I have now taken the most important step of the living abroad, and language learning, process...having a bar! I know that I now have my favorite bar after a great evening last night.
I had my Spanish class and was a bit frustrated with my teacher who never quite takes the time to listen to the entirety of my questions (because she's usually too busy looking at her watch waiting for me and the Brazilian in my class to stop asking questions...only two of us in the free class), so I decided that I should watch a little UEFA cup football (soccer) and try to practice my Spanish with the bartender and people in the bar to learn the real Spanish. I had visited the bar numerous times and already knew the bartender, his wife who cooks, and his son who is there in the mornings shyly trying to practice his English. But last night I took the final step by meeting the regulars and getting a TON of free drinks and food.
I love the bar because it is close to my house and because it is the only place I've found in Laredo where you get tapas, a free snack that accompanies a beer. It's great! Last night I ordered one beer, then received, chips, then a tortilla sandwich. At that point I was feeling guilty for eating so much with only beer so I ordered one more, upon which I received manchego cheese and two sandwiches with chorizo. When I went up to pay after the game (real madrid won 3-1 one, unlike Rosenborg :( and I started talking with a guy at the bar who works for the local government. He had traveled a bit and was interested in language and international issues so we talked health care, learning language, the similarities between Spain and the US and the differences. While we were talking the bartender came and joined the conversation and poured a beer saying "es gratis." So a free beer while shooting the shit...and the shit continued to be shot so another free beer came my way. Then when the bar was finally closing, I went to pay and he said, you're only paying for one, so after 3 hours, four or five tapas, and four beers, I spent 1.60 euros. Gotta love Spain! So I'm feeling a bit more at home and have at least one place where people know me...even if it is where I am known as "el americano" that teaches English. At least here, I'm the only one americano so I can construct my own definition of el americano. At least that's my goal over the next five months!
...but it's worth noting that I discovered a blog of an American living in Colindres where I work! Great photos and stories from Spain, plus his last name is Rasmussen so maybe we're related! Check it out!