I’m back in Madrid after a long bus ride from Gredos. The resort in Gredos was where the Vaughan program took place between Anglo volunteers and Spaniards who work for an energy company based in Madrid.
I was a volunteer with fifteen other people from the United Kingdom, Ireland, and one from the Canary Islands. I was the only person from the United States.
Ellen, a volunteer from Ireland, sat behind me on the bus and neither one of us slept, as most everyone else did, so we kept each other company pointing out that the small villages we drove through looked desolate.
For over one hour neither one of us saw a human being. Then I spotted a man in green overhauls at a car repair shop. The next time was at the pit stop. “Pit stop” for the fifteen Spaniards who may be reading my blog, means a stop for a bathroom break, or for coffee, tea or to stretch.
The ‘sleepers’ got off the bus looking tired from waking up and I was wide awake, as I usually am while traveling. The problem is, I’m afraid I might miss something, so I cannot sleep.
Tonight, however, I’m tired but I know there are ‘readers’ awaiting the newest news from this senior traveler and blogger.
Today, the Spaniards received well-earned diploma’s signed by Richard Vaughan, the owner and founder of the Vaughan program. The diplomas were handed to each Spaniard by Program Manager Marisa with the help of Master of Ceremonies and actress Carlota. Nearly every Spaniard had something to say about what they got from the program.
The Anglos also received a certificate of appreciation for the time and effort they put in to helping the Spaniards become efficient in English.
Some of the idioms we taught them are listed here: ‘fancy pants’, ‘to ask out’, ‘to cut back on’, ‘paint the town red’, ‘pie in the sky’, ‘a pipe dream’, ‘fly off the handle’, ‘to wrap up’, ‘zero tolerance’, ‘to calm down’, ‘it costs an arm and a leg’, ‘to pitch in’, ‘to drag on’, ‘five o’clock shadow’, ‘to slip up’, ‘a fuddy-duddy’, ‘party-pooper’, ‘a pipe dream’, ‘to butter up’, are just a few of those the Spaniards learned and used in conversation throughout the week.
I found that I really had to think about how to explain some of these idioms, as we English speakers just use them without thinking of the literal translation or even how they got into our language. I think some of them make sense, and others must come through our English folklore, and are used without analysis.
One thing I know for sure, everyone will take memories back to their home from the week-long program. I certainly will.
One funny thing I will always remember came from when Oscar told a few of us about his participation in keeping his home in order.
“I have to take off and put back on the bed over 200 cousins,” Oscar said. Ellen laughed and said, “Cousins? I think you mean cushions.”
“Oh, yes, cushions.” And he admitted that the number 200 was a bit exaggerated, that there were only six cushions and they were made of single color, some were stripped, and some were of flowers.
That brought up a whole conversation between me, Oscar, Ellen and Amanda about decorating in general, and making beds in particular. They laughed when I told them I preferred an unmade bed because it was more like a “nest”.
“What did I do…marry, a bird?” My husband said when I admitted that to him.
There were many humorous moments, and during the entertainment hour where at one time of another, nearly everyone performed in some sort of skit or improv.
It was a great week, everyone said, and I believe many friendships were born. When the bus dropped us off at the hotel, where the week began, there were plenty of hugs and kisses and ‘good byes’.
It is one of the best times so far I have had since being on this journey.