So I had noticed that the internet would periodically cut out. Most of the time it happened pretty late at night and I didn’t think too much about it. Last night I was sitting on my bed using my computer with the door open. Antonio walked by and said, oh no! I just turned off the internet. Well, that explains something. They just turn it off for the night, but sometimes I’m able to steal the neighbor’s.
There’s a lot to report since my last post! I’ll try and stick to chronological order. Alvaro’s birthday was last Saturday. It was a lot of fun. Antonia made a huge plate of paella and we even used the fancy tablecloth for the occasion! It was me, Alvaro, José Alberto, Antonia, Antonio and Maria (Antonio’s daughter.) They were all joking about how Antonio can’t cook if his life depended on it. Some days for lunch he’ll toss the salad and he always makes me confirm it’s the best salad I’ve ever had. Normally, I just smile, laugh and nod. I wouldn’t want to offend Antonia. While we were talking about this, the topic of our lunch last Friday came up. This was the rice/ketchup/egg deal we had going on. Antonia asked if I knew how to fry an egg and I told her no and that I didn’t want to help the boys because I knew my assistance would only complicate the matter. I made fun of José Alberto for having the towel over his arm to prevent from getting burned. Antonia got a good laugh out of that one. I burned Alvaro some CDs for his birthday. I’m not sure how well they went over. I didn’t have a marker, so it looked like I had given him 3 three blanks CDs. Hopefully, he’ll give them a listen.
My host family! From the left: Antonio, María, Alvaro, Antonia and José Alberto
María, Me, Alvaro and José Alberto. Spaniards do this thing when they don't really smile...
I think Maria, some friends and I are all going to go to the outlet stores this weekend. I’m looking forward to being forced to speak more Spanish. I know she wants to practice her English, so maybe we can spilt it up half and half. I’m supposed to meet with my intercambio (speaking partner) tomorrow for lunch, but she’s being kind of flaky. I hope it will work out. (I’m writing this after the fact. She blew me off again so I emailed intercambio número 4.)
I really didn’t do too much after Alvaro’s birthday lunch. I wanted to make sure I was well rested for the night to come (Carnaval!) The bus picked us up in Sevilla at 9:30pm.
Group shot before we left. (I'm the second from the left)
We got to Cádiz at approximately 11:00 where we were set loose. Boy, was it an adventure. I don’t even know where to begin. Picture Lollapalooza times 100, in costume. I didn’t really get the memo that everyone went all out. I just wore a mask and a boa, and I think I might have been the least festive person there. There were quite a few very clever costumes, unfortunately they’re all escaping me at the moment. The costumes were different from what Americans wear for Halloween. It wasn’t an excuse to wear as little material as possible; I was surprised by how well covered the majority of the women were. Drag was a popular theme for the men.
Greeted by the crowds after getting off the bus
We followed the crowds after being let off the bus. We just wandered for a while. Most of the way was a constant dance party. There would be one car in the middle of the street blasting music, surrounded by hundreds of people. As soon as we got bored with that music, we’d walk another 50 feet to a different car blasting music. I was surprised that I didn’t recognize the city as well as I thought I was going to. That most likely was attributed to the fact that the city was as full as I had ever seen it and there were stages set up in all of the plazas, which changed the atmosphere.
Above is an example of one of the stages set up in a plaza. In case you can't tell, those are men dressed up as disney princesses. I heard they won second place!
This is the plaza outside of the Catedral. There were sooo many people!
When we were walking I all of a sudden I thought I had a clue where we were, so I was directing my friends. My memory served me correctly, and I was able to lead us to my old house family’s house. I obviously didn’t ring the doorbell, because it was probably around 2:00am at this point. Although, there’s no way they could have been sleeping with all of the people and noise. From there we walked to the plaza outside of the cathedral. It was flooded with people. There must have been thousands of people just on the steps of the cathedral. From there we needed some air, so we walked to the water and took a breather. The bus picked us back up at 5am. It was quite the night. I’m comfortable saying that once was enough. I’m glad I went, but I don’t think I’ll feel the need to go again. The no public toilets and the hour and a half ride home wasn’t exactly ideal.
Ah, that reminds me…one of my friends really needed to go to the bathroom. Due to the lack of public washrooms, we found a semi-quiet side street. She ducked behind a motorcycle and another friend and I stood guard. All of a sudden a girl started yelling from her window across the street. I couldn’t understand what she was saying so I kept telling her to repeat it. She was yelling that it was her brother’s motorcycle that my friend was peeing on. All of a sudden she disappeared and I was afraid that she was going to come downstairs, but instead she got her mom who joined in and began yelling at my friend. It was one of the funniest things of the night! We were all so happy when the bus picked us up. I had been yearning for my bed for hours. We finally got back to Sevilla at around 7:15am. I made it home by 7:30 and went straight to bed. I woke up at 3pm for lunch, and then proceeded to take a nap afterward.
Later that evening, we went to Antonia’s parent’s and sister’s houses. I really enjoyed meeting the family. Her mom is a riot. I couldn’t fully understand what she was saying, but she seemed like a very funny lady. There weren’t too many people at the grandparents’ house, just me, Antonia, José Alberto, Alvaro, Grandma, Grandpa, Antonia’s brother and his two sons. From there we walked across the street to Antonia’s sister’s house. I couldn’t keep track of all of the people. There were probably about 10 more relatives there. I just sat around the couches with everyone and zoned out to the basketball game on TV. After such a late night I really wasn’t in the mood to try and focus on what they were saying. Sometimes after a certain hour my brain can only process English. Let’s just say it came early that day.
Tuesday was a friend’s birthday so we all went out at night to celebrate. Two friends baked her a cake. I was in charge of the champagne. It was great, we sat in the plaza next to the Cathedral, ate cake and drank champagne. It was my first botellón. Botellón-ing is very common in España. It’s typically how kids start their night off. You buy alcohol and drink it in a plaza. We’re still not exactly sure what the legal status is. I feel like there are certain spots where it’s permitted, but we’re not exactly sure where those spots are…After botellón-ing we headed to a restaurant called Duplex for tapas. It was the birthday girl’s choice. She had gone there during orientation with her group. It was pretty American, but good nonetheless.
When I was walking home I was absolutely ecstatic that a group asked me for directions. Primarily because they must have thought I was Spanish and also because I actually knew the answer! Another Spanish woman asked me for directions today. Maybe I’m getting the whole Spanish look down. Yesterday at lunch I told Antonia and Antonio that I was going to go shopping to try and look more Spanish. Antonia said that I already looked Spanish because of my hair. I think still my complexion is a little lighter than most Spaniards. Antonia didn’t refute the fact that I could work on my clothing.
Last night we went to a flamenco show at this discoteca called Boss. It was a group called Raíces (races), and it was comprised of a black guy, a jewish guy and a gypsy. I never know what to expect for flamenco shows. This was kind of a mix of traditional flamenco, rock, rap, etc. I’d really like to see a traditional flamenco dance. Most of the shows I’ve been to have only had music.
Prior to leaving the house for the flamenco show, I had to make a pizza for myself, well, I just needed to heat it up. My señora had it all ready for me in the fridge. She showed me how to use the microwave/oven earlier in the afternoon. I made the mistake of not writing down which settings to use, there are about 6. I knew I was supposed to use one for 10 minutes and then air for 2 minutes. I think I might have used the wrong one. My pizza came out burnt, stuck to the plate and then I made a mess of the microwave. They haven’t mentioned anything yet, so I think I’m going to say anything about it.
Supposedly the thing to do in Spain is stay out really late and then eat churros in the morning. That’s our goal for tonight. Well see if we’re able to stay out that late. My host brother said he didn’t get home until 8am last weekend—and that’s just a normal night for him! I’m curious to see when we’re all going to hit the wall.
Yesterday at lunch we were talking about the differences between Spanish and American food. My host mom was asking how you say the different types of vegetables that we had in the salad in English. Somehow we got to the phrase cream of the crop. She tried saying it, but it sounded more like cream of the crap. I told her she needed to watch out with that one. She laughed and said her pronunciation was worse than mine when I try to say hygienic in Spanish. Everyday I practice and then at meals I try and say it, and everyday they continue to correct me. Maybe it will come soon. I’m not as focused on my pronunciation, more just getting the words out.
So, I don’t think I’m allergic to the cat. I’m still not feeling 100% and I have no clue what has taken over my body. Olíve (pronounced, Oh-lea-vey) has become rather attached to me. He/she/it jumps up on my bed whenever I’m home. The other day I was lying on my stomach on my bed using the computer and Olíve made himself comfortable by laying down on my back. My señora got a laugh out of that one.
Earlier this morning I bought my plane tickets for my first spring break! First we’re going to Paris and then to London. We’re going to be in London for quite a few days, so I’m hoping to do some day trips, potentially Stonehenge and Bath. We’ll just have to see.
Well, that's all I have to report for the moment. I'm headed to Cordoba on Sunday for a day trip through the program.