Tuesday, January 19, 2010

It's called a lance...hello

[Chantel, Melissa, Me, and Haley at the Palacio Real.]

Wow, a lot as happened since I last wrote. I'll try and be as succinct as possible...No promises though.

The beginning of last week was devoid of anything out of the ordinary, hence my absence from the blogging world. Wednesday, I started to spice things up a bit by tripping on a power cord and causing a power outtage in the entire apartment. It would have been less dramatic if Chantel wasn't showering at that exact moment, but of course Irony must have its way. On the positive side, I think having to wake up Chencha to tell her (this is a literal translation) 'I broke the electricity in the whole house' was a good stepping stone in our relationship.

Things continued to get interesting when our program went to the Baños Arabes (Arabic Baths) on Thursday morning. To get a good visual of this place, use this website: http://www.airedesevilla.com. Historically, bathing was a very social event, but today, it's more for relaxation purposes. It had three pools (with frigid, medium, and hot water), a jacuzzi, and a sauna that we were able to enjoy as we pleased for an hour and a half. It was nice to relax and feel like special Sevillanos, in a position to enjoy luxurious things such as bathing with 34 other people.

On Friday morning, we were off to Madrid. Everyone was supposed to meet at the train station, instantly posing a problem for those who are directionally challenged (me). Instead of paying for a taxi, Chantel and I decided to trust Chencha and take the bus instead. Immediately after stepping out of the apartment, however, we realized we really didn't have any idea where this bus stop was. We momentarily panicked until we saw a boy and a girl with a suitcase, and proceeded to stalk them for an awkward 5 minutes. Then we got on their bus and stood by them for another awkward 15 minutes, finally parting ways with them in the train station. We were feeling pretty good about making it to our destination smoothly, and earlier than the rest of our group, until we realized we were actually in the wrong train station. Yes, apparently there are two stations in Sevilla. Pepe, an employee of our program, had failed to mention this. Thanks for the heads up Pepe....

So we took a taxi and made it to the OTHER train station on time. As we waited to know what platform our train would be departing from (I was hoping for 9 3/4), a basketball team walked in with the tallest human I have ever seen. This observation would turn out to be important when I realized that my seat was in the middle of the coach, directly across from him. Read: absolutely no leg room and an awkward 2.5 hours of trying not to make eye contact. I looked into the sky and asked the gods of transportation, "What did I do to deserve this?" before sitting down and clumsily positioning my legs as close to my seat as possible. Not comfortable.

In reality, the train ride turned out great. After a few awkward minutes, Sarah (a girl from my program sitting next to me) and I started to make conversation with the basketballers...all in Spanish! The reason I enjoyed it so much because it made me confident that I would actually be able to have Spanish friends here. Which is nice, because having friends is always a plus.

How can I describe Madrid, the capital of España? The first words that come to mind are "concrete jungle" (where dreams are made of...oh what up D. Gray). Literally, the only grass I saw the whole time was in a park designated for that purpose. Come to think of it, I saw a a few blades growing between some stones too, my bad. But anyways, a LOT of buildings and a LOT of cement. Definitely a nice place to visit, but not somewhere I, personally, would want to live. What it lacks for in grass, however, it makes up in bars and museums. Our group visited the Museo del Prado, Reína Sofía, and Palacio Real. Museo del Prado was my favorite of the touristy things we did: its a museum of art that houses an incredible number of paintings, and some sculptures too. We had a special tour guide that is affiliated with our program that showed us works by Velazquez and Goya, which we had learned about earlier in the week. We also saw "La Guernica" by Picasso in the Reína Sofía, which was incredibly powerful. If you don't know about this famous painting, use this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guernica_(painting). It's amazing.

My favorite thing I saw in Madrid, however, was JENNY MCCOY! Yes, one of my best friends Jenny is studying in Madrid for the semester, and we were able to see her this weekend. We went to dinner both nights, the second time to a Peruvian restaurant (THANKS CHANNY) that had the most delicious food...my mouth is literally watering thinking about it. To make the experience that much better, we had a serenader sing to us during our meal. He was literally 4 foot 5, missing half of his teeth, and 80 years old. He was so cute!

On the return train ride home, I was glad to see that I was seated next to Chantel, and not in the middle of the coach. We did have a toddler who would stare back at us with his mouth open for minutes at a time, drooling all over the seat. That provided enough entertainment to last to Sevilla. Then we took an hour bus ride back home, which was 15 minutes longer than it had to be because our driver stopped the bus to have a smoke. Wonderful.

For now, I'm back in Sevilla, and trying to get into a routine. This morning we visited the Cathedral, and had class in the afternoon. Chencha and I bonded as we transported the drying clothes inside, afraid it might rain tonight. After all, it's probably better than causing another power outtage...

[Side note: The title of this blog is dedicated to Funckmaster Flexx. I saw lances and medieval weapons in the Palacio Real, and thought of you. Yes, I know I'm a good friend. :) ]