On a crisp, cool morning I met several Spanish friends next to a golden brick church in Salamanca, Spain. We were on our way to tour a bodega, a local winery, in Castile Leon. After a tour of the facilities, a cozy dining hall with dark-colored wood and long tables bedecked in white linen awaited. This homey room had been set aside just for the group to try more wines not available at the tasting, accompanied by rich, savory Spanish cuisine.
The starter was a rich stew of potatoes so soft they fell apart on the spoon and thick chunks of meat, swimming in a thick broth of oil, tomatoes, and spices. The main course was fall-off-the-bone roast, again cooked to perfection. The desserts were a series of pastries, not too sweet or sugary, served up on a platter. With each new dish of the main meal, another wine accompanied; many from the top-shelf collection.
This delicious experience of great wine and food is one of the many opportunities I have had in the past few years as an English teacher. I was on this trip with my colleagues from the high school where I taught English as a language assistant. Teaching English has allowed me to go on trips such as this one for next to nothing and meet new people.
I only work four days a week (just three or four hours a day), and each weekend I get to choose what new experience I will have. Sometimes I’ll take long walks through the golden city where I live at night, accompanied by droves of Spaniards also out for their paseo, or daily walk. Other times I sit on a bench in the Plaza Mayor, voted the prettiest town square in Spain, and watch the people. Everyone from teenagers to families to people well past retirement pass me by.
Other weekends I travel Spain or Europe. I took a spur of the moment trip to Burgos, Spain, to see the most beautiful and intact medieval cathedral. While there I explored a castle, marveled at the original entrance gates to the city walls, and learned about the oldest human remains found in Europe at a museum. A different weekend I explored my own city, walking the Roman bridge, climbing the towers of the cathedral for a view of the city, and admiring vibrant flowers in a monastery.
My weekend trips outside of Spain have taken me to Rome to see the Colosseum, Paris to see the Eiffel Tower, and England to see Stonehenge. With my long weekends I have viewed the westernmost point of Europe and the British Museum.
Teaching English is rewarding in many ways. I spend my days discussing Spanish and American culture with children eager to practice spoken English and the nights joining Spanish friends for tapas. We view film clips and listen to music to practice my native language. Teaching English is a fulfilling job that allows me to travel and experience the world.
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