Photo Puzzles for Teachers

STOP PRESS: Please note that while all the older puzzles will continue to reside here on the ZKM blog, all subsequent resources will be posted on one of the following two blogs:
 Welcome to the photo puzzle page. My two favourite hobbies are photography and wandering around Spain. So, I've decided to combine the two in order to help my fellow teachers, and (hopefully) enthuse their students.
On this page you'll find photos (and some videos) which, as teachers, you might want to use with your classes as quick 'teasers', 'starters' or whatever. Each photo will have a piece of Spanish language (adverts, posters etc) which the students have to translate/work out. I'll provide an 'answer' and a bit of background where appropriate and hope that everyone finds it educational, entertaining and useful. An added aim will be to pass on my own fascination with life in Spain to your students. I'll try to post one item each weekend to keep it 'fresh'.
By the way, I'm learning Spanish myself and don't pretend to be an expert, so if you (or any of your students) spot any errors that I might make, please let me know and I'll correct them.
If you enjoy this page, please let others know; if you have any ideas to improve or extend it, let me know.

Photo-puzzles will have the answers and commentary below, so if you're using an IWB be careful not to reveal them while your students are puzzling!!

Also, I'll post them like a blog so the latest will always be at the top...

N.B., Right-click on any picture to open it in a larger format. 

The puzzles start here...

30 Mosquito Attack!

I had a number of e-mails last week (well, three is a number, isn't it?) telling me how much you'd enjoyed the last puzzle. So, from the same hotbed of public information film Oscar nominations (the Ayuntamiento of Castellón de la Plana) try this... (Click on the link, video will open in separate window.)

Small unwelcome guests

Don't you just love the humour? Now, again, the transcription and translation both taxed my Spanish to the limit, so if you or your students spot any howlers I've made, please let me know and I'll correct and name-check the helpful student/teacher and institution. Here's my idea of a transcription...

¿Disculpe, es usted la plaga de mosquitos de esta casa?

Vengo a notificarle que debe abandonar esta vivienda en un plazo de dos días.

¿Y qué?  A pagarlo el mosquito. Yo no tengo la culpa que la gente no cierro los conductores de ventilación.

Lo siento.

Firma aquí.

Y  huelga, nos habla de una buena fosa séptica abierta, no?

Con la llegada del calor, desde el ayuntamiento de Castellón te damos consejos contra los mosquitos.

Como cubrir, vaciar o poner boca abajo cualquier recipiente que esté en el exterior que pueda acumular agua.

¡Evita las malas compañías!


Excuse me, are you the plague of mosquitoes of this house?
I come to tell you that you have to leave this house/dwelling in two days. 
And what? The mosquito pays? I'm not to blame if the people don't close the ventilation grills.
I'm sorry.
Sign here.
And, it goes without saying you can't tell me about a nice open septic tank, can you? 

With the arrival of the heat, from the Castellón town hall we give you advice against mosquitoes.
Like cover, empty or put face-down any containers that are outside and could collect water.
Avoid bad company!

A couple of things I'll point out: Notice the different plurals between Spanish (mosquitos) and English (mosquitoes).
Notice also the line: 'A pagarlo el mosquito'. I'm guessing, so please correct me if I'm wrong, that this is a play on the old saying, 'Pagar el pato' (to pay for the duck) which means to pay for someone else's mistakes.
And finally, don't you just love the way our mosquito 'tut-tuts' at the end of the line. Classy acting.

Ayuntamiento de Castellón de la Plana. Take a bow!

And I'll bow out now and wish you all a happy summer as school here has just broken up for the holidays. I'm heading for the north of Spain where I'll have my eyes peeled for some more wierd and wonderful things to entertain you next term. 
Hasta pronto. JD. 

29 Squatters.

Maybe not quite what you're expecting. Can you make sense of this?
(Click on the link, video will open in separate window.)

Unwelcome guest 

I have to confess, I don't have an A-Level or even a GCSE in Spanish, just seven years here, struggling with a few books, CDs and a lot of confusion. This was a particularly difficult task for me to translate. I must've watched (bits of) this video 20 or 30 times. I'm still not a hundred percent sure I've got it all nailed down so if you spot a mistake I've made in transcription or translation, please tell me!
( I'll make the necessary correction(s) and give you a name-check on the site as a thanks.

So, do you need my transcription/translation? Here it is, first the transcription:

Vengo a notificarle que debe abandonar esta vivienda. Firme aquí.

¡Qúe, no escape!


Esto me pasa por dejarme tentar por los desperdicios de los humanos.

¡Quiero un abogado!

Con la legada del calor, desde el ayuntamiento de Castellón te damos consejos contra las ratas.

Como tapar los accesos a lugares que puedan utilizar como nidos o escondrijos.

O no dejar agua ni alimentos en su alcance
Evita las malas companías.


I come to tell you that you must leave this house (dwelling). Sign here.
Stop him escaping!
This happens to me for letting myself be tempted by the scraps/waste of the humans.
I want a lawyer!

With the arrival of the heat, from the Castellón town hall we give you advice against rats.
Like covering up access to places that they can use for nests or hiding places.
O not leaving water or food in their reach.
Avoid bad company!  


28 Spanish Busker.

No 'puzzle' this week. Just this...

Spanish Busker

We were on our way to the Valencia-Paris S.G. Champion's League match at the Mestalla a few weeks ago. Came across this guy around the corner from the ground. What I really liked (apart from the juggling) was his timing, so he could get to the drivers with his cap before the lights changed to amber. ('Cos nobody waits for green here!)

Never a dull day in VLC.

27 Big toe. Or should that be tow?

What's this all about? 

The cartoon at the top should be a big enough clue, but if not, I'll tell you that a friend found this notice stuck on the pavement next to where he'd parked his car. 

His car wasn't there anymore...

Got it now? He'd parked illegally and his car had been towed away. A 'grúa' is a catch-all word for any kind of crane or, in this case, tow-truck. 'Grúas Tomás' is Tomas's Cranes, the company that towed my friend's car away. The S.L. stands for 'Sociedad Limitada', the equivalent of 'Ltd' at the end of a company name in the UK, for 'Limited liability'.

Notice also that the Spanish have no bother with possessive apostrophes. They simply don't have them, 'The grúas of Tomas' being the Spanish way to say Tomas's Gruas. 'Eats, Shoots and Leaves' didn't sell too well in Spain, I heard. Guess they couldn't see what all the fuss was about.

My friend phoned me because he didn't speak Spanish and didn't know what to do. Even after he'd spotted the day-glo sticker, he still wasn't sure that his car hadn't been stolen.

El vehiculo A88EEOE ha sido retirado de este lugar.

The vehicle A88EEOE has been taken away from this place.

So I rang the number and asked for directions to the car pound, 'junto a nave de Grúas Tomas' (next to, or joined to, the warehouse of Thomas's Cranes') so that we could effect the 'recogida' (collection). Notice the road, Ctra Onda S/N. That means carretera (road) Onda sin número, without a number.

Actually, there was a number. 88. 88 euros to release the car. 

I hope this is one Spanish lesson you'll never get a chance to use. Happy motoring!


You've never seen a Valencian 'traca' ? Watch the video...


Tracas are very popular in this region. Weddings, birthdays, any celebration. Usually a traca is between 10 and 50m long and is spread out along the ground. These giant, suspended tracas are a feature of town festivals. This one was in Vila-Real. It was 500m long and stretched from the church of San Pascual to the ayuntamiento.

If you look closely you'll see a number of brave souls 'racing' the traca, another local tradition. 

If you're ever in Spain, it's well worth checking out if a local town has a 'fiesta' going on. A traca like this one is quite common on the last night of the festival. Ask at the oficina de turismo.

But don't stand too close!  

25 Love is in the air...

Not really a 'puzzle' this week. Just a slice of Spanish life, although if you follow the body language closely, you should be able to puzzle out the 'story'. There is a little snippet of language right at the end which I'll challenge you to translate.

Answer, or rather, explanation, at the end...

The link below will take you to a YouTube video.

 Love is in the air...

Good, isn't he? This was a 'Magic Festival', held in Vila-Real in May every year. It's quite small scale, this 'act' was in a local park and the 'assistant' was chosen from the audience of about thirty.

The little snatch of Spanish at the end? 'Qué dura es la vida del mago.'


'How hard is the life of a magician.'

24 What did you expect?

A simple photo puzzle. What's this? Can you also work out what the little (typed) note underneath the main poster says?

Answer below:

It's Great Expectations, the film, on show in Madrid's beautiful Cine Ideal (below).

The typed note says, 'V.O. INGLÉS S.' Any ideas?

The answer is Versión Original Inglés Subtitulada

Can you work it out now?

Versión original means original language soundtrack. So if the film was made in English (which this one was), they're showing it in English. The subtitles will always be in Spanish, for the local audience to follow along if their English isn't up to it. Lots of Spaniards go to original language films to practise their English or French or whatever language they speak. 
N.B., A (more common) variation of this sign, which means the same thing, is V.O.S.E., Version Original Subtitulada Español.

It was quite a good film as well. 

23 ¡Suerte! (Good) luck!

A photo and an enlarged detail of it for you to translate this week. ¡Suerte! (You'll see what I mean when you've finished...)


Translation below:

'If you don't play the 'Primitiva', don't even dream about it.'

La Primitiva is one of the many lotteries run by 'Loterias y Apuestas del Estado' (State lotteries and betting). It's similar to the Lottery in the UK except you choose 6 numbers from 49.

As I said, ¡Suerte! (Good luck!)

22 ¡Estás de Broma, otra vez!

Keeping up the 'lighter' tone of the blog for another week, here's a little joke to start you off with a smile. The faster the laugh comes, the better your students are doing! Ready...?

Hay tres clases de personas,

Las que saben contar...

Y las que no!

Oh come on! This is a free resource. You're not going to get Michael McIntyre!

Translation: There are three types of people,

Those who know how to count...

And those who don't!

See you all next week. (I hope!)


21 ¡Estás de Broma! 

Well, that's the first part of your puzzle for this week. What does that mean? Answer below...

Got it? It means 'You're joking!' So what's the joke? Here it is, not a difficult one, but just in case, there's a translation underneath. Hope it gives you a giggle...


Translation: The world is unjust!

20 Parking Problema.

What do you have to de here?

If you're still stuck, there's a clue in the next pictures... 



Got it now? But which is which? And why? 

Answer below...

The 'Cordon' is relatively simple, seeing as 'cordón' means 'string' or 'cord'. 
And by the way, why is there no accent on the 'o' on the streetsign but there is in my dictionary? Are Spanish local authorities dropping it, just like some UK authorities are dropping apostrophes in road names? Is there an acento preservation society in Spain? But I ramble...

Why 'bateria' I hear you ask? My dictionary tells me it means 'battery', 'drums' or 'footlights' (in a theatre)... So I asked the Spanish staff in my staffroom and they all said it means 'battery', 'drums' etc. When I mentioned the parking sign they all said, 'Oh yes, that too,' but couldn't really explain why...

Any offers?

19 The Other Face of Spain.

For the last three weeks I've highlighted the fun of the Fallas fiesta. This week, a stark change.

It's a sign of the times that sights such as this are becoming much more common in Spain. At least I'm able to report that there did seem to be a fair number of people putting coins (or sending their young children over to put coins) in the man's bucket. 
Cyprus has shot to headline status in the news recently, but Spain's crisis is ongoing. The latest unemployment (paro) figure for Spain is 26% (the youth rate, 16-24 year-olds, is 56.5%).

Translation below:

Dear public, I am the father of a family. I have four children that I have to give food to. I don't have any work nor do I get unemployment benefit. This is very hard and very sad. My children ask me for a bit of bread and I don't have it to give to them. I am living on the street with a lot of misery and hunger (hambre?). My children and I, for the love of god, ask you to help me so that my children eat a bit of bread thanks to you. The need is so much that I'm obliged to ask for my children. Please have compassion and god will pay you a lot. Many thanks.

In case you were wondering, I did ask the man's permission to take his photograph, having explained what I wanted it for. He was happy for me to do so.

From me, a happy Easter, I'll be back in two weeks.

18 Food for Fallas!

Fallas may be over, the finale, the Cremà, is always on March 19th (see the main blog for some spectacular photos of that), but I have one more fallas tradition to tempt you with
Look at the photos below. What do you think these foods are called? (Very useful to know this if you ever want to try  them when you visit!) What are they made of and what do they taste like? I'll give you a clue, I ate loads!)

Numero uno
Hmmm. I get the impression I've got your attention now! Ok, have you had a guess? I'll give you two more clues before I give the game away. Here's a poster and the price list. Can you pick them out now?
N.B., if you have time, try to work out what all the other words and symbols mean? Or why not decide on what you'd like and work out the price of your meal?
(Get your teacher to give me their credit-card number and I could ship it all over, might not be quite so tasty by the time it arrived, but you never know...)

 Got them all? Here are the answers:

1. Gofres caseros. That's 'waffles' to you. 'Caseros' means home-made, and if you hang around you can watch them pour the batter into the mould and smell them as they cook... Mmmmm! Delicio- Sorry, Getting a bit carried away.
The 'u' on the price-list means 'unidad'. So one will cost 2euros, or 2.50 for a chocolate one, 3euros for choco and cream (nata). (You know you want to!)

2. Buñuelos. 0.90 centimos each. The sign tells you they'll have a piece of fig, apple, chocolate or banana inside, but usually they have a few apples or figs or whatever next to them in the display so you don't have to ask which they've cooked tonight. They're a bit like doughnuts but not so 'spongey' inside. Almost more like fish'n'chip batter but sweet, that's a sugar dispenser behind and they spray that around like they get it for free.

3. More buñuelos, but did you notice the tell-tale nata (cream) or chocolate oozing out of them?

4. The 'king' food of fallas. The fish'n'chips of España. Churros! These are crispy 'doughnut' fingers (with 'lashings' of sugar unless you stop them. 'Sin azucar, por favor.' They'll look at you as if you're off your trolley if you say that but it might save you from a cardiac later in life... or later in the week. 
They're also a very popular breakfast choice, usually with chocolate calliente for dipping. On the price-list that's the little 1euro pot of 'churro chocolate'.
churros are usually sold by the docena (dozen) or media dozen (work it out!) but the vendors are notorious bad counters and you just end up with a bag-ful and there's never less than the promised number, usually more. An English 'baker's dozen' is 13, not one more not one less. A Spanish 'chuueria's docena' is a lottery, but you always win! Says a lot about the UK and Spain that!

5. Churros de chocolate. Call an ambulancia! 

So you're all set to enjoy 'Fallas' now. The wackiest fiesta of them all. March 15th to 19th every year in the city of Valencia and some nearby towns. If you can, arrive a couple of days earlier to see them being put up. A stunning sight as half a giant waiter is hoisted up into the air by a grua (crane) as the traffic zooms past underneath it. (See this blog post for some snaps: Building the Fallas.)

I aim to give you all an interest in Spain through these puzzle pages. Am I succeeding?


17 Who is this man?

Some photos to look at and two questions to answer…

Who is this man?

And why is he so popular in Valencia that there are statues of him all over the city this weekend?


Answers below...

It’s Mariano Rajoy, leader of the Partido Popular (PP) and current Prime Minister of Spain. The PP is the right-of-centre party, equivalent of the British Conservative party.

Why is he so popular? Well, the truth is he isn’t. 

The key to this answer is the date. Between the 15th and the 19th of March every year, the Valencian Community celebrates ‘Fallas’, where colourful statues are built, often lampooning unpopular politicians. 

Rajoy can be seen in one statue being taught by the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, how to cut government spending. 

In another, he’s seen praying that the euro doesn’t go (quite literally) down the toilet.

Fallas is a stunning visual fiesta. For a full selection of some other striking faces from this annual event, visit the ‘Faces of Fallas’ page of the blog, here:
Faces of Fallas
And to catch some of the atmosphere of the inctedible 'cremà' (burning) try this:

The Cream of La Cremà 

N.B., The first picture of Rajor is actually taken from Burriana, one of the other towns in the Valencian community that also celebrates Fallas. All the others are from the city of Valencia.

Finally, here's a picture of the man in real life, so you can judge for youreslves just how good the art of Fallas is.


16 Not with a bang but an explosion

These signs have just started appearing all over the Valencian community. Two questions for you. What do they mean? And why now?

To answer your questions, I’ll direct you to a blog-post from this time last year. I’m sure you’ll find it… ‘interesting’.

When you’ve finished it, return here to read two topical newspaper headlines from the local rag.

First the blog post explaining the potos…

Now the newspaper headlines, translations below…

Newspaper headline 1.

Headline 2.


1. 8 year-old children may throw bangers in Magdalena (a fiesta in Castellón) and Fallas.

2. A child loses an eye handling bangers.

15. Café, anyone?

I often use songs in my classroom. Bear in mind I teach Spanish 6- and 7-year-olds so it’s usually Biff and Chip singing about Floppy’s Bath or the like. I play the song without showing the children the words then dish out house-points to anyone who can tell me anything that's happening in the song. Only then do I ‘release’ the words for the children to ponder over. I then translate anything they don’t understand (‘muddy’).

You might want to try something similar with this. In fact, I’d play the song first time without even showing the video. It’s a fan’s video and the ‘acting’ gives a lot of clues to the meaning of the words, so I’d use it as ‘stage two’. For stage three I’d give them the Spanish lyrics (below) and for stage four I’d either work through the difficult words/phrases with them or give them my translation.

A note again about my level of Spanish. I’m no expert. I spent a lot of time with my dictionary trying to work out some of the words/phrases. I’m still not sure it’s 100% accurate, especially some of the idiomatic phrases, so please don’t hesitate to tell me that I’ve made a huge mistake, I won’t take offence, I’ll be grateful for the help.

Also, please let me know how this type of ‘puzzle’ goes down. I’ve tried to choose a song that the students might like, but also one with some vocab which you as teachers might appreciate. ¡Disfruta!

Lyrics plus translation (PDF) after the video (YouTube)...

14. A Walk in the Park (2) Playtime.

Two signs to translate this week. The puzzle isn't just the translation, but can you work out what are they referring to?


Over to you now. What do the signs say and what do they refer to? 

Translations below...

Sign 1: Regulations of the Gulliver zone.

It's not permitted to consume food.
It's not permitted to smoke.
No dogs.
It's not permitted to go up the slides.
It's not permitted to climb the highest peaks.
It's not permitted to throw the gravel.
It's not permitted to bring large bicycles in.
It's not permitted to paint or scratch (?) the figure or the common areas (eg. wc).
We ask for RESPECT for park personel.
Schools must come with at least one teacher.

Sign 2

Although you can play on all of Gulliver, some zones have an anti-slip and coarse surface. Use the slides only from where you see the red line. Remember that you will enjoy the figure better with jeans or similar.  

So, what do the signs refer to? The answer is in the following blog post. Click on this link...

Gulliver's Bed.

13. The Big Match.

Short and sweet this week, a simple sentence to translate. You can make it a bit more difficult as the sentence is revealed in two parts. Try stopping the video before the bottom of the message is shown, can your students guess how the sentence will end?
And for a bonus, can anybody name the teams and the stadium? I'll be very impressed if they can. Answers below.
Video will open in a new window.

Link to Video 


The banner reads, 'Haz que nuestro sueno... se haga realidad.'
Translation: 'Make our dream... become a reality.' (We'd probably say, 'Come true.')

The match was Valencia v Paris Saint Germain at the Mestalla stadium in Valencia 12.02.13.

12. Home, Sweet Home?

We start this week with a selection of photos. Suggest you view them one at a time and play, 'Who's the first to guess what it is?' Only one guess each though, once you've guessed, you can't change it. Now concentrate!

There are 8 photos in all, but if you haven't worked it out by number 7, you were up way too late last night. So don't leave your guess too long.

Ocho and out!

So, what's the story? Well, I was tootling up this street in the Grao district of Castellón de la Plana (Communidad Valenciana) and I nearly parked my car into one of those palm trees on the right. It's a stunning sight. Completely unexpected (as you might expect) but it really does brighten up a rather ordinary street.
Here's the only detail I could find, near the front door.

Translation: This building was planned and directed by José Luís Gimeno Serrano, Emilio Llobat Guarino and Santiago Royo Garcia, the invaluable help in the work, of Carlos Moragrega Mor and the distinguished/famous participation of the (person from Castellón) Juan Ripolles. 

Ripolles is quite a celebrity in this area, known for colourful (and slightly bizarre) sculptures. You need to check out his back catalogue before commissioning him to produce something for your front garden. But, I've got to confess, I've got a bit of a soft spot for some of his work. 

Especially if it's located nowhere near the road!

11. Clean and Tidy.

Apologies if these are commonplace in the UK now. I've been in Spain for 7 years now and have just spotted this. It made me laugh so much. I was quite pleased there was nobody there using it at the time, but I'm tempted to go back and see it in 'action'. ¡Disfruta!! 



And now for the answers, this week I'm not going to add a translation. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. So here are siete mil palabras...

Plus a couple of extras for context...

It's a dog's life, innit?

10. A visit to the doctor?

What do you make of the following?

Commentary and translations below...

Well no, I haven’t been to the doctor as you might have guessed. In fact, I’ve been to the fair. A medieval fair. And at the fair I spotted this stall selling… tea. (Or té, as they say around here.)

Now, I’m a coffee man myself, and Spain is certainly one of the best places in the world for enjoying a tasty (and not horrendously expensive) cup. But had I known how many things could be cured by a good old cuppa char? Well, I might have saved myself a few trips to the doc’s. So let’s go through the wonder remedy list.

No. 1. is  for cellulite. Very useful!

No. 2. Gases and flatulence. Even more so!

No.3. Frigidity and impotence. Nice to know those two curses can be sorted out with a cuppa!

No.4. Constipation.

No.5. A cure for diarrhoea and a laxative. Now these are both very useful, but don’t you think it’s a bit of a risk putting them so close together? I mean, imagine if the labels got mixed up? A quick gust of wind could do it! I guess it wouldn’t be so bad if you needed the laxative and you took the cure for diarrhoea by mistake. But imagine if you’ve got diarrhoea and you end up taking a laxative? If I was the stall-holder, I’d put those two ‘cures’ at opposite ends of the table! Just in case...


9. Seen in the street.

Look carefully, there are a couple of 'helpful' clues, although I will confess, I had to ask for an explanation...

Explanation below...

O.K.? The 'clues' are the picture, a cup of tea/coffee. Also the question mark. You are being asked something by the owners of a café, this one isn't far from where I live. 

So what does 't.a.p.t.c.?' mean?

Start by saying the letters (as a Spaniard would say them).
Teh, ah, peh, teh, theh. Now say them all together as if it's a word (or two!)

Any luck? Answer below...

'¿Te apetece?' 

Which in this context would translate as 'You like?' 'Fancy some?' 'Feeling peckish?'

I thought it was really clever (when I'd had it explained to me). So, yes, 'Un café con leche descafeinado de máquina, para mi. Y tú?'

8. Happy(?) New Year.

Welcome back everybody. I'll start the new year with something I spotted in the beautiful city of Murcia over holidays. 

Spoiler alert, translation follows below...

Have you worked it out? You see a lot of these signs around the towns of Spain, especially now that the economic 'crisis' is in full swing. Translation...

To ask is sad. 
But sadder, is not to give. 
Many thanks for your help.

A message maybe, to put all our own little worries into a larger perspective, at the start of the year.

Feliz año nuevo a todos.

7. 14.12.12 Have a very safe Christmas.

I wanted to find a ‘Christmassy’ theme for my last puzzle before the holidays. Although this is not specifically a Christmas message, and although it is (unusually) not my own work, I feel it is an appropriate way for me to sign off for the holiday season.

Note for teachers: I teach 6 and 7 year old Spaniards in English, a trick I often use whenever I play a song where the lyrics are displayed on the screen, is to play the audio only to start with. That way the children have to test their listening skills, before they get a chance to read on second viewing. I suggest you do the same with this video…

Firstly, the transcription, which I’m pretty sure I’ve got right this time!

Veamos la agenda de tu móvil. Tienes un montón de nombres. Si te ocurre algo, lo más rápido que tenemos, los servicios de emergencia y los cuerpos de seguridad, para avisar a la persona que quieras, es tu móvil. ¿A quien llamamos? Pon en la agenda de tu móvil ‘Aa’ “Avisar a” delante de la persona que elijas. Así, esta será la primera de tu lista, la persona a quien avisaremos. Gracias por ayudarnos. Es un mensaje de Cruz Roja y Ministerio del Interior, Gobierno de España.

Now the translation. As usual, if my skills are worse than yours, please let me know.

We’re looking in the contact-list of your mobile phone. You’ve got a load of names. If something happens to you, the quickest method that the emergency services and security bodies have of advising the person that you want, is your mobile. Who shall we call? Put in your contacts list ‘Aa’, “Notify (to)” in front of the person that you choose. In this way, the person that we will contact will be the first on your list. Thanks for helping us. This is a message from the Red Cross and the Interior Ministry (Home Office), Spanish government.

Commentary: Before you read the commentary, discuss what everybody thinks of this idea.

I was really impressed when I first saw the ad. Well, actually, it was probably the third time ‘cos I know I didn’t catch all of it first time through. I got my phone out and immediately put ‘Aa’ in front of my wife’s name. But after a spot of googling, I discovered that not everyone thinks it’s such a good idea. One of the main complaints is that there’s already a system in place. Did you know that? Well, I (clearly) didn’t. It’s called 'In Case of Emergency' (you put 'ICE' before your name, and (despite the English) it’s apparently used by quite a few Spaniards and they therefore don't see the need for a new system.

So, it seems you have a choice (in Spain at least). Whatever you choose, have a very happy (and safe) Christmas. I’ll be back in the New Year. But first, I’m going on holiday… to England.

Jeremy Dean.

6. 9.12.12 A Walk in the Park (1)

Note for teachers: Something different this week, video. I imagine the first three videos will be entertaining for your students. The fourth is an interview which might only be suitable for A-level (it certainly had me playing it a few times). Please let me know.

Introduction. I was walking in Valencia’s (dry) River Turia Park the other day when I came across this… 

(Watch the videos in order, the last one is an interview which explains everything. You might want to discuss what you’ve seen after watching the first three videos, before you watch the fourth.) Videos will open in a separate YouTube window.

Video 2

Video 3

OK, I imagine you all enjoyed that. Now for the tricky part, listen carefully!

Video 4 interview

So, did you get everything? I imagine not. I've lived here for six years now and I still had to request some help from one of our bi-lingual teachers, and she had to listen a few times and guess some bits. So, as usual, if there are errors here, please let me know and I'll correct them.

I'll give you the Spanish transcription of the interview first, so that if you had trouble understanding any of it, you can translate it instead. Ready?

Hola todos, me llamo Jhon Roy, y el deporte que practico se llama 'tricking'.

Es una mezcla de arte marcial y acrobacias. Tiene algo de Capoeira*, deriva de tai-kwon-do.

Empezé en el tricking con catorce años y llevo ahora ya unas cuatro años, por ahí.

Y nada, aqui estamos una tarde grabando un video, Angelo y yo.

Yo soy Angelo Moreno, y Jhon me ha pedido que le ayuda a grabar este video haciendo 'tricking'.

Yo me a dedico hacer videos y fotos y bueno, de momento lo unico importante que puedo contar es que he ganado la vuelta al mundo con la radio y lo que de mantiene todavia haciendo videos y ahora estoy con el, haciendo esto
Adios, hasta luego, bye

Estudia mucho, eh? Y no seas como yo.

*Capoeira: Even a number of bilingual Spanish staff had no idea what this was, but finally we tracked it down, it's a Brazilian martial art combining dance and music.
It's on Google (sometimes spelled Capoira).

And finally, the translation...

Hello everyone, my name is Jhon Roy and the sport that I practise is called 'tricking'.

It's a mixture of martial arts and acrobatics. It has a bit of Capoeira, it derives from tai-kwon-do.
I started doing 'tricking' when I was fourteen years old and I've been doing it now for four years, more or less.

And, nothing, we're here this afternoon making a video, Angelo and I.

I'm Angelo Moreno and Jhon has asked me to help him to record this video (of him) practising 'tricking'.

I spend my time making videos and taking photos, and, well, at the moment the only important thing that I can say is that I won a trip around the world on the radio and I'm still making videos and now I'm with him, doing this.

Goodbye, see you later, 'bye'*

Study hard, OK? And don't be like me!

*'Bye'. It's something I notice quite a lot around here (I live close to, but not in Valencia). Many people can be a bit embarrassed about speaking English, even when they do so, quite well. But they'll often throw in a little English word when the conversation is 'over' and they have an 'escape route'. It often happens in a lift, we'll have a little converstaion (in Spanish) then, as I or they exit, they'll throw in a little 'goodbye' just as the door closes the conversation. I often wonder how they know I'm English, not German (or Japanese!)

So, Valencia's Turia River, there's more to it than first meets the eye, you have to agree. If you're ever (lucky enough to be) in the city, take a walk or a cycle ride along its 8km length. You never know what you might discover.

My thanks to Jhon Roy (he corrected my spelling when I wrote John) and Angelo Moreno for their kindness in allowing me to make the videos. I did notice that they were in fact packing up when I came across them, but responded immediately to my request for a demonstration to film (even though Jhon was clearly already pretty exhausted) and for an 'interview' which they did in one take. 

Spain? There's a surprise around every corner...

5. 30.11.12 Your very good health! 

This sequence of pictures tell a story, so I will reserve all the translations until the end.





O.K., have you made sense of the story? Translations and commentary follow...


1. The Pharmacists of the Valencian Community.
Yes. We want that the citizens of this community (regional government) have the same right as other Spaniards to have their medicines.

2. Yes, we have guaranteed the right of the citizens to health at the cost of our own personal income.

3. No, we don’t have any other remedy but to close two out of every three days so that they don’t drive the pharmaceutical provision to the wall.

4. Very important notice. 
Due to non-payment by the Valencian (regional) government for the medicines that we dispense to you, this pharmacy communicates to you that it has financial problems which result in daily losses of medicines.
Unfortunately, these non-payments are going to cause that at any moment we won’t have in stock some of the medicines that you need.

Excuse the inconvenience.

5. The Valencian pharmacists. No, we can’t dispense more medicine. We cannot buy them if the (local) government don’t pay us for the five and a half months (worth) that they owe us.

Mister Politicians, where is the money from our taxes?

We’re protesting with this strike against your irresponsibility, your egotism and your incompetence.

Don’t play with the health of the sick.

The pharmacists of the Valencian community.

Commentary: You will probably be aware that the Spanish economy is in 'crisis'. That crisis takes many forms. Local pharmacies in the Valencian community have risen steadily up the news order on the television and in newspapers.

Essentially, what has happened is quite simple. Pharmacists buy medicine from the companies that make them. They then dispense them to patients who come in with a prescription. They charge the patients a discounted rate and then claim the difference from the local regional government (the Comunidad Valenciana). Patients pay a discounted rate for medicines as part of the Spanish Health Service, which is administered by the local (regional) governments, of which Valencia is one. You'll notice the pharmacist cutting the barcode from every packet that they dispense, so that they can claim the money owed to them from the government.
It's a simple system, until the government runs out of money and doesn't pay the pharmacists what it owes them.

For five and a half months.  

So the pharmacists are paying full price for medicine, charging the discounted price which the government stipulates they have to by law, but the government isn't completing the circle by paying the pharmacists the difference.

Result, pharmacies in financial trouble, strikes and a sense of chaos. 

Two things have happened recently in an attempt to solve the problem. Firstly, the discounts given to patients have been cut, and secondly, the government and the pharmacists have agreed to negotiate a time-scale for the due money to be repaid. 

It's another sign of the crisis. Actually, there are lots of signs. You'll see them in the windows of nearly every pharmacy you pass.


A pharmacy in the Cabanyal district of Valencia.

4. 23.11.12 Mind your step... 

What do you make of this?

Spoiler alert...

Translation below...

Translation: 'Who is the animal?
Keep Burriana clean.'

There’s some smaller writing at the bottom, if you’re having trouble reading it, it says…

'Para mantener limpia la ciudad, recoge los excrementos de tu mascota.

No recoger los excrementos de tu mascota está considerado como una infracción sancionable.


Spoiler alert…
Translations below…

Translation: 'To keep the city clean, pick up your dog-mess.
Not to pick up your dog-mess is considered a punishable offence.
The magnificent town-hall of Burriana.'

(Note, this last sentence is written in the local ‘Valenciano’ language.)


My nieces come to visit us here in Spain and they’re absolutely staggered and disgusted by the amount of dog-mess there is on the streets. We find this quite interesting. When I was their age, younger even, dog-mess on the street (in London, my hometown) was an everyday obstacle. We barely thought about it, unless we were scraping it off the soles of our shoes. The idea that anyone should pick it up and put it in a bag was simply unheard-of. Madness. 

I remember seeing an item on the news one night about a town in the U.S.A. (I think it was in California) where some law had been passed forcing dog-owners to do just that. Well, how we laughed! Those crazy Americans! There were a few other crazy ideas around at the time, I remember. Like forcing everybody to wear a seat-belt! Or not allowing them to smoke in pubs and restaurants. What lunacy.
I can’t quite work out why we laughed. I mean, I didn’t exactly like carrying mounds of dog-pooh into our house and spreading it all over the carpets. (My mum wasn’t too keen on it either.) But laugh we did, and then, of course, everything changed.

Much later, we came to Spain, and it was like we’d travelled back thirty or forty years. Heaps of poop and not a scooper in sight...
Until quite recently when signs and posters began to appear like this one in Burriana. Things are changing. You see more and more people scooping it up. (You also have to wear a seat-belt and you can’t smoke in bars and restaurants.)

And in case you think this is an entirely humorous post, note that in the UK nearly 100 children are partially blinded every year by Toxicariasis, the disease spread by the larvae of the Toxocara canis worm that lives in a dog’s intestine. I haven’t been able to find comparable figures for Spain. Maybe a quick project for you? I’d be interested in any findings and would add them to this resource.

And by the way, don’t you just love that ‘Magnificent’ in the title of the Burriana town council? 

And here it is, in case you were dubious, the 'Magnificent Town Hall of Burriana!'

Pure class!

3. 16.11.12 Food, Glorious Food!

I went into my local supermercado last Saturday afternoon. I was looking for some of that delicious ‘Queso Manchego’ made in La Mancha from sheeps' milk. I also fancied a few strips of Serrano ham. And also some rice, maybe to make a paella on Sunday afternoon. We’re learning a lot about Spain and its food while living here.

I wasn’t quite expecting the lesson I got as the sliding doors opened…

There is a bit of a commotion at the entrance, half-a-dozen people wearing yellow tabards are in the way. They’re giving out carrier bags. 

A number of large signs explain all…

Sign 1

 Sign 2

And a smaller one adds a clue to the detail.

Spoiler Alert...

Translations follow below…

Sign 1: 

Operation Kilo 

November 2012

will be carried out during

the (days) 9th and 10th of November.

Dare yourself to join in!

For every kilo that you contribute

Carrefour will donate another

to the food bank.  

Sign 2:

Together we will donate double the kilos.

For every kilo that you contribute
Carrefour will donate another
to the food bank.


Food Banks.


Commentary: Spain is going through hard times at the moment. Very hard times. The call it the ‘crisis’, but students of Spanish will know to pronounce it ‘creesees’. Unemployment has just tipped over 25% of adults. Does anyone know the rate in the UK?

Answer below...


The youth unemployment rate (16-24 year-olds) in the UK is 20%. Do you know the figure for Spain?

Answer below...


Students of economics and politics will debate the reasons and possible solutions. I’m merely witnessing one of the consequences in one small town.

The first thing that strikes me here is the number of people taking bags, and the number of people coming through the check-outs and bringing full bags to the collection desk. I talk to ‘María’, one of the volunteers. She tells me it’s a constant flow. They’re shifting trolleys of food out to trucks all day long.

It doesn’t surprise me. One thing I’ve noticed in my six years here is the tremendous sense of ‘community’, the seemingly unending list of processions, celebrations and fiestas, most of them conducted in the streets, and open to anyone to join in. Check out the 'Paella monumental' post on my blog for an example, or any of the 'Fallas' posts. (I’m based near Valencia.)

At the other end of the chain from the supermarket are the ‘Bancos de Alimentos’, recently awarded the Premio Principe de Asturias de la Concordia 2012. Here is the telegram of congratulations:

Translation below.

As honorary president of the foundation which bears my name, and together with my wife the Princess, it's a great pleasure to express to you my warmest letter of congratulations for the Prince of Asturias Harmony Prize which has been awarded to the insitiution which you chair. The panel (of judges) has considered your work, voluntary and generous, of food distribution which takes care of a large number of people in situations of extreme need.
Very affectionately,
Felipe, Prince of Asturias.
Finally, I’ll leave you with a couple of links to two short pieces on the (Federación Española de Bancos de Alimentos) website explaining what they are and who they benefit.

And as I headed home with my queso, jamon and arroz, I also carried with me a greater understanding of the people that inhabit this country. 
And in case you were wondering...
Yes, of course I did.
Spain has that effect on you. 

A P.S., spotted this in the local rag a couple of days ago...


'Yes, to the banks!'
'Yes, to the banks?'
'To the food-banks.' 

2. 10/11/12. First impressions... can be misleading. What's this?

Teachers, it's a good idea to preview this one as you'll be able to ask some 'leading' questions if you know what's coming. Alternatively, if you're already 'live', just keep asking, 'What is it?' until the answer changes...

You could give a prize for the first one to work it out. 

The final picture gives some written details which students might wish to translate, using a dictionary if necessary. I hope the photos create some interest and discussion...  

And now your students really have to work, answers below...

Answers coming below: As usual, teachers and students, please don't be shy about correcting any of my Spanish errors, and please accept what your teacher says if they point them out, they will undoubtedly have better Spanish than I do. I'm more of a photographer than high-class speaker of Spanish, so any help to improve the resource (and my language skills) will be greatly appreciated.

Malla: Mesh
Arandelas: Washers
Producción: Production
Proyección: Projection
Aulas: Workshops
Bridas: Flanges
Verano: Summer
Cabeza: Head
Cola: Tail

Translation: The lizard/gecko gives luck to the users of the spaces that it inhabits, in IADE we have the luck to count on exceptional professionals teaching in their classrooms, they say that luck is contagious... 

IADE is the Institución Artística de Enseñanza at the University de Alcalá. Their website is worth a look for more details about  La Salamanquesa and more photos.
Where is it? We were wandering through Madrid a couple of weekends ago, walking along Calle del Prado (away from Plaza de las Cortes). At the intersection with Calle Leon, there was a large crowd staring up at the wall of the Hotel Vincci Soho, c/Prado 18. 

La Salamanquesa changes colour as the wind moves the CDs, the clouds move across the sun or you change your viewing point.

Click here for map of location 

There's no doubt in my mind, Spain might be going through tough economic times, youth unemployment is over 50%, yet the Spanish still have a talent to surprise and delight.

And a P.S., I have no link whatsoever with the hotel in question, except for an admiration of their vision.


1. Where would you see this and what does it mean?

Here's a clue...

And the answer...

Those of you with eagle eyes (or the wit to zoom in to the photo) might have spotted the sign at the bottom of the mats. That might have directed you to think about a metro system, which is where we are, in Valencia.

The red mat on the left, 'CON PRISA,' translates as, 'With haste'. So, the green sign on the right, 'SIN PRISA,' means 'Without haste'.

On the London underground there are signs which say, 'Please stand on the right,' serving the same function, allowing those who wish to keep moving to overtake on the left.

Bonus points to anyone who guessed or worked out that, 'AMB PRESSA' and 'SENSE PRESSA' are the Valenciano language translations.  

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