Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Japanese +Frisbees+ Bikes + Knees=Interesting Week...

This Spanish adventure wouldn't be complete without hectic midterms, Japanese people, bike incidents, frisbee cravings, and medical emergencies, no?

Well, it's good to know that I'm still the same person in some ways here that I was in the United States. I had five midterms last week that I really hadn't studied for, but the weekend before, I had the strongest urge to play frisbee. So I decided to go look for frisbees instead of studying on Monday; how hard could that be, right?


They play every sport in the world here BUT frisbee apparently. When I asked shop owners, I received an, "I'm sorry ma'am, we only play sell them in the summer. Although perhaps you could find them in the children's section..." Well, I tried again Wednesday instead of studying and received the same response. Then I crammed...tested, and life was fine. However, I still didn't have my frisbee.

The next step was to order it online. I tried, and the next day received a message that my order was rejected. My daddy was understood my frisbee need and let me use his credit card, but the same thing happened. So what is there to do?

Answer: walk to a bus station 45 minutes away, ask where the nearest sporting store is, get the number of the bus, ask the bus driver to tell me when to get off, walk through a sketchy neighborhood until I can find someone to give me directions, find the store, buy the BEAUTIFUL frisbee, ask someone for directions to a bus stop for Sevilla, and make it home. It was a good, good day...

You know what makes the day better? Almost-medical emergencies. I ran into my friends Kevin and Robbie, and we decided that we'd break in the new frisbee after their classes. Kevin got out early, so we went to go play. While we were playing, he decided to show me one of his old tap dancing moves (theater majors! Good boys), and as he was doing his turn, he screamed and crumpled to the ground. I ran to him, and he was holding his knee in his hand, telling me that he had dislocated it. At this moment in my life, I was really kicking myself for never having taken the first aid class that I had wanted to. I just kept thinking, "I'm a police officer's daughter. I should know better than this...fail." I didn't want to call an ambulance right away, because he didn't seem to be dying, so I gave him water and made him lay still as I called one of my friends, Ian, who I thought would have had experience in this sort of matter. He told me he'd be there in ten, and same with Robbie. So we sat there, me talking at him, holding his hand, and making him drink water every time he started saying how idiotic he was. The boys made it, and they spent 10 minutes discussing the best way to go about helping Kevin. Suddenly, he gave a yelp. We turned at him, and he said, "It popped back in!" *laughs* After giving him drugs (ibuprofen) and chocolate, he was a happy camper. And guess what? I still got to play frisbee =)

Last weekend we made a day trip to Córdoba, which had a beautiful Mosque/Cathedral. However, I will shamelessly admit that I spent as much time looking at the Japanese tourists inside as the building itself. *laughs* Yes, I miss Japan...

About bikes...I just think I should avoid them. At all costs. They aren't good for my knees to begin with, but I needed to get home in time for dinner, and I was late. My friend offered me the chance to use his public transportation bike, and I accepted hesitantly, warning him that I was sure to screw something up. He laughed at me, asking how I could possibly do that. Ha. It's me--I'd find a way.

Trip summary: 1st minute: run into a boy. 2nd minute: ride into the most crowded area and have to walk the bike. 4th minute: get stuck behind deaf men who can't hear my bell. 8th minute: turn onto a street with no sidewalk and a 100 car traffic jam. 9th minute: be THAT American pretending that her bike is a motorcycle and can compete with the rest of the traffic. 12th minute: see a shooting star (worth it!). Next day: find out that the bike wasn't put in right---we'll see how much I owe my friend in fees =P I'm going to just keep walking...

I hope that you all had a wonderful Spring Break and have been enjoying the gorgeous weather. Email me and update me on life if you get a chance--I LOVE hearing from you all. Or even better--write me a letter? Favorite thing EVER. I'm off--I have to do a few things before class. Lisbon, Portugal this weekend!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Barcelona, Extremadura, and Christie Albain!

My internet and I have been having a month-long war, and the current update is that it has won 3 battles. I still can't use it at home, and this has been my first chance to get out to a coffee shop and do a real update.

I've heard that it's in the 60's and 70's at home. Crazy? Happy for you =)

What an incredible couple of weeks it has been, though! Two weekends ago 6 friends and I went to Barcelona for the weekend. I prefer that city over Madrid, or at least the parts of it that I was able to see. Madrid has some wonderful aspects, but I love the mixture of cultures in Barcelona. To be able to walk down the street and hear someone speaking Castellano (Spanish), Catalán, English in 3 different accents, German, French, and Japanese...oh, I was in heaven. The normal "attractions" of Barcelona did not interest me as much as it did others; Gaudí's architecture was interesting, but I don't love it. Plus, Piccasso and I really don't get along. I did enjoy Park Güell, which was Gaudí's design, and a cute old man gave me a 10 minute summary of the city there. However, awesome moment---I ran into Tasia Widner at the Sagrada Familia! Small world, no? =P

Highlight...I suppose you all can guess: dancing! Yes, there was Lindy Hop there, and I danced two nights in a row. What I find fascinating about dancing is that it's like another language--perhaps that's why I love it so much. I was able to communicate through the same dance with people who live halfway across the world. *dies* I do have some work to do, though, for they Charleston far better than I do!

During that trip, I got a message from Christie Albain asking if she could visit me the next week. Umm, yes?! So she showed up in Sevilla on Monday evening, and she spent until Friday with me. While I had class, she explored the city--she found out more than I have about Sevilla =P I'm grateful for her, though, because she threw a wrench into my routine and sparked my curiosity again. I am now exploring as much as I can, as much as my time and knees will allow. We definitely had a tea party in a terrace on top of her hostel overlooking Sevilla, and we also tried to make a Spanish Omlette. It tasted incredible...but it turned out like scrambled eggs with potatoes =P

This past weekend was Extremadura. About 25 students and our leader, Kepa, took a bus three hours north into the more mountainous landscape. I can't begin to describe how refreshing the trip was. On Friday, we visited Merida, which held the remains of an old Roman amphitheater and stadium. We then traveled to Trujillo, where we visited an old castle (please don't ask when it was built--my mind has lost the capacity to sort out which building was created in the 15th century and which in the 14th!). That part was a turning point for me in my trip, although I didn't think about it like that at the moment. There was a small chapel at the top of the castle, and I spent 20 minutes up there, just praying about my knees. It's been a hard thing to handle here--I don't think I can accurately put into words how emotionally painful it is. However, I gave it up that night. There has to be a reason for it--it's not arbitrary pain, and I know that. It was time for me to trust instead of nurse bitterness about it. The next day I would see the fruit of that decision.
Before that story, we definitely had an amazing night. 5 friends and I had a 4 course meal, and we just sat there for 2 hours and enjoyed ourselves. Afterwords, we were able to go up to a terrace and see the castle lit up under the stars. *shakes head* Amazing. I vote America gets some castles.

The next day we traveled to a little city, and the bus dropped us off to do a ten mile hike through the mountains to our next city. For the longest time, I had planned on not doing the hike--if I couldn't walk more than 3 miles without being in significant pain, how could I do this? Well, I told Kepa that I wanted to try...for some reason I felt like I needed to. Kepa looked and me and said, "You know, you have to make it all the way. There's no option." I told him I could. And you know what? God was so good. I hiked ten miles through the mountains, and it was the best decision I've made all trip. Finally I trusted Him...and He was so faithful. I felt hardly any pain in my knees, and I was able to do something that I hadn't done in almost two years. *smiles*

That night we stayed in a monastery built in the 15th century---BEAUTIFUL! My room had a balcony and a rocking chair--what more do I need? =) There was also a secret room above my mine with a spiral staircase leading up to it.

Needless to say, I got no homework done that weekend, even though I have 5 midterms this week (yes, 2 tomorrow and I am updating instead. Good life decision). However, I wouldn't change a thing. Good conversations, fresh air, an inner refreshing as well...so necessary.

I really ought to go and start studying. I think it will be easier after getting happy stories into writing.