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.

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