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12 posts from July 2010

07/28/2010

Hasta La Vista

So, it has been about a week and a half since I have gotten home from Sevilla, and so I thought it would be a good time to reflect on my trip and my travels home. 

On the Sunday I left Sevilla, I left my apartment at 7:30 am to make sure I would be on the bus to the airport at 8:15 and make it on my 10:30 flight to Madrid. If theres anything I would do over, I would schedule as direct of a flight as possible to get home. Switching flights three times made for one hectic day, that finally ended at 11 pm (Chicago time), when I finally arrived home. 

The last couple days in Sevilla were rough. Even though my internship wasn't the most exciting job in the world, I was still sad to leave. Friday night, we had one last meeting at the Torre del Oro, so we could all say goodbye before the majority of people left. That night, I said goodbye to one of my host brothers as he headed to the beach with his friends. I think this is the point when it finally hit me that I was going to be leaving soon. Saturday I finished all my last minute packing and shopping, and then spent a couple hours with the few people who were left in Sevilla at a bar called Cien Montaditos. Saturday night was filled with more goodbyes to Lola, and brainstorming ways I could make it back to Sevilla. Maybe I will start working towards a major in Spanish?!?

All in all, this summer was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life. Few people can say they accomplished as much as I have in such little time. Sevilla became like a third home (behind my actual home and Bloomington, of course.) Heres just a couple things I know I will miss in Sevilla:

  • Walking past Europe's 3rd largest Cathedral on my way to class.
  • My host family & homemade spanish food
  • Business men in full suits on Vespas.
  • Mothers walking their children to class in their perfectly matched sundresses and heels
  • The Torre
  • The discotecas
  • Rebajas

As weird as it was to be home and ask for a movie ticket in English and not Spanish, I am happy to be home. But, mark my words, I will make it back to Sevilla. I'm not sure how, or when, but one day I will make it back!

07/21/2010

Food for thought v. 2.0

More food stories/observations/anecdotes from my time here in Spain:

  • An update from last time: there is a way to get free water. In more restaurants and bars in Sevilla, if you specifically ask for a glass of water ("un vaso de ague") they will bring you a glass of tap water. But if you just ask for water, they'll bring you a bottle. Talking to some Spaniards, it sounds this rule of ordering won't work in all Spanish cities.
  • Giant Paella! We found this one day on our way to the bus station. In an effort to raise money for Haiti relief, an organization was cooking a huge pot of paella near the river. There was a giant basin full of paella, cooking over burning logs. They would make enough to feed over a thousand people, with the proceeds going to Haiti. It was really cool and something that they had organized in other Spanish cities already.

Paella

  • McDonalds here, in addition to barbecue sauce, ketchup, and mayonnaise, also offers a curry sauce.
  • In a recent beach trip with some Spaniards, we got to talking about food. It turns out they'd never had corn on the cob, only corn from a can.
  • Jamón ibérico is cured ham that is very popular here in Spain. The meat dries for two weeks and then cured for at least a year. In restaurants, they pig legs hang from the ceilings until they're taken down and sliced and served. Although it's startling to see them suspended from the ceiling, the meat is really tasty.

     Ham
Hanging ham

  • Ice cream is served with what we in America would consider tasting-spoons. They're tiny!
  • I have not been served milk once these entire nine weeks.

07/20/2010

Revelations while playing Guitar Hero

So I am not that great at living with kids. I thought I liked kids, but I guess that was only when I saw them for short bursts of time. It just makes me nervous that anytime I leave my room I fall prey to numerous pleas to play games designed for 6 year olds, which somehow fail to entertain me anymore. Anyway, I am getting tired of the usual stuff, and therefore jumped at today's request to take on Juan Pablo in Guitar Hero. Not only do I love Guitar Hero, I'm actually really good at it, which I thought might finally show Juan Pablo that I am capable of doing a few things. (I've had a sneaking suspicion ever since I arrived that he thinks I am quite dumb, which is understandable since my Spanish is just reaching what I estimate to be a toddler's level.) On that count, I was correct. After laughing and yelling maniacally (two of his favorite activities) as I selected the level "expert," he quickly realized he was in the presence of Guitar Hero greatness. Of course, this didn't bring quite the results I'd intended: quiet awe and a new deference for this strange American roommate of his. Nope, it just means that now he begs me to play guitarra for him all the time. I suppose I don't mind that much, but it has cut into my siesta time!

However, the real interesting point of today's blog is a question Juan Pablo asked me as I was zooming through a Metallica song. It took me about 100 repeats to finally understand what he was saying, but it turned out that he wanted to know if I'd ever seen people where I lived who looked like the on-screen band. These people, if you can't already imagine, were a bunch of dread-locked, mohawked, tattooed, pierced rock stars, and so of course I said yes. And this is true, I probably see at least one set of dreadlocks every day back at Harvard. He was still dubious, and just to make sure asked, "Do you mean you just see them on TV?" Not sure why he was so incredulous, I promised I meant in real life and asked if there were any of those people in Sevilla. His disappointed 'no' got me thinking: I haven't seen anyone who looks like that in my entire 9 weeks, either! I suddenly recalled my teacher telling us how her brother, who decided to dress "Gothic" was refused from most bars and restaurants. How different that is from home in Boston, where a completely outlandish sense of style is almost sure to get you daily compliments. My grandmother, of course, loves to disapprovingly point at the odd mohawk, but I now realize that personally I've started to miss the heterogenous-ness of U.S. society. The people of Spain are beautiful, and for the most part impeccably dressed, but I think it's a nice aspect of American society that we tend not to care (or at least pretend not to care) how purple someone's hair is. :)

07/17/2010

Fiesta, Fiesta

Today has had a lot of reasons to celebrate. Today was my last day working at Instituto San Fernando. I’m not going to say I had a bunch of special connections with the women who worked there, but as i was saying goodbye to my tutor I got a little teary-eyed. I have spent 100 hours of my time in Sevilla at my internship, so to leave was sad. Luckily, Patricia told me I could call her for any references or for coffee (if I ever make it back to Sevilla!).

Another celebration came in the form of a birthday. Tomorrow is Dillon’s 22nd birthday. You’re probably thinking, who is Dillon? Good Question. He is the american that lives with the parents of my family, and the rest of my brothers and sisters. (He also just so happens to go to Indiana). Anyways, his birthday is tomorrow, but so is his flight home to the states. To celebrate, we had a homemade lunch of Gazpacho, Paella, and Birthday cake. Of course, lots of pictures were taken to document the party.

As for tonight, we have our going away party with CIEE. This is the night for us to live like real Spaniards. We are going to get tapas and socialize, then probably go to a plaza for a little bit, and then go to a discoteca until we can watch the sunrise. I’ll let you know if everything goes according to plan!

07/13/2010

¡Campeones del mundo!

I'm in Spain during a year that the World Cup is being held. I'm in Spain for the entirety of the World Cup. I'm in Spain when Spain wins the World Cup for the first time ever.

I've been repeating those things to myself the for past few days, continually counting my blessings.

As a sports fan who began the tournament rooting for the US and Spain, it's great to see my team win. But even those who were not sports fans when the arrived here in Spain became completely caught up in the World Cup. We bought the jerseys, we painted our faces, we waved flags. And this Sunday, we begged and pleaded with our tour guides to leave Málaga early so we could get back to Sevilla two and a half hours before the start of the finals. We had to get seats at the bars.

So, this past Sunday, we got dressed up once more and rounded up the last few seats at our favorite local bar/restaurant two hours before the game. Seating was already limited by then, and with an hour and a half still before the game was set to begin, standing room was all taken.

For those few hours before, and throughout the game itself, the bar was filled with chants, songs, and horns. When the game itself began, we hummed the national anthem. Whenever a shot was taken we'd jump up in our seats. When it missed just wide, we'd groan and then applaud the effort. For the entire 120 minutes of the game, we were at the edge of our seats, completely transfixed by the action.

As for the game itself, it was hardly as pretty to watch as some of our past matches. The Dutch seemed intent on disrupting the Spanish offense using any physical means possible. We were livid when Xabi Alsonso was kicked in the chest, an anger only matched when we found out the Dutch player got off with just a yellow card. The defense was slow at times, and it wasn't for the great play of goalie and team captain (as well as my personal favorite player) Iker Casillas, Spain would have lost. While Spain controlled the ball for most of the game, they had only a few good opportunities on goal. Ramos missed an open header and had another one blocked. Midfielder Andrés Iniesta successfully got into the box many times, but his insistence on dribbling and not shooting resulted in many missed opportunities.

However, with only four minutes left in overtime and the game still tied 0-0, Iniesta found the back of the net after being set up by a beautiful pass by Cesc Fabrigas. This time, Iniesta didn't dribble. He just collected the pass and shot (his other goal of the World Cup was similar). The ball snuck between a defender and the helpless goalie.

The bar exploded. People were jumping up and down, hugging, waving their flags, singing songs, chanting, blowing their horns, and bowing down to Iniesta. Each replay of the goal produced a similar response.

The lead seemed secure for the last five minutes with the Dutch team forced to attempt difficult and long-range shots and passes into the box. The crowd knew they were going to win. They had been waiting for eighty years and were not going to be denied after having taken the lead in the World Cup finals.

When the final whistle sounded, the fans' reaction matched that of the players. People were hugging, jumping up and down, some were crying. We poured out into the street where we met up with more fans. Thousands and thousands of people headed to a fountain in Sevilla next to the Puerte de Jerez. There, they continued to sing, chant, and cheer. People piled into the fountain and climbed the center stature. Others jumped off bridges into the river and car horns filled the air until two or three in the morning.

I returned home late that night and ran into my señora who talked about how important the victory was to Spain. In a country with economic troubles and political turmoil, the World Cup has helped unite people from all regions of the country under the Spanish flag.

It was truly a special night (and past few weeks), and I'm very lucky to have been here to experience it.

Spain. World Champions. Campeones del mundo.

07/12/2010

World Cup!

I waited until Monday to write this blog just so I could write about the World Cup and our much hoped-for victory. I usually couldn't care less about sports, much less soccer, but being here has really changed that for me. Not only is it a sport, it's a social event, a reason to party, and it forms a really strong national bond when it comes time for the World Cup. I've watched a lot of the games here in a great Triana bar called Phoenix, whose owners are from New Zealand, and therefore has the benefit of almost-American bar food. (We order a mountain of nachos with chili con carne almost every half time. :) ) But for the final of the world cup, Phoenix was entirely a different place than usual. We got there early--over two hours early, in fact--but nearly every seat was full even then. Our group split into two and waited for 8:30 to come. By the time it did, the bar was literally packed. I watched for almost an hour the amusing antics of one man who really couldn't decide if it was worth it to sit indian-style on the ground. The game itself began, and it turned out to be a rough one. Holland was a tough opponent and played very aggressively and physically. Don't be fooled into thinking I know what I'm talking about, though, I just saw this happen live:  Xabi-Alonso-and-Nigel-de--005

Whew! Amazingly Alonso went right back in, which is great cause I've decided he's my favorite player. To spare you from what would be a really inaccurate game commentary, I'll just say that it went into 30 minute overtime, and we finally scored the first and only goal of the game about 115 minutes in. The bar erupted with songs that by that time we too knew, and we got to see what is probably the most historic moment in Spanish soccer history. After the game, there were more shouts of "Lo lo lo lo!" which is how you have to sing the national anthem as it doesn't have any lyrics, and a crazy parade began outside. Everyone in Triana was marching towards Puerta Jerez in the center of the city, where there is a historic and beautiful fountain. It was promptly overtaken by sweaty red-and-yellow-clad bodies and there formed a huge tower of people.  IMG_0588
 

Clearly my camera had a hard time taking it all in, and so did I. As we walked back to our houses (CIEE unfortunately did NOT cancel 9 am class), we watched people jumping off of the Triana bridge into the River Guadalquivir, which supposedly is so dirty it can give you anything from herpes to a third arm. I call that team spirit!35284_1398350646504_1464390478_31139917_1734010_n

All in all, I don't think we could have picked a better time to be in Spain! 

CAMPEONES!!

"Once de julio, españa campeon. Once de julio, españa campeon lo lo lo lo lo lo lo lo, ESPAÑA CAMPEON!!"

Last night was one of the most intense games of the world cup that we have seen this summer. Leave it to Spain to make us nervous the whole game and wait until the last couple minutes of overtime to win it all!! The game was fun to watch but kept all of us glued to the TV screens. The people who started all the cheers were also there, making the atmosphere even crazier. Among the Spain fans in the bar, there were also six Netherlands fans watching the game. No one really wanted to stand by them, but no one was incredibly rude either. I can't imagine what the heckling would have been like if we were watching the game back home. 

After the celebration for the goal and the end of the game, everyone headed to the streets to celebrate. Cars couldn't make it down streets because they were so crowded, and ambulance was driving around with its siren on and flags hanging out the window, and of course, people were swimming in the fountain! At first, the fountain was being guarded by police officers so no one would go in it. Although, after cheers and taunts from the eager fans around the fountain, the police gave up and let people go in. Of course, I got into the fountain for a little bit, I needed to make sure I rinsed the beer from the bar out of my jersey!!  

The streets of Sevilla were packed until the early, early, hours of the morning. Its crazy to think that we were here while Spain made history. Not only have they never made it to the final game, they have never been the world champions! Also, to be in a place where pretty much everyone is rooting for the same team, makes the whole environment more enjoyable!

Now, only four more years until all the excitement of the world cup is back! Maybe theres a USA vs. Spain final game in the future?

07/08/2010

A Por Ellos!!

As if there wasn't enough coverage of the World Cup already, its going to last at least 4 days more. Last night, Spain defeated Germany in the world cup semi-finals game to advance to the Championship game for the first time in history. 

This is what we have been waiting for since the first day we were here and we saw the Sevilla Futbol team parading down the street. I have no idea how the city will react after Sunday's game, but I am preparing myself for anything. Last night, people were climbing the fountain at Puerto de Jerez and chanting, singing, and dancing. And this doesn't include the people hanging out of their car windows or honking their horns as they are going down the street. 

To make things even better, our final exam (which was supposed to be the day after the game) has been moved to Wednesday. Only in Spain..

07/05/2010

Day of beautification

    This past Saturday was a day of beauty. It began with a trip to a nearby Peluquería for a long overdue haircut. As the heat continued to increase here in Sevilla, my long hair became unbearable.

    So, I went to the local barbershop and asked for algo más corto y de moda. Simply, shorter and stylish. Thirty minutes later, I left the barbershop having had the most thorough haircut of my life. He took his time cutting my hair with scissors, taking off small amounts at a time and often returning to areas. He did his best Sweeney Todd impression, giving me my first barber-blade shave. At three different points I thought we were done only for him to put some product in my hair, blow-dry, or take out the scissors again. Meanwhile, he and I chatted in Spanish about the beach trip he was planning, the upcoming Spanish World Cup game, and his taste in American music. All in all, it was a successful trip, and it couldn't have come any sooner as temperatures rose about 110 degrees on Sunday.

    Later that afternoon, I went to Aire de Sevilla, an arabic bath complex in the heart of Sevilla. I definitely recommend that you check this out if you visit Sevilla. The whole place had a relaxing and comfortable atmosphere: candles, soft music, stone walls, wooden ceilings, and very clean facilities and a professional staff. I spent the better part of two hours moving between the many different baths (hot water, warm water, cold water, salt water, jacuzzi). It also had an excellent steam room.


Sevilla 2 

    I also signed up for a massage -- my first ever. This collected me from the baths and took me to the massage room, where I realized, to my horror, that I didn't know how to say "Stop that tickles!" in Spanish. Fortunately, I never had to try. Although, there were some moments, particularly when they massaged my feet and sides, that I nearly made a scene. Perhaps massages are wasted on me. That begin said, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It was relaxing and afterwards I returned to the baths.


Sevilla 1
 

    Aire de Sevilla also has a Tetería - basically an arabic tea house. They had a nice selection of fruit and flower teas as well as pastries. Also, the roof provides a nice view of the city and the Cathedral of Sevilla. All in all, it was an incredibly nice day -- topped off by Spain's World Cup victory -- that has been one of the most memorable so far here in Sevilla.


Sevilla 3 

Sangre Dulce, España, America, Tarifa

Duck, Duck, Duck, Goose!

If you are trying to figure out which of the headings above doesn't belong, it might take you awhile. 

Saturday night was the quarter finals games for España. La Roja battled against Paraguay to make it into the final four teams of the world cup for only the second time in all of history. Our usual bar Tex Mex was, of course, crowded as always. Our friend with the voo-doo doll was there, however, the doll was sporting a Paraguay flag instead of Portugal this time. Another friend, the guy who started all the cheers was there, with reserved tables. Maybe we need to start the cheers next time so we can get this royal treatment! This time, we even had a guy with a vuvuzela (those obnoxious horns everyone has been talking about from South Africa). I now understand why everyone hates them, I think I almost fell off my chair a couple times from hearing them!

During the game, everyone decided to comment on my large amount of mosquito bites. According to my host sister, I have sangre dulce, or sweet blood, and thats why the mosquito like me so much. I think she's just happy they started to bite me more instead of her! I am just praying that might Para-skito bracelet kicks in soon so I can get some relief!! 

After the game, we decided to be typical Americans, and celebrate 4th of July. We opted for Midnight Spain time to celebrate, even though we all knew we should have waited till 6am Spain time, but no one wanted to wake up then! We headed to Long Island, a typical american bar to celebrate. Some just hung out inside watching Saturday Night Live while others of the group celebrated by singing the National Anthem in the streets. 

For a little extra Forth of July Celebration, we headed to Tarifa. Its a beach town that is the furthest southern point in Spain, right across from Morocco. Its super windy there, which is perfect for surfers, but not the best for laying out on. We hung out by the sand for a little bit, and also explored some of the surf shops in el centro before heading back to Sevilla