Monday, January 28, 2013

Espectáculo de Caballos (y más)


So this weekend we took a bus to Jerez for an Andalusian Horse Show...definitely a new experience, and one I won't be repeating.  The horses were supposed to be 'dancing' but it just looked like they were so nervous and scared, foaming at the mouth and such, it was very uncomfortable to watch.  Although, when I got home, I told my host parents that it was 'precioso!' just like they had said it would be.  After the horse show we had a seafood lunch in Puerto Santa Maria.  It was delicious, but my stomach felt kind of weird for the rest of the day.  Before we got back on the bus, I tried to get some ice cream with a few other people, but we only had ten minutes and the guy in front of us HAD to order a crepe, so we didn't have time.  This was quite unfortunate, because I was left with a serious hankering for ice cream--we rectified the situation with a little help from Ben & Jerry yesterday. (Yes, there's a Ben & Jerry's in Cádiz!)  

In other news, my host parents shared some of their 1982 Rioja wine with me yesterday, and I don't think I'll ever be able to drink $4 bottles of wine again...also, I went for a run today and saw a leathery old dude tanning in his speedo on the beach (it's 59 degrees.)

That's about it, here's some photos--feast your eyes on good ol' Andalucía.

Obviously thrilled by Puerto Santa Maria 

One more thing: I'm going to Malta for Carnaval vacation in two weeks.  You could say I'm pretty stoked.
Blue Grotto, Malta
(Thanks to the dude who put this on flickr)

Here's to more wine and sunny weather!


Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Typical Day in Cádiz


I am now approaching the end of my second week here in Cádiz, but it feels like I've been here for much longer.  I wouldn't say it feels like "home" the way that Seattle does, but I definitely got that "I'm home!" feeling when the train pulled into Cádiz on the way back from Sevilla.

Just a cool map I found online.

There's nothing too exciting to report, so I thought I'd do a post on what daily life is like here, when I'm not gallivanting around another city and snapping photos like a madwoman.

I usually drag myself out of bed and into the chilly morning air around 8am.  The houses here don't have central heating, so there are about five fleece blankets on my bed and it takes a good deal of willpower to get myself out from under those in the morning.  Showers are supposed to be about five minutes long because water is expensive in the south of Spain and especially in Cádiz, and hot water is spotty.  I'm a girl that loves a good fifteen-minute shower so a five-minute shower is a challenge, but hey, it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for the opportunity to study abroad in Spain. 

For the first week, my host mom would get up every day and make me two pieces of toast with coffee for breakfast, but this second week I've been able to make my own (aka put the bread in the toaster and heat up my milk for my coffee.)  We sit at the kitchen table and eat together, then I grab a piece of fruit and a juice box to take to school.  Yes, you heard right, I take a juice box to school with me.

Then I have orientation/review from 9:30am-1pm, with a half hour break.  It's been helpful, but also incredibly boring at times, I'm excited to start the real classes next week.  After school, I walk back home (which takes about 10 minutes) and my host mom is cooking lunch.  Now, when I say lunch, I don't mean a PB&J sandwich.  Around here, breakfast is super-light, lunch is the biggest meal of the day and it's served around 2pm, and dinner is a lighter meal eaten around 9pm.  For lunch, I usually have a salad (covered in oil and vinegar) then a heaping portion of whatever type of delicious food my host mom made.  Today, it was chicken filets in a gravy-like sauce, rice, and cooked mixed veggies.  Typically though, it's a salad, fried fish and a hearty soup, and there's always french bread on the table which I've managed to avoid...extra carbs are definitely not needed with this kind of food.  I still get offered it at every meal though, "¿Quieres pan?" is the phrase I think I've heard most.

They also really like to use oil here, I'm not exaggerating when I say it's on everything.  The good thing is I've had a lot more vegetables than I thought I would.  Given, they've all been pretty cooked-down, but it's better than none!  Aside from lettuce/tomato, raw vegetables aren't really a thing here, my host parents thought it was pretty amusing that I like to eat red bell peppers raw, I didn't mention I also eat carrots/celery/snap peas/spinach and pretty much every vegetable raw.  Lunch is pretty gigantic, but that's because you don't really eat again for another seven hours (unless your host mom brings you chocolate at 6pm, like mine just did.)

Included with lunch is siesta, when most everything closes for about 3-4 hours in the afternoon and people go home to have lunch with their families, and maybe take a nap.  I've definitely taken advantage of the napping aspect, especially since I got sick.  I said it took a good deal of willpower to get out of bed in the morning, and I think it takes even more to get up from siesta.  After siesta, there's a bunch a free time until dinner at 9, so that's when people go shop, eat some tapas, exercise, go to a café, do homework, or my personal favorite, hit up a local bar for a Tinto de Verano (or two).

Dinner is usually some fried fish/meat or soup (with bread, of course).  I sit at the kitchen table and eat with my host parents, and we discuss pretty much anything, the conversation has ranged from Whitney Houston to Spain's economic troubles.  After dinner, I do the homework that I've put off and they watch TV.  I've watched TV with them a couple of times...once it was some kind of Jurassic Park rip-off that looked like it was from the ScyFy channel (dubbed in Spanish), another time it was a dubbed version of Collateral ("Tom Cruise is a little strange, no?" said my host mom,) and then there's this program that looks kind of similar to the daily show or the colbert report (my host parents informed me that the Spanish people are very tired of the politicians here.)  Around 12:30am, I head to bed to sleep and do it all over again the next day!

I'm going to try to update this blog on a regular basis, but I don't know if I can come up with that many ideas for posts... so I'm now taking suggestions/requests, leave a comment and let me know if there's anything you want to know/want me to write about!