A birthday, a carnival, and mucho trabajo

I’ll start with this: http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/429947_194978753935941_100002714534497_267760_1034580783_n.jpg . These things are blowing up facebook right now, and a friend posted this on the UNC group page so thought I’d share it with you all. Not entirely untrue… I haven’t been to taco bell, though. That’d just be silly. I have, however, gone to an American restaurant as well as Burger King-both within the last week. Oh also a Dunkin’ Coffee (no es Dunkin’ Donuts here). I’ll explain.

Beginning chronologically, last Thursday was Stephanie’s 20th birthday (!) so we all went to Foster’s Hollywood American Restaurant because she was craving ribs and all things American. There was a group of six of us who went and it was really good. I had a special lunch menu where you got two courses with various options and then a drink and dessert for a set price. I got broccoli-cheese soup, a chicken salad, wine, and carrot cake. It definitely lived up to its name; the portions were just like back home. We gave Stephanie her presents at lunch and afterwards, she enjoyed playing with the bubbles especially-as did I….

Friday was also a good day. After classes, Laura, Melissa, Alysia, Amanda, Sierra and I met up and went to a little cafe Sierra had been wanting to go to near the cathedral. This was also the reunion of the group going to Italy in April (minus Alyssia, plus Emily). Afterwards, we looked around some shops and just strolled. This was only the second day that it has really been cloudy since I have been here and it actually started sprinkling! Later, at 8:30, I met with my intercambio outside of Cien Montaditos, which is a chain here (and in a few places within the US apparently also)  It is called that because it has 100 (cien) montaditios, which are these tiny little sandwiches. Let me explain “intercambio”. It is a native Spanish student who we are paired with and have to meet with for two hours each week in order to talk in Spanish for one hour, and English for the other. Sorry if I already explained that somewhere else. Anyway, we waited for her friend there for a few minutes and then we all started walking towards the cathedral area, down La Avenue de La Constitucion. We then went to eat tapas which were amazing and which she paid for, although I tried really hard to pay for instead. We talked a LOT at dinner, mostly in Spanish, because she was nervous to speak in English she said. We talked about her classes, her family, her dog, and all the same about me. Basically, we talked about whatever came to mind. Afterwards, my intercambio’s amiga and I wanted to go to Dunkin’ Cofee to get a doughnut and then we went to McDonald’s so my intercambio could get ice cream. We sat there for a while, just talking and some interesting topics came up. This was a Friday night, so a lot of people were out “in la calle” (in the street), just hanging out and preparing to botellon (basically drinking in the street at night), so I got to people watch which is always fun. We talked about Spanish guys’ style and attitudes, for example, and she told me they are violent and often get angry especially when they drink. Oh great. They like their faux-hawks and to me, they all dressed pretty similarly, albeit stylishly. We were able to witness this “violence” when a fight broke out outside of the McDs. Some of the staff went outside to see what was going on and as we were leaving, the police were coming on their mopeds. with their clubs and tazers… just kidding. My intercambio (Ximena?) said this is very common here. She is also friends with Laura’s intercambio and so we are trying to find a time we can all meet together! We said bye around 11, at which point she and her friend took the metro (b/c they live outside of the city) and I walked the rest of the way home. I was really relieved to have a good intercambio that actually cares about meeting and is fun and interesting to talk to. It was also exciting because I felt like I actually carried on a conversation in Spanish! wahoo! I went home, chilled out for a little while, then headed back out around 12:45 to meet with some friends to go to Alfalfa-a Plaza where there a a lot of bars. It’s basically the night-time hang out place. We headed there and a few of us tried Agua de Sevilla for the first time, which was really good! It is on the list of 85 things to do in Sevilla so it was pretty much necessary. haha. Anyway, that was a late night and so I woke up around 12:30 the next day, ate lunch, then went to various errands that aren’t super exciting (so I won’t talk about them here). Saturday night was the beginning of my Carnival adventure….

Carnival: google search Carnival in Cadiz, Spain and read all about it. It is apparently one of the biggest carnivals in Spain and is similar to Mardi Gras from what I can gather. Saturday night at 8:30 we boarded a bus, rode for approx an hour and a half, and then got off to begin the night. For me, it wasn’t the best experience honestly. It was dirty, there wasn’t really a main focal point (like a parade of anything), and it was cold. People didn’t always use bathrooms. The streets worked equally as well, apparently. No lie. There are no open container laws here, as a side note. Also, my bus didn’t leave until 5:30am, so we had way too much time to wander around and not do anything (except eat chocolate con churros and shiver). I’m sorry I am painting such a bad picture of Carnival. It may be different if you ask someone else, but I also felt pretty poorly the whole time which didn’t help anything. As my disfrace (costume) I wore all black and a masquerade mask. Some people went all out with their costumes. I just wanted to be comfortable. Plus it was cheap. A more positive aspect: the group I hung out with was super chill and fun and nice. I crashed on the bus ride home and didn’t end up going to sleep until like 10am Sunday morning. geeeeez. The drop-off point in Sevilla was somewhat far from my house, so a few of us got a taxi home and I’m sure the driver knew where we were coming from, but still just thought we were ridiculous looking. Ruffled, sleepy, and rough. My guy friend was dressed like a female geisha, complete with the face paint and was quite a sight. oh Carnival…I am glad I went and saw what it was like, anyway.(oh the “man” with me in the last picture is actually my friend Emily…she pulls it off pretty well though. )

I slept until lunch on Sunday then went to the park to soak up some sun and try to study with Amanda, Melissa and Laura. This whole hanging out in the sun thing has been pretty common lately and I LOVE it. My senora keeps telling me to be careful of the cold and of getting burnt. Hm. will do, but I am just glad it’s finally warmer. The funny thing (to me) is that everyone here is still walking around all bundled up in turtlenecks and scarves and coats. It almost makes me afraid of what the spring is going to be like. At least I do like the heat… Random moment: a little boy just rode by me on his tricycle and yelled something. It’s been fun people watching here (I’m currently in the park). So continuing, Sunday was a recuperation day for me, although I still managed to go to bed late because I was able to finally skype Jenny ( :D!) and  other amigos.

Monday was back to the grind and was a realization that this week is going to be BUSY. I have a quiz tomorrow, an in-class essay (which is our exam) for my history class on Thursday, and a final exam and 5 page paper due on Thursday for mi clase de literatura. After Thursday I will be golden and I have next Monday and Tuesday off for El Dia de Andalucia. I have learned that I am one of the most unproductive people ever, though, and this has to be remedied soon. Like….tonight…because I have to get some work done. It’s just so hard here! Oh well, it will happen.

Today, i went to class and met with Sierra between classes to run through El Parque de Maria Lousia which was gorgeous and I’m surprised I haven’t yet been there. It’s right near La Plaza de Espana and it was nice catching up with her. She’s been talking to a Spanish guy she met through her intercambio and the three of them and I may go to Huelva one weekend (either this weekend or the first one in March) because one of them has a house there. That would be awesome! The other day, I bought The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks in Spanish. It is called “El Cuaderno de Noah” here though. I haven’t had time to read it yet, but can’t wait to. I almost forgot to mention that I made a friend yesterday! Her name is Alana (I think) and she lives right near me and told me I can come over whenever I want and just come on in her house! She was very nice and asked me why I was stretching and where I learned to run and where I lived and where I was from….did I mention she is like 8 years old? haha. I had  a lot of fun talking to her though, partly because she didn’t judge me for my lack of perfection with Spanish and partly just because she was just a goofy, fun kid. Today my senora’s son and grandson Pepe came over and I played with Pepe for a bit. He is muy “mono” which means cute.

I think for lent I want to try to speak more in Spanish and hang out more with my family here. I may go to Ash Wednesday service here as well.  I have class in like 5 minutes and have to walk there, so I need to go now, but hasta luego!

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