Spain: Nine facts on the Sochi 2014 Paralympics

The alpine skiing powerhouse will hope that Jon Santacana Maiztegui has recovered enough from an injury earlier in the season to make his mark in Sochi.

• Spain has won 14 gold medals, 14 silver medals and 10 bronze for a total of 38 at the Paralympic Winter Games.

• Spain is one of 13 NPCs to have won more than 200 medals of each colour at the Paralympic Games and Paralympic Winter Games combined: 212 gold, 221 silver, 223 bronze.

• Spain has won all of its 14 gold medals in alpine skiing events. In total it has won 35 of the 38 medals in this sport. It has won the other three (two silver, one bronze) in cross-country skiing.

• Alpine skiing is Spain’s third most successful sport measured in gold medals at the Paralympic Games and Paralympic Winter Games combined after swimming (101) and athletics (74).

• Spain has won a medal in each Paralympic Winter Games after debuting without any medals in 1984.

• Eric Villalon (five gold, three silver, one bronze), Magda Amo (four gold, one silver, one bronze) and Jon Santacana Maiztegui (two gold, two silver, two bronze) are the most successful athletes for Spain at the Paralympic Winter Games.

• Villalon, Amo and Santacana Maiztegui have won medals in three editions.

• Amo is the only Spanish woman to have won four gold medals in alpine skiing in a single edition, in 1998.



Legendary Spanish flamenco guitarist Paco de Lucia dies

Paco de Lucia, the Spanish guitarist who brought flamenco to a world audience, has died in Mexico aged 66.

Born Francisco Sanchez Gomez, he was credited with modernising the Spanish Gypsy tradition with jazz and bossa nova influences during a decades-long career.

The mayor’s office in his southern hometown of Algeciras, deep in flamenco country, said De Lucia died in Mexico of a heart attack. “Paco de Lucia’s death turns his genius into a legend,” said the mayor of Algeciras, Jose Ignacio Landaluce, in a statement. “Although he has gone, his music, his wonderful way of playing and his character will always be with us.”

The town called three days of mourning and flew flags at half-mast for “the greatest guitarist of all time”.

Born into a humble family in the southern Spanish region on December 21, 1947, de Lucia grew into a musical giant who blended jazz, pop and classical influences with the folk tradition of flamenco. He credited his father, a singer of Gypsy origin, with introducing him to music, encouraging him to practise for hours.

“The gypsies are better since they listen to music from birth. If I had not been born in my father’s house I would be nobody. I don’t believe in spontaneous genius,” the guitarist once said.

From the age of just 12 de Lucia was out playing and earning at flamenco “tablaos” – the intimate, smoky bars that are home to the authentic form of the tragic gypsy lament and dancing.

By 15 he had moved to Madrid and by 18 brought out a first album.

It was in Madrid that he met another gifted teenage flamenco artist, the singer Camaron de la Isla, then just 15 and freshly arrived in Madrid. The two young men formed a legendary flamenco partnership, touring and recording together until Camaron’s death from cancer in 1992.

In 2004, de Lucia was awarded Spain’s prestigious Asturias Prize for Art as the “most universal of flamenco artists”.

“His style has been a beacon for young generations and his art has made him into one of the best ambassadors of Spanish culture in the world,” the jury said at the time.

In the 1980s de Lucia teamed up with guitarists John McLaughlin and Al di Meola to produce the classic album “Friday night in San Francisco”.

He branched out into jazz and bossa nova, drawing the scorn of traditionalists.

But he claimed to stay faithful to his origins, hunched over his guitar and grimacing with emotion as the flamenco “duende”, or spirit, possessed him.

“Whatever I do my sound will always be flamenco – because I am what I am,” he said. “Being a flamenco player is what gives me strength.”

Looking for Spanish teachers in Germany

Germany is looking for Spanish teachers with a degree and a high German speaking level. Applications to be sent before February 15th, 2014.


Baja Sajonia Education Board, located in Hannover (Germany), has published its new project  “Spanish teachers in Baja Sajonia” looking for Spanish teachers to work in German public schools, in secondary and bachelor teachings.  This project is inside the German- Spanish cultural agreement.

One of the main requirements for applicants is to be citizens from Castilla y León or La Rioja counties. Also, having a superior degree in foreign languages and to be younger than 30. And last but not least, to be available to sign a two year contract to teach in Hannover.

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When I started to work in Barclays Bank, where I worked for 24 years, I thought that I was going to retire there. But you never know, life changes constantly.

I was a happy hard worker,  I grew personally and professionally. My life was my job and it had its rewards. I had the pleasure of directing different branch offices in Madrid. I worked with fabulous people, I met fantastic customers and I learned  many things, things that I will use now.

I have 3 children, when my 2 first children were born I continued working full time, I didn´t see them grow, but I accepted it although I knew I could  never recover that time.

After 5 years, I was pregnant again, it was a desired pregnancy, when the baby  was born I thought  I wanted to live his infancy very much and then I decided to take maternal leave. I dedicated myself to spend two years only  with my family.

At that time we traveled  to Canada. There I learned that people were interested in our country and in our language, it was a great surprise to me. After Canada we went to Ireland, where our children went to school and I took an English course while my husband taught Spanish.

Ireland was wonderful , a great experience in our life, we learned many, many important things and we have  great memories from there.  During that time I started to think about my life, about my job, about  my family, I was looking for another kind of life . I  was happy, with  less things, really happy actually.

I learned that my own country and my language were more valuable to me than I had thought. In Ireland, we met many people interested in our language and in our country. Not only the beaches, but also the cities, the mountains, the monuments….

In Ireland I went to an English course in a small school , a family school in their own home.  They were fantastic and  friendly people, they were like our  family. Their teachers were very professional and I was lucky to be their friend . I fell in love with  that  business.

When we came back to Spain, I started to work part time in my old company,  but I was not the same person any more, I wanted another life. I thought about that wonderful and small school all the time. I got the idea  to continue  showing our country and our language abroad.

I summed everything up about this experience and I got to the conclusion that I wanted to have my own language school, but How?. I started to research, and little by little I discovered  it.  However, I had a good job and was impossible to leave it. In that precise time  the company opened a dismissing peoples process, and it was my moment.

I left Barclays Bank with sadness after many years, but with many hopes, enthusiasm and motivation to create my own company.

Now, I am here.

Esther Campos Pizarro