes. My first thought was “Ya! No Shoes!;” my second thought was that I hope the dancers are careful because I’ve practiced flamenco with no shoes and my ankles started to hurt after a while. Most of the piece with no shoes was modern-ish movement, and not so much stomping, so they are probably fine. Hopefully you can see portions of the show by clicking this sentence.

(I critiqued myself yesterday for being vague and general when writing about the shows I’ve seen already. I’ll do better. I could go back and fix yesterday’s entry and add links and names and things, but I probably won’t).

Sunny and warm today. Me and Rachel and Baby went out for lunch and sat in the sun and I had to take my jacket off… And then drape my scarf over my head so my ears didn’t burn. Mmmm: little bits of salmon and bacon roasted on a stick with dates and olive oil. And vino tinto.

Tomorrow is the last day of class for the first week of the festival. Hopefully the dance will be finished – we haven’t gotten there yet. I’m not worried because what we’ve done already is fun and I like to dance it. (Goal for class tomorrow: try to move fan around in choreography like a flamenco dancer and not like a robot-clown).

Some notes about my class this week:
1)My teacher this week, Mercedes Ruiz, is doing a show next week and I get to watch it.
2)We do a good substantial warm-up every morning. The favorite exercise includes stretching our arms out to the side and holding them there. Then we flex our hands up, lower them down into fists and roll them back up again. Both hands go at the same time. Ten times repeated, then a little break where we shake out our wrists and groan, then ten time more.
3) Some of my classmates are really good: they inadvertently help me learn footwork and timing. Thank you, Good Classmates.

Hanging Out with Baby
One of my roomies this week is a baby. I can classify him as a roomie as I don’t have too much to do with him, as he is constantly in the care of either his mom or dad (Rachel and Adam). Other than the occasional squawk in the middle of the night he isn’t bad as far as roommates go. Of course, he has two well-trained caretakers cleaning up after him.

Yesterday I learned that the noise that he makes during nap time* that sounds like flamenco singing indicates that he’s about to go to sleep. Good to know!

*Coincidentally, his afternoon nap time very often coincides with my nap time.

Flamenco Shows
Our tuition for classes in the festival includes a pass for many of the nine-o’clock flamenco shows. These are almost nightly shows, and range from super traditional flamenco dance (polka-dotted costumes, shawls, and castanets) to super contemporary offerings (which still may include castanets, but play with the flamenco form just like contemporary ballet plays with traditional ballet). Both forms are good to watch to get a sense of what’s possible in flamenco. Of course, not everyone likes everything. I’ve seen five shows so far. Two were traditional, and three more modern. I like the modern works best, but traditional works are good education, and can be amazing. Several times, for both types, I have sat up in my seat, eyes wide wide I don’t miss anything, saying “wow.” Or “whoa.” Or, “ole,” which I should use more often, since I am in Spain.

Tonight there will be a flamenco dancer with short hair (at least she had short hair the last time I checked). So I am keen to see her.

Fun Fact
I have a wee blister on the top of my pinky toe from my new flamenco shoes. It doesn’t hurt but I have placed a small band aid upon it.

Rachel and Adam found a craft beer place called Gorila not far from the apartment. It is where Adam send me to find free WiFi and to try the freshest beer ever. It tastes like beer to me, but not the grossest beer, which the beer drinkers have taken as a bit of a compliment. I am here again now but have chosen to have fino this time (sherry). I like it better than beer. Also, there are jasmine trees in front of me:

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Agenda complete so far today (Monday): flamenco class, lunch, bath, lie in sunbeam.

Flamenco class
The week started well, with us learning footwork for two days and I was happy and comfortable with this (mostly – I keep doing the wrong footwork at the wrong times, and one section I just can’t learn). Today we started arms and *fan.* This is my first go at using a fan in flamenco and it’s OK. It’s an extension of florea, so I am picking it up. Good idea to have a smaller fan though because the room is crowded. I’m learning to say “sorry” and “nonono it’s ok!” in several languages (the latter is mostly me just flapping my hands in front of me and shaking my head).

Lunch
I eat lunch alone this week, just with the others being out and about or in class at the time I get back and want to eat lunch. I sit at the little table in the kitchen with my back to the window: the sun shines in and is warm.

Bath
Feet sore: needed soak and exfoliant scrub. Much happy now.

Sunbeam
The sun shines in my bedroom window on to my bed. Obviously I take advantage. A nap may result.

Yesterday was Sunday so Christina and I went to several churches. We wanted to see inside some of the many churches that are here in Jerez. They aren’t all open all the time and so figured Sunday was a good time to see some. We got dressed up: we’d seen dressed-up people all day long going to church so it seemed right to do.

The first church we looked at is right across the way from our apartment.

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It was full of people and incense. The people were lined up to kiss a statue of Jesus or a saint. I didn’t get too close. I didn’t last long inside this one because the incense was making my eyes itchy.

The next church we visited was about 16 or 19 steps away or so – there’s a lot of churches here. It was quiet, with just a few people praying inside. We walked along the side part – not the main aisle, but the corridor to the side (at history vocabulary, where are you?..) to look up at the inside of the dome. There were electronic candles that would light up with a donation. Christina tried 10 cents but that didn’t work: we thought maybe one needed to be Catholic to light a candle. We then noticed that a minimum 20 cent donation is required. I donated a euro and a candle lit up. Then Christina tried a euro, too, and a candle went out. We thought it best that we leave after that. Quickly.

Just before we left for the churches, we had noticed a big group of people having dinner in the window across from our kitchen. We thought: Sunday dinner, massive family, sure. But a bit later we heard singing, and through the same window we saw a group of children dressed in churchy choir gowns. We later saw them filing across the street to the church, so we must have overheard their practice. (Oddly, the flamenco show we went to last night included another children’s chorus. We are inundated by delightful children’s singing.)

The weather was chilly on our first days here and I was glad I had knit myself a new scarf for the trip. Yesterday and today it has warmed up considerably during the day, which is what I expected, nay, demanded for my stay in Jerez. Warm days and cool nights- this was what it was like during the last trip. The change came during siesta yesterday afternoon: I went outside and was impressed by the warm air. In contrast, I had to wear my woolly socks on the walk to class in the morning.

I have bought new flamenco shoes. They are neither black nor an audacious colour, both of which I was promising to purchase before my trip. They are navy blue and of the Senovilla brand. I thought I didn’t like Senovilla, because last trip I tried on many pairs and they always felt too wide in the toe. The trick, however, was that I was only trying the styles with straps and buckles, not lace-ups. The lace-ups fit fine in the toe: nice and snug. And in beautiful navy blue. Now as I think of it, they are probably fading in the sun as I have put them out on my little veranda to air out.

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Today I did something I’ve never done before: drunk a beer in Spain. I still don’t like beer. I only bought it so I could sit down while I connected to free wi-fi. €1.50.

The weather was chilly on our first days here and I was glad I had knit myself a new scarf for the trip. Yesterday and today it has warmed up considerably during the day, which is what I expected, nay, demanded for my stay in Jerez. Warm days and cool nights- this was what it was like during the last trip. The change came during siesta yesterday afternoon: I went outside and was impressed by the warm air. In contrast, I had to wear my woolly socks on the walk to class in the morning.

I have bought new flamenco shoes. They are neither black nor an audacious colour, both of which I was promising to purchase before my trip. They are navy blue and of the Senovilla brand. I thought I didn’t like Senovilla, because last trip I tried on many pairs and they always felt too wide in the toe. The trick, however, was that I was only trying the styles with straps and buckles, not lace-ups. The lace-ups fit fine in the toe: nice and snug. And in beautiful navy blue. Now as I think of it, they are probably fading in the sun as I have put them out on my little veranda to air out.

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Today I did something I’ve never done before: drunk a beer in Spain. I still don’t like beer. I only bought it so I could sit down while I connected to free wi-fi. €1.50.

First Day of Class.. And a rant about food.

I only have one class a day and that’s pretty much my schedule for the two weeks of the festival. This week, I have class at 10 every morning, and next week class will be at 1pm. I anticipate the remainder of this week progressing as it has today: class, lunch, then nap. There’s shows to watch (almost) every night as well, so that’s what the naps are for. Also: I like naps.

The class I’m in isn’t too hard – but we’ve only learned feet, no arms yet. Part of the course includes using fans, but we didn’t start that today, which is good since I completely forgot to take mine. I was all set too, bringing my big ones from home and buying a smaller one here just in case (I haven’t done fan before so wasn’t sure what might work best: for example, I may inadvertently whack classmates with a big fan on the end of my freaky-long arm). Luckily someone in the change room both spoke English and had an extra fan for me to borrow – not that it mattered in the end since we didn’t get to use them today.

I just went for a walk and bought a cork screw. I got home and I think everyone is napping. It’s very quiet. I have four roommates now: Christina who I came with along with Rachel who we last visited with during our 2012 Spain trip, her husband Adam and their baby boy. The last three arrived yesterday with tales of living in Berlin.

I’m still trying to figure out the eating situation in Spain. While I was out walking just now (around 4pm) there were crowds at restaurants just finishing up lunch (I think) with wine. When it’s time that the Canadians want supper (5-7pm) people here are eating a snack (fries or a pastry) and having coffee and full meals aren’t really being served. Evening meal food starts at 8pm or later, which doesn’t work when we have tickets for shows at 9pm. On a temporary basis I am eating fruit all the time as we have all bought a lot. And then also wine and tapas last night before the show, even though everyone else was having coffee… I don’t drink coffee at night so I won’t be able to try that routine.

Introduction To Jerez
Part 1: Sleep
I did not sleep well last night. I tried to tell my body and my brain that it was night time and therefore sleepy-time, but body and brain would have none of it.

“What do you mean it’s night time? Obviously it is day,” brain said, ready for activity.

“No. It’s night. There is no light. Go to sleep,” I insisted.

“Let’s go for a walk!” body suggested.

“No,” I repeated. “It’s sleepy time.”

“I’m not tired! Are you tired?” asked brain.

“No way!” body answered. “Let’s have a snack!”

“Gurgle,” said tummy.”

“All of you shut up and go to sleep,” I said.

And it went on for hours.

Part 2: Actual Details
We landed in Jerez at about 10:30 last night, which was Wednesday (I record this here less for my readers than for me, as I’m having trouble keeping track.) We took a taxi to our hotel and immediatly-ish went to bed. (See above for results of that.) I think I slept for about 3 or four hours, until 8:30, which isn’t bad for me when it comes to the first night sleeping in a new time zone.

We stayed at the hotel for one night since we weren’t booked at the apartment until today. This worked out well for the following two reasons: 1) the agent in charge of introducing us to the place didn’t want to meet us so late and 2) there were beds and general settling in to do that went better this morning after a half sleep rather than after a big travel days. Also, the hotel came with breakfast, which I like (both the general concept of breakfast and when hotels serve it as part of a night’s stay.)

The apartment is quite fine. There is enough space, or so I anticipate, for all of us who are going to be here. More arrive tomorrow (which is Friday).

The floors are cold, so we have purchased some slippers.

There was no wine opener supplied.

Part Three: Wandering around Jerez
We spent the bulk of the day trying to keep ourselves awake to overcome the jet lag by wandering around Jerez. We had tapas and got groceries (I love getting groceries, especially in the Mercadona store I went to a lot in 2012). There was absolutley nothing supplied food-wise with this apartment (which you expect, but I thought there might be at least reidual condiments) so we had to buy things like salt and olive oil, which is fun because we’re in Spain.

We also wandered around semi-lost for a while looking for a splendid church. I know it is splendid because we found it after giving up. And only semi-lost because we’ve totally been to Jerez before.

Part 1: Going Back to Spain!
I’m on my way to Spain today. And I was on my way yesterday, too, because air travel is messed up with timezones and such. But other than this, I’m “whoo!” off to Spain again.

This trip is labelled “Jerez 2016” in my email folders. Jerez being the city where the flamenco fesival is and where I will be spending 3 weeks taking dance workshops and watching shows and drinking sherry. The 2016 part is to distinguish it from “Jerez 2012” because this is my second trip to the festival and to Spain.

My first trip was amazing, so of course I would want to go back. But also, I set myself a goal the last time. I said to myself, as the trip was ending in 2012, that I would work hard at my flamenco classes back in Vic, and that when I go back to Jerez I would take workshops at the next level (basico classes instead of iniciation). So here I am, and I’m registered for 2 basico classes over the next couple of weeks. So I’ll see how that goes.

Part 2: Airplane Rides
Overnight airplaine rides mess me up. BUT I add another layer of sleepy-time each time I go. When going to Vietnam, I got the good advice from my manager at work to use a face mask and earplugs. When used together, these create a bubble of peaceful sleepy-time. Last trip, on the flight home from Shanghai, my mum had herbal jet lag pills, that conked me right out (shortest 12 hour flight ever!). This time, encouraged by how well I slept last time, I got myself a neck pillow. So the 9 hours from Van to London was pretty quick today (yesterday? It’s all one big long day when you’re travelling somewhere). I didn’t even watch a movie.

Part 3: Present context
On the plane from London to Madrid. One more plane after this to get into Jerez.

I’m listening to Crosby Stills Nash and Young!

OMG I had some food issues. Somehow my full request for a vegan meal wasn’t “logged” properly by the airline. So I got my supper last night, but there was no breakfast this morning. (I’m not vegan, but I’m allergic to dairy, and vegan is a safe choice). The attendant offered me an apple, but I declined because that didn’t seem sufficient. I pulled out my backup granola bar, and one of my travel companions offered up her rice cakes and jam, so that was OK. But then the attendant came back with a big plate of fruit, along with the apple, and an energy bar. (On a real plate with metal utensils – so from first class). She said something along the lines of this being all she could pull together for me. But it was whole tray of food! It was lovely, and I flagged her down later to thank her again.