Where did May go??

Well hello again :)  Any guess as to where I am writing this blog now?  You will never guess… Murcia, Spain.  I know, I haven’t really heard of it either.  I am currently en route to Calpe, where the family of my host family lives!  Quite honestly, it’s a lonely trip… most all of my friends have already returned to the dream land we call the United States, and I am traveling alone for the first time since I am one of the lucky ones who gets to stay in Granada a few extra weeks awaiting my real family to come visit me.  Yeah, you read that right.  MY REAL FAMILY IS COMING TO VISIT ME!!!!!!  IN SPAIN!  FROM THE U.S.!  I’m really excited to show them my new world (and to see some familiar faces)!

 

Gains: Some really fun memories of these past few weeks!  We packed them FULL of adventures and activities :)

Pains: The fact that my study abroad experience is actually over.  I had nightmares about this, and they have come true.  Time goes by so fast!

Finals: One word: TORTURE.

Trains: Las Alpujarras, Lagos, Nerja, Salobreña and Calpe.

 

Semana Santa hit Spain!  It was a whirlwind!  We got back from Morocco late in the evening on Wednesday night.  Thursday through Sunday of that week were full of activities for the holidays.  Semana Santa is the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, but Spain celebrates it a little differently than we do in the U.S.  Instead of just going to church on Sunday, they celebrate all week long with processions, masses, food and family.  When I got back to Granada, the city was PACKED with people. You could hardly move from place to place.  I pretty much hung out in the house for those four days, except for when I went to the processions.  The Pepes/Theresas family came to town (the fun family from Calpe), and I was so excited to see them!  They are my favorites.  They arrived on Thursday evening, and we all went into town to watch some processions (which we were unsuccessful at doing because we couldn’t find a good spot to watch them with all the people around).  We went home to eat dinner instead, and then returned to watch the silent procession.  This procession is peculiar – they turn off all the street lights and everyone is supposed to be silent (and it starts at midnight).  All you can hear are the chains that the people (who are dressed like the Ku Klux Klan) are wearing as they walk.  It was interesting and shorter than I thought it would be!  Hannah and I wanted to get a little closer to the action, so we split up from the family to make our way through the crowd.  After the procession, we all were split up still, so Hannah and I decided that Moroccan tea at 2 AM sounded like fun.  We sat there for a while, then looked at each other and said “ice cream at 3 AM sounds like fun!”  So we went and got ice cream :)  It was a fun night!  After that we were full and tired, so we called it quits for the night.

Here is an video of a procession:

The next day I went to Alcalá with my family.  Alcalá is “un pueblo” of Granada where my madre and Trini grew up.  I thought some of the processions I saw in Granada were weird, but the procession we saw in Alcalá was BY FAR the weirdest.  During the procession, Judas (the traitor of the 12 disciples)  runs around begging for money from the people dressed up as Roman soldiers.  What it really looked like was that Judas was running around checking out the Roman soldiers!  It was kind of creepy!  He scared the little kids.  We returned for lunch in Granada afterwards (bringing back two new cousins with us).  I didn’t like the lunch much that day… we had bacalao.  I REALLY don’t like bacalao.

My favorite family left on Sunday, and I said goodbye to them before going to church.  I’m really excited to get to spend a little more time with them (and try the paella and cupcakes they tell me about).  Easter Sunday was really uneventful!  I went to church with Hannah and then we met up with Joaquín to show him our Morocco photos.  I was actually really surprised that nothing big happened.. everyone just prepared for the next week!

The next week was also uneventful.  However, on Friday, ISA had a community service day.  It was so fun!  We played fútbol, rugby and ultimate frisbee with kids from northern Africa.  I really had fun that day!  At the end, I had a conversation with one of the kids who all the other kids made fun of because he was a little overweight.  He told me about his family who still live in Morocco.  His father was a physician but had passed away.  This boy (I wish I remembered his name) had the opportunity to go to school in Spain to be better educated and had to leave his mother and all of his siblings back in Morocco.  He was really sweet and told me about how he wanted to become a doctor and move to the United States.  When I asked him about which places he would like to visit in the U.S., he said, “Wherever you are from!”  Oh, and NYC (of course).  I complimented him on his bracelet that he made out of the tabs from pop cans, and he insisted that I have it :)  It’s a nice little momentum from that day.  I really hope that he goes far in life!

That evening was a little emotional for me.  I was stressed out with figuring out my life and keeping in contact with the rest of the world (while trying to make the most of my time left here).  So while I was having a mental breakdown, my friends sat in my room and booked a trip to Lagos, Portugal (while eating pie my madre and I made them) as I cried in the bathroom (one of the few times I have cried here – this number has since increased).  Pathetic, I know.  It’s comical as I look back on it!  That night was basically support group night as we cried into our strawberry pie.  Too much estrogen and pie for one room. Anyways, we stayed up until 2 am chatting and planning, and then we remembered we had to get on a bus in the morning!

The next morning we took our final trip with our program.  We went to the Alpujarras, a series of mountain towns in between Granada and the beach.  When we arrived on Saturday, we went for a “hike.”  It was more like a round-about way to walk to another town.  It was funny to see some of the students who weren’t accustomed to hiking struggle a bit!  We hiked for about 4 hours, stopping for lunch in the town below and spending an hour or so shopping around.  For the rest of the day, we just had free time!  It was so nice!  Hannah and I took a nap, then we went to find candy.  Have I told you about “Pulpos y Amigos” yet?  Well, they are all of our favorite candy.  Nancy got us hooked on them.  They are basically sour gummies in the shapes of octopi and other sea creatures.  And they pica pica (no pica).  You weren’t supposed to understand that, especially because I don’t fully understand it!  Pica pica is some sort of flavor sensation for Spaniards.  Hannah hoarded a bunch to take back with her to the States. Anyways, after we found some candy, we ate dinner at the hotel (which ISA surprised us and paid for!) and got ready to walk into town.  They were having a fiesta in the town and were supposed to have a concert, so we decided to check it out!  It turned out to be pretty lame (the town of Capileira is like small-town Montana), so we went to tapas and came up with a different plan!  Hannah and I wanted to go stargazing for a while, and a few guys from our program overheard our idea.  We had never really hung out with them before, but decided to all go find a good spot to watch them together!  We snuck blankets out of the hotel and walked up a dirt road for a while.  We were going to camp out next the road when Kay found a great spot up on top of a hill!  I think we sat out there for close to two hours (until 2 AM) just a-gazing away!  I haven’t done that for so long!  We also downloaded the stargazing app on Hannah’s iPhone so we could see the constellations and planets.  It was such a great time!

The next day, we took the bus to Nerja, a beach town.  I really liked Nerja!  We had half a day to spend there, which we spent on the beach.  This was also the first time I had ever been to a beach where people are topless… a little eye opener for me!  It was hard to get used to at first (this was nothing compared to the beach I will describe later in the post!).  Even a few of my friends decided to “embrace” the culture.  I like my tan lines so I didn’t :)  After toasting ourselves for a little while, we got some ice cream and shopped around a little before heading back to Granada!

The evening that we returned, Hannah and I received a text from Joaquin that said “run to el Palacio del Congreso.”  Of course, we couldn’t just do as he said; we had to ask him why and for what and what we would benefit from doing that.  He didn’t text back, so neither of us went.  As I was talking to my parents on Skype that evening, fireworks started going off.  I was distracted by the fireworks, and at that point, I decided I should probably do as Joaquin said (so I forced Hannah to as well).  When we arrived, we had missed almost the whole thing!  They had brought a falla down from Valencia and burned it in the plaza!  We saw the very end of the burning.. we were SO disappointed.  We should have just listened to Joaquín.  Oh well.  Anyways, we were lucky to see a little but of it and got to observe the bandera that they had afterward.  A bandera is like an outdoor concert with a DJ.  The Spaniards were super into it and it was fun to watch!  Oh and we also tried to get a picture with a grumpy fallera.. she was in a bad mood!  Especially when I couldn’t get my flash to work.  It was fun for the time being!

That following weekend was “puente.”  Many of our friends were going to Lagos with DiscoverExcursions, a company that organizes trips for students out of Granada.  My friends and I thought we could do the trip on our own for cheaper, so we did!  We caught our first Blablacar to Sevilla at 6 AM, hung out in Sevilla for a little while and caught our second Blablacar to Lagos with this kid and his girlfriend.  At first the ride was nice.  However, the closer we got to Lagos, the more he started to drive like a maniac!  Instead of watching the road, he was gazing into his girlfriend’s eyes and driving 170km and hour (which translates to 105.63 stinkin’ miles per hour!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Sorry mom, I think I left that out of the story before).  I was praying and holding on to the ceiling handle until we arrived.  When we arrived (hallelujah), we drove around trying to find our hostel, which proved difficult.  We probably drove around for 30 minutes before finding it.  Lagos had a lot of really narrow streets that were hard to navigate (especially for that driver).

Finally we found it.  The hostel was so nice!  The man who owns the hostel checked us in, and he was quite the character!  He talked like Dracula.  The hostel was very clean, so for my first hostel ever, it set the bar very high!  We stayed in a 4 person mixed dorm because all the other rooms were booked up.  The first night a Canadian woman in her 50s or 60s stayed in our room.  She was nice with a touch of awkward :)  We were sure glad that she was a woman!  We also realized that day that we had no money.. which was a really big problem.  I was planning on my friends bringing their debit cards with them, because they always do.  However, they didn’t this time and I didn’t either!  I have very little cash on me, and they had just enough to pay for the blablacars.  And we ended up having to pay for the hostel in cash.  We were desperately trying to figure out how to get money!  Finally, we figured out a way.  Thank goodness our friends from Granada were coming to Lagos and could bring us a little extra cash!  Crisis averted.  That day, we hung out in the hostel for a while and then went to the beach for the afternoon.  After we returned to the hostel, we got some groceries, namely broccoli, and relaxed at the hostel.  We met two other guys from Canada who were most likely on something and told us a joke I won’t repeat.  And we ate salad with dressing.  Yes, DRESSING :)  Creamy garlic.  I hadn’t had dressing since I left the U.S.!  Later, we decided we were still hungry, so we went to get shawarma.  We were too tired to do anything that night, so we just went to bed.

The next day, we found another beach.  The beaches of Lagos are so pretty!  We did some tanning while we waited for our kayak trip.  Kayaking was my favorite thing that we did!  We paddled in and out of the grottos, which were caves around the coast.  The people were we were with were from Australia, and we lucked out with having a super small kayak group of 6 people and a guide!  We paddled for an hour or so to a private beach.   Hannah and I were in the same kayak, and we found out that we are very good at beaching a kayak…  We were going straight towards the sand when a giant wave came up behind us and turned our kayak to the side.  Then, the wave tipped us over!  Hannah was able to get out from underneath the kayak, but my hair got caught in something on the kayak.  I was more preoccupied with trying to save the waterproof bag that held our iPhones than the fact that my hair was caught!  I couldn’t reach the bag, though, because my head was stuck under the kayak.  Of course.  I yanked my hair loose, luckily, and grabbed the bag.  All was fine but water did get into the waterproof bag to reach Hannah’s phone!  No damage was done.  While we were at that beach, we played paddle ball, volleyball and swam for about 45 until the tide got too high, forcing us to leave.  We paddled back to where we started, Hannah and I starting a little war with our new Australian friends we made (crashing into their kayak and throwing seaweed back and forth).  This was by far my favorite thing we did!  I’m hoping they send me the video they have from their GoPro so I can share it with you!

That evening we decided to treat ourselves to a nice dinner.  We met up with our friends Jenny, Lia and Marisa, who were also in Lagos, and went to an Italian restaurant that served really good food.  It was really fun!  Then we got DELICIOUS ice cream.  We usually see mint chocolate chip as an option in the heladerías, but they had it!  And a mango flavor that was to die for.  After parting ways with our friends, we walked around a bit and listened to live music at a bar from the outside so we didn’t have to pay for drinks.  It felt like Hawaii!  Eventually we were too tired to do anything else so we went back to the hostel to go to bed.  Oh, we got a new roommate this day.  Connor from Ireland.  He was harmless but liked to get pretty drunk at night!  Luckily he caused us no trouble when he came into the room in the early morning hours.

The following day, Saturday, was our last full day in Lagos.  We had little planned for this day.  We started it by eating at Cafe Odeon, which served an American style breakfast for super cheap.  The beach is considered to be the most beautiful beach in the world by the Huffington post!  Check it out: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/15/ponte-da-piedade_n_5133300.html.  We laid there for a LOOOONG time.  I don’t like to sunbathe that much, so I was kind of bored.  Right before we left, Michaela fell asleep.  The tide was coming in, and Hannah and I decided to let the water wake her up as a little joke.  Well, we thought the water would just hit her feet.  It did a little more than that.  A HUGE wave came in and got us all wet!  All of our stuff was soaked, and Michaela was a little frustrated with us.  The disoriented look on her face when she woke up was priceless though!  I wish I got it on video.  As we were leaving the beach, we were approached by one of the Portuguese guys that had hung out near us on the beach all day.  His name was Juan or something, and he gave us a little advice on where to eat.  He also tried to convince us to go out.  We politely declined and left the beach.  Well, once we hiked out and made it to the road “Juan” came out of nowhere!  He told us to wait, and we were like, “run.”  We didn’t know what he wanted.  He came back out of a building with a card, which was for a Portuguese restaurant for us to try!   Harmless.  He told us if we wanted to hang out that evening, he worked in the building we were standing by.  We were like “ok, cool Juan” and left for the hostel.  That evening, we ate our broccoli salad (which was like the best thing ever) and decided to get another shawarma.  Did I mention we love shawarma?  We also decided to go to a bar with our friends.  While we were walking there, ice cream sounded better, so we got ice cream again!  We also ran into an English speaking kid who was from Dubai who was very drunk and trying to convince us to come to the bar he worked for.  He came in handy later.

Reluctantly, we decided to go to the bar called “Joe’s Garage.”  It was like a cross between a discoteca and a bar.  I did some people watching.  We also played a game where Hannah mimicked people’s dance moves and I tried to figure out who was dancing like that!  It was all fun and games until the people caught on to what we were doing… and until Hannah got her butt grabbed twice by two kids that could have been my little brothers.  I don’t know how they got in!  Hannah got super offended, and we walked out.  Which is when we ran into the Dubai kid, who I then asked if he functioned as a bouncer as well as a bar promoter.  He said he could, and we all walked back into the bar to find the kids.  We couldn’t find them, so they must have gotten scared and left.  That killed the night so we were going to go back to the hostel… when we ran into “Juan” from the beach and his friends.  We played the age guessing game with them for about 5 minutes, and we left still not quite sure how old they were!  It was boring so we decided to just go back to the hostel.

The following morning, we got up late, checked out of the hostel and went back to the cafe with the American food!  It was so refreshing to have a bacon and egg sandwich for breakfast!  Since we had all of our luggage with us, we couldn’t do too much.  We waited on a bench for a while, then decided we should maybe get ice cream one more time.  So we did.  Funny thing is we won’t spend money on food, but we will spend it on ice cream…. Then we tried to find the train station to Portimao so we could catch  a Blablacar.  We almost missed it because we got a little lost!  Luckily, we made it with 5 minutes to spare.  The ride back was very easy.  The only awkward thing was that the couple we rode with seemed to be upset with each other, and the second driver was very tense!  Everything was fine though :)  Even though it wasn’t my favorite trip that we took, it was very relaxing.

The next weekend we went to Salobreña for the second time!  Hannah, Joaquin and I had planned on going since our first trip there.  We left on Thursday and stayed until Saturday morning.  Right when we got there, we went to the grocery store.  Gosh, shopping with them is miserable!  Everyone wants something different.  Hannah and I wanted beef, but Joaquin wanted ham.  Hannah and I wanted scrambled eggs for breakfast, and Joaquin thinks eating them for breakfast is weird.  Hannah and Joaquin wanted smoked salmon.  I don’t like smoked salmon.  We probably spent almost an hour there!  That evening, we made the Argentinean sausage sandwiches again :)  YUM.  I don’t know why they are so good!  We also made a pie that evening.. of course!  We couldn’t hardly wait. Oh, by the way, everyone in my host family makes the pie.  The aunts and uncles make it, and we eat it like once a week.  It’s a hit!  After dinner we just relaxed.

In the morning, we decided to go the beach (after making crepes for breakfast!).  We thought the weather was going to be really bad, but it cleared up while we were eating!  Joaquin wanted to take us to a different beach, so we drove down the coast for about 20 minutes to find it.  Hannah and I were shocked he found it on his first try.. usually he gets lost!  As we were walking up to the beach, someone spray painted on a building “playa nudista,” or nude beach, and “viva el naturalismo.” Hannah and I both go, “Joaquin, is this a nude beach?”  He told us last time he was there it wasn’t, and so he was positive it wasn’t.  We walked a little farther, and there was another spray painted wall that read “playa nudista gay.”  So we asked Joaquin again.  We continued to walk and saw once more sign that said “playa sexys.”  At this point we were nervous to walk down to the beach.  Once we got to a point where we could see the beach, we decided that it looked like there were enough people clothed and it would be ok.  We were WRONG.  There were A LOT of naked people.  You couldn’t even look around… it was so awkward.  I documented the month of May on video, and I have a few clips to help you visualize this experience (don’t worry, it’s PG!  no nudity).  Just kind of funny.  We hung out there, ate ham and melon (an interesting combination), swam and Hannah and Joaquin went snorkeling.  That night, we made pasta with beef, sangria, and salad and finished off the pie.  I also taught the two of them how to swing dance!  It was super relaxed and fun.  We made a good group of normal friends :)

http://www.mediafire.com/watch/100cvcp40kbccbu/IMG_1517.MOV

http://www.mediafire.com/watch/buh9bxh5c299at4/IMG_1518.MOV

The next day, my madre made paella for lunch for the first time!  I ate shrimp that still had eyes!  They were tasty little buggers.  That evening, my girlfriends and I dressed up and went to  La Chumbera, a flamenco show in Granada.  The location of the show is the best part.  The theater is in the Sacromonte neighborhood and has a giant window behind the stage out of which you can see the Alhambra during the show!  There was just one male flamenco dancer, and I really enjoyed him!  I’m not a huge fan of flamenco, but I would go back to that show.  After, we all got shawarma and went out on the town.  Hannah slept over that night, and the next morning we went to el Parque de las Ciencias, the science park that is super close to where I live.  It was interesting, but not anything to call home about!

Ok, the time after that weekend was a whirlwind.  At that point, I only had two weeks left of school and a whole lot to still experience!  Hannah and I had a list of things to accomplish in Granada.  That Monday night, we had our farewell dinner with our program.  Everyone dressed up and went out for tapas – it was fun!  They also gave us our “MagazISA,” which Hannah and I wrote an article for.  Tuesday, Joaquin, Hannah and I went to Carmen de los Martires, which is like a giant garden that used to be someone’s house.  Checked that one off the list!  I had a sore foot, and so we decided to take a break on a bench in the park.  We let Joaquin read our article, which was about him and our friendship with our intercambio.  Well, we were sure embarrassed by how bad it was!  He corrected it for us.  We found out that we basically wrote it as if Joaquin had died.  We also said at one point that we enjoyed each other and our time together.  Well, in Spanish, you can say you enjoyed another person – it sounds REALLY weird.  I wish it wasn’t published with our names and pictures on it, but oh well!  Another hit to the pride.  On Thursday of that week, I think we explored the Albaicín (same group).  I had actually never been so far into the neighborhood!  It’s like another town (or country).  Then, we trekked up these stairs to a church to watch the sunset.  While wandering around the Albaicín, we ran into a lost Canadian girl, and we helped her find her hostel and invited her to tapas.  Well, we arranged a meeting point with her after watching the sunset but never could find her.  We felt bad for her and hoped she didn’t get lost.  Our favorite bar is named El Chantarella, so we got tapas there afterward.. for the very last time altogether.  It was bittersweet.  The musaka that we got as a tapa was so delicious though!

On Friday I helped Hannah do a little souvenir shopping in the Arab shops.  She was VERY indecisive :)  It’s so hard to buy things for other people.  Another thing that was on our list to do was watch the sunrise and get a nepolitana from the hidden shop Joaquin ranted and raved about.  We decided to do this Saturday morning, so I didn’t do anything Friday night.  Hannah did though!  We met on Saturday morning around 6:15 AM, and everybody was pretty sleepy (especially Hannah who got about 3 hours of sleep).  Joaquin decided that we should walk back up the stairs that we trekked up a few days earlier and watch the sunrise on the opposite side of the church.  We sure were tired when we got there!  It was a great spot however (even though it was a little chilly).  We also made friends with a polar bear.  See for yourself :)  There are a lot of stray dogs (and hippies) in Granada.  After the sunrise, we made it to the bakery to find out that is isn’t open on Saturdays!  We were bummed, but decided to get one instead from my favorite shop!  They were fresh, doughy, warm and SO CHOCOLATELY!   Yum :)  Then everyone went home to go back to sleep.

IMG_1660

Oh!  I forgot to mention that finals were the upcoming week!  So the rest of the Saturday, I forced myself to study.   What torture!  Oh, and my madre taught me how to make her delicious pasta :)  The next day was the color run day.  My friends and I had signed up for the race a few weeks earlier, figuring we wouldn’t need to study that much for finals.  On Saturday, my friends went out to Santa Fe (the pueblo where the race was to be held) to pick up the race packets.  Antonio, the guy I tutor, graciously gave them a ride out there! That evening, we decided we needed to buy bus tickets to get out there the next day, so at 10 PM I went to the bus station to try to buy them.  I got all the way there to find out that the didn’t sell them.  SO FRUSTRATING.  So I went home.

The next morning we all woke up early and went to catch the bus to Santa Fe for the race.  Santa Fe was about a 10-15 minute bus ride outside of town, and when we got to the bus stop, there was a fairly long line of people pushing to get on the bus.  Only one bus left every half hour, so since we missed the first one, we HAD to make the second one.  It finally arrived, and while holding hands the four of us pushed our way through and onto the bus. Thank goodness!  Two of our friends who had signed up with us decided not to go because they were stressed out with studying.  Hannah’s view on this: “What are you going to remember someday?  Studying for finals or stressing out about studying for finals because you decided to do a color run the day before??”

Once we made it to Santa Fe, no one knew were the race began.  We just followed the people and eventually ended up there.  The beginning of the race was really fun!  Everyone was standing around in a big group near the starting line where there was a stage with music and a lady pumping everyone up just throwing colors at one another.  Everyone was pretty colorful when the race began!

Throughout the race there were different color stations that threw that color at you.  We ran/walked the 5K and ended up VERY colorful!  I had a sore foot which made it a little difficult.  Spaniards are so funny sometimes.  Quite a few of them ran with a giant liter of beer or sangria in their hands, drinking it as they went.  I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a recipe for dehydration and disaster!  When we finished the race, we hung out at the bandera (outdoor dance party) for a little while before deciding we should probably catch the bus.  We wished we could have stayed longer!  However, we are all partially studious :)  After searching for the bus stop, someone finally pointed in the right direction.  When the bus approached the stop, the four of us outlandish creatures tried to get on.  And the bus driver stopped us.  He told us we couldn’t get on like that!  We were like, “Great, what are we going to do??”  He left, and we were desperate.  Everything in town was closed because it was Sunday, so we couldn’t buy anything to clean ourselves off.  We asked one lady if there was a fountain somewhere (there are fountains everywhere in Spain) and she said she didn’t think there was one around (correction:  there are fountains everywhere in Spain except in the small town of Santa Fe).   We also didn’t bring a change of clothes. Thank goodness the couple next to us took pity on us and handed us some face wipes, because we had nothing!  We made good use of those wipes, but we still weren’t clean.  Hannah turned her shirt inside out, and Nancy, Alexa and I decided to see if he would let us on in our sports bras (because the opposite sides of our shirts weren’t any cleaner).  While we were waiting for the bus, we saw one pull up and completely avoid the stop, taking a different street.  At this point, we started to freak out a little!  Hannah and I had been invited over to Joaquin’s family’s apartment to eat lunch with them, and we weren’t going to make it.  We desperately called him asking if he could come pick us up.  The call consisted of me trying to explain the situation in English and Hannah repeating what I was saying by screaming it into the phone as I explained!  She was a little flustered and Joaquin was very confused.  Poor guy had no clue what was going on.  When he was about ready to jump in the car to come get us, a bus pulled up and let us on!  We were SO relieved.

When we made it back to Granada, Hannah and I ran across town back to our apartments to shower.  We had about a half hour to do so, and we had a lot of colors to scrub off!  As I was on the way back out of my apartment, my madre stopped me because I was still a tint of green.  The two of us went back into the bathroom so she could scrub my face :D  I met up with Hannah, and since we thought Joaquin lived farther away than we thought, we decided to catch the bus.  Well, after waiting for a little while, bus number 5 still never came!  At that point, we were already a little late so we decided to catch a taxi.  We actually were a lot closer than we thought.  Lunch was really delicious and we ate like queens!  His mom made a dish that was similar to paella with chicken, rabbit, rice and peppers.  There were also a bunch of bit size foods like a frozen stringy sweet egg thing wrapped in ham (it was actually really good); fresh sardines with potatoes (also surprisingly good); a salad with onion, tomato, peppers, olive oil and shrimp; and of course Castillo de Salobreña.   Then for dessert, what do you suppose that we ate?  Strawberry pie of course!  2 and a half hours later, Hannah and I decided we probably should begin studying, so we headed home.

The next week was a sick joke.  Finals and studying for your last week in Spain (I was an exception to that rule) is just cruel.  I had three finals on Monday and two on Wednesday.  In between them on Tuesday, Hannah, Joaquin and I went roller blading near the river.  I learned how to stop on roller blades finally!  Insert funny story here.  On Monday, I asked my directors to make an doctor’s appointment for my foot since it was still hurting after 3 weeks.  Our insurance ended that Thursday, so I wanted to make sure it got covered!  Well, I was still able to do a lot on my foot, and since roller blading was on the bucket list, I had to do it!  I told Joaquin and Hannah that whatever we did, we couldn’t run into one of the directors.  Guess who I ran into?  The director who was going to the doctor with me!!  What are the odds that she would be taking roller blading lessons on the same day, at the same time, in the same place that I was rollerblading.  Coincidence?  I think not!  I was mortified!  However, she was more intrigued with the fact we were hanging out with our intercambio partner and that the article we wrote for the “MagazISA” wasn’t a made up lie!  Ah, karma.  After rollerblading, the three of us went to Nemrut for Shawarma one last time together.  Joaquin wasn’t going to join us, but he quickly changed his mind.  I like Newrut… my mouth is watering as I type this.

Wednesday night was our final night with Alexa.  After our finals finished at 8 PM, Nancy, Alexa, Hannah and I dressed up and went out to dinner at El Agua, a fondue restaurant my madre had advised us to try.  The fondue was super delicious!  We got one with cheese and one with meat that you had to cook.  After, we got a chocolate fondue for dessert.  It was a really wonderful way to spend our last night altogether.  After eating, we all stood on a corner in the center of town saying our goodbyes to Alexa.  Nancy sobbed.  Which caused me to laugh.  Hannah was crying too, but began to laugh because I was laughing (I clearly have no heart).  It was sad saying goodbye, but I know I will see here again.. she only lives in North Dakota!

Thursday was a little harder.  That morning I went to the doctor with my madre and got the X-rays (nothing is wrong) and then tutored.  Then I met up with Hannah to do some souvenir shopping!  She had to commit to buying this time and did a really good job bargaining!  After our errands, we went to Ábaco, our favorite cafe, with Joaquin for granizados and crepes one last time.  We missed watching the sunset by just a little bit, but Joaquin wanted to show us a mirador that we had never been to.  Then, we quickly ran to the grocery store (so Hannah could buy souvenir wine) and Joaquin pointed us in the right direction home.  The three of us stood on a corner as Hannah and Joaquin said their goodbyes.  It was really hard to watch; I am not certain that the three of us will ever be in the same spot again.  And it just isn’t the same when one person is missing from the group.  Hannah and I walked arm-in-arm back to her house while she cried a little, and I hung out for her the rest of the night while she packed.  Okay, I may have fallen asleep in her room.  And she may have had to take my computer away from me and practically tuck me in because I was out!  So I ended up sleeping over at her house and walking her to her taxi in the morning at 5:40 AM.  It didn’t really hit me that she was going to be gone.  I just walked back to my apartment and didn’t really think much about it, going straight back to sleep.

I am going to leave it at that for now.  Stay tuned for my final post.. it will probably have a little different feel to it.  I will tell you about these next two weeks that I will be spending in Granada awaiting my family and begin to think through just exactly how this study abroad experience has affected who I am.

Until then,

<3 Bri

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Morocco Video

A girl who went on the Morocco trip with us carried a GoPro around and took videos of the trip.  She shared this video, so I thought I would share it with you (just in case the pics I posted weren’t enough!)!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

{-{-{-Marruecos-}-}-}

Ah, Morocco!  What a trip to remember.  Seriously, it goes down in the book as one of the best trips I have taken in my life and definitely as my favorite trip I have taken abroad!

Gains:  Some souvenirs from Morocco and some great memories to go along with them!

Pains: The only thing bad about the Morocco trip with the amount of time we spent on the bus.  The bus was most definitely a pain!

Flowy Green Pants: I didn’t know what else to put here… and I am pretty in love with my Moroccan pants :)  They make me feel so free!  Below is a pic of me in my happy pants about to climb the dune of death.  Thank goodness my happy pants kept me in a good mood even though I was dehydrated, tired, hot and had leg cramps.

IMG_9713

 

Trains: Well, Morocco of course.  Then Las Alpujarras, Nerja and Lagos, Portugal.  It’s official – I’ve caught the travel bug.

I am going to make this a very long blog post to give you a play-by-play of my Morocco trip. Sorry if it bores you – it’s also my way of keeping a journal for myself!


Morocco Day 1:  

Well, I hardly slept the night before we left!  We had to catch the bus at 3:30 AM, so I figured “what’s the point of sleeping?”  I was also really nervous that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning, so I went over to Hannah’s house to hang out there.  We did end up sleeping for two hours, during which we had to squish into a twin bed.  I was so tired I didn’t even care.  We made it to the bus just in time, got situated and fell back asleep until Málaga (an hour and a half away) where we picked up the ISA students there.  We were in a bit of a hurry because we wanted to catch the 8:30 ferry to Morocco out of Algeciras, and luckily we got there in time as well!  All of us were pretty groggy from waking up so early and only sleeping on the bus.  We all passed out in various places around the ferry, and once we reached Ceuta we got back on the bus.  Ceuta is an autonomous city of Spain in northern Africa, so we had to cross the border via bus to get into Morocco.  I think we waited at least an hour and a half at the border before we could pass through.  It was a little scary.. someone said they watched someone walk through with a car door.  We weren’t allowed to take any pictures in this area (otherwise I would have), but it was how I picture the Mexican border to be.  Once we were through, we drove until we reached Fes.  Along the way there were a TON of Moroccan soldiers.  It was eery.  For example, we would be driving through a semi-forested area, and there would just be one Moroccan soldier standing in the trees.  Alone.  Come to find out the king was expected to pass by that area that day, so that’s why it was so heavily guarded.  It was pretty scary though.

P1060036 P1060039 P1060041

 

We FINALLY made it to Fes that evening, which was such a relief.  I think we had been in the bus for at least 10 hours.  It was rough.  We didn’t do much in the evening because everyone was pretty warn out… Hannah, Alexa, Nancy and I sat around in the room chatting before heading to dinner that evening.  Food was very limited because we couldn’t eat anything that was uncooked and had possibly been washed with water.  That mean no fresh fruit or veggies.  Or drinking water.  Unless you wanted the most painful diarrhea you had every experienced in your life.  I chose to stay on the safe side :)  (We also had to take probiotics and such to prepare).  Hannah and I requested to be roommates on this trip, but some little unmentioned person requested that I be their roommate without discussing it with me.  Since we only had one key to share (Moroccan hotels aren’t the most modern), coordinating when we would be in the room together (or how long one of us was going to stay down in the lobby using the wifi) was difficult.  In case you didn’t already guess, I am a little bitter!

 

Morocco Day 2:

Right after breakfast this morning, we hopped on the bus to go into Fez. Before we could go into town, we had to make sure we were dressed properly.  They advised us girls to wear long, loose pants and also loose T-shirts to lessen the amount the men would look at us.  Their culture is super conservative, and we found that the men go crazy if they see a little skin.  We stopped at the king’s palace first before going to the medina.  The medina is the old part of town, which is basically a giant marketplace (in a sense).  The medina has some 3000 unnamed/marked streets within it, so it’s essentially a giant maze!  If you aren’t from there, it is not recommended that you go in without a guide – it’s a death trap!  We had quite a few different guides.  When we first walked in, I didn’t know that one of them was our guide – I thought he was just some guy following us!  He kept talking to me and asking me about myself a little, and I was trying to get away from him because I thought he was dangerous (he wore a monk-looking getup with yellow shoes).  I eventually asked Nacho, one of our directors, why the man was following us and if I should be careful around him, and he informed me that he was our guide and that the monk man = safety.  Wow Bri… stupid question.  After that, every time I saw this guy I felt better.

IMG_9084

IMG_9086

IMG_9088 IMG_9099 IMG_9089

1979188_10202703015228811_6214558241494099115_o

IMG_9224

The first place we stopped was the pharmacy.  I think this was my favorite place we went!  It was fascinating learning about the different natural “medicines” the owner used, the natural skincare products he had to offer and all the Moroccan spices!  Needless to say, I spent a pretty little penny on some souvenirs in this store, especially the Moroccan mint tea (MY FAVORITE).

IMG_9111

 IMG_9101 IMG_9109 IMG_9123 

 

 

After, we went to a scarf shop.  We were able to watch the guy use the giant loom and try on different scarves.  They were beautiful but a little unreasonably priced.  I somehow got sucked into talking to one of the salesman about the scarves and just began to barter with him for fun.  I had no intentions of buying a scarf.  Well, as I kept talking to him, the people in our group began leaving the store.  Before I knew it, only two of us were left in the store.  The guy then chooses two scarves that I didn’t even like, says to me “one for you and your mother,” grabs my hand and drags me to the cash register (as I am desperately looking around for my friends).  I started to freak out at this point because there were three different guys around and one of our obnoxious guides (who was really racist and made Japanese jokes to Kay) standing around me telling me to buy it.  Our guides got commission on the sales, so of course they were influencing us to buy.  I was really overwhelmed and was telling them I had no interest in buying the scarves (as the guy already has the scarves wrapped up and put into a bag for me!).  They finally let me leave, so I grabbed the girl from my group who was still there, Kaxa (who was using a cane to walk after getting injured), and made my way out the door, where a guide told me to follow him.  Well, I’m trying to follow him and help Kaxa get around, and the guide takes off walking faster than she can keep up.  I didn’t want to loose him (because then I would’ve gotten lost) or loose her, so I had to keep a nice distance in between the two!  I was so relieved when we made it to the leather shop and I found my friends.

IMG_9127 IMG_9129

IMG_9135 IMG_9146

IMG_9154 IMG_9219

Upon entering the leather shop, a guy handed me a piece of mint.  The first thing that went through my mind was, “I don’t want your weeds,”  but the guide told me to take it.  I was confused until I smelled it.  Some people couldn’t handle the smell of the leather, so the mint was to help them cope for the time being.  The smell didn’t bother me at all, but some of my friends had shoved the mint leaves up both of their nostrils (can you say stupid Americans?).  Eventually, I joined them.  I don’t know, it looked like fun.  At the leather shop, our director told us we wouldn’t have many other places to spend our Dirham nor would we need it in the dessert.  Therefore, if we were going to spend it anywhere, we needed to spend it soon (this was actually false).  We all freaked out at this, because we all had quite a bit of Dirham left!  I didn’t know where else I would use my Dirham, so I quickly looked around for leather purses.  I told myself I was going to buy one as a souvenir for myself, and I ended up finding two beautiful leather bags.  I started bartering with the salesman, and he wasn’t liking my price of 20€ for each bag much (my starting price).  I told him “fine” and walked away from the bags, and he walked away after making a little “humph” noise.  It was hard because the bags were absolutely beautiful (and I didn’t want to be insulting with the prices I offered), but I wanted to get the best deal!  In the meantime, Hannah found a purse she liked, so the two of us decided to barter with the guy.  It took a while, and I think we ended up being the last ones out of the store again.  He told us he wouldn’t take 30€, which was the price we had set for ourselves.  I told Hannah to begin walking out of the store and wait around the corner for him, in hopes that he would come running after us.  While we were waiting there, the monk-guy walked up to us and asked us if we bought a bag.  We told him the situation and why we didn’t buy, and then he walked with us back into the store and told them to give us the bags for that price!  After a little arguing and raising of voices, they agreed!  Initially we were weren’t sure if we were satisfied with our purchases, but after comparing the quality to other leather bags and hearing that none of our friends who bought bags got nearly as good of a price, we were pretty content!

10176013_10203601959078225_4432031228692820153_n IMG_9170

IMG_9162 IMG_9164

After the leather shop, we finally got to eat!  The food was delicious.  I had little expectations, but we ate a chicken dish with couscous and dried fruit that was phenomenal!  I would return just for that food!

IMG_9177

Then, we went to the rug shop.  The rugs here were pretty incredible (and so was the mint tea they served us!).  After the owner gave us a rug presentation and told us this story about how you can sell the rugs for more money online, we were allowed to wander the rug shop a little.  Hannah, Michaela and I decided to walk into the back room to look around, where one of the salesmen stopped us to talk to us after I asked for more tea (I meant it to appear as a joke but I was actually pretty serious).      He gave us more (WOO HOO!) but it cost us a little…  because we had to sit down and talked to him.  We began by asking him what was the cheapest rug he had in the store, and he began to look around.  The cheapest was more than 100€ (not affordable).  Then, he proceeds to ask us if we are married.  We told him no, and then he says “Do the men in your country not have eyes.”  We were like, “oh brother.”  In order to get a rug, one of us was going to have to marry this guy.  At that point, I got up from my seat next to him to “examine” the rugs (or distance myself).  He told me to feel the rug, so I did, and said something like “it’s nice…..”  Then he goes, “Feel the rug again, but this time with your heart.”  I think I laughed at him.  What a weird thing to say!  In the meantime, Hannah is taking my picture while I feel the rug with my heart.  Then the guy tells Hannah “Take a picture of both of us feeling the rug with our hearts.”  I was trying so hard not to lose it!  I had to swallow my giggles.  Hannah also made the mistake of asking the guy if the rug shop had a website, to which he said yes.  Then he told her he also had a Facebook and an email (about 4 times), and instead of giving her the website, he gave her his Facebook name and email.  Seriously.

IMG_9189 IMG_9198

10295099_10152078308653652_2666248944469185327_o 10259265_10203747369949538_2342800178421590138_o IMG_9203 1980425_10203747372349598_5735522346252598362_o-1 10273136_10203747373269621_7276756212032940074_o

IMG_9209 IMG_9208

 

Before we realized it, ALL the people in our group had left the store AGAIN and we were the only ones left, so we freaked out a little again because this time none of the guides were around!  Thank goodness Mr. Monk was outside on his phone and safely took us to the silver store while he told us a story about having four wives (that none of us understood).  I was so relieved to see him, once again.  Everybody in the silver store was looking for us.. no one knew where we were!  Apparently we gave everyone a scare.

IMG_9212 IMG_9222

The silver store was a let down.  We thought that there would be a lot of reasonably priced jewelry, but there wasn’t.  The only thing nice about that store was it’s bathroom!  I take that back.. the bathroom was far from nice.  It was only a toilet seat away from a hole in the ground… without papel higiénico or soap or paper towel or a hand drier.  Oh well… when you gotta go in the medina, you gotta go.

IMG_9225 IMG_9232

Afterwards we left the medina for the pottery place.  The pottery was really neat, and we watched a guy throw, other men paint and others cut glass.  The actual store for the pottery was a little overwhelming. If I still had money left at that point, I would have bought something from there!  We went back to the hotel after this after taking some fun photos above the medina, and then we had time to hang out at and around the hotel for a while.

IMG_9272 IMG_9278 IMG_9286 IMG_9287

IMG_9322  IMG_9307

IMG_9331

 After examining out purchases and attempting to take a nap, Hannah, Kay, our friend Frederik and I decided to do a little exploring.  Hannah and I wouldn’t leave the hotel without being accompanied by guys because our friends had bad experiences going out alone.  They refused to leave the hotel after.  We actually had no problems since we had the boys with us, and the four of us went looking for a place to buy Coke bottles with “Coca-Cola” in Arabic.  We found a little shop, but trying to communicate with the guy to tell him that we wanted the empty Coke bottles was a struggle!  He didn’t speak English or Spanish, and we didn’t speak Arabic or French!  We had to type in the price we wanted the bottles for on his calculator!  We both bought giant Coke bottles and small ones for less than 2€ and got a pic with the guy.  On our way back the hotel, we came across an abandoned plastic chair with a popsicle stick taped to it.  For some reason, we decided to have a photo-op there.  See for yourself.. weirdest picture!  Also, something interesting about Morocco is the amount of men that sit outside in the cafes and just watch people.  There are NO women that sit there (ok, occasionally there were, but it’s not commonly accepted).  When us girls walked by, they would stare at us uncomfortably. However, the only confrontation we really had was a kid jumping around making monkey noises when he saw us.

IMG_9349

IMG_9369 IMG_9363

IMG_9368

On our way back to the hotel, Frederik, Hannah and I decided we wanted to try a McFlurry from Morocco.  We heard they are different everywhere you go!  After dinner, we had 10 minutes to run across the street and get them before leaving for the show.  We bought them successfully, and on the way back, we ran into a pack of little boys who begged us for our McFlurries.  I really didn’t know how to navigate this situation.  We were told not to give them anything, so we didn’t hand over our McFlurries.  However, I still feel bad for eating them in front of the little boys.

IMG_9377 IMG_9380

That evening, we went to a belly dancing show.  The show was also interesting… thank goodness that they brought us tea because it started out really slow!  We probably waited an hour for the show to start, and when it finally did, there was only one belly dancer (who left halfway through the show).  Then, these three guys came out, one playing an instrument and the other two jumping around dancing in “traditional dance style.”  We thought it had to be a joke.  It was like monkey-see monkey-do.  One guy would jump up in the air and yell something, and then the second guy would do the same exact thing!  I think they were on drugs.  Or maybe one of the dancers quit the night before, and they had to find some random guy on the street who they told to just go with it.  I don’t know.  Anyway, the rest of the show was fun, and they even dressed up a few kids from our group to dance in celebration of their birthdays.

 

IMG_9412

IMG_9418

 

Morocco Day 3:

To the desert!  On this day, we left the hotel fairly early to start the trek to the desert.  We made very few stops on the way there.  One of the stops I do remember consisted of the bus stopping on the side of the road and our directors telling us to disperse and relieve ourselves.  There were a few people that had never peed in the wilderness!  We also stopped in an oasis to have lunch.  My first time in a legit oasis!  On that day, travel time was around 9 hours. I was so excited to get to the desert.

IMG_9455

IMG_9457 IMG_9467

IMG_9461

We stopped in Erfoud, where we changed our method of transportation.  From here, we all jumped in jeep 4x4s with Berber drivers that did not speak our languages!  Before taking off, we did some bartering with the men selling scarves outside the jeeps, which the drivers tied on our heads for us.  Then, we took off into the desert, one jeep after another.  I took the front of the jeep and tried to converse with the driver.  I was unsuccessful.  All of a sudden, all the jeeps split off into different directions.  We were sure we were getting kidnapped!  It was just a little off-roading though!  Even though our driver didn’t understand/speak English or Spanish, he understood clapping and cheering!  We would do this to encourage him to throw us around a little more.  After about 40 minutes of driving, we stopped to watched the sunset, take pictures and let the drivers pray (this was also my first time observing Muslim prayer).  We made it to camp by nightfall, which was near the start of the sand dunes outside the town of Merzouga.

IMG_9500

 IMG_9516

IMG_9481

IMG_9536

IMG_9529 IMG_9542 IMG_9557 IMG_9573 P1060058 IMG_9568

IMG_9577 IMG_9582

The camp was really neat!  It was made up of a bunch of fabric haimas (tents), in which were mattresses and sheets for each of us to sleep on.  Sadly, these were more comfortable than my bed in Spain..  For dinner than night, we ate some watered down tomato soup that was weird and strangely thick.  I wasn’t too excited about this.  They also served us sugar noodles (what we named them).  These were DELICIOUS.  They were just fideos (basically short pieces of angel hair pasta) cooked with butter (maybe) and topped with cinnamon and sugar.  We loved them so much that we asked for seconds, and they brought us some!  I am going to try to make these at home.  We also had a chicken dish and bread for dinner.  After dinner, we had to get ready for bed, so Hannah and I walked out into the sand dunes to try to find a place to do our duty.  Hannah successfully went next to a dune while I stood watch.  Before I could go, the Berber man that I had been watching out for started moving towards us, which scared both of us!  He was just sitting out on the dune in the dark!  Well, what he was telling us was that there were bathrooms we could use.  Hannah was embarrassed!  I was shocked they had a tent with toilets.  They told us we would have to rough it!  What a joke.

IMG_9595 IMG_9823

P1060072

Morocco Day 4

The next morning we woke up to see the sunrise.  When we woke up, we were each covered in a thin layer of sand. It was pretty gross. We were told to get up and walk outside the camp, and from there a local would walk up to us in the dark and tell us to follow him.  I don’t know about you, but that sounds like everything our parents told us not to do when we were little – follow a stranger into the desert-wilderness, get into a car with a guy that doesn’t speak your language… you tell me!  Well, we did it anyways.  Sure enough, a guy walked out of the desert and told us to follow him!  We were the first group out and got a good view of the sunrise!  I have never seen the sunrise over the desert, so this was a first time for me (like the rest of this trip!).  After watching the sunrise, we walked back to camp so that our “sunrise guide” could show us his “work.”  I didn’t buy anything from him, but some of his stuff was cool!  All the people pretty much sell the same stuff.

IMG_9600 IMG_9609 IMG_9642 IMG_9606 IMG_9613 IMG_9636 IMG_9647 IMG_9661 IMG_9665

After getting ready for the day, we ate breakfast (which consisted of msaman (basically a crepe) with jelly, hard boiled eggs, yogurt and coffee).  Then, we went for a ride on dromedaries (camels have two humps and these only had one).  This was fun but uncomfortable!  I was glad to get off of them for a little while.

10286977_10203747394310147_9102989353379871179_o IMG_9667

Then, we climbed a GIANT sand dune.  This is harder than it looks, especially when you are dehydrated!  The view from the top was really pretty though.  After climbing back down (or sliding like Nancy did), we got back on the camels and rode into town.  I was starting to feel like Mary (even though she rode a donkey.. in a different country..).

IMG_9710 IMG_9734 IMG_9751 IMG_9755 IMG_9769

In town, they took us to a hotel and let us swim!  Well, some people swam.  They didn’t tell us we would have the opportunity to swim and so nobody brought their swimsuit.  Most people just stripped down, but I’m not really the type to do that in public!  I just stuck my feet in and sipped on my Coca Cola :) Also, the colors in the scarf that I was wearing around my head bled, so I was also a little blue after they mixed with my sweat.  Eventually this washed off.

IMG_9795 IMG_9801

After spending an hour or so at the pool, we went down the street to another rug shop. This shop also had some pretty impressive rugs (for a much cheaper price). Hannah and I looked around the store for a while before asking prices. At first, she was more interested than I was until the guy pulled out this beautiful rug.  We both loved it, but since she expressed her interested before I did, she reserved the right to claim it. I looked around for one similar to it, because he was going to offer us a better price if we bought two rugs. We weren’t able to find one similar, but the guy decided to give Hannah the same price for one so she bought it!  After this, I decided to look harder. Of course, everyone had already left the store, but our directors said we could stay behind and look and catch up with the rest eventually. Well, we spent another 45 minutes to an hour looking for rugs, with our director Marisa and MJ, the director from Sevilla, helping us. At one point the guy pulls out a rug I liked, and when I asked him the price, he told me one much higher than the price Hannah got her’s for. I asked him why it was so much higher, and Hannah turns to me and says, “because it’s bigger and made of better material” which he understood.  Blonde move number one.   MJ then looks at Hannah and says, “I don’t know you very well, and I don’t mean to be offensive, but that was really stupid. You just threw your friend under the bus.”  Well, that rug was out!  We continued looking until I about gave up. Right before we were about to walk out of the shop, Hannah spotted a rug hanging behind another rug and a chest. It was a lot different than what I was looking for, but I loved it!  It’s blue with a colorful design and dromedaries on it!  It will actually fit into my dorm room. We convinced him to drop the price down to less than what Hannah bought hers for because it was dirty and older.  Then, all of us went to pay for the rug when Hannah realized she didn’t have her credit card.   She had just bought her rug with it, and was going to buy mine with it as well (since I didn’t bring money). We found it sitting on a bench where she had been sitting 45 minutes before. Blonde move number 2. Thank goodness no one took it!  With both the rugs purchased, we walked back to the hotel with the directors. Right when we got the hotel, the salesman came riding after us on his bike… with Hannah’s credit card in hand!  Yep, she left it there AGAIN!  Blonde move number 3!  She used up her blonde moves for the day.  We sat at the pool again for a while waiting for a jeep (our friends all had to walk back to camp in the heat).. it was relaxing :) However when we got back, they weren’t too happy with us!

IMG_9810 IMG_9813

IMG_9814

IMG_9818 IMG_9821

After lunch that day the henna ladies came. All of the girls, and some of the boys, got henna. The girl who did mine was named Fatima, was 16-years-old and, in my opinion, did the best job!

IMG_9833 IMG_9841 IMG_9839

While waiting for the henna to dry, I somehow wandered over to these kids that walked over to the camp, and they proceeded to show me their game (which was basically jacks played with rocks). They were really good at it, and I was horrible! The kids thought it was funny that I was so bad. Then, we played tic-tac-toe, which is where Hannah joined in. Hannah and I both wanted to show the kids a game, so we taught them duck-duck-goose! It was interesting trying to teach them because we didn’t speak the same language. We had to teach them all through actions and gestures. They really enjoyed duck-duck-goose – I think we played for an hour! Then, we sat back on a sand dune and taught them some Spanish at the request of another Berber. They requested “bon-bons” as well, and we had just enough gummy bears to share with all of them! I have some pretty cute pics of each of them eating their candy. We also bought necklaces from one of the kids as a little memento. The game playing continued for the rest of the night, teaching them other games like signs (again without being able to communicate via speaking). Once it was too dark we stopped playing, but for the time being, we had such a great time! When I think back to the trip, this was one of my favorite things that we did.

IMG_9855 IMG_9857 IMG_9867 IMG_9870 IMG_9874

IMG_9891 IMG_9894 IMG_9890 IMG_9884 IMG_9886 IMG_9882 IMG_9912

That evening wasn’t super exciting. Some people came to play drums, and then a band also came. However, the band was blowing the power, so we had no electricity for a while! We gave up on listening to the band because we wanted to star gaze on a dune. There are two things that kept us from doing this. First of all, there are little black beetles EVERYWHERE at night. I think they are attracted to people and they are gross. Secondly, there was a HUGE spider on the side of the bathrooms. I think it was the biggest spider I had ever seen in my life. We stood outside looking at it for a while and decided to poke it with a stick. Man, that thing moved fast! When it moved, all of us guys and girls screamed and ran in the opposite direction! Someone thought that it could be poisonous, so we thought it would be a good idea to find out. We found a teenage Berber boy that spoke Spanish and told us the spider was harmless. I didn’t believe him, so I told him to touch it. He wouldn’t, but he killed it for us! After that, none of us wanted to lay out on a dune, vulnerable to other spiders! So we went to sleep. Boring, I know.

 

Morocco Day 5

Today was the day we had to say bye to the desert. It was a sad day. In the morning, we went out to the dunes and found our little friend Muhammad who was a pro at filling bottles with sand. He knew all the secrets to getting them super full. Then, we packed up and got back in the jeeps to ride back to town. While we were waiting to leave, and I was sitting in the jeep, Muhammad ran up to my jeep and quickly handed me an orange juice bottle that he had packed with sand for me. He never left my side for the whole time that I played with the kids and became my little buddy. In turn, I left him my UnitedLuv bracelet. It seemed fitting :) Now there is a little extra Luv in the Sahara desert!

IMG_9928 IMG_9931 IMG_9933

I wish this day was more interesting, but it wasn’t. All we did was travel to Meknes (another 9 hours or so), stopping for lunch and restroom breaks. Oh, we did stop to look for monkeys in the forest!  I only found one rare creature…. However, we traveled back down the road a little ways and came across some monkeys!  Once in Meknes, we hung out in the hotel for the night. I was so glad to be able to take a shower though! I had sand in places I didn’t know sand could go. I am still finding sand to this day!

 IMG_9937 IMG_9939 IMG_9943 IMG_9946

Morocco Day 6 (or “diarrhea day”)

This morning I awoke at sunrise to the Muslim prayer blaring over the loudspeakers. It was SO loud! I couldn’t fall back asleep, and to be honest with you, I was scared! I just crawled back in my bed and prayed until I fell back asleep. When I asked my friends the next day, none of them said they heard it. Lauren told me she dreamt it. I was starting to think I made it up until someone finally told me last week that they heard it too!

We all got on the bus to back to Spain after breakfast. Hannah wasn’t feeling so good that morning… and she ended up getting sick. She was the only one sick on the bus that day, and we at one point had to let her off on the side of the road to go because she wasn’t going to make it. After the trip was over, there were a few more that got sick. Luckily, no one got the full-fledged sickness where you can’t move from your bed! We made it back to Granada around 1:30 pm, and we were all very happy to be off the bus! I don’t think I have ever spent so much time on a bus in my entire life!

 

All in all, Morocco was one of the most eye-opening and adventurous trips I have ever taken in my entire life! I am so glad that I made the decision to go – I don’t know if that type of opportunity will come around again!

Well my friends, I have an intercambio to go to. Stay tuned for my next post about Semana Santa, las alpujarras, Nerja and Lagos!

<3 Bri

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Irlanda y Escotia

It’s been a little while since I returned from Ireland and Scotland, so hopefully I remember all the details!  Bear with me!

Gains: Two side jobs!  I am currently tutoring two Spaniards in English, which has been a great little boost to my slowly depleting bank account.

Pains: Trying to catch-up on school work after missing school to travel.  I HATE missing class, and for the Rome/Scotland/Ireland trips I missed about 2-3 class periods for each class.  Then we had spring break the week after, so I was starting to feel like I didn’t even go to school anymore!

Photography Class:  This has been my newest endeavor.  I enrolled myself in a photography class in Spain through Casa de Porras, a branch of the University of Granada.  I will explain more about this later in my post, but it could very easily be listed under the “pains” paragraph above!

Trains:  Obviously from the title of this post, we went to Ireland and Scotland!  Last week, we went to Morocco as well (which was fabulous, by the way).  We wanted to do one last trip and just decided to travel to Lagos, Portugal.  It was our cheapest option!  It’s crazy that we are nearing the end..

So the Ireland and Scotland trip.  Well, it was a quick turn around after returning from Rome!  We returned on a Sunday night from Rome, I had a 20 minute group presentation and paper due in my literature class due that Wednesday and then later in the afternoon we caught a Blablacar to Málaga to fly to Scotland that evening!  Those three days we were back in Granada we pretty horrible.. Not to mention my classmates that were doing the project with me had no motivation to work on it.  I ended up doing a LARGE majority of it.  Thank goodness it got done!  However, I did get sick during those three days we were back. Anyways, we rode to Málaga with a girl named Alba, who had me hold her cake all the way there while her dog sat on my feet.  What you get for traveling cheap!  We made it to the airport successfully and navigated security much more smoothly.  The one thing we were worried about when getting to Scotland was how to get into the place we were staying.  The owner told us we had to call him/her when we got in, but none of our phones function outside of Spain.  We told the owner this, but he/she (we don’t know if it was a male or female!) just couldn’t seem to comprehend that we couldn’t use our phones and needed to arrange a meeting point prior to leaving Spain.  He/she never got back to us before we left the country.  When we landed in Edinburgh, we had to fill out the customs forms, which were the first that we had to complete while traveling before countries.  This was embarrassing!  We were the last ones to go through customs because we were struggling with the English and understanding what to do.  Not to mention that one of my friends, Lauren, is very loud when she is in uncomfortable situations or nervous and tends to swear.. a lot.  This attracted attention!  Finally after having to redo our customs forms, all getting the giggles, and getting drilled by the customs agent about why we were even coming into the UK (we still don’t know if he was joking with us but at least he told us how to use the bus), we entered the country and ran for the bus!  We found the last bus into town for the night and ran over to ask how much the fare was.  The driver told us the price and told us we had 40 seconds to decide if we were getting on before he left.  We thought he was joking.  Nope.  While Lauren checked to see how many pounds she had, he counted down (and my blood pressure went up)!  Luckily, Lauren had the EXACT amount for all four of us to get on the bus.  No more, no less.  However, that meant we were “broke” in terms of money in the UK, meaning we had no money to use a pay phone to try to call the Airbnb guy/girl.  When we got off the bus (which by the way was our first double-decker bus ride EVER!), Hannah and I went to an ATM (where my debit card didn’t), and Lauren and Michaela found a hotel and tried to call the owner of the apartment.  Luckily, they reached a lady who told us how to get into the apartment using the security code.  We caught a taxi (the taxis are neat!) with a very Scottish driver who was a sweet little guy with a very thick Scottish accent that gave us a ton of advice on what to do in Edinburgh.  I honestly couldn’t understand half of what he said!  I have never not been able to understand my own language before, but I did not understand English at that moment.  I think I would have been able to understand him better if he would have spoken Spanish. The apartment was fairly far from the city center and was in a slightly sketchy neighborhood.  When we pulled up, there was a drunk girl walking down the street yelling at someone inside one of the apartments.  We asked the taxi driver if he would stay until we found the keys, just to make sure we were safe.  The apartment was very nice and perfect for the four of us, and that night we got some rest in order to prepare for the next busy day!

IMG_8807

Since we only had one full day in Edinburgh, we needed to make the best use of our time.  We had signed up for a tour the next morning, so we had to figure out how to use the bus system in order to get there in time!  We also had no food at this point, so we got muffins and yogurt at a grocery store that we stumbled upon and ate them under the shelter of a bus stop (in order to stay out of the rain).  Even the homeless people looked at us funny while we ate.  Well, by the time we finished our food we knew we had to get on a bus in order to make it to the tour, so we asked around trying to figure out which bus to take.  Luckily, someone helped us out, so we knew which to catch.  However, when we went to get on the bus, the driver told us we needed exact change, which we didn’t have.  While we stood there dumbfounded, he told us just to get on the bus and figure it out on there.. so during the ride, Lauren went around the bus begging people for change.  Fortunately, an older lady took pity on her and helped us out so we could pay the fare!  How pathetic.  We got to the meeting place for the tour just in time, and took the Sandeman’s tour around the city for 2-3 hours, which was interesting.  The guide was great and full of information and spunk!  We saw the castle, the school that looks like Hogwarts, walked through the graveyard (whose headstones inspired some of the names for the characters in the Harry Potter series), saw the cafe where J.K. Rowling wrote the first three books, rubbed a gold toe and spit on a heart for good luck!  After seeing most of the city, we warmed up in a cafe because it was so cold and rainy outside!  After living in sunny Spain, I have become weak.  I’m a baby when it gets to be a little cold out.

P1050897 IMG_8826

IMG_8837  IMG_8848   IMG_8886

The National Museum of Scotland was across the street from the café, and since we knew it would be warm inside, we hung out over there for a while!  I wish we could have spent more time in there.  Also, Dolley the sheep (the one they cloned) is in the museum, but we completely forgot to see her exhibit until we left!   We were a little disappointed.  We finally got hungry for lunch, so we found a little “fast food” restaurant where I got a hamburger :)  Though it fulfilled Hannah’s desires for beef, it just didn’t do it for me!  We did just a little more exploring that day, including posing with a guy in a kilt for a picture, walking to the castle to check how much tickets were (let’s just say they didn’t fit in our budget) and exploring the Royal Mile before deciding we were just too cold to do anything else.  That evening, we did our grocery shopping and spent the night in the apartment, which made for some much needed downtime :)

 

IMG_8852

IMG_8867

IMG_8870

The next morning in Edinburgh was stressful, yet comical, as I look back on it.  While we were all talking about what to do with our suitcases for the day (since we had to check out of the apartment), Lauren began telling us how she thought our flight was earlier than Hannah, Michaela and I thought.  The rest of us could have sworn that our flight was around 8 pm, but Lauren thought it was at 6 pm.  We told her to go get her ticket, and it turns out she bought the wrong ticket!  Luckily, she bought the ticket for the same day we did – just a few hours earlier.  Since we had nowhere to leave our bags for the day but still wanted to see more of the city, we decided to camp out in a Starbucks on the Royal Mile and take turns being on watch duty.  Lauren and I went exploring first, and happened to end up walking toward King Arthur’s Seat, a giant hill in the middle of town that has many trails to explore.  We didn’t have much time to explore the trails, but were able to take a few good picture in front of it…and I learned how to fly (see the picture below)!  While we were on the way back to Starbucks, I was telling Lauren about his one time while we were in Hawaii and my friend fell in the mud, and guess what happened?  I fell in the mud.  Yep, my one pair of pants were all full of mud.  Of course.  We made it back to Starbucks in time, the other girls walked Lauren to the bus to catch her flight and I wrote my last post during the time I spent there!  Then, the three of us who were still in the country headed to the airport to catch a flight to Dublin that evening.  To sum it all up, I loved Edinburgh.  The architecture of the buildings there is incredible, and the city is really beautiful.  Someday, I would live to return to Scotland to see more of it just because I thought this city was so impressive!IMG_8930

When we arrived in Dublin that evening, we had to find Lauren.  Since we weren’t sure if we would have wifi, we told Lauren to go to one of two places: the customs exchange or a Starbucks.  She didn’t go to either place, of course.  Thank goodness we got wifi and were able to contact her and meet up with her.  This began the wifi jokes… prepare.  She was sure happy to see us after waiting for us in the airport for quite a few hours!  We caught a bus to the next Airbnb place that we had rented, and during the bus ride, we met a very interesting Irish man who helped us figure out where to get off the bus at.  He also told us that we were staying across the street from a hospital and next to a jail.. which made us feel really great.  We were all exchanging strange looks with each other as the man continued to talk to us, and we were relieved when he got off the bus!  After a five minute walk from the stop we got off at, we made it to the apartment, which did not appear to be near a jail or a hospital.  Weird.  Anyways, the apartment owner was a very typical French woman who was very pregnant.  She was very friendly, gave us advice about what to do in Dublin and explained to us that we had to pay for the electricity we used.  Since electricity is so expensive in Ireland, people put prepaid cards into a meter, which allow them to pay for an monitor their electricity usage!  When the money runs out, the power shuts down (which happened right when we got there – Lauren had a minor freak out!).  We all agreed to try to use no more than 5€ worth of electricity, which meant we had to layer up to stay warm because the apartment was cold!

The next morning, we explored downtown Dublin, including the medieval quarter and a farmer’s market that we came across.  Hannah and I treated ourselves to some spicy pad thai, which was the first time Hannah had ever tried it!  It was SO spicy.  We were walking down the street toward the Guinness Factory trying to eat it with our eyes watering.  We had to take breaks from eating it it was so spicy!

IMG_8811

IMG_8827

 

That afternoon, we met up with our friend Taylor from our program and toured the Guinness Factory.  I’m not really a fan of beer, so it wasn’t my favorite part of the trip.  The factory was kind of neat to see, though!  At the end of the tour, you get a free beer, which Hannah and I traded for watered down Coke.  I guess I should have expected that the Coke at a beer factory would taste bad!  After, we walked around St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Dublin castle before we went the Temple Bar area (which was hoppin’).  From my observations, it seems as though the Irish start drinking much earlier in the night and also end much earlier.  People were intoxicated by 6 pm!  We wanted to listed to live Irish music, so we walked into a pub and sat down.  While I didn’t think I was going to enjoy the scene at first, I actually had a lot of fun (it was my friends who enjoy that scene that didn’t have fun)!  The musician was entertaining, and I had a great time people-watching!  I don’t know if you have ever seen the movie Date Night with Steve Carrell, but at the start of the movie, the couple goes to a restaurant to people-watch and make up dialogues for the people they observe.  This is what Hannah and I did at the pub!  Our favorites were the guy in his 50s hitting on a girl in her 20s (which he kissed on the cheek, twice); the girl sitting at the bar who was missing a tooth and whose underwear were a nice compliment to her outfit; and the guy who looked and danced like a leprechaun.  We were so entertained!  My two other friends with us sat on their phones… I think they found wifi.  We stayed there for a while listening to the music then went back to the apartment to get some sleep before having to wake up early for our tour the next day.

IMG_8838 IMG_8863 P1050960                         IMG_8917 IMG_8927

 

This day was devoted to our tour of the Cliff of Moher, “one of the 7 wonders of Ireland!”  We had to be at the meeting point by 6:50 am, so we quickly got up, ate and started the trek to the spot!  We made it just in time!  During the first part of the tour I really wanted to look out the window and see the countryside, but I was just too tired!   I think we all took a nap. On the way there, we stopped to see a castle in Limerick for a few minutes before continuing on the the cliffs.  When we got to the cliffs, we had blue sky and a great view!  They were incredible!  We walked around them for an hour and a half, trying not to get blown off the cliffs.  At one point, we all had to stop and grab on to the fence because it was so windy!   It’s was kind of scary!  The bus driver told us what time we needed to be back at the bus, and for some reason two people never came back… so we left them… with no means to get back to Dublin.  I still wonder what happened to them.  After we stopped at the cliffs, we stopped for lunch at Fitzpatrick’s Pub in Doolin Village and had delicious Salmon.  Then, we stopped in the Burren region to take some photos on the cliffs and continued on to visit Corcomroe Abbey, which has since been abandoned.  That was our last stop on the tour before we drove back to Dublin.  I really enjoyed the tour, but I only wish that our guide had been more entertaining!

IMG_8936 IMG_8948 IMG_8949

IMG_8979 IMG_8987 IMG_9006 IMG_9047            IMG_9018 IMG_9057

That evening, we went to the victorian district of Dublin to check out the building that were supposed to have colorful doors and then just went home (we got a little lost so we decided to get ice cream too).  I think this night we may have made tacos (I can’t remember for sure if it was that night or the night before) for dinner…. so delicious!  BEEEEF :D

Now for a quick break to talk about wifi.  Well, we realized during the trip that one of our friends is OBSESSED with wifi.  I know, I named her above.  She could hardly go one day without using it, would try to connect to it when the wifi bus would drive by us and preferred to stay in the apartment instead of exploring the city at night.  We thought it was a joke at first, but after the millionth time of her asking, “is there wifi here?,” we quickly realized it was not.  I am going to stop there with the wifi story and just let you see for yourself (below).

IMG_8834

Monday morning (the final day) we were feeling pretty lazy, but we wanted to see this “shopping” district that our host told us about.  It was kind of a let down… we thought it would be more like a market, but it was just like an outdoor shopping mall.  We spent about an hour there before packing up, catching the bus and the plane and making it back to Málaga.  Thank goodness we were able to find a Blablacar driver for that evening to take us back – we thought we were going to get stuck in Málaga for the night!  The driver was super sweet, and it was her first time driving people!  I was pretty happy to be back in Granada for the short time being :)

Here’s a new one for you!  I am sitting at a café in Granada writing this, and the waiter just asked me if I would like a níspola.  Anyone know what that is??  I have NEVER seen this fruit before in my life, and so I typed it in to the translator and it translates to “fruit of the medlar-tree.”  That really helps me.  I am going to eat it.  If there are no new posts after this, you will know that it was a poisonous fruit. nispola

 

 

 

 

 

<—- Níspola

 

Now time to tell you about tutoring!  I put an add online back in February or March to try to get a tutoring job.  I have since had two people contact me.  The first girl’s name is Rosa, and she is 19 and moving to London to work this summer.  She wanted to improve her English before leaving, so we have been meeting once a week at her grandma’s apartment for an hour.  This has actually been pretty difficult for me, because I have to look up names of verb tenses in English and review a lot!  Have you ever stopped for a second to think about why we say some of the things we do?  For example, why do we say things like “that rings a bell?”  If you had no clue what the background behind the phrase was, you would be wondering why something that sounds familiar is ringing some bell, somewhere.  Think about it!  My other tutor job is with Antonio, who is a 30-something concert pianist who actually studied computer engineering.  He’s smart.  This job is the best!  All I have to do is correct his pronunciation and answer questions that he has written down in his notebook.  I barely have to do any teaching!  He is very driven to learn, and he has given me some tips on how to improve my Spanish as well.

The last thing I will tell you about is my photography class.  I heard about this class way back in January but was too late to sign-up.  I found out they were offering it again through Casa de Porras, so I decided to sign up this time around!  I figured that since my program directors told us about it, I would be taking it with other students.  Well was I in for a surprise when I attended the first class!  There is not ONE student in there.  They are all Spaniards from the community (except for one Czech lady).  During the first class, I hardly understood anything because the teacher spoke so fast in Granadino.  The whole time, I was trying to decide if it was worth asking for a refund for the class.  I asked the teacher if he thought I was going to struggle, and he told me he didn’t know.  By the end of the class, I was beginning to understand him better, so I decided to stick with it.  Tonight is the 5th class (which is held from 6-9 pm on Tuesday evenings), and I dread it every week.  It’s such a challenge!  I seriously consider not going back every Tuesday because I miss so much information, and then I remember that I paid for the class.  Anyways, this class has been an experience!

Here is the last fun little thing I will leave you with!  I agreed to help Kay videotape himself dancing for a video his family was creating.  When I met up with Kay a few weeks ago, I had been hanging out with Hannah and Joaquín (and was still with them).  Joaquín convinced Hannah and I that we needed to be Kay’s backup dancers in the video, so for some reason we agreed to dance behind Kay… in public… while other people stared.  We filmed the first portion in front of the Alhambra, and then we went to the Albaicín to film on the tea street.  Well, right as we were getting ready to dance, one of the Moroccan shop owners walks out of his shop and starts talking to me.  At this point, I HAD to start dancing because the others already had, so I just kept repeating “no” to the guy as I danced backwards away from him.  For some reason, he decided to start shimmying after me and then proceeded to dance with us.  He didn’t even skip a beat or know that there was a video camera!  I got the giggles – it was so weird and random!  The link below will allow you to watch the videos and see for yourself :)  Be sure to play the music from the youtube video below while you watch.. it’s the actual music we were dancing to.

http://www.mediafire.com/watch/it9xetk8mju68up/IMG_2209.MOV

http://www.mediafire.com/watch/9x80zb4j5mrz2ow/IMG_2212.MOV

 

That sums it up for now!  I have to start writing about Morocco!

<3 Bri

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

4 Countries in 4 Weeks?!

Hello from Scotland!  I am currently writing you from a Starbucks on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh as I’m on suitcase watching duty!  I know, my life is so hard right now :D Though I’m not a huge fan of Starbucks coffee, it’s kind of fun to drink an “American coffee” (which means it’s sweeter and bigger to the Europeans).  I’m also trying to listen to Spanish music in order to drown out all the loud Scottish accents!  Too bad they are so cool…  Well, I would encourage you to find a nice, comfy chair and maybe make yourself a hot drink to sip on before you read this.. because it’s going to take you a while!  It will probably take me four hours of writing to get you caught up!

Gains: Stamps on my passport!  However, when you travel within the EU, they don’t give you a stamp.  When we travelled to Rome from Spain, this was the case, and so we ran around the airport asking different people for an Italy stamp.  Sadly, all they had to offer was a stamp that said “visa checked” that didn’t even say Italy on it!  Hannah had them stamp her passport with it and let out a squeal of excitement when the guy did.  Yep, we got the “stupid Americans” look after that one.  She realized after that it didn’t even say Italy on it, so she is going to draw and arrow to the stamp and write Italy in it.  We did get a stamp when we flew out of Spain to Scotland though!  It was Hannah’s first official stamp on her passport :)

Pains: Goodbyes.  I HATE them.  Hayden left this week, which was a wake up call to us all.  Unfortunately, this dream world that we live in is not going to last forever.  Hayden only did a three-month program, and quite honestly, I didn’t think it was going to be as hard to say goodbye as it was!  Hannah and I grabbed shawarma (a pita like sandwich with shaved meat and veggies) with him and his mom, and then later that night went out to out to tapas with some of our friends from the program.  When we had to say goodbye, Hannah, Hayden and I walked out into the alley and said our last goodbyes… and then Hannah and I walked home and both cried a little.  Such girls.  However, chances are our whole group will never all be in the same place again.  EVER.  That is what makes it the hardest.

Strawberry Pie:  I think those two words pretty much explain themselves.  If you haven’t already, you need to try Grandma Betty’s cold strawberry pie.  They don’t have pie in Spain, and we are thinking of starting up pie shops all around Andalucia!  Nuff said.

Trains:  Well, as you may have guessed from the post title, I’ve been doing some traveling!  A few weekends ago, I went to Salobreña, which is the “beach town” of Granada.  Last week, I went to Rome.  Currently I am in Scotland.. and this evening I fly to Dublin.  Any guesses as to which country I am heading to next Friday?

Let’s back up… about a month.  Remember how I told you that Trini broke her hip?  Well, she has been doing so well and is recuperating!  We have had different family members coming in and out of the house for the past month.  My mom’s brother Javier lives with us during the week, so now I have an uncle!  Also, we have had three sets of French girls and one set of Italian girls stay with us in the meantime.  Our house has been busy!

About three weeks ago, Joaquín invited Hannah, Hayden and I to his family’s flat in Salobreña for the weekend.  The whole reason we decided to go was because the three of us were telling Joaquín about pie, and he said he had never eaten it before!  Unbelievable, right?  Since we needed a kitchen to make it in, Joaquín suggested we just go to the beach for the weekend!  Funny thing was it was actually pi day (3/14), and we had no clue until Hayden realized the date! Salobreña is about an hour away from Granada, so it was a quick trip.  When we got there, we went grocery shopping and bought food to make meals that we haven’t gotten to eat since we left the U.S.!  It was a really lazy weekend, and the apartment is literally right on the beach.  It had a huge terrace that we could lounge on and look out at the ocean.  We would just eat, sleep and repeat.  In the evenings, we played Spanish board games (that I had never heard of before) and sipped on the homemade sangria that Joaquín taught us how to make.  Saturday morning, we made pancakes with imitation maple syrup!  Though we weren’t thrilled about the syrup, Joaquín LOVED it.  He had never had maple syrup before either, since they don’t have it in Spain!  He asked if he could keep the leftovers to share it with the world.  Before lunch, we went down to the beach to hang out for a while.  The beach of Granada doesn’t have sand, just rocks.  It was still pretty though (but a little chilly)!  Hannah and I spent our time searching for seashells and sea glass.  For lunch, we made beef to put in our pasta.  BEEF!!!  Ah, I missed beef.  It was so delicious.  Then, of course, the pie.  It was a heavenly experience for us all.  We each ate a slice and agreed to save half of the pie for later. That was a struggle!  Throughout the rest of the day, we all mentioned how badly we wanted to eat it!  As the sun started to set on Saturday evening, we decided to run to the top of this rock and watch it.  So the four of us ran down the street, kicking a soccer ball in between one another and trying to make it in time.  Well, we didn’t make it.  It was still pretty though!  Then, we just stood around on the beach trying to kick a soccer ball in between one another without letting it touch the ground until it got too dark out.  After, we returned back home to make dinner, which basically meant trying to eat all the extra meat that the boys bought at the store!  Never send boys to a supermarket do a woman’s job ;)  However, I still crave the sausage sandwiches we made that evening.  Then, we played another new card game while Joaquín tried to convince us that the winner should be able to eat all the pie (I won by the way.  And I shared.).  After cleaning the following day, we went home to Granada to begin studying for our midterms the upcoming week!

P1050272

P1050274 P1050276 P1050275 P1050277

Speaking of midterms, what a challenge!  Um, what the heck does the word “study” mean?  Not that I don’t study, but I don’t have the mental capacity or concentration to study here like I do in the States!  In the States, I study like it’s my job!  Here, studying is like a cruel form of torture!  Especially when the sun is shining.  I ended up passing all my midterms, though (and getting high grades, for the record), just in case you thought I winged it.

A few of my friends were talking about visiting the Arab baths in Granada because we get a student discount.  I was told that I needed to go once, and I figured it would be nice after my tough week of studying (ha!).  I really didn’t know what to expect, but they were wonderful!  Hannah, her roommates Aileen and Theresa, and I went.  Since we went during lunchtime, we had the whole place to ourselves.  Inside, there are three different sets of baths: a hot tub-like one, a warm one and a cold one.  You enter the baths and have an hour and a half inside, allowing you to switch between the baths as you choose.  The inside is really pretty and relaxing, and they served the best tea I have ever had.  There is also a steam room (which was like sitting inside of a cloud) and for an extra euro, we got a 15-minute massage!  It was well worth the money, and I am glad I did it!  Very relaxing :) I found a few pics online of the baths and am putting them below so you can get an idea!

hammam-al-andalus_pxl_d2ec884cb60829efba9fee269e56aac8  SONY DSC

images-1 Interior_Hammam_Granada

Since midterms, life hasn’t really slowed down.  That weekend, my program had a trip planned for Sevilla and Córdoba.  That Friday, we took a bus to Sevilla (pronounced Sev-ee-ya), which is about three hours or so away from Granada.  Actually, before I committed to studying in Granada, I was trying to decide between Sevilla and Granada!  Sevilla was a really fun city.  The day we got there, we had free time to roam around the city until the next morning, which was really nice.  The girls from my intensive month and I did some exploring.  We walked down the river for a while, went to see the government building and ended up in the Plaza de España.  This plaza is REALLY pretty.  Around the edge of it, it has names of many of the major cities of Spain with painted tiles representing the city.  Also, there is an area filled with water (that kind of looks like a moat) running the length of it.  For only 5€, Nancy, Hannah, Alexa and I rented a paddleboat and rowed 35 minutes. The whole time, we were preoccupied with the idea of getting back on time, because for every minute after 35 minutes, we would be charged an extra euro (and as you know, we are poor and couldn’t afford that). Luckily, we made it with time to spare (with some sore rowing arms).  It was really fun!  After, we met up with some other friends from our group and walked through the Maria Luisa Park and another plaza.  Hayden thought it would be a good idea to stick a flower in my bun, and after, we all were on the lookout for different flowers to stick in it!  By the time I got back to the hotel, I had a swarm of bees following me!  At least it looked pretty!

P1050512

Unfortunately, ISA doesn’t pay for any of our meals when we go on trips with them (yet we stay at five star hotels…. curious).  Since Hannah and I are cheap, we got a loaf of bread, some aioli, chips and dried fruit.. and called it dinner.  Not to mention that Hayden ate half of our loaf while we were still in the supermarket (and didn’t pay for it.. typical boy..).  When we got to the hotel, we ate our “dinner” on the edge of our bed.  Let me just tell you, this is a recipe for constipation.  I mean, if you were wondering (too much information?)  Yeah, we didn’t feel so hot the next morning!  However, the breakfasts at the hotel were amazing!  All of us cheap students stole bread and meat to make sandwiches to last us through the day and tried to sneak them out of the dining area.  On Saturday, our program took us on tours of the gardens and of the cathedral.  The cathedral in Sevilla is actually the third largest in the world!  Though all the information is really interesting and the tours are nice, they get exhausting.  When they were over for the day, I was pretty happy.  That afternoon, we decided to go find the giant wooden mushrooms.  It is a fairly new attraction in Sevilla, and it is the world’s largest wooden structure that looks like mushrooms from the aerial view (see below).  Even though we won’t pay to eat, we all decided that it would be fun to watch the sunset from the top of the mushrooms, so we paid to ride the elevator up and explore a little (not to mention it came with a free drink in a dirty cup – worth it, right?)!  The elevator ride was pretty great too and made for some great group selfies! After, we all got shawarma for dinner and went to sit at the river to hang out for the night.  The spot on the river was really nice except for the groups of loud drunk people around us and the occasional whiff of pee!  A while later after exploring the other side of the river a little, we turned in for the night and got ready to head to Córdoba the next day.

IMG_1201 IMG_1202 IMG_1203

Córdoba was a nice city, but there wasn’t a ton to see.  We had a about an hour to roam around the city before our tour, and then we took a tour of the city and the mosque-turned-cathedral.  The city is known for all the flowers that decorate the buildings.  I guess that they have a festival called la Feria de Mayo, during which all the buildings are covered with flowers.  It’s supposed to be really beautiful.  I put a picture of a house below so you can have an idea of what that would look like!  The mosque in Córdoba is pretty incredible.  The inside is very interesting, and pictures don’t really do it justice.  Córdoba was just a short day trip, so that afternoon, we went back to Granada to get ready for the next week!

Alright, this is intermission.  I say this because I am stuck here guarding three sets of luggage and finished drinking my coffee… so you know what that means… Unfortunately, I can’t leave my post (Get it?  That was a play on words there.. Hopefully someone appreciated it.).  I hope my friends come back soon, or else we are going to have problems..  I only have one pair of pants!  (Again, too much information?).

Well, after we got back from Sevilla, we had three days to recuperate before heading to Rome.  (P.S. I got my intermission – just in case you were concerned.  Now sitting in the airport :)  Joaquín’s birthday was on Wednesday, so on Tuesday, Hannah and I threw him a birthday picnic -American style.  We went to the grocery store the day before to search for peanut butter in order to make sandwiches (he had never tried peanut butter either!).  Then, we all walked to the park, put down blankets and set up camp!  We had a TON of food and made peanut butter & jelly and peanut butter & banana sandwiches.  We surprised him with a strawberry pie, which I made that morning at the crack of dawn (it was only 7:30 am.. but that’s early for me anymore!)  I had to prepare some sort of makeshift crust out of these cookies I found, and I ended up giving myself a huge blister from crumbling the cookies so finely between my fingers!  Joaquín was a happy little camper when he found out we made him pie!  We tried to light candles for him to blow out, but it was too windy.  So after Hannah and I butchered “Happy Birthday,” he fake blew out his candles and pretended to be super excited!  We let him take the leftover pie home to his family so they could try pie as well.

IMG_8841 IMG_8837 IMG_8848

The day after, on Wednesday, we took a Blablacar to Málaga (which by the way, she was the best driver yet with the nicest car) and caught a flight to Rome! It was the first time I had ever flown using Ryanair, which was quite the experience. You definitely get what you pay for and nothing more. I have never had a flight like it. We didn’t start boarding until the time we were scheduled to take off, and they don’t call you up in an organized fashion to board – it’s a free-for-all. People on the flight talked so loud that I couldn’t even hear the flight attendant explain the safety instructions (How was I supposed to know how to inflate my safety vest if something were to go wrong? Or buckle and un buckle seat belt? Out of all the flights I have been on, this was the one time I felt I needed to know the safety information!) Also, half of the people on the flight were probably in the isle during a good portion of the flight, and the flight attendants did absolutely nothing about it! Unbelievable right? Thank goodness the plane didn’t fall out of the sky! We arranged to stay at another apartment with Airbnb, and the lady we rented from told us that for 5€ a piece, her mother’s husband would pick us up from the airport and drive us to the place. We met him at the airport holding a sign saying Hannah’s name, which she was pretty thrilled about. He could speak very little English or Spanish, and we knew no Italian. When we got in the car, he tossed Kay a dictionary, which he used to look up necessary words like “bathroom,” “garbage” and how to tell a girl she is beautiful (His goal was to find an Italian girlfriend in the three days we were there. He was unsuccessful.). The little apartment was, like I said, little. It was super comfortable, near to the subway and perfect for the four of us!

The first day, we planned to see some of the big sights of Rome but remembered that Obama was in town and half the attractions were shut down! Seriously… he had to shut down the coliseum! This day was really cold and rainy, and we started it by visiting the Trevi Fountain and contributing our 2 cents (one to fall in love, and one to return to Rome). There, we tried our first Italian gelato. So. Good. After, we just wandered around with our map, which had the must-see monuments numbered 1-10 on it. The fact that these monuments were numbered was bad for us.. One would ask, “where are we going next,” and another would answer “to number 8.” You know it’s bad when you refer to the Vatican as “number 4.” We got a pretty good laugh from that! For lunch that day, we were persuaded into eating pizza at a restaurant by its owner. Let’s just say that after everyone built up the anticipation by telling us how great Italian pizza was, we were pretty let down. It wasn’t much different than the States (actually, it was worse)! We continued walking around and happened to see a giant important looking building, which turned out to be St. Peter’s Basilica! It was beautiful! I have seen a lot of churches in the past three months, and that was definitely in the top three. Since we were going to the Vatican the next day, we wandered around after trying to figure out where it was (funny thing is the basilica basically is the Vatican). After, we checked out the Spanish Steps and Popolo Plaza (I think.. it was number 1 on the map). All over Rome, there are TONS of street vendors, and they follow you around. Kay made the mistake of showing interest and asking to try this “super laser” that one of the guys was selling. So, for the next 15 minutes, the guy followed us around trying to convince Kay to buy it! It was a pretty impressive laser. By that time, it was cold and rainy, and we were hungry. Our transportation home consisted of using the metro, which was a stressful experience. We cheated the system a little by buying only one tourist pass and passing it back to one another sneakily. Well, the pass sometimes wouldn’t work right away, so the people on the other side of the gate would have to walk in between the different gates trying the pass at each one, acting as if it was the gates fault the pass wouldn’t work and not our own (which of course didn’t look suspicious). I was really nervous about getting caught by the Italian security guards and getting yelled at in Italian! Luckily, we didn’t get caught the whole time we were there (I’m also not sure if we technically broke the rules or not). Anyways, Thursday evening we cooked pasta in the apartment and ate like kings and queens, and then rested up to go to “number 4” the next day.

We got up early Friday to head the Vatican so we could stand in line for tickets. None of us had wifi or cell phone service, and we didn’t plan well enough to buy our tickets ahead of time. The Vatican was very interesting, but I had no clue it was basically a museum! There is SO much art there. The Sistine Chapel was also breathtaking, but different than I expected! I pictured it much bigger. Before leaving, we took a break to eat peanut butter and banana sandwiches in the garden area (we received a few funny looks). That afternoon, we wandered around a bit more, discovering the Pantheon as well. Rome is so fascinating in the way it is built. You just happen to walk around a corner, or almost every corner, and stumble upon a giant ancient building or ruin! Hannah’s thing to say was “I wonder how old those ruins are!” After the Pantheon, we decided that we should try Italian pizza one more time (just to make sure we got the full experience).   Since we are cheap, we ordered the pizza to “take away” (so we didn’t have to leave a tip) and ate it on a street corner in front of some ruins. Well, eating on the street isn’t really socially acceptable in that part of Europe, and usually only homeless people do it. In fact, we were sitting on top of a cardboard box, which served as someone’s bed from the night before! Yep, we received some pretty funny looks from passersby. Almost everyone who passed us stared! Not to mention that we ate our pizza by picking it up with our hands, folding it in half and talking a large bite (also definitely not socially acceptable). Oh well, call us homeless (we practically are). I don’t know if it was because we were sitting on a street corner or what, but that pizza was SO good! Kay and I shared a sausage and mushroom pizza, and it was to die for. I talked about it for the rest of the trip to the point where my travel buddies were annoyed with me J Of course, to finish off the day, we had to try gelato again. Gelato number two was probably my least favorite. It was too creamy. After, we returned to the apartment to cook and rest-up for our third day.

Day number three (Saturday) we woke up early to stand in line for the coliseum. We stood in line for over an hour, but it was definitely worth it. The coliseum was incredible! It’s amazing that the Romans had the means to build a structure like that way back in the day. After the coliseum, we checked out Palatine Hill and the Roman Forum. Then we walked over to Trastevere, a hipster neighborhood of Rome, for lunch. We found a menu that included a drink, appetizer, main course and dessert for under 15€. This was supposed to be our pasta experience, but honestly I wasn’t overly impressed by it either! I will have to go back and try Italian food in the future. It was food, though, so I can’t complain. We wandered the streets of Trastevere, where many locals had set up stands displaying their homemade jewelry or art that they had for sale. Hannah and Lauren both found Italian leather purses for reasonable prices, which they were pretty thrilled about. We also tried gelato one more time. Okay, that was maybe the best ice cream I have ever had. What’s the trick to finding the best Italian gelato shops you ask? If the shop has a name, it’s not legit. Make sure all it says outside is “gelato.” If they “pretty up” the ice cream that you get to choose from, it means they are trying to hard to catch your attention and are covering up for the lack of flavor in the ice cream. Basically, buy your Italian ice cream from a hole-in-the-wall shop. We are all still talking about that ice cream! We ended up getting lost in Trastevere and having to ask for directions but eventually made it back to the apartment after a bit of walking. Our only regret about our trip to Rome was not spending more time in the neighborhood – it was all of our favorite part!

The next morning we had to catch a flight back to Spain. We didn’t have any problems until this day. That morning, Europe recognized daylight savings and turned their clocks ahead… and we woke up late. We all jumped out of bed and each took a job (some cooking breakfast and others cleaning) in order to get out of the house in time. Since we didn’t have a wifi, we couldn’t look for a recipe for crepes but since we were all craving them we decided to wing it. Yeah, that didn’t work. We ended up having no breakfast. Our Italian driver showed up to take us back to the airport, and we weren’t ready. Somehow, we communicated that we needed more time, so he left for a while. However, when we were ready to leave, we couldn’t find him! He disappeared! We searched the cars out front and the apartment building for him but had no luck. Finally, Hannah found him down the street sipping on a coffee! Thank goodness. He dropped us at the airport, and before we said goodbye, he asked to get a photo with us. What a cute, typical Italian man! Our flight back to Málaga was worse than the flight to Rome! I think it may have been the worst flight I have ever been on in my entire life. Similar to before, every person on the plane was walking down the aisles to talk to other people. However, the landing was the worst. We hit the ground so fast! When everyone started to clap, I thought to myself, “Why are you clapping? We aren’t going to stop!” We had to hit the brakes pretty hard in order to stop. I was SO glad to get off that plane. To complete the dysfunction for the day, we couldn’t find the Blablacar driver to take us back to Granada. It took us a half hour to 45 minutes of trying to communicate with him before we finally found him. Alex, the driver, was an interesting character. He drove incredibly fast (my friends made fun of me because I was so on edge due to this) and smoked in the car. I could have kissed the sidewalk when we finally got dropped off in Granada! Though I was exhausted when I made it home, I had such a great time!

P1050896

I should stop writing. Currently, I am flying back to Spain from Ireland on Ryainair. If this post gets submitted online, it means I survived another Ryanair flight. I am also writing this in a Word document that is telling me I have written 10 pages so far. That is ridiculous! I am going to take a little snooze, but I would advise you to read this fast… my goal is to get part two of this post up by Friday! Stay updated for the Ireland and Scotland trip post (unless you were bored reading about my Rome trip :D).

Sevilla later!!

 

<3 Bri

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Calling all prayers!

Please keep my uncle, my friend Nancy’s dad and my great grandma Trini in your prayers. As you already know, Trini is recovering from hip surgery. She is doing great and progressing daily, and I think the medicine makes her speak more rationally and clearly :) The other two have undergone heart surgeries in the past week and are dealing with some issues during their recoveries. Let’s lift them up!

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Oh, Valencia!

Hi all!  Just got back from Valencia, and you can read all about it!

Gains: Not sure exactly what I gained this week.  Probably more knowledge.  Yeah, I gained more knowledge.  And some friends from Valencia and Mexico.

Pains: Traveling is hard!  Don’t get me wrong, it’s so much fund.  However, planning and getting everything together can be stressful.  Also, awkward intercambios.  They are a pain.

Foreign Food:  Recently, I tried calamari, octopus, cheap caviar, rabbit and paella.  Surprisingly, I like them all!

Trains: This week, we traveled to Valencia!  It was a really short weekend trip that was full of mishaps and fun.

I always do this to myself.  I get busy, and then I can’t remember what I did the past two weeks since I wrote in my blog!  Since my trip to Valencia, Spain is fresh in my mind, I will start with it!

This past weekend, my friends Hannah and Nancy, and I, decided to go to Valencia.  As of this time last week (last Tuesday), we decided to go.  Yes, we only had two days to plan and get things in order.. A little stressful!  We also decided to try out a different method of transportation called BlaBlaCar that is becoming very popular in Europe.  This is basically organized hitchhiking.  If someone is traveling to a certain destination and has room in their car, they advertise it on this site.  Then, you can contact them and set up a place and time to meet them, and agree how much you will pay for a ride.  We were VERY nervous to do this.  We arranged to meet the driver, Fran, at a gas station near our houses and prayed he wouldn’t take us into the woods and kill us.  Luckily, he wasn’t a creep!  Him and his girlfriend, who was from Chile, both were traveling to Valencia because she is a singer and had a gig.  I put a link below if you want to see her sing (she is the main girl singer)!  They were extremely nice and very helpful.  The ride was about 5 hours (in a bus it is 8 hours) and 60€ roundtrip (90€ in a bus).  As you can see, this mode of transportation seemed much more efficient!

When we got there, Fran dropped us off at the apartment we rented through airbnb.  This was also the first time I had used this site for accommodations!  The room we rented was a room that a girl, Laura, rents out to travelers.  She is a student in Valencia and gave us access to the whole apartment, including the kitchen and some of their food.  We were under the impression that she lived there with her two girl roommates, but they turned out to be guys!  One was from Austria and the other from Mexico.  The kid from Mexico, Rodrigo, was studying to be a chef.  We were teasing him about paying him to cook for us, and he actually did!  He made us chicken parmesan (an American meal – he knew we would like it!) and crepes with nutella!  It was so delicious, and better than anything we could have cooked.  It was much better than the chicken pasta we made two nights before, which we also ate for breakfast the next two days.  Rodrigo is planning on coming to Granada to visit, so we hope that he will contact us to show him around!

We got to Valencia around 6pm on Thursday night, and by the time we had settled in and cooked dinner, it was pretty late.  That night, we ended up just walking around downtown and getting a little lost (which started the theme of the weekend – being lost).  The next day, we woke up, cooked breakfast (scrambled eggs – we were craving them because no one makes them here), clogged the kitchen sink doing doing dishes and headed out to rent bikes.  All around Valencia, there are these bike stations.  To rent them, you buy a week long pass, and then you can check one out and return it as you please.  There is no one at the kiosk – you simply enter your code and pin and check out the bike.  These bikes turned out to be so much fun!  They were our only means of transportation while we were there.

Our first stop on the bikes was to el mercado central (the central market).  This was basically like a GIANT farmer’s market.  Everything looked so delicious.  We bought fresh squeezed fruit drinks (I had mango :) and a bucket of strawberries to take with us to the beach.  On our way to the beach, we stumbled across la lonja, an old building where the silk exchange of Valencia was held, and explored it for a few minutes.  Then, we passed los torres de serranos in order to get to the dried out riverbed, which was converted into a beautiful park!  At the end of the park is la cuidad de las artes y las ciencias (the city of arts and sciences), which are five very impressive buildings that hold a science museum, an IMAX theater and the largest aquarium in Europe.  Due to the price, we didn’t go inside the museums.

After passing these buildings, we tried to get to the beach.. and got lost.  We were all a little frustrated with each other at this point, especially since it was 3pm and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast.  We went the opposite direction to get to the beach, and after 2 and a half hours of riding the bikes, we FINALLY made it.. not long before the sun went down.  However, we had to find a place to drop off the bikes.  This proved even more difficult, because all the drop slots were full!  We rode around for another 45 minutes trying to find a bike station!  We finally did and got to enjoy the beach and our smushed strawberries for a little while.  Food on the beach was really expensive, and even though we were starving, we didn’t want to pay for it.  We found a place for cheap hamburgers (they were really chicken burgers) which weren’t the tastiest, but they did the trick.  At this point it was dark, and we had to figure out how in the world to get back to the apartment.  We also realized at this point that we had been charged extra for the bikes.  Unfortunately, we missed the memo that if you ride the bikes for more than a half hour before returning them, you get charged more.  Yeah.. we rode the bikes for close to 3 hours.  Needless to say, we were all pretty frustrated and trying to figure out how to use the metro or the bus to get home.  We couldn’t figure out either option.  So we decided to walk, which we figured would take us two hours.  Oh, I forgot to mention that Rodrigo was also planning on making us dinner, and we had no way to contact him to tell him we weren’t going to make it back.  After we walked for a while, we saw a bike station, and decided to get back on them and ride home.  Now, it was raining, and we were riding like maniacs because every half hour we had to find a bike station – oh, and we were lost!  It was pretty funny!

Finally we made it back and collapsed into bed.  The next morning, we grabbed the bikes again and went to el hemisferic, the building in the park that had the IMAX theater.  We watched a documentary about las fallas, the festival that was beginning in Valencia the days we were there, in 3D.  It’s fascinating!  You need to look it up and read about it.  Every year, they build these extravagant, beautiful structures that they put on display around town.  Every day leading up to the final days of the festival, they have “una mascletá” somewhere in the town, which is basically a fireworks show in the middle of the day that is just for the noise and the rise in blood pressure.  Then, on the final day, they burn the structures to the ground.  Every year.  It’s really interesting because the whole town anticipates these two weeks every year, and the festival is unique to Valencia.  Below is a short trailer about them!

Municipal_2013   fallas_valencia_festivities4a3d2-218  2420288627_e092180e43

After the movie, we decided to head back into town to find a place to eat paella.  Paella is a rice dish that is very typical to Spain, and I believe it originated in Valencia.  After wandering around searching for a place to eat good paella for about an hour, we received a text from Fran (our driver) telling us to go to the mascletá.  We originally weren’t going to go, but when he sent us the text we decided to.  We were so glad we did!  It was very interesting to hear!  Definitely a blood pressure raiser.  Also, I have NEVER seen so many people out in the streets before in my life.  So cool.  I put a video below :)  It’s not the actual one we were at (which there are videos on youtube of), but this one is easier to see, and it’s easier to see how many people are around it!

After, we ended up wandering down an alley and finding a restaurant that had the BEST paella (I actually don’t know if that’s true.. I had never tried it prior to this experience).  The meat was pollo (chicken) and conejo (rabbit)  Paella with conejo is the most typical type in Valencia.  We also had the best chocolate ice cream I possibly have ever eaten for dessert.  After, we climbed a bell tower of the cathedral that claims to have the actually holy grail to get a view of the entire city, and then returned the apartment to sleep.  This pretty much ended our trip, as we were very tired and then only hung out with our hosts for the rest of it.  Sunday morning, Fran and Claudia picked us up, and we were home, sweet home by the time the sun set!

To just finish the story of the weekend, I have to add what happened when I got home.  I walked in the door and into the living room and said “hola!” to a lady who I thought was my mamá.  Then I looked at the lady again, and said “hola?”  It definitely was not my mom.  The three people got up off the couch and kissed me to greet me, but didn’t tell me their names, what they were doing or where my family was.  I was so overwhelmed and confused that I couldn’t even speak Spanish.  I just looked at them and said “cómo se llaman?” which is “what are your names?” I should have said “WHO ARE YOU PEOPLE??”  They told me their names and nothing more.  So I just stared at them confused until they explained what was going on.  I understand Spanish – I’m not an idiot.  They sure thought that if they started talking I wouldn’t understand!  Anyways, they eventually told me that Trini had fallen and broken her hip.  She had to have surgery and was in the hospital.  Also, they were my mamá’s brother, sister-in-law and niece.  I originally got a bad vibe from them, and the vibe got worse when my real family actually got home.  There was so much tension in the house!  My family doesn’t care much for Rosa, the sister-in-law!  I may not speak fluent Spanish, but I definitely knew why.  I was relieved when they left.  For the rest of the week, I have come home to new strangers in the house.  I really enjoy the family that is currently staying with us!  They remind me of my own.  It is my mamá’s other brother, Pepe (grande-big), his wife, Theresa, and their son Pepe (chico-little).  My sister, Laura’s, birthday was on Thursday, so we all threw her a surprise party!  We had a great time.  They really make me feel like I am a part of their family, and make fun of me when I say stupid things.  For instance, they were asking me about my experience with Rosa (the disliked sister-in-law) while we were eating.  What I didn’t realize was that my mamá, who was sitting next to me at the dinner table talking on the phone, was actually talking to Rosa!  They thought it was the funniest thing!  I was pretty red.  This family is leaving tomorrow, which I am kind of disappointed about, but Theresa wants me to come to Calpe (a beach town) and stay with them!

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS (of the past three weeks):

  • This past Thursday, I actually got to go skiing!  Hayden, his roommate Loren and I went with our friend Fernando, who I met at an intercambio.  It worked out nicely because we didn’t have to catch that crazy bus!  When we first started skiing, the snow was HORRIBLE.  I honestly have never skied on sheets of ice, nor have I ever been so terrified skiing!  You literally could not stop.  We would be going down a run, hit a sheet and fall.  You probably could have gone iceskating on some parts.  I took a pretty good spill and have a nice bruise on my backside.  It’s my souvenir :)  However, after lunch, the snow turned into slush, and it was 10 times better!  We hiked up in our ski boots to the top of the mountain, where you can see the ocean!  Also, on a really good day, you can see Africa.  We weren’t able to see it though.  It turned out to be a really fun day.
  • There is a Bohemian Jazz cafe in town that we discovered, which is just about the coolest thing.  It reminds me of the General Mercantile in Helena.  They have tons of old pictures and books, and it is a neat atmosphere.  The milkshakes there aren’t to shabby either :)
  • Joaquin took Hannah and I to a tapas bar to try some new food!  We tried pulpo (octopus), calamare (calamari) and gazpacho (a cold vegetable drink with tomato, garlic, vinegar and probably olive oil).  I really liked everything except for the gazpacho… not a fan of vegetable drinks.  If I could have warmed it up and eaten it with a spoon it would have been better.  He also took us up behind the Alhambra to explore some trails, and to our surprise he made us sandwiches.  We refer to him as our Spanish older brother.  One of the sandwiches was smoked salmon and cheap caviar.  He told us it was his favorite, so I choked it down… not my favorite!  The caviar wasn’t bad though!  Another fun fact: Joaquin has a beach house.  Yup, you read that right.  And we have been invited to go.  Woo hoo for Spanish friends!
  • I signed up to be contacted for intercambios through my school.  I was contacted by two people, and decided to meet with the first.  It was NOT fun.  His English was pretty bad, which wasn’t the problem.  The problem was how critical he was of my Spanish!  Usually in intercambios, you both realize that each is learning and is going to make mistakes.  Anyways, after this interaction, I decided not to email the other guy who sent a request to me back.  Well, my friend Hayden ended up having an intercambio and told me how great his was!  The guy loves to go climbing and spelunking, and he is going to take Hayden.  I was so jealous and asked if I could maybe come.  Well, Hayden ended up going climbing and had a great time.  He also told me that his intercambio partner emailed two people for an intercambio, him and another girl.  The girl never emailed him back.  I then asked Hayden, “is your intercambio’s name Carlos?”  Yep, it was Carlos.  They guy I decided not to email back.  That’s what I get.  I emailed him explaining what had happened, and hopefully I will get to hang out with both of them and do something outdoorsy next week!
  • My family made pasta one day!  My mamá got a pasta maker, so everyone came over to help cook!  It was so much fun and really delicious.  We had noodles hanging off of broomsticks!  After we all ate, my brother Javi goes “anyone up for crepes?”  I was like “claro!”  (Translation: Um, yeah!)  So we made crepes.  Seriously, it was the longest lunch of my life, coming in at about four hours.

CLASSES

It’s been about four weeks since my regular classes started, so I have a pretty good feel for them now!  I do enjoy them, but I don’t really like starting at 8:30 am and ending at 8:00 pm.  I haven’t decided whether it is worth the two day school week or not. I wake up every Monday and Wednesday and have to say to myself “you can do it!”  Oh, update on the bed situation.  I am not buying a pillow.  They must stuff them with feathers from a bird made of gold, because it is expensive for a good pillow!  About 40€ (more or less $55).  I am just sucking it up.  Back on track.  Here is a quick synopsis of my classes and teachers (I may explain more about the teachers – they are the most interesting part):

  • Literature:  Good class, but not what I expected.  I am a very black and white thinker, so I am not a huge fan of analyzing literature.  The teacher is very sweet and understanding, however, which definitely helps!  This is also the class I have the most homework in.
  • Islamic Culture in Spain:  I was really excited for this class, but it, too, was not what I expected.  The teacher lectures all through the class period and is all over the place.  It is more of a history class and less of a theology class, which I am bummed about.  I really wanted to learn about Islam.  Also, this teacher smells SO bad.  He has a nasty combover, smokes between every class and doesn’t really shower.  I sit in the front of the class, so on a good day, I get a little bit of a shower (if you know what I mean..).  He also likes to emphasize his “s” sounds for every word that ends with an “s,” so he sounds like a snake.  All in all, he is a very interesting character.
  • Spanish Culture and Civilization:  This class is very interesting!  We are learning all about Spain and cultural norms of the country!  I really enjoy learning the material in this class, but by the time it rolls around, I have been sitting in class for three hours without a break, so I am sleepy.  The best way I can describe the teacher is the photo below.  For some reason he just looks like Bert – I think it’s his head shape.  He also is very openly gay and married, which is interesting because I have never had a teacher talk about this so openly.bert
  • POE:  This is my language class, where we practice the speaking and writing parts of Spanish.  I really enjoy this class!  The teacher is an interesting lady, but I really like her!  She is a hippy.  Also, her favorite thing to teach us is how to use bad words (tacos) and slang in Spanish.  It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, so I feel a lot more comfortable talking in class.
  • Grammar: By the time this class rolls around at 6:30 pm, I am dragging.  When the class first began, I thought the teacher was going to be super strict.  He is the biggest nut of a teacher I have ever had.  I wish I could take a video of him, because trying to describe him doesn’t do it justice.  When we make mistakes or say something funny in Spanish, he stops and laughs with himself for a few minutes.  He doesn’t laugh at us though – we definitely join in.  It’s hilarious!  He also always uses the names “Eva” and “Luis” as example names.  Finally this week, we finally asked him why he uses those names.  He goes “it’s my ex-girlfriend” and laughs.  So we thought he was joking.  Nope, he was serious.  Luis is the name of her new boyfriend.  He tells us all this while he is laughing, which is a little strange, saying she broker his heart.  He is a strange, sad little man, but a very entertaining teacher!  This is how we all describe him (mannerisms, stature and teeth):

Well, that pretty much sums it up!  Again, I apologize for my lack of editing..  Have a good week!

<3 Brianna

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Hey Stranger

I know what your thinking: “Well finally!!”  Yes, I am updating my blog por fin.  As our friend Joaquin would say about me not being on top of things: “What a pity” (We taught him that “what a shame” is less awkward).

Gains:  A new Spanish friend named Joaquin, more weight and a possible volunteer opportunity!

Pains: Americans.  They NEVER want to speak Spanish together.  It’s the most frustrating thing.  Sometimes I just sit at home by myself and fume over it (that’s an exaggeration :) Also, my bed is getting to be unbearable.  I was trying to be tough and take it as a learning experience, but apparently I’m weak because I no longer sleep through the night anymore.

Missed Connections: There are certain things you just have to laugh about.  I will share the story later in my blog, but I tried to go skiing last week.  Missed some connections along the way.  Oh well.

Trains: This past weekend we traveled to Ronda!  What a beautiful city.  I expect Ireland to look like it.  See my pictures and decide for yourself!  Also, I BOUGHT A TICKET TO ROME!!!! AHHH!!! It’s terrifying to put money down.  We are going March 26-30.  Ireland is currently in the works.  My sister Laura wants to come with us which I am super excited about!

Wow.  A lot has happened in two weeks.  Where should I begin?

I think I left off by mentioning that my friend Hannah and I made a friend at the intercambio.  Hannah is from NJ, and we are the most like minded, which is pretty refreshing!  I really enjoy spending time with her.  Anyways, we have been desperate to make Spanish friends since we have been speaking so much English with our group!  Hannah chatted with Joaquin at the intercambio, and I chatted with this other somewhat touchy guy.  When I got the opportunity, I left that conversation and started one up with Hannah and Joaquin.

Let’s stop for a second so I can preface this story.  *Please, read this story until the end.  Don’t think I’m crazy after you read it! It’s going to sound very risky and somewhat stupid for a while!*

Anyways, Joaquin was telling us how he was going to go to this “strange, sophisticated” party on Friday.  That’s how he described it with his broad, yet also limited, set of English adjectives.  I was not interested in going to the party but was interested in making a friend.  Hannah, however, was interested in going to the party.  She expressed her interest to him, and he brushed it off.  Later, before we left, she expressed her interest about going to the party to him again, and he told her to let him know if she wanted to.  At this point, I butted in and said “how is she supposed to let you know?”  In turn, he gave us his number to contact him.  Trying to exchange phone numbers without straight out asking him was like pulling teeth.

Anyways, as the weekend rolled around we decided to contact him.  We made plans to meet him at one of the main plazas in town.  He said he was going to invite some friends, and Hannah and I invited 3 other friends (including Kay, our mother hen guard dog).  Keep in mind that before we met at the corner, Hannah and I estimated Joaquin’s age to be about 23-25.  Well, when we showed up at the corner that night, Joaquin was with a group of older guys (in their 30s).  I had a little freak out and said to Hannah, “what did we get ourselves into?”  We went to tapas with them, which was fine, and then we headed over to the party.  When we entered the apartment building, we had to go up in an elevator to get to the flat.  I was pretty nervous at this point.  Hannah leaned over and said that she was only getting in the elevator with Kay, Joaquin and I.  We let the other girls go in the elevator with the other guys first (I know, we are bad friends.  This was life or death though).  In my mind, I was playing out what would happen once we got to the top and walked out of the elevator: someone was going to put bags over our heads and sell us into the sex trade.  I was sure this would happen.  As we got into the elevator, I had one hand stuffed in my purse gripping my pepper spray.  Once that elevator door opened, I was going to Mace everyone.

Luckily, I didn’t have to.  The party was just a meet-and-greet type of a party.  It wasn’t some crazy college party.  What I learned from (and the skiing situation) is to never to have a guy describe anything if you want to know what something will really be like!  The age group was about 28-45, and people just walked around talking to each other.  It was really interesting, and I enjoyed meeting different people and hearing their stories!  A lot of the people were unemployed and were couch surfers.  We also met two guys from England.  One of them asked what state I was from, and when I told him Montana, he goes “oh, like Hannah Montana! Do you guys all ride wrecking balls there?”  What a pity.  In turn, I explained to him that instead of having swing sets growing up, we all just had a wrecking ball in the backyard.  Sarcasm will probably be the death of me.  All in all, I ended up being glad I took the risk and went to the party.  I would have never had the opportunity to meet half of those people and hear their stories.  When I think back on my study abroad experience someday, this will probably be one of the stories/events that come to mind first!

Recounting the stories from the past weeks is hard!  I think I will explain the main stories first, then talk more about personal experiences. The week after the party, Hannah, Hayden and I decided to go exploring up the river.  We just walked up it for about an hour until we reached a town called Piños Genil.  There, we walked up into town and stopped for a Coca Cola.  It was fun and refreshing!  We also saw a donkey on the way there, which Hannah just couldn’t believe.  Apparently they don’t see much for farm animals in NJ.

Last Monday, we went to Paddy’s again for intercambios.  No Spaniards really showed up, so we just sat and spoke English.  I was bummed.  However, on Wednesday, Joaquin invited Hannah and I to tapas.  After classes, he took us to his favorite tapas bar.  Hannah and I were still a little nervous to hang out with him, especially since it was just us three this time.  I told her that if he is really a creep, we would surely know after this experience!  Anyways, the tapas we got were SO good!  Some of the best I have had here yet.  He also introduced us to this non-alcoholic drink that is super popular in Andalusia, but I can’t remember the name.  It was something like “salacere..something.” I tried to remember because I has pieces of the Spanish words for “to leave” and “brain” in it, which is exactly what the word was doing in my brain.  The drink tasted like drinking a caramel apple sucker!  We ended up sitting at tapas for three hours with him, talking for half of it in Spanish and the other half in English.  It was so great.  He is definitely not a creep – we feel very safe.  And my creep radar is usually pretty strong and accurate.  This week, we are going to go hiking with him on Thursday.  We have somewhat of a bet going on for his age.  We honestly have no clue, but are hoping no older than 31.  I probably will end up embracing my bluntness and ask.

The day after tapas (Thursday), I had plans to go skiing with some friends.  We were supposed to meet at 7am to catch the bus to the bus station.  Well… I woke up at 7:23.  Yep.  My friends already caught the bus to the station, and the bus to the mountain was going to leave at 8am.  I jumped out of bed, got my things together, and ran to try to find the bus stop.  However, Hayden gave me horrible directions to the bus stop.  He told me to go a few blocks to the left, but didn’t mention that I needed to cross the river.  I called him asking for better directions, and he told me I needed to catch bus 10 at the stop across the river.  He said to make sure it didn’t pass me as I headed to the stop.  As he said that, guess what happened.  Bus 10 drives past.  I sprinted!  ..and missed it.  At this point, I didn’t really know what to do, so I jumped in a taxi.  I asked the taxi driver if he thought I would make it in time, and he said he wasn’t sure.  We got to the bus station at 8am, and the taxi driver pointed to where the bus would have been and told me I missed it.  I jumped out of the taxi and ran into the bus station.  Well, turns out the bus hadn’t left.  However, since I ran into the bus station and not to where the bus actually was, I ended up missing it.  My friends saw me as the bus drove away.  As I am writing this, I think my blood pressure is rising again!  Well, there was another bus to the mountain at 10am, so I sat at the station for 2 hours deciding if it was worth it to go.  The whole time I was asking Hayden what it was like, and hoping he would honestly advise me whether it was worth it to come or not.  Yeah, I am never asking a boy for a description of anything again!  He told me he would probably would get on the bus and come if it was him.  So I bought the ticket and took the bus up.  Side note: Europeans smell!  They have a stench!  I have never smelt a bus that stunk so bad of people!  Carrying on.  What Hayden failed to tell me is that it was POURING down rain on the mountain.  Pouring.  I got off the bus and decided buying the lift ticket wasn’t worth it.  Luckily, the bus was only 10€ roundtrip.  However, the bus didn’t return until 4pm, so I hung out at Sierra Nevada all day.  About two hours after I had arrived(and while I was trying to read and translate a menu I found in order to keep myself occupied), my friend Loren decided he didn’t want to ski anymore and hung out with me for the rest of the day.  I taught him how to play Rummy.  All in all, I was initially disappointed that the day didn’t go as planned, but life’s an experience. I can just chalk this up to one of them!

This past weekend, my program went to Ronda.  It is about an 2 hours south of Granada by bus.  The city was beautiful!  It was pretty cold though.  Our program hired a guide to take us around for the day, which is good and bad.  It gets boring after a while, and I wish that I would have had more time to explore the city on my own.  I think I am definitely a traveler who likes to explore on her own!  The giant bridge in town is incredible, and the vistas are preciosas.  I learned in Ronda that I really don’t like Spanish ham.  It grosses me out, especially because it is so fatty.  It’s too bad that they have so much pride in it, and it’s basically all they eat for meat besides chicken.  I don’t even like ham in the States!  On the way back from Ronda, I made a friend on the bus….. he slept on my shoulder.  Awkward.

A lot of what I talk about probably makes this experience sound like there is nothing bad about it.  However, I have found myself more frustrated in the past two weeks.  It is incredibly hard to constantly speak Spanish, especially if you don’t have many Spanish friends.  Many of the kids from my program don’t really care how much their Spanish improves, as I have mentioned before.  I am realizing that if I don’t become more proactive, my Spanish isn’t going to improve much.  This situation is very hard to navigate.  If I isolate myself from English speakers, I have very few friends and little to do. Also, my few Spanish friends probably don’t want to spend every waking moment with me.  This is my biggest dilemma right now, and I am still not quite sure how to resolve it correctly at the moment.

Also, there are things that I really miss.  I miss beef.  So much.  I also miss having more of a variety in what I eat.  The food is good here, but it is pretty bland.  Sometimes I crave different flavors.  Another thing I miss is my bed.  Even my dorm room bed was more comfortable than the one I have now.  I think I am going to give in and buy a pillow and see if that helps.  The pillow I have now is very thin, flat and stuffed full of feathers so there is no give.  I just can’t handle my neck hurting anymore.  Every night, it falls behind my bed, and when I realize it in the middle of the night, I sit up to grab it and smack my head on the headboard.  Every. Single. Night.  I also miss my car.  I don’t have as much freedom to do things here without having a vehicle, which gets annoying at times.  There are other things I miss, like long hot showers or normal deodorant, but I try not to dwell on them.  Alright, venting session is over.

Well, I am going to give my classes one more week before I tell you about them.  I feel that three weeks is fair to give me a good feel for them and not judge them prematurely.  However, I did have a 30 MINUTE PRESENTATION IN SPANISH yesterday.  It was assigned the Wednesday before, so we had to rush!  It was a group project, and many of the group members were traveling over the weekend.  Luckily, we actually did a pretty good job!

This concludes my post for the week!  I can’t do this every two weeks… they posts get too long and there are too many stories to tell!  Hopefully, you will see the next one on Sunday or next Tuesday!

<3 Bri

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

My Apologies!

Don’t worry, I haven’t abandoned my blog!  These last two week have just been busy and difficult, as I have been adjusting to a different schedule.  I plan to update you about everything on Tuesday!  

~Bri

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments

I know, I know. I’m 2 days behind.

My apologies… I am a two days late posting my latest entry.  I needed two more days to make my life sound more interesting!  Actually, it’s just been a really busy transition week.

Gains:

1. I passed my exam this week!  After I took it, I was pretty sure I failed.  It was extremely difficult for me.

2.  Watched “La Ladrona de Los Libros” at a movie theater here with my sis.  I understood about 85%, and there weren’t even subtitles!

3.  Went to an intercambio (language exchange) last night and made some Spanish friends!  I was pleasantly surprised with how well I could communicate with them (for the most part).  However, I was very, VERY tired after classes.

Pains: Right now, I’m having a painfully hard time trying to be creative with this post.  I had a brilliant idea for it, but I couldn’t carry out my plan with it being rainy outside.  

Classes:  My class schedule:  Mondays and Wednesdays (8:30 am – 8:00 pm).  I’ve only been to one day of classes at this point, and I already know that I am going to feel like death by the time 8:00 pm rolls around on these days.  However, I think it’s worth not having class on Tuesdays and getting a four day weekend every week.  Now I just have to find someone with the same schedule to travel with….

Trains: Still no concrete plants yet!  Actually, under pains I should put “trying to plan travels.”  It’s SO difficult.  We are having a travel meeting over sangria tonight.

 

Here we go again!  It scares me how fast weeks go by here..  I get excited to tell you about my adventures, but then I also have a minor crisis because I realize I am running out of time (and I still have 4-5 months)!  

This was an interesting week.  I spent Monday and Tuesday preparing for my exam on Wednesday.  The exam was difficult, let me tell you.  Everyone in my class walked out ready to cry.  One of the most frustrating parts for me was the oral exam.  For this, you had to talk with one of the professors about a “theme” you were told on the spot for 5-10 minutes.  As the three weeks went on, I got a little frustrated with my professors.  Africa cared about teaching us the material, but as soon as you opened your mouth to talk, she made you feel like an idiot and that you were inconveniencing here.  Luckily, she did it to everyone and not just a select few.  The other professor, Carmen, was much more patient when we spoke, but she didn’t stick to the curriculum.  In turn, when we took her part of the exam, we were very ill prepared.  Back to what I was saying about the oral portion of the test, I had to do it with Africa.  When I sat down, she slip the two topics to me and said I had 5 min. to read them and decided what I wanted to say.  One was about organizations you can volunteer with, and you had to talk about your opinion of them.  The other was about education systems and what you would propose to improve them.  These are not things I can think about and explain in Spanish after 5 minutes!!  However, I have heard a lot about the education system in the U.S. from Ali and from my Spanish classes at Carroll, and felt confident enough to rant about them a little.  The whole time, Africa either looked past my face and out the window or made the “your inconveniencing me face” accompanied by the eye roll.  It was so intimidating!  When I got home from the test, I couldn’t talk in English or Spanish.  I was exhausted, frustrated, defeated and brain dead.  

That night, we had a family outing to a sporting goods store because my sis wanted me to get a little day pack to do hikes.  Let’s just say I was very quiet.  One thing about language acquisition is you have good days and bad days.  I can’t remember if I have already digressed about this, but if I have, I’m going to reinforce my point.  Some days I really feel like I am going to learn and be fluent eventually in Spanish.  Then, about two days a week (at least) I get very discouraged.  During these days, I just want to speak English.  Usually, it’s worse if I’m tired.  The best way I can describe the feeling by imaging that you are deaf.  I think it is probably very similar to not understanding a language and being completely surrounded by people that speak a different language than you.  For example, when my mamá, sis, Javier and abuela are all at the table for lunch, the talk very fast between each other.  Then, one will tell a joke and everyone will laugh.  If I don’t understand, I will do one of two things.  First, I will pretend I get it and laugh along.  They always know that I really don’t understand, so I usually look like an idiot when they ask me afterwards if I understood. Embarrassed, I say no.  Secondly, I will just pretend like I wasn’t really listening and either find something interesting in the room to stare at with a glazed over look, or I  pretend like I am super intrigued with what I am eating.  Back to the reason I began explaining this (gosh I like tangents).  The “defeated days” are the worst.  

Of course, I have to share a little about Trini.  One night early last week, Laura and I stayed home with Trini while my mamá went out with some friends.  That night, we skyped my mom so Laura could meet her.  It was pretty cute because she got to practice her English!  After, the three of us were sitting at the table eating dinner, and I think Trini must have eaten something funky because she was on a spitfire!  First, Laura asked me if my real mom would have been mad if she told her how young she looks.  Trini felt that she knew the answer to this better than I would, so she went off about how my mom couldn’t possibly be mad!  Neither Laura nor I understood what she was saying, so Laura looks at her and says “do you speak English?”  Her reply: “Oui, oui, oui.”  French.  She thought she was speaking English!  Then, she went straight into a joke about a japanese guy who jumped out of an airplane but his parachute didn’t work.  I didn’t get it, but she thought it was funny.  When I talked, I pause to think/conjugate verbs in my head a lot.  That night, when I would pause, Trini would try to guess what I wanted to say.  It was like she thought we were playing charades or Taboo or something!  Finally, Laura just slapped her hand right over Trini’s mouth so I could get a word in!  Trini made this face of defeat and kind of slumped down in her chair, and I got the giggles.  Then, so did she.  To end the night, I was going to tell both of them goodnight and ask Laura what time were were going to go to the movie the next night.  When I asked, Trini replied that mornings aren’t good for her and so we should do a different time.  She doesn’t even leave the house!  After, I just sat down on the bed with her and asked her time works best for her and which movie she wanted to see.  Laura laughed in the background.  Last thing about Trini.  If I leave my contact case on the bathroom sink that we share at night and she either goes to after me or wakes up before me, she will dump the liquid out of my contact case.  I have no clue why… Now I have to hide it from her!

Laura, Julian and I also went to “La Ladrona de Los Libros” last week.  Anyone know what movie that is in English?  I really liked it, and like I said above, I understood a lot more than I thought I would.  This weekend we had four days off of school, and it was very uneventful.  Many of my friends traveled, but I decided to stay back and plan my travels a little more.  I think it was a wise choice.  I ended up catching a cold this weekend, so on Saturday I hung around the house and my mamá began teaching me how to crochet.  Sunday, my sis took me to an Arab tea shop that has such a pretty view of Granada.  We got coffee and crepes, even though it was a tea shop, because we both needed the caffeine.  I want to hang out there more!

After tea, I attended a different church.  After the first hour, I was loving the church and was very sure that it would be the church I would commit to.  After the second hour, I was wondering how long the service was going to last and getting tired of straining to understand what the pastor was saying. After the third hour, I was tired, hungry and frustrated with everything about Spanish and myself and the pastor and life in general.  I don’t think I have ever walked out of church so frustrated before!  The service went from 6:30-9:30 (at least).  I left a little before 9:30 because I had to make it home for dinner.  Honestly, I don’t think it’s the best for me to attend that church, and I am going to keep looking.  However, they sang a song that I really liked and that is also in English.  I loved this phrase in the song: 

Que tu Espíritu me guíe sin fronteras
Más allá de las barreras
A donde tú me llames
Tú me llevas más alla de lo soñado
Donde puedo estar confiado
Al estar en tu presencia

In English: 

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

I think in the place I am in right now, I really identified with what this part of the song was saying and see it more as a prayer/desire for myself during this period of time in my life.  Also, I just have to share this scripture with you.  It honestly made me giggle:

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills; a land with wheat and barley, vinesand fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey; a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills. (Deuteronomy 8:7-9)

You are probably wondering why I think this is funny.  Ok, Granada has brooks, streams, valleys and hills.  They also have have lots of wheat and fig trees.  Furthermore, Granada is famous for having pomegranates (in fact, it’s their official symbol), and if they could drink olive oil like water, they probably would.  Also, trust me, in this land the bread is not scarce.  Jobs may be scarce but bread is definitely not.  So, what I got out of this is that the Lord has brought me into good land… Granada :)  Who knew that he was really talking about Granada here!

Wooo, this is getting long.  Well, a little about my classes.  Like I said, I start classes at 8:30 am, and I am taking 5 classes (each 1.5 hours long).  It makes for a very long day.  I am talking Modern Literature of Spain, Islamic Culture in Spain, Culture and Civilization in Spain, Grammar and Speech and Oral Production.  All of these courses are entirely in Spanish, and so far they seem like they will be very interesting.  Since it takes me so long to walk home, I have to find places to hang out nearby the school during my breaks.  

Lastly, I will tell you a little more about intercambios.  These are held at select bars in Granada, and English and Spanish speakers come to improve their speaking.  I was hesitant to go last night, but I’m really glad I did.  I got to talk to three Spaniards (a girl and two guys) and learned a lot besides the fact that I was exhausted.  I like meeting Spaniards more this way than at discotecas.  The reason that most people come is because they have to learn English because their job depends on it.  For this reason, I feel much safer.  Also, the bar, called Patty’s, is owned by Patty the Irishman who speaks both English and Spanish.  He was very friendly to us and organized the intercambio well, placing us each with someone to talk to.  He also assured us that if there were any shenanigans, he would take care of it.  However, Patty charges a lot for a Sprite!  My friend Hannah and I talked with a guy named Joaquín.  He was very polite and invited us to hang out on Friday, so we may get to know him and his friends!  I will update you on this next week probably!  

Well, that concludes my post for the week!  I apologize again because I am rushing and don’t have time to read over this – ignore all my mistakes!  Also, I have done a terrible job at writing down my food this week.  So sorry.  I will be better next time.

<3 Bri

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 35 other followers