Monday, September 17, 2007

Water = Life

It seems like so much has happened in just a weekend! On Thursday night I went out with Kirsten and her friend Elena to dance, which was really fun. The downside? I got one hour of sleep (6:30-7:30) before I had to get up and get on the IES bus for the weekend. I pretty much felt like death.

When we got to Ronda and I had to walk around in the city in the burning sunshine feeling like a zombie for some four hours, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to stay conscious. Despite Ronda being a really awesome city perched on a cliff, I was sort of disinterested. We got back on the bus and headed to Sevilla, where we put on our fancy clothes to eat at a nice restaurant. They served croquettes, assorted cheeses, sheep kebab with prunes and apricots (yummy!), and lots of other things I don't remember. It was a good thing IES paid for that meal, because I am willing to bet it was pretty expensive. Almost everyone went out to party that night, but I went back to the hotel and to sleep, finally. It felt fantastic.

The next day (Saturday) we took guided tours of the Real Alcázar (ancient residence of the royal family with gorgeous gardens and a hedge maze) and the cathedral. The cathedral in Seville is the third largest in the world, after Saint Peter's Basilica in Rome and Saint Paul's Cathedral in London (so said the guide). I prefer the pretty tile work and open courtyards of the palace to the monstrosity of the cathedral. It used to be the main mosque of the city, and the structure that was the minaret is now the bell tower (that part was cool. You can go all the way to the top and look out over Sevilla. It's very high). Inside it is mostly just ugly. Excessive gold, carvings of angels/virgins. The stained glass is too high to see. There is a sort of tomb/casket that supposedly holds the remains of Christopher Columbus, but there are two other churches that claim to have his remains as well. Haha. Apparently there is a forensic investigation going on right now. That night we went to a Flamenco performance, which sort of blew my mind. There was a section with just music, then a woman dancing to music, then more music, then a woman and a man. The partner dance was the coolest; the two never touched each other, but it was very passionate (almost violent) anyway.

Sunday was a free day until 4pm, so a group of about eight of us decided to walk along the river to Maria Luisa park and the Plaza de España (a huge curved building created for the 1929 Spanish-American Exhibition). The Plaza was used as the (modified) setting for Naboo in Star Wars: Episode II! It is quite magnificent. In the afternoon more than fifty of us started out across the city on foot to go to the soccer game against Huelva (they didn't have a chance of course). The game totally redeemed a mediocre trip. Most of us (including me) had front-row seats. I could practically smell the players when they had throw-ins on my side. It was awesome. A large part of the beginning was a memorial for the Sevilla player Antonio Puerta who died of a heart attack at 22 in August. It was very touching. There were things about how the spectators acted that I didn't understand, but it was fun to listen to them swear at the referee in Spanish. The game was just perfect. Sevilla won 4-1.

The theme of the weekend was definitely water. It was hot. Really hot. I was either severely dehydrated or asking after a bathroom at the most inconvenient times. Fountains were in abundance, but you couldn't drink out of them, of course. It was a lesson in our dependence.

We got back to Granada on the bus after 1am last night, and so I got to sleep for five hours and then go to my first day of IES classes (Spanish and Arabic today). Spanish and Literature tomorrow. I will have no classes on Fridays. I think things are cool. I've decided against physics (I don't know what I was thinking), and instead will take a class about Mao and one about prehistory in Iberia. I'm excited. The counselor says they are not hard, which will leave me plenty of time to drill in Arabic (the class today really illuminated how difficult it will be).

If you want to see what I'm talking about, I'm in the process of putting my pictures on the internet. You'll be able to see them (and some old ones) at soon. Whew! That's all for now.