Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Observations from Abroa-HOMEEE

So I haven't been home 24 hours yet, but here are my thoughts upon arrival:

  1. The toilet paper here is so soft.
  2. I love my family.
  3. I love my dogs.
  5. A banana actually tastes better without peanut butter-what?! Has my obsession vanished?
  6. We have the best showers. Long heat (I wasn't even at max heat!) and lots of water pressure.
  7. Back to civilization-no more bushy brows. I am so clean and waxed.
  8. The English language is so easy. Never take for granted your ability to express yourself.
Among my other activities, I have played Clocks on the piano, taken the dogs for a walk, went barefoot outside, cooked apple chips, and made doctors appointments. Possibly off to the bars for my first bar experience in the States!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Time is curious

Time is a strange thing.

I could really elaborate on this one, but I'll refrain.

Albert Einstein said "The only reason for time is to keep everything from happening at once." Well that's false Mr. MCsquared. Because it's Tuesday of my last week in Spain and everything is happening at once and time is not playing fair. Packing, studying for finals after essentially 3 weeks of break, trying to squeeze in time to say bye to friends, and Manoli's daughter going into labor (first grandbaby-yay!). This week needs to halt and let us check up!!

Reality check:
Just packed my luggage for my weeklong stay in Wales (I leave Saturday).
One suitcase is packed for Chicago already.
I'm planning out my wardrobe for my last four days in Sevilla. Have to pack the rest.

Didn't I just unpack this all? I know Bailey was just giving me a hug on the floor while Mom and Dad sorted through my mess.

Did I really just live abroad for 5 months? It couldn't have been that long.. 6 weeks, maybe.

Time, you are a curious creature.

My bud Ben Franklin said, "You may delay, but time will not."
Shoot. Procrastination, move aside; final in my poetry class begins in seven and a half hours and I should probably study. Bleh.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Rejoneo (Bullfight on Horseback)

Hello everyone!!

Happy mothers' day to every wonderful lady celebrating, and a big round of applause to my mom!!
Since I couldn't be with my American mommy, I took my mama espanola to her very first bullfight ever-we both loved it!

A rejoneo is a bullfight on horseback. I liked it much better than the bullfights done on foot. When it's on foot, there are almost ten men against one bull. But with a rejoneo, it's one man and three horses (he changes for different parts of the show) against one bull. It's much more poetic this way too. I definitely enjoyed it. I wish there was another I could go to!!

Here's a breakdown synopsis. My favorite rejoneos were the second and third.

First fighter: Antonio Domecq (age 40; from Jerez de la Frontera, Espana)

A good experienced fighter. Although he had trouble placing the final kill stroke, and therefore did not win the prized ear of the bull. (You can win 1 or 2 ears, and a perfect fight receives the tail of the bull as well). However afterwards, while taking his victory walk, he asked his son (12?) to come out with him. He walked him around with him and then gave him his riding chaps; a tender dedication. It was nice to share that moment.

Second fighter: Rui Fernandes (age 32; Alamada, Portugal)

This guy was nuts! From the very get-go his performance was daring and spectacular. All the other riders wait directly opposite for the bull to come out into the ring. But this kid went right up to the door where you couldn't see him. The crowd was silent and confused. Then suddenly he and his horse are out like a rocket with the bull right on his tail. The whole ride went like that. The bull knocked one horse, but he didn't fall and wasn't hurt. Rui killed the bull on the first try and his daring performance won him an ear. Rubio.

Third fighter: Andy Cartagena (age 31; Benidorm, Espana)

I snuck out to use the bathroom (thank you, morning coffee) in between the last guy and this one, so I had to watch it standing, but I was close to the arena and got to stretch my legs. Only downside was that my camera was still at my seat with Manoli, and of course this was the best fighter. Of course. His horses were all stunning and beautifully trained. Having horses trained with alta escuela and tricks really makes the show exciting. He had his horses bow, terre a terre, piaffe, passage, climb the wall and say hello to the crowd, and balancer. Fantastic, fantastic riding. Clearly the best rider of the day. He earned an ear.

Fourth fighter: Joao Moura (age 21; Moforte, Portugal)

This guy was so young! You could tell too. He did okay; the fight wasn't as entertaining as the others because the horses weren't as well trained. Though you couldn't tell from the way this kid tried to work the crowd. He demanded loud cheers for basic things and thought he was amazing when he was just average. He wanted an ear so bad. However, the crowd didn't agree and didn't wave its white hankies, and so the dead toro left the ring with both his ears.

Fifth fighter: Leonardo Hernandez (age 23; Badajoz, Espana)

Started out with a little excitement. I am sitting in the fourth row. The bull charges out, and normally, men with hot pink blankets lure the bull to run a lap around the ring. This bull had no intention of running around at pink blankets. He ran straight for the opposite end of the arena-where I'm sitting-and jumped the arena wall into the crowd! Luckily no one was hurt and he was chased back into the ring. This guy was one of the three from the other rejoneo that was suspended. For being young he did really well, earning himself an ear. The fight was over really quickly too.

Final, Sixth fighter: Francisco Palha (age 24, Lisboa, Portugal)

This guy did really well. Unfortunately I don't remember a ton from this fight. But his horses were pretty! He didn't rejonear with his cremello, but it made for an excellent exhibition horse. One of his bullfighting horses had a sweet rear and did it a lot-wasn't sure if it was always part of the game plan haha but it looked cool! He earned an ear.

Friday, May 6, 2011

On riding in Feria

You know, I think the hardest things for me to blog about are the things I enjoy the most. Granada, going to Lisbon with my mom, riding a horse in Feria (Sevilla's biggest festival). I don't know why. You would think it would be easier to crank something out about it, but nope it's not. There too much stimuli, you do so much and are so happy you can't describe it. For example, here's my description of yesterday:
*Rise and shine early, catch up with the crew, and braid Neptuno-the horse I took to feria.
*After hours of prepping, get dressed, make friends with the local men (I'm one of the few girls, and from what I saw, the only blonde girl riding in Feria, so making friends is super easy), mount up, take pictures and ride into the city.
*Get to the Feria grounds. Stimulation overload. Everything smells so good and people are singing and laughing and screaming and playing guitars; the whole place is one big kaleidoscope of bright colors, smells, and sounds. I'm excited, my horse is excited, we're all dressed and ready to go.
*Basically when you go to Feria on horseback you saddle up for a minimum six-eight hour ride. All you do is walk to friends' or family's casetas, big tents people/associations own, and the hostess brings you out tapas and rebujito. Rebujito is a delicious drink made out of 7up and manzanilla. It's really sweet but really strong. You drink a couple of glasses at each caseta and you're in for a long, fun ride. You meet lots of new people and make new friends. There was one kid amped up on something-life, he says, who wanted to stand up on his horse. Sidenote: Did you know the police fine you if you're riding a horse in the wrong attire?
*That's it. You have the best view in the place--perfect for seeing all of the beautiful dresses and people dancing. But also the best place to be viewed. Sums up Spain--See and Be Seen.

See, writing about it doesn't do it justice. And it doesn't even begin to describe the chaos:
*The four year old riding a la crupa who fell and her dad, on the horse on her side, caught her midway through the fall and held her one hand until he could place her back on the horses butt.. Scary ten seconds!
*The fight that broke out in Parque María Luisa. All the riders go there around 8 or 830 to rest the horses and get a drink. So you're packed in with a bunch of stallions and mares touching sides, then add in the amount of rebujito everyone has been drinking. Thankfully I was off the horse when it happened. I was holding the baby stallion and Neptuno while Manu got drinks. It started with yelling and one horse rocking back on its hocks, then suddenly horses were kicking, people punching, other people falling off horses, others yelling "suelto!" which means loose, the loose horses trying to gallop through all of the others, people tossing their glass drinks so they could control their horses, police sirens (which are great for spooked horses)--Chaos. Luckily no one in our group was hurt
*General chaos of trying to walk through the masses in Feria. Not only are there lost tourists, but people in flamenco dresses, people wandering without cause, pushy horse carriage drivers, crossing the intersections was almost impossible.

But all this just added to the excitement and adrenaline of Feria. We rode from 130 until 1130 and I was pooped at the end! I didn't bring an extra set of clothes, so when everyone went back to Feria on foot after, I got a ride home and crashed to bed. If it doesn't rain Saturday, we'll go again on horse and I'll definitely bring an extra set of clothes then!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A change in attitude

So coming back to Spain made me want to cry. Being in Germany really made me realize how much I "hated" Spain (I'm writing this two weeks after coming home). Here's a glimpse of my first morning back in Sevilla.
*Step in doggie doodoo because it's in the middle of the street.
*Go to Día Maxi, the grocery store to pick up greek yogurt. As I'm looking at my selections, a woman rams her cart into me and stares, waiting for me to apologize for being in her cart's way. I just look at her and look away. She turns her cart mumbling under her breath. How unbearable to think of going around someone in an aisle instead of through them.
*Later in line, a woman, instead of asking me to move because we're all in 12 person lines waiting to check out, literally grabs my shoulders and moves me. Perdona?!
*General gawking ensues throughout the day.

So I continue for a week hating Spain and cursing the plane for taking me back here. I'm stressing out about final projects and final travel plans. I kept making a mental tally of all the ways Germany is better than Spain. Instead of sharing that with you, I'm going to tell you I kicked my attitude in the butt. How childish and selfish of me to spend my time abroad unhappy and cursing. Granted there are some rightful things to be cursing, but I only had three weeks left in Spain. I made a vow to myself not to obsess over the things I disliked, but to enjoy the things I did and try to be as Spanish as possible. And I've done a pretty good job! And I am really enjoying myself more!!

Thursday night: Go to my first bullfight and then out to the bars with friends
Friday: Crap I forget, but it was something Spanish! I didn't go out that night though.
Saturday: Revisit the Flamenco museum, make friends with the tourguide Joaquin. Hang out with Christie in town, go to the Carbonería bar at night where there are free flamenco espectáculos. Very cool. Meet some funny Irish guys, including the crying gay guy who was making fun of Americans.
Sunday: Try to go to bullfight with Manoli but it's cancelled due to rain
Monday: Out and about on the town
Tuesday: Ride!! Metro is packed with people dressed up for Feria-so cool!
Wednesay: dress rehearsal for tomorrow, looks great. Shopping both in the morning and at night
Thursday (tomorrow): PASEO CON LOS CABALLOS EN LA FERIA!!!!!!!

Germany, day 8


Woke up bright and early again. Drove to the gas station and filled up on gas. I hadn’t slept very well—like everyone, so I was in need of a cup of coffee. Go inside to get a cup of coffee. It’s kind of a blur at this point, but essentially, our conversation started in German, switched to English, but clearly I still didn’t understand her, so she stated (not asked, mind you): “You, big coffee”. Exactly. You read my sleepy mind.

Got to the airport, hung out, and boarded. Sat between two German men and behind two devil Spanish children and their mother. The Spanish aren’t very into disciplining their children. The whole time the children are screaming and whining (they were probably ages 4 & 6). Of course both German men grunt at the mother and yell in German for her to discipline them (I’m assuming, since I don’t know German). She gives them the blank stare and continues with her non-discipline. However, when one daughter’s hair gets messed up, the mom screams at her child and tells her everyone is looking and that she cannot have her hair so ugly and that she only gets four gummy bears because she is already fat. Way to go Spanish parenting.

Got off the plane in Málaga, jumped on the train to Sevilla. Writing from here now.

Looking out the window—maybe I’m too hard on Spain. It’s pretty here. My Spanish has improved a little. I like my host mom and her family. Classes are more or less reasonable. But I know it’s not my country. I could vacation in Spain and enjoy it. But it’s not home and I could never even think of calling it home. Home is in the US with people I love. But Germany could very well be my home too. The climate is more to my liking, the food is pretty good (apple everything?!), the people are outgoing and friendly, they are active, I look like a German. All that’s left is to learn the language. And convince someone to come with me. I think it’d be fun to live there a year or two straight out of college. I’ve never felt a connection like that with a place before. We’ll see what comes of it. But for now I’m super content with my vacation. Now to edit all my photos!!!

Germany, day 7

Link to Munich Album:



Wake up bright and early and drive to Munich. No messing around this time—we took the autobon and we arrived on time haha. Got up to my current record, 195 km/hour. Crazy part was I was following someone and losing ground.

Get to Munich and start off with the open air market. This was by far the coolest market I’ve ever been too. Part of it may have been that Easter was this weekend and so they were selling lots of flowers and other Easter goodies, but either way it was sweet.

After walking there we walked through the city hitting up lots of the tourist sites—it is such a pretty city! I think one of the reasons that I like European cities so much is the fact that they don’t have skyscrapers; the cities are much more inviting and intimate that way. I’ll have to look up the names of all the sites; you see so much in one day that you forget everything you saw.

We walked up into the English Gardens. Megan Dale: You and I would own this park. It was awesome!!! They are so active here. In Spain all they do is lay out and drink. In Munich there were Germans surfing in the river (which was super high) and in the open grassy area people played soccer, volleyball, Frisbee, and extreme tight rope walking (slack rope?). These kids were insane! They were on the slack rope jumping and twisting and flipping. A jersey shore look-a-like tried it in his boxers. Hilarious. Tool.

In the Gardens we walked to the Chinese Tower. Sat in the shade after getting a tan in the park—the sun is so much more friendly to pale skin here! After we headed back into the city in search of Haxen—ham hocks. We got back to the market and sat in the biergarten with our liters and haxen and brezen (pretzels). Yum. Divine. We hung out at the biergarten from 6 to 10 or so, making friends with a few Germans, a Frenchman married to a Mexican, and a drunk Canadian with a crazy mustache. Also, I love the random men dressed in traditional German attire. The hat with the pins, suspenders, short shorts, high socks and shoes—seeing one of them walk by is like reaching into a box of random candy and blindly pulling our your favorite kind. It’s delightful.

After our stay in the biergarten we walked around town and hit up a few bars. But everything was very overpriced and closing down. Around 1130 or so we packed ourselves back into the car and I drove to Memmingmen. No worries, I hadn’t drinken anything, Mom. We spent the night in the car in the Netto parking lot from our first day; so things had come full circle. It was a good last day. Everyone got along and laughed and relaxed; it was the perfect ending to our trip.