Sunday, 7 September 2008

Testing Times

Yes, I am back! And using my own Mac, in my own house!

It would be unforgivably boring to tell you how I solved the problem, if it is indeed solved. I think it is the combination of duct tape, cuss-words, and a spaghetti of new cables that somehow did it. Let´s see how long it lasts.

I took the driving theory exam on Friday, a dark and blustery day. It was 30 multiple-choice questions in 30 minutes, and was probably the toughest exam I have ever taken -- and I´ve taken some killer tests in my time. (I studied World War I under Judge Bernie Scherer at St. Vincent College, back in 1980. He used blank "blue books" in which students wrote extended, essay-type answers to a selection of questions written on the blackboard. His first final exam question? "Name and explain the primary historical causes of the First World War in one of the Eastern European countries initially involved, as typified by individual, named persons who were part of the action. I want causes, NOT effects. Archduke Ferdinand does not count.")

Judge Scherer did all his work in English, though, and to me that makes a helluva lot of difference. I am allowed to miss three questions on the driving exam. I know of at least two I missed for sure. I will learn tomorrow morning if I passed. (I will pass, eventually. And when I do, I will be immensely proud of myself!)

I´m not the only maybe-achiever. Little Juli, our long-suffering young teacher friend who is the only English-speaker in Moratinos besides us, was finally offered a full-time teaching position. She´ll be working in a tiny town in Soria, a depopulated desert area way to the east that is somewhat akin to Wyoming. It´s not terribly desirable to most people, but Juli´s accustomed to living out in the middle of nowhere. This is a rarely-seen, year-long posting and she will be working with primary-age kids. (she had a really tough time last spring when she was posted to teach English to the pubescent punks of Ponferrada. They ate her for lunch.)

She learned about the new job on Friday. She starts on Wednesday. She is over the moon. I hope this will be the job she´s been waiting for. We will miss her.

San Lorenzo Church, the 13th-century brick Mudejar jewel in Sahagún, is trying to fall down. A big arch inside has collapsed a week ago, and the southwest crossing outside is sagging toward the plaza. You´ve gotta feel pretty tired after standing up straight for 700 or so years, and gravity just doesn´t let up. A local construction company rushed in with hydraulic jacks and timbers and barricades, just to stop any further collapse. But there´s a big hole in the wall, and the roof is failing now. It will take millions to fix. And the Junta de Castilla y Leon moves on these things with glacial speed. (they´ve got TONS of 700+-year-old buildings to take care of, and they can´t keep up. And money is tight all around.)

The other news, somewhat in keeping with the four-legged theme I´ve been following lately, is our attendance yesterday at a Corrida de Rejones in Palencia -- a display of mounted bullfighting. It was three men, ("rejoneadores,") equipped with teams of fabulously trained and athletic horses. While mounted, armed with darts and swords and lances, each of them in his turn took on a 600-kilo fighting bull, with an audience of thousands cheering them on.

I am a great lover of horses and horsemanship, and these corridas are a perfect show of how many of the complicated moves seen in dry-as-a-bone Dressage competitions and down-and-dirty rodeos developed out in the fields to serve a livelier purpose. If the horse doesn´t obey the rider´s commands, they both are toast. And with a bull at your tail, hell-bent on killing you, your riding takes on a keen edge.

Add in a few required moves, and beautiful horses, and a brass band playing Paso Dobles, you have a heckuvva crowd-pleasing show.

(I´ll try to put a video in here. Try to ignore the overblown music.)

Paddy and I were guests of Jose Antonio, the builder who saved our hides earlier this year. Otherwise we would never have gone. And we will not go back again, we agreed. Lovely as most of it was, we just can´t take the endings. The bulls give their best, too, in a life-or-death struggle. And the bulls always die, right there before your eyes, in a great bloody display. The second bull of the day was a noble, beautiful beast. He made Pablo Hermoso de Mondoza look like a young god, and then he died of multiple stab wounds and was dragged out of the ring by a team of mules. Mendoza strutted ´round the ring on his beautiful Arab mare, with both the bull´s ears held aloft in victory. What an asshole.

I looked at Patrick, and saw he was crying, too. What a couple of soppy Anglos!

So... next time how about some recipes?


Deirdre said...

So happy to see that your back online! I'm sure the driving test will be fine! I saw Pablo Mendoza in Valencia during a festival week in July, 2005. I had never seen a bullfight on horseback before and it is truly an astonishing display. Even though I was a reasonably accomplished rider, I have never been able to see how man and horse stay together. Was this your first corrida? Culturally significant, but very difficult to watch. said...

we saw a corrida three years ago (two matadors and one rejoneador), at a small-town fiesta in Extremadura. It was Amateur Hour, a real horror show. At least these guys were professionals, so the bulls didn´t suffer so long.
I can truly understand the WHY. I just can´t get my mind around the HOW part. And that´s why I am still American, I guess!

Anonymous said...

Sacred cows make the best burgers if you cook them just right ! But then, mi tia was a matadora.

Those tickets are ususlly very hard to get. I'll go for you next time !


45N93W said...

Bullfighting, with flamenco, is one of those Spanish topics where generalization is dangerous. For example, Flamenco is certainly not "typical or traditional Spanish music" and bullfighting has never been a tradition in regions like Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Baleares and the Canary Islands, although it might have been imported recently with mixed success. At least in Galicia only the town of Pontevedra has a place for bullfights.

claire said...

So very glad you solved your computer problem, Rebekah. Life without your blog just did not taste the same.
All is well in my world, now!

Anonymous said...

Very happy to know you're back online! I make it a point to check your blog daily and enjoy it very much. Wishing you the best!

Bonnie Ruiz