Sunday, May 24, 2009

A few fotos de la(s)Feria(s)

Hola mi gente,

I know my blog has been sparce this year as opposed to last year, I have been busier and traveling less often this year, which leaves me less time for blogging and less interesting adventures to write about. There only so many interesting things you can tell about working, tutoring, studying... and of course going out for tapas y cervezas!

So about Feria: you remember, its the WEEK long party that occurs every year in Sevilla, and in most towns in the south of Spain to varying lesser degrees, that consists of dancing Sevilanas, drinking Rebujito, going to Casetas and divertandose :)

As for me in all of this, right after getting back from Greece I SOMEHOW managed to throw out my back AND come down with tonsillitis in the same week?! High fever, bumps in throat, the works. I was taking a cocktail of muscle relaxants for my back, fever reducers and antibiotics. I was a wreck I was pretty down and out for a solid 2 weeks. To add insult to injury, I was still recovering by the time the Sevilla Feria came around.
But I did muster my strength go "dar una vuelta" with my friends Ziad and Smita:

oh PS.... THIS was a game at Feria.... AMAZING!!!! They give you a little plastic shoe to throw. Priceless!!! (No, we didn't play, we should have.)

I also went one other afternoon with Macarena y "el grupo" buuuut that day I was estupida and forgot my camera :(

Luckily I had a second chance at Feria once I was feeling better: La Feria del Puerto de Santa Maria! At the last minute my dear amiga Hayley had an extra "traje de flameca" (feria dress!) for me! Her dad was in town visiting,and he happens to be a professional photographer, so he documented everything!

Hayley, her dad Chris, Caity, Me, Shannon

Dancing some Sevilanas!

We did an intensive lesson that morning... I got down 1 out of 4 parts of the dance. As it is very complicated and I have NO natural rhythm, I was quite pleased.

How it looks when the pros do it:

OLE! :)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Post for April 3-10: Semana Santa en Grecia!

Last year I stayed in Spain for Semana Santa (Holy Week) but this year I did as most sevillanos do and got the heck out of town! In the city of sevilla they have hundreds of pasos (religious processions) which are very interesting to see... once. The city becomes super crowded and you can't go anywhere because all of the streets are blocked off for the pasos. So I made plans early on to do some traveling during this time and booked tickets to Greece!

I had always wanted to go and it was great. I'd arranged to meet with my friends Kelly and Jennifer from Boston in Athens. In the end, they each brought a friend along so we were a group of 5.

In Athens we of course went to the Acropolis, saw the Parthnon...
(Me, Jen, Parthenon)

Curious thing about Athens... they say its supposed to be one of the dirtiest cities in the world but I didn't find it to be all that dirty. What did surprise me was the large number of BIG stray dogs. They were everywhere!

From Athens we headed to the first of our town island stops, Mykonos. Unfortunately, we only had one day there and it rained the whole time! We made our own fun of course, and waited out for breaks in the rain in a bar where we could see the ocean drinking Uzo (the typical Greek liquor. you dilute it with water and ice it kind of tastes like black liquorish, ew) We did manage to walk around a bit between showers... the town is really beautiful, all of the houses are painted white and the doors are all different colors!

Windmills on Mykonos... and rain clouds :(

The picture on all the Mykonos postcards

Then we headed to Santorini! When we found that it was still raining there, we tried to make the best for it and go for a walk. This turned out to NOT be the best idea, we got caught in a downpour and had to take refuge...

But the next day it cleared up a little and we hiked around approximately a fourth of the perimiter of the island, from Fira to Oia, which is famous for its sunsets.
The hike was so beautiful!

Oia is in sight!

And Finally, the sunset!

Our last day in Santorini the sun finally came out! SO we made the most of it and rented ATVs to ride around the whole island

And climbed a mountain

Then we headed back to Athens! Great week with a great group of ladies!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Post for March 10-20: Visit from Mama and Sister!

During Emily's spring break, she and my mom came to visit me here in Sevilla! I was so great to have them here, to see them of course but also to show them the reality of my life here, where I live and work. It was also strange because I feel that I have two totally separate lives, and with them here, for once my two worlds were one.

First I showed them around Sevilla: Here at La Plaza de Espana...

We even did the touristy cruise down the Guadalquivir river

Monday I had to work so they went to Cordoba on their own. But Tuesday and Wednesday my teacher's gave me the day off to spend with my family! We took advantage of course and Tuesday made a day trip to see the Sherry Bodegas in Jerez...

Their flight left out of Madrid that Saturday so we went up a few days early to check out the city. We saw the Prado museum, and the Guernica at La Reina Sofia. We also visited the Royal palace, Plaza Mayor and Retiro Park. Not bad for just two days!
Em on the bus:

We had such a great time and I miss them already! Although I will be home VERY soon.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

It is pronounced "Buda-PESHT"

Last weekend four friends and I went to Budapest, Hungary for an extra long weekend.

Day 1: We arrived in Pest (Buda and Pest are separated by the Denube river) in the afternoon and by the time we had found our hostal and dropped our things we were starving so we set out in search of typical Hungarian cuisine. We found it, and very quickly! GOULASH is delicious. Its basically just a meat and vegetable stew, spiced with paprika, the typical Hungarian spice of choice. It is no wonder that the Hungarians love this hot stew because it is FREEZING! We knew it was going to be cold, so we came prepared, but still after the sun went down we basically just ran from restaurant to coffee shop to bar to escape the freeze!

Day 2: We found a flyer for a free walking tour (keyword being free) and decided to check it out. Turned out to be very worth the later "suggested tip". Our lovely guide Gabor was full of historical knowledge about Budapest and Hungary in general and casual references to "trace parties" in forests that were "also very nice to go to." He took us all around from the cathedral which he assured us was "just another church, pretty boring", across the Chain bridge from Buda to Pest, to the top of Castle Hill, which had a great view from Buda of Pest and the river.

After a lovely (and cheap! huge bowl of some other type of Hungarian soup for 300 florint... that equals one euro!!!) lunch we headed out to explore Buda a little on our own. Unfortunately, even though we had just been guided, we fell into a terrible tourist trap! We were looking for "caves" that our guidebook had mentioned that had some natural mineral formations, stalagmites, etc. After looking, wandering and asking around the area where if was supposed to be on the map we couldn't find the exact caves we were looking for but instead stumbled on something called "Castle Labyrinth of Caves", or something like that. We were tired of wandering in the cold figured close enough. What a waste of 1000 florint!!! (thats only about 3 euros but still) These "caves" were completely fabricated for tourists, complete with fake cave paintings, stupid hoakey music and sound effects... oh it gets better... fake fossils...a fossil of a COMPUTER for example, and the kicker a fossil of a giant bottle of Coke a Cola.
This was the point when I was truly insulted:

Since it was a labyrinth, we kind were basically trapped in there til we found our way out. We stuck it to 'em at the end though and took full advantage of their "complimentary tea service" at the end. Take that crappy tourist trap!

Day 3: With a good handle of the layout of the city by this point we set out to explore more of the city on our own. We went to City Park and saw a castle with a moat ( I was very impressed that there was an actual moat), one of the famous bath houses and Liberty square:

We also went to a museum about the history of Hungary that focused mostly on the Nazi and communist occupations. The museum was called The House of Terror and was in one of the former Nazi headquarters. It was pretty terrifying because the occupations were relatively speaking not that long ago. The last Soviet troops left Hungary only in 1991. Needless to say,the Hungarians have had it rough.

That afternoon we went to experience on of the bath houses for ourselves. I had been looking forward to this part as a highlight of the trip, especially because we were tired from all of our sightseeing and ready to relax. We went to the Gellert bath house which is in a very famous and luxurious hostel in Buda. The bath houses have, well obviously, baths, or pools of different temperatures, saunas, steam rooms and you can also get a message. I must say I was a tiny bit disappointed with the bath area itself. We opted for the ladies-only area... and frankly I felt like I was in a YMCA locker room. Just a lot of old naked ladies. But it was nice just sitting and having a soak in the warm water.

Day 4: Our last full day we polished off our sightseeing with climbing a frosty mountain to see the Hungarian statue of liberty, we checked out the very impressive Parliament building and went to see the Synagogue which is the second largest in the world. (Trivia: Where is the largest? Nope, not Israel... New York City!)
That night we went out on the town and met some colorful locals. We danced to old American pop music (all cerca the late 1990s for some reason) and were cajoled by our new freinds to sing karaoke! One thing that I will not soon forget: Singing "Still haven't found what I'm looking for" (U2)gazing deeply into the eyes of Martin, our Hungarian friend we met that evening, and singing "....only to be VVISS yoooou....!"

Monday, February 23, 2009



After a weekend of fun, friends and Carnaval in Cadiz... getting up for work this morning was pretty rough! Well worth it though. I went to Carnaval for one afternoon last year, but did not really get the "true" Carnaval experience because we went during the day and did not dress up. We watched some of the typical Chirigotas perform, which are singing groups that dress up to a theme and sing silly songs that make fun for politics and current Spanish culture. There is a huge competition which ends the first weekend of Carnaval and on Sunday winners are paraded through the streets on big trucks singing and drinking the day away. It was quite a spectacle, but nothing compared to the night time revelry we say this year!

On Friday I took my friend Smita with me down to Puerto and we watched the Chirigota finals on TV at Hayleys house and prepared for the festivities by gathering the final details for our costumes and had some tapas. We dressed as a merry band of "bichos" aka bugs. We had bought butterfly wings and antennae at the chino for 1 euro and supplemented with various accessories and monocromatic clothing. In the end I was a "mariquita", a ladybug!

All of us:

Once dressed, we headed for the ferry boat that would take us across the bay from Puerto to Cadiz. We got there around 9pm and there was already a huge line of people in FULL costumes. People go ALL OUT for their carnaval costumes. The night time crowd is mostly adults... it is pretty funny seeing men my dads age dressed as babies, princesses super heros etc. A lot of people make their own costumes, or buy them. Some of my favorite costumes I saw were: flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz, life sizes yogurt cups, Gingerbread men, "Bender" from future-rama, one group had pictures of Barack Obama all over them, and various men dressed as impressively ugly women. The population of Cadiz is somewhere between 60,000- 70,000 people normally, but this weekend they projected that there were around 300,000 people in the city. From the crowds, I beleive it! The Saturday night we went was the big kick-off party and the plazas and streets were totally packed. The plaza in front of the cathedral was impossible. We had to squeeze through crowds for a long time before we found a plaza comfortable enough to exist in. But once we did, we had lots of fun. Carnaval is basically just a huge party in the street. Most people bring their own alcohol, or they buy "lotes" which conists of one bottle of alcohol of your choice, cups, ice and a 2-liter soda. We found a big group of other English teachers that we knew and we all had a really good time watching everyone in costume, socializing and just taking it all in. There was a stage with some Chirigotas playing, so we got to see some live music as well.

Oh the HUMANITY!!!

We did well even by Spanish partying standards and made it until almost 7am before heading to the ferry. This was about the worst part of the whole weekend though, because we stood in line to buy our tickets for almost an hour, for a boat that was supposed to come at 8:30, which would have been bad enough. The boats were of course running WAY behind Smita and I didn´t get on a boat back to Puerto until almost 10am! Waiting in the ferry station for almost 3 hours was pretty painful. We made it back to Hayleys and slept there for a while before catching our train back to Seville... which was also running behind. Once I finally made it home at 6pm, I quickly did had some dinner,showered and got into bed!

Sunday was rough but it was definatly worth one of the best parties in Spain! I will post pictures ASAP!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A thousand apologies... oh and happy Valentines day!

I am very sorry for the serious lack of MC updates. Let's see the past two months or so:
~ I went home for Christmas! Which was as lovely as could possibly be! Lots of family outings, time with friends and the usual Christmas cheer. Defiantly worth the journey!

Family outing to The CA Academy of Sciences!

Fun with friends :)

~ After three weeks at home I had almost forgotten that I had whole different life here in Spain to live. I must say that leaving huge amounts of love was a little tough and it took me a few days to get back into the Spanish groove. Once I got back into my routine though the time has FLOWN by! I can not believe it is the middle of February already. I picked up another tutoring job and have been studying for my Spanish exam for the university class I have been taking this semester. I passed the written exam, and I took the oral exam yesterday... I find out if I passed on Tuesday. The oral exam did NOT go perfectly, but we did it in pairs and my partner was terrible... but I don't know if that's good thing because they would think that I spoke better than her, or that our pathetic presentation was terrible and to fail us both. Hopefully not the latter.

Sorry to disappoint with this somewhat boring post... I have been basically just studying, and speaking spanish all around, and teaching English in order to save up for my travel plans for this semester. So much more exciting post are coming soon!

Happy Valentine's Day :)

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

A breakthrough!

I work with three teachers at my school. One is fabulous, Pilar. She speaks excellent English and is very creative and hardworking. Next is Marilo. She can be boring in class... isn't quite as creative and her English isn't as good as Pilar's but she makes an effort and every once in a while we do a game or something that relates to math and English with the kids. Then there is Pedro. I am supposed to help him with third year Chemistry and with a 4th year elective science class. During our planning periods for chem, we have been translating all of the chapter summaries in order to have the English supplement to the class, thus making it "bilingual". Most classes this semester I spent just working on the translation document. In 4th year science, the kids have individual projects that they work on during class on computers. So, they talk amongst themselves in Spanish. I was wondering what exactly I was doing in that class basically all semester until finally last week I took matters into my own hands. Within an hour, I had found a music video about the scientific method, typed the lyrics, translated them and written up comprehension questions. I came into class with speakers to play the audio and basically just took over.
The video was super campy and silly... but they liked it! Long story short: they paid attention and I think they actually learned something!!! Anyway, I was VERY pleased with myself. GO me :)

Here's the video: