A few weekends ago I went north to Logroño in La Rioja to celebrate San Mateo with my friends Raquel and Valeria. Mateo was sainted, I came to find, for helping to refine Spanish wine making techniques and “bringing wine to Rioja”. I felt the least I could do was pay my respects to the man (upon further reflection I realize that I’m quite religious about respecting San Mateo!). The next afternoon we went to the fair just outside the city center. Pretty much like any other fair Ive been to except that if you win a carnival game at this one, a giant leg of cured jamón is your prize, hoof and all.

I’ve been hearing about possible budget cuts to the Spanish public school system for a few weeks and yesterday there was chatter of a strike but nothing really prepared me for what happened today. I ran from the metro station to school because I was a few minutes behind the bell (for the first time this month, scouts honor) and when I came into the office there was only one secretary where there are normally two. I went upstairs to my first grade classroom to find a fraction of my normal students, as well as some from the second grade watching TV on the projector with the art teacher.

Cristina my coworker let me go to the cafeteria for a coffee and reminded me there was a huelga today for teachers, administrators (who are also required to have teaching degrees) and students. We had ~45 kids and 7 teachers from 270 and 25, respectively during a normal day. I stayed all day watching movies and coloring with the kids until when taking the metro home I ran into a crowd of 200,000 people shouting about the reforms (turns out this was the official protest, one of hundreds to occur today around the country. I stuck around for a few hours, marched and took some photos of the chaos.

Two days ago the Spanish government (of the Partido Popular) passed the budget cuts, a promise they made campaigning to end the fiscal crisis. Organizers (of the Partido Socialista) for the first time asked students to stay home too which created a ripple effect with parents not working either People are mad, real mad about the things their cutting (education was one of the first to go, social benefits next among others). One of the coolest parts about working for the school system here is how prideful every Spaniard is about their educational system and how passionate they are about its funding.

Today when I walked past the Caixa Forum they were replanting the living wall and I snapped this photo of the guys having a merienda. The Forum is right on Paseo del Prado, one of Madrid’s most touristic streets and ripe with museums (including of course, the Prado, home to Spain’s most prized national pieces). This venue however has a social outreach focus: free entry and host of lectures and educational events on a range of interesting subjects. We had some of our welcome events here

The second photo is the lobby to the lower lever auditorium

The last one is the top floor café