Surfing the Spanish Main. STUDYING SPANISH AND "NAVEGANDO" (Navigating or, as we say in English, Surfing) THE SPANISH-MAIN WEB

Latest update:
October, 2008 Most recent changes
and additions
in red.

For many photos, information and stories
from my trips in and around Madrid, go to

Having had two years of Spanish in high school, I started my review in 1988, with the view of being totally fluent in three to five years and then taking up the review of another foreign language: in this case, German. But here I am, 20+ years into my review! I read and write well and enjoy my speaking practice both with conversation groups in San Diego and with my school =elemadrid=, 4 Serrano Street, Madrid, Spain (right next to Parque del Retiro, Madrid's big downtown park). German will just have to wait!

I don't mind arriving slowly at fluency because I'm having a very good time while arriving. With the aid of my Mac computer (for more about this click Computers in the links below), I am able to make interesting presentations for my Spanish conversation groups. With the computer, I compiled Cancionero Hispano (Hispanic Song Book) containing 33 of my favorite songs in Spanish: beginning with the exciting Guadalajara and ending with the Spanish song of farewell: La Golondrina. Spanish-wise it involved adding translation hints for what I determined were the difficult idioms and words. I also wrote extensive notes in both English and Spanish to explain little things I had learned about the songs in my more than 40 years singing them, for I learned many when I was in high school. Since I wanted an authoritative product, I enlisted the aid of editors (in Spanish: redactores). I am very grateful to my editors, Carol Samayoa Baldwin of Carmel Valley (a neighborhood of San Diego) and Guillermo (Bill to his friends) and Angela (Angie) Sanchez of Cypress, CA, for their efforts in correcting everything that needed to be corrected. With the corrections accomplished and the photographs and drawings (clip-art) added, I made 200 copies to distribute to my friends, family and classmates. Page 6 of this book featured the chorus and six verses of La Cucaracha together with my rendition of the namesake which was a Frankenstein-monster of clip-art. Take a look at the official cucaracha (JPG: 14K)! At first, I tried to give the books away free to my classmates, but they were horrified and insisted on paying me at least the cost of production: at $1, una verdadera ganga (a real bargain)!

Here are two conversation groups I have attended:

1. The Spanish conversation group I joined first met in Solana Beach at Fletcher Cove overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Again I give you the option of looking at our first learning environment (JPG: 86K). Later the class moved to a more modern classroom where the teacher, Fanny Gutierrez de Miller, a native of Colombia, was able to offer a stimulating environment for studies in her own school: Spanish Academy for Adults and Children.

2. The group that I currently attend is the Practice Spanish Luncheon Club. This group first started in 1946 and has been carried on by interested facilitators every Thursday (holidays excepted) since then. Currently Richard Albert (Ricardo, as we call him) is our long-term able leader or facilitator: take your pick. He is fluent enough to fool Mexicans. We are also fortunate to have William Hardin, a retired professor of Spanish and a number of others who are very advanced through years of experience. This group meets in a private area of the Country Waffles Restaurant at 5252 Balboa Avenue each Thursday from 11am to 1pm for lunch.
Spanish Flag

I myself like to talk about Spain. I have been there five times:

   Ten days (Apr, '90) on a tour starting in Madrid and ending on the Costa del Sol
   Three weeks in Madrid (May-June, '98) for study and sightseeing
   Two days in Barcelona (Oct, '98) at the end of our Mediterranean cruise
   The month of May, '99 in Madrid for more study and sightseeing
   April, May and half of June, '00 in Madrid for more of the same
        (I now know downtown Madrid better than I know downtown San Diego.)

On my three long visits to Madrid ('98, '99, and '00), I attended the =elemadrid= language school during most of the time. I did take a week off now and then to catch up on shopping or recover from a cold, but the remaining weekday mornings were devoted to the classes. There were also school-sponsored after-school activities as well in 2000. And after the homework was done, I visited bookstores, souvenir shops, museums, and parks on my own.

I also went to the cinemas (cines) and theaters (teatros) regularly because the dialogs were generally delivered more clearly than in street-speech. In San Diego, I rarely go to the theater (either kind) since I already know English! It's a great adventure seeing the insides of all those Madrid theaters like the Teatro Real (Royal Theater, opera) and the Teatro Español (Spanish Theater). The cinemas of Madrid generally show films in Spanish, either made in Spanish or dubbed in Spanish. You don't have to fight with subtitles unless you want to. There are only two cinemas in Madrid that I know of that show films in their native languages subtitled in Spanish because the Spanish don't like to read subtitles and the dubbing process is a highly developed art there. I only go to see a film in English at one of these two "art" theaters if I know I can see the version dubbed in Spanish later. Since there are so many English retirees in Madrid and elsewhere in Spain--the English really like Spain--I think these two cinemas are for them because most of the films are in English. In fact, the majority of films on view in Madrid at any time were originally made in English. Most of these are American films simply because the film industry here produces most of the world's supply. There would otherwise not be enough films around to satisfy the need to recreate, and Madrileños are famous for their zest for living.

If you go to MADRIDPLUS and from there to Old-Madrid you will see photos I took related to cines and teatros in Madrid.

I have learned much from my Spanish audio-magazine Puerta del Sol published by Champs-Elysées, Inc., and I also like to surf the Spanish Internet. From my Internet cruising, I learned about the classic Spanish musical theater called zarzuela and, in 2001, found a theater group, the Jarvis Conservatory in Napa, California, who staged zarzuelas every June. I was fortunate to be able to see the shows in 2002 (La alegría de la huerta & Gigantes y Cabezudos) and in 2003 (La chulapona). Jarvis continued to present shows in 2004 and 2005, but there have been no shows presented since then. In 2005, they did present El barberillo de Lavapiés, a full-length show acknowledged to be the best full-length zarzuela ever written. You can also visit Christopher Webber's web site which has the most complete commentary on zarzuela existing anywhere in the world.

That's it for now. Que tengáis un buen día (Have a good day).


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