Thursday, September 2, 2010

Part II

And here we go again!
I'm headed back to Toledo for another year!

Find Raquael en Toledo, Part II here!

I don't think you'll be disappointed! :)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

ramblings from the airport....

As far as last days go, I’m not sure I cold have asked for a better one in Toledo.

I woke up around 9:30, in no rush, got ready and had breakfast in my room (some fruit that I bought the day before, and my Maria cookies, (which I still have from Pamplona/San Sebastian, and have been eating ever since)). By 11:00 or so, I decided to head into town. My hostel was outside of the city, right next to the train station. It was convenient this morning, when I needed to be at the station before 6:30, but less so for gallivanting around the city. I am just so glad that I bought the unlimited monthly bus pass. I definitely took advantage of it!

Anyway, after I went into town, I went to a ceramics museum, by accident mostly, as I was looking for another museum (Actually it’s the same museum, but you have to use another entrance) that had an exposition of El Greco’s paintings. I might be the only person in our program that hadn’t seen it yet. I really enjoyed it. I don’t know if it’s just because I lived in Toledo, but I have definitely become a fan of El Greco.

After those museums, I went to another one, a quite different one. It was the museum of ancient torture devices. Haha. This was… interesting. I couldn’t help but judge everybody in there for wanting to see this stuff... and then I realized that I myself paid to see these things as well. Haha. Whoops. Each item had a description of how the device worked and what punishments it was used for. It was kind of frightening, but mostly intriguing. Haha. 3E well spent.

Because this museum is so close to my favorite café, the Café de las Monjas, I stopped in to buy some marmalade for a gift. Our waitress friend, Carla, was there, and we were chatting. I told her it was my last day in the city, and was saying goodbye. Haha. She told me to come back to have a coffee (tea) if I had time. So I did, later. We’re totally going to keep in touch through facebook. This is awesome.

After the café, I went to buy a bocadillo, and I had a picnic by myself in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento. This is a big plaza by the Cathedral. Throughout my time in Toledo, when I was bored or didn’t know what to do, I would always just take a book to read in the plaza and people-watch. It was my favorite. Yesterday was no different. I think it was a great idea to spend my last lunch time there.

And of course, how could I live with myself if I knew that my last day in Spain was without a siesta? After lunch, I came back to my hostel and slept for a little bit (only 20 minutes), and got ready to go meet my friends.

We met at the place where I worked, and went out for another coffee (coke). I always say coffee because it’s so general, but I always get something else. It’s just easier to ask somebody if they want to go get coffee than it is to say, “let’s go get a daytime beverage of your choosing”. Anyway, we went to Enebro, in polígono, which is the neighborhood where I worked, and where my friends live. It’s kind of like a pub/university bar. It’s cool. There was one just like it in the plaza outside of our residence.

Anyway, after our coffee we went to their “band space”, haha, for a lack of a better term. It was awesome. They are like, a legit band. They rent this place, where they keep all of their music stuff, and they go there every Wednesday to play together. There were only 2 of them there, but it was still awesome. They were just playing around for a while, and they taught me how to play a song (by the Sunday Drivers!) on guitar. Haha. It was kind of hilarious really. They taught me the three chords that I need to know to play any song (C, E, and G, I believe)..I don’t know, they label notes by “do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti”.. So, all you need is “do, re, and so”. Haha. It’s always strange learning new things in another language. It’s like mastering two things at once.

Anyway, I had a lot of fun. I’m so glad I got to spend my last day with them. It was sure better than being alone! Good company, good conversations… Good times. Anyway, they gave me one of their band’s cds. I haven’t had a chance to listen much yet, but it’s pretty good. And they sing in Spanish, so that will keep my skills sharp at least for a while. :)

After the whole music thing, they drove me up to Zocodover, the center of the city, so that I could go back to the café to see Carla again. Haha. A private car ride in Toledo! For some reason, I think that private car rides are a symbol of having made it, in some sense, in a city. To have a friend who doesn’t mind driving you somewhere… I think this is significant in some way.
At the café, I had tea and a cookie, and it was awesome. Unfortunately I didn’t really didn’t get to talk to Carla much, since they were cleaning up to close. But that’s alright; I don’t regret enjoying the café one last time.

Upon leaving the café, I ran into Carlos. Oh, Carlos. I am not sure if I have ever written about Carlos, but he was one of the receptionists at the school. I am pretty sure that no person in my life has ever yelled at me as much as Carlos has. Haha. Here are some examples:

  • Example 1: We once had to watch a movie for a class (a group of 5 of us), but the TV room was occupied. We asked him if we could go into a classroom. Instead of telling us no, he explained to us for 15 minutes that we need to get our professor to give permission, etc. Thanks, Carlos. Next time we will.
  • Example 2: I was doing laundry once, and forgot to take it out before 8:00, the time when the laundry room closes. My clothes were trapped! I asked Carlos to open it for me so I could get them. Instead of just doing it, or just telling me no, he walked there with me, and yelled at me the whole time, telling me that I have to change my schedule to fit the laundry schedule. I told him a hundred times that I simply forgot. But thanks anyway, Carlos.
  • Example 3: One night, it was particularly windy in Toledo. It was also particularly hot, and we were all dying in our room. We had the windows open to try to create some kind of a breeze. However, because of the violent wind, the bathroom window shut itself rather fiercely, shattering the window pane. Whoops. We had to go tell reception, and unfortunately for us, Carlos was working. Oh man, we got an earful. “Was your window open? You need to keep your windows closed when it’s windy.” Thanks for the heads up, Carlos. Maybe someone could have told us BEFORE the window broke.

And the examples continue. I am not sure I ever had a particularly pleasant exchange with Carlos. The rest of the guys in reception were great. But Carlos….. haha.
When I saw him on the street, we didn’t stop to chat. I think he was surprised to see that somebody from the school was around still. We just waved, said hola, and kept going our separate ways. …Maybe that was better. :)

I also ran into my newest Moroccan friend, Yassif, in the city. By friend, I don’t really mean a friend. I mean a Moroccan man who I have seen “5 veces” (according to his count) in the last 3 days. He works at the Locutorio, the internet café, near my hostel. I would stop in every night for a few minutes to check my email, etc. He was always really excited when I showed up, and tried to talk to me. He even gave me free bubblegum. Haha. Anyway, I was walking past this Moroccan lamp shop, which I had seen a million times but never went into. He was standing outside, and when he saw me he got this huge smile and yelled “HELLO! HOLA!”, then motioned me into his lamp shop. haha. Oh man. I couldn’t help but laugh. Haha. In retrospect, I can’t believe I went in there. I am pretty sure that was the only time I ever felt less-than-safe in Spain. As soon as I walked in I immediately regretted my decision. Not that anything happened, but he just kept saying “go ahead, keep going, look, it’s really beautiful…” and things like that, trying to get me to go further in. haha. I just glanced, and then said I had to leave to meet someone. It was weird. Haha. I saw him again later that night when I went to use the internet. Luckily that was also the last time I saw him. ….Really, I’m sure he’s nice, just a little overzealous. Haha.

To continue my streak of seeing people I know, I was riding the bus back to my hostel, when I saw Katherine, a girl from my program. She is staying in Toledo until next semester. I had no idea she was still there, or we totally could have hung out. Either way, I have to say that my last days in Toledo were pretty awesome. I kind of had a chance to see what it would be like if I were to live there alone. And I am pretty sure that I could hold my own. I’d be able to make friends, and talk to people in stores, and avoid Moroccan men in lamp shops. All of these things give me confidence.

I think confidence is really one my buzzwords for this trip. I think I’ve gained a ton of it. Not just regarding my Spanish, but regarding everything. Being more independent on this trip has allowed me to see how capable I am to do things myself. I still haven’t resolved the whole independence issue yet, but I think I’m starting to see that, even if I do do things by myself, I am always able to meet new people and form new relationships. I started out not knowing anybody in Toledo, and now I feel like I have people there. This is a good thing.

Also, speaking of confidence, I have to say that during the last conversation that I had in Spanish, with the taxi-driver in Madrid, I heard for one last time that I "habla muy bien". This just proves it. Haha. I must be getting better. Jose Luis told me yesterday that he thinks 6-8 months is all I need to be really fluent… I still want to stay for another year. :)

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

my final days...

Well my last couple days here haven't been too boring. I've just been wandering around the city, doing my thing. I went out with the intention of getting lost, but kept finding that I knew where I was. haha, hilarious. I did take a ton of pictures though, to make up for all of the ones that I didn't take all semester! I promise that there are some gems in there. I'm going to have to make an album when I get home.. the intenet here is just way too slow for that.

Today I went to have coffee (aka a coke) with my friend from work and one of his bandmates. It was a good time. We just chatted for a few hours, then we went for a walk around the city and they told me everything that they know. haha. It was fun. Tomorrow they are getting together to play some music for a while (I think, I was kind of confused during this conversation), and they invited me to come too, so I'm going to hang out with them tomorrow as well. This is good. I hate not having people to talk to! haha

So anyway, I was walking around town today, going into tiendas and what not, and I was talking to some of the store attendants. Two of them told me that I speak really good Spanish. This has happened a LOT on this trip. And it's something that I always love to hear. I am pretty sure I have gained an enormous amount of confidence regarding my Spanish on this trip. I know I'm still not perfect, but so many people have told me that I understand and speak very well. So, they can't all be lying! ...Just think, after a year of living here, I'd be speaking like a native!

So, anyway, tomorrow is my last day here. I am going to visit a few museums, one of which is the museum of ancient torture devices. haha. Some spaniards once told me I should see it. So I'm going to. I saw a flier for it.. it looks brutual! haha. But I'm sure it will be interesting. I also have a few more gifts to buy. I was going to go to the pool, but I'm not sure if I'll have time now. I mean, I'd much rather hang out with other people than sit by myself at a pool anyway.. so that's what I'll do!

I can't really believe that it's going to be my last day here. I'm kind of sad. At the same time, I am looking forward to seeing everybody. I am definitely going to miss Spain a lot, as always.. but, just to be fair, here is a list of things that I will not miss:
  • a bed that is too short
  • bats flying into the bathroom window
  • those dang bells that ring at awkward times, all day, every day
  • the sweltering heat
  • having to pay to do laundry
  • slow internet
  • cuestas, and hills in general

Of course I will miss my siestas, and hearing Spanish, and speaking Spanish, and just being here. There is just something about this place that is so enchanting to me, and it's so difficult to try to describe.. but I'll miss it. I surely will.

In the mean time, I'm going to enjoy my last day here! And hopefully all will go well with the flight! Fingers crossed for no missed flights or lost baggage this time around! Oh, and, I will be in Germany for a layover.. so here's to visiting other countries?? haha. I don't know if this counts.

Hasta luego! And SEE YOU SOON!

Monday, July 27, 2009

se acabo

So I am sitting here in my room, all alone, and all of my things are in suitcases. It's such a weird feeling. I can't really believe that 6 weeks has passed already. I mean, I knew it was going to be short, but this was just too short.

The last few days have been full, but good.

Wednesday was my last day at work. It was such a weird, awkward day. I didn't like it. It was so strange to say goodbye to people. Part of me feels like I'll never see them again, and part of me feels like maybe I will. It's kind of strange. But if I come back to Toledo, I definitely want to volunteer there. I don't know. I just feel like there were a lot of people that I didn't get to say goodbye to either. Every day, different ladies come to serve in the comedor. I would have been saying goodbye for a whole week. haha.

Anyway, on my last day we had a "party". haha. We just bought coke and chips and olives/pickles/etc and hung out and listened to music and what not. Then we played that weird 80s trivia game again. So difficult! haha. But it was fun. I was kind of disappointed because I was so quiet on my last day. I swear I have my days.. some days I can be really chatty and have good conversations, and other days I struggle to understand, let alone start any good conversations. So that was one of the more difficult parts of the experience.

After I was done with my internship, I still had a paper to write. It had to be 5 pages, and my topic was Immigration in Spain. Oh man. Miguel, my professor, told me to have it by Wednesday if I could, but Thursday would be alright too. I knew it wouldn't be done by Wednesday, so I was aiming to have it done on Thursday at 4:00, which is when he leaves. Well, Thursday came around, and 3:00 came around, and I still only had 2 pages. I went to lunch, and he came over to ask if I had anything for him. haha, whoops. I told him that I hadn't finished it yet, and he gave me until 8:00 to email it. Thank goodness!! haha. Anyway, I spent the rest of the afternoon working...up until 7:55. Then I emailed it. It was horrible. I honestly was almost embarrassed that he would have to read it! haha. The ending was crap, and the citation was horrible, and it was a page short. And I had no central argument. It was basically just a string of thoughts that connected to each other, without ever really supporting any particular idea. But apparently Miguel liked it enough, because I got an A. haha. I couldn't believe it. He was like, "It was good. I liked your ideas. But the ending was kind of.................... superficial?" haha. I agreed, and grimaced, and bit my tongue..because I didn't want to tell him that the ending was written 3 minutes before the email was sent. But hey.. I can't complain about an A!

We got our grades on Saturday, and I got an A in the class. I was happy. But I was kind of upset about my evaluation from my boss. After we got our grades we had a chance to talk to our professors, so I went to see Miguel to find out what Montse wrote about me in my evaluation. It was horrible! haha. I got a 63% .. a D. I don't think I've ever gotten a D on ANYTHING before! I was like, "are you serious?" haha. Miguel told me he was surprised about a few things, and said that he was going to call her when she gets back from vacation. haha. I think that is funny, because honestly, after the class is over, what does it really matter? ... But I was just so taken aback by the whole thing. I mean, at times I felt like she didn't like me.. like when she told me I couldn't come to work after she left for vacation (which got sorted out), and how she would always give me this stupid look when I was trying to explain something but struggling with a word, or how she would laugh at me if I didn't understand something. haha. She always got annoyed over language problems, when everyone else would either slow down, or explain something in different words if I didn't understand. But whatever... no use worrying about it now. A D. That's unfortunate, but thankfully I still got an A in the class. Don't ask me how. I guess Miguel takes those evaluations with a grain of salt.

Friday I went to the pool with Jessie, and we swapped pictures from Sevilla. They are so fun. I have looked at them over and over again. haha. That was such a good weekend. Anyway, Friday was our last chance to hang out before Jessie left for Ireland. I honestly can't say how awesome it was to have somebody here in Toledo that I knew. And, even more so, to be able to go back to Sevilla with somebody who was there with me. It would have been a totally different experience! It was just such a coincidence. And, even though we didn't hang out much in Sevilla, we're totally friends now. haha. We'll definitely stay in touch from now on!

Ok, so remember how I told you about the cd of Spanish music from my coworker? And about The Sunday Drivers, the best band on that cd? .. Well, my friends and I have been listening to them for the last couple of weeks and loving them. And Thursday night, we were in a bar, and we saw this guy who looked like a musician. He had awesomely huge hair, and cool shoes... and I was like, "he has to be in a band... I bet he is in the Sunday Drivers..." just because it's the only band I know. Well, then on Saturday, we were walking somewhere, and saw the same guy driving. I was like, that has to be the guy from the Sunday Drivers. Because it's Sunday, and he's driving... haha, except that I quickly realized it was Saturday and felt stupid. Despite this, we looked up the Sunday Drivers online when we got back to the room, and HOLY CRAP. It was him! haha. Jose Luis had told me that they live in Casco, and that it would be easy to see them around, but I didn't believe it. haha. And I for sure wasn't planning on it actually happening. But the fact that it did makes me laugh. haha. And, just so you can experience the Sunday Drivers, I am going to post a video at the end of this post. They're fun.

Anyway, on Saturday, we also had a "graduation" thing. We got certificates, haha, like diplomas for completing the course, and then had a reception in the terrace. It was nice. It was like my final graduation... which is just a little bit hilarious. I can't really believe that I'm done, but I am glad to be. And who knows what will happen next! ... I stopped in to the University today to give them my application, and they told me to email a letter of intent, and that after they receive it, they'd email me back to let me know. The only thing is, the positions in Toledo are full (triste!!), so I'd have to go to Talavera de la Reina or Ciudad Real. I think I told them I'd prefer Talavera de la Reina, but I'm not sure. haha. I don't know anything about either of those cities, so it was a shot in the dark. We'll see what happens. .... I also applied for a job in Pittsburgh as a bilingual office assistant. So we'll see what happens with that, too. I honestly feel so torn, because I feel like I could do either of these things and be completely happy. I am struggling to know which of these is God's will (if either, or, if any). But now everything is out of my hands, and we'll just have to wait and see! At the very least, these are both exciting options!

Well, I think I am going to get going soon. It's almost 10:45 and I have to check out by noon. I want to take a little nap before I do. I have to move into a hostel, which I can only check into at 1, so I will have some time to waste before I get there.

I don't really have many plans for these next few days. I'm going to wander around the city, and take pictures that I have failed to take in the last few weeks, and go into churches and buildings that I should have gone to before. I might go to the pool again, to work on my awesome tan. I promise it's getting good! haha, I actually have color! Also, I am going to meet my friend from work for coffee (or something similar, because I don't like coffee) on Tuesday, and that should be good. I'm glad I won't have to be TOTALLY alone for 3 days. haha. But we'll see. I am really just planning on taking it easy and resting before I come back home and start working (immediately! the day I get back!).

Well, as promised, here is a song from the Sunday Drivers. It's my favorite..haha. It's cute.

un beso,

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"I hope I never lose my sense of wonder!"

So, I am pretty sure you could have all guessed.... but Sevilla was fantastic! Such a good weekend! haha. The trips that I have taken here have been really good, smooth ones. Maybe I'm just getting better at traveling, or planning. I'm not sure. But these last couple trips have been really calm and relaxed. Maybe it's the company I am keeping these days. Thumbs up to being tranquilo!

Sevilla-- what is there to say? It was just the way we left it! Mostly... Aside from Calle Asuncion, my calle, being completely torn up for renovations (to make it a pedestrian/bicycle path instead of a street for cars), mostly everything was just the way it was when we left. Even the metro obras in front of the school are still going on. Something tells me those will never be done! :) The Plaza de Espana was also under obras... I guess they are just doing construction on everything there. Or so it seemed!

Anyway, aside from the temperatures being insanely ridiculous, it was so nice. We got off of the train and knew where we were. We got on a bus and knew where we were. We knew how to get "home" to my senoras house. It was just so familiar and good. We knew our way around town and spent time just walking around our old stomping grounds, visiting our old favorite places. We met with Ana Bello for lunch at the CHINO!! It was so awesome. Even though I swore to myself I'd never be able to go back, after eating there 3 times in one week and feeling insanely ill after the 3rd time. I think that 2 years has been enough time to recover from that traumatic experience. haha. But, anyway, it was so awesome to hang out with Ana Bello. We are apparently taking turns visiting each other-- last year she came to Chicago, this year I was in Sevilla.... next year, we'll see. :)

So, I know you are all dying to know how things went with my senora. And, let me reiterate the phrase that NOTHING HAS CHANGED in Sevilla. On the first night, I already felt overwhelmed by her. haha. It's so hard to explain what it is about her that makes me feel the need to run out of the house screaming.. haha. But I guess I kind of feel smothered there or something. My mom doesn't even worry about my whereabouts as much as my senora does. I just want to go do my thing and not have to worry about what she thinks! I am confident that I can walk down Calle Betis without being mugged! (Though, apparently, Angeles was mugged on Calle Betis, they tried to steal her purse and ended up breaking her arm....)
And, I mean... she is just really manipulative, still. Like, trying to make us think she is really rich. And about how Triana is horrible, and poor. And Los Remedios is the best ever. And Calle Asuncion is the best street in Los Rem, and how her end is the best END of Calle Asuncion. haha. And about Maria Jesus.. of course, Maria Jesus. Apparently she is still doing her thing.. cleaning the house! Moving our bags and possibly looking through them! "Organizing" receipts and papers and anything that you may have absent-mindedly left around! It's like she's a detective looking for evidence, or a reason to be mad at you! haha. And apparently MJ STILL has yet to be seen! Angeles has a French girl named Valerie living there currently, and Jessie asked her about MJ...only to find that conveniently, she only comes when Val is at work. We tried to raise doubts in her mind, but I'm not sure if Valerie caught on. haha. I am still 100% convinced that Maria Jesus does not exist. To further prove this point, Jessie and I returned to the house one day when we were supposed to be at lunch...only to find Angeles in our room. Why was she there? haha.. probably just giving MJ a hand with the cleaning. Conventiently, when we weren't there! ....Man, I swear that one day I could write a book with the stories we have about Maria Jesus. But perhaps we will never really know!

Anyway....On Saturday, Jessie and I took a bus to Granada. It was awesome. We were actually able to meet up with Wendy Shidemantle, my spanish professor from Geneva. That was so cool. It's such a strange feeling to see somebody from one side of the world on another. But it was a lot of fun! And Granada was so pretty! I was digging the Muslim influence. The Alhambra.. it was beautiful. I mean, the gardens were. We had tickets for 3:00, but got there a little late, and the lady wouldn't let us in. They are extremely strict about time! So, that was pretty disappointing, but we weren't going to pay 13E again. Instead we sat in the gardens, feeding our bocadillos to small kittens, and quoting Leann Rimes lyrics. If you ask me, that's a pretty fair trade-off.

Here I will mention some things we did/saw/found in Sevilla...
  • I found 10E on the floor of a bar our first night in Sevilla. This paid for our delicious, overpriced Sangria!
  • Went shopping in el Centro.
  • Lunch with Ana Bello, which was AWESOME. Great company, great comida, great times.
  • Went to the school with Ana Bello. This was awesome, and sad, because I wished that everybody else from our program was with us!
  • Went to OpenCor!
  • Had conos at McDonalds!
  • I had my first ever privately owned car ride in Sevilla.. thanks to Ana Bello for that exceptional honor! haha
  • Visited Jessie's senora. We should have totally stayed there! ;)
  • Took a paseo down Paseo de Colon.
  • Had the world's most expensive, most amazing sangria in the Hotel Alfonzo XIII... the most expensive hotel in Sevilla. Mmmmm.
  • Had pollo con melocotones for dinner. My fave. Thanks Angeles!
  • BOTELLONED!! by the river, with Valerie, the French girl. Showed her what a real botellon was! haha
  • Went to Granada all day Saturday. It was awesome. We did a lot there, too. Cathedral, Capillo Real (Ferdinand and Isabella's tombs), lunch with Wendy, Alhambra, a lot of Ice Cream, etc....
  • Went to the Plaza de Espana at night when we got back from Granada. It was gorgeous. As always.
  • Went to Tex Mex, but it closed 3 minutes before we got there. Que triste!
  • Sunday, we went to church at the Iglesia Prosperidad! It was awesome. About 2 hours long, but good. We sat next to an adorable/horribly behaved child. He threw a rubber octopus at an old man. It was precious.
  • We went to Rayas and had some fan-freaking-tastic ice cream!
  • Went back to Tex Mex for lunch! And shared a pitcher of the best tasting budwiser I have ever had in my whole life. We may or may not have felt the effects of that.
  • Walked around Santa Cruz. (very fun walk, I might add!)
  • Walked to the Plaza de Espana during the day. It was still gorgeous!
  • Walked through the Parque de Maria Luisa! It was SO hot, but beautiful as always!
  • Went to the Plaza de America to feed the birds/take a million pictures of us covered with birds. I had never done that before.. it was slightly horrifying, and slightly hilarious at the same time. Birds are a creepy animal.
  • That's basically it. We took a train there and back. It was nice. I enjoyed the train travel. Much easier and more relaxed than airplanes. I give Renfe a huge thumbs up!
It was such a good weekend. It was really relaxed and we pretty much had a chance to see everything we wanted to. I definitely have love in my heart for Sevilla! haha

On that same note though, it was good to come back to Toledo. I love it here, too. And I am definitely excited to apply for that job here. I have decided that I'm going to at least try for it.. we'll see what happens. I do need prayer about this though!

And, since this is already a mile long, as they always tend to be...
I am going to peace out.

Tomorrow is my last day of work. I am so saddened by this. I wish this internship was way longer. Seriously.. I have loved it. Definitely a great experience.
Unfortunately, I still have to write a 5 page paper also.. it's due Thursday and I haven't even read one source yet. I am blaming this on senioritis-plus.. a worse version of senioritis that occurs AFTER you have already graduated. It just doesn't seem fair!

Anyway... buenas noches!
un beso!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

You are the dancing queen!

Highlights and Lowlights: Go!

First the good stuff:
  • On Monday, I played Tabú at work. Tabú is the Spanish version of Taboo.. you know, the game where you have to describe a word without using a certain set of related words. I am proud to report that I even scored some points! The fact that I could guess words faster than native spanish speakers is insanity! ..... I think that the ability to play word games in a second language is a huge step! And I'm pretty sure it's also an excellent way to increase one's vocabulary. Why else would I ever need to learn the word rebaño, except to effectively describe it during the game of Tabú?? Either way, it was a lot of fun to play. Of course I was at a disadvantage, considering my language deficiency.... but when I actually was able to describe words and guess them, I felt extremely competent. I think all Spanish teachers should make their students play Tabú. Really, I think that mastering word games in another language is huge.
  • Yesterday I did nothing. Really. The students were watching Slumdog Millionare (which doesn't have a Spanish translation). I had already seen it many times, and was actually planning to see it last night at the Cine del Verano (an outdoor movie theater in the summer). So they told me not to watch it, so that I don't ruin the ending. hah. Like I don't already know it. Anyway, I just spent the day chatting away instead. Which was good. But still.... I feel so useless sometimes. haha
  • Cine del Verano. ha. I went. It was awesome. I wish we had one in the United States. It's like an outdoor ampitheater with seats and what not, and they show movies every night, I think. It's really cool. Anyway, when we showed up, we realized that the poster said they were going to show Mama Mia instead of Slumdog Millionare. haha. Well, after having traveled all the way there, we decided to watch it. I had already seen it. It's a fun movie. My favorite part about the whooooooooole experience was the fact that there were middle aged Spanish men sitting behind us. And every time an ABBA song came on, they would sing along. HAH. They were loving it. So was I. I don't know that there are too many American men that would do the same. And they were just really into the movie. Laughing all the time. It was so great. The whole crowd was singing along to ABBA songs. I had no idea how popular they were abroad.
  • Today I played a Spanish trivia game at work. It was weird. It was totally from the 80's or something. They were still considering Pluto a planet. (The board was galaxy-themed...I told you it was weird). And it was tough. Everyone was reading the questions and saying "Joder! Que facil!" haha.. meanwhile I had NO idea what they were talking about. There were a bunch of questions about fairytales/etc, and I would just have you know that the names are all different! How should I have known that Cenicienta was Cinerella... or that Ricitos de Oro was Goldielocks. Well, now I know. There were also a lot of questions like, "What is a ______?" ... And they were all obscure words that should have been difficult for Spaniards to define. AKA, they were IMPOSSIBLE for me to define. I had never heard of ONE of them. haha. The truth is, this game was a lot slower than Tabú, and less fun as well. But, when you think about it... who goes to work to play board games? ... Oh, that's right.. I do! :)
  • Yesterday on the bus, on my way to work, one of the ladies who works with me in the comedor got on the bus as well. It was awesome to see somebody that I know out and about. This kind of thing always happens in small towns or hometowns, and to have this experience in a new town is a good feeling. It's like, hey.... I actually know people here. A similar thing happened a few weeks ago, when I was walking with my roommate, and we passed one of the students from the garden on the street. We stopped and chatted, and once again, it was just awesome to feel like I knew people in this town.
  • Jessie has been talking about this opportunity through her program here in Toledo for English speakers to live here, with a residence and meals included, work for 12 hours a week teaching English, and get paid 400E a month. This is so incredibly tempting. Really, that is a small stipend, but with everything included it could work. And for only working 12 hours a week, that's not bad. Maybe I could find some people who want private English lessons as well? I have been thinking about this a lot. I still don't know. But we'll see. It's definitely an opportunity. Anyone else want to join me?? :)
  • I am leaving for Sevilla TOMORROW!! So excited. I can't believe it. I feel like I'm going home. :)
  • I have a presentation due tomorrow, and I have not started it yet. It shouldn't be too difficult, but I just don't want to do it. On the plus side, I don't have to go to class after I am done! So this is a good thing.
  • I also have a 5 page essay due next week, about any topic. I am thinking I'll write about Immigration. I know that 5 pages is not a lot. But once again, I will stress the point that I have no motivation. ...Maybe it's a good thing I am going to take some time off before grad school. :) Even though I know I'm going to miss school! I'll miss learning, and the atmosphere, and the schedule, but I definitely won't miss the homework and essays.
This is just a random point, not good or bad...but...
  • The program is ending on July 25th, and I have to leave the residence hall by July 27th. My flight from Madrid is on July 30. I don't know what I am going to do for 3 days. haha. I might stay here in Toledo, in a hostel somewhere. Or I am also thinking about going to a playa.. Valencia, maybe. Or maybe somewhere in the north. I am not sure. But I'll figure something out. Maybe I should just use this opportunity to get really tan before I come home. You should see me now... My boss keeps telling me how tan I am.. compared to how "blanquita" I was when I got here... haha. I don't know whether to take this as a compliment or not... but I definitely am. :)
OK, I want to go do laundry and work on my presentation. And I have to pack for Sevilla! So much to do. And I have so little ganas de.....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Donde Esta Hemingway?

So I suppose I should make this a quick one, seeing as it's almost 10:30 and I have yet to read my homework. I've said it before, and I'll say it again-- there is just something so impossible about trying to do homework in Spain.

Nonetheless. I know you are all dying to hear about my weekend. Truth be told, it was every bit as amazing as I envisioned. Possibly even more so. I will now try to recount the weekend's activities without revealing too many of the boring details.

An all-night bus to Pamplona. Good idea and bad idea at the same time. We arrived in Pamplona just in time for the encierro. It was perfect. The bad part was that 1. we had relatively no idea what we were doing, because they were running special busses to Pamplona and weren't being too revealing about where to be at what times. So we were kind of confused. Usually the transportation here is so easy, but for some reason, this was horrible. 2. it was an all-night bus ride. I don't think I have to do much more explaining for the later point. All-night anythings tend to be bad ideas. But, we did catch a little bit of sleep on the bus, which was better than nothing. And what we lacked, we made up for in random plazas in Pamplona. So it all worked out.

The encierro was crazy. It is such a foreign concept for Americans to grasp. I mean, who runs down the street with bulls?? Oh, the Spaniards do! I have recently found out that these encierros occur in several pueblos throughout Spain, but none of them are as big as Pamplona. And the reason that Pamplona is so big has a lot to do with Ernest Hemingway. Nonetheless, the encierro was a great way to start the weekend. My friend Angelina had a great spot on the fence, I was looking through it. She had the top view, I only saw things running past. It was still crazy though. I definitely want to go back, and when I do, I'm totally going to find a balcony. One guy offered us a spot in a private balcony for 35E a person. That's steep. And I'm not rich...yet. But next time, I'd totally take that offer.

The saddest part about the encierro, however, is that the day we were there, a 27 year old guy from Madrid died. He was gored in the neck. Believe it or not, deaths are extremely rare. Injuries, sure.. but deaths, no. I think the last time somebody died was in 1995. And a few days after our encierro, another man, 41 years old from Pamplona, was gored in the chest and is in really critical condition. It seems like these encierros were especially brutal. Or maybe just because I'm paying attention. But everyone that I have talked to has said that it is a result of people not knowing how to run correctly. I can see that. There is apparently an art to running with the bulls, and believe you me, many a Spaniard has tried to impart their secrets upon me. If I ever run (which, in case you are wondering, will never, ever, ever happen), I will clearly know the tricks of the trade.
1. Pick a starting point and an end point. Don't try to run the whole way.
2. Run next to the bull, not in front of it--he can't see you.
3. Never touch the bull. This will make him turn his head, or turn around. Both of which could end horribly for you or your neighbor.
4. When all else fails, dive to the side and cover your head with your arms.
But, once again, I would like to reiterate that I will never, ever run with the bulls.

I think I was expecting there to be much more "fiesta, fiesta" as the Spanish would say. But there wasn't. I'm pretty sure everyone went to bed after the encierro. Party all night, run with the bulls in the morning, sleep all day. I guess that sounds like a good plan. Anyway, there were a lot of people, but it was a lot of families and what not. I am sure that if we had stayed later we would have encountered the fiestas. But nonetheless, it was a really pleasant day in Pamplona.

I love the fact that EVERYONE was dressed in white and red. There is nothing comparable to this tradition in the United States (except St. Patrick's day, maybe...). I was definitely wearing the white shirt, red panuelo around the neck, and the scarf around the waist. I felt so legit. I was only missing white pants... but come on, who really owns white pants??

Needless to say, Pamplona was fabulous. I am not sure that there is too much to do there aside from the San Fermin festival, but it was a nice city nonetheless. And definitely an experience. I definitely would like to go back for another San Fermin, and stay a little longer. But, for the weekend that we had, I am really glad our plans worked out the way they did.

We left for San Sebastian around 6:30pm on Friday, and got in around 8:00. San Sebastian is a GORGEOUS city. It's a really old, really European-looking, adorable city with a beautiful beach a few blocks away. The best of both worlds, right? It was just so charming. I really enjoyed it.

As per our plans, we definitely relejar-ed on the beach. It was so nice. The girls that I went with went surfing, but I wasn't sure 40E was worth my investment. haha. Aside from the playa we didn't do too much. We went to a few cafes/bars, walked around the ciudad, went to the Cathedral (just the outside), and botelloned on the beach. It was so great though. I loved the chance to just relax. We stayed in a hotel that was essentially an apartment. And an awesome one at that. I could totally live there. haha.

I would probably venture to say that this past weekend was the best weekend of traveling that I have ever done. I went with 3 people (including myself), which I think is an ideal number for this sort of thing. There was relatively little conflict over what to do and when, and pretty much all of our plans went as smoothly as we could have hoped for. Not too shabby.

But, this next weekend might challenge that last statement. I am headed to Sevilla with Jessie, and it is sure to be fantastic. I get overwhelmingly excited when I think about it. It will be like going home! I can't wait!

Weekends are so good.

Alas, this is not as short as I was hoping. I suppose there's just a lot to say. There's even more, too. I could tell you about how we were randomly serenaded by a Spaniard with the lovely song "Americanas--- donde esta Hemingway, Hemingway, Hemingway???" Or how we became friends with a didgeri-doer. haha. I don't even know what word you would use to describe a person who plays a digeridoo. Oh, or about how I met yet another person in Spain who had previously lived in Pittsburgh!! 'Tis a small, small world. And a good one.

And on that pleasant note, I think I will begin reading my homework.
.....It's gotta get done some time.