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Raising a Different Glass in Roads and Kingdoms: It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere

I had narrowly avoided massacring a dozen newly hatched chicks in a box, whose chirping had accompanied us up from Qax. Stumbling backwards as the rusted-out Soviet-era bus corkscrewed us deeper into the Caucasus, I instead tumbled into the lap of heavily mustached Georgian-speaking shepherd. He didn’t smile...

Writing in Roads and Kingdoms 5 O'Clock Somewhere series...drinks around the world.



The first time we went up in the summer, wild camping below the range that leads to Daghastan, Russia and beyond. Few tourists leave the folds of Baku in Azerbaijan and those that do escape, even fewer go beyond Shaki. Up here the stiff divisions drawn by the Soviets in Moscow blur and the frontiers that the locals carry in the hearts blend into each other.


We stopped in Qax on the way up and then up to Ilisu. Georgian churches mix with Azeri mosques up here. The world of Ali and Nino, a place where divisions are less defined. 

The valley was alive with the fruits of the waning summer and the…
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Post Academy Life: 5 ways to move beyond teaching at Language Academies in Spain

Open a job search for ESL job openings around the world at any time of the year and a sunny southern corner of Europe is bound to tally the most hits. A place where, if you subscribe to RP pronunciation patterns, the rain falls mainly on the plain. A place I have called home off and on for more than 15 years, Spain...

And thus starts my piece in EFL Magazine. Click over for a look.

The Rain...

Writing in the local paper. Local Issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

The rain here in Caceres always reminds me of the words of fellow Mercedes Calles Premio de Periodismo winner, Juan Manuel de Prada, when he wrote that San Mateo ‘parecĂ­a desmigajarse, empapada por el agua’ (the church, watersoaked, began to crumble). His story sang true, the city undergoes a tranformative change the few days a year when the rain indeed sets in for a full-day wetting. The warm ochre colors that I fell in love with when I first arrived begin to dim and fade, slowing returning to their natural colour of earth. The arab roof tiles designed to bake in the sun repel the water as best as they can while dark humidity stains spread along the walls. The birds that normally sing and soar above are nowhere to be seen or heard. The distant mountains that can normally be seen from up in the barrio San Antonio blend…

De-Use It - A tale of coursebook misuse

Last month I was asked by one of the editors of IATEFL's TDSIGnewsletter to contribute to their Teacher Development Stories series and I came up with the following.

They say you never miss the water till the well runs dry and as is often the case, they were right. For years, the institute where I work had shown keen interest the ongoing development of its teachers. Training sessions were organized throughout the year, the occasional methodology book was acquired and money was even found to help teachers attend conferences around the country. But times are tough here in Spain and while it took some time to finally filter down to this modest, lost corner of the country, last September we found ourselves forced to become apostates to the country’s new religion, Austerity. The new fundamentalist prophets ruled that Teacher Training and CPD was frivolous and non-belief in the new creed would not be tolerated. Deprived of this flow of ideas, the few teachers that remained were forced to …

Sunday Goodbyes

Writing in the local paper. Local issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.

Sunday afternoon in the Calle Moret in this everlasting climate-change-denyer's indian summer. At first glance everything looks the same. Graffiti splatters the shuttered shop windows that used to bear life and the few businesses that are still open are also closed up tight for a well-deserved day of rest. After all it is Sunday in Spain and moreso in Caceres. But a closer look, and listen, shows that it’s not just another sleepy Day of their Lord. About halfway down the pedestrian street a few people appear, then a few more and suddenly there’s a large crowd. After the recent altercations between the raging nationalists that have happened in the main square, you could start to feel nervous but there are no flags, anger or confrontation here, just smiles, dance steps and cries for more. This is a meeting of a diffe…

A Betting Man Forced to Be

Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.
I’m not really a betting man. I can clearly remember when my great grandfather used to get dressed up take me on his weekly trip to his place of worship, the track. I can also recall being more interested in the horses themselves rather than who ended up winning the race. In all the times that I played concerts in the American gambling meccas of Las Vegas or Atlantic Beach, I can count on one hand how many times I played the slot machines and that was probably only to get the free beer that you got while sitting at the machine. Traveling through the gambling capitals of Asia, the range of the different gamblers interested me much more than the games themselves. In fact, believe it or not, here in Spain I don’t even play the Christmas lotto. But now that my holidays have finally arrived, I’m going to take an enormous ga…

Spain's Hidden Summer Surprises

Writing in the local paperLocal issues with a global take. I never translate literally and the editor trims at will to make it fit. Here's my version, then theirs.


As I watched my kids search for a free space in the kiddie pool so that they could practice their newly acquired skills the other day at the Ciudad Deportiva outdoor pool, wondering why the pool next to it inexplicably sat closed off, I came to realize what an important part of life public outdoor pools play in Spain. Tourists trudging through the UNESCO cores that dot this country under the fierce midday summer sun in search of a typically Spanish experience that they can tell their friends back home about often wonder why the only life they seem to come across are people trying to sell them something. Why are the city centres only filled with tourists? Where are the people that actually live amongst these beautiful, if terribly hot stones? What they don’t know is that the locals lucky enough to not be working are eit…