Saturday, January 30, 2010
More Than Just a Holiday in Spain
Good news…I am alive and back to the blogging world! And with a week’s worth of news to catch up on. I spent the weekend in the country’s cultural capital (Madrid) and saw some of the world’s finest collections of European art in both the Prado Museums (home of Velazquez’s Las Meninas) and El Reina Sofia (home to Picasso’s Guernica), toured the Palacio Real (official residence of the King of Spain) and for all you non-art lovers, still managed to squeeze in a night at Kapital, Madrid’s famous 7-story discoteca. I dined at a delicious Peruvian restaurant where my table of 7 girls was serenaded by a completely authentic 70-some-year old tooth-missing mariachi man, and people-watched while strolling down the narrow cobblestone roads.
In the past week alone, we have conquered all the major cultural sites of Sevilla as well—the Cathedral (third-largest church in the world, and where Christopher Columbus is buried), Giralda Tower (with the most incredible view of all of Sevilla, as seen above), the fine arts museum, and the royal palace. We managed to squeeze in a night at the theater (and I thought symbolism in ENGLISH tragedies was hard to understand) as well as a traditional flamenco show (complete with stereotypical long greasy haired Spanish man in tap shoes.)
Spain is certainly one of a kind. With each day’s laundry blowing in the wind from atop every apartment balcony, the city is rich with vibrant colors, and there always seems to be the distant sound of an accordion playing everywhere you go. The people here have a surprising appreciation and curiosity for Americans and the U.S. in general, renaming famous Americans such as Mareecaree (Mariah Carey) and Seenconree (Sean Connery), and my personal favorite, Guy-el (my own name seems to be one of the most difficult.) The 4-year-old host sister of one of my friends here has named her darker skinned doll ‘Obama.’
I continue to learn more and more everyday. I now know that sometimes Spaniards find it hard to understand me because I ‘smile too much when I speak’, making it difficult to vocalize (if you know me at all, you know this will certainly be a long process to change.) I also have realized that when Carmen asks if we want ‘pan de molde’ she is not actually asking if we want to eat moldy bread, but rather if we want sandwich bread (think bread molded into a square, instead of bread growing with mold...) And I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that unfortunately Sevilla is not Ann Arbor, and the pedestrians here actually obey the traffic laws (imagine that!)
But now that I have my dog, my running route, and my peanut butter (thank goodness Carmen has had exchange students for the past 5 years who have all happened to gift her with peanut butter that she does not eat), things are starting to fall into place. I've even decided that maybe it is in my better interests not to treat this like a 6-month vacation after all and started wearing my retainers again! So aside from the fact that I have my laundry done every day (quite different than the 'wait till the hamper literally can't hold a single piece more of clothing' policy I usually stick to at school), I am finally finding a place 4,000 miles across the globe I can call home.