Thursday, March 19, 2009

monkey business (morocco trip day one: Gibraltar)

I've been putting off these posts for as long as possible because I have so much to say about my trip to Morocco but I'm not sure how to verbally express everything I've experienced, but it's worth a shot so here we go let's see what happens (I'm posting these on the dates they occured, and not all at once, so bear with me!)

Day 1: Gibraltar

We arrived at our hotel right outside of Gibraltar in time for lunch which we ate in our rooms. The hotel we stayed in was pretty classy, IES treated us to free drinks (cafe, tea, cokes, waters) and the beds were beyond comfortable. I've really missed real pillows while I've been in Granada, my thin little excuse of a pillow at Trini's really doesn't do it for me. Amanda and I relaxed in our hotel room, while watching the Simpons in espanol and munching on our picnic lunches of Spanish tortilla bocadillas and fruit from Trini. I still find it pretty amusing that the Spanish are so in love with the Simpsons, I guess everyone likes to make fun of Americans even if it's through watching American self-criticism?

After lunch we walked the twenty minutes from our hotel to Gibraltar. Hilarious because since Gibraltar is technically an extension of England (they all speak English and use the pound, only difference between the two is that in Gib they drive on the right side of the road) the weather followed suit. It was very overcast and gray, which was very noticeable in contrast to the gorgeous Grenadian sun we'd been enjoying! But, it wasn't overcast to the point of obscuring The Rock, which is Gibraltar's main claim to fame. It was cool to walk towards this giant mountain-esque rock, even though I felt like I was living out a giant cliche since the peak literally pierced through the clouds at times, like something out of National Geographic or Planet Earth. It was almost hard to take it seriously because it looked so unreal when our bus first pulled up to the hotel.

We walked across the coast and then literally walked right into Gibraltar. This took awhile for me to wrap my mind around, because in essence I have now straddled the border between Spain and England, which up until now I assumed was impossible. You really notice how privileged you are to be from America when you literally just flash your passport and can WALK right into another country. If my passport had been from a country like Lebanon for example, I doubt this would be the case. But, anyways, we walked into Gibraltar, and thus marked the first time I've been outside of Spain since my arrival back in January. And man, did it hit me that I was no longer in Spain.

The second we walked into Gib, everyone was a little disoriented, suddenly all the signs were in ENGLISH. Instead of choruses of "guapa guapa guapa" followed by fast phrases I have no chance of understanding, there were "hi ladies how are you" or "have a nice day girls" "hello ladies" in chipper British accents. There were SUBWAYS, and McDonalds, and other American/English restaurants and stores that I haven't see in months. Later on in the day, at a pub and while browsing stores, the waitresses and store clerks asked us questions in english. I can't remember the last time that happened. Throughout the entire day everyone had to take a moment to think before asking questions and talking to locals, just to make sure English came out instead of Spanish or some odd Spanglish. I hadn't realized how immersed we all are in Granada until entering Gib, I guess this serves as a tiny sampling of how reverse culture shock's gonna disorient me once I'm back in the burgh. So, after shaking off the initial shock of the absence of our dear friend Espanol, we marched over to a bus station -- I still felt like some sort of illegal immigrant of some sort who had slipped across the border due to the lack of security ... even the Canadian border patrol asks you questions before letting you into their country, all I did was flash my lil navy blue book and BAM I was in, it felt anticlimactic, like an incomplete transaction of some sort -- where we boarded two small buses to get a driving tour of Gibraltar, all 3 miles of it.

Gibraltar as a country/city/whatever it's actual definition is is not that interesting of a place to me. Of course it is entrenched in history and has monkeys, but it all felt so tourist-ed up and fake that it was hard to really appreciate all it had to offer. We had a whirlwind of a tour, we only left the bus three times -- I would have rather walked around to discover the city with a guide so at least I could stop and take everything in from time to time. The tour was fun, but I was expecting a little more. We saw Little Ben (Gib's take on Big Ben), a little of old military bases, and a 1 ton gun (one of only four in the world). One of my favorite parts of the day was when we were actually allowed off the bus (for seven minutes) to take in a gorgeous view half way up the Rock. On a clear day you can see the African coast, the most Southern tip of Spain, and the meeting of the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean all in one breath, while behind you is the top of the Gibraltar rock as a back drop to an old mosque, it was beautiful in all honesty. I would have liked more than seven minutes to take it all in, because it was hard to believe that this was all real, that this was actually MY life and that I was surrounded by all of these incredible scenery.


We drove farther up the mountain and visited St. Michael's caves, which were unlike anything I've seen before (this becomes a theme for the trip, if you couldn't tell yet!) but, were tourist-ed out to the max. The people in charge actually blasted eerie classical music throughout the caves, I'm assuming in hopes of enhancing your cave-going experience but in reality limiting my ability to get lost inside a new place and forget that I'm in 2009. The caves were all strategically lit up, taking away from the reality of being inside ancient caves. There's also a theater set up in the heart of the caves where people put on concerts, etc. which is cool, but again really takes away any authenticity from the caves, at least for me. But this doesn't make the caves any less beautiful, don't get me wrong they were pretty cool and kind of creepy looking, but this almost got lost in translation.

After the caves our bus driver took us to the "Monkey Den" where we got to get off the bus for our third and final time to play with the monkeys! The Gibraltar monkeys are special because they don't have tails, and are technically apes. The monkeys were hilarious, especially because the second we got off our bus (which has a big sign inside that says no food, no smoking, and no monkey business) we were greeted by this

It was so much fun to be so close to all the monkeys!! Until the guide lured one ONTO MY HEAD with some food, I was terrified it was going to pee on me or soything. But they were all so cute I decided that having a monkey on my head wasn't that bad. We all took pictures with the monkeys, and then after lots of laughs and screams headed back down to the city center.

A bunch of kids hiked up the rock with Javier, but Amanda, Clare, Carly, Lydia, Julia and I decided that we were gonna rest up for the rest of the trip and browsed around to see what the Gibraltar shopping scene had to offer (answer: expensive clothes) and ate dinner at the yummy pub Catie recommended to me, The Clipper. It was Amanda's 21st birthday so we had lots of dessert and food. It was overall an amazing night! We immigrated back into Espana and called it a night!

Crossing back over, straddling the border!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

fuimos a la playa

The perfect way to end a beautiful week: going to the beach. Yesterday we (around 20 IES kids) all got up at the crack of dawn (7:30 .. but still) to catch the bus from Granada to Nerja. Nerja is a cute little city on the Southern Mediterranean coast of Spain, kind of near Malaga. The buses were packed with Americans, of course, since the Spanish consider any time before late May unfit for bathing suits. I actually ran into a girl from Greensburg who played field hockey for Greensburg Central Catholic during high school (who WT consistently obliterated), further proving the smallness and connectedness of this world. It is mind boggling, really, the farther I get from my home the closer I get to realizing you're never too far from it.

Anyways, the Nerja bus station is a glorified newspaper stand, and to our disappointment not across the street from the beach. In all our excitement to hop a bus to la playa, no one thought to find a map of Nerja haha. Our initial instinct was to go towards the water, since water = beach, right? So eight of us (me, joya, amanda, meg - who's from erie, pa!, joe, JD, seth, and ali) started a migration towards the bit of ocean we could see ... which ended up leading us towards the high way and out of the city, so we turned around.

(what we ended up walking towards ahah)

We eventually ended up on track, somehow, and found our first beach! Nerja has at least four or five different beaches, the main one -- or at least the one nosotros estaban buscando por se llama Burriana (the one we were looking for is called Burriana). This first beach reminded me of the beach of Rackety Packety (lake erie) with tons of stones, shells, and sea glass (!!) Determined to find the perfect beach, we kept moving, Meg and I fell a little behind collecting sea glass though :)

We walked along a little path by a mini-beach, but it was full of middle-aged topless women and older men, which wasn't really the scene we wanted to sun bathe in all day :) The cool thing about walking around Nerja was listening to all the different accents. Since very few Spaniards have the desire to brave the beach in the frigid 75 degree sun, the beach crowd fell more on the international side of the spectrum. Actually, when we got to our third cove/beach we ran into an older British couple who saw us and told us to try Burriana. All the Northern Europeans decided to take advantage of our Andalusian Southern Spain weather before high season kicks in I guess, I love that I live here and not up in the cold :) The majority of accents I picked up on were British or Scottish.

Accents aside, the other red flag that the population of Nerja was mostly tourist were the outfits. So many shorts, t-shirts, tank tops, bathing suits, so little boots, jeans, scarves, sweaters. The locals were easy to spot because they were fully clothed and looked on point (in style), where as the rest of us were strolling around looking a little lost, sweating in our tank tops and shorts (I wore jeans, but eventually changed into Meg's pajama shorts because I was so hot), and clomping around in sandals. At one point I made the faux paus (did I spell that anywhere close to correctly?) of walking to get candy in just my sweatshirt and bathing suit (no shoes- I should be ashamed) which garnered numerous "well SHE'S not spanish" looks from the locals. But no pasa nada, toda esta buena en la playa :)

So as I said above, our third cove was a failure as well so we headed back up to the main streets and wound our way through the "city" using the directions from the Brits. Our total commute time from the bus to Burriana was over an hour and a half, but honestly I really enjoyed it. Getting lost really is the best way to get to know a city, and explore it's multiple beaches! Nerja is full of little tiendas vending hats, gafas del sol (sunglasses), sandals, leathers, and many scarves and dresses. Though lacking in Doner Kebabs (the stands that make shawarma/fallafel) there was a plethora of pizzerias fair that catered to a more international crowd. While it's definitely not a resort town, it was apparent that foreigners frequent Nerja consistently. They even offer horse drawn carriage rides haha. Joya and I went up to pet one that was chilling next to playa numero tres, but it was NOT a fan so we backed off. I'm going to blame it on Joya, horses love me ;)

Burriana is gorgeous. There honestly was not a cloud in the sky, not even the hint of one. On one side of me were huge rocky mountains, then hills clustered with white houses stacked one on top of another, and then beach beach beach all around me. We settled in a spot next to some lounge chairs under straw umbrellas, boats with built in water slides on them (but because of the frigid temperatures they probably won't be open for rental until late may, oh spain), and with some pasty British kids camped out next to us. The girls were all so happy to be on a beach we just plopped down without a care in the world, but the boys weren't content to just relax and take in their incredible surroundings, promptly the ran to the water ... only to discover that the Spanish are onto something: in march the water is COLD. Think Canadian water, my heart started racing just from having my feet in it. So after a frigid dunk in the water, both boys and girls were happy to just siesta in the sun.

our campout, which quickly grew haha

As the day progressed more and more IES kids passed through our spot. It was nice to just hang out and relax. For lunch we ate bocadillos (sandwiches) on Nerja's version of a boardwalk. I had chicken, tomato, lettuce, and mayo on buttered up white bread toast. And a nice iced glass of Tinto de Verano con Limon :) [I don't know if I have mentioned this before, but in Spain EVERYTHING is iced). After another siesta we ventured out to find some helado, and I enjoyed a delicious Torte de Chocolate scoop of ice cream on a cone. Spanish heladarias ice excessively tall cones, which at first seemed very wasteful. But if you don't devour your ice cream in five seconds the tall cone becomes your new best friend because it prolongs the life of your ice cream cone! Mine lasted until the very end of my cone, mmm mmm good.

helado :)

Overall, amazing day. We just relaxed in the sun, took billions of photos (all on my picasa, along with cordoba finally, and some from march in granada: Got home, hung out at the residencia with friends until 3am and instead of heading out to a disco i passed out in my bed and then got up and tanned in my park this morning :) I made a friend with one of the local puppies that hang out in the park all the time:

I'm beginning to realize how little time I have left in Granada on the weekends and it's making me really sad. Since it has almost been officially two months since my arrival in Espana I'm pretty much half way ... the remainder of my weekends look like this:

March 20-22: Morocco (!!)
March 27-29: Granada :)
April 3-5: Semana Santa - Barcelona
April 10-12: Semana Santa -Barcelona
April 17-19: Granada :) with Haverfordian visitors !!
April 24-26: Rome
April 30-5: Athens
May 8-9: IES Viaje :Cabo de Gato
May 15-17: Granada
then finals ....

Time needs to s l o w down. And I need to do work. I actually have a decent amount to do before Morocco, for IES standards. Eek. Alright, time to get movin, hecho de menos a todos!!

(taken by my roommate amanda, who is an amazing photographer!)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

con patatas

Whenever Trini baby-talks with Diego, she ultimately ends up singing a little rhyme to him about a tortilla, con pa-ta-tas, y con que-so, y con ja-mOn. It's really cute because she really emphasizes the accents of each word and leans in to surprise him, which results in the biggest grin from our little bug eyed gordito. I guess it's the way the Spaniards do peek-a-boo. Which leads me to further question how there aren't more obese Spaniards haha.

Yesterday I had an hour long orientation for my Morocco trip. It sounds like it is going to be absolutely incredible. Here's our general schedule:
Day 1: Thursday
- Leave Granada at 10am and take a bus to Gibraltar which is on the very southern tip of Spain. We are staying over night in a hotel there (dinner that night is the only meal not included in the whole trip, not bad).

Day 2:Friday
- 9 am ferry ride across the strait over to africa! Javier said that this is one of the most gorgeous ferry rides he has ever been on because at certain points you will be able to see the Spanish coastline and African coastline on either side of you. I'm going to have to be careful not to waste all my pictures just on that boat ride.
- We arrive in Morocco and visit a womens center to learn about gender issues and roles in Moroccan society. We eat lunch there.
- Afterwards we get on small tour buses that seat about 20 each and drive to Assilah, which is on the Atlantic coast. We do some sight seeing there and by night we arrive at the capital, Rabat, which will be our main base for the trip. We break into groups of three or four and meet our host families.

Day 3: Saturday
- IES is opening a study abroad program in Morocco for next semester so we're going to meet with the new program director who is also a professor at the local university. He's going to tell us about the area and whatnot, and afterwards we're going to meet an IES Granada-alum who went to Morocco for the first time with IES two years ago, feel in love, and is now a Fulbright Scholar there doing research. On what I don't know, but I will find out eventually ahha.
- Afterwards we're going to do a few touristy things, Javier didn't really specify what though.
- Lunch
- After lunch we're going to meet Moroccan students from Rabat who will be able to speak either some english or spanish. we're going to have three or four hours to hang out with them and either go to a beach or shop or walk around.
-Afterwards we're going to split into all-girl and all-guy groups to visit the Hamam, or bath house. Apparently it's custom for girls to go naked, but Javier said we can wear a bathing suit if we feel more comfortable in that and everything will be fine. Javier said that random people will come up and try to massage or scrub you if you're just standing around, and if you don't say "baraka" or enough, they'll exfoliate a few layers of your skin off haha.
-After the hamam we'll have time to do more shopping and get Henna tattoos, which I'm excited about as well!

Day 4: Sunday
- We go to visit a village in the mountain, which involves us riding CAMELS at some point. CAMELS!!! This might be the highlight of the trip for me (kidding, but it will be awesome).
-After visiting the village we'll move on to the mountain city of Chefchaouen and stay in a hotel up there

Day 5: Monday
- We take a mountain hike and then go on the bus to Cueta. Javier said Cueta is interesting because it is an extreme borderland and you'll see many Moroccans waiting around trying to immigrate into Spain. I'm really intrigued by this part because my history seminar last semester was about American Borderlands, so I know a lot about how borderland areas work and I'm really excited to witness this in person. Thesis potential? Who knows. Javier also told us that this is one of the marijuana capitals of the world but that we can NOT buy anything unless we want to end up in jail for 20 years. hahaha (don't worry moo)
- we will take the ferry back to Spain and stop somewhere for an early dinner
- Back in Granada around 7:30

I think I'm most excited about the homestays. Javier said that the Moroccan sense of public and private spaces are very extreme. The homes are very feminine and intimate and each room has multiple uses. For example, you may be eating breakfast right next to someones bed. While the public space is more masculine and open. It reminds me a lot of my awful poli-sci class sophomore year about the politics of urban space. I sound like a complete cliche/college catalog, but it really IS awesome to get to see the classroom material come to life. I can't wait! Also, most Moroccan families don't have toilet paper, it's actually on my packing list (which I will type up next). They use a Turkish toilet and may or may not have a shower, the bucket and water system is more popular (most Moroccans go to Hamams to bathe). The left hand is used for hygiene and the right for eating, but I will not be embracing this tradition and using my left hand to wipe ... I will be bringing my toilet paper. Daddy I can HEAR you laughing haha

Our homestays will be for two nights in Medina which is the old part of Rabat, similar to the Albaicin in Granada. The houses are set up similarly to Grenadian ones as well, with a central patio that has rooms off of it. The patio serves as the common space where all the living and eating occurs, as I said before it is a multiple use room. However, Javier emphasized awareness of an invisible barrier between the private and public: since the houses are on top of one another we'll most likely be able to see other IES kids and their host families from our patios, but it is complete taboo to acknowledge them at all. The barrier between the private space of the home and public space is NOT to be broken.

I'm also excited about the food, Javier told us the Moroccans are very welcoming and hospitable people and will most likely keep feeding us until we say NO MORE (baraka!). The weather should be 70s and 80s, a little cooler in the mountains though. And since Morocco is a Muslim country we need to dress more conservatively, I'm thinking about buying some gypsy skirts from the hippie vendors on my walk to school, because there is not way I will be able to survive in jeans in 80 degree sunshine. I sweat too much.

The currency in Morocco is the dirham (MDH), which is roughly 11 MDH to 1 euro. When we first arrive in Morocco we'll be able to use ATMs to take out money since it's the most cost efficient way to get dirham and ensure the right exchange rate.

Javier gave us a "survival guide to being a superb Magribby guest" which lists some key phrases in Arabic like hello, thanks you, delicious, I'm full, etc. I butcher them, this will be interesting haha. Apparently on "kh" you make a throat gurgle noise, I'll do my best!

Our packing list:
- backpack (i WILL pack light, because i have to haha)
-swimsuit and towel
-comfy shoes
-sandals, flip flops for the hamam
-toilet paper (or your left hand ... )
-hand sanitizer
-and there's a list of Dramamine, Advil, etc since IES isn't allowed to give us medicine for some legal reason

Also, IES will constantly provide us with bottled water, hopefully the stomach flu won't have it's revenge. Fingers crossed.

Okay, I'm going to walk to my Anthro class today since it's been so gorgeous out (he tomado el sol MUCHO esta manana!!). Just wanted to update you on the Morocco sitch. No ladies night in granada 10 tonight because i have a midterm tomorrow, sad day :(


Monday, March 9, 2009

tenia tanto que darte

According to Trini there is no spring in Granada. There is winter, and then there is summer. Bienvenido a verano chicos :) (welcome to summer) Yesterday and today have been amazingly beautiful, in fact I'm already working on a lil' tan line after two days of "studying" in mi parque. Yesterday there literally was not a cloud in the sky, put me in the best mood possible.

Sad news from Pittsburgh though, Shusa (my love who's been in my life as long as I can remember) had to be put to sleep this weekend :( It's really hard for me to deal with this over here just because it adds to the overall feeling of disconnectedness that I've been trying to ignore. I absolutely love Granada, and wouldn't trade this experience so far for anything else, but it's always jarring to see Barack on TV, or hear about the economy, or about losing my favorite pet in the world via some form of technology instead of living it. It feels so artificial. I know Shusa's gone, I feel it in the knot in my stomach and when I teared up at the gym today when petting Pepe and thought of her, but I feel so distant from it. Dealing with death is extremely difficult either way, especially for someone like me who has little experience with it -- and ends up bawling over a goldfish's death as a result (I was little, but still you know what I mean). Dio was comforting me and said "remember, all dogs go to heaven" which resulted in Amanda and me watching one of my favorite childhood movies "All Dogs Go to Heaven" with a big mug of hot chocolate and some comfort food of popcorn and nutella. It helped, but I'm still really sad.

Before finding out about my puppy, my weekend was pretty enjoyable. Thursday night we went to Konya, which is quickly becoming my teterria of choice, for hookah. It was supposed to be six of us, but as the night progressed we gained about ten others, it was a quasi-IES convention. Konya's food is delicious as well. I had a Shawarma de pollo completa (Shawarma with chicken, cheese, eggs, special sauce, and the usual beats, lettuce, onions, and tomato) and then Joya and I split a chocolate banana crepe which came with a free tea. Incredible. And our waiter loved us and for no extra charge put mint and orange rind in with the tobacco in addition to icing the water, and gave us extra coals! We were there until close and then made our way to the resi to botellon (pregame) and hit up Camborio where we danced all night. Got back between six and seven, promptly passed out and was up in time for la comida the next day.

Friday night I felt pretty exhausted and lacked the mental energy to go out, even though I wanted to try out Metro, a disco I haven't been to before that was having "Sexy Night" (worth it just to go and say you went to sexy night, right? haha) where las chicas had free entry hasta 3am. But instead I stayed in and skyped with my moo, shasha, and rosie ... and never got around to watching a movie like I wanted to.

Saturday morning I got up around 11 and felt like a whole new person. Amanda and I walked around and shopped for a bit in the morning, came back to a comida of lentil soup and tapas (ham, duck liver purree ... i'm losing all parts of my former picky-eater self over here ... and brie on tostada) which was yummy. We had a good conversation with Trini about picky eaters and the only eating white-processed food syndrome a lot of kids in Spain have (not just a problem in the states, or with Connor apparently ... just kidding Connor haha). And Trini told us she loves us because we like everything and try everything she cooks, which is funny to me since it was only about six years ago that I lived solely on grilled cheese sandwiches and lived by the mantra "if it's from the sea, it's not for me." Boy was I a fool.

Saturday night I met up with a bunch of (6) kids from the residencia for pizza and futbol around 730. On the way there Joya and I ran into a wedding by the swing set we've played on before, it was beautiful. Not a fan of the bride's suit-dress, but the Spanish know a lot more about style than I do apparently so I won't question it! The pizza place, Voy Volanda, has an all you can eat deal that for 6.5 euro you get as much pizza, pasta, and salad as you like. You have to microwave your pasta, but it's pretty delicious especially since it's been months since I've had Italian food. So we sit down and each get our own bowls of salad and of pasta, and the first pizza comes out. Cuatro Queso, mmm mmm mmm. Shortly followed by a Margarita pizza which was equally delicious. We were all feeling pretty satisfied, when out comes pizza numero tres, sausage and meats of some sort. We all giggled a little bit, because clearly three pizzas, a bowl of salad, and a bowl of pasta is more than enough for seven girls and one guy. Little did we know that we'd have three more coming. Five minutes later our server gave us cheese mushroom and ham pizza, followed by a BBQ pizza, and when we finally told him that we could not possibly eat any more, a chocolate pizza for desert. Seven pizza slices full, I left Voy Volando more full than I have ever felt here haha. But for 6.5 euro, not bad at all, no?

We missed the soccer game and just talked and drank at the resi until about 2am when we decided to go to our usual stomping ground, disco Kapital. Danced all night, got back around 7am, the usual aha. I had a lot of fun though, even though I am discovering that Granada has more aggressive hombres than I initially thought. No pasa nada.

Today I officially booked my ticket to go visit Rosie in Athens from April 30 until May 5. I am beyond excited because my flight is waaay less than the 550 euros I originally thought it would be, and now I get to go stay with Rosie in her apt and go see one of the Greek Islands. And potentially visit Christian in Rome the weekend before! I haven't traveled yet because I wanted to get to know my new home, but now I feel we know each other pretty well, and I am ready to probar my surroundings. And Athens and Rome are two cities I have always wanted to visit, dream come true :)

Tomorrow morning I have my orientation for Morocco, so soon I can fill you in on my adventures I will be undertaking in oh .. TEN DAYS!

Time to walk to the universidad for my anthro class,

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I am overwhelmed by trying to figure out travel plans and make this summer into something productive, so instead of dealing with it I am going to post some of Lydia's Cordoba pictures :)

In order:
- Musical performance in the Jewish museum

- Lydia and I showing Pittsburgh pride in the mezquita

- Me under one of the arches in the Ruins

- The heladaria by Plaza Nueva ... mmmm

- Meg, Kate, and me on the stairs of Granada 10 showin off our Ladies Night balloons

-The gorgeous but over the top main alter in the cathedral of the mezquita

- Where Christianity and Islam collide

- Ceiling in the cathedral

- The Cathedral Tower from outside

And in other news, it's still raining in Spain. I have night class tonight from 8-930 then it's ladies night at granada 10. It better stop raining, or I might just come back and sleep (but of course, thats not really gonna happen haha).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

And it's back ...

The rain in Spain will not stay in the plains.

So while everyone back home is covered in snow, I'm being flooded out. Walking from IES to my gym this morning my boots filled up with water and I actually had to empty them out in the locker room sink, and then wring out my socks. LAME. The unevennesses and little subtle slants that make walking around here in the sun an adventure turned out to be two-faced jerks that pool up tons and tons of murky water that inevitably ends up in your boots. And in my case deciding that you need blueish-black, sopping wet socks rather than the nice dry white ones you start the morning with. Ugh. There was honestly a 3 x 5 foot section of my street that is completely flooded. NOT looking forwards to walking to my University class at 430, and even less so walking all the way back to IES for my film class at 700 tonight. I want the sun baack.

On the upside, I bought myself the leather jacket I've been flirting with all last month. They didn't have it in black, only dark brown, but I decided to go for it anyways, I love it :)

Also we got our Morocco group email, I'm in the first group which is awesome! We have an orientation session next week so after that I'll post all about what I'm expecting/will be doing! All I know so far is that we are going to be living in a homestay which will be super challenging but super rewarding I'm sure.

I skipped my night class last night to try to sort out my life since this weekend was packed and this coming one looks like it will be too. I've decided I'm going to be living in Pittsburgh this summer (planning on visiting Haverford at some point though) and hopefully doing some sort of volunteer work in either Guatemala or Costa Rica for a few weeks in July. I've sent out a bunch of emails so we'll see what happens. I've only heard back from Ravenstahl's office, and surprise surprise the Pittsburgh Mayor's Office does not offer internships. Something new and different haha.

Also I made a calender for my travels and when people will be here:
March 6-8: Shelia (!!) and Maggie (Haverfordian who was here last semester) visit
March 12-15: Granada
March 19-23: Morocco
March 24-26/27: Moo, Dids, and Benny visit
April 3-11: Semana Santa (Spring Break) in Barcelona
April 12-16: Carolyn and possibly Christian visit
April 16- 19: Hopefully finding a cheap flight to meet Melissa in Amsterdam
April 23-25: Granada/or Beach trip
April 30- May 3: Visiting Rosie in Athens and going to either Hydra or Poros for
a day (islannnddss)
May 8-9: IES Viaje a Cabo de Gato (beaach!!)
May 14-17: Granada
May 18-24: IES Finals Week!
May 28-June 1: Ibiza (?)
June 2 - June 6: UGR Finals
June 7 - 13: Madrid and either Italy or Paris with Carolyn or someone else, we'll see
d i
I am extremely excited to go travel and see things, especially Athens, but looking at this makes me realize how quickly this is all going to go, which is scary. I'm glad I didn't leave Granada for my first month here, I feel like I really know a lot of the city almost as well I know Shady Side. But I still have so much exploring to do, I want to explore Plaza Einstein which I have yet to visit, hopefully I'll do that this weekend of next.

I just took a break from writing this post to eat possibly my favorite lunch this far so of course I want to write about it. Trini wanted to have una comida mexicana hoy, pero Corte Ingles no tenia el queso corecto (Trini wanted to have a Mexican themed lunch today but Corte Ingles didn't have the right kind of cheese. Por eso, we had half mexican themed lunch! We had a salad with cilantro, avocado (yuuummmm), tomatoes, onions, and cukes which was ridiculously delicious. We then each had two fried pork chops which are always yummy, and for dessert Trini bought a selection of pastries from the pasteleria on our block. Delicious. I was smiling the entire time I ate haha.

Alright I have applications to do and whatnot before class at 430.
Hasta Luego!

Sunday, March 1, 2009


¡Hoy es el primer día del marzo, entonces hay solo dos y media semanas hast voy al Marruecos!
(Today's March 1st: only two and half weeks until the Morocco trip!!)

Last night was the first open mic night, an IES sponsered event at a bar called Musgo (which has ridiculously bright lime green walls) where from 9:45 until 11 something or other we watched drunk and sober IES, Erasmus, and UGR kids do everything from tell jokes, sing, and play instruments. The bar was packed, we did not expect that many people to show up at all, but the more the merrier ... literally. Open mic night basically embodies the contrast between American and Spanish culture: Dio and Hayley (the MCs) were introducing acts with a note pad in one hand and a fistfull of alchohol in the other, as was Javier and Jose the program directors who were there. Everyone was laughing and just hanging out, there was no rush ... in fact the start time was delayed by almost an hour (no idea why). The Spanish are never really in a rush, they're just here to enjoy their lives happily in the company of good friends. Nothing to criticize there in my opinion!

Afterwards we went to the resi to hang out, never made it out to a disco but after Friday night that's fine with me. Met some Spanish kids, convinced a kid from the Canary islands that my major was sexologia, the usual. We met one kid named Andre and he's probably the most hilarious human being I've ever seen. He thinks he's very hard core and refers to himself as a "pimp". In reality I think he just deals weed, but regardless he takes himself very seriously, in the least serious way possible... if that makes any sense. He's taking lots of English classes at the University and prides himself on the knowledge between a "biatch" (pronounced with a heavy Spanish accent so it sounds something like beeeayatch) and "bitch" (which sounds more like biotch). He was wearing black pants that looked like they were some kind of pleather, with a huge diamond (pretty fake looking) belt buckle of two letters intertwined (I forget now what they were), Adidas Superstar sneakers with hot pink laces and a diamond/rhinstone "Superstar" attached to the bottom lace of either shoe. On top of that he had on a Hines Ward-worthy bling-full of "diamond" on his ear, a NY Yankees baseball flatbrimmed hat ... with the sticker still on it of course, and a button down shirt. I've never seen such a confusing outfit in my life haha. He was entertaining, and harmless moo don't worry!

All in all, fun night. We didnt get back to late, it was probably five ish, slept in 'til a comida of soup with noodles and eggs in it (interesting, I liked it, Amanda didn't), scrambled vegetable tortilla and a salad. Plus the biggest pastry (it's pretty much one of those neopolitan things) I've seen in a while.

All for now, luego!