Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'll charge YOUR battery

So I had the misfortune of accidentally breaking my laptop charger the other day. Or rather, it stopped working all on its own, and I received the misfortune. I didn't realize how much time I spend on the computer when I'm at home! I took the opportunity to watch a bunch of vhs movies my host mom has in the house (all dubbed in Spanish, unfortunately): Al Sur de Granada, Dirty Dancing, some weird Egyptian parody, and Interview with a Vampire. I spent way too much time in the house but it was nice to relax.

Our program took us all out to dinner on Thursday for Thanksgiving, and it was really nice. The turkey was some sort of weird loaf with prunes in it, but everything else was delicious. There was a copious amount of wine served, and it was fun to hang out with the language teachers and the support staff in such a festive atmosphere. If you ever have the opportunity to try pumpkin flan, do it. It is amazing. I was sad to be missing Thanksgiving with the Vermont Willards and Jesse and Alix, but I had a good time anyway.

Last night a bunch of us went out to a Chinese/Japanese restaurant and I had the most amazing experience smelling my sushi...I know that sounds weird, but it was wonderful. I had tuna sashimi and cucumber rolls and everyone's leftovers and it was joyous. I'm getting all hungry again just thinking about it.

Well, happy Tuesday.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Beware the old ladies

Hi all,

I got back this morning from Barcelona. It was a good trip, but I'm glad I chose to study in Granada. We became very familiar with the metro, as our hostel was about as far out as Haverford is from Philadelphia (15-20 minutes on the train). I like riding the metro, but one of the girls got her wallet picked right out of her bag while riding during rush hour. I was almost picked too; I felt something and looked down and the zipper of my bag was open, so I felt around and everything was there. I zipped it back up and kept my hand on it, and stared suspiciously at the old woman who was standing on that side of me with this big shawl over her arm so I couldn't see her hands. She got off at the next stop and two minutes later Alex realized her wallet was missing. I wish she would have gotten mine too, because then I would have confronted her and maybe gotten both back.

We were on our feet in the city all day Friday and Saturday, which got to be a pain. But we saw some cool stuff: the Goudi park, his museum, some houses he designed, the Sagrada Familia (which he also designed), the Gothic quarter and the waterfront, as well as a whole bunch of shops and booths.

Sagrada Familia (which is a cathedral) was really cool. It's still under construction. The style breaks so obviously with traditional architecture that it's really fun to see; instead of gargoyles there are these weird fruits, and the columns branch like trees. We rode the elevator to the top of a spire and walked down another with a spiral staircase that was truly dizzying. I counted 350 steps. Most of all, I like the tile that he does. It's all very colorful and imaginative.

Aside from the pickpocket paranoia (there were signs EVERYwhere advising us to take care), the people were cool. We ate at an Indian restaurant which was more exciting than I ever would have imagined. I miss Asian food! I had these vegetable "meatballs" that were mostly chickpeas I think, in this tomato sauce and there was paneer and I "mmm"ed all through lunch.

Our flight out was at 5:30am, and the bus to the airport had peculiar hours, so we slept at the airport. We got there at about 11pm and bought some wine and kiwis and goofed around. At about 1am we put on all the clothes we had and lay down on the floor with our heads on our bags and went to sleep. It was so cold it was sort of horrendous, but there were people sleeping all over the airport (apparently that's how it works around there). I also slept on the flight and on the bus ride from the airport, and when I got home. And now I'm in Granada again, and there are only four weeks left! I've got to start buying souvenirs.

With love,

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Over barns and whatnot

By the way, I've learned to fly. This was taken at that national park last weekend. LOVE it.

Monday, November 12, 2007

What the dang?

All of the sudden I have WAY too much work to do, and it sucks. Arabic is getting a lot harder because it entails so much rote memorization (one of my weakest skills), and I have a surprising number of papers. Blech.

I spent the weekend on an IES trip to Jerez and Cรกdiz, which was fun. The weather was truly surreal: clear skies, seventies and eighties like early September in Washington. No chill in the air. We saw an equestrian show and went to a wine-tasting (Jerez is the Spanish name for Sherry, which is disgusting) and rode around in huge jeep buses in a national park. I'll get the pictures up eventually...There was a wild boar involved, and lots of sand.

Sorry, I'm feeling lazy about recounting my adventures right now. I'm having a good time, apart from the homework, but I'm getting super-psyched to be home for the holidays. What do I miss most? Americans. I hope I never take them for granted again. We are flawed in our own way, but I love us. Having been brought up in the same culture as the people around you is some sort of bizarre luxury. I'm looking forward to not feeling like an outsider when I'm walking down the street.

But, instead, I'm going to Barcelona this weekend, where it will be painfully obvious that I am a tourist. Goody. But no, it will be great. OK! It's my bedtime. Sweet dreams,


Tuesday, November 6, 2007


As promised, here is the account of my weekend trip to Galicia:

We traveled overnight on Wednesday and arrived in Santiago de Compostela at 6am on Thursday, wandered through the empty streets, and arrived at the cathedral rather by accident. This cathedral is the destination of the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route since the middle ages. We met some pilgrims in front of the cathedral that had been walking for a month. I'm not really a fan of the whole cathedral aesthetic, but this one is pretty nice. The remains of James the apostle are supposedly interred there.

We registered and dropped our stuff off at the hostel (which was adorable) and spent the day wandering around the old city (which is very small) and visiting the cultural history museum situated in this monastery. It had this really awesome triple spiral staircase, but we spend altogether too much time there. That evening we watched the sunset over a very New England landscape from the top of a hill, and it was lovely.

The next morning we got up early and rented a car (a minivan, actually) with some people we met at the hostel (I know, it sounds terrible) and drove to the western coast, the Costa de Muerte (that's right: death. It's called that because it is treacherous for ships). We stopped in a town along the way, walked up a hill to an adorable old church, and hung around while tons of old people got out of mass. Inside there was a young guy practicing church music on an electric keyboard, which I thought was sort of funny. It was on the "organ" setting, of course. We bought some fruit and vegetables at the outdoor market and drove on.

We stopped for lunch in our destination town: Cabo Finisterre (Land's End Cape). It is the westernmost point in continental Europe outside of Portugal, and it's really gorgeous. We took a hike up to the top of the hill/mountain looking for these fertility rocks that the guidebook mentions, but I'm still not sure whether we found them. There was a breathtaking view of the skinny part of the cape with the town and everything...you should look at the pictures. We watched the sunset from the lighthouse.

On Saturday we traveled by train to La Coruna, a city on the northern coast of the province. We didn't get to see much of it, but the area of the old city that we walked through was charming and there were people with very long poles fishing off the seaside path of stone. We walked along the coast to the Tower of Hercules, the oldest continuously functioning lighthouse in the world. Legend has it that it was built by Hercules himself.

Traveling that far on the ground I do not recommend. It is exhausting. Also, at least three out of the five of us got food poisoning. Immediately after getting back to Granada, we got pretty violently ill. The culprit? Probably bacon sandwiches. Horrible consequence for tastiness.