Thursday, July 16, 2009

Ladies Night...

So after classes on Wednesday Tema and I attempted to go see the castle (Castille de Santa Barbara). The only thing was, it was really really really hot, and we had to walk up a giant hill. Or more like a mini mountain. Our prof had told us of an elevator that can take you up to the castle, so we attempted to find it. We did find it, but it was closed due to construction. And so we began our ascent. However, it was way hot and it was painful and neither of us were wearing the proper shoes for such an adventure (since we planned on going to the playa afterwards, we wore our flip flops; not such a good idea). And so we decided to take a taxi the rest of the way up. Once there, we were greeted with the most magnificent view of Alicante. You could see practically all of it: all the buildings, the ports, the beaches, the surrounding mountains. The Castle itself wasn't much to see. It is undergoing major restoration so what was left to see was the outside of the walls and buildings which was pretty plain. The only worthwhile thing was the view from uptop.

After taking a short break from the heat in the shade, we began walking down the mini mountain. It was quite...interesting. There was no sidewalk half the time so we were in danger of getting run over. Either way, we finally made it to the beach. I didn't even bother tanning. I put my stuff down and ran into the water. I must have stayed in the water for over an hour. It was such a nice day with little waves and the sun was beating down on me, that the water felt wonderful; I couldn't leave it. After that we headed home and I helped Tema go the the post office and send a box home. She put lots of clothing in it since it wouldn't fit in her suite case.

Afterwards we had dinner (gazpacho con pizza y bocadillos y pizza y helado....) and got ready for our last night out. We can't go out Thursday night since we have to study for our exam on Friday and pack our stuff for our departure, so we decided to have fun Wednesday night. First we helped Lauren shop for some stuff for her boyfriend's family (not me Lauren, another confusing). Afterwards Tema and I watched our chicas eat helado (we watched and didn't have any because our dinner was so big..). Then we headed to this place called Havana where it was ladies and had free margaritas for the ladies. They were really good. Then we danced at Carpe Diem, then we danced at Mulligans, then we went back to Havana and danced some more! We really wanted to dance, as you can tell. But after 3 or 4 hours of it we were pooped. Remember, three of the four girls have morning classes! And so, we all parted ways and went home to pass out.

Thursday (today) was my last day of real class. Martin (the only guy in the class) didn't come, so it was just the girls. It was funny because we talked a lot about love and relationships. As one excerise we had to write love letters. I "wrote" one to my novio...its pretty funny. I think I'll send it to him later.

Tomorrow we have our exam in the morning and then we're done! That's right, my time here in Alicante is reaching its end, as well as my time in Spain. My classes are done, and I'm almost done with the course. Its a strange feelings, because I feel like I just got the Madrid the other day. But, I will make my last days here awesome! Friday night we are having a reunion of all the friends from Madrid as a goodbye kind of thing. I am excited to see all the people that I have met since being in Spain, including the people from CMU. They have all been wonderful!

Well, I'm off to go to el Corte Ingles with Tema (she needs a towel) and then home to study and pack and sleep.

Hasta mañana chicos!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Todo en tus manos...

El lunes despues de clase Tema y yo quedamos con unas amigas de la escuela en la playa. Nos acostamos en la arena y nos bañamos en el mar (pero, esta vez estuvimos en la area "turistica" al lado del hotel grande que se llama Media. El agua estaba sucia con mucha basura....). Estuvimos afuera por un par de horas. Despues volvimos a casa para cenar. Luego quedamos con las chicas otra vez para `pasear por la cuidad y disfrutar la noche. Terminamos sentadas en un lugarcito que se parecia como una plaza. Muchos viejitos se sentaban ahi en sus sillas. Nosotras nos sentamos a conversar y charlar (y de huir de la cucaracha que nos estaba siguiendo!).

Tuesday morning we headed to class where we could all talk about our thing. Tema spoke about Zoolander, Martin about some movie he saw when he was in high school, Anna about roughing it out in the mountains and camping, and me about the Beatles. Luckily I only had to explain why I like them, what I thought about them, etc. We also started talking about universities and the differences between the European ones and the American ones. I'm seriously considering switching to Europe because college is almost ten times cheaper than in the States. I could be saving a heck of a lot of money!

After classes Tema and I met up with our housemate Karen and her friend Natalie and hit the stores. We actually didn´t do a whole lot of shopping. We did more browsing and window shopping and walking around. It was fun and relaxing. But I was really excited when I found a bakery that sold 1.5 liter water bottles for only 70 cents! Usually a tiny .5 liter bottle costs me 1 €, so this I think was a steal (I know I'm a nerd....)

We then spent the night in since we had gone out the night before pretty late and had morning classes as well. We needed to regain our energy for Wednesday´s adventure: finally go see el Castillo de Santa Barbara and hit the beach again!

And that's what I'm going to do now....I'll let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

No Strings Attached....DUN DUN

Once back in Alicante, we headed home took showers and had ourselves a home-cooked dinner. Afterwards, we decided to go explore Alicante on a Saturday night. We really didn’t know what to do (and we still don’t!) so we just walked around for a bit. We finally settled on a place that had an open table outside and ordered a drink. While sitting there though, a homeless man was throwing things at us. It was kind of weird and gross. A pair of French guys sitting near us invited us to sit with them because of the homeless man throwing things. As one of them said, “we saved your life”. The two Frenchmen were on holiday in Alicante for week and decided to go out. One was named Julian and the other Fabian. Neither of them spoke Spanish, and only one spoke English. And so it was quite interesting trying to have a conversation with them. After having a drink with them and going to other places such as other bars and some discotecas. It was an interesting night to say the least. It was one of those times I wish I knew how to say “sorry I have a boyfriend” in French. As 5 AM rolls around, we decide that it’s a good time to head home.

Sunday afternoon we decide to go to a beach we had heard about from our host parents and other students called San Juan. It’s on the other side of Alicante where the beach is much longer and wider, making it seem like there are much less people than in the beaches near our school. Tema and I invited our other housemate Karen (the quiet high school girl) to go with us. Our host mom was so excited that all three of us were going that she made each of us lunches and gave us a 2 liter bottle of cold water to share (along with cute little cups). I think she was just happy that Karen was going out. And so, we trekked down to the tram station and caught the tram to Casa Blanco where San Juan beach is situated. It was a very sunny and windy day. A good combination because it never seems as hot as I really is. Also, the wind made the water a bit wavy, so it was fun. Also, since there were three of us we could take turns watching the stuff: as one person stayed behind tanning/reading/sleeping the other two could go to the water. I spent lots of time swimming, tanning, and taking a nap on the sand (funny story: I had my iPod on shuffle while lying on the sand, and the last song I heard before I fell asleep got stuck in my head. It was a really random one too: No Strings Attached….yeah. its been stuck in my head for two days). After 4 or 5 hours at the beach we decided it was time to go home and pass out (after a delicious dinner of course: berenjena rellena).

Monday our classes switched to the morning. It was a nice change since walking to class was not as stressful (not as hot at 8:30 in the morning than it is at 1:30 in the afternoon). We also had a new teacher named Teresa. She was really nice and pretty laid back. She has a habit of making these really funny noises when she talks about something that she doesn’t like. The noise makes me want to burst out in laughter, but that’s rude so I just hold it in. Either way, class was as usual. As homework for Tuesday we had to think about something (a movie, a book, a band, anything!) that we really like or know really well and talk about it to the class. Guess what I picked….that’s right. THE BEATLES. Mwahahahahaha. I am excited to talk about them, though it will be challenging since I usually explain everything in English and not in Spanish. Fun times.

Afterwards I attempted to upload all my pictures until now, but I had too many and so I only succeeded in posting up until I left Madrid. I have yet to put up pictures from Alicante or Granada. But don’t worry. I will try to soon!

Until then!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Proxima Estacion: Forbes and Morewood

Tema and I had decided to go to Granada over the weekend rather than staying in Alicante. It was a spur of the moment decision that had to be finalized in a matter of a few hours. We found buses to and from Granada, booked a hostal, and bought our entrances to Alhambra (the whole reason for going to Granada). The only issue was that our bus to Granada left at the time we’re usually in class. We talked to our professor about it and she did not see a problem with us missing one class considering we hadn’t missed one yet. And so our journey began. At 2:50 PM we boarded a bus and at 8:00 PM we got off of it. On the ride I saw some pretty interesting things such a giant wind mills. It was scary and amazing at the same time. I also saw homes and towns built into mountains. Like actual homes inside the mountains; the doors and windows were carved on the outside and inside were the buildings. The rest of the time I was sleeping. When we arrived in Granada, Bus Station was very far from our hostel, so we got on a local bus to get there. The buses in Granada don’t tell you what the next stop is so we had to guess. (RANDOM: during this time on the bus I thought about how in Madrid they always say what the next stop is on the Metro, then I thought about the buses in Pittsburgh. For some reason I couldn’t remember what they sounded like so for some reason I combined the metro in Madrid with the buses in Pittsburgh….so it sounded something like proxima estacion: forbes and morewood…..hence the title of my blog.) We arrived at our hostel and the manager greeted us. He was very happy that we could speak and understand Spanish. He ranted on and on about every little thing in the hostel. He pointed out important things; told us about keys, showed us where the microwave was, etc. he was talking to fast and with such excitement that I started laughing. It was just so comical. He noticed that I was laughing and asked me why. I told him and he responded that his wife tells him that all the time. We then headed out to find some food to eat. I had read about a street that was famous for its tapas bars, and so we decided to check it out. We found several places, but it was difficult to choose! We settled for one that had an open table outside, and ordered our food: churrasco y tortilla española. Yum yum.
Afterwards we walked down a path called El Paseo de los Tristes or something to that affect. Once you reached the end you could see la Alhambra in all of its glory. It was really pretty because it had all these lights on it, making it seem like something magical. After being good tourists and taking tons of pictures, we headed out to see what there was to do. We found a club literally down the street from our hostel (coincide, right?). It’s a theater by day and a club by night. We went in (since it was free) and checked it out. The place didn’t get very crowded or lively until about 1.5 hours later. During this time three strange things happened, all having to do with guys (of course). First, this one guy asked me to dance and I said no. Then he asked me to kiss him and I said no. then he asked me to kiss his friend and I said no. then he asked why and my response was “Por que necesito besarte cuando tengo un novio tan guapo esperando me?” yeah, they got a kick out of that one (and did I mention I told him I was Cuban and his response was “really? Che Guevara is my hero!”…..and then he wonders why I won’t dance with him). Second, some guy grabs my arm and tells me that his friend has been wanting to talk to me all night. So he drags me off to go sit by his friend, whom introduces himself (and his name? none other than Javier…my luck and Javiers). He told me his age, 19 (BS), and asked me dance. I also avoided him. Third, some guy comes up to me and asks me if I’m from Miami, then walks away. Weird. Either way it was entertaining.

The next morning Tema and I walked up a very steep and long hill to reach La Alhambra. Being sleep deprived it was painful but worth it. We got there a little after 8:30AM, and the people at the entrance told us that we should hurry up or we’d miss our entrance to see the Palace which had the entrance time slot of 8:30. Apparently, you have a 30 minutes time slot in which you can arrive to see the palaces. And also, it’s about a 20 minute walk from the entrance to the palace. As you can imagine, Tema and I power walked all the way there. Once there we waited a bit and then got in to see the palace. And what a beautiful thing it was! The ceilings and all the columns were amazing. Everything had intricate details and awesome shapes. I took plenty of pictures (though my camera battery was dying). However, the one thing I wanted to see, El Patio de los Leones or whatever it’s called, was under restoration so I didn’t get to see it. I had to look at a picture of it  either way, it was worth it.

We then went to the Alcazar (FIND OUT REAL NAME) which is the fort of La Alhambra. We went up various torres that had magnificent views of Granada (more pictures!). It was sweeeeet. We then headed out to see el Generalife. I’m not sure what its purpose was, but it was beautiful. Big gardens with lots of fountains and flowers that smelled delicious. It’s the perfect picture spot, except for the fact that everyone wants a picture so it’s literally a battle to see who can get the picture taken. One of my favorite things was the staircase that had water flowing down its railings. It was called la escalera de agua I think. It was pretty neat. The cool thing about all these fountains is that the water comes straight from the sierra nearby. Interesting, isn’t it?

Afterwards we had a few hours to kill until we had to head back to the bus station. So we headed out and got some lunch. Paella to be exact. Yum yum. We had el menu del dia which is basically a three course meal for the price of one course; pretty awesome deal especially when you haven’t eaten anything all day. Once lunch was done we got on the bus and passed out until we got back to Alicante.

Party? En tu casa?

Wednesday we went to the beach earlier than the day before. And we bought sunscreen. The most interesting thing about sunscreen here is that they only have SPF 3, 5,6,15 and 50. Whatever happened to SPF25, 35, or 45? Either way, after our 45 minute walk to the beach we settled ourselves in the sand and got down to business: tanning and reading. I started reading my new book for a bit then headed to the water to cool off. Tema and I took turns reading and swimming; while one was in the water the other was on the sand reading and watching each other’s stuff. There were much less people out that day and it was not as hot (it was hot, but it was bearable, or sort of bearable). We also saw these teenagers who had buried what looked like a giant yoga balls halfway in the sand. The other half that was sticking out of the ground they would use like a trampoline. They would run up to it, jump on it, and do flips and all this other neat moves. I’m sure they were just doing it to show off to all the girls around, but it was entertaining.

Afterwards we headed to class and actually had class. Our classmate Martin likes to bust out in random song every couple of minutes. Usually it was reggaetton song or bachata. It was really funny when he busted out in “Pasame la botella”. He was so loud that the people in the next classroom could hear him. To make him quiet down, our professor promised him that one day we would have a music day where we would listen to all sorts of Spanish music and do activities with it. Martin got very excited.

Aftwards we headed home, used some internet, and awaited another delicious dinner. This time it was tortilla español. However, it wasn’t the typical tortilla with patatas y cebolla. This one had chorizo con pimientos. The other one had tuna in it. They were delicious! We then waited around for the boys we had met at the beach to text/call us back. We had told them that we were free to do something that night. Since they had never contacted us back, and being out in the sun for 3ish hours had drained us, we passed out around midnight. At 1 am, while in a deep sleep, my phone went off. I grabbed the phone in the darkness and tried to orient myself. I didn’t recognize the number (or at least I didn’t think I did; I wasn’t wearing my glass and I’m quite blind—imagine in the darkness and disoriented!). I answer, and someone starts talking to me in Spanish. “Hola! Somos los chicos de la playa! Donde andan? Quieren salir ahora?” I told them I was at home, and they said they would come to our home and have a party. They sounded drunk. At this point I told Tema to turn the light on so I could find my glasses. I told her it was the boys and they wanted to party right then and there. It wasn’t that late to go out, but we had been sleeping, and the guys were no where near Alicante. I asked them where they were and one answered “En un pueblo, pero que te importa! Vamos a tu casa ahora para ser fiesta!” i was too tired to want to deal with them so i handed the pone to tema. They were her friends anyway (well not really, but she was the one who wanted to hang out with them, so I figured she could talk to them). From what I could understand from the one side I heard, they wanted to party now, at our home. They were probably drunk. She finally convinced them to meet us the next day at an early time, but it took about 30 minutes to do so. Afterwards we went back to sleep.

Thursday morning I woke up and wondered if I had dreamed that. When I realized that I hadn’t, I started laughing. How absurd! It almost felt like a booty call. Almost. But still.

Thursday we decided to try some restaurants near the school. We found one with el menu del dia. El menu del dia includes 3 courses and a drink for something around 9 euros. It’s a pretty good deal considering the amount of food they give you. We had so much to eat, and we were going to be late for class that we took our dessert to go. Our chocolate cake sat under our chairs the entire class, and all I could do was think about how I wanted to eat it. Either way, class was fun today. We talked Spanish culture with regards to norms of society, greetings, and gestures. We then played a game called “Medium” where one person pretended to be a famous dead person, one person the Medium, and the rest the mortals. The mortals would use the Medium to figure out who the dead person was. It was a lot of fun. I, of course, chose to be a Beatle. I was tempted to be George Harrison, but I feared no one would guess him, so I chose the more famous one John Lennon. Tema was Bob Marley, Martin was JFK, our professor was Marilyn Monroe, and Anna was Joan of Ark. It was quite entertaining.

Thursday night we decided to go out and find something to do (aka find a place to dance!). Lauren and her roommates tagged alone. One of Lauren’s roommates, a Russian girl named Margarita, doesn’t speak English and very very little Spanish. She had a flyer to a place called Isla Marina, and we tried to go there. But we realized it was not in walking distance so we stopped and just sat on the sand for a bit. It was calming, beautiful, and romantic As Lauren put it, “Where are the boyfriends when you need them?” My thoughts exactly.

Afterwards we headed back to el Barrio where all the bars are. We finally made it to this placed called Carpe Diem; it seemed to attract people our age so we went in and danced for a bit. Afterwards we headed to another pub called Mulligans. At first the guy at the door wasn’t sure if he should let me and Tema in; we apparently looked younger than 18.  Not much was going on so we left.

However, we were excited because the next day we weren’t going to class. That’s right, we went to Granada instead :)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

La Playa

Tuesday morning comes around and Tema and I head off to the beach. It was scorching hot and we had no umbrella or any real sunscreen or beach towels! We got some cheap mats and sat on the sand for a bit. We weren’t planning on going in the water, but it was too damn hot. So, we took turns watching our stuff while the other went in the water. The water was divine. Usually I would say it was too cold and complain the whole way, but like I said before, the heat was so intense I just wanted to get in the water and cool off. And cool off I did. The weird thing was that no matter how far I went, the water never seemed to go past my hip, so I had to sit in the water. Once I got out and dried off, I decided that the sun was too intense. I packed my stuff and took Tema’s bag and headed for a bench in the shade. With no umbrella or sunscreen I felt like I was going to get cancer really fast. Tema wanted to stay a bit longer in the sun so I told her I’d watch her stuff if she wanted to go in the water. On my way to the bench I nearly burned the bottom of my feet. My flip flops and the sand were about the same temperature, so I decided either way it was going to hurt. And hurt it did. I thought my feet were going to burn off! And so, my very painful journey to the bench began. I finally made it and my feet somehow managed to get me there. While sitting on the bench I ate my lunch and watched Tema talk to these two guys who were sitting near us. They had been staring at us before, or at least I only noticed they did because I was eating one of my sandwiches and making my many wonderful messages, and one was staring at me. I was pretty sure he thought I was weird. In the end, Tema came to up and told me she wanted to see if they wanted to hang out later. And so we treaded back to the sand and told them so. They got our phone number and we headed to school (afternoon classes, remember?). We figured that they forget about us and never contact, but in the middle of class my phone started ringing. It was them calling us. They sent us a text message later (which was written entirely in Spanish slang, so it took me a while to figure out what they were saying) saying that they wanted to hang out but since we already had plans we had to make a rain check.

Speaking of class, class on Tuesday was a big one. Our teachers were sick so they combined our class with the one that’s a level below us. So basically, it was three hours of a review of something we did three weeks ago. It was annoying to say the least, considering we have an exam in two weeks on things we still need to learn. So having a review class on something we learned before and were tested on already was not fun. The class was boring to say the least. But the professor was pretty funny and entertaining.


The first days in Alicante were interesting. Monday started off with getting up and heading to school at 9 AM, to then be told that our classes aren’t until 2 PM. The building where classes are is much smaller than the one in Madrid. The office, three computers, and two classrooms are on the primera planta of a building, while the other 5 classrooms are the segunda planta. There aren’t many teachers or students (thus why only three computers. In Madrid there were eight, and usually we had to fight over them). There aren’t as many activities either. No museums or cultural trips. If there are any, they are every other week. Alicante is much more relaxing with much less to do. Good thing the beach is nearby!

After being informed of our afternoon classes Tema and I decided to go explore (aka find the beach). So we walked for a bit and hit the port which is right next to the beach. Oh the beach! It was filled with people sunbathing and swimming. We continued to walk and see where it ended, but instead we decided to sit on a shady bench (it is really hot here. Like really hot.). After people watching we headed out in search of some air conditioning. We found it in the form of El Corte Ingles (of course). We went to the home one that has all the music and books and home stuff. I was in search of a new book since I had finished my two other ones. I searched for a long time. You think its hard picking a book when it’s in English, try in Spanish! My new book is by an author from Alicante called “El Último Catón”. It’s supposed to be some sort of mystery adventure book. I’m excited to read it.

Having gotten some air conditioning and acquired my book we had lunch on this little plaza near our school. It was relaxing especially since it was in the shade. We then headed off to our first day of class. We have a small class just like in Madrid with four people. There is Martin from Germany and Anna from Moscow. They are both really nice and quite funny. Martin told the teacher that the reason why he wants to learn Spanish is because he likes the music. “Me encanta reggaetton!” I just started laughing because I never thought I’d hear a German say he liked reggaetton. Our professor is an Argentine woman named Laura. She has the typical Argentine accent (very different from the Spanish one). Classes here are about the same as in Madrid, but I feel like they are less laid back. There is much more notetaking rather than conversation.

After class we met up with our friend Lauren who had come from Madrid to Alicante a week earlier than us. She has morning classes so we don’t get to see her during the day. We decided to go shopping. The sale season is high in Spain and lots of big stores are nearby. Zara, Blanco, Mango, H&M, and El Corte Ingles all had huge sales. I thought I’d be safe from all of it since I had left my credit and debit card at home. However, the cutest dress for only 8 euros was begging me to buy it at H&M, so I broke down and bought it with the cash I had left. All I can say is that I’ve been really good so far while in Spain and have not spent all that much money on shopping (or perhaps I tell myself that so that I feel better).

With shopping done we headed home for another delicious meal and to get ready to meet Lauren and her roommate Maria later at night. We really weren’t sure what we were doing that night, but by coincidence we ran into some people from our school. They sort of invited us to go with them to all these bars and things. Once place that apparently had really good and cheap mojitos had an entrance that was literally a window! It was pretty sweet (at least the entrance was. I didn’t have money to spend on drinks since I had bought that dress.). later the group got split up and eventually Lauren, Maria, Tema and I were left alone. We somehow got abandoned/ditched by our schoolmate. They all went off to do something else without a word. It wasn’t very nice of them but hey we tried to make friends. This just made me miss my Madrileños even more.

Its sort of like Cuban...

Our last Saturday in Madrid was a relaxing one. Tema and I decided to finally update our blogs (which took quite a long time) as well as share music with each other. It was a lovely bonding experience. We also decided to start packing so we wouldn’t have to worry about it the next day when we left for Alicante. Well, what an adventure that was. Our room looked like it had exploded with clothing, books, and all other knick-knacks. I managed to get everything to fit into my suitcase with having to expand it. Tema, on the other hand who had much more clothing than me and who had gone shopping more than me had to sit on her suitcase in order for it to close. Let’s just say our bags were very heavy.

At night Cristian wanted to try out this Cuban restaurant called “Cuando Sali de Cuba”. From its flyer, it looked promising. However, Cristian had left the flyer at home and didn’t exactly know where it was. So we wondered around Sol for about 20 minutes looking for it. Since all of us were so hungry we gave up and went to an all you could eat buffet (we decided to be American; after all it was the 4th of July). I was disappointed that we didn’t find a Cuban restaurant, and thus Cristian “tried” to make it better by saying things like “Well, it’s a buffet which means there’s a lot of food. Cubans eat a lot of food so it’s kind of like Cuban food” or “hey look they have Natta. Cubans eat Natta. They have that in Cuba” to which I finally replied with “Yeah and look, we have utensils, which they don’t have in Cuba so it’s a step up!” He just looked at me and started laughing hysterically. Yup.

After our lovely buffet dinner of four (Cristian, Tema, Guillermo and I) we hit up Gran Via where the Orgullo parade was happening. There were many half naked men (sometimes they just looked naked!) with wings or thongs or booty shorts or body glitter, and a few lesbians who were not as exciting as the gay men. There were so many people it was unbelievable. I had never seen anything like it. After taking several pictures of various “floats” and of people, we headed back to Sol to meet up with the peeps one last time in Madrid. We didn’t do anything crazy this time, we only went out for some Sangria y tinto de verano (I promise that’s all we did!). We hit up the same bar we went to the night before and sat around talking and having a good time. It was relaxing and a good way to end the night with some friends. We did, however end up with almost all Americans and thus decided to sing some patriotic songs in honor of USA’s birthday (though it was past midnight in Spain, it was technically still the 4th in America, or at least that was our excuse). Tema, Cristian, and I then got on the metro and headed home since Tema and I had to catch a train the next day. Tema and I made it home safely though we almost missed the connecting train. Cristian was not so lucky. I got various humorous text messages about how he didn’t catch the last train home, how he didn’t have enough money to make it home in a cab, and how he got lost but made it alive. It was funny, and scary, but more funny.

Sunday morning came and we finished some last minute packing, took a picture with our momma Oslidia (whom I miss already) and took a taxi to Chamartin train station to catch our train to Alicante. It was a four hour train ride for which most of I either read or passed out (I finished an awesome book called The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao. You should all read it!). When we arrived, we step out of the train and are hit with a huge heat wave. It is hot as cojones here! There is way more humidity than in Madrid and they are going through a heat wave here. Either way, it was hot. Really hot. We took a taxi to our new home and met our host parents Dolores y Armando. They are a sweet couple in their 60s. They have a pretty big/sweet apartment. It had three empty rooms plus their own room. Two of the three rooms are being used up by Tema and I in one and a high school girl from Arizona named Karen. She’s really quite but hopefully she’ll open up more. I bonded with my host parents by watching the Wimbledon match of Federer vs Roddick. After about an hour of yelling at the computer screen (we were watching it online) I had enough and left with Tema to the near by Video Store/internet place. Though more expensive than the one we had in Madrid, this did have skype and I got a chance to skype with my boy Adam.
Anyway after that we headed home for dinner. Which was delicious!
Sunday night was a relaxing night for us. We decided to stay in and gain some more energy for the upcoming weeks.

Let’s see how our week in Alicante will play out.
Hasta luego chicos!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Poseidon, Mirame!

Thursday in class was an interesting one. For homework we had to talk about a festival or holiday of sorts in the US. Since Steph had taken the 4th of July, I decided to choose a festival that shuts down 8th ST in Miami every year: Calle Ocho. My professor, Elisa, had me standing at the board talking about this festival and about just anything Cuban for a really long time. I don’t know how long, but I was at the board writing things down and answering questions for twice as long as the other girls. I felt like I was giving them a lesson on popular music in Cuban Americans with artists such as Celia Cruz, Gloria Estefan, Willy Chirino, as well as the younger artistas such as Pittbull and Orishas. I also had the pleasure of explaining what a guayabera is as well guayaba. It was fun, funny, and interesting to see how interested my professor was in my culture. The second class started up as usual after our break and went on as usual, but my professor said something interesting to me: that she and our professor depend on me a lot to help them explain things (like word definitions) to the other girls, so when I can’t figure out how to explain something or I forget what it is my 2nd prof says that my 1st prof used me too much and has tired me out so I forget everything I’ve ever known about Spanish. It was a strange comment, but at the same time it made me feel pretty special. Why? Well, because that means that don’t think I’m an idiot who doesn’t know anything, but rather they know that I actually know a lot, and they think that I have bigger vocabulary than I do. So, yeah, I felt pretty good about myself. After lunch in the park, we decided to rent one of the row boats in the lake en El Retiro. Us girls were having way too much fun trying to figure out how to row and doing two different takes of “I’m on a Boat” (that’s right, we have videos of us singing “I’m on a boat” while on a boat….we’re awesome). Those boats were so much fun, but it was way too hot so afterwards we got ice cream popsicle thing. Because we were outside in the sun for so long, I got a pretty funny looking tan on my feet from my gladiator sandals. Thursday night went on like any other: we met up in front of Tio Pepe sign/building and decided to go some bar and have drinks and talk.

Friday was our last day at Sampere in Madrid. So our classes consisted of a lot of games like Tabú and vocabulary games. Those were fun. We also took pictures with our teachers. The only teacher I never got to take a picture was is one of the first week professors Angel (as steph calls him, the love of my life since I have a crush on him). We also got all of our arrangements for Alicante done and out of the way. All that was left was for us to celebrate our last Friday together in Madrid. So, we decided to make it a fun night. It started off with glasses of tinto de verano (Steph’s favorite new drink) with all our friends (the Sampere peeps: Me, Tema, Cristian, Michelle, Steph, Maike, Robert, Weston, Tomas, and Guillermo; our Madrid friends: Alejandro, Javi, y Diego aka Gonzo). Afterwards we headed to Sol y Sombra for some drinks and dancing. Then it was off to another place for some more relaxing activities—drinks and talking. Tema and I then took the first metro home and got some well deserved sleep. Yup, once again we got home at 7. But this time we had no excursion to go to so we could actually sleep! It was nice.

Now I'm here updating my blog, then packing my stuff up for my trip to Alicante. Tonight Cristian, Tema, Guillermo and I are going to a Cuban restaurant and then having our last drinks together in Madrid. Tomorrow Tema and I get on a train to Alicante noon and arrive there around 4 PM in the afternoon. Soon we will have two weeks of beach (and of course of class....)

Hopefully at my next home I will have some internets so I can update my blog and upload pictures more often.


Mi padre fue la primera rueda!!!

El domingo por la noche fui a ver Transformers (en español!) con mi nuevo amigo Javi. Shia in spanish sounded more manly than usual. And the robots en español were hilarious. I must say, movies in Spanish are a completely different experience. It was a fun movie, and I had a great time. Also, movie theaters in Spain are really small compared to the ones in the states. In the States, the movie theaters are stadium seating like, but here they are just…flat. All the seats are at the same level, which makes the movie watching experience sometimes a bit painful (you gotta tilt your head, a lot. Especially when there are robots fighting!).

Monday comes around and so do classes. Our schedule hasn’t changed in three weeks, even after passing our exam. We still have the same teachers at the same time, just with new books and new material. There are a lot less students this week, the fewest I’ve seen since I’ve been here. There are only a few new ones like Robert from Zurich and Weston from Arizona and some other guy who’s from Holland but when he speaks in English he sounds a bit Irish (I can’t remember his name right now, but someone told me his name was Reiner, and that he had studied in Seattle for a semester….so I just looked at them and said “Reiner? Like Mount Reiner?” then I got smacked in the head. :/ ). So, when time came for the copa (like every Monday night) the bar was pretty empty, minus the very few new people and lots of old people who have been there for three weeks or more. But it was nice to see some new faces. In order to get to know some of the new boys and to enjoy our last week in Madrid, we went out to a bar called Trocha, and had ourselves some drinks. It was a pretty relaxing Monday evening.

Tuesday comes around and we all decide to have lunch in the park. So we’ve established a nice spot on the grass in the Retiro and we’ve had lunch there ever since (after skyping with my mommy of course). Professor Tardio, my Hispanic Studies Advisor and professor head of this program at CMU, arrived on Sunday to Madrid and came by Sampere to say hello to us all. She also invited us to some tapas and sangria later that evening. The CMU crew (consisting of Steph, Michelle, Tema, Cristian, Guillermo, and myself) plus Tardio went to this place called Las Cuevas. It’s a basement like place that looks like a tavern/cavern with quotes written all over the walls (Laura, you’d like it. I took pictures of it). There are also renditions of famous paintings that can be found in El Prado. There was also this old guy playing the piano (he was awesome, until he started playing Moonlight Sonata. Not cool. Not cool.) The place was pretty sweet, but we all thought it was a tapas place. It turned out to only be a bar. So no food. So we had to jarras de sangria sin comida. So we were all very hungry. After Tardio left us, we decided to get some food. We headed off into Sol and found a reasonable place. Our new friends Javi y Alejandro met up with us and we all shared some tapas. It was delicious. My favorite tapas are patatas bravas and chorizo en cidra con pan. Yum. After satisfying my hungry we headed home.

Wednesday came and went with only some exciting things. After a full day of classes and a lovely lunch in the park, we headed home for our daily siesta (its just too hot to do anything during the day. Every time we try we just get overheated, head home, and wait until it gets cooler). We decided to meet up with our Sampere friends at El Tigre for one last time. Wednesday though was particularly crowded because we happened to go to El Tigre during Orguello Week 09 (the Gay Pride week, and this place is smack in the middle of the gay area) so there were rainbow flags everywhere, bars on all the sidewalks, stages in all of the plazas, and tons of people walking around. So, plus our giant sangrias y mojitos (and free tapas) we got to see some action on stage. Even though I had no idea who was performing, it was still pretty sweet. It was nice to see how everyone just gathers together and celebrates something with so much gusto. Anyway, afterwards we headed to this place called “School Disco” which is a club only on Wednesday nights that’s for international students and other Madrileños. Girls get in for free and get free sangria. Woooooh. So we stayed there for a while dancing and having a good time. Cristian and I couldn’t resist showing off our dance skills which apparently gave off the wrong idea to the many foreigners in our group (let’s just say I was asked several times whether or not I was hooking up with him. I love Cristian, but the answer a definite NO).