First of all, I went to the Guadarrama Mountains in the province of Castilla y León, near Segovia. I went one Saturday morning with Emma, Jackie, Becky, and Gavin. We took a train to the town of Cercedilla in the northwestern corner of the Madrid province. The town rested at the foot of a high mountain and we had lunch there at a small diner. We took another train further up the mountain. This train had been in operation since the 1920s and ran quite slow as it ascended the mountain. The higher we got, the more snow we entered upon. We opened the windows of the train and stood most of the trip, enjoying the view of the mountains. Here is a picture of the girls on this old train (left to right: Emma, Jackie, and Becky):
Once at the top (an area known as Los Cotos), we walked down some roads, watching as families sledded down hills. We took some excursions into the snow at the side of the roads, one of which resulted in Emma loosing a shoe in the snow. It was later recovered, but stuffed with ice. Here's a picture of Becky, Gavin, and I on one of these meanderings. You can tell by our faces how sure we were of our decision to walk though (in some places) knee-deep snow:
After getting wet feet, we walked to a ski lodge to warm up and have some coffee. Here's Gavin, Becky, and I outside this building:
It was nice to visit Los Cotos. Once there, you lost the feeling that you were in central Spain and so near a busy capital city. It was very quiet with a lot of fresh air (which is something of a rarity in the Madrid region).
Later that week we had our Easter celebration at school. For two days we worked doing activities with the kids. The first day we did things for the younger children, pre-school (infantil) to second grade. I was in charge of musical hoops, which we played similar to musical chairs in which the kids had to dance around a series of hoola-hoops and jump inside them when the music stopped. Few of the younger kids really understood how to play, but they were funny to watch. Later, I read the story, Peter Cottontail to the infantiles. I asked one group, which seemed to understand very little English, if they liked the story. "No," said one kid with a blank expression, which made me laugh.
The next day we worked with the older kids (third to sixth graders). I was in charge of trivia all day. I read a series of Easter-related trivia questions to the kids, who were split into groups of three as they vied for points. It was kind of scary how serious they took the whole point-earning thing, especially since their prize consisted of me telling their group that they won. This was always followed by shouts of "Toma!" ("Alright!") and "Jolín!" ("Shoot!")
Starting that week we began a new tradition of picnics in Parque O'Donnell, which is just a short walk from our apartment. (I'm still not sure why the park has an Irish name). It's a nice park with large areas of shade as well as some open spaces. Emma, Kelsey, Lindsay, Jeff, James, and Kevin came to this first picnic (Cody was on a trip to Brussels that weekend). Here we are preparing our meal (left to right: me, Kelsey, Lindsay, James, Kevin, and Jeff):
and a group picture of us from later in the night: