Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Autumn in Burgos

Calle de San Lorenzo, Burgos, Spain
 (click image to enlarge)
Photo/Text © 2012 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.

Well, it’s been just over a month since I’ve published a blog post.

The reasons are at least threefold: 1) I wanted the 30 September announcement of our English language tuition services to be prominently displayed for folk here in Burgos when they visited Mindful Living Guide, most likely after having seen one of the 1,000 flyers we’ve thus far distributed around the city; 2) we’ve been busy teaching those students who’ve since come to us to improve their English, be it conversational or written; and, 3) Mufidah and I have been spending a lot of time getting to know Burgos — walking, walking, walking, taking hundreds of photographs, most recently focusing on our Instagram photos (you can see mine here and Mufidah’s here), and, of course, writing.


 (click image to visit the NaNoWriMo website)

And now that it’s November, we’ve both taken it upon ourselves to commit to participating in NaNoWriMo. You can read about my NaNoWriMo experience last November here. This year, at the time of writing this blog post (5 November), I already have 12,600 words of the month-long 50,000-word goal. So, theoretically, for those who like to play number games, I’m on track to reach 75,000-plus words by month’s end.

However, I’m not committing to that goal.

Rather, I’m sticking, at least for now, to the original 50,000-word commitment, but squirreling away a few extra thousand words just in case I decide I need a break or something unforeseen finds its way into our life here in Burgos and keeps me from my ideal of writing at least 2,000 words a day, taking at most one day off a week.

The other thing I should tell you is that I’m not working on a novel for this year’s NaNoWriMo. You can read more here about what my approach is for NaNoWriMo 2012.

I can also report that we’re very much enjoying our time in this beautiful and vibrant city, the ancient capital of Castile. If you haven’t already looked at our Instagram photos via the links above, I’d suggest you do so as a means to get a quick visual idea as to the city which is presently our home.

What else?

We’re also enjoying teaching English in Burgos. Our students range from those writing their PhD dissertations to those who’ve completed theirs and who want to improve their conversational or written English, to school-aged kids whose English is already brilliant but who, likewise, want to become wholly fluent or to prepare for spending a year or more in an English-speaking country. In between, I’ve helped a filmmaker bone up on his English as a means to prepare for a telephone interview with an organization in New York, and we work regularly with a number of local executives and professionals — as well as a career-long (native Spanish) secondary school English teacher — to improve their English.

I’ve also been adding creative (and academic) writing sessions to the mix with a number of my students who are keen to improve their writing, generally, as well as their written English, some as a means to begin publishing articles in professional journals or general periodicals. So that’s been a lot of fun, and particularly satisfying.

But the best part about teaching folk here is all that they so enthusiastically share with us about themselves, and what they love about Burgos and Spain as a whole. All sorts of insider knowledge comes with this work — including which bars have the best tapas, places that we absolutely must visit when we have the chance, and historical context regarding all sorts of cultural events, local goings-on, and so on and so forth.

And just today (Monday 5 November — not in Lewes where all hell’s breaking loose as I write), Mufidah and I started working with a psychologist, not to shrink our minds!, but to expand our Spanish language abilities.

We’ll be meeting each Monday morning for a couple hours, spending one hour helping Marta to improve her already excellent English, including written English, and another hour with her helping us to improve our Spanish (she’s also an experienced Spanish as well as French teacher). Today we met at her central Burgos office for the first hour, and then walked to one of our favorite cafés to learn Spanish over cafés con leche y bocadillos de tortilla. We’re thrilled about this new development, and hope to make speedy progress.

That’s pretty much it, as it’s getting late. And I need to continue cranking on my NaNoWriMo writing before hitting the sack with The Wind in the Willows, which I’ve been rereading on my iPhone. This is, likewise, quite a nifty development.

With just my phone, I’ve thus far read and reread the Gospel of Matthew, Thoreau’s “Walking”, Wilfred Owen's war poems, and Bella Dodd’s confessions about her time as a leading figure in the U.S. Communist Party before realizing, with horror and regret, how she and countless others were exploited as “useful idiots” (with countless more, still today, who continue to be blindsided, as I once was, by benevolent-seeming progressive political activism) to further “progressive” ideals which, by design, have destroyed our educational systems, our constitutional governments, family cohesion, and much besides.

And there are many other e-books lined up which I’m looking forward to reading or rereading, all via the same pocket-sized device I use to send and receive emails, make phone calls, send text messages, and to take thousands and thousands of photographs, and much more. An amazing thing, really, and particularly useful while living on the road, and stopping hither and thither to dig deep into certain places, like Burgos and Vichy, along the way.

All for now. Love to all our friends, students and other loved ones in various parts of this quite small and particularly precious world which we all share. ¡Hasta luego!