I’ll start with the low point of the last two weeks…pastries. I finally gave in and indulged in a local cafeteria, whose window displays of sweets have been tugging at my collar this whole time. I didn’t a picture of the first pastry because it’s life outside the display case was only about 40 seconds long. But after walking a little farther, I realized I needed another immediately, and here’s a picture of the second one.
I’m not sure if this is good or bad, but about 10 minutes later I got the worst stomach ache of my life. It was almost crippling and I had to sit down on a bench to recuperate. I’m pretty sure my body literally can’t handle that much sugar in a 5-minute timeframe. (Stay tuned, this wouldn’t be the last debilitating encounter with Spanish sweets.)
Last Wednesday, I went out with Mark and a couple girls he met at the university; Stephanie and Enrica, who are from Brazil and Italy, respectively. We went to a cozy (and free) flamenco venue in the city center and basically just made conversation. I’m normally not someone to talk a lot with people I don’t know very well but these girls were very friendly and even more intelligent. It’s hard to realize how much emphasis is placed on learning other languages in Europe. Stephanie speaks Portuguese, Spanish, and English, and Enrica speaks Italian, Spanish, English, and some French. Mark and I were a little intimidated because we’ve only got about 1 ½ languages under our belts.
After flamenco, we went to a bar in the hippie district of Alameda and walked around for a bit and called it a night. It wasn’t terribly eventful, but it was fun and ended up running into about 3am. Like I said, I’m not the best at talking for a long time with people I don’t know, but I realized about mid-way through the night that people from all over the world have a lot more to talk about than we originally think.
Thursday I met up with my Theatre, Dance, and Arts interest group and we went to, of all places, the theatre, where we saw an hour-long performance of a spoof on popular horror films. I’m no theatre buff but it was really entertaining and even though this was in a large theatre, it was still intimate and the entire production was put on by just 2 women, who used lots of props, creativity, and I guess just stage talent to make it seem much larger. I will say that a theme I’m picking up on here in Spain is that they really like sexual jokes, not sexual innuendo, but blatant sexual jokes, which is a bit odd for some of us Americans.
Afterwards, our group went out for tapas for Nick’s birthday (at the time I had no idea who Nick was), and then went to the bar district of Alfalfa, where I met up with Mark who I’d like to commend for holding intelligent conversation with a group of 4 very attractive Spanish women.
The night ended with churros again. But like the pastries, and as if I hadn’t learned my lesson a day before, I had to get 2 orders and ended up feeling terrible for much of the next day. The good thing is I think the experience will severely reduce the amount of euros spent on churros this semester.
The weather was a bit grey last week…
Although it rained all week long, Friday brought an absolutely beautiful day and I mostly spent it reading outside and biking around. There are so many museums and monuments to see but I just couldn’t go inside on such a great day.
The weekend brought a program excursion to Granada, which was absolutely great. But There are a lot of pictures so I’ll have to make that a separate post.
This Tuesday brought another interest group activity, which was flamenco on a grand stage, with two guitars, 3 singers, percussion, and 6 dancers. I should mention that on the way to the theatre, I got so lost on my bike I had to go Lance-style on the Pyrenees to get to the theatre on time. Along the way I did find a small marginal area that houses more that a few homeless people living in tents or in cars. It’s a sad irony that in a city so beautiful, just a short walk away live thousands of homeless. Unemployment sits at around 20% and if you pay attention, you can tell. These are two pictures depicting the little forest where homeless live, and a picture from the same spot revealing the close proximity to the city.
At the theatre, the performance was great, and like all the other flamenco shows I’ve seen, I could’ve watched it and listened to it all night.
And finally, last night Mark and I met back up with Enrica and Stephanie, as well as another Brazilian student, Roberta. Enrica cooked us dinner at her apartment, where we met one of her roommates, Slavih. JFK is surely frowning in his grave as Slavih is the interesting combination of Russian and Cuban. Stephanie and Roberta can actually trace their family back to indigenous peoples of Brazil, and Enrica’s family has been in Italy for over 500 years. Sadly, Mark and I have little clue as to what we are, although I am some small portion Spanish and the name Campbell comes from Scotland. Another interesting point: it is not a myth that Italians eat a lot of pasta. Enrica, whose pasta was great, says she has it nearly every day.
Here’s a picture of our eclectic crew:
After dinner we headed to a discoteca called Caramelo near Enrica’s apartment, which was very Spanish and a great time. We randomly met up with our Spanish friends Miguel, Danny, and Alex, who we didn’t know would be there, which was really cool. I think we gained some street cred when they saw the beautiful international girls we were with. Around 3am I was past ready to go, but didn’t want to be the turd of the party so I stuck it out. But by 4am we were ready to leave at all costs. Enrica was too, but the quote from Stephanie was, “But it’s so early!”. Nonetheless, Mark and I walked back to Enrica’s apartment and then took a cab home. Called my mom at 5am my time, got the scoop, and was off to bed. To mom, dad, Han, and all my family and friends, I miss you all a lot and am getting a little tired of this one-way communication because it’s hard to know what you’re doing! But I hope all is well and you’re toughing out the cold. I'll end with a picture of my brother Santiago, sitting with his girlfriend Jessica and their baby. I tried not to be too creepy.