Monday, October 27, 2008

Day to Day

We finished the first week of classes a little incredulous; it’s hard work, and hard to believe that so much time has passed. We arrive at the school each day at 9, having been awakened by churchbells behind our house around 8 (if we slept through the set at around 7; time here is approximate) The pattern is the same, the number of repetitions varies. Some of us might write a rap song as a teaching tool, based on the churchbells.

We have a series of classes, different each day, on teaching methods, classroom management, lessons in an unknown language so we experience some of what our students go through, grammar and sentence structure, games and exercises, lesson planning, and actual teaching. We break briefly between each class, and for lunch/siesta around 2, to return at 5 to observe, to teach, or to take more classes. We finish around 8:30 for dinner, though the schedule is very fluid and changeable. Sometimes we have only an hour for lunch, so we can work on lesson planning for that evening’s students.

We have lots of homework, some of it solidifying what we already know, and drawing from our own learning or teaching experience, and others are for practicing new skills. We usually have a couple of days to do each paper, which can be up to three pages of essay.

Our house has stucco walls, tile floors, exposed beams, and a spiral staircase. It is over 400 years old. The houses are limestone, all one right against the next without any space, along the stone-paved street. The front door is a vaguely Mondrian metal grid, with a swing-away reinforced bubble glass insert, something akin to a storm door in NH. We turn on the water heater twenty minutes before taking a shower; the third floor bathroom has solar water heating, like many other houses here. Toilet paper goes in a bin, not down the toilet; the sewer systems here and in other parts of the world can’t accept paper, and the consequences have been described to us; we’re doing well remembering. All of the windows have shutters but no screens; if you want ventilation with privacy, you close the shutters and leave the window open.

The streets in this old section are narrow, wide enough for a scooter or a donkey, I suppose. A car could come through, though very slowly; there is a lot of life in the streets. Our street is called Eleftheriou Dorothea. The sidewalks on the larger streets are tiled. The streets are cobblestone of various types.

There are fewer people out and about since I came a week and a half ago. October wraps up the tourist season, and it has started to get colder these last few days. We might decide to wear socks, or to put on a sweatshirt. Today, the wind is blowing out of the north and piling the waves onto the stone-edged harbor. The restaurants around the water have all put up transparent walls to keep out the wind and spray. Some shops are packing up for the year. If we see something we like, we’d better get to it soon.

Two of our group have gone to Santorini, which is apparently a must-see, except that the ferry ride made a few passengers very uncomfortable, and the ferry coming back was cancelled because of rough weather. They’ll make a roundabout ferry trip through Athens and back to Crete, or fly instead. Santorini is an island north of Crete, perched on top of a volcano, and is very picturesque. The ride up the very steep hill from the port to the town was traditionally done via donkey; there are taxis and cars to do it now, but is just as precarious.

We often eat at Steki, or To Steki, which means “the Place”. It is a family restaurant right next door, closer than most college dining halls, and Johnny is the manager. He is originally from Albania, and we love him, as, I think, do most people who meet him. He takes our orders, serves us, brings a glass of wine, joins us between serving other people. The wine carafe is bottomless. It takes hours to eat dinner. Johnny turned 30 in September, and is training his nephews in the business. A couple of times, we’ve been to seafood restaurants beside the harbor. We walked past one where the boats come in and were offered a grilled seafood plate for four, for what we thought was 14 Euro. It turned out to be 40, but was still good deal. Not everyone heard the fish part, though, and thought there was meat in a “mixed” grill, so we had a lot left over. We had calamari rings, tiny whole octopus, six-inch tentacles, bream, snapper, shrimp, sardines, bourbonia. I wish we’d thought of asking to bring it home. The little fish were cooked whole, the way we do smelts. I was very happy.

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