The miniature cousin of oxford crew boats, our crafts are manned by four rowers and a captain who steers and acts as human-metronome for the oars to follow. Split into a group with two Romanian girls and a Spanish boy and girl, I received the honor of acting as captain and translator for the group. The Romanians spoke English and little Spanish and the Spaniards spoke only their native tongue. With little direction other than how to attach the oars, our instructors shoved us off from the deck and into the harbor.
It only took 60 seconds for us to crash into another dock. Once we reached more open water, we nearly capsized on multiple occasions because 1- The Romanians didn't understand that rowing is a circular motion and instead chose to wiggle their oars up and down, 2- The wind pushed us dangerously close to other (much larger) boats anchored in the marina, 3- I can't give directions and keep a beat out-loud at the same time to save my life. An hour and a half of frantic Spanglish and frenzied rowing later, we returned to the dock with a sense of pride that we hadn't fallen into the ocean or destroyed the equipment. Our instructors inconceivably believe that we're ready to move onto personal one-man watercraft next. God help us all.
When not cheating death on the open seas, Medieval and Mexican Literature exhaust the rest of my brainpower. In Medieval, we're reading the equivalent of Old English - spelling is more art than science, giving authors plenty of room to wax creative in their choice of letters. Needless to say, it's a bit of a challenge. Mexican Lit is much easier but equally engaging. Taught by one of our program directors, the class meets in the headquarters of a club for Northern Spaniards in Alicante. With couches, tables and chairs, the "classroom" provides an intimate and open setting for our discussions of Mexican American culture and the texts associated with it.
Learning the history of the western United States from a third-party Spanish view is fascinating. We're constantly feeling sheepish for the lack of memory we have of 5th and 8th grade American History. Mr. Shores would be ashamed that I couldn't remember the name of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. I feel less moronic than some of my companions however, e.g. the quote that I chose for the title of this post. Yes, an American actually asked, "Wait, we lost Betty Crocker at the Alamo?" Indeed, and that explains the sad reality that she hasn't written any more cookbooks.