My husband and I (right) are posed with friends from the school. Luis is on the left.
My husband and I (right) are posed with friends from the school. Luis is on the left.

¡Feliz año nuevo

 My first school visit of the new year was in Maracena, Spain, at the bilingual I.E.S. Manuel de Falla. Hola to all the students and teachers! My husband and I want to send a big “gracias” to Luis Enrique Martin Jimena, the bilingual coordinator, and to Coco Alvarez for sharing her art students with us. Thanks also to Juan for the delicious lunch of  atún y tomate. :->  And “gracias” to Carmen Rocío Gil Morillas for her kind blog comments.

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Our son Steven has joined us here in front of the school, which is named for the most important Spanish composer of the 20th century, Manuel de Falla. Here’s a link to one of his most famous pieces, El amor brujo, about a gypsy girl named Candela.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ftd8tIdiYq4 She is performing the mesmerizing Ritual Fire Dance.

During our visit to Spain, we discovered splendid cities and parks. Here are some  photographs of the highlights:

View of Granada with the Alhambra in the foreground and the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance
Granada’s El Albayzín becomes magical at night.
Lovely lights decorate a store front in the El Albayzín.
Lovely lights decorate a store front in the El Albayzín.
In Mérida we explored Roman ruins crowned with nesting storks.
In Mérida we explored Roman ruins crowned with nesting storks.
White storks are noisy! They clack their bills to communicate. Bill clacking is also part of their courtship ritual. Here’s a video of them in action: http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-video-9170818-stork-mating-ritual-hd-video.php
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Some storks give their chicks a drink by squeezing wet moss into their mouths.
Amidst the Roman ruins and clacking storks of Mérida, I found a little book shop. Featured in the window were Pinochio, Tom Sawyer, Junie B. Jones, and Justin Bieber.
Amidst the Roman ruins and clacking storks of Mérida, I found a little book shop. Featured in the window were Pinochio, Tom Sawyer, Junie B. Jones, and Justin Bieber.

This little Spanish ibex is a nimble rock climber. We spotted it in El Torcal, near Antequera.
This little Spanish ibex, with big flexible hooves, is a nimble rock climber. We spotted it while hiking in El Torcal, near Antequera.

In western Spain, Parque Nacional Monfragüe is home to soaring Griffon Vultures. They nest on cliffs and keep watch for dead animals to dine on.
In western Spain, Parque Nacional Monfragüe is home to soaring griffon vultures. They nest on cliffs and keep watch for dead animals to dine on.
Any luck, guys?
Any luck, guys?
Consuegra is famous for its windmills, as described in Cervantes’s Don Quixote.
This windmill looks like it is saying, "Hello!"
This windmill looks like it is saying, “Hello!”
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