Sunday, September 28, 2008

Homeward Bound

December 13, 2006

Tomorrow I leave for Madrid and I will be staying there until Monday morning, when I fly home! I´ve had a really great time this semester but I am very ready to come home and see famiy, friends and puppies...and I´m so excited about Christmas and New Year´s Eve (and Channukah)!

I turned in my cell phone today so you cannot call me anymore. Well, you can call, I just won´t be there to answer so knock yourselves out on that one. If you have sent me anything recently and I didn´t receive it my school will just do a return to sender. So then you can give it to me in person and it will be weird and fun at the same time, which is always good!

I told some of you that my flight will be getting in at 8:30 pm on Monday but I just checked the schedule and it´s actually closer to 9 (8:53 to be exact).

Thanks to everyone who sent me stuff or kept in touch this semester, it was great to hear from all of you! As for the rest of you, well I never liked you very much anyway.

To all my college friends, I hope your finals are going well (haha, mine are already done! and they were easy!)! Don´t study too hard, I sure didn´t.

Everyone can look forward to the Morocco update somepoint after I get home or something. Morocco was a cool country and I would go back in a heartbeat but the agency we went with really screwed us on a lot of things. But I´ll explain all that later. Just know that riding a camel for 2 hours will leave you quite sore and the desert is surprisingly cold at night.

I think that´s everything I had to say which is good because I am at that crappy internet cafe again and the keys don´t work for anything! Typing is like exercise here, and we all know how I feel about that!

See you soon!

Adios Espana! Photo Album Link:

London, Baby!

November 30, 2006

Cheerio chaps and some English word for girls!

Sorry it’s taken so long for me to write this update on London, but I had a history paper to type…and some siestas to take. Actually I am trying to wrap everything up since I’m almost done here in Sevilla. I want to finish all my papers/projects since I’m going to Morocco next week and finals start as soon as I get back! It’s pretty hectic. I guess that’s why they give you the assignments way in advance, so you can do a little time management. Well, live and learn I guess. I don’t really subscribe to the whole “thinking ahead” concept when it comes to school work. I feel that leaving things until the last minute adds character. But, seriously: London.
I absolutely ♥love♥ London! I would go back in a heartbeat…especially if someone else was paying, so if you’re feeling generous…I took a whole lot of pictures and I will be including the link to the album(s) in this email.
While you were all enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, I was on a plane to Stansted. Here’s an interesting fact, Stansted is about 2 hours outside of London. You might want to remember that. While there is an express train that takes 47 minutes, it does not run all the time. For example, if you arrive around midnight, no train for you. You get to take the bus! After the bus, I took a taxi to my hostel.

England taxis are the coolest. They’re called Black Cabs (I like them already) and they look similar to PT Cruisers, but more old school. And they’re HUGE inside! I felt like I was in the old days or something. By about 3:30 or 4 a.m. I arrived at Astor’s Quest Hostel which was very nice. It was on the same street as a bunch of nice hotels and stuff.

Here is my first observation of London: COLD Mind-numbing, never-ending, hardly bearable cold. It is also cloudy, which I don’t mind as many of you know my feelings towards the sun (public enemy #1…after Dubya).

I didn’t sleep too long because I wanted to get up and see stuff! Here’s another fun fact: England does not use the same outlets as the rest of Europe. They have to be different (England and America really aren’t all that different; we’re both stubborn as hell). I wish someone had told me this before I came. After coffee, a muffin and a bus ticket, my next purchase was outlet adapter (and some toothpaste, but that’s not important--unless you’re a dentist).

I hopped on a bus (and you bet I sat on the top!) and rode down towards Piccadilly Circus. As best as I can figure out, when English people say circus they mean intersection or plaza. It was not a real circus, which is good because I’m not fond of clowns. They say that you cannot stand in Piccadilly Circus for more than 37 minutes without running into someone you know or recognize unless you are from the Galapagos Islands (I’m not kidding). Apparently it’s one of the most visited places on earth. I test the theory, because it was so cold, but I believe them. And later I met some people from Ohio on a bus, and they both knew about Georgetown College so I counted that.

I bought a pass for one of those hop-on, hop-off tour buses and it was good for 24 hours (it was also good for a river cruise on the Thames, but I sure as hell wasn’t doing that). The company had 3 or 4 different tours and I did 2 of them. I got my money’s worth!

Now, this is why I told you about the outlet situation. After I took my shower that morning, I was pretty shit-outta-luck when it came to drying my hair. I towel-dried it as best as I could and put a hat on, I figured since I already have the Plague I can’t get much worse. The aforementioned tour buses are also of the double decker persuasion, except the top floor is uncovered. Naturally, the best seats (and the best photo opts) are from the tops of the buses. So there I was in freezing England, with wet hair, on top of a bus in the wind. It was a good combination. I do think the wind helped dry my hair faster, though. I rode around like this for a good 90 minutes. I will say that once I got off the bus, I wasn’t cold walking along the streets!

What else did I do on Friday? Rode around on the bus, ate some McNuggets at the Embassy, and checked stuff out before heading back to the hostel to get ready for Wicked!

OH MY GOD. Wicked was amazing! I cannot even put it into words for you…but I’ll try. I was so excited before the show started I could hardly contain myself. I didn’t even care that a woman about 4 seats away from me had on the exact same dress I did (I noticed, but I didn’t care). I also took some illegal photos of the stage before the show started. So the show starts and I am ready to pee my pants, and then she comes out. Now I don’t mean this in a blasphemous way, but I think that listening to Idina Menzel sing live is right up there with accepting Jesus into your heart on the scale of most important things one can do in life. I literally got chills as soon as she started singing—she’s just that good. I was in a trance for the entire show. It was so much better than I even thought it would be; and I didn’t know that it ended the way it does. When it was over, I couldn’t speak. I just walked around for awhile. I wanted someone to take my picture in front of the theatre, but I couldn’t speak to ask them so I had to take one myself. I also took a picture of the curtain call, it’s really horrible but I don’t care. I was so happy that night!

On Saturday I decided to do another bus tour. It wasn’t as cold as it had been on Friday, but it started raining. Like a trooper, I stayed up top! The tour company provided some lovely white garbage-bag-esque ponchos for us to wear, so I was good to go. I took a hiatus from my bus to visit the London Dungeon which is a museum devoted to London’s bloody, gruesome history. It had everything from medieval torture, the plague and the great fire to Jack the Ripper. It was fine, family fun. Actually it was very creepy and interesting. After the Dungeon, I hopped back on the bus to finish out the tour and then decided that I would try to see another show that night.

I’d been hearing a lot about Avenue Q and thought that might be fun. All I really knew was that it had won a Tony, was fairly new and there were puppets (of the muppet persuasion). Think of it as a Sesame Street for adults—dealing with all the problems of the real world (homelessness, racism, drunken sex, one night stands, homosexuality, etc.). It was HILARIOUS! I laughed so hard I thought I’d die (luckily, I didn’t). I definitely recommend it for all those who are not easily offended prudes, hard-core Republicans might not like it either (but what do they like?).

England is so flippin’ expensive it’s unreal. The pound sterling is roughly double the value of the dollar, which is cool. But London is officially the most expensive city in all of Europe. After the show I decided it would be best for my bank account if I just went back to the hostel. I was tired anyway. I did stop at a gas station and buy a few of the comforts of home I’ve been missing in Spain. Since no one was in the room when I got back, I made a little altar to them…

I guess that’s all I’m going to say about London (except that I can’t wait to go back!!) and I hope you enjoy the pictures. I’m not sure if this will be my last update before I get home or not. I might have time for my Morocco update while I’m in Madrid, before I come home but I might not. Don’t worry, you’ll get all the info and what happened—and if you don’t hear from me right away it doesn’t mean I’m dead.

PS: The coolest people in the world are: Rachel Brewer (she sent me a postcard), Kristin Hogue, Christie Veronesi & Peyton Fouts (they sent me a really cute homemade card).

London, Baby! Photo Album Link:

Wouldn't It Be Loverly Photo Album Link:

Quien No Ha Visto Granada, No Ha Visto Nada

November 19, 2006

¿Que pasa amigos? I´m back from Granada and I opted to write an update before working on my history paper...what a hard decision that was. I´ll go ahead and tell all of yáll Happy Thanksgiving since it´s coming up at the end of the week! Hopefully I can find a KFC in Jolly Old England so I can have some mashed potatoes or something. And thanks to those of you who answered my movie title queries...I now know that I saw The Departed. The graffiti to the left says, "1,000 machines could never make one flower."

PS--I swear to all that is holy that every time I come to this internet cafe I have to sit in the closest proximity to the smelliest Euro-Trash in the entire place. I´ll definitely miss that when I come home. Oh wait, that was a lie!

This weekend was the last trip with the school, an overnight trip to Granada. Granada is about 3 hours away from Sevilla and was the last Islamic stronghold in Spain until Ferdinand and Isabel took it over. It was not conquered by the Inquisition until 200 years after Sevilla, that’s pretty impressive. The Catholic Monarchs (Ferdinand and Isabel) are buried there as was their request because to them, the conquest of Granada in the name of Catholicism was the best thing they ever did. (This inscription says, "There is no pain like being blind in Granada")

All semester everyone has been saying how beautiful Granada is. My housemother told me that everyone loves Granada. It is also the town in which President Clinton (my favorite; as my housemother calls him “Cleen-tone”) upon seeing the view said that it was the most beautiful spot in the world. I think Slick Willy may have been right. No matter how beautiful people said it was, nothing prepared me for actually being there and seeing it. When I put my pictures on the computer, I didn’t have to adjust any of the landscape ones—there’s no possible way to improve them! I can see why they say that one of the places you must visit if you’re ever in Spain is Granada.

One of the reasons that the Islamic carvings, etc. are so well preserved is that they are made of plaster. OK, that doesn’t really make sense…if the carvings had been done in ivory or marble or something, they would’ve been stolen. Nobody steals plaster. The carving on the left says something to the effect of, "There is no way but Allah."

We also saw a ceiling that appears to be carved out of wood but it’s actually made of about 8,000 tiny pieces of wood all placed together in a very fancy design! It goes to show how the Muslims were geniuses and really advanced for the time because they used mathematics (a little shout out to Nikki, my favorite mathematician) to figure out how to get the design just right. Had their calculations been even the slightest bit off, the whole thing

Another thing that the Muslims were famous for was their ability to make irrigation systems that were not only functional but aesthetically pleasing as well. There are many examples of this in Sevilla, beautiful fountains, etc. The Alhambra is full of these same fountains, too. It makes sense since the Muslims were people of the desert and they had to learn how to make the best use of what little water they had, but the fact that they took it to the next level and made everything so beautiful is really amazing.

Our tour guide told us that one of the most evident and oldest elements in the Alhambra is actually the Jewish influence. I thought that was really interesting. Once he told us that I really did notice a lot of Jewish influence everywhere. There is this one statue/fountain of lions and it is Jewish. There are 12 lions representing the 12 tribes of Israel. There was some other stuff too but I don’t remember right now off the top of my head.

For all my English majors, it may interest you to know (or it may not) that Washington Irving (the Sleepy Hollow guy) spent a lot of time in Granada. He actually wrote Tales of the Alhambra there. There is a door in the Alhambra that is closed and no one ever goes in it, but it’s a little apartment where he lived for about 4 years, writing. Now the room is used mostly as a storage area which is a little less cool, but a lot more practical from the Alhambra’s point of view…although I have no idea what they’d need to store? The Christmas decorations, I don’t know.

Weekend in Granada Photo Album Link:

Granada II, The Much Anticipated Sequel Photo Album Link:

We'll Always Have Paris

November 16, 2006

Several of you have been asking how I enjoyed people are so demanding! Haven´t I updated you on most everything I´ve done here in Europe? Have you ever known me to be at a loss for words? Excuse me for having some shit to take care of...I am technically in school over here! Haha, just kidding. Enjoy the update! I have a project due next week so don´t freak out if you don´t get an update immediately.

PS--At the cafe I go to every morning I am now known as "La Amiga Americana"

I spent this past weekend in Paris, France. Now all I need to do is visit Paris, Texas to complete the Paris Trio (France, Texas and Kentucky)! I swear, every time I go to France I am reminded of why I can’t stand the French. For those of you who’ve never been, trust me, the stereotypes have a certain amount of truth to them—the French are assholes. I take that back, I did meet a few helpful people, but they were the exceptions. I liked Paris, but I didn’t love it. I’m glad that I went but I don’t really feel the need to go back (unless one of you wants to go and pay for me to go). I think I prefer places like Barcelona and New York.

My body was in shock from the cold temperature there. I’ve gotten used to being here in Sevilla where I rarely go out with a jacket or anything. I had to buy a scarf before we started sightseeing on Friday! *I bought the scarf at a lovely French boutique, called, The Gap.*
Oh, here’s a helpful hint in case you go to France: Why don’t you try learning a few phrases in French? I didn’t; not even, “I don’t speak French.” It was a bit tricky.

Our flight left during the early afternoon on Thursday, so we took our luggage to school and left directly after class. Little did we know that our plane would be about 1 hour late and we didn’t need to haul ass, and I could’ve eaten lunch. We finally got into Paris and still had a ways to go before we got to the hostel. We had to take a bus and 2 metros because the airport is out in the middle of nowhere.

The hostel we were staying in had been recommended by a friend of Esmelda’s. This was the grossest place I have ever stayed in my entire life—including camp. There were no 2 person rooms left so we were in a room with 2 other girls. We were on the fourth floor (aka fifth since the ground floor is zero) and there was no elevator, so that was cool. I wanted to go ahead and rent my towel so that when I got up the next morning I didn’t have to go downstairs before I showered. Well, the man behind the desk informed me that he could not distribute the towels because he was just the receptionist. Apparently, he cannot handle the mind-boggling combination of watching the desk and exchanging towels for money. He’s either not a multi-tasker or the caste system in French hostels rivals that of India. So no towel for Erin.

We ate most of our meals at “The Embassy,” as I call it, mainly because everywhere else was so damned expensive.

Another fun fact about our hostel we didn’t discover until about 4 a.m. was that each room only has one key. We learned this the hard way when our (druuuunk) roommates started banging on the door for us to let them in.

Speaking of these girls, our first impression of them was quite an experience. I guess they got the [lowly] receptionist to let them into the room because we were confused and weren’t going to open the door for these crazy people since we didn’t know about the key situation. They came in the room and were so loud! They turned on the lights, started rooting around in their numerous suitcases for food and various other things. One of them took a shower. Eventually the other one started throwing up (just a little; it didn’t smell or anything, that’s when the shit would’ve hit the fan for me) in the bathroom. I will say this for her vomiting: she does it with more grace than I have ever seen in my life! She was standing almost straight up and just leaned her head over a little…and the next morning there was no mess or anything. I guess she must puke a lot. They didn’t turn out to be so bad in the end, but that first night we thought they were the craziest people on the planet! They were actually quite smart; they brought all kinds of stuff with them to the hostel, it probably saved them a lot of money. Every day, the hostel rooms are closed between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. so they can clean and junk. That kind of sucked, we couldn’t even sleep in if we had wanted to. I was surprised that the Drunkity McDrunk Twins made it up, but they are professionals.

Our hostel was very close to the Bastille, so that’s where we headed first. Here’s the thing, I always thought the Bastille was a castle or something. I mean, it had to be something worthy of being “stormed,” right? Well, we looked all over the place for this castle or building and we couldn’t find it. We finally asked a French guy and he pointed at this big towery thing. He said that was the Bastille. I was quite disappointed. Not to mention, how do you storm a pole? I finally came to the conclusion that it used to be a building and then it got stormed and ruined and stuff so now it’s a monument thing.

Next we went to Notre Dame and heard the ringing of the bells. I made a little video with the bells ringing in the background; no hunchback though. The inside is really pretty! We also went to the Pantheon. I guess it’s not just a Greek thing. We didn’t look around the inside because it cost money and I mean, how interesting could it be? Apparently, it is the place where the pendulum was invented. Of course, Meg, that made me think of our many visits to Asher Science Center and the Foucalt Pendulum. Good times. If you haven’t seen the Foucalt Pendulum at Georgetown College, well I highly recommend it. Plus, if the pendulum is ever not swinging, you don’t have to go to class…that’s a rule Meg and I invented.

Next we went to this little place you may have heard of…the Eiffel Tower. Do you know it? Actually, on the day we were leaving, Esmelda told one of the new girls in our room to visit the Eiffel Tower. I just looked at Esmelda and said, “You say that like she’s not going to do that. As though the Eiffel Tower is some big secret in France that tourists rarely see.” But I digress. Hands down, best tower I’ve ever seen. We went all the way to the top, too! This sounds stupid, but it’s really high up. I wasn’t really scared though. Although the view from the top of the Eiffel Tower in King’s Island is pretty good, I think this one is a little bit better. You can buy postcards and have them sent from the Eiffel Tower with an official Eiffel Tower stamp and whatnot. I didn’t do that, as I don’t really like any of you enough.

Later that day, I met a really rude bus driver. I now bring you the short skit called,
Erin and the Pretentious French Bus Driver:
ERIN: One (indicates how many tickets she wants by holding up her index finger)
DRIVER: (blank stare)
ERIN: (pause) One
DRIVER: In zis country, we say “please.”
ERIN: One, please
DRIVER: Do zey not have zat in your country? (Hands over ticket and takes money)
ERIN: Thank you.

First of all, that’s a really good play. Second of all, since when do bus drivers have such an attitude? It’s not like I got on the bus and said, “Gimme a *!&% ticket!” That was just ridiculous.

On Saturday, we went to the Louvre and saw the Mona Lisa. All Esmelda could say was how small it was. I don’t know what people expect…a billboard? I liked it. I’ve never seen a more protected work of art, though. There was a guard, a velvet rope and bullet-proof glass around it! The pyramid outside the Louvre is cool, too. I don’t understand what purpose it serves, but it’s neat to look at.

We really wanted to go to Versailles (and yes I called it Ver-sigh as opposed to “Ver-sales”) but the weather was crappy and what’s the point of going to see beautiful gardens when it’s raining? Plus, we ran out of time because Esmelda really wanted to buy some boots and she is very picky about her shoes…I did not know that and we spent a fair amount of time in shoe stores.

Next we walked towards the Champs-Elysees and the Arc d’Triumph. The Champs-Elysees is just a famous street with lots of stores on it. I saw the Louis Vuitton store and it had a line outside of it. I thought that was weird, but then I got closer and saw that there was literally a bouncer outside the store regulating how many people could be inside Louis at one time! First of all, isn’t that a manly job? Can’t you imagine that guy talking with a friend:

-“Hey, man, where do you work?”
-“I’m a cop. My beat is the toughest neighborhood around. Last night, a kid pulled a knife on me and the other day I got shot at.”
-"Oh, I totally get where you’re coming from. I’m a bouncer at the Louis Vuitton store. Sometimes those moronic rich people can get a little rowdy. This one time, a lady’s prissy little dog tried to attack me…I almost had to call for backup.”
-“Yea, don’t talk to me.”

What makes it all even more hilarious is the fact that I think Louis Vuitton has some of the ugliest bags in the world.

Did you know that you can climb up to the top of the Arc d’ Triumph? Well, maybe there’s an elevator, I don’t know. We didn’t do it. I just can’t imagine any view in Paris beating the one from the top of the Eiffel Tower; plus we were hungry.

The other place I really wanted to see in Paris (aside from that damned tower) was the Moulin Rouge. I love that movie and wanted to see the place it was based on and the place where the can-can was invented. I was under the impression that you could take tours of the inside without seeing a show. The shows are really expensive and I would like to see one some day…even if it means returning to Paris, which I assume it will since I doubt the building will be moving any time soon. However, there are no such tours offered at the Moulin Rouge. I did see the outside of the building, including the famous windmill, and it was everything I hoped it could be.

I also went to the gift shop (intelligently located around the corner) because I wanted to prove that I was there! In addition to a keychain and a card I bought one of those plastic wrist bands (like the Livestrong bracelets). The bracelet is red and says Moulin Rouge Paris on it. I bought it because in addition to being an impulse buyer, I thought it was hilarious. All of those bracelets usually stand for some sort of charitable organization. I do not think the Moulin Rouge has any philanthropic commitments. So, I have decided that when people ask what I am supporting with this bracelet I’m going to proudly say that I am an advocate of sex in the entertainment industry.

I forgot to include that Friday night we tried to meet a few of Esmelda’s friends at a club. I was fairly indifferent about going, but then they said it was free and I was excited. Long story short, we get there and wait in an enormous line to get in and her friends are late. We get inside before them and discover that we had to pay 16€ (about $20) to get in! In addition, to check our coats was another 2€ and Esmelda didn’t want to pay that so now I’m in this NOT FREE club, holding my coat like an idiot. By this time any American music had stopped and it was all techno. Basically I was ready to kill myself. I didn’t dance at all. We never saw her friends come in so by 2:30 a.m. we left. The interesting point of this story is that to get into the Louvre costs 8€. So, in Paris it costs 16€ to get into some stupid club and get 1 drink but only 8€ to see priceless works of art…something about that seems stupid.

I guess that’s about all I have to say about Paris. I’m glad I’ve been and it was cool but I don’t feel compelled to return.

When I got back to Sevilla, Candice and I decided to go and see a movie. We had finally figured out where the English-speaking movies are played so we opted to see the new Martin Scorsesee movie, with Matt Damon, Leonardo DiCaprio and Jack Nicolson. In Spanish, the title is Los Infiltrados, is the movie called The Infiltrators in English? For some reason that doesn’t sound right to me. That doesn’t really matter, what does matter is that we had the craziest experience at this movie theatre!

We were sitting in the theatre waiting for the movie to start when this lady comes into our row of seats and starts counting seats. She kept counting to 4 except when she got to 4 she was pointing at my seat. I figured she needed to save 4 seats and there were enough on the other side of Candice and me so we were going to let her pass. That is not what she needed, though. She started saying that I was in her seat. I figured she was just insane and I tried to tell her that there aren’t assigned seats at the movies. She was adamant about it and kept showing me the ticket and the numbers on the seats. In fact there are seat numbers on the tickets and on the chairs (however, no row numbers) but honestly, how many people could follow this arrangement? The answer is a lot.

We got up and moved over so this crazy bitch could have “her” seat and watched as people filed into the theatre and searched for their official seat. Our assigned seats were all the way in the back and there were already people sitting there. It makes no sense to have assigned seats at the movies because all the tickets are the same price—the incentive for arriving early is that you may select a good seat. It was getting closer and closer to show time and Candice and I thought we were going to be left alone concerning the seats. Nope. This couple came in and stood in front of our row and started saying stuff about 5 and 6. They got everybody in the row behind us involved in the big mystery, Nancy Drew and the Case of Seats 5 & 6. It became clear that we were in those very seats. And none of the empty seats in our vicinity would do for this couple. I jumped up and said, “Jesus Christ! HERE!” By now the theatre had filled up a lot more and we were left with no option but to sit in about the third row. Awesome.

Granted, we could have gone to our “official” seats and caused mass chaos forcing everyone and their mom to get up and move, but I pride myself in not being a whiny little baby. Once the previews started I told Candice that I wasn’t moving again. There were plenty of empty seats and luckily no one tried to make us move because I think I would have gone crazy.
Isn’t that the strangest thing, though? I imagine that if you showed up to see an unpopular movie and there were only a few people in the theatre, they’d all sit right next to each other simply because that’s what the ticket said. What’s even stranger is that these people follow no rules whatsoever. Double and triple parking are commonplace, street signs and lights are more like suggestions, you get the idea. It’s perfectly fine to run that red light, broadside a car in the process and speed away but by God, don’t mess with the assigned seats in the movie theatre or things will get ugly.

To top it all off, we were not at the English speaking theatre. We still understood (and liked) the movie, but now we just have to see it in English because there are so many things that just don’t translate. I did learn how to say a few new choice phrases in Spanish thanks to the film!
Tomorrow the school is taking its final trip to Granada. It’s an overnight trip and everyone says that Granada is really beautiful. I’m really excited about it. The school has also rented out a room in a restaurant for Thanksgiving and one of our teachers has been translating her recipes for things like sweet potato casserole into Spanish for the chefs. They are even having marshmallows DHLed from the US since Spain doesn’t have them. The cost of the meal (which sounds amazing) is 24€ but the school is paying two-thirds of that so everybody only has to pay 8€ and that is amazing! Unfortunately I won’t be there because I’ll be going to London but I think it’s cool that the school does that. However, family, I demand to be served some Thanksgiving food over the winter break. Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, gravy…you get the idea!

That’s all I have to say for now. I can’t believe I only have a month left here. It’ll be sad to leave, but I’m excited to see all of you again!

French Toasted Photo Album Link:

So Excited...and Not Hiding It!

November 8, 2006

I am so excited, for many reasons!

First of all, I have been informed that Britney has finally come to her senses and filed for divorce from K-Fed. Way to go, Britney. When I return, I suspect the 324 will have to throw another Britney Spears party.

Secondly, the Democrats are in control--the way Jesus wants it to be.

But finally, the best news of all:
I was sad about missing Thanksgiving...turkey, sweet potatoes, gravy...but now it's not so bad because although I won't be gorging myself on tasty foods I will be in London, England. The glory doesn't end there because the day after Thanksgiving, I will be watching Idina Menzel play Elphaba in Wicked. The ticket for the show was a bit expensive, but it's once in a lifetime. Plus I don't care.


PS--I can't believe I'm going to see Wicked. I'm defying gravity.

Halloween and Gibraltar

November 3, 2006

I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’m getting smarter and smarter about these updates…this one includes a few photos! I have also been putting photos on Facebook, but it takes forever to upload them so it’s a slow process. I only have a few things to update y’all on:

Halloween was pretty fun. A bunch of us from school went to a club on Calle Betis called Boss. It was my first time having been there and even though it’s bigger and fancier than Doblon I think I prefer Doblon. First of all, Boss charged us 10€ and they would only let a few of us in at a time. I think they just keep people waiting outside at all times so it appears to be a super popular place. Halloween has just started to become somewhat popular in Spain; I think most of the clubs have parties because they know the Americans will come with their money. Most of us still dressed up and everything. As you can see from the photo, I was a pirate a la Johnny Depp (I even put my hair in fake dreads) and I had a cheap toe ring which I wore in my nose. And before my family freaks out at my skirt, I was wearing shorts underneath! I didn’t stay out too awful late; I was back at the house by 4 am, because I had to get up to go to Gibraltar the next day.

November 1 is All Saints’ Day and everything is closed. There’s no school or work or anything. It actually surprises me that they don’t celebrate Halloween more simply for the fact that they are guaranteed the next day off to recuperate—Spaniards look for any possible reason to party, so why not this one? It just seems so obvious to me…

Anyway, I signed up to go to Gibraltar for the day with DiscoverSevilla, the same student travel agency I went to Lagos with and will be going to Morocco with in December. 3 other friends from the program went with me and we had a whole lot of fun! Gibraltar is a small place but it’s cool because it’s the southernmost point in Europe. Although it’s in Spain it is a British territory so everyone spoke English and prices were always listed in pounds, although the Euro was accepted. At Europa Point (the southernmost tip) you can see Africa, which is only 13 miles away) and where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet. Here is a picture of my friends and me with [Motherland] Africa in the background. I say Motherland because I am the minority in the group of friends I have here at the program—it’s me and all the African-American students. And they all know that I’m really black deep down, it’s like a joke we have…My roommate and I plan on kissing the ground when we do go to Africa.

One interesting thing I didn’t know about Gibraltar is that the rock itself is full of over 140 caves! It’s made of limestone (just like the KY) so caves form easily. It reminded me of the caves at Nerja because they’ve converted one of the caves to include a theatre. The caves are cool enough, but I guess because I can go to Mammoth Cave or Natural Bridge whenever I want, I’m not as impressed as some of my other friends. I didn’t realize that not everyone had gone on field trips to caves as a child.

I took one cute picture in this little spot, but then I felt the need to do my Golem impression from Lord of the Rings. So here I am, coveting the precious.

I guess the most famous aspect of Gibraltar would have to be the monkeys. Gibraltar is home to the only monkeys in Europe which roam free in a semi-wild state. Those monkeys are a trip! They have no problem interacting with the tourists (or trying to steal their food, cameras, etc.). Of course, I had a monkey sit on my head. My friend has the pictures of that so y’all can’t see them yet. As we drove up the rock one monkey jumped in the window of the van and started honking the horn! It was so hilarious. And the baby monkeys are currently ranked as #1 under cutest things I have ever seen! You can’t touch the baby monkeys, unless you want to be attacked by the mama…and I didn’t really feel like fighting a monkey so I steered clear. If you don’t think this monkey is the cutest thing on the face of the planet, well you are a LIAR!

Here’s a funny monkey story: So I went and sat down next to this monkey because he was just chillin’ there so I figured I’d go and chat it up. So there we were, hanging out with my friend Alicia taking pictures when my other friend Esmelda wanted to come and sit on the other side. She set her purse down next to Alicia and came to sit with me and my new friend. However, Esmelda had left her purse open and this other monkey came out of nowhere and got inside her purse and grabbed the plastic bag containing the rest of her lunch (a plum and a banana). That monkey was the fastest thing I’d ever seen! Alicia and Esmelda let out these little shrieks, but I didn’t. You’d think that would’ve startled my monkey friend and he would’ve run away. Nope. All he did was reach over and put his hand on my leg, just like a human might do in a startling situation. So all I said was, “Calm down, monkey. It’s OK.” So me and my monkey pal just hung out while Esmelda watched the other monkey eat her lunch. She was lucky though, one girl got peed on by a monkey. I think that’s moderately hilarious, mainly because I wasn’t the one covered in monkey urine. Had it been me, it would be slightly less comical. Our tour guide told us that the monkeys think that any and all plastic bags contain food so they snatch them right up. This one monkey tried to take my camera, but I said, “Hey monkey, that’s not funny.” And as you can see from this picture, monkeys do not understand the command, “Hey monkey, make a sexy face for this picture.” But apparently neither do I because that face isn’t very sexy. It looks like one of Ben Stiller’s “looks” from Zoolander. So clearly, Gibraltar was cool.

In other news, as many of you know I have been trying to lose weight and I must admit I am having some success. I knew that I had lost some weight, but I didn’t realize just how much until yesterday. I was standing in the lobby of my school, chatting with a few friends in between classes when my skirt just fell off! Luckily, I was wearing leggings and they were all girlfriends. But it was hilarious! For the rest of the day, whenever there was a silence, my friend Carly would look at me and say, “Hey, remember when your skirt fell off?” I guess I would’ve preferred to notice my weight loss in a different manner, but I’ll take what I can get. I don’t have a picture of weight loss, so here’s a picture of Carly and me on Halloween. She went as a tree…and her eyes are closed.

This weekend there is absolutely nothing going on—it feels weird that we don’t have a school trip or something we’ve planned on our own. It’s kind of nice; we can just do whatever we want. Thus why I am making this kick ass update…and now I’m so proud of my addition of pictures I think I will make a separate update email with some various pictures.

Peace out.

A Long Update

October 30, 2006

Well hello everyone! This is a super-intense and long update…after two months of being here I figured out that I could accomplish a lot more on the internet if I typed up these updates at home and then just did a little cut-and-pastage. And when I say that I figured it out, I actually mean that I overheard someone else talking about how that’s what they did. Sometimes I’m just slow like that. So, here we go!

I had midterms this past week, but now they are over so the weekend was all about celebration! Although, none of the tests were very hard…I thought my history of Spain one would be a beast, but it wasn’t. Hopefully I did as well as I think! I have been improving in my grammar class, each quiz grade is a bit higher than the last (the last one was an A+ thank you very much) so that’s good.
Thursday night we all went out to a club near school called Doblon, it’s kind of pirate/nautical themed. Everybody else has been there several times but as I have been battling the plague I’ve never been able to attend. This was also the first time I had been out since the Lagos incident—I was kind of afraid to go out in Barcelona, seeing as how it had only been one week. But I went out and had a great time! There were 2 guys I danced with who started asking me to go outside so we could “share a taxi home” and I kept saying, “Oh I’m sorry, I have to stay here by my friend.” Or even if we’d move to another part of the club, I’d tell my roommate exactly where we were going—it probably seemed a little crazy to some people that I was grabbing my friends and saying, “I’m just going over there, ok? Don’t worry.” So now I feel better, I’m more alert and cautious but still able to have a good time. My roommate and I were like real Spaniards that night—we didn’t leave the club until 6 am! I didn’t even realize it was so late (or is it early?) I was having so much fun! She finally got me and said we should go home and we got outside and I looked at my phone to check the time and I couldn’t believe I was still up!! That’s even after taking 2 finals, shopping and no siesta—CRAZY! Definitely a record for both of us. Needless to say, neither of us made it to the cultural visit to the Alcazar the next morning. But the Alcazar is just in downtown Sevilla and we get in free with our student ids so we’ll just go later.

Doblon is having a Halloween-costume party this week, too. Halloween has never been a big deal here, they’ve started celebrating it within the past few years but I think mostly the bars/clubs have parties for the American students. But my friends and I are so excited! Some of us are wearing our costumes to class—I’m only wearing part of mine as some of it is a bit too scandalous for the daytime-classroom scene. Guess what I’m going to be...A PIRATE! It’s going to be awesome! It’s just a homemade costume but it’s going to kick ass.

The monsoon season here in Spain has finally stopped! It has literally been raining for 2 weeks straight—there was all kinds of flooding in different parts of the country (not one of these cities is built for rain). Rain doesn’t bother me at home, but here, I have to walk to school and there’s mud everywhere—BLECH! I did take a taxi once or twice, it only cost a few euros and I stayed dry, so it’s all good. One day, everything in my backpack got soaking wet—it sucked! My notebooks and books dried out, but my agenda wouldn’t dry and began growing mold. So I had to go buy a new one (and I had just written all my reading assignments for the entire semester in my old one) and then re-write not only all my class info but all my Georgetown info that is printed in our agendas. However, I am a nerd, so it was kind of fun.

Speaking of me being a nerd, I need to see a class schedule thing for next semester. Could someone send me one ASAP—preferably through some sort of overnight-Express mail so I can look at it in time to register? It won’t cost but a couple dollars and I’ll even pay you back. Or just hunt down one of my padres and make then cough up the dough. I’d much appreciate it, just do a “reply all” to this email if you’re going to send one so I don’t end up with 87! First to reply wins! What do you win? Well, you’ll just have to wait and see…

Every morning before class, I go into the bar across the street (well, it’s a bar-café, I’m not drinking in the morning although I have seen a few people doing that) and get toast with “jamón york” (American style ham) and a fresh-squeezed orange juice. The bar is run by a married couple named Antonio and Rosario, they crack me up. It’s usually really crazy in there, the first couple of times I was so nervous, I couldn’t just yell my order at them like everyone else but I can now. Anyway, I have officially become a “regular” because I went in there on Thursday and before I could open my mouth Antonio said, “Tostada con jamón york y zumo de naranja para llevar?” And I was like, you know it! I thought that was kind of cool, I’ve never had that anywhere.

Oh yeah, the alcohol in the morning comment made me think of something. When we were coming back from Barcelona our flight left the airport at 6:45 am, so we were on the plane at about 6:15-6:30 and I sat and listened to the flight attendant explain to 2 guys that no, he could not serve them beer at that time. Wow; that’s alcoholism buddy.

Barcelona was really cool—I’d been there once before, but there is so much to see! Barcelona is so much more European and cosmopolitan than Sevilla (not a difficult task to accomplish, by the way), for example, if the opening hours of a store are at 9 am—the store will actually be open at that time! It was nice to revisit the “real world” where a few things get accomplished; I think I know how a crack addict feels, the first time I experienced productivity while in Barcelona I was practically high, thinking, “Oh yea, that’s how the world works!” The first day we basically did all the things I had done before (Sagrada Familia, Parque Guell, Picasso Museum, etc.) but they’re all so cool it didn’t matter. Also, practically piece in the Picasso Museum was “new,” I guess they must rotate the pieces throughout the year. In Barcelona, my friend Esmelda decided to call me “MapQuest” because I was able to remember how to get places even though it had been over 2 years since I’d been to Barcelona. Everyone thinks it’s crazy how I can just remember the exact way we came whenever we go anywhere—including after we’ve had some drinks. I actually think my accuracy record is better than MapQuest. The second day we took the train to Figueres which is Salvador Dalí’s hometown and where his museum is located. I’ve never been in a museum like that; it was crazy. He was such a genius! It was practically an interactive art museum!

The hostal we stayed at was pretty good—despite a little drama the first night. They had the 3 of us in different rooms; Esmelda and I were in one room but Candice was in another. Candice went up to her room to find that the other inhabitants were 4 guys! So I went down to the front desk with her and started raising holy Hell (especially considering what I had experienced in Lagos, there was no way I was letting that happen!) but the guy at the desk was like, “I don’t understand the problem—you have to send us an additional email if you have a request like that,” that being the concept that a girl doesn’t want to share a room with 4 strange guys. I told him that I was sorry and that I wasn’t aware that common sense issues had to be specified like that. I told him that she would be in our room, sharing one of our beds and that I wanted her money back. He told us to talk to the manager the next morning. The next morning, 2 people in our room left and there was a girl at the desk who was much more understanding than the asshole from the night-shift and she moved things around so Candice could be in our room. Oddly enough, the other 2 girls in the room are studying in Sevilla so we are hoping to hang out at some point. Another crazy thing happened in the bathroom of the hostal. First of all, the showers had those faucets that you just press and the water flows for a split second (like at the airport) so you had to try and shower while leaning one hand against the faucet! Anyway, I went in there one morning to dry my hair, and the door was shut. I slowly opened the door and could see the figure of a person—clearly naked, so I said, “Oh I’m so sorry!” and I began to shut the door. Then, in her German accent (I’m sorry Mike, it’s always the weird-ass Germans), “Oh it’s ok, I don’t mind.” All I could think was, “Wow, I mind,” but I didn’t want to seem rude to this friendly exhibitionist so I just went in and started drying my hair. Then Candice came in to see me drying my hair trying to avert my eyes from the naked German woman in the mirror. Once we were back in the room, Candice looked at me and was like, “What the f--- was that?” Oh if only I knew. And speaking of nudity…

Las Ramblas is the main “strip” of Barcelona and it can be really crazy, especially with all the performance artists out trying to make money. There were also these hookers out, but they were older hookers. I’m talking 50 year old women—not dressed really trashy, but after you saw them just waiting on the corner for about 20 minutes, you knew they were hos. So Esmelda is walking down the street and a younger hooker just slaps her on the butt and says, “Me gusta tu culo,” which means “I like your ass,” she didn’t know what to do so she just said thank you. The next night, she and I were walking down Las Ramblas and I see a man walking towards us, about 50-60 years old in decent shape. How do I know he was in decent shape? Well, he was wearing nothing but loafers, dress socks, a watch, and an olive green pair of briefs! He also had a medium sized shopping bag (not full of clothes that’s for sure) in his hand and the most serious expression on his face. I still have so many unanswered questions about that man. I told Esmelda I wanted to go and ask him if he knew he was naked—he was just strutting about as though he looked like the rest of us.

Today we had a cultural visit to Ronda, which is one of the oldest cities as far as bullfighting is concerned in Spain. My culture and society teacher, Judy (who is a trip and a half), and a friend of hers who is a retired bullfighter put on a demonstration all about bullfighting. It was interesting, some of the information made me feel a little bit better about the bullfight, but I still think it’s wrong and would never go see one.
This coming week I am going to Gibraltar on Wednesday because we don’t have class. And now some parting shout outs:

I’d like to give a shout out to my madre who’s having a b-day on Friday November 3. I’m not going to tell you how old she is, but it starts with an f and ends with an orty-five.
I’d also like to give a shout out to Peyton and wish him a belated 21st birthday and I want to hear all about the partying!

Well, this isn’t a shout out, but Devon, I forgot to reply to your email to tell you that I do have John (the Scottish professor) and he is my absolute favorite! He is such a cynical bastard…he reminds me of me. He cracks me up continually; I actually have 3 straight hours of classes with him on Mondays and Wednesdays and it’s awesome.

Well, that’s all for now. I just did a little word count action on this bad boy and I don’t think y’all can handle how many words were in this update…but I’m going to tell you, about 2300; oh snap!

Besos y Abrazos,


PS—A recent revelation I had on the bus today: Why is it that when sculpting animals (like horses) the artists insist on being so detailed that we see horse testicles? Are they afraid that without those big balls we won’t know what it is? We will, the mane/tail/guy riding on top of it really give it away as a horse.