ciento volando

travel, stories, and other flights of fancy


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dos textos… ¡publicados!

post – español

post – english

cuentos/stories

águila, creo. (un poquito borroso, eché la foto por la ventana del Parador de La Lastrilla, Segovia)

05/02/2013

Por fin, mi primer ‘bilingüe’ post!

Si estás siguiendo mi blog en inglés, te habrás dado cuenta de que voy con un poquito de retraso. Todavía me quedan algunos reportajes de mis viajes navideños, e incluso tengo que subir un montón de fotos. Si no me lees porque el inglés no es tu ‘punto fuerte’, lo siento, es que llevo aún más retraso con el blog español. Hubo un momento en el que tenía pensado escribir cada post en los dos idiomas…ahora me queda claro que no va a ser posible. Con mis clases del instituto, clases particulares, clases de español, y lecciones de cultura (viajar, salir, pasear, y ‘sestear’), ni siquiera me queda tiempo para mantener el blog en inglés.

Pero ¡basta de excusas!, ¿Qué quieres decir, Jean?

Pues, por hacer algo diferente (y para fastidiar a los angloparlantes), he decidido subir un par de artículos que escribí en español. Los dos están recién publicados, aunque en publicaciones muy humildes. Así que mis textos españoles ya tienen más éxito que los de mi lengua materna. No sé por qué, pero esto me hace mucha gracia. Quizá me toque cambiar el chip permanentemente…  o darme por vencida y dejar de escribir en general.

El primer cuento es muy breve. Lo escribí para un concurso de microrrelatos* organizado por Antares, una librería segoviana. El tema,  Rincones de Segovia, me parecía tentador y retador a la vez. No obstante, al final el reto verdadero no fue el tema ni el idioma, sino la concisión exigida por el límite de palabras: un máximo de 150. ¡Maldito sea el español, por tener tantos artículos, tantas partículas, tantas pequeñas palabras superfluas!

Por supuesto no gané el concurso, pero la tarea fue interesante y divertida… como hacer un ‘Cubo de Rubik’ con palabras. Y, para mi deleite, la librería acaba de  publicar una colección de (supongo que todos) los cuentos entregados. Me alegra ver mi nombre impreso, aunque esto me traiga recuerdos de los premios de ‘consolación’ que recibía cuando participaba en competiciones deportivas escolares.

El otro artículo lo publicó una revista australiana que se llama Voces Españolas, que trata de lengua y cultura hispánicas.

Fue hace casi un año, cuando  una representante del Ministerio de Educación de España en Australia me pidió que escribiera una reflexión sobre mi experiencia como ‘auxiliar de conversación’ en un pueblo aislado de Andalucía. El encargo era bastante vago; podía escribir en inglés o español, y el ‘límite’ se situaba entre mil y tres mil palabras.

Como soy masoquista y poco profesional, al final lo escribí en español, y lo terminé con cuatro mil palabras. Gracias a mi amiga y colega Marie Carmen Monje (por su paciencia al corregirme la gramática, ya que  fue una tarea enorme) y wordreference.com (mi sitio favorito en toda la red), lo entregué a tiempo…pensando que lo acortarían y lo reducirían a  la mitad. ¡Cuál fue mi sorpresa, cuando, a finales de diciembre, imprimieron el artículo entero!

Releer el artículo fue curioso. Me di cuenta (de nuevo) de la importancia de la experiencia de vivir en Hinojosa del Duque, el  ‘culo del mundo’. Es difícil explicar lo que siento por mi ex-pueblito. Aunque no sea mi casa, y me encuentro más cómoda (y vivo mejor) aquí en Segovia, siempre guardaré una especia de añoranza por mi querida Hinojosa. Echo mucho de menos mi colegio, a los niños, a las abuelitas por la calle, la vista desde el Santo Cristo, las copas a tres euros…  y sobre todo,  a las amistades que hice allí. Puede que me toque otro viaje al sur. Ya se verá.

Entonces, arriba está el enlace para los dos cuentos. Os tengo que recordar que son muy ‘amateur’, así  que vuestros comentarios o consejos serán muy bienvenidos. Espero que os gusten, o al menos, os hagan un poquito de gracia.

*Definición: El microrrelato es como un golpe seco, una bofetada maternal que te pilla de improviso. Un beso fugaz, el que nunca esperaste. Una mirada que sólo dura un par de segundos, pero que vale como una historia de amor eterna. Porque te impacta, te conmociona. A veces para dejarte aterrado. Otras, para quedarte con la más deliciosa de las sensaciones.
– Paula Corroto (citación inscrita en el interior de la tapa del volumen de microrrelatos).

volver a arriba (para enlaces)

05/02/2013

Ok. So I’m well behind schedule with this blog. And work, and study, and writing, and, like, every area of my life in general.

There’re a couple more posts on Christmas travels still to come, plus a stack of (rather nice) photos to upload, which I will get to in the near future, promise. (Though given the rate at which time is passing, the ‘near’ future could be a pretty generous deadline. Can you believe it’s already February?)

In the meantime, just for something different, I thought I’d upload some of my writing in Spanish. These two pieces have recently been published, albeit in very modest publications.

The first is a 150 word short story, written for a competition organised by the Antares bookshop, not far from where I live. The prompt was ‘Corners of Segovia’, which was an inviting, though nonetheless challenging theme to write about. Then again, the real challenge was constructing a ‘story’ within such a restrictive word limit, so I guess I would have struggled with just about any prompt. Concision has never been my strong point, and I particularly struggle with word limits in Spanish – due to its excessive use of articles/particles/two letter words that have no meaning!!!

So my story didn’t win (nor did I expect it to), but it was fun to write… kind of like doing a Rubik’s cube with words. And to my delight, the bookshop has just published a compilation of (probably all) the entries from the competition. It’s nice to see my name in print, even though it does remind me of all those ‘participation’ ribbons I won in school athletics.

I haven’t translated it  into English because it wouldn’t work. The text hinges on word play between ‘pigeon’ and ‘popcorn’… So there you go. I’ve just given away the punch line… it really doesn’t work in English. But if you’re curious to read the real thing, check out the link at the top of this post.

The second piece is a whopping, four thousand word article, written for Voces Españolas, a language and culture journal in Australia (funded by the Spanish Ministry of Education). About a year ago they asked me to write a reflection on my experience as a language assistant living in a remote town of Spain. The brief was pretty vague: I could write in English or Spanish, and the only ‘limit’ was that it could be anywhere from one to three thousand words.

Make that four. I am so unprofessional.

And of course, being a glutton for punishment, I opted to tackle the beast in my non-mother tongue. Thanks to the editing skills (and infinite patience) of my friend and colleague Marie Carmen Monje, and wordreference.com (my favourite site in all the web), eventually, we did it.

The deadline was the end of May. So by the time the journal was published in late December, my life in the village felt like a distant dream. Re-reading the article awoke a lot of memories. It’s hard to describe the longing I feel for a place that isn’t my real home, and where I wasn’t nearly as comfortable or well off as I am now. But there I passed a fascinating, challenging eight months, and met people and made friends I will never forget. Sometimes I really miss my beloved Hinojosa ‘**** end of the world’ Duque. Perhaps I’m overdue for a trip in Andalusia direction…

We’ll see.

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What merits a post?

Some Sunday arvo navel gazing and a bit of a bitch.

When I first joined facebook years ago, I noticed a change in my thought processes, and sometimes even behaviour. I used to be quite a shy creature (believe it or not), and to begin with, being suddenly propelled into such a voyeuristic and public sphere was more than a little nerve wracking. Of course I could have resisted (I tried to) and just not have signed up, but the lure of social invitations, photos, clubs, competitions, gimmicks, games, and importantly, the sheer convenience and ease of communication, overcame my initial reluctance. You know how it is. And predictably, like many first time users, I was instantly hooked. Particularly with the status updates. It was so much fun, making wacky little sentences (several times a day) and proudly posting them for all to see. Anything from venting frustration at tram drivers, celebrating culinary successes, or making snide remarks about bosses, lecturers or politicians… I just had to publicise my opinion. I thought I was so witty, so bold. Really I was just using my status as a means to express what I would never have had the guts to say out loud in the real world. Or comment on things that had happened to me, but that no one was around to see, and that weren’t exactly dinner party conversation material…such as burning my tongue on hot chocolate, missing a train, or completing a Sudoku… One time I even posted ‘I change my status more often than my underwear’. Sad. But no matter, it was fun.

And still is, I might add.

What I’m getting to is that not long after joining facebook, I literally began to think in terms of status updates. Which often lead to thinking of myself in the third person, ie Tuesday morning status: “Jean is…thinking aloud, about herself in the third person…this is a bit of a worry”. I’m not sure if I was slipping into some kind of narcissistic madness, or it was just normal behaviour for someone of my generation. I couldn’t brush my teeth without wondering if I could somehow sensationalise the experience into a snappy one-liner, which would hopefully have all my friends choking on their breakfast cereal with laughter. Fortunately, over time, the novelty wore off and I stopped thinking in statuses. The here and now of the real world eventually regained priority and perspective.

However, since starting this blog, I’ve noticed the same, slightly obsessive thought process creeping back. For everything I do or see, one of the first things that comes to my head is ‘Can I blog about this?’. I know (well I hope) it’s great writing experience; not just the actual writing up of events after they’ve happened, but the way I’m learning to look and think about things while they are occurring, observing and remembering details. But it’s also a bit stifling. Where do I draw the line? What about my personal life? Should I name names? And do I need to be doing more interesting stuff, just so I can blog about it? (Or less? in case I don’t have time to blog about it?) If I’m serious about documenting my experiences, should I be reviewing every single holiday, day trip, exhibition, and social event that I go to?

If so, I’m falling way behind.

Last weekend I went to La Granja. It’s a mini Versailles, just outside of Segovia. In my opinion it’s more beautiful than the original, and as a little known destination for non-Spanish tourists, it would have been ideal to review in this blog. Off the back of my Autumn post, it’d be perfect to show some photos of royal palace gardens in all their Autumn splendour. But I didn’t take any photos, I didn’t feel like writing, and now, the moment has passed.

Some days I have the opposite problem, and want to write about the most random or everyday things. Not long ago I posted a salad recipe…kinda pushing the boundaries of the alleged ‘travel’ theme of this blog. Nor would it have been any use to my friends at home, who usually just want an honest answer to the question ‘How are you?’. Well I’m fine thanks, and eating a lot of beetroot.

So what does merit a post? Managing to peg out my washing without dropping anything on the ground? Finding a new and worthy tapas bar? Returning my library books on time?

Judging by the blogosphere, anything goes, just get it out there! But by my own criteria for this blog… well it appears I don’t have any. Ideally I’d be writing regularly about weekend escapades all over Europe. But the reality is that life at the moment isn’t much of an adventure. In fact it couldn’t be more routine or less romantic. Mondays to Thursdays are full up with school, private students and Spanish classes. I then spend all day Friday, and much of the weekend, preparing lessons and doing my homework. Like a good girl. Then perhaps I’ll go out, or perhaps I’ll just do some housework  and make a soup. Often the highlight of my day is something like not being rained on, or having dinner ready before 10pm, or finding Viña Albali on special at Mercadona. Hardly what I had in mind when I used to daydream about my amazing European adventure*, all that time ago in Melbourne. I suppose I should have guessed that it wouldn’t all be flamenco and sunbathing, that the bit about the work contract actually meant work. Though it didn’t necessarily mean that we’d be getting paid on time…

So unfortunately, until the departamento misterioso de educación figures out when, how, and if they’re going to give us our dues, life is going to be very mundane and sans adventure for the next long while.

The upside of this rather mediocre existence is that  it’s actually quite comfortable. No adventures equals no trials or tribulations, no map reading disasters, no lugging heavy backpacks, no wild nights out, no hangovers. And on weekends I have more time to relax, read, explore my immediate surroundings, navel gaze… and write awkward posts on nothing in particular…like this one.

:-)

*Although next Tuesday will be pretty exciting – I’ll have enough stamps on my coffee card to get a freebee**. This may well be the highpoint of the week!

**That means coffee and a biscuit and a tapa (which we get to choose). Oh I take back all my frustrations about Spain! Just pay me in tortilla and manchego cheese!


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Collecting nuts and berries

Stuff on seasons, some nutty haikus, and an interesting salad recipe

When I was a kid, I never liked Autumn. It was cold in the mornings and the sun only seemed to spitefully come out when I was in class. The novelty of being back at school had always worn off, and it was the part of the year with the longest wait until summer (Christmas, camping, and my birthday). I didn’t like the colour orange, or rain, or walking through the slippery decaying leaf litter which slowly built up over footpaths and potentially harboured all kinds of creepy crawlies. I wished the trees would just cut straight to being elegant wintery silhouettes, instead of torturously dropping their foliage bit by bit, losing a little more with every breath of wind, for weeks and weeks on end. The slow, stagnant piles of leaves would steadily grow into child-sized mounds, which everyone else but me delighted in diving under, to discover goodness knows what in the mucky, organic depths. One time, whilst standing aside with my hands in my pockets, I remember seeing my brother resurface from a leaf pile with a giant black moth covering his face. He brushed it away without a second thought, but I had nightmares about it for years.

Fortunately, I no longer feel socially pressured to dive into mounds of rotting leaves, and my attitude towards autumn has markedly improved. In a (possibly unprecedented) moment of maturity, it occurred to me that unless I spontaneously move to the Polar Ice Caps (unlikely) or somewhere on the Equator (now that’s an idea), there’s no way I’m escaping the inevitable shifting of seasons any time soon. So I’d better learn to just suck it up, buy some proper shoes, and stop wishing the weather would be whatever it’s not. Winter this year will be my coldest yet, an anticipated trade off for a wonderfully long and stinking hot summer. I know it’s all relative. The weather in Spain will be nothing on what the rest of Europe will face, but it seems full on to me, because I come from a place where it only snows in the mountains.

Since coming to Spain, I’ve felt much more conscious of the seasons than I ever did back home. Perhaps it’s because Melbourne has four seasons in one day, all year round, but never fully settles into any of them at the designated time. Perhaps it’s because here I spend more time in, or in view of, the country side. Or maybe it’s that the European landscape offers a more ‘Disney-like’ representation of the weather. Last Spring, when the sun came back again, the frost visibly thawed and fields of red poppies sprung up around my village. The countryside came alive with bees and butterflies, baby animals, and singing birds in every tree. I remember thinking ‘now this is what Spring is all about’. It’s an unjust discredit to the southern hemisphere, but the seasons here appear as a technicolour stereotype of how things ‘should’ be.

Or maybe the seasons aren’t all that different from back home. Perhaps it’s just because I’m in a new environment, I take better notice of my surroundings. Whatever the reasoning, I’m enjoying the new perspective. As a human lizard, it’s hard not to play favourites, but these days I’m doing my best to see the best in every season…

Summer, needs no rap from me. Some people say it gets too hot, I say it can’t get hot enough. Spring is fresh and exciting, and the countryside reminds you of Fantasia and kindergarten days. Winter, for me, justifies open fires, mulled wine, piling on layers of wonderfully hideous, un-flattering clothing, and using even the mildest case of the “sniffles” as an excuse to stay in bed and read on Saturday nights…

But in Autumn I can’t quite justify such antisocial behaviour. And norbeetroot, fig and walnut salad do I want to, because right now, it’s absolutely beautiful, I just want to get out there and be in it. I feel the need to savour every moment, soak up every drop of sunlight, and go and do as much as possible… while my energy and the sky hold out. Here in Segovia, the mornings are crisp and perfect for running, and the days (so far) are often clear and sunny. When it does rain, I realise how much I’d missed the sound and the smell. The temperature drops significantly as soon as the sun does, which is also fine, because I was getting sick of sangria anyway. Figs are in season, and currently reign as my favourite fruit. Then there are blackberries, which taste better than ever because they’re wild and they’re free. The countryside around Segovia is lush and verdant, especially compared to my dry and dusty Andalusian summer. And yes, the leaves are steadily turning orange, red, yellow and gold. As the weather gets cooler, the autumn palette warms. And the fallen leaf litter? Now it’s just an excuse to employ my favourite new Spanish word; hojarasca. I think it can best be translated as ‘scratchy-crunchy-leafy-stuff’*.

So as a (slightly tenuous) tribute to Autumn, and because they’re delicious, I’ve written a series of haikus on nuts. I really do love them. Like any good woodland creature, I’ve been busy hunting and gathering (wild berries, and packaged nuts from Mercadona) to stockpile for the colder months ahead.

I’ve also attached a recipe for the beetroot and fig salad pictured here. It was a wild experiment that turned out to be edible…

So, enjoy! The autumn hojarasca, or that sunny springtime feeling. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you like the poems, and if you make the salad, it turns out to be edible for you too!

nut haikus / interesting salad recipe

*for enquiries about my translation service, please write to me through the contact form in the sidebar. Seriously. I’m like super professional.


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CULTURE shock!!!

This weekend, for the first time in a long time, I experienced culture shock. It was nothing to do with the language, the people, or any kind of difference in customs, as I’ve been in Spain for about a year now and I’m well within my comfort zone. I’ve got used to eating dinner at 10pm, being stared at for walking too quickly, and getting woken up by marching bands. And as my Spanish seems to have magically improved (immersion works!), these days I actually understand most of what’s happening around me.

This weekend the culture shock was of a different kind; probably better described as an ‘overwhelming plethora of available cultural activities’. It was the Segovia Hay Festival, the Spanish branch of the famous literary event. Hay started 25 years ago in the UK as a writer’s festival, and has now spread to Asia, Africa, South America, and other parts of Europe. The festival primarily consists of interviews with authors and journalists, but also includes short films, art exhibitions, music concerts, and theatre.

During my past teaching stint in an isolated village, I often felt a little ‘culturally starved’. It’s not that I was ever bored, there were always plenty of parties and traditional celebrations, but Hinojosa wasn’t exactly a target destination for international touring events (it wasn’t even a destination for Spanish artists). Between that and my ever-unreliable internet, I couldn’t have been further from the forefront, of, anything. It got to the point where I couldn’t remember the last time I’d seen a live act, that wasn’t a production for primary school students (and that I didn’t have to supervise).

The result being, that small as it is*, Segovia now seems like a thriving metropolis, full of countless options for cultural enrichment. Literature with a capital “L”, avant garde theatre and so on. There’s so much to see and do, I find it kind of dizzying. And that’s without even considering the possibilities of Madrid, the proper big city which is literally on my doorstep.

So this weekend, program and umbrella in hand, I did my best to drink deep of what the Hay Festival had to offer. It was inspiring, challenging, entertaining, and kind of exhausting. Much of the content was in Spanish, which meant concentrating pretty damn hard, to follow what was being said, and then get my head around some fairly abstract and philosophical discussions. It made me conscious of just how much my mind wanders in English, where I can follow the thread of a conversation whilst simultaneously planning what I’m going to cook for dinner. In a second language, you just can’t allow yourself the luxury of a minute’s ‘brain rest’, and I don’t think I’ve focused on one thing for such extended periods since the dark ages of my uni exams.

One of the best things about the festival was that most of the events only cost 2€ to attend, some were free, and the priciest acts were still value for money at 10€ per ticket. It was great to see the Arts placed within reach of mere mortals, and I don’t think I was the only one who was rapt to score a full weekend of live entertainment for less than 20€. Here’s a quick snapshot of what I saw:

  • An interview with Phillipa Gregory (in English) on historical fiction and her writing process. It was held in a creatively lit medieval church, the perfect setting for her talk of witchcraft, war, and the barbarity of ancient times. She spoke with eloquence and enthusiasm on her area of expertise; the women of the old British royal families, their individual stories, schemes, and conspiracy theories. She explained her ordered approach to writing historical fiction, and the creative possibilities opened by gaps in history. Very few personal records remain from past centuries, because nobody wrote diaries, they were all too busy just surviving and trying to live life before they died at forty. It’s interesting that this particular genre is so popular during modern times of ‘crisis’, as it makes for such wonderful escapism, as well as a timely reminder that with running water, antibiotics and electricity, we’re really not doing too badly.
  • A ‘dramatic reading’ of Ginsberg’s Howl, in Spanish, by Mexican actor Diego Luna. It was accompanied by guitarist Jaime López, who’s moody chords and guttural backing vocals were the perfect complement to Luna’s fiery performance. At first I was sceptical about the possibility of effectively translating the poem into Spanish (which can render even the driest of English sentences romantic and saccharine), but the result was fantastic and seemingly seamless. The rolling fluidity of Spanish is perfectly suited to wild torrent of words that is Howl, and the performance left me shaky, goose-bumpy, and feeling a little mad myself.
  • An interview with controversial Norwegian writer Karl Ove Knausgård, who’s provocatively titled novel ‘Min Kamp’ has taken the Norwegian literary world by storm, and is beginning to receive no small amount of international acclaim. He talked about the aftermath of writing the epic five volume novel, which aside from fame, has provoked a harsh backlash from friends and family, and an infamous reputation within Norway. This is because the book (which I haven’t yet read, but has certainly piqued my curiosity) is a true-life scathing account of his own family, in which he exposes the flaws, personal details, and full names of every character. Not only was the interview itself fascinating, but so was the experience of listening to a live translation of Norwegian into Spanish through headsets (I felt very important, like a United Nations politician). It took a bit of adjusting to at the beginning, and eventually left me just as much as in awe of the interpreter, as fascinated by the celebrity of the moment.
  • A short film on the development of Indian English literature, from Rushdie’s groundbreaking Midnight’s Children up to the present day. I’d have liked for it to have focused a little more on magic realism (my favourite genre and the theme which was mentioned in the program), but it was more of a who’s who advertisement for the Indian Hay festival and literary world. A very effective advertisement, I must admit, as I left the cinema making a very ambitious mental note of all the new Indian authors I just can’t wait to read, as well as indulgently revisiting old favourites by Salman Rushdie and Arundhati Roy. Tooo many books to read. What a wonderful plight.
  • A fantastic discussion between an orchestra conductor and a novelist on the ‘translatability’ of music into words and vice versa. The topic sounds awfully abstract, but I was pleasantly surprised to hear some concrete ideas and poignant observations regarding the role of narrative in music, and the limitations and possibilities of each art form. (I feel suddenly conscious of the restrictions of the written word, is it too late to go back and choose another medium?!). The talk was held in the same medieval church, and was opened and closed by a string quartet which left the audience spellbound.
  • On Wednesday (it’s not over yet!) I’ll be going to an exhibition of Dutch children’s book illustrations. I was hoping to see it this weekend and squeeze in a little review here, but alas there are only so many hours in a Saturday, and the gallery is closed Sun to Tues. But the exhibition (which is free) will be open until the end of October, so for anyone in the area who’s interested in illustration, I’m pretty sure it’ll be well worth the side trip from Madrid. Let me know and we’ll grab a coffee. :-)

Suffice to say, with all this talk of books and writing, I’ve got little desire to do anything other than hole up indoors for a few weeks to read and write. Possibly not the best strategy for making new friends and a life in a new city. Plus it’s Monday now, time to get back to the real world. It’s a hard life. After all that time waiting to start work, now I’m suddenly cursing it.

But no matter. From what the locals (and my toes) are telling me, there’s a long, cold, winter ahead this year. Which means I’ll have plenty of opportunities to curl up on the couch and take comfort in words (and hot chocolate!) in months to come.


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Write here, right now. The “first” post.

This is weird.

Considering I’ve been spamming friends and family with travel reports for years, and writing a regular journal for a decade, it now feels a little odd being prompted by WordPress to get going and write an ‘opening’ post… Surely that moment has long passed! Which means my blog is already a chronologically wrangled, unsalvageable disaster…

So where am I coming from, and why am I bothering to learn all this html/CSS/widget nonsense?

Well…

Roughly this time last year, I packed up all my things, sold some bits n’ pieces, gave away the bulk of my clothes, threw out a whole lot of ‘stuff’, and left Australia on a one-way ticket to Europe. I did a brief (wonderful) scoot around France and Italy, and then made my way to a small and isolated village in the south of Spain, where I would be living and teaching English in a primary school for eight months. That was my starting point. The extended plan was to use Spain as a base to further travel Europe, and then, after magically ‘mastering’ Spanish, I would continue onwards travelling around the globe, goodness knows where, for goodness knows how long. I made no promises about my return date to the folk back home. The reasoning (impulse) behind this indefinite departure was that I wanted total ‘freedom’. Freedom from what, I’m not entirely sure. I simply felt overwhelmed by the urge to be on the road, to find some time, space, ‘inspiration’, and then think of something amazingly clever to do with those things. Sounds a bit wishy washy, and it is.

Needless to say, since leaving Australia I haven’t had any epiphanies, or even come near to being fluent in Spanish. I’ve realised I have no real desire to truly ‘break away’ from where I’ve come from, and just how lucky I am to have a place in the world that will be a pleasure to go back to, when the time comes. Meanwhile, I haven’t tired of travelling (not even close!), I am making headway with Spanish (slow and steady), and teaching English is the most gratifying work I’ve ever done. I’ve signed on for another school year (in a different part of Spain), there’s still an awful lot of Europe left to see, and after that I’ve got my sights set on a couple of other continents… so for the foreseeable, ‘day-dreamable’ future, my initial ‘plan’ hasn’t altered much at all.

As for the dismal, ever-pending onset of creativity, well my most recent excuse is that it got waylaid by an irresistible tide of Spanish hospitality. Guilty as charged. I also got sidetracked by lesson planning, taking on too many private students, fretting over Spanish verb conjugations, and running up and down a hill (to work off all the churros and chorizo). Either that or I was travelling. But somehow, I always found time write in my journal, and maintain a detailed correspondence with people at home. To be honest, waay too much time. My travel emails have grown to excessive lengths; impossible for my very busy and mostly office-bound friends to read in their tea breaks, without violating codes of responsible internet time usage. And my journal makes my emails look like haikus.

So in regards to time usage – mine clearly merits scrutiny. It’s hit me that I do a lot of writing, without doing any actual proper ‘writing’. I’ve never struggled to fill a blank page… but how and what I fill it with, is something I want to improve upon.

Which is why I’ve decided to start this blog, against all warning that it will be a very dangerous source of procrastination. I’m never going to stop telling my travel stories, because I can’t, but I can aim to make them more concise, and present them in a more attractive format. I’m also hoping that having an ‘online showcase’ will spur me on to more ambitious projects, other than only writing about myself. For those of you who are kind enough to ‘follow’ me, I’ll be adding some photos, links, articles, sketches and snippets… whatever I can find to make things interesting, and as far as possible from a narcissistic online diary (even if that’s what it is).

If I’m feeling particularly brave, I’ll publish my attempts to write in Spanish, for anyone who knows the language and feels like a laugh. Even if you’re just learning, go on and have a read… my vocabulary won’t be nearly as daunting as that of a native speaker. But keep in mind that I’ve still got my training wheels on, so if you’re looking for examples of perfect Spanish grammar, look elsewhere! And I should probably make a similar disclaimer about my English. (there it is again, the ‘and’ at the start of a sentence!)

So… that’s it really. Oh I forgot to say ‘welcome’. That’s an important part of any opening post. Well, welcome! Have a look around. If you’re curious about the name ‘ciento volando’, check out the ‘about’ page. If you’d like to read my past travels (perhaps whilst planning yours), I’ve uploaded some old emails and backdated them… hopefully this isn’t a major breach of blogging etiquette/regulation. I promise I won’t fiddle with any more dates. (But that’s no fun! Perhaps I’ll write the next entry from the future…)

I digress. Old posts/emails can be found in the archives on the right. They aren’t nearly as dusty as real archives, how ’bout that?!

It appears that at  circa 1,000 words I go all stupid. Which is why in I must endeavour to write shorter posts.

Anyway, thank you for reading this far, and I hope you’ll stick around. Please feel welcome to leave me feedback, criticism, ‘likes’, ‘dislikes’, ‘hahahas’, ‘jajajas’, or even just a nice old ‘hello’ from time to time.

jean