Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An interesting website for making word lists

"Wordle" allows users to create word lists - for teaching, for fun of for other purposes - based on word frequency. Input the text manually or enter a url of a webpage that you want to have searched. It generates a customizable, visually appealing list with the most common words in the largest text. You can also customize language, layout, font and color before printing or saving it to their online gallery.

Friday, December 12, 2008


The other day I tried my hand at making this classic dish from Córdoba. Although some establishments serve it where I am one hour away from there, it is more typical of that region west of here. This fresh tomato dish is the perfect accompaniment to a good loaf of French bread.

2 lbs fresh tomatoes
1 or 2 cloves of garlic
3 slices of bread (old and dry is fine)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt to taste
red wine vinegar (opt)

Blend using in food processor, blender or hand blender until mixture reaches an even consistency similar to a thick soup. Serve in a bowl topped with diced hard boiled egg diced bacon. Slice up a loaf of French bread and enjoy the dip.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lonely Planet Andalucia

I found a link to Lonely Planet's Andalucia guidebook online. Plan your next trip to visit me using this Google book.,M1

Friday, November 21, 2008

Move over Lonely Planet, Wikipedia

While dreaming about potential Christmas break plans I stumbled upon LookLex. This website offers in-depth travel information on destinations from Persia to Arabia to the Middle East and the Maghreb. Click the link below to scroll through the site's fairly well written and very informative descriptions and see the large, quality photos. When in comes to online travel resources for the Arabic speaking world, LookLex is your source for a wealth of information.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

A day in Cordoba

This weekend I went with my roommates on a day trip to Cordoba, just an hour away by train. The once capital of Al-Andalus, the Moorish kingdom of southern Spain, is rich in history and architecture. We visited the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, a military styled building constructed in 1328. By far the most well-known and impressive architecture of Cordoba can be found in what is now called La Mesquita. Originally built as a mosque (mezquita) in the eight century its was, like many others converted into a cathedral. It's quite a sight.

As we walked through Cordoba's central plaza we came across a group of people protesting "la crisis financiera". I am not sure what the public reaction or perception of the financial crisis in the States, but it is interesting to see the response to it here. I made my way through the gathering crowd and tried to get a copy of the pamphlets they were passing out, but they didn't have any more. Sigh. It was my first Spanish protest that I have been part of!

Check out my photos of my weekend at:

Monday, November 10, 2008

Dam west of town

Olives, anyone?

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Finally, Some Updates

After creating my blog about a month ago now I am finally getting around to posting more stuff. We just got internet in our apartment this past Thursday. I am no longer dependent on the slow computers at school or the local library. Yea!

I have been getting my money’s worth out of my bicycle (my Sekai 2400) that I brought over. We had no class the Monday following All Saints’ Day, and I spent some of that time on by bike exploring the network of roads that zig zag through the nearby hills. The riding is great if you enjoy climbing steep twisty grades and later rewarding yourself by flying down the narrow winding blacktop. Watch out for cars!

The last week of October was a fun one at school since we did Halloween related activities during most of the English classes. The highlight of the week – at least for me – was the Jack O’Lantern that I carved. The kids really got a kick out of it when we would lower the binds, switch off the lights and light the candle. It was the first time most had seen a glowing pumpkin with a face. Little kids’ expressions and reactions are the best!

Several weeks back I went to Madrid with the other English assistant at my school. We took in a few of the “must see” museums like el Museo del Prado and Reina Sofia. It was cool to see some of the famous paintings especially of Piccasso and Goya. Madrid has no shortage of historic plazas and palaces of which we saw a few. Of course, I had to go to the botanical garden there as well. They had quite a mix of flora there – I’m not really sure how they get such diversity of plants and trees to grow in that single environment. Included in the collection were such exotic species as red pine and sugar maple.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Shot of the sierra landscape and reservoir below

A church in the Sierra de Andújar just north of my city

Travel Tip of the Day

Get a Harvard Alumni Association credit card through Barclay Bank, a British bank that has survived the recent financial troubles and bought part of Lehman Bros. They convert purchases into USD at a decent rate, but do not assess the typical 2-3% “foreign transaction fee”.


As I walked down the streets my first morning here I heard a simple melody echoing off the concrete walls and brick pavement. A block away a man with a panpipe strolled along blowing his tune. Much like the ice cream truck lures people with its jingle, the Spanish knife sharpener man uses a woodwind to let potential customers know his mobile sharpening station is on the street. When was the last time you heard that?

Getting Settled

I just now broke down and decided to start a blog. I figure this is a good way for people to keep up on my comings and goings in Spain.

I arrived here in Spain the evening of September 1 and, after a short ride on the Madrid Metro and a five hour bus ride, got to Andújar at midnight. One of the English teachers, Antonio met me there and took me to a hotel. After spending the first few nights in a hotel at 30 Euros per night, I finally found a piso/flat/apartment. Two girls in my program (Maja from Wisconsin and Laura from Belfast) had a decent, centrally located place and were looking for a third roommate.


The first half week was my introduction to my school, Cristo Rey, a combined kindergarten and elementary school. I met a bunch of the teachers and staff and sat in on several of the lower level English classes. There are over 200 kids between kindergarten and elementary levels. Antonio teaches kids aged from 5 to 7 and Lola from 8 to 12. The younger kids have English twice a week and the older three times a week. My class time there will be split evenly between the 200+ kids there. So far the students seem fun and fairly well-behaved. I look forward to getting to know them.