¡Olé!

A couple days after Krista and I went to the bullfight, a professional torero came to our school. He taught us about bullfighting and how he got started in it, and we got to pick his brain with all our curiosities about this art form. Only 7 students took advantage of this great opportunity, 5 of them girls. This torero was, in fact, quite a handsome fellow, and most of the girls felt either intimidated by his dashing good looks, or nervous about their Spanish. And the guys? I dunno. They just sat there pretty quietly. 

So even though we had been urged to come to this chat session with questions in mind, for the most part everyone just sat and listened and didn’t ask many questions. I, however, find bullfighting to be incredibly fascinating, and I asked a ton of questions, and listened very intently to all he had to say. I think he could tell that I was genuinely interested in all of it, and I wasn’t the only person to notice that sometimes he seemed like he was just talking to me, not a group of 10ish people (students+staff). 

Then we asked to see a demonstration of his skills, and instead he singled me out and invited me to stand up and try to learn. You’d be really surprised how heavy the big cape is.

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It was really super fun. So thanks to Miguel Hidalgo for teaching me about bullfighting.

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Para bendecir la mesa

Cómo cada día, Señor, te damos gracias por todo lo bueno que tenemos en la vida. También te damos gracias por los alimentos. Bendice nuestras vidas, y la de nuestra familia. . Ayuda, ilumina y diriga a los que gobiernan el mundo para que con tu ayuda puedan hacer un mundo mejor para todos los seres humanos, sin guerra, sin hambre, sin violencia, sin injusticia, y con mucha paz, Señor. Amen.

Some variation of this prayer is the one Inmaculada says over our lunch everyday. Sometimes she adds parts, leaves parts out, switches up the order, etc., but really, it’s pretty much the same every day. It’s become super familiar, and I like it.

For you non-Spanish-speakers out there, here’s a translation for ya:

Like every day, Lord, we thank you for all of the good we have in our lives. We also thank you for this food. Bless our lives, and the lives of our family. Help, guide, and direct those who govern the world so that, with Your help, they can make the world a better place for all human beings; without war, without hunger, without violence, and without injustice, but full of peace, Lord.

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21st

I’m sorry to everyone, including my future self, for the fact that it’s been three full weeks since my last post. I suppose, in a way, it’s a good sign. It means I was settled into life in Granada, living it all up to the fullest.

I spent my 21st birthday here in Spain. Party it up, did I? (Yoda much?) Not exactly. But it will no doubt be a birthday I remember forever (somehow, I’m not entirely sure everyone can say that about their 21st…) I had a procession with the Armilla band. It was super hot, but we went in our full suits, jackets and ties and all. When I felt overheated and tired, I would just think to myself, “I’m in Spain. Marching in a procession with a band. On my birthday. And my socks have capes on them.”

That’s right. I had on these Wonder Woman socks with capes. Why? Because my mom loves me and sent them to me for my birthday. That’s why.

Really, though, I feel beyond blessed to have been adopted by this group of musicians. Next week we have a Big Band (aka, Jazz Band) concert. I really enjoy playing with that group. It’s kind of my thing.

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Check it out! I’m famous!

Not really. But I did write this article for the school newspaper:

Gaceta article

Since I know most of the people who read this blog don’t know Spanish, here’s a translation for you:

Holy Week and my Band

When I arrived in Spain on January 24, I hadn’t heard much about Semana Santa (Holy Week). I knew that it’s the week before Easter, and that it serves as our Spring Break, but I didn’t realize it’s the most important festival in southern Spain. During the past couple months, we’ve all been learning a lot about the processions, the pasos (huge “floats”–though that’s a super lame term for it–with Christ or the Virgin) and the costaleros (people who dress in outfits that Americans think looks like the KKK, but it’s really really not anything like that). Even though most of us made plans to travel during this week, some of us had the opportunity to see some of the processions and see this festival which brings thousands of tourists to Andalusia each year. And on the Sunday of the Resurrection, I had the unique opportunity to participate in one of these processions.

I’m a trumpet player, and one of my top priorities when I got to Granada was to find a band to play with. Thanks to Alba (the excellent student-affairs worker who knows everything and rocks at her job), I am now a member of the Asociación Musical San Isidro of Armilla, a town right next to Granada. When I went to my first rehearsal, everyone let me know that we were rehearsing marches for Semana Santa, and everyone wanted to know if I was going to march with the band in the processions. I thought I was going to be out of town for the entire week, and I was sad that I was going to miss the opportunity to participate in this cultural phenomenon.

The day before I left for Dublin, I realized I was going to return the day before the band’s final procession of the week. I debated for a few minutes about whether or not I would have enough energy for a 6-hour procession after a week of traveling. But then it hit me: “Why are you even thinking about it?! There’s not any option! You have the opportunity to be a part of Semana Santa in Granada! What an incredible opportunity!! There’s no question at all. You have to do it. Duh.”

And the experience was exactly that. Incredible, unique, and unforgettable. We  traveled by bus to Almuñécar for the procession. It was hot and sunny, but I loved the entire day. It was so interesting to see the entire process of the procession, from the door of the parish to the cathedral and back. All the band members are incredible friendly and wanted me to have a good experience.  They made sure I used this opportunity to learn a lot about Semana Santa and Spanish culture. Even though I don’t have a single photo of me marching with the band, it was an Easter I will never forget.

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That was a pretty direct translation of what I wrote in Spanish. Que feo.

Anyway. Semana Santa was really cool. I feel so incredibly blessed to have been given such an awesome opportunity. God is Good.

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Today’s my brother’s 24th birthday, so if you talk to him, tell him how awesome he is, and wish him a happy day!

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Here’s something cool.

Earlier this week were the “Premios Max” (the Max Awards, you could say). They’re the Spanish version of Tony awards– honoring the best live theater performances in the country. A play called “Veraneantes” won 5 awards, including Best Play, and another called “La Avería” also won 5 awards, including Best Direction, Best Set Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Costuming (i.e. all the things that make a show awesome).

Here’s the cool part: I’ve seen both of those shows. Veraneantes had the actress who won Best Actress, and La Avería had the actor who won best actor. So seriously. That’s some big deal theater. And I didn’t exactly have to pay to see them. They’re part of my Contemporary Spanish Theater class that I’m taking. So that’s really awesome.

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Here’s something else cool:

Yesterday was May Day. And the Spanish equivalent of Labor Day.  So we didn’t have classes and there was a bullfight and the weather was gorgeous (I don’t really think any of those things were related, except maybe May Day and gorgeous weather).

(side note: happy birthday month to me and a lot of other people!)

The picture above is the Plaza de Toros from the outside. See how beautiful the weather was?!

I didn’t do a very good job of getting good pictures of the bullfight itself, but let me tell ya, it was fascinating. If you think bullfighting is a “sport,” you’re dead wrong. It’s an art. It was so strangely beautiful, and came off more like a dance than a competition. And what a different interpretation of “machismo” and “manliness” than we tend to think of. It was incredible. Sure, it’s sad that the bulls die, but MAN was it neat. Here’s the best I did, photo-wise:

 

Today I got an email from the airline saying that there are 36 days left until my return flight. I will be sad to say goodbye to southern Spain.

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Today was probably the best day ever.

I mean. Not really. Most of it was pretty standard. Some of it was less than great.

But then, some of it was AWESOME. Here’s why:

  1. I didn’t have to wear a jacket or coat on top of my normal outfit. I was outside and I felt hot. Even after dark, I walked around outside and felt very warm. Hooray Spring!
  2. Krista and Inmaculada made fried rice for lunch, and it was so tasty. Even despite Inmaculada’s overzealousness with the soy sauce.
  3. I went with Inmaculada to a presentation by a story-telling group that she’s going to join. It was like low budget community theater for senior citizens (they normally go to schools and nursing homes, but this was just a performance for the general public) and it was super fun. And she held on to my arm the whole walk there, just like she were my real life grandma. It was neat.
  4. A woman in the band that I’ve played with for three months told me she didn’t know until Monday that I’m a foreigner. Someone described the new member to her as, “a friend of the American girl,” and she said, “What?? There’s an American girl in our band??” She’d just assumed that I was Spanish. Winner.
  5. They gave me 35 euros! Apparently that time I played in the Semana Santa procession was a paid gig. Who knew! Some people were complaining about how they cut back their contracts this year, but I was really excited to be making any money at all. I was so happy.
  6. They gave me an official Asociación Musical San Isidro de Armilla tie clip! The nice old man said, “We want you to have this to help you remember your time with the band.”
  7. I finally feel like a valued member of the trumpet section. We’re playing a lot of American songs, and they really like to hear how I pronounce the words. I mean, I’m kind of just a novelty, but the point is that I have lots more actual interactions with people now. I like it.

So there you have it. Most of them were about what happened at band rehearsal, but what can I say? It’s fresh in my memory (I just got back an hour and a half ago), and plus it’s really fun.   Even if we do kind of murder things like Fly Me to the Moon (part of the medley entitled “American Graphity,” I kid you not) and Dixie style.

It was great. I’ve been feeling a little homesick lately, but today was a marvelous Granada Day.

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Photos! Of the panoramic variety! From Dublin!

I don’t know if you guys read Karen’s blog, but you definitely should. She, like lots of us, keeps her blog to record her experiences while studying abroad. She’s a lot better at it than me; 1) She posts more, 2) she’s very witty, and 3) she takes fantastic photos. Something she does pretty often is take lots of pictures of something really big or cool and pieces them together to make neato panoramas.

So today I was catching up on reading my friend’s blog and was inspired by it. I want to make panoramic photos too! So then I googled about how to use the programs already on my computer to do that.

So now you can enjoy these lovely panoramic photos I just made. Windows Live Photo Gallery just made for me (the software really did all the work. I just picked which pictures were to be used).

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I don’t know what this lovely looking church is called, but it’s in Dublin, and I thought it was neat. So I took pictures of it. But it was really big and I couldn’t get all of it in the screen. Windows Live Photo Gallery says, “No worries! Look how much I can make it look like it’s really just one picture!”

Right?! Neat. (You’ll do best to ignore the street lamp and focus on the building…)

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When we talked to Teresa (the kindly Irish woman we stayed with in the Dublin ‘burbs the first two nights) about what we were going to do in the city and we mentioned the Dublin castle, she said to us:

“Now jeekers, girlies, of course you’ll want to be seein’ all the sites. Just keep in mind, now, that when you think of a castle all big and impressive, that’s not what you’ll be findin’ there at the Dublin Castle. It’s so set in the city, you know, that it just doesn’t stand out, if you know what I’m sayin’. I’ve had lots of folks tell me they were a wee bit disappointed after headin’ over there.”

(That all would’ve been much better if I were telling you this story in person. Please read it with an Irish accent. It makes all the difference in the world. And if your struggling with it, give me a call on Skype, and I’ll read it out loud to you in the finest Irish accent I can muster, which isn’t too shabby, if I do say so myself.)

Anyway, here’s what she meant. When you go to the free parts of Dublin Castle, this is mostly what you get to see:

I mean, not that it’s not a neat courtyardy thing, it’s just not so castly like we’d hoped. Maybe if we’d paid for the real tour, we would’ve found more that looks like this (which we found when we went through an archway and around the corner a little bit):

So there you have it. Maybe we missed out on the real part of Dublin Castle. It wasn’t super cool, but still more of a castle that we have at home. Plus, what a great way to start out learning about panoramic photos!

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A blustery day on the Emerald Isle

On the day that the radio was forecasting temps in the 30s with gale force winds on the coasts, Mom and I decided to stick with our plans and head out from Dublin to the coastal town of Bray. Also, we awoke that day to find that it was pouring, but we weren’t going to let Mother Nature spoil our adventures. As soon as we saw a break in the rain, we put on our layers, and headed to the bus stop.

To say it was quite chilly would be a drastic understatement. ‘Twas freezing, in fact. So instead of waiting at the bus stop for 40 minutes, we walked to the nearby SuperValu to seek out some ear protection. (We had not expected such bitter conditions, and neither of us packed a stocking cap.)

The SuperValu, however, had a very limited supply of winter wear. We do not regret our purchase.

You could spot us from a mile away, but at least we still have ears.

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The days pass so quickly

And suddenly the days pile up and turn into weeks and you forget about having a blog. And your blog forgets about you, too, and you have to wrack your brain to remember your password because wordpress kicked you off and you actually have to log in again.
That all happens. And happened.

So to sum things up, there’s a lot to say. And about a million pictures. Because I’ve been out of the country for almost 3 whole months and haven’t put a single picture on here. Lame, I know.

But now, the lazy blogger strikes again. While in Morocco, we went to the hammam (public bath house). This article is a witty and incredibly accurate description of my experience. Enjoy. http://www.worldhum.com/features/how-to/visit_a_moroccan_hammam/

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Other news: Karen and Carl came to visit! We went to a science park and decided that T-Rexes were probably predators, not scavengers.

Tomorrow there is a general strike for all of Spain. Classes are cancelled, stores will be closed, I get to sleep in and watch Meryl Streep!
Extra day of Spring Break! best.ever.

On Friday my mom will be here!!

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More posts will follow, I hope. I just wanted to get something out here before I go to bed. Thanks, Mom, for reminding me that I have a blog.

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Did you know that…?

Here are some things you may not have known.

  • In Spain, they eat with both hands above/on the table. In America, we usually put our left hand in our lap when we’re not using it to cut or something. Here they hold a piece of bread with it, or just leave it sitting idle next to their plate.
  • In Granada, they clean the streets every day. There are always street sweepers around, washing the streets and sidewalks. Also, it’s pretty much okay to throw your trash (wrappers, napkins, cigarette butts, etc) on the ground, because it’s someone’s job to come by and sweep it up. That also happens in restaurants. It’s just a little different.
  • There aren’t bands in the schools, like we have in our public schools at home. If a kid wants to learn an instrument, they start out taking lessons and play in their town’s band. That’s the kind of band I play in now, and it has lots of very young people, as well as lots of adults.
  • In Andalusia, they have a tendency to drop/swallow consonants, especially S’s and D’s. A phrase I often hear is, “eh que hablamo muy mal” which should really be “eS que hablamoS muy mal.” And something like “es muy complicado” becomes “eh muy complicao” It’s a tough accent to follow, but I usually do alright.
  • In Granada, you get free food every time you order a drink, even if it’s not alcoholic. Best ever.
  • Here, you’re not expected to tip anyone. So don’t tip your waiter, unless you’re feeling suuuper generous.
  • I’m going to Africa later this week.

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That’s all. Now you know those things.

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