April 24, 2010

Spain Montage

I'm still working on some posts but here's a slideshow of photos from all parts of the trip. Enjoy!

(P.S. Many pics are stolen from facebook :) )

April 18, 2010

Jetlag

77 days have come and gone and I am now hanging out in Gainesville after a 2 day stay at home (thanks for the laundry, Mom!). I have some posts planned about my last few days in Spain but between the jetlag and Pdubbs time, I haven't had a chance to write everything down. But they're coming, I promise!

On another note, some of my new friends decided to travel around Europe for a few days after the program ended. But due to this freaky Icelandish volcano ash, they are all stuck in different parts of Europe with no way of getting home until Thursday at the earliest. My hopes and prays go out to all of them and their families and I hope they get home safely!

But here's some silver-lining: at least they're stuck in some pretty cool places - Rome, London, Malaga? Yes, please!

And I hope everyone else is happy and safe right here in the Uh-merica. It's great to be home :)

April 12, 2010

Que triste

My last full day in Malaga will be spent classing, packing, writing car notes, studying, enjoying some Italian food with my amigos, maybe some more studying. I can't believe it's already coming to an end! I've been speaking way more Spanish than usual today to get my fill before I go home and lose all that I've worked on the past 2.5 months.

Who else will understand my broken Spanglish if not for these kids here? Probs no one.

On to the packing. Time to rock out to some Hanson, The Killers, and Cheap Trick. Hasta luego :)


April 11, 2010

Almost Perfect Timing

Unfortunately, my camera has bit the dust. After several fights with 5'2" falls, it fought its last battle in the piercing store when it had a little run-in with a tile floor.

But don't shed a tear; it had a long, happy life, filled with action shots, macro photos of flowers, and even some sweet videos. It was a worldly traveler, having seen Jamaica, Mexico, New York City, Portugal, and all of Spain. It's been to bull fights and captured memories of graduation. It's snapped really awesome pictures, and not so awesome pictures. It's seen it all.

So from now on, the pictures you see on this blog will be borrowed from other sources until I muster up the funds to buy another. Thank you for you understanding.

See you in 4 short and (bitter)sweet days!

love love love love love

April 09, 2010

Cena Despedida

Last night we had our goodbye-dinner. Valerie prefers to call it out see-ya-later dinner because we're all in denial that we're going home in just 5 short days. I agree with Val - "goodbye" is way too harsh!

The only things we were told about the night were to dress to impress and meet in front of our school at 8:15. And we finally got a picture of Pepa before we left!

Love her!

Once we met up with the group, we all walked over to this authentic Spanish restaurant called Papulinos, where we were treated to a real Spanish feast! Fresh bread, salad, croquetas, fried eggplant, kebabs, and desserts of course!


Jesse about to dig in to some fried eggplant covered in honey and molasses. Don't bash it until you try it!


Baby cakes to share!

In between one of the courses, our directors and a few students give toasts. Some had us rolling on the floor laughing one minute, as one student proposed to one of our directors with a plastic ring and a bouquet of lollipops. Others talked about the future and memories we will take away. And others had even the boys wondering if it was getting a little dusty in there. It was another perfect night to enjoy each other's company and savor the last few days we have together in this wonderful country.

Best roommate award should def go to us :)

Group photo!

I've loved every minute of my time here - even all those cold, rainy days in February. But I'm ready to go home. I miss you all and can't wait to see you in less than a week! Abrazos y besos para todos!

April 08, 2010

Random Happenings

This week has been non-stop so far! Here are a few random happenings that I feel the need to share. Disfruta :)

For dinner on Tuesday night, a group of us went to La Queseria, a restaurant in Malaga that specializes in... wait for it... QUESO! Beautiful, bubbling crocks of cheese, perfect for spreading over a piece of fresh bread. We split a couple *cough*several*cough* cruezilitas of specialty cheeses and some tostas, which were also covered in cheese. And just in case we didn't get our daily intake of calcium, we went out for ice cream afterwards. When in Spain. :)



Wednesday was an epic day full of fun stuff. It started out with a lovely culture presentation by Emma, Alissa and Leigh about Spanish food! They handed out recipes to try at home and passed out typical Spanish food, like Malaga raisins, almendras (almonds) and local pastries! And since we had food on the brain AND it was Treat Wednesday, we popped into Aparicio for a pre-lunch snack.

Biscocho y merengue :)

That afternoon, we also got a guided tour of the Centro de Arte Contemporaneo (CAC). But before all that, a few of us chicas wanted to commemorate our time here by piercing our bodies! Nothing too crazy - noses, lips and ears. Just a little something to always remind us of our time in Spain. Or at least until they close up.


New Spanish friends!

The CAC was pretty guay. There was a temporary exhibit called "Jack Freak Pictures" by these two guys Giblert & George. I wouldn't have understood or appreciated their trippy art if it hadn't been for our tour guide who explained everything. The museum also has some permanent works that were interesting to say the least.



And after the museum, we made a beeline for 100 Montaditos for our last Euro Tapa Wednesday. Good food, good tinto, good friends, good night :)

Corrida de Toros


On a beautiful Easter Sunday evening, a group of 10 amigas set out to experience a time-honored tradition of Spanish culture. With wide-eyed wonder and curiosity abounding, they were headed to the Malagueta to see the festivities. The streets were swarming with stylish Spaniards dressed to impressed. The nearby restaurants were overflowing with people enjoying their pre-dinner tapas and aperitivos while the scent of cigars wafted through the cool Spring breeze.


They entered the plaza in a wave of people. They could feel the anticipation and energy in the air as the crowd worked its way up to the top flight. After pushing their way through the row and filing into their respective seats, the girls were ready just as the band began their rousing march to begin the show. The performers entered the arena to a hefty round of applause and many an "Ole!" before retreating to their respective corners. And now the bullfight can begin!


Sunday marked the beginning of the bull-fighting, or Corrida de Toros, season in Malaga. The seasons generally last from March until October but every region is a little different. Malaga's season has only just begun and it will reach its peak in August for the Feria, or city-wide fair. Spain is all about fiestas :)


Professional corridas in Spain involve 3 matadores that each fight 2 bulls, for a total of 6 bulls. These corridas generally last 2-3 hours as the matadores take turns dancing with their respective bull. And that's exactly what it's like - a dance! And even though they're fighting against 500 lbs of pure muscle, they are so in tune with the animal's tendencies that they can make it do whatever they want, just like a choreographed dance. You can check out the video below to see just what I mean :)

José Tomás during the Tercio de Muerte

We were lucky enough to see what Pepa calls "el mejor matador en Espana" (the best matador in Spain!). His name is José Tomás and he was by far the best matador we saw that night. If the crowd thinks the matador does a fantastic job, the will wave whatever white things they have on hand (napkins, hankerchiefs, toilet paper...) to show their support. If the Presidente of the Plaza agrees with the audience, he'll grant the matador the honor of cutting off the bull's ear as a sort of trophy. And if he is really good, the President will allow them to keep the tail. José Tomás was the only one to earn this honor that night and actually went home with an ear from both bulls!

Cuadrilla during the Tercio de Varas

There are so many traditions and rituals involved in a bullfight that I can't even begin to put it all into a single post. So I'll bullet-point it all in case you want to skip the boring stuff and just go straight to the video!
  • Each matador has 6 assistants that make up his posse, which is called a cuadrilla. Each assistant has a specific job throughout the course of the corrida. The matador wears a traje de luces (suit of lights), which is custom-designed with silver or golden thread.
So fancy! And this guy isn't even a matador - we can go fancier.
  • A corrida is generally broken into 3 stages.
  1. The first stage is called the Tercio de Varas where the cuadrilla tires the bull out and gives the matador a chance to see the bull's personality.
  2. Then the picadores of the group weaken it more by trying to place banderillas (barbed sticks) into the bull's back and shoulders. This is done in the second stage called the Tercio de Banderillas.
  3. The final stage, the Tercio de Muerte, is the most exciting - the dance between the matador and the bull. The matador puts the bull through a series of passes to weaken it and show off his moves. This can be the most gory part as the bull becomes more disoriented and the matador finally puts it out of its misery with a sword.
  • Once the bull is killed, it is immediately butchered and the meat is given to local orphanages and soup kitchens. So while it may not be the most humane sporting event, it does provide a great service for the community. Plus, the bulls have a it made leading up to the corrida - plenty of room to roam around in, tons of food, and their choice of the best ladies for breeding purposes.
This picture captures so much of Malaga - City Hall to the left, a palm tree, and a paloma (dove/pigeon), all silhouetted against a beautiful sunset.

I'm really glad we all got to experience it. One of the girls in our group has been to a bullfight in Madrid on her last trip here so it was great to have her there to tell us what was going on! It's such a unique part of the culture here and it's just another thing crossed off The List. :)

Enjoy!

video

April 06, 2010

Is this real life?

Semana Santa is now over. With classes that started at 8 AM this morning and our departure date looming in the not so distant future, things are starting to sink in. Even though I'm still here in Spain for a week, I've already started to reflect on my experiences here. Heck, I'm already missing things that I can still enjoy for 7 more glorious days!

Like our walks to school,


experiencing Spanish culture (more on this later!),

my awesome roomie,

intercambios,

traveling,

and our interesting culinary experiences.

Nos vemos pronto :)

April 04, 2010

Future Honeymoon Location

On Saturday, Harley, Alissa and I went on another daytrip - this time to Nerja, a town about an hour east of Malaga on the coast. It's known for its Cuevas (caves). Emma went with her parents when they visited last month and said it was a Must-See. After 2.5 months of living together, I know I can trust this girl. :)


It still amazes me how easy it is to travel around Spain! We just hop on a bus or a train and go anywhere. The bus from Malaga took us right to the Cuevas. The caves consist of 3 naturally-formed spaces, only one of which is currently open to the public. The rest are still being excavated by archeologists because the caves used to be inhabited by some of the first humans on the Iberian peninsula.



Unfortunately, we couldn't take pictures with flash so my blurry pictures don't exactly capture just how cool this place was. There were stalagmites and stalactites galore, crazy straw-like structures and even a natural amphitheater where they hold concerts!

Stalagmites. Or stalactites?


Really cool column. Photoshop fail.

Nerja is also known for it's beaches that attract thousands of tourists each year. Let me tell you, this place was like the mecca of British tourists - everywhere we turned we heard English and saw sunburned faces from extended siestas on the beach. But I can totally see why they would want to vacation here: it's beautiful!

Mountains next to beaches. Crazy! And check out that shade of blue!

Nerja also boasts the Balcon de Europa, or Balcony of Europe, where you can take in all of the beautiful scenery while enjoying some ice cream from one of the 23,241 vendors on the way.

El Balcon de Europa


There's a restaurant right below the balcony...

...where we stopped to enjoy the view and a Spanish cerveza.

Nerja is an absolutely gorgeous place between the caves, the mountains and the beaches. But what made it especially awesome was how quiet it was. This was the first time we actually got to enjoy a small town since coming to Europe. We could actually hear the birds chirping as we walked down quiet alleyways in silence, content with our own thoughts and ice cream. :)

This week has been a wonderful break but it's back to the grind now. I have 2 group presentations on Tuesday and 4 exams to study for on top of packing up my Spanish life to head back home in 10 short days. Do work, son!

And I've been hearing a lot about the unseasonably warm weather everywhere back home. Hopefully everyone is thoroughly thawed out from all of the unseasonably cold weather you just had. Mother Nature has been going crazy this year! Enjoy your Easter weekends :)

April 02, 2010

Gibraltar: A Confused Place

While most of my amigos were galavanting around the continent, me and a few other students decided to chill out in Malaga. And while it would have been really super awesome to travel to cool places like Greece, France, and Italy, I'm completely happy with my decision. Staying in Malaga has given me a great opportunity to enjoy some quality bonding with my senora, work on my tan, and see what Malaga has to offer during this time of year.

It also allowed us to travel around Andalucia. And since Gibraltar is only a 2.5-hour busride away, we figured why not spend a day hanging out with monkeys and speaking English?

We took the bus to La Linea, a small Spanish city on the border of Gibraltar. It's called La Linea, or the Line, because it used to be where cannons shot from Gibraltar would hit when they were training their military. Who knew?

The Rock!

We made our way to the border, waved our passports at the nonchalant customs official, and found ourselves back in British territory. Cheerio!


We wandered around looking for the cable cars up to the top of The Rock. We passed many a tour guide offering to take us to the top in a bus. We must have looked Spanish that day because they all spoke Spanish to us at first! And when they realized we were English, they said "Oh! Why didn't you say so!" before continuing on their spiel about their awesome tour. We tried to gracefully decline but ended up just walking away from these pushy guides. Leave us alone, bro!

We finally made it to the cable cars and bought our tickets. Gibraltar officially accepts Gibraltar Pounds but nearly every store and tourist attraction also accepts Euros. You just have to specify which one you're paying with so you don't end up getting back the wrong change!


While we waited for our cable car, we were surrounded by signs warning of us the dangerous monkeys. From my experience, I think the British should be known for their silly signs.

Monkeys will bite you and steal your food.

Monkeys will bite you and steal your food.

Monkeys don't like to be impersonated. They will bite you.

We climbed up The Rock to the top platform and were immediately greeted by a beautiful view and some furry friends! Within a minute of walking off the cable car, a monkey crawled up my leg and starting going after the sandwiches in my bag! The signs we saw were enough of a warning for me! I shook the big guy off and booked it inside to eat my lunch before the monkeys ate it for me!


Monkeys are curious things.



After lunch, Harley, Alissa and I walked around the rock some more as we made our way down to the next cable car platform. We got to enjoy the views, the historical things around The Rock, and the monkeys!


Don't let me interrupt your nap.


Airport runway in the middle of the road. What a weird place!

Helpful sign.

Almost everyone is back home in Malaga now in time to enjoy the last few days of Semana Santa. Emma has some great stories about her adventures in Greece this week, too! I was so excited for them to travel but I'm even more excited their all home so we can live it up our last 12 days here in Spain :)

Hope everyone enjoys the holiday weekend! I'll see you all soon!