03 March, 2007

happy birthday Day one!

39..39…39..It’s just a number which reflects the number of years I have been on this planet. It is also the last year I can honestly say “I’m in my thirty’s”. What does this mean…does it actually mean anything?? I got tired of people saying “Wow! You are 38, you don’t look 38! How exactly is a 38 year old supposed to look? How does a 39 year old look??? Hell next year I’ll be 40, what will I look like then…I imagine not much different, just a couple more gray hairs and a few more wrinkles. I feel like people expect me to be different, like slower or something. I don’t like telling people my age, but not because I am ashamed or embarrassed or something about it, but because I get that “Really?”, “No way”, or “Wow…” I now know why my mom used to get pissed when someone would say that about her…I used to think “Mom, just be proud that you look young”, but I understand now. I just want to be “Me” not “Me at 39”, not “Me at 40”. I look at my future and don’t see much difference in then and now…probably a different country, but not a different life. At this moment, I am sitting enjoying a cafe cortado at a beach café and a few moments ago an “old” gray haired woman was walking along the beach. She had a walking stick in each hand and was just moving steadily, slowly and seemingly without a care in the world, as her small dog was scooting along at her feet. She looked content and happy…and that is all that really matters in this life…not age.

All that said…..I did have one of the best birthday’s I can remember! I do love celebrating my birthday and since I was born at 1:10 in the morning, the whole day is mine! This year the celebrations started on Saturday the 24th. During my morning class with 16-17 year olds, as they were getting bored with the lesson, I told them that if we do one more page, then we can stop for the day and just talk (to practice their English). They promptly finished the lesson and proceeded to grill me on their typical topic of choice “my life”. I told them my birthday was the next day and they got really excited and said they wanted to buy me a cake, so being the “cool” teacher that I am I said sure and the 8 of them left. About 20 minutes later, I casually asked A, the receptionist at the academy if she thinks they are coming back, ha ha. They finally did and shooed me out of the classroom and shut the door. About 10 minutes later they told me to come in and there on the table was a plate of misc. Spanish sweets with tons of lit candles sticking out all over. As I entered they sang “Happy Birthday” to me and I was cracking up at the amount of candles. I blew them out and we all devoured the sweets! They then inquired as to what I was doing on the “big day” and when I mentioned I was going camping with a “guapo”, they giggled and said they wanted to hear ALL about it next week! I think I will be able to have them finish about 3 pages in the workbook before divulging my day.

After class I rushed home from the train station to pack for the “camping” trip. It was a surprise for me, since I didn’t know where we were going, only that it would involve hiking in the mountains. My friend M picked me up at 3:30 and we proceeded to drive for about 1.5 hours away from the coast into the mountains. We ended up at Penagalosa, the highest point in the Castellon region. The little town was so quiet and beautiful. We walked around the town and then settled in a bar/restaurant and had a cortado tocado de bailey’s. An espresso with Bailey’s Irish Crème, yum. We just sat there for about 2 hours talking and just enjoying the atmosphere. We decided to stay there for dinner instead of going to another restaurant. M asked the waiter to prepare grilled vegetables and other food without meat, which the normal Spanish response is “a quizzical look, a suggestion of just a little ham and then a sigh when told , no”. The end result was (as it always is) amazing. First course a couple of eggs on a plate with a huge chunk of grilled fresh cheese and homemade bread with some wine. The next course was a plateful of various veggies (artichoke, asparagus, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms….) drizzled with olive oil and grilled to perfection. We ate relishing in the wonderful taste of these locally grown veggies and the beautiful presentation of such. After that there was the flan, which normally I pass on since it tends to taste way too sweet, but I was informed that we “have” to get it since it is made a special way by the restaurant and the waiter was obviously not going to take no for an answer. Since the man was forced to prepare us a dinner without his precious Spanish ham, I decided to allow him the pleasure of serving us his house speciality….and was I glad I did, it was indescribable and delicious with a low sweetness level.

After finishing the entire meal as well as the bottle of wine, I couldn’t have been more content. We walked around the town a little more looking for a place to have a final café before retiring for the night. There wasn’t any that could compare to what we just experienced, so we headed for the campgrounds…an old church/hostel, which used to be used by migrating Arabs on their pilgrimage to some holy place hundreds of years ago and at the stroke of midnight I had the pleasure of having "Cumpleaños Feliz" sung to me :-)

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