Sunday, May 9, 2010

P is for Playa

Hayley and Lauren, I know after reading this blog you are going to say "THIS is what Mom and Dad are paying for? Wow, you little brat." Accordingly, let me just preface this by saying that I have 2 presentations coming up (where I will be speaking Spanish to a room full of Spaniards for a minimum of 20 minutes), lots of reading, and a couple of essays. So, I AM doing more than finger-painting over here (that's for you, Jamie), but I'm sure you all would rather read about the fun stuff anyways. Which is why this blog will be all about cosas divertidas (fun things)! Now that we're past that, let's continue.

Playa = beach. And for my 17th week here in Spain, I started and ended it on two different ones.

Saturday the 1st of May was el Día de Los Trabajadores (Worker's Day) in Spain, and yes I do agree that Worker's Day on a Saturday kind of defeats the meaning of the holiday. Considering everything would be closed, my friends and I decided to hop on a bus and take a ride down to Matalascañas, the closest beach to Sevilla. After a chaotic bus-boarding experience (90% of the city apparently had the same idea as we did) and 2 hours of heavy traffic (it normally takes 45 minutes), we finally arrived. We spent the day laying on the beach, reading some homework and doing quality people-watching. (Dad, you would have loved it.)

[La piedra (the rock) that marks Matalascañas. It's really an upside-down tower. I don't know why it's upside-down.]

Sunday was Spain's Mother's day. [Side note: HAPPY AMERICAN MOTHER'S DAY MOM! I LOVE YOU!] To celebrate, Pilar (Chencha's daughter) invited us all over to her house for some Paella Valenciana (rice dish from the Spanish province of Valencia). We bought Chencha a plant (purple, of course), and three flowers each for Pilar and Chari (Chencha's daughter-in-law). The highlight of this visit was the paella deliciosa; Pilar hand-cooked it in a huge pan over the stove and we all chowed down straight from the pan, neglecting plates. This would make the lowlight the caracoles. Caracoles are snails. Snails that Spaniards eat by putting the entire snail (shell included) in their mouths and sucking out the body. I was a little more than hesitant, but wanted to say that I tried them at least once, and so gave it a shot. And failed. Dead snails really want to stay in their shells, evidently, because I had to use a toothpick to wriggle it out a bit. Don't worry everyone, Chantel filmed this experience, and you will all be able to see my triple chin of disgust in video form.

[Pilar took this photo. Chantel and I have food in our mouths, and no one else even knows it's being taken. But look at that paella....yummmm.]

To end the day, some friends and I went to the Sevilla vs. Atlético Madrid soccer game. The atmosphere was incredible, everyone was wearing Sevilla colors (red and white), but considering that those are also the colors of Atlético Madrid, I guess that helps a bit. It made me miss playing soccer, but also it made me get really excited for Michigan football next year. The whole stadium would start clapping and yelling in coordination, lead by the group behind the North Goal called "Biris Norte." This group was originally formed to support the only African soccer player on the team, but since then has turned into something like Sevilla FC's student section, leading the entire stadium in cheers and enthusiasm. In the end, Sevilla won 3-1, with all of the goals scored in the first half. As everyone left the stadium, I turned to my friend Gayle and asked, "Doesn't this remind you of Hoover Street after a football game?" She smiled really big, and nodded eagerly. So, vamos sevilla for now and vamos azul soon! (Let's go Sevilla and Let's go blue!)

[Haley, Gayle, Chantel, and I after the win.]

The next notable occurrence in my life took place on Tuesday night, during my bi-weekly step class. I have mentioned this class before, because the first time Chantel and I tried it we embarrassed ourselves by showing a complete lack of coordination. I've improved since that first experience, mostly because listening to Mari (one of the fittest women in the world...seriously, you should see this woman on a stationary bicycle) bark out instructions in Spanish twice a week forces you to get better. Depending on her mood, she can be pretty hard on people, sometimes picking on certain girls when they mess up, including me. (e.g. "¡Gira, Lyndsay, gira! Turn, Lyndsay, turn!) So I came to class on Tuesday, mentally exhausted after thinking in Spanish for 6 hours straight, and made a couple of mistakes. I didn't think it was that big of a deal though, since it seemed most of the class was struggling. Then, all of the sudden, Mari completely stopped and turned around to shoot me a death glare that was so icy that goosebumps rose up on my arms. I froze and watched wide-eyed as she picked up my step and moved it all the way to the front of the room, yelling "VENGA LYNDSAY!" (Come on Lyndsay!) before re-starting class.

So, that was nice.

This past weekend my program made its final cultural excursion, this time to the city of Málaga, on the Costa de Sol of the Mediterranean Sea. The only cultural part of the trip, however, was our planned visit to the Museo Picasso Málaga, an intimate collection of Picasso's works, the majority of which have been donated by his family. A lot of people don't know this, but Picasso was actually born in Málaga, but was 19 the last time he visited the city. I really enjoyed the museum, I think mostly because we were able to walk through at our own pace, able to focus on the ones that caught our eye and pass those that didn't. Another cool thing about this museum was the fact that there were a lot of quotes by Picasso himself on the walls, allowing visitors to get a more personal experience of some of his works. At the bookstore, I bought two postcards to hang on my wall next year to remember the experience.

As I said earlier, Málaga is located on the Costa del Sol, in English, the Sun Coast. If I had to give it a new name, however, I would dub it la Costa de la Arena Super-caliente (the Super Hot Sand Coast). We discovered this characteristic as our leisurely walk on the beach quickly turned into a sprint, accompanied by screams of some choice words at the hot temperature. For how hot the sand is, however, the water sure is freezing. I spent most of the day walking along the wet, cold sand, trying not to stare at all of the naked boobies and old men that for some reason flooded the beach that day.

[One of four pictures I took while in Málaga. I was lazy with the camera that weekend.]

Saturday night we went to a 3 hour long dinner with a large group, where we enjoyed pasta, lasagna, salads, and scrumptious drinks. We continued the night by visiting a bar that Bryan and Gayle had read about in their guide books. The cool thing about this place is that each table has its own tap of Alhambra beer, which you serve yourself. There's a computer screen on the wall that keeps track of how much beer each table has consumed, leading to a competition between our two tables. This was a pretty rowdy place, and we joined the ruckus by playing obnoxiously loud games of ten fingers, oh yes oh yes oh yes I have, and truth or dare. The best part of the night was when one of our friends Khemi dared Bryan to imitate the music video that was playing for a minimum of 20 seconds. The artist was Shakira. The music video was She Wolf. Need I say more?

So ends my 17th week here in Sevilla. And if P is for Playa is the theme of the 17th week, it appears that the 18th week's theme will be T is for Tarea (homework). Whoop whoop....

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