Saturday, March 26, 2011

My Spanish phone is hereby to be dubbed Opossum...

For it's remarkable and distinctively asshole behavior at managing to *play dead for almost three weeks*.

For a brief recap, since Morocco, the phone I bought here stopped working. I whined, coddled it, tried to charge it, took apart all of it's bits and pieces, attempted a séance, to no avail. Last week, I gave up, put it back in it's box, set about doing homework and promptly forgot about it.

I've been intending to go to Vodafone and ask what was wrong with it, and actually was about to put my shoes on to go this evening when I figured I'd shove it on the charger one last time before venturing out.

AND WHAT DO YOU KNOW. Like magic, the charging signal comes up, my phone turns on just fine, and I'm left with the conclusion that my phone is a jerk. A jerk named Opossum, 'cause that's how I roll.

Anyway, my phone making a zombie like return from death is a good enough reason for blog post, I suppose.

Not much has been going on here- came down with a cold, so I'm not the prettiest sight in all the land, but whatever. It's not that bad, and it seems to be clearing up.

I have to go out and get some new clothes- I'm going to head out tomorrow to get some dresses and skirts. I've lost some weight here which is awesome. I've been walking everywhere and have not been eating Moody food, which I think are the two main reasons behind it. It's a good thing that I'm losing weight- on the other hand, only one pair of my jeans fits properly now.

Let's see, what else...still struggling with my language skills, but it's going a little better. I need to talk to my intercambio >. > I've been putting it off, since there's been sort of a revolving door of them. I need to make sure the one I've been assigned is still in the program, and if not, got to Rodrigo and ask for a new one. Since having one is a mandatory part of the program...yeah, I need to get on that.

Faolan's birthday is coming up! I can't believe she's going to be one. It feels like she's always been a part of my life and in the same breath, she's so new and exciting. I need to get a package off to her with a gift. There are some little plastic wolves in a store near here that I may pick up, and maybe a little flamenco dress, if I can find one cheap enough.

Overall, things have been good. Nothing too exciting. :D In conclusion, here's a picture of me and some friends on St. Patrick's Day. (photo curtesy of Kelsey Smagler)
Way in the back, but I'm there! :D


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Culture shock, some whining, and a few good things

Not a lot has been going on recently, to be honest. Part of it is because things are becoming routine- classes Monday-Thursday, doing homework, going out on Tuesdays, etc, and part of it is that I am tragically a responsible student and don't go out all the time.

Last night was cool though- there was a play being shown of a work that I have to read for my literature class, so I went to that. It's The House of Bernarda Alba, by Lorca, and while my señora, Carmen, told me it was a very dramatic play, this version was played for a lot more laughs.

The inner techie in me cringed some parts though- messy stage, and one of their set pieces (the bottom step of bleachers) broke in the middle of the show.

Anyway, the going to the theater is actually a pretty good example of how I am experiencing some culture shock. Overall, I wouldn't say that I'm being hit too hard by it- I'm not freaking out, and while I miss home, I'm not homesick. I love Seville, and I love being here.

However, there are some things that are tripping me up, hard. I feel like my confidence level has plummeted here. I'm so anxious about *stupid* things where I have to communicate- like getting a taxi, or going into to Vodafone to see why my mobile is dead. Things I have no problem with at home are serious challenges to me here.

The biggest aspect of that is that I feel like my language skills are just crap right now. I find myself feeling really foolish and slow, because I can't think of a word or how to ask for things. And, logically, I know that it was sort of a huge jump to take a year and a half of Spanish and then come here to study, and I know this is all to be expected and it'll pass, but whatever, it's a giant pain in the ass, but, ugh ugh. I don't know, I hate it.

It may sound really arrogant to say this, but I'm not used to not being confident in myself. And it is really, really frustrating when I find myself being scared or, for fuck's sake, *timid* about things. That isn't me, and it's making me pretty angry at myself.

Now, pity party aside, I know that the only solution for this is to work harder at my spanish, force myself to do things, and quite whining all the time, goddamn. It's just taking me a little longer for my practical brain to kick my whiny brain's ass over here, and it's pissing me off.

Here are a five good things to counter to suck in this post:

There is a cafe right around the corner from the school, and guys, it's a serious old man bar. It's literally a tiny little place, with a counter and some stools, and just enough room for a couple people to stand in there. It's run by this older guy, probably late 50's, and all these men come every day- some older, some younger, to drink coffee and talk. Anyway, I go there just about every school day during break with my friend Clarissa, and sometimes by myself. So I go, and I don't have to order, because he's already putting espresso in a glass and steaming milk for me, and when I'm alone, I sit and do my homework, and if I don't know a word, he'll come over,  put his glasses on, and explain to me what it is.

It's silly, but it's pretty much my favourite place in Sevilla. I feel like I've got a little niche there, a space between the men in suits for the quiet American girl to do her homework and revel in the bliss of cafe con leche.

Second good thing: Last night, I had churros from the place on Puente de Triana, and good God was that an excellent life decision.

Third good thing: Tinto de verano is delicious and it is absolutely what I will be drinking non-stop in the States.

Fourth good thing: I am going to get my hair trimmed and get bangs while I'm here. I'm taking my Señora with me, just in case I need help explaining, but I am excited. :D

Fifth good thing: Anne has finished Game of Thrones, so I know what I'm doing today. On to Clash of Kings!

Bonus sixth good thing! Adele's new album is baller as hell, go listen to it.

Alright, muchachos. Enough for now.

 Hasta luego,

Sunday, March 6, 2011


So, this may be a little wordy, because lots has happened, and I've been negligent about updating this.

First of all, let's talk Morocco:

My travels to Morocco started early last Saturday morning, when I got up, grabbed my bag, and headed to Plaza de Cuba to wait for my bus. After embarking on the bus, and watching a very, very, *VERY* drunk, shirtless man walk* (read as: stagger/waver/almost fall) around the Plaza, we headed off towards Gibraltar.

Gibraltar is physically in Spain, but actually belongs to the UK, which makes for a very interesting mix of cultures. :D Gibraltar is also known as "The Rock", which has significantly less Sean Connery than you may originally assume. Anyway, it's aptly named, since it happens to be...a giant rock. With monkeys at the top. Go figure.

Everyone in Gibraltar speaks perfect Spanish and English, and there are loads of British pubs and chip shops. I managed to pick up a box of Ty-phoo tea for the roommate at home, which is awesome. Anyway, my group of friends decided to grab breakfast at an Irish pub, where there was eggs and soda bread and fish and chips had by all.

After Gibraltar, we headed to the bus again, off to Algeciras, where we took the ferry to Ceuta, which is Spanish owned territory next to Morocco. Cueta was gorgeous, and we drove up the steep hills to stand at the top and take a break and take pictures. 

SPEAKING OF PICTURES. I have actually very few of my own pictures, since, like a *moron* I forgot my camera card. Yeah, yeah, I know. There are pictures on FB that I'm tagged in, and I plan on stealing a bunch of them. 

This is right around the part in the trip where I developed a headache that I couldn't shake. I think it was part dehydration, heat, and being tired, but it made me kind of grumpy and taciturn. Thus, I plugged Garcia (new iPod after Patrick died. ;__;) and kept to myself for a while. No need to unleash my grumpiness on others. 

Anyway, (after some period of hurry-up-and-wait) we got back on the buses, and headed to the border. At this point, I can't really describe the scenery, since it was getting dark. It is also prohibited from taking pictures at the border, something they apparently take very seriously, and no one was dumb/brave enough to try it. I do kind of wish we could have taken pictures, because we totally saw some people border hopping. !! All  sneaky like, these guys would slip down down from their perch on the side of the hill, hop up around this little building, over the fence, and then slip down the wall. We saw two or three guys successfully get into Cueta this way. 

Moving on, we headed to our hotel, called Dreams Hotel, which was really quite lovely. After a break to freshen up, we went to dinner. Food was bread, soup, and chicken with lemons and olives (which is apparently a pretty standard dish, since we ended up having it twice). Dessert was flan. 

Dinner was also really long- like two hours. Mostly because there were a lot of people, but service was generally slow. It didn't make for too much fun for me, since my head was still hurting pretty badly. However, my friend Michael is pretty much a hero, and gave me two Advil after dinner. 

After drugging myself, I pretty much faceplanted my bed, and remained there for a few hours. 

The next morning, we ate breakfast and then headed to a wonderful town called Chefchaouen. Everything in the town is blue and white, seen here, courtesy of Google images: 

It's kind of ridiculously pretty, and the people were absolutely amazingly friendly. We spent a few hours there, I ended up splashing around in their small waterfall, where they wash clothes and goof off in, fun was had by all, etc. 

After Chefchouan, we headed back to our first city, Tétouan. After lunch (more chicken and olives) we went on tour of the city, going through the markets and getting a small demonstration at a apothecary/herbalist shop. There, I scored some saffron for Mom, and got a massage. Win. 

After our tour, it was time to head to our last destination, Tangiers. Sadly, we didn't actually get to see much of Tangiers. Our last night in Morocco, we saw a show involving traditional Moroccon warriors on horseback, and then ate dinner. During dinner, we saw a bunch of really cool acts-- a magician, a two contortionist children, and a belly dancer. 

With dinner concluded, we partied it up at the club next door to the hotel. It was a lot of fun, lots of dancing and good times. 

The next morning, (which came a little too early for pretty much everyone involved) we got back on the bus, sat on the bus for thirty minutes whilst seating confusion occurred and whiny people were whiny, and then headed off for specific locations. 

First, we went to the spot where the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean meet, which was pretty cool. After than, we headed to a spot where we would get to ride camels. While one group got their camel ride, the other group could go down to the beach, and get their feet wet in the Atlantic.

At this particular point, I must add a disclaimer, and that disclaimer is, SOMETIMES I AM NOT SO BRIGHT.

You will see the reason for this in a moment. Ahem. So, I was in the second group, so while the first group waited, I was stood at the top of the hill to watch the ocean, etc. I SHOULD NOTE THAT ORIGINALLY, I WAS NOT PLANNING ON GOING DOWN TO THE SHORE. Alas, my first instincts were not the ones I eventually went with, and I ended up heading down to the shore. 

Things I took with me to the shore: my purse, and my shoes. The leather Hollister flipflops that I stole from Colin. Things that I should have left at the bottom of the stairs to the beach: See above. 

As I stood at the shore, I honestly thought that I was out of the zone of *actually getting wet*. It turns out that I was *honestly wrong* about that part. One moment I laughing, because, hey, whatever, I don't really care, and then I realise that ONE OF MY SHOES HAS JUST COME OFF. That's right, off, as in, heading back into the Atlantic Ocean. 

After a moment of being stunned, I threw both purse and other shoe further up the shore, and waded into the ocean to get my other shoe back.

This adventure concludes in me being wet from the upper thighs down, with soaked shoes, and (since, apparently, not being a good thrower comes with mild idiocy) a damp purse. Everything in my purse was fine, except for my Spanish phone, which won't turn on. Granted, it was acting weird prior to the beach incident, but I digress. 

ANYWAY, I managed to get my camel ride, and then get back on the bus, now approximately 40% more wet than coming off of it. After a short trip, we concluded our Moroccan trip with a visit to the Hercules Cave. Which looks like this:

  It is incredibly difficult to get a photo of, since it's totally back lit, but it was really, really lovely. Also at the Hercules Cave, I paid a euro to use a "bathroom" (read as: ungodly smelling hole in the ground) and change my clothes. 

And that, friends...pretty much sums up Morocco. It was unbelievably beautiful and wonderful, and I wish I could have stayed longer than three days. 

However, last Tuesday was the first day of real classes, and some things just can't be avoided. I think I'm going to make a separate post for this past week though, so look out for that tomorrow or sometime. 

I'll update it, I promise.