Category: Spain

Scars of Life

There is a song that I love that talks about how the things we suffer make us stronger. A few of the lyrics say something along the lines of “I would love to fix it all for you, but please don’t fix a thing whatever you do. Cuz these bruises make for better conversations.”  I’ve been thinking of that song a lot lately. But I think that it’s the scars, more so than the bruises, that show the lives we’ve lived. Bruises come and quickly heal, but scars stay with you for the rest of your life. Of course this means physical scars, like the one I’ve got on my knee from whitewater rafting, or the one on my ankle from the killer mosquitoes in Machu Picchu, or the one on my foot from too much dancing in cheap shoes. But the deeper scars, and the ones that show all the more life, are the ones under the surface, the ones that can’t be seen. The scars that have been left from my travels, from the places I’ve lived and the things I’ve seen and the people I’ve met. They don’t cause scars at first; at first they are wonderful, magical, and life-changing. But it’s that very life-changing aspect that causes scars later on.  It’s the separation, the tearing away from those things that I’ve grown so close to, that rips my heart and emotions apart and leaves deep, deep scars. 

It’s hard to cope with those scars. They are painful. They are there because something that touched me deeply is now no longer with me. But, as hard and as painful as it is to live with those scars, I would never choose to live life without them. Which scar would I give up? My precious host family in Costa Rica, who taught me not only about life there but about how to love others, love God, and be content with what I have? My dear students in Korea, who selflessly took time out of their insanely busy schedules to love on me, a sad and desperately homesick American very far from home? My beloved host parents in Spain, who cooked for me the best food of my life and with whom I know I’ll always have a home if I ever go back to Seville? Or perhaps I would choose to give up this most recent scar from Peru, in which the flexibility with which I came allowed me to meet some truly incredible people and see God work in ways that I have very rarely ever seen?

No, of course not. There is not a chance in the world that I would ever give up what I gained from those experiences in exchange for a pain-free, scarless existence. As the song says, they make for better conversations and richer lives. The fact remains, however, that it hurts to be always and forever separated from things and places and people that you love. But I don’t think God has given me these scars – or anyone, for that matter – to cause us pain.  If that’s what we think, we’ve just got to be missing something.  In fact, I wonder sometimes if reflecting on wonderful things from the past makes it harder for you to focus on the wonderful things of the present.  I know that’s something that I often struggle with.  The real question is not how to avoid the scars, but rather how to live life in a way that amplifies the beauty of the here and now, rather than focusing on the pining for a beauty long past.  The real question is figuring out how to use these scars of life, both the good and the bad, in a way that honors God and uses our talents and knowledge to their full potential.  Perhaps that’s where the true beauty of life lies – in learning to live in a way that does not eliminate losing things you love, but diminishes those scars because you have learned to find beauty and joy in your present state, no matter what it is.

NO8DO

I promised you a week ago that I would have one more blog from Seville before Sinbad took a break for Christmas. Well, especially considering the amount of comments I have gotten lamenting the absence of my blog posts, I would be remiss if I did not follow through on my promise. So this blog is a bit of a summary of Seville, a time of reflection. I think, however, before I continue, that an explanation of the title is in order, as I’m sure it simply looks like a hodgepodge collection of capital letters and numbers.

NO8DO is the motto of Seville. What does it mean? The key lies in the center symbol, which is supposed to represent a skein of thread. This is called a madeja in Spanish, so then the sentence becomes no madeja do, which is equally confusing, until you realize that it sounds like no me ha dejado, she has not abandoned me. Seville has not abandoned me. I must admit that I had been looking forward to going home for several weeks before leaving. But, after being back for a week now, I know that Seville will never abandon me. It will always be there in my heart. I love the fact that the two countries I have spent a significant amount of time in both have slogans that typify the region where I was. Costa Rica’s is pura vida, pure life, and that’s truly how they live there – each day relaxed, chilled, one day at a time. Seville’s is no me ha dejado, and that is equally true. Seville has an ambiance, an aura, that is hard to forget, indeed. NO8DO exemplifies the city – it can be found on flags, buildings, buses, drainage covers, signs, and more – even tattooed onto the arms of some enamoured individuals. While it is fairly certain that I will not permanently emblazon NO8DO onto my arm, it is equally certain that NO8DO has been emblazoned onto my heart forever.

A nowhere near exhaustive list of some of the things that I will miss most about Seville include: the warm, sunny days that just beg you to come outside and explore the city. The delicate orange trees and fragrant smells that permeate the entire city. The narrow, twisty, cobblestone streets filled with the allure of romance and mystery and intrigue. The legends and stories that can be found associated with almost every street or historic building. The bustling shopping districts and tourist areas. And of course, there are the people. The men selling roasted chestnuts on almost every street corner. The gypsy women who mill around the grand Cathedral, try to give you rosemary and fortunes in exchange for money. The human statues that line the main street in the form of ghosts, flowers, and fairies. The illegal street vendors that can pack up their wares and disappear with astonishing quickness at the mere scent of a policeman. My wonderful, loving hosts parents, who bent over backwards to make me feel loved and cared for (my Señora actually recites the names of all 100+ students she has had while looking at pictures, so that she doesn’t forget any of her American children :]). The three children that I tutored, Estefanía, María, and Tulio, who surely taught me leagues more than I taught them. Justo, who showed me things that I would have never discovered on my own, is a fabulous and incredible patient teacher, and became one of my best friends in Seville. My friends from church, who brought a little bit of home and tranquility to me while I was thousands of miles away.

I could go on, but the to-do list 3 days before Christmas grows long, and I’m afraid I must draw this blog to a close. I think it is only fitting to end with a sneak preview of the possible adventures on Sinbad’s horizon in the next few years. The only concrete one is my 21st birthday, which is on January 3rd. I decided that I did not want to celebrate it by getting drunk at a bar, and the thought of being able to finally get my gun permit does not particularly appeal to me, either. So my best friend and I decided to go on a road trip down to Florida for a dance workshop weekend. I think it will be a much more productive use of my 21st birthday :). I’ve got one more semester of undergraduate education, and then I shall officially be a college graduate! If I continue on my current track, I will graduate with a BA in Spanish and a BS in Economics with a 4.0 (rounded) GPA. After graduation, I have applied to graduate school for International Relations at American University in DC, and Georgia Tech in Atlanta. I have also applied to some international programs (Rhodes and Marshall scholarships in England, and a Fulbright teaching assistantship in South Korea), as well as a fellowship position for a non-profit organization in Atlanta. I also plan on applying to some “normal” jobs next semester – although I’m taking a break from working on applications during Christmas! 🙂 So hopefully I’ll get offered something, and we shall see where God takes me! It’s exciting to think about! Thank you all for going on this journey with me; I can’t wait until Sinbad sets sail on another adventure!! 🙂

A little bit of everything

I have gotten to the point where everything is a last – last Wednesday, last day of classes, last church service, last time to go dancing, last party…I’m excited to go home, but it’s bittersweet at the same time. I’m making the most of it, though…the last thing I want to remember of Seville is regrets for not enjoying it as much as I could have. Wednesday was excellent. I got to Skype with my family (it was Josh’s 12th birthday – I sang happy birthday to him in both Spanish and English), and then I hung out with Justo for the afternoon. It was rather bittersweet, because it was the last time that we are going to see each other, but we made the most of it. That night, he and I went and had dinner with some people from church. That was a blast…although after Justo left (he had to leave early), they teased me MERCILESSLY about having a Spanish boyfriend. They had the wedding planned and everything, right down to the date and location! :/ But they’re good-natured people, and I still had a lot of fun. I can say happily that my last Wednesday in Sevilla was a good one.

My last Thursday, as well, was well spent. I had my last day of classes in the morning and then went home to study some. In the afternoon, though, I went to see Los Seises in the Cathedral of Sevilla. Los Seises is just about as Sevillana as it gets. It is a traditional dance dating back from the 16th century, and can only be found in Sevilla. Originally it was 6 boys (from which comes the name of the dance) who would dance at the high altar in the Cathedral every day for 8 days after the Día de la Concepción Inmaculada; now the number stands at 10, and has been that number for quite a while. Interesting tidbit of history: in 1685 the dance was forbidden by the Catholic Church; this caused such an uproar that 17 years later the people of Seville finally were able to have it re-approved, on one condition: the dance could continue as long as the boys´ clothes did not wear out. So of course, their clothes have never worn out – they have been mended and repaired numerous times over the centuries, but never all at once. Interesting way to get around the system, don´t you think? 🙂 After the ceremony I walked around Sevilla for a while. They had put up all the Christmas decorations while I was in Morocco, and it was lovely to see all of the lights and trees and wreaths and everything. I’m so psyched about Christmas!!!

Friday morning I had my first final and finished all of my Christmas shopping (woohoo!!!). I went early to Nadine’s house in the evening to help her get ready for a Christmas party she was hosting. I helped her clean the house, and cut veggies, and bake pies, and make cheese and meat trays, and all sorts of other Christmasy things. It was so much fun…I can not WAIT for Christmas!! Then, when the actual party started, it got even better. We decorated Christmas cookies, and made ornaments, and played games, and had great conversations, and overall just a grand time. I love how much fun I can have without a drop of alcohol. I loved talking with all of the Spanish guys – they´re so interesting and fun to be around. The party consisted pretty much 50/50 of all American girls and all Spanish guys…sorry mom, it seemed like there was some heavenly match-making going on there ;). Haha don´t worry, I´ve made it 3 months without getting a Spanish boyfriend, I don´t think that´ll change in the last week…

Saturday I was going to go to Villalba, a small village with the same name as my grandmother Petra´s family. Unfortunately, I was dead tired from the party the night before. So I decided to just have a relaxed day, studying and catching up on emails and other such normalities. I went to a concert with some people from church in it in the evening – that was really cool. They had all sorts of music – from violins, to pop, to funky mixtures of rap, flamenco, hip-hop, and jazz. It was definitely worth the almost hour-long wait for the opening band to show up – ahh, such is Spain, I suppose :). I was going to go to my last bachata class with Rodrigo after the concert, but when we showed up, we found out that the space was being used that night for a Christmas dinner. So he convinced me to go out with some students who were celebrating one of the girl’s birthdays. I didn’t stay long – all they were doing was standing around drinking – but I did get to see Eligio, one of the intercambios whom I had spent a lot of time with at the beginning of the semester, but hadn’t seen in months. So that was good to be able to say goodbye to him.

Sunday was another last, last day of church. It was a wonderful service. They prayed over Sarah and I to send us off – that was really cool. I also had my first encounter with live translating. Sarah’s parents are here visiting her, but neither of them speak a word of Spanish. So she translated for her mom, and I did the same for her dad. It was sooo hard, but I was rather pleased with how well I did :).

Well, I suppose it is only fitting that I wrap up my accounts of my time in Seville with a summary of the homework Jon gave me that I have not already mentioned, since that was one of the first things that I experienced of Seville. I was able to complete all of them – all 42 of them. The rest of this blog consists of the stories behind them, if a story exists. Some of them – such as drawing a picture on a napkin for a waiter, are rather self-explanatory :). Others, such as singing a song to your siblings over webcam, or going down the Guadalquivir river in boat, or playing soccer on the beach, I’ve already talked about, but simply did not mention that they were part of my homework.

This Wednesday, before Skyping with my family, I was actually able to get 5 done in one shot! I was studying at Starbucks, and ran into Andrew, one of the students who had gone on Morocco Exchange with me. We decided to go exploring. He already knew where the geographic center of Seville was, on Calle Jose Gestoso (#1), and so he took me to see it. On our way, we passed the old tram system that now lies dormant and unused in the bus station in the Plaza de Armas (#2), the Iglesia Salvador, and the Plaza Encarnación. The 14th century funerary chapel in the church (#3) that I was supposed to find was less than extraordinary, and the outside market in the Plaza Encarnación that I was sent to buy food from (#4) has been moved to make room for the huge modern art-ish awnings that they are in the process of building. But the point is that I went, right? 🙂 Andrew’s knowledge of the city ended after we made it to Calle Jose Gestoso, and so afterwards we decided to just wander around and trust our sense of direction and knowledge of the city. That was my fifth assignment that Jon had sent me to – he actually told me to get lost and not use my map!! I thought it a very cruel assignment at the time, but it wasn’t nearly as bad when I did it with a friend 🙂

Another one of my assignments was to go to the Plaza del Museo and look at the artwork that they have there. I did make it to the plaza…but museum was closed, and all of the artwork had been packed up. However, I also made it on my own to the Fine Arts Museum, Museum of Popular Customs and Traditions, Archeological Museum, Museum of Flamenco, and the Louvre in Paris, so I think I can say that I’ve seen my fill of beautiful artwork :). Other assignments that may possibly be considered a stretch, but I consider to have completed: wear Spain’s colors one day (the only yellow in my entire wardrobe is a red and yellow and orange shirt…that counts, right?? :]), find a car without a scratch on it (I went to a Mercedes dealership), buy a CD of Spanish music (Justo gave me a mix CD of some of his favorite artists), and jump on a bus and take it to a random place – have no set destination (I’ve done this many times on foot and also in the metro, but not on the bus…I think that’s ok, lol). And others, such as doing the Macarena with a friend in a public place and staging a bit of drama with a friend can be counted as one, in my humble opinion :).

There are some, however, that I have completed without a doubt. Such as: finding a restaurant that is famous in the USA and having a taste of home (did you know that the McDonalds’ here sell beer??), dress up in some ridiculous clothing (I would definitely say that the takchitas our Moroccan host sister dressed us up in count as slightly ridiculous for me, as a non-muslim American), and doodle on a sidewalk with chalk (my señora’s 3 year-old grandson is a trip!).

There are others I did that were a bit more meaningful than scribbling on concrete. One week I was supposed to secretly drop some change on the ground for a child to find. Instead of dropping it on the ground, I actually gave it directly to a small child in Morocco. Seeing the look on her face when I put those few dirhams in her hand was priceless. I’ll never forget it. I’m pretty sure I made her day…she definitely made mine. Two assignments that Jon gave me my last week in Spain were to pray with friends and to have a night of seeking God in the Word with at least one other person. My Bible study and church have been such a wonderful source of refuge for me. My church is so welcoming and loving and inviting – hours fly by like minutes there, and I’m always surprised when the service ends and I realize that I’ve already been there for almost 3 hours. And the Bible study…being able to meet and get to know and have fun with and pray with people my age who are also in a foreign country has been priceless…it’s been so nice to have a support system, to know that I have people to call and lean on when life has got me down. Another assignment for my last week was to give and receive as many hugs as I could. I’ve certainly doled out more than my fair share of hugs – and tears – this week. When I said goodbye to Hasnae. When I said goodbye to the other American students that had gone on Morocco exchange with me. When I said goodbye to Justo. When I said goodbye to my dance friends, like Perdo and Martín and Rodrigo. When I said goodbye to my host parents, Sarah and Pedro. When I said goodbye to all my friends from church – José, and Fernando, and Gerard, and Flora, and Nadine, and Pauline, and Henry, and Moni, and more…

Looking back, I am so fortunate to have been able to meet so many wonderful people and see and do so many wonderful things. My time in Spain was truly God-orchestrated. This has been a wonderful experience, and I am so blessed to have been able to have it. There are still a few more adventures for Sinbad during the Christmas season, and I also plan on writing one last blog about Spain once I get home, but this will be one of the last blogs that I write for a long time – until God sends me on another adventure, which, knowing Him, will probably be sooner than I expect. Thank you so much for going on this journey with me!

It’s the simple things…

So, I must apologize to you guys. I lied in my last blog – my next update is not about Morocco. The only thing that I can say about Morocco is that I´m a little nervous about being a christian female in a muslim country – you can be imprisoned in Morocco for wearing the wrong clothing or taking pictures of the wrong buildings or prostletizing. But God´s got it under control, I´ll be fine :). Also, I get the feeling that you will excuse my slight fib in my last message; I like to think that most people won´t mind to read one extra blog :).

This has been a cool week. It´s the little things that have stuck with me the most. I had a tutoring session with my kids on Monday – after we were done, they asked if I could stay and have a snack with them. Now that my dance class is over, I don´t have to run around like a chicken with my head cut off, so I said yes. So we snuggled up next to the space heater, eating chocolate rice krispy cereal and doing card tricks for each other. I know a grand total of 1 card trick, but it´s pretty cool; my kids were rather impressed :D. That was a wonderful way to spend my rainy Monday afternoon. I´m also seriously considering teaching ESL after graduation…

Speaking of kids, I saw the cutest demonstration this week. My school not only gives classes to English-speakers in Spanish, but they also teach English to Spanish-speakers. Yesterday while I was in the computer room waiting for class, one of the English teachers came in with her 4 students (they couldn´t have been older than 5), and asked if they could sing to us what they had learned. So they sang a little Christmas song in English, complete with hands sign and everything. It was adorable :D. That same day I went down and helped decorate the school for Christmas. I was giddy. I loveeee Christmas, and decorating for it has always been one of my favorite things to do. Check out the tree that I decorated. It´s not very elaborate, but I didn´t have much to work with, lol. Also, they had the most elaborate nativity scene that I´ve ever seen…it was incredible!!! Christmas is in 3 1/2 weeks, and I´ll be home in 2!!

But anyway, I digress. Monday night, I went to a bar to watch THE game – Futbol Club Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, the 2 top ranked soccer teams in the world at the moment. Madrid was ranked #1, but I was rooting for Barçe – I really liked Barcelona when I went there, and I really DON´T like Madrid after my experience in the Madrid airport. The game was interesting to watch, although not exactly a nail-biter – Barcelona trounced Madrid, 5-0. The more interesting part to me was watching the other people in the bar. It is no exaggeration to say that soccer in Spain is LIFE. The bar was packed hours before the game started – when we got there and hour before it started, it was already standing room only. The entire room pulsed with energy – when someone scored, they all stood up and cheered as one; when someone had a penalty, the entire room hissed with disapproval. Remember way back in the summer when I talked about the Culture of Braves when I went tot he baseball game in Atlanta? Well, there´s definitely an entire culture of soccer, too. It was pretty cool to watch in action, although I was glad to finally get out in the fresh air – the cloud of cigarette smoke was pretty suffocating by the end of the night.

Wednesday night I finally made it to Cine Cervantes!! I´ve been trying to go there literally ever since Jon sent me there the first week of September. I finally conviced Rodrigo to go with me last night to see Entrelobos, a Spanish film based on a true story, about a boy who grew up by himself with only the wolves and a ferret for company – rather Jungle Book-ish… The only time we could both go to was the late showing, at 10:20, but we decided to go anyway. I´m so glad we did. The movie was quite interesting, very well done (although it felt a bit like a documentary at times; there were a few too many random shots of soaring birds and rushing rivers for my taste, lol), but the real thrill of the movie was the theater itself. Cine Cervantes is one of the only historic theaters, if not the only one, still in existence in Seville. The experience starts outside, with the antique sign lit by a single flickering neon light that without a doubt used to be far more impressive. Tickets are bought outside the theater, through a tiny 1×1 foot hole in the wall. Once inside, you have to climb up a creaky set of stairs, the wood groaning every step with age and history, to get to the theater. The huge theater, with a faded red curtain and seats that were obviously plush and luxurious in their time, remind you of the theater´s heyday. The impression is accentuated by the box seats for the super rich, now standing vacant, that line the walls of the theater in 3 different levels. Every detail of the theater is that of a grandeur now mostly lost. It was a very unique experience – far different from the normal super-commercialized and modern movie theaters that we´ve all become accustomed to.

So there you go, those were the simple things that made my week so special. Not only did you get to share them with me, but it wasn´t nearly as long as my last post!! See all my pictures from decorating the school here. As I´m leaving for Morocco tonight, I PROMISE that my next update will be about Morocco.

The calm before the storm

This past week has been fairly uneventful – hence the resultant silence on my blog. I figured that you wouldn’t want me to tell you about the normality that I do every week – class, dance, Bible study, and the like. One day last week my Spanish Usage professor took us out for breakfast instead of having class – that was cool. I also had my final in dance class, and I feel like I did very well – my teacher told me that I should look for flamenco classes when I return to the States to continue what I’ve learned here. I might look…but I’ve got to say, I think I’d prefer to learn West Coast Swing than flamenco :). Flamenco is fun, but nothing compares to WCS… But ya, I had a blast learning it, but I must say that I’m glad it’s over. It made my Mondays and Wednesdays very hectic – I was always running from class to lunch to tutoring to dance, and I barely had time to breath. Now that I don’t have to rush to dance class I will be much more relaxed.

In other news, church last week was fantastic. God was sooo present, and the sermon, the worship, everything was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment. During worship, spontaneous prayers were breaking out in multiple languages – French, Spanish, English, Dutch, German…it was way cool. I’m really going to miss the multinationality of my church here when I go back home :(.

Things are picking up again, though…this past week has been like the calm before the storm – in the next 2 weeks, I will be traveling more than I will be in Seville! This weekend I went to Grenada. We got there mid-day, and spent the afternoon walking around the city. We saw the Capilla Real, where 5 Spanish royalty are buried. We actually got to go underground and see the actual coffins – check them out here (I apologize for the poor quality). I also ran into 2 of my friends from Seville, Paola and Jess, who were there visiting for the weekend as well, so that was cool.

Late afternoon we hiked up the mountain to the old Jewish quarter, to the Plaza San Nicolas, to see the sunset. It was incredible. Plaza San Nicolas has a simultaneous view of the Sierra Nevada (the highest point in Spain), the Alhambra, and the sunset, as well. It was absolutely breathtaking. I love sunsets and scenic views; they are probably the easiest thing in the world to bring me to my knees in awe of the splendor of the Lord.

While we were in the Plaza, we met an American, Jeff, who’s backpacking around Europe for a month. He invited us to meet up with him and some friends of him for dinner later that night. Sarah and I took him up on that offer. We threaded our way back a different way down the mountain, and ended up with a gorgeous view of the Alhambra at night, with the river flowing past it at the base. Once we made it back down, we met up with Jeff and his friends (whom he had just met the day before) and went tapa-hopping. The tapas (appetizers) are free in Grenada with the purchase of a drink, so we went to 3 or 4 different places and got a different tapa and drink at every place. His friends, Palmer, Chris, and Seth, were also Americans, but they had lived in Grenada for 2 years as teaching assistants, so they knew the good places to take us to. After dinner, Sarah went back to the hotel to sleep, but I went out later to a dance club that Justo had recommended to me. I wasn’t out super late – around 1:30 or 2:00 – but I wanted to be able to say that I had gone dancing in Grenada! 🙂 Dances are never as fun by yourself, however, so I eventually just went home to sleep.

The next day I got up early and went to a market I had found the day before and bought a couple of pomegranates. Pomegranate in Spanish is grenada – so I was eating a grenada in Grenada! I found it amusing, lol… Anyway, after breakfast we checked out of the hotel and headed up to the Alhambra, a 14th century Moorish palace and fortress complex. Words…cannot describe that place. The palaces were incredible, with rich ornate decorations and carvings and inlays. But what left the more indelible impression on my mind were the views. The hoary sky, swirled with clouds and pulsating colors and shapes, offset with the vibrant hues of the changing leaves on the trees below, with majestic snow-capped mountain peaks in the background and the magnificent, awe-inspiring palace of la Alhambra in the foreground, left an unforgettable remembrance in my memory. I was very sad to leave the Alhambra – there was a feeling of such serene tranquility and harmony there, especially in the exquisitely manicured gardens, that I could have stayed there forever – like Washington Irving! Washington Irving, the famous American author, fell in love with the Alhambra, and actually lived there for several years. You can read his stories about his time there in his book, Tales of the Alhambra.

We finally made our way back to Seville around 8:00 Saturday night. I had promised a friend a long time ago that I would go dancing with him, and so I went a little after 10:00, but I was pretty wiped out, and left before 1:00. What is Seville doing to me?? I’ve have more late nights here than in the rest of my life combined!! Sunday evening I spent with Justo. He corrected my second paper over dinner, and then we went and saw a Spanish movie, Bon Apetit (Spanish movie with a French title, and the majority of the film in English…ironic, no?). Well anyway, that´s about all I have to report at the moment. See all my pictures from Grenada here. Next update will be about Paris!!!

Soccer and dance make a great combo

Soccer and dance – that has pretty much been my life this past week. Oh yes, and I study and go to class every now and then ;). Don’t worry mom, I’m doing fine in school – I got a 98% on my last test. I’m not worried :P.

So anyway, back to my story. Monday night I went to a soccer game with 3 friends, Rodrigo, Lauren, and Dan. It was a blast. Seville has 2 soccer teams, in different divisions – we went to the upper division team, Seville vs. Valencia. I got to use the blanket that my family sent to me when I was sick – it was SOOO cold! I bundled up under my blankie, and was quite toasty…and quite thankful for my wonderful family, as well :). Tuesday and Thursday nights I went to Bachata class. Thursday night I stayed and danced afterwards til around midnight– it was a blast. I’ve never particularly liked latin dancing, but it seems that that was only because I could never find guys who could dance it well. Now that I have, I love it :). One of the guys I danced with invited me to have a drink with him, so we talked for a while, too. He was surprised when I told him I was American – “I noticed a slight accent,” he said, but I thought it was from South America or something.” It made me super happy :D.

Friday I spent all day working on my last research paper – I’ll be traveling the next 3 weekends, and I don’t want to have to worry about it. So I finished that, and then went to a taco party with some kids from school that night. I was told today that I should be a personal assistant or party planner – the person planning this party kinda dropped the ball, so I picked it up this morning and had everything planned by 10:30 am. I suppose it was a nice compliment – but I kinda want to set my sights higher than a personal assistant, lol… Of course the party had alcohol, so I can now say that I’ve been to a “normal” party. I must say I don’t particularly understand the fuss. I wasn’t miserable, but I’ve certainly had wayyyyy more fun at pretty much every party I’ve ever been to that did not have alcohol. But oh well, the tacos were good… 🙂 After the party, we all went to dance. I thought that I was out late when I went dancing until midnight on Thursday. This place didn’t even OPEN until midnight. I finally left around 4:00 am. It was a blast…but the next day I was soooo dead. I slept on and off almost the whole day on Saturday. I dragged myself to an internet café to skype with my family – that was so worth it. I hadn’t talked to them since mom and dad left for Israel – it was so good to see their faces and hear their laughs and catch up with them. Saturday night I went to another Bachata class and dance, but this time I left much earlier. I cannot do 4 am 2 nights in a row – I really can’t do it 1 night, lol…

Oh, I almost forgot my other soccer story!! I found out Thursday afternoon that the World Cup trophy was being displayed in Seville for that day only. So I went with a friend to go see it – 4 hours later, we finally succeeded. I’ve never seen lines like that. It was definitely an experience, I’m glad I did it – but good grief, these people’s fanatacism for soccer is a little over the top, lol. Check out my picture with the world cup here.

Random stories of the week: I went to an old palace, Casa de Pilatos, on Tuesday afternoon. It’s one of the oldest houses of nobility in Seville – it was pretty cool. Although I still stand by my previous statement that beautiful old buildings all start to look the same after a while, lol :). But I also accidentally completed one of Jon’s assignments, so that was neat. On our way to the Casa, I happened to look at a street name and noticed that we were in the Plaza Pescadería, where I was supposed to find the underground Roman ruins. You couldn’t actually go down and see them – there were just big window-like things set into the ground, and you looked down into a little section of the ruins. Nothing too exciting – I wouldn’t have wanted to go out of my way to find them – but it was interesting walking past them and knowing what they were. There was no sort of labeling at all, so if you didn’t know what you were looking at it wouldn’t have made any sense. I also climbed to the top of the Torre de Oro on Friday, when I needed a break from studying, and got a panoramic view of the city. It was way cool. Check out all my most recent pictures here. Sorry this blog has been so choppy and random…I’m having trouble concentrating at the moment :(. Love y’all!

How time flies

This week we had classes on Friday, to make up for the festival on Monday. I also had 3 tests and 2 papers due, so I was pretty tired by Friday afternoon. I went to the doctor several weeks ago and got some antibiotics to help me get rid of my cough, so at least I didn’t have to deal with that – I’m finally back to my usual self, woohoo!!! But I was still exhausted, and when I was invited to go dancing, I almost turned it down. I was just sooo worn out…plus the dance club didn’t even open until midnight. But I finally decided to go, and I’m so glad I did! I was the first one to leave – I left at 2:30 – but it was so worth the sleep deprivation. Next time I’m bringing my dancing shoes, though…I never went home on Friday, so I ended up trying to dance in flats. It was rather uncomfortable. It’s so refreshing to have finally found a dancing scene here in Seville… 🙂

Oh, I forgot to mention that I also went to the Museum of Flamenco Dance on Friday with the people from my dance class. It’s a private museum, created by a super famous Flamenco dancer, but it’s also one of the best museums I’ve ever been to. It’s full of interactive rooms, and clips of different dancing styles, costumes, pictures, and more. It was quite an interesting trip. After the museum we made our way to a little store that the professor knew that sold the cool shawls that they sometimes use when dancing Flamenco. I’m sure I will never be able to use it in real life, but I splurged and bought a shawl, anyway. It’s white, all lace, and lovely.

Saturday I made my way to the Seville city cemetery, per Jon’s homework. Goodness, the comments I got from people at school when I mentioned that I wanted to go to the cemetery!!! I’m pretty sure that half of school is now convinced that I’m an emo kid in hiding, lol… But, all morbidness aside, el Cementerio de San Fernardo is really quite a lovely place. It is huge, and unlike any cemetery I’ve ever seen. There are sweeping pathways with meticulously manicured plant and floral decorations, enormous ornate sepulchers that house whole families, statues dedicated to famous personalities such as toreros or flamenco dancers, and thousands of the more “normal” tombstones. Sevillanos are not only buried under the ground here – all around the outskirts of the cemetery, there is a network of above ground catacombs, with separate crypts for each individual coffin and an inscription etched into the stone on the front of it. In the center of the cemetery, there is a statue of El Cristo de las Mieles – legend has it that . Además, a few days ago was the Festival de Todos los Santos, when everyone goes to the cemetery and cleans the graves and puts flowers or trinkets on them. All of the decorations were still there, and it was incredible beautiful and peaceful. I really wanted to take pictures, but I figured that would have been sacrilegious or something – at the very least inconsiderate to the hundreds of other people who were there.

I had been planning on going by myself, but I mentioned my plans to Justo and he would have none of that. San Fernardo Cemetery is pretty far away from where I live, and it would have been rather complicated to get there – I would have either had to take 2 buses, or walk about an hour to get to the second bus stop. So Justo offered to go with me, and we went in his car. Afterwards we went to a supermarket and got some food to make a picnic lunch, which we then took to a nearby park. Again, I must extol Justo’s awesomeness. He had told me before he picked me up to bring my research paper that I wrote for one of my classes – while we were at the park, he sat down and read the whole thing, correcting my mistakes and explaining to me why they were wrong. He’s a very good teacher. My señora absolutely loves him – he is mature, has a steady job, speaks three languages, doesn’t party late at night, and is the best intercambio (in her opinion) that any of her students have ever had. I give her lots of props that she hasn’t suggested that I date him yet, lol :).

Anyway, that’s about all of the excitement that I have to report for now. Sunday morning I went to church, and I spent the entire afternoon working on my second research paper. It’s not due until December, but I don’t have time to work on it during the week, and I’ll be traveling the last 2 weekends in November, so I want to go ahead and get it done. Can you believe that I only have 5 weeks left in Seville??? And three of those weekends I won’t even be in Seville – I’m going to Grenada to see La Alhambra, then Paris for 5 days for Thanksgiving, and then Morocco in December. It’s absolutely insane how fast time is going. I was trying to decide what I would miss most about Seville. It’s hard to choose. My church and church friends come to mind quickly, but so do my Spanish friends, such as Justo, and my host family, and the food, and culture, and dance, and architecture…I suppose I’ll have to wait and make that decision closer to my departure date :). Well, it’s off to bed for now for me…my brain hurts from reading and writing about the Restoration of the Spanish Monarchy all day. Sending all my love, as always!!

Horray for not traveling!

We had a 4-day weekend this week. While most of the students were off exploring exotic places such as Italy, France, or Morocco, I elected to stay here. Honestly, the only reason I stayed was because I didn’t have time to make plans to go somewhere. But I’ve very glad I did. It turned out to be quite a productive, eventful weekend, albeit rather quiet when I was home – my host family was at the beach all weekend. Check out the note they left me – I thought it was really sweet :).

Thursday night there was a Halloween party hosted by the school. I went, and even half-heartedly dressed up! (I wore a masquerade mask I bought in Barcelona) I’ve never really seen the point of Halloween, and don’t ever celebrate it in the USA. I find it ironic that one of the only time I actually celebrate Halloween is in a country which does not celebrate it as a whole :). Anyway, the party was pretty lame, but I got some interesting pictures. Myself and a friend, Allyx, started dancing Flamenco in the middle of the party. That was interesting, lol. After the party everyone went out for tapas. That was more interesting, in my opinion. I got to talk to the Academic Director for a while – she apparently is a Harvard graduate!! I was very impressed. Anyway, I finally made it back to my house around 1:30 in the morning. Although I didn’t have school the next day, I was waiting there when they opened at 8:00. Friday was my push day. I wanted to get a ton of homework done so I wouldn’t have to worry about it for the rest of the weekend. I took a break for lunch to eat with Jess and Paola, 2 girls from the Bible study. They also brought a Spanish friend of theirs, Julia, who is really sweet. It was very encouraging to be able to spend some time with godly, wholesome, fun girls. Other than lunch, though, I was at school until it closed – at 8:00 at night. Almost 12 hours total :/. I’m so glad I did that, though – I finished one of two research papers, did all my homework for Tuesday and half of the stuff for Wednesday, and also studied for 1 of my 2 tests that I have time coming week. I felt very accomplished and on top of things :). I often get teased for being such a studious student, but I really think that I’m the one with the last laugh – I’m never stressed about getting things done, and I go out just as often as anyone else. It’s an excellent combination :).

Friday night I went to another Halloween party – this one hosted by a friend of mine from church, Nadine. That one was far from lame. I had such a blast!!! There were people there from church, from Bible study, from other schools, and some random Spaniards who were friends of other guests, as well. All in all, I’d say there were about 25 or 30 people there. There was a tone of food, and great music, and a costume party (I got to be a judge, since I was costume-less. I think I’d prefer that, lol), and just great fun to be had all-around. There was a pumpkin-carving contest, as well – not only did I carve my first pumpkin ever in my life, but I also won a prize for it! As long as you promise not laugh, you can check out my pumpkin here. It was loads of fun to do, but I hardly think it’s worthy of a prize, lol…

Around midnight, we cranked the music up and started dancing. There were lots of great dancers there – ironically enough, none of them were Spaniards. They were from Columbia, or Cuba, or Peru, etc…so we danced some Merengue, some Salsa, Bachata, a little bit of Swing…the whole shebang. Then we tried to learn the Thriller dance. We didn’t learn it – but watching people try to watch it was quite amusing :D. The party finally ended around 1:30 because half of the group had to leave to catch the last metro home at 2:00. I was very sad to go :(. I haven’t had that much good, clean fun in a long time. Check out the pictures from both parties here – they should be at the very end of the album.

Saturday morning I had planned on going to Isla Magica, a theme park in Seville. But Saturday morning dawned cold and rainy and windy, so I scratched that idea. Instead, I went back to Nadine’s house and hung out with her and Sarah for the day. We went shopping, and made pizza and brownies, and watched chick fliks and old episodes of the Gilmore Girls. It was excellent. My host family is out of town, so I spent a quiet evening cleaning up my room, and organizing my stuff, and other necessary things. It’s nice to have quite evenings to yourself sometimes :).

Sunday morning was a lazy day. We had daylight savings, so I got an extra hour of sleep, which was nice. I slept in and still had time to get some homework done before church :). After church I went shopping for presents – there’s been a festival going on since I’ve been here, and this is the last weekend it will be around. I wanted to swing by before it closed. It’s so strange to think of it not being there tomorrow…it seems to kind of be a part of Seville by now. I also ran into a friend of mine, Rodrigo, and we hung out for a few hours. I got a rather backwards compliment from him that I’m quite proud of. I was talking about how different I am now than I was when I was younger, and he asked me, “What happened? Did Jesus change you?” It was quite apparent that that was not a serious question – Rodrigo makes no claims to be a Christian, and the sarcasm was so thick I could have cut it with a knife. But I chose to ignore it and simply answer the question. “Yes,” I said, “He did.” Then Rodrigo was like, “That’s what I like about you. Most of the time when I’m around hard-core Christians I try to say things to piss them off, and it usually works. But you never react when I try to insult you.” I’m almost positive that he did not intend that as a compliment, but the fact that A) he considers me to be obviously Christian and B) I don’t react to insults in a way that turns people off of Jesus made my heart swell.

Monday was quite an excellent day. I went to Carmona, a small town about 40 kilometers from Seville, with Justo, per Jon’s suggestion. Actually, Jon’s homework said I had to take a bus, but everyone knows the cool people take cars ;). So Justo picked me up mid-morning, and we drove to Carmona. Can I just say that Justo is the best intercambio ever!! He had already been to Carmona, so he took me to his favorite haunts; he also brought along a map and tourist info, so we knew exactly what spots we should hit. Also, he printed out a history of the city from online, and made me read it aloud to him as we drove. He corrected my pronunciation when needed, and explained to me any words I did not know. He also tries to correct me during the course of normal conversation, something that I give him huge props for. I’ve been on the other side of the coin – I’ve been the fluent speaker talking to someone who’s learning the language, and I know that it’s really hard to correct them if they’re trying. As long as I understand what they’re trying to say, I tend to ignore the errors. But that’s not how to improve, and I’m so grateful that he actually tries so hard to help me get better. I need to hang out with him more often – I know my Spanish noticeably improves every time I do :). He also offered to correct my papers that I have to write for school. Besides that, we get along really well – he’s very easy-going and fun to be around, and also speaks very good English, so I can switch whenever my brain starts really hurting, lol.

Alright, now that I have sufficiently extolled Justo’s commendable qualities, let’s continue with the story, shall we? 🙂 We walked around for a while, just drinking in the sights. There was a famous convent that we went and visited – this picture is from the top of the tower. I like it because you can see the city behind us through the slats in the window :). The sunset was absolutely gorgeous – although I did snap a photo of it, it truly doesn’t do it justice. But oh well, I did my best :).

My family got back a few minutes after I did, so we caught each other up on our respective weekends. Although I rather enjoyed the solitude these past few days, it’s nice to not be in an empty house anymore. Well anyway, thus ends my lovely weekend of not traveling – see all the pictures from Carmona here. I love and miss all of you guys buckets and bunches!! 🙂

I live for the weekends

I absolutely love the weekends here in Seville. Everyone keeps chastising me, saying I should travel more, but I really like staying in Seville and exploring the city and getting to know the people. Maybe that makes me strange….but then, we already knew that I was strange, did we not? 🙂

I had quite an eventful few days this past weekend. As my weekends do not start on Friday, I shall begin my story on Thursday. I woke up early and went to the churros stand on Café Arfe, where Jon had sent me. The churros were good, but I’m not sure I would say they were fit for a king…I must say I was rather disappointed. But, as Jon said, even a king wants macaroni and cheese every now and then, right? 🙂 I went that afternoon with my friend Virginia to see the Museum of Arts and Traditional Customs. It was quite interesting, and Virginia’s a lot of fun. Afterwards we went to feed the pigeons at the Plaza de America (well, I fed them; she took pictures), and I even have the scars to prove it! It was an interesting experience, I’m glad I did it, but man, those pigeons were vicious!! Thursday night I had Bible study. It was good, although I was a little out of it. I have a lot on my plate right now, and it’s even harder to deal with that because I’ve been sick ever since I got back from Barcelona. It’s hard to deal with tough circumstances and emotions regardless, and even harder when you’re sick, ya know? So I was having a bit of a pity party on Thursday, which was unfortunate. Luckily, I snapped out of it by dinner time – I didn’t want to have to explain to my host mother why I was so depressed. Makes for rather awkward dinner conversation, lol.

So after dinner, I went out to meet my friend Pauline, from Holland. She had told me that she was taking salsa classes, and so I went along to see how they were. The lessons were pretty basic (I think I’m going to try the more advanced class next week), but I stayed after the lessons for the open dancing. I have finally found the pocket of Seville that dances!!! And oh my gosh, dance they do. It was soooo much fun. Pauline wasn’t able to stay after the lesson, so I was there alone…I finally left around 1:00. On my way back to my house, I saw three friends from the Center sitting outside a bar, having a glass of wine. So I went over to talk to them for a while. They actually thought that I was planning to go to that bar – apparently Justo was inside, and they thought I was coming to meet him. Apparently they don’t know me that well – I don’t meet ANYONE at 1:00 in the morning, lol. It was sheer luck that Justo, I, and they all happened to be at the same place at the same time. But we went inside and talked to Justo and his friend for a while, and then went on our separate ways. It wasn’t anything special, but I really enjoyed it. Of course, it may have been simply that I was still on a euphoric high from actually getting to dance for real for the first time in over 2 months. It wasn’t West Coast Swing, but hey, Salsa is definitely better than nothing! 🙂

I spent most of Friday morning holed up in the public library, working on my first of two research papers I have to write for class. Not exactly a ball of fun, but it has to get done, and I would rather get it done now while I have time, and then not have to worry about it later. My late night caught up with me by lunchtime, though, so I had to take a nap in the afternoon. It probably also doesn’t help that I’m still trying to fight this sickness I’ve had for 2 weeks – it’s really started to sap my energy. Friday evening I participated in the “Día del estudiante extranjero” – it’s an event hosted by the city of Seville, celebrating all of the foreign students there are in the city. This was the first year they had done it, but it was a lot of fun. The night started with a scavenger hunt that sent us all around the city, looking for quirky and historical facts about Sevilla. Afterwards we got to go into the Alcazar at night. I told you guys about the first time I went there, but that was during the day. Normally the palace is closed at night, but they opened it up especially for us that night. It was sooo cool – like a totally different world. There was even a hedge maze that I went into and scared unsuspecting students. It was great :D. I wish I could show you pictures, but none of them came out – it was too dark. I guess some things you really just have to be there to experience :). There was also an awards ceremony for those students who had submitted the best pictures and phrases describing Sevilla. I ran into Olivier, a friend of Pauline’s that I had met at the dance the night before. So we talked for a while…I love how Seville’s such a vibrant city, but it’s still small enough that change encounters like that with people that you just met are normal. It makes for a very interesting daily life :).

After día del estudiante ended, a bunch of us went to Rayas, supposedly the best ice cream place in the city. Rodrigo, a new guy at school who is replacing the woman who left on maternity leave last week, came with us. He’s really cool, I had a lot of fun with the group who went. We all migrated to the Festival de las Naciones after ice cream. This is the last week it will be around. That’s so strange to me to think, considering that it’s been here ever since I’ve gotten here. Saturday I had planned to go to the Seville city cemetery in the morning. That did not exactly happen. I was in bed nearly the entire day with a fever, trying to sleep through a incredibly loud anti-abortion rally that was happening right outside my window. I got very sick once during last Spring semester, so bad that my mom actually drove up to Berry to take care of me for the weekend. It’s amazing how much more miserable a sickness is when you know for certain that your mommy cannot come take care of you :(. But anyway, I was feeling better-ish in the afternoon, so I went out with Justo at night. He took me to a tapas place on the other side of town. I love having an older intercambio – he’s lived in Seville all his life, and knows the city very well. He takes me to all sorts of cool places that I would have never found by myself. After tapas, we walked around for a bit in the center of town. There was an outside concert that we listen to for a while, and then we went to another, very hip, modern restaurant right next to the cathedral – he just wanted to get a drink. We went all the way to the top floor, which was on the roof. So we got a bird’s eye view of the city and the Cathedral at night – it was sooooo cool.

Sunday morning I was feeling yucky again. I dragged myself out of bed to go to church, but was right back in bed as soon as I got back. But again, like Saturday and Friday, I felt a lot better in the afternoon. I met Rodrigo and Sarah in the evening – we had dinner, and then went to see The Social Network, a movie about Facebook. It was actually quite interesting – I enjoyed it a lot more than I was expecting to. Although I must say, I would not suggest watching it in a language that is not your first language. It’s hard enough to understand the technical slang if you speak the language fluently…forget it if you’re still learning it :).

Hey, also, check this link out. Apparently I’m doing pretty well in the whole Spanish deal! 🙂 As the picture on the website changes every week, I suppose I should tell you what was supposed to be on the link, just in case it’s not the same by the time you get to reading this. My school has us sign a contract at the beginning of the semester, saying that we would only speak Spanish while at school or at school events. Every week they spotlight a different student on their website who has actually been doing that. I made the spotlight this week! I was rather happy about that :).

So anyway, apart from the illness, last weekend was a very good weekend. As much as I love Seville, however, I think I will be ready to go home in December. Spain just hasn’t clicked with me like Costa Rica did. It probably doesn’t help that I don’t like one of my teachers – who happens to be the one with whom I have 3 classes. I have to listen to him over 10 hours a week. He’s really quite brilliant, actually, and one class would not be at all bad…but 3 classes just gets tiresome. I find myself checking my watch every 5 minutes when I’m in class. I think that’s a big factor for me, as well. At Berry, I have been enormously blessed that the vast majority of my teachers have been very good at what they do. They are knowledgeable and interesting, and make me really want to go to class. I don’t want to go to class here, which makes the mornings drag much more than they should. But, nevertheless, I recognize what an incredible blessing I’ve been granted to be here, and I’m doing my best to take advantage of every second. School isn’t the only part of a study abroad experience :). I haven’t taken many pictures lately, but if you want to make sure you’ve seen all the most recent one you can get to my album here.

Me lo pasó la bomba :)

Wow, what a weekend. Although it was a short one, I would say that this was definitely my favorite weekend so far. There is a phrase in Spanish that basically means to have a stupendous, wonderful time…I have put it as the title of this blog :). Ahhh, where do I start?? Ok, well, I suppose I will start with Friday, since that is the beginning of the weekend.

Normally we don’t have class on Friday, but this week we did because we didn’t have class on Monday, so we had the same schedule as a normal Monday. I remembered that in the morning, and made it to all my classes. But I have a long break in the afternoon, when I go home and eat lunch. Normally I tutor right after lunch, and then go straight to dance class. But today I didn’t have tutoring, so I Skyped with my family instead. Well, that messed my whole internal clock up, apparently. After talking with them, I went back home and started setting up to study in the living room. My señora asked me if I was going to class. I told her no, I was gonna stay here and study. I quickly realized my error and rushed off, getting to class just in time. Thank goodness that she knows my schedule better than I do :).

My whole week seemed to be like that – always rushing, rushing, rushing. I was very glad when my last class ended on Friday. I was going to go to a museum with a Spanish friend, but he canceled on me. I’m rather glad he did. I spent the night doing necessary things, like fixing clothes and making my bed, and then watched a Spanish movie and went to bed. It was a much-needed chill time from the craziness of the past week.

So Saturday morning, I went on an adventure with Justo, a Spanish friend of mine (why is it that I never seem to be able to make female friends?? Gahhhh…). Justo is way into running and biking and basically all things sporty (but not dancing, much to my disappointment, lol). So he invited me to go mountain biking with him yesterday. We left early in the morning and took a train to a little city in the mountains to the north of Seville, in between Cazalla and Constantina. The ride was like an hour and a half…it was very cool (my first time ever taking a train! Well, for any distance, at least). One we got there, we rented a bike for me, and hit the trails! Halfway through the afternoon, we stopped for a picnic lunch…he brought a TON of food, lol. After we ate lunch, I introduced him to cloud-gazing. You know, when you were little, you would lie on your back and find shapes in the clouds? Well, he never did that as a kid. So I found things like a mother and child, a bike, Spain, a lizard…he found nothing, and just laughed at this crazy American girl. He has apparently decided that I have a very overactive imagination. But it was a lot of fun…he is very easygoing, and we get along very well. You can check out a picture of us here.

Going back was much harder than coming – I was already tired, and so the hills seemed to be much larger than before, lol. I asked Justo later how much we had biked, and he told me close to 30 miles – he told me in kilometers, of course, and I had to make the translation. (Curse the American obsession to be different! Why can’t we at least have the same measuring system as the rest of the world?? I am constantly making conversions in between inches and centimeters, meters and feet, kilometers and miles, Euros and dollars. I can’t do the conversion from Celsius to Fahrenheit to save my life – I honestly have no idea what the temperature has been like since I’ve gotten here. The only I know is that it’s cooler now than it was when I arrived :]). But anyway, for someone who doesn’t bike often, especially on mountainous terrain, I think I did pretty well :). On the train ride back, there was group of drunk people who were dancing flamenco. Justo knows I’m learning it, and so he tried to get me to dance with him. I’m not quite that adventurous, but I did finally agree to practice with him sometime before I left – apparently he DOES dance flamenco, just not other styles. Soooo…thus ended my Saturday, in the blink of an eye. As we were walking back to my house from the train station, it felt to me that we had just left it 30 minutes ago. Apparently Justo agreed, because he made a comment exactly to that effect.

Sunday morning I went to church, as usual (I love being able to say that I have found a church that I enjoy going to regularly here in Spain :]). Today they did something really cool. They had all of the young people come up to the front, and they prayed over us. I love the close-knit, caring community that exists in my church (I wrote “my” without thinking about it…and then decided to leave it. Although I’ve only been going there like a month, it truly does feel like “my” church.). They’re always praying for someone, or giving personal testimonies, or praises of things that God has done in their lives. They present every first-timer by name to the congregation, so that people can (and do) seek out the new people to make them feel welcome. They sing happy birthday every week to everyone who has a birthday in the upcoming week. It’s just a very welcoming and loving community.

After church this week a bunch of the young people stayed after for a picnic lunch. You can see a picture of all of us here. That was fun…we spent half the time telling cross-language jokes, and half the time laughing at each other’s language mistakes :). (I’m finding it very hard to stay in an English mindset for this blog. I keep switching to Spanish and then having to erase half the sentence and start over. It’s very annoying, lol…). Here’s a joke that I liked; but only for my friends who speak Spanish. This one doesn’t really translate :(. Un hombre preguntó a una mujer, “Do you speak English?” “Como?” dijo ella. “Do you speak English?” la preguntó otro vez. “No te entiendo”, dice ella. “Hablas ingles?”, dice el. “Oh si, si, perfectamente!!”

I found it rather funny, but as the majority of my loyal fans will not understand it, here’s one in English (it was actually told to me in Spanish, but I’ll do the translation for you :]). A little boy said to his father, “Daddy, I want to marry grandma.” “You want to marry my mother??” the father asked in surprise. “Yes, I do. Why, what’s wrong with that? YOU married MY mom and I didn’t say anything about it!” Anyway, it´s quite likely that my jokes were lost in translation, but I found them amusing… 😀

After lunch a group of us went to the park (check out the picture here). One girl had Phase10 with her, so we played that for a while. There was not a common language between the 7 of us, but I knew the most of both languages together, so I served as interpreter. Do you have any idea how hard it is to explain the rules of a card game in a language that is not your own?? How do you say “shuffle” or “discard” or “a run or set of cards”?? I muddled through it, but when we got home I looked up all of those words and memorized them, so that I would know them next time. Actually, I was rather pleased with how well I did. I have also started to formulate much more complicated sentences than before and tell my host family much more details of the things I’ve done, which makes me quite happy.

While we were in the park, I discovered that one guy in the group, Maykol, the worship leader from Cuba, loves to dance!! There was an outside concert in the park (there’s ALWAYS music here!!) and we danced salsa together. He’s reallyyyyy good. It was excellent. I’m going to make him take me salsa dancing before I leave :). So, thus ended my Sunday, in half of a blink of an eye. I cannot believe how fast this weekend went. I’m rather sad that tomorrow is Monday. Not so much because I have to go to classes, but more because I really don’t want this weekend to end. Oh well, all good things much end sometime…but I console myself that this good thing has not yet ended, as I still have 2 months left in Seville. I’m sure there will be many more such days as those of this weekend. They seem to be happening with more and more frequency as I get more acquainted with the city and the language. God is good, that’s all I have left to say :).