Thursday, December 27, 2012

Colombian Christmas Part 2: La comida

One of the most important components of any holiday celebration is the food. During Christmas time, the most important dishes are buñuelos and natilla. I actually got to make both of these dishes back in the United States for my Spanish club. It was a big hit. My husband gave his stamp of approval, and since being in Colombia, he has been telling everyone that his Irish-American wife can cook.

Now, that I have gotten my first batch under control. I can learn to try different flavors. When we arrived, my father-in-law had some leftovers for us. The natilla he left us was cinnamon flavored. The one I made was more coconut-flavored.

A friend from high school had contacted me about a week ago asking me what to make her Colombian daycare provider. I totally her make natilla. Not only will she love it, but it is really easy to make. She wrote me back to thank me for the recipe and said that it made this woman's day.

Making food for me serves two purposes - teaching people about another culture and bringing a piece of home to those who live far away from the place where they grew up.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Colombian Christmas Part 1: Día de las Velitas

Christmas is celebrated in many different ways in various parts of the world. Right after Thanksgiving, my husband and I bought decorations for our apartment. For the first time, he hung lights and helped me decorate our little tiny Christmas tree. We also listened to Christmas music that I have grown up hearing. However, being the bi-cultural couple that we are, it would only be fair to include some of his customs.

One of them is Día de las Velitas (Day of the little Candles) in Colombia. It starts in most places on December 7th, the eve of the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Colombia is a very Catholic country, and this holiday reflects that tradition. Although when I was teaching it to the students, I didn't go too deeply into origin of the holiday. The pictures of the holiday was all that they were interested in anyway.

To incorporate this holiday into our house, we lit candles and listened to some of the traditional Christmas music that they sing in Colombia. They are called villancicos. Of course, the most famous one is "El burrito sabanero". My favorite version is the one sung by Juanes who by the way I am going to see this June when he comes to Boston. :)

The other thing I love about Colombia are the decorations. In Quimbaya, Colombia they are well known for the faroles, or paper lanterns, which they display on December 7th. Medellin, another city, is one of the 5 best cities to see Christmas lights in the world.

I hope one day to be able to see these beautiful sights in person and not just in people's home videos.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Taking ACTFL's OPIc language test

After speaking Spanish for almost twenty years (I guess I am giving you a clue to my age) and speaking Spanish at home with my husband, I was curious to see what I would score on a proficiency test.

How does a teacher go about finding out his/her level of proficiency? Well, the Massachusetts Test  for Educator Licensure (MTEL) just tells you if you pass the exam or not based on the overall score which they have set at 240. It does not indicate what oral proficiency level the teacher needs to have since the oral section is only scored on a 1-4 point scale. It is hard to really assess the teacher's ability with only one oral sample. Interestingly enough, Pearson Education, Inc. makes the exam. I guess they are the ones who correct it, too? Not sure.

However, there are two internationally well known exams that you can take. The first test is called OPIc which stands for Oral Proficiency Interview - Computer. It is a test administered and correct by ACTFL, America's leading foreign language institution. Salem State University where I did my teacher educator program does tell its candidates what level they expect in order to be granted a degree (Advanced-Low), and the school is an ACTFL testing site as well.  (Click here for a link to the descriptions of the various proficiency levels set by ACTFL.)

There is another test that also determines proficiency levels. It's called the Diploma de Espanol como Lengua Extranjera, or the DELE. ( The Instituto Cervantes administers it, the University of Salamanca creates and corrects it, and the Spanish Ministry of Education, Culture, and Sport supports it. For the highest level C2, there are three different exams - (1) the use of language, and reading/listening comprehension (2) integrated skills: listening and reading comprehension, and written expression and interaction (3) integrated skills, reading comprehension, and oral expression and interaction. It definitely looks challenging.

Ultimately, it was much more convenient for me to take the OPIc at Salem State because it's not as expensive  ($65 vs $161) or as long (40 minutes vs 90 minutes) as the DELE. I got to the language lab at Salem State, and logged in. I had to fill out a background questionnaire in which I identified what level I thought I was at, what job I currently have, and some of my interests. I felt as if I could handle a variety of situations, both formal and informal, concrete and abstract - especially since I have worked and studied in Spanish for many years now so I checked the highest level. Then, I chose education for my job. The last section I was told was really the most important. The key is to pick topics that you know that you can speak the most about. I chose cooking, dancing, music, and travelling internationally for pleasure. Even though I do participate in sports and other recreational activities, I felt as if I did not have sufficient vocabulary to be able to carry on a conversation so I clicked that I do not participate in anything.

After a warm-up question about the weather, the test began. The avatar, Ana, asked me several questions about my family and what my responsibilities were in the household. The questions grammatically got harder, and it was a matter of trying to recognize what they are testing. Also, the length that I was expected to speak got longer and longer with the longest being 2 minutes. The next group of questions concerned food. Since I am the principal cook in the house and familiar with Colombian cuisine, I really felt confident in those sections. I was asked what I like to cook (Colombian food!!), when was the last time I cooked and what, and when was the last time that a meal didn't go as well as I had hoped. The next section then got more serious as I had to start talking about the economy. I mentioned the crisis in Spain for that one. There was also a question about what role the government should take in managing the economy. Since this was right before the presidential election, it was not hard for me to think of something to say. Finally, I was asked to talk about issues inside of our own borders. I talked about the issues regarding immigration. I felt confident overall except one question where I spaced out halfway through forgetting what the question was. I just kept talking about the topic instead of leaving dead air. Overall, there were 17 questions. My results will come back in about two weeks or so. I look forward to seeing what they are.

After taking the exam, I had a new understanding of exactly what it must be like for an student to take the AP Spanish exam. Especially the new exam that they are putting out in 2014. I think it's a good idea for all Spanish teachers to take it so we know what exactly is expected of us and as well as our students. With better insight, we can better prepare our students to pass the AP Exam with high scores and to obtain high levels of proficiency that will serve them well in college, the workplace, and the world.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Tips for Advocacy: Spanish Clubs

A language club is a great way to enhance your foreign language program. It shows that your language department as an important member of the school community, and it provides a great place for passionate language students to network and socialize with others who have common interests. It's also a great way to get publicity for the department. Get your administration to stop by a meeting or have a student write something about what they do in the school newspaper. Finally, it’s a way you too can connect with the community. The more people know about the language club and the program in general, the more support that will come your way.

The responsibility of advising a club is really what you make of it. If you really think outside the box, you can find plenty to do with a language club. This year, I will be starting the second Spanish Club in my career, and I am excited about it. Sometimes, I think others shy away from the responsibility of advising a club because of the perceived "work" it might be. I am here to show you that it's really what you make of it. If you really think outside the box, you can find plenty to do with the Spanish Club. Below I am going to outline what I have done with my Spanish Club in the past as well as a few new ideas I have for my soon-to-be Spanish Club.

1. Club Day

Most schools have a day where the students can showcase what their club does in the hopes of recruiting more people to join. First, get the students to create posters and flyers. It's a great way for the members to get to know each other. It's also a good time to figure out who your student leaders are going to be for that year. This is very important since many of the students are both motivated by the subject and the possibility of having a leadership role for their college application. Remember these are the possible foreign languages teachers of the future.

What we used for Club Day
2. Día de los Muertos

This one is a great activity to start the school year off with. Please, really do the holiday justice. Get your students to understand the origins of the Día de los Muertos and the symbolism behind the different cultural artifacts. Have them watch movies and then follow it up with a discussion. Also, a hands-on celebration really makes the event more memorable for them.

I want my students to understand that it's not a "Mexican" Halloween. In the past, we have recreated altars and incorporated all the important elements - food, water, flowers, sugar skulls, mementos of that person's life, candles, and pictures. I had them watch movies and then it was followed up with a discussion. Also, I have made sugar skulls the past two years which are actually really easy to make. The students really enjoy decorating the skulls. I think it's a good creative outlet for them.

Last year, we got to have this decorate the cafeteria. 

Two years ago, we made an altar for a student who had passed away.
3. Social Issues

It’s important to have foreign language students really become global citizens. To do that, it’s important to tackle some important social issues in different areas of the world. Provide examples of passionate people who used their language skills to help people in need. We need to provide positive role models for the teenagers today so they can use language to make the world a better place. 

One day, last year, we had a great discussion about social issues pertaining to Latin America. One of them had to do with TOMS shoes. Yes, the new "hot" must have shoe. After watching some of the videos about the company, the students were about ready to save the world. Do you know the origins of TOMS shoes? If not, then check this video out. After, you will understand why the logo is white and blue.

Another video that impacted the students a lot was a video about an NGO called Love-Futbol.  

Both these videos provide examples of passionate people who used their language skills to be able to help people in need. I hope (and relatively sure) that both Drew and Blake can speak Spanish.

4. Movie Night

Use the student’s time effectively by showing movies that students would not watch on their own. Of course, make sure it is age-appropriate and something that they can handle yet leaves the student with something to think about. These movies can leave a lasting impact on the student for years to come. 

We had two movie nights, and both were a success. The first semester we watched "Bajo la Misma Luna", and the second one we watched, "The Way". The first movie dealt with immigration along the US-Mexico border, but since it was from the point of view of a young boy, it wasn't as politically charged as a documentary might be. The other movie we watched was "The Way". As a treat, I made a torta de Santiago in honor of the Way of Saint James which is the name of the pilgrimage in Spain that ends in Santiago de Compostela. The students loved the cake, and it made an ordinary movie extraordinary.

Torta de Santiago
5. Work on a project

The first year of my first language club I had only four girls, but they came every week because they were invested in a video that we were making. It gave them a reason to come back week after week, and they were proud of their final product. The following year these girls became our leaders. When the students saw the video, more of them wanted to become a part of the club. 

I had gotten the idea from another teacher who submitted a video of her student drawing pictures that matched the lyrics of the song "Latinoamerica" by Calle 13. I chose to do the same with "Pobre Juan" by Mana. Once the girls translated it and began to draw the pictures, they really came to understand the meaning of the song. People from all over the country have commented on their video. I hope to do more in the future. Use the Spanish Club for the things we don't have time to do in class.

Latinoamerica video project:

Pobre Juan video project:

6. Games

While traveling, I found about games that people play in other countries. Bring those games into the classroom. This year, I hope to teach my students how to play dominoes which is a popular pastime in the Caribbean. I have also bought trompos which are good classic toys from years ago. Also, we are thinking of having a petanque/boule/bocche/bochas/bolas criollas competition between the different languages clubs since they are share in this common pastime. We can even play traditional games like Bananagrams, Bingo, or Scrabble in the target language.

 7.  Food and Restaurants

Students enjoy food, but sometimes they need encouragement to try traditional dishes. That is where the language clubs come in to the rescue. If you can’t find what you need at a local store, then go online to see what is available. Also, talk to local restaurants in your area. It’s a great way to make connections in the community. They might do a special menu for the club, offer a discount or speak to the students about their cuisine. 

Last year, I really made sure that students were getting access to real authentic food. They can buy chips and salsa whenever they want, but they probably won't buy sweet plantain chips on their own. How about Mexican chocolate? Or Colombian food? Living in the outskirts of Boston, I realize how lucky I am to have so much available to me at my local supermarket. The food I brought in was allergy free, usually healthy, and a crowd pleaser. Food always gets the kids interested.

At my new school, we have 3 restaurants within walking distance - two Mexican and one Argentinean. Find out if they would be willing to do something special for the students. I'm excited to try them out.

Trying Colombian food 
8. Art, Music, and Dance

High school students still enjoy coloring and drawing. There is something comforting in making something with your hands. Play music in the target language while the students work. Display their work for all to see. Talk to the art teachers to see if they are willing to help. Finally, contact a local dance studio to see if they would be interested in teaching a dance class. 

Last year, we made "calaveras", "molas" and "ojos de Dios" for the art projects. My students really wanted to do a lip dub, and I think that would be a fun way to get them to learn songs in Spanish by heart. 

Finally, we wanted to learn some dance steps. I found some videos from Just Dance and Dance Dance Revolution on You Tube. Much cheaper than bringing in the video console. Below is Asereje by Los Ketchup! 

My list is not exhaustive, and I would love to see what things others do with their clubs so please share!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Puerto Rico: Great for Honeymoons and Professional Development

It's been a whirlwind since I have come back from my honeymoon almost three weeks ago. I have finally found the time to sit down and reflect about my trip to Puerto Rico.

My husband and I kicked around many different ideas for our honeymoon, but we ultimately decided on Puerto Rico. There were many reasons why we booked the trip there. One, it was a place neither of us had been to. Two, I had a friend there I wanted to visit. Three, it's easy to get to, and finally, it's a place where we can speak Spanish. Of course, being who I am, I was not content with just the typical tourist stuff. I also wanted to visit places off of the beaten path if I could. For that reason, we decided to spend our first few nights in Vieques, a little island off the east coast of Puerto Rico. (It also helped that we had gotten points for having had our reception at the Westin which we could use for our honeymoon.)


The W Hotel, Vieques

Getting to Vieques was the beginning of a great adventure. I have never been in a Cessna before. There were only 7 of us in the plane not including the pilot. The trip only took about 30 minutes, and we got a great bird's eye view of the Caribbean Sea.

Our plane to Vieques
After we landed, we headed over to the W lounge where we could relax while we waited for the hotel van to come pick us up. We also met Carmen, the 19 year old Viequense, who welcomed us to her island. She told us where we should go visit and where the good places to eat are. When we got to the hotel, we were very impressed.

the lobby

Our room had a view of this pool

Relaxing on the terrace

the entrance at night
It has only been on the island for 2 years, and it's the only international hotel chain on the island since the island has only recently opened up to tourism after years of being owned by the U.S. Navy. We also got well taken care of by the hotel manager who had just spent her last year working at the Sheraton in downtown Boston. Before we left the island, we got a picture with these two wonderful ladies. They truly made our trip special.

Thanks, W Hotel!

Bioluminescent Bay Tour

When I was deciding on which to do first, Vieques or San Juan, the deal breaker was the Bio Bay Tour. I had read about it in my previous textbook, "Avancemos", and since then, I knew I had to go there. Vieques for having been so underdeveloped for most of its history has one of the best Bio Bays in the world. The conditions there are just right to see these little organisms light up the night.

It is recommended that you go on a night with little moon. When I looked at the moon calendar, it seemed the first night of our honeymoon would be the best time to go. I booked it two weeks in advance of our trip as a precaution. I'm glad I did, because we did not anticipate Tropical Storm Isaac to affect our trip like it did. I would have been upset, if we made it all the way to Vieques and didn't see the Bio Bay.

We went on Abe's Snorkeling and BioBay Tour. We got there, signed a waiver, and slathered on their special bug juice - a homemade concoction made of Bay Rum, baby oil, and menthol. It smelled so much better than Off. It also helps preserve the environment so that these organisms can continue to thrive. Best of all, it kept the mosquitos away.

We boarded a rickety old bus that got us to "Mosquito Bay". We got into our kayaks, and within a few paddle strokes, we could see the water sparkle. It was so much fun to run my hand through the water and see it light up. We were told it does not hurt the organisms. It's like tickling them. I've seen some pictures that make it seem as if it is neon blue. In my opinion, it was as if someone had just thrown THOUSANDS of sparkles into the water. It was truly magical. Nothing that can be captured on camera unfortunately. However, my husband and I will always have those memories. My hope is that the people of Vieques will continue to protect this treasure so when I return again, it will be there for me to visit.


We spent our first full day at the hotel enjoying everything it had to offer. We needed it after all the craziness of getting married. By Wednesday, we were ready to tour the island. Since there is no public transportation, we had to rent a Jeep which is recommended if you plan to drive to the over 40 beaches on Vieques. We were lucky that we went when we did because Tropical Storm Isaac hit Thursday.

The Jeep at the beginning of the day
The Jeep at the end of the day
We decided to go to Playa de La Chiva which is also known as Blue Beach. The U.S. Navy had given the beaches names like Red Beach, Green Beach, Blue Beach etc. They were places where they tested out missiles and other military weapons and practiced amphibious exercises. Now that the island is back in local hands, they have returned to the original names of the beaches. 

We had rented an umbrella, cooler, and chairs from the hotel since the beach we were going to was going to have no facilities as you can see from the video. It was practically deserted when we got there. It was as if we had it all to ourselves. The best part was the chance to go snorkeling. It was a first time for me, and I absolutely loved it. 

Playa de la Chiva aka Blue Beach
After a few hours, the skies started to get dark, and we knew that our time at the beach was over. We picked up our stuff and ran for cover. Just as we got into the car, it started to downpour. We decided to go get something to eat while we waited for the storm to blow over. The sun never did come back out again, but we decided to keep visiting other beaches even if it was overcast.

Puntarenas aka Green Beach, supposedly great snorkeling

Imagining how much more beautiful it would be if it wasn't overcast

Not really sure what it is...remnant of the US Navy?
Heading to San Juan

Because of Tropical Storm Isaac, we couldn't leave the Island until Friday which is a day later than we had planned. We were going to take the ferry back, but it never happened. So, we flew back to Puerto Rico and rented a car in Ceiba and then drove to San Juan. I could not not believe how many American chains there are in Puerto Rico. Vieques is still untouched by large American businesses, but the mainland is another story. It was like being in Florida. On a positive note, the roads were well-maintained, and it was very easy to drive there.

Walgreens, Walmart, Marshalls, and TMobile just to name a few
Viejo San Juan

We made it to San Juan late on Friday night. It was enough time to see a bit of Old San Juan as the sun was setting. We ended up staying in hotel that used to be a former monastery. Da' House also is an art gallery. After dropping off our bags, we went to get a bite to eat. I just had to stop in those little shops to check out what art work they had.

At Da House
Appreciating the artwork

We went to Raices, a restaurant recommended by my friend which has traditional Puerto Rican food. We ordered mofongo which is mashes plantains filled with whatever you want. I got mine filled with mixed seafood. It was very tasty, but I couldn't finish it all. We headed back to the hotel. We were serenaded until 3 in the morning with salsa music from the cafe below our window. Sanjuaneros know how to party.

The next morning we went to Caficultura, a great little coffee shop at the end of our street. We had mallorcas, which was grilled sweet bread filled with whatever we wanted. Of course, my choice was guava paste. We washed it down with jugo de acerola and jugo de parcha. I love tropical fruit juices. We still had some time before check out, so we checked out (jaja) the fort in our part of the neighborhood. It was called Castillo San Cristobal. The bigger fort, el Morro, is further down the coast, but we didn't make it to that one. It was still interesting to tour the smaller fort. It was like stepping back in time.



Old San Juan

Heading to the dungeons

I love the architecture of Old San Juan

I'm in Puerto Rico! :)
Heading to Mayaguez

The last leg of our trip was heading to Mayaguez on the west coast of the island so that we could see my friend. Despite all the American chains, we did see two things that you would not see in the States.

Women selling hammocks on the side of the road


It was a beautiful drive to Mayaguez. It wasn't as touristy, but just as nice as any other part of the island. It was great being able to see my friend and go to the places where locals go. I think this last picture sums up our experience in Puerto Rico - It's definitely La Isla del Encanto.

Friday, August 31, 2012

Becoming Sra. Toro

It's official! I'm Sra. Toro.

Months ago, when I told my then fiance that I was going to take his name, he didn't understand why I would want to give up my last name. In Colombia, women maintain their maiden name even when they get married. If they want to add onto their last name, they could do something like "C. Berry de Toro". I didn't like that idea. Next, there was no way I was going to hyphenate my last names to become "Berry-Toro". It's sounds too much like "very Toro" which is a disaster waiting to happen. Plus, I work with students, and I do not want to set myself up for teasing. Flip the names around, and I could be a new type of fruit - the "Toro-Berry". No way. Finally, I decided that it sounds more professional to have just "Toro" as my last name. My fiance said, "Well, what if we go to Colombia? They will think that we are brother and sister since we have the same last name." There is no way that could happen since my husband and I don't look anything like each other. I think we'll be fine.

Most American women grow up knowing that the possibility of changing their last name exists which is a concept foreign to most Latina women who live outside the United States. It was a constant topic of conversation this summer. Once I met the man of my dreams and we became serious, I started to get used to my new identity which is why I jumped the gun on making the blog with my new name. I've had time to get adjusted to my new name just like new parents have nine months to get used to the idea of having a baby. Changing my name hasn't been such a shock to me. It's practically expected here.

As my husband sees me jump through hoops to change my last name, he asks if it is all worth it. In my opinion, it is. He is no longer the only Toro in the house. We are together now. I'm part of his new American family. Is it pain to change? Yes. Is it worth it? Without a doubt.

Here are some pictures of us and our name. Anything that resembles Toro or bulls we get it or take a picture. It's actually a lot of fun. We have plenty of stuff around the house, too.

Sra. Toro

Sr. Toro
For our Colombian coffee

Me = Toro on the outside, Irish on the inside

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

My big fat Irish-Colombian Wedding

The best part about my wedding was how two very different families became one. It happened like this.

On Thursday, the men went to get their tuxes, and in no time, there was a mix of Spanish and English in the air. After, we bonded over pizza which make the rehearsal dinner the next night go much smoother since some people already had met.

On Friday, the rest of the Colombian family and friends were introduced, and they were the stars of the night. With everyone getting along so well, I knew that our wedding was going to be a great time. I was a bit worried about how the families would be, but Irish and Colombians are both fun groups so really I had nothing to worry about.

On Saturday, I picked up my sister-in-law for our hair appointments. One of my good friends who is also Colombian needed a ride down to the church so I picked her up, too. It was great because she could help my sister-in-law who spoke no English. I got back to my parent's house and got dressed. I was cool as a cucumber because I've never been one of those Bridezilla-types.

We made it to the church in time to hearing the bagpipes playing. My bridesmaids were all dressed in green because that was the color of my Colombian emerald which is also the same color that symbolizes my Irish heritage. My dress was Spanish inspired with lots of lace, and I wore a mantilla veil to match. Since both our families are Catholic, we had a full Mass. It was really meaningful to the both of us. My wedding band is actually from Ireland, and it is adorned with the Trinity knot. I love telling the story of my rings to people because it is so unique just like my husband and I. Plus, it's a way to carry Colombia and Ireland with me everywhere I go.

We had a great time taking the wedding party by limousine to the reception which was at the Westin Hotel. Again, the cultural theme was present throughout. The place cards were placed in trays and held up with whole coffee beans. The favors were spice jars filled with Starbucks Colombian coffee, and the tags said, "Thanks a latte". Our DJ lit the room up with a green backdrop, and he played American, Irish, and Latin music for us to dance to. Our cake also fit with the theme. The bottom layer was chocolate cake with Bailey's Irish Creme mousse. The second layer we offered our guests was a white cake with mango mousse. It was decorated with Irish shamrocks and coffee beans covered in chocolate.

My goal was to make this a wedding to remember. I wanted to highlight the things that make my husband and I special. I wanted it to be a learning experience for others as well. I think that I accomplished that. When I had the chance to observe what was going on at my wedding, it made me smile. Love broke down the language and cultural barriers that existed. People found joy in the universal language of love and celebrated by dancing the night away. I couldn't have asked for anything more. It was the wedding of my dreams.

Sr. y Sra. Toro

Exactly how I imagined

My unique rings

My favors
The cake

By JClements Photography

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Colombia in the House!

I've had quite a summer!
I have saved a description of my final week in Uruguay, but once I got home, I was bombarded with wedding plans, and I couldn't finish my post. I have been trying to tie up loose ends and make sure that everything got done. It wasn't easy.

Now, there are less than 3 days until the wedding. Today, our family arrived from Colombia. Between sightseeing and wedding stuff, I have been quite busy.

I promise to finish my Uruguay post, tell how the wedding went particularly how we incorporated our two cultures together (Irish-Colombian), and then how was Puerto Rico/Vieques.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Countryside and Coast/El Campo y la Costa

My second weekend was amazing!! A truly unforgettable experience. There are so many pictures that I will just choose the ones that best describe my experience.


On Saturday, we were invited to a birthday party in the department of La Florida in a town called Fray Marcos. I truly was in the country, and I loved every minute of it. Because I didn't know much about Uruguay before my trip, I did not have any ideas of what it was going to be like. I have traveled to the Andes Mountains before, and if anything, I was surprised to see a country that had no mountains at all. If anything, it's very flat which is great because you can get a great view of the sky. I was going nuts using the sunset setting on my camera.

This totally captures the campo!
The countryside
Having fun!
A modern day farmer (gaucho)

I have never seen a peacock before although it refused to open it's tail.
Also, we were truly at a working farm, and I got to see them milk cows. The milk they produce is for Conaprole, the major milk industry in Uruguay. It was such a cool experience. It was nice to relax and just enjoy the peace of the countryside. I was so happy I got the chance to see the Uruguayan countryside.

Seeing it in action!

Talk about fresh milk!!

Sunday - Piriapolis, CasaPueblo, and Punta del Este
On Sunday, we decided to go to the coast because a trip to Uruguay isn't complete with out a trip the famous seaside resort of Punta del Este. First, we started at one of the balenarios that had this house that was in the shape of an eagle, thus el aguila. We didn't stay long because it was soooo windy.

 El Aguila

Then, we headed to the town of Piriapolis. For lunch, we had gnocchis since it was the custom to eat them the 29th of every month. For good luck, you are supposed to put a coin under the plate of gnocchis. While eating them, we were watching Uruguay lose to Senegal. We walked around the port and then took the car to the top of the hill to get a great view of the town. My host said that it is a place that most middle class people can afford compared to Punta del Este which is more for international multi-millionaires. The town was so nice, and I could only imagine how much more beautiful it is when it's summer.

Ten pesos

 Noquis a la bolonesa

Uruguayan Olympic soccer team
At the port


What a view!

Then, we headed to the house of Francisco Piria who is the namesake for Piriapolis. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovation, but it was fun to see his house. I guess there are all sorts of legends and urban myths regarding the house - none of which I can remember. It must have been some house way back in the early 1900s.
House of Piria

We then continued up the coast because we were headed to Punta Ballena where CasaPueblo is. I am a big fan of Samantha Brown, and when I watched her Montevideo episode, I saw CasaPueblo for the first time. I was like I HAVE to go there. I also read an article on Veinte Mundos about Carlos Paez Vilaro, who had a friend in Pablo Picasso. Veinte Mundos - Carlos Paez Vilaro My host, her family, her boyfriend, and I began to walk in, and I was in awe. As I looked out over Punta Ballena, I got chocked up. I couldn't believe I was in Uruguay, and specifically, CasaPueblo. It somehow made the trip all a little more real. It was funny too because we bumped into 6 other Fulbrighters who also thought that it was a good day to go to CasaPueblo. I bought a copy of one of Paez Vilaro's works to hang up in my classroom.


His inspiration

The view of Punta Ballena

Happy to be there surrounded by beautiful art work

We finally made it to the last stop in our day trip - the famous Punta del Este. I have never seen a seaside resort like this before even here in the U.S. Stunning! Lots of beautiful high rise hotels and houses with an amazing views of the Rio de la Plata (tan ancho como mar). Like most seaside resorts it was quiet since it was offseason, but it was great to be there nonetheless.

Very nice hotel

 The Marina

 Momument to the Ahogados (the drowned ones)

We had such a great day. We ended it in a park drinking mate and eating pasteles de dulce de leche. Can't get anymore Uruguayan! 

Drinking mate and eating pasteles de leche!