Sunday, March 24, 2013

Arrival in Cusco, Peru!

I'm going to make this post short and sweet since I am writing on the oh so grand keyboard of my iPhone (with wifi from the hostel I'm at!). The last 5 weeks of my gap year I spent mostly at home doing things such as making a dress (a slightly odd looking dress but who cares), preparing for the jungle (mostly by activities such as showering less regularly, finding and purchasing supplies, thinking about how light I was going to pack yet still ending up with a 21.5 kilo duffel bag, etc). Anyway, I really enjoyed my time at home but blogging about it won't be as interesting. So now let's talk about Peru! 

To begin with maybe I should mention the long plane ride to get here. Total travel time ended up being about 22 hours with a night flight from LA to Lima. I was both fortunate and unfortunate enough to sleep for most of the flight. Fortunate because sleep is good, unfortunate because I waited up for like an hour to see if we would be getting a dinner (since I forgot to do that during my layover) then I settled on a granola bar went to sleep, slept through the pasta dinner they apparently tried to give me, and woke up with my oh do appetizing vegetarian breakfast sitting on my tray table in the down position. There were also some great mike options that i did not watch. But the fligh was smooth. Then I got to Lima and a mini nightmare began as I had only 1.5 hours to get to my connecting flight and had to go through customs, get my suitcase from baggage claim, find where my next flight would be (another unfortunate process where a man I thought was being kind helped me find the way and pushed my stuff then charged my $6, lesson learned; never trust someone who iss nicer than they need to be, but I was in a hurry and the airport was not well marked so oh well), recheck in my luggage and then go through a painfully long security line arriving to my gate with 10 mnutes before it was supposed to leave. But no worries, they had just started boarding so I was in a thankfully no pasa nada situation. 

I finally  arrived in Cusco (Cuzco) today at around noon and was promptly greeted by Angelika, the coordinator for IFRE here in Cusco that worked out my placement and such. She is really nice and is from Germany! After taking me back to the hostel we walked around Cuzco for about 2 hours and were joined by her Peruvian boyfriend who works on tourism, so that was funand I got to see some cool parts of the city. I then explored a b more only own and got lunch at the restaurant she recommended (with enough leftovers for dinner now!). Unfortunately the altitude has affected me more than I expected and I am not feeling my best so I spent a relaxed evening in the hostel which basically has a view of the whole city (only a 10 minute or less walk down but then more like a 30 minute or more walk back up to the old and more central part of the city). I did also drink some traditional coca leaf tea which is supposed to help with altitude and it may have a little, or it could have been placebo, but either way it tasted good (yes coca leaves are used in making cocaine but don't worry just the leaves are fine). There was also a parade that went through the city and I got to use my new tephoto lens to take some cool pictures without actually moon from my window perched position ;)

Anyway, I will probably now shower and sleep soon even thou it's only 7 to avoid getting sick / hopefully feel better. I also have to be up and on a bus at 4:30 am tomorrow to manu. It should take about 8 hours but since its still the end of the rainy season it could take a bit longer. Oh, I also tried out my uv water purifier and it seems to be working out just fine (hasn't made me feel worse which is always a good sign). I will also have my own personal stash of water in the jungle, so that's another plus. I wish I was feeling better but the point of this post is basically to inform you all that I am here safe and sound and the next part begins early tomorrow! 

I suppose I should also add that I've never seen so many llamas and that I should have brought the whole 8-pack of travel tissues my mom bought me because toilet paper is not a common occurance here (not even in the hostel which is quite nice in all other regards (my own. Extols and bathroom!)) so that does bring some worry for the jungle. Also it was a beautiful day here today with in the very hot 70s (though I really think that wrong, it felt like at least 90s). Okay, until next time, whenever that may be! :) 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Carnival, school, and going home?

Is it really already just a few days before I hop on a plane back to the U.S.? It doesn't quite seem real yet that my adventures across Europe are coming to a close (for now, anyway). Since it's now been about two weeks since I last blogged, you may be wondering what in the world I have been up to. Fear not, I shall explain.

The past two weeks I have been continuing going to school with Anna, attempting to work out details for the next leg of my gap year, finished El Hobbit (go me! honestly I felt like I had just accompanied Bilbo on the long journey involved in reading the book. Quite a lot to get through. But hey, now I know just about every word for "goblin" in the Spanish language...because that will certainly come in handy at some point in the future), read 2/3 of the series of the Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (very compelling and intense books that I have been greatly enjoying), and also got a taste of Germany's Carnival (boy oh boy)!

On the school note, I must say that I now have a great respect for the German school system. For one, the block schedule. It's nice having some variation in the day by day routine. It's also nice because then students can take more subjects and they also select which two are most important/that they want to focus on. I don't like the idea of having one big test at the end over everything you've learned for the past 2 years and only one shot to do well, but this seems to be okay for them. Anyway there are many other advantages (and disadvantages) which has been very interesting for me to get a chance to see.

With Anna's block schedule (and many others), she has P.E. once a week for 2 hours. This class is not nearly as intense as Uni's P.E. regimen, but it is kind of nice having 2 hours straight to do something rather than a 45 minute period (1/3 of which is spent changing and unchanging). Last week we got to use ripstiks which was really very fun. At first it was very hard and only a couple of people could stay on for more than .01 of a second, but by the end many of us were having success and even doing the limbo on our ripstik boards (for those who don't know, this is like a skateboard but with 2 wheels and you have to kind of zig-zag to stay upright). The week before we were missing Abby when we got to play inline hockey. Everyone either brought gear or were able to use skates, sticks, helmets, etc. from the school. I wasn't particularly good at this, but it was still really fun and cool that we got to use real skates and such (something that is probably not allowed in U.S. P.E. classes).

So now what you've all been waiting for, this past week I got to participate in Carnival! The U.S. really doesn't have anything like this. The only at all similar festival is Mardi Gras and/or a weird fusion with Halloween but only New Orleans really celebrates Mardi Gras anyway. Basically I would describe carnival as a giant 5 day long party that began Thursday and ended Monday (no school yesterday). There were several parades in the towns along the Rheingau (the series of towns on the Rhine River) and tents set up and also parties in the evenings (some of which were in the tents).

We started out Thursday by going to school dressed as athletes (as was the theme for the senior class). I got to borrow some of Hubertus's old bike gear from the 80s so that was pretty fun. And Anna went as a football player (with intense shoulder pads and all). Then during the evening and on Friday I dressed up as a patriotic American. I had a flag as my cape and I decorated a shirt with a flag-like design. Saturday we went to Frankfurt because the Bosch's American relatives were there for a giant Europe tour with the D.C. Symphony that they are a part of. We spent the day in Frankfurt with them walking around and chatting and then in the evening they went to the concert and Anna, Jannik, and I went back to Rüdesheim and took a break from the carnival festivities by watching a movie instead. We considered going to the concert with the Adults, but tickets were 90 euros. So that wasn't a very desirable option.

On Sunday and Monday I brought back out my cheetah costume from Halloween in Spain since I could make this one a little warmer and we were outside in the cold watching parades (and then participating by joining the last float and parading around until the end). I now know all of the Carnival songs and dances by heart and would say I am much better friends with several of Anna's friends.

Sadly I will now be leaving in only a few days, but I'm glad that I have been able to have such a new and different experience. I've heard that 1-2 months is kind of a weird amount of time because right as you are finally adjusting you have to leave, and to an extent I would say I might agree.

I mentioned earlier that I was smoothing over/figuring out what I will be doing for the rest of my gap year. I don't have my placement details yet, but I will most likely be spending two months volunteering on Manu Biosphere Reserve in Peru working on an Ecological Restoration Project. This is one of the largest and most diverse national parks in all of South America, so even though it will be quite rural (30 minutes by car to the nearest internet connection..... a little daunting) I am very excited and will try to keep you updated (somehow) on my amazonian adventures.

See you soon Chambana!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Few Deutschland Differences

I have now been in Germany for more than a little bit more than a month, and leave in exactly 3 weeks from yesterday. It's crazy to think that I have been in Germany for 1/4 the time that I was in Spain! Though technically I haven't been in Germany been with Germans for 1/4 the time that I was in Spain since I have been to two other countries in this time also (yes, we know Marie, no need to rub it in).

So now I will give you a brief update on my life and then go on to talk about some differences that I have noticed between Germany and Spain and/or the US. This past week I went to all of Anna's classes except for the morning of one day when she had 3 straight hours of history (4 periods in a row of history sounds painful in a language I speak, let alone one that I don't). There was also a snow day Monday so unfortunately we missed my two favorites of her classes (English and Spanish, are you surprised? ;) ). I would also say that although I still really cannot speak German, my German has actually improved quite a bit in terms of how much I understand and of course I can speak more than when I got here.

Then last weekend the Bosch's told me about a benefit concert that their church was having this weekend and asked me if I would like to play in it, so I on the spot got out my flute and played a bit of a piece that I hadn't touched in literally maybe 4-5 months (since I didn't have any other pieces that I thought could be ready in one week) for their friends who were organizing the concert. I "passed" the test so this week worked on getting the piece back to performance ready and this evening played in the concert! I originally thought there would be other solo instrumentalists, but actually it was just choirs and a vocal solo and me, but that was okay and I thought it went pretty well. And in case any of you are wondering (which you probably aren't), the acoustics in German churches are very very different from those of American Churches.

Anyway, on to the fore mentioned differences.
-The language! (duh)

  • A big food difference is the use of Butter instead of Oil. You may remember me writing that Oil is used with pretty much everything in Spain. Here, that is replaced by butter. And not only do they eat/use a lot of butter, but I have also noticed a slight phenomenon here. The Germans have a really quite incredible butter spreading talent. You may think/be under the false pretense that butter spreading is not a talent, as I was. Butter is simply soft and nicely spreadable, or cold/hard and impossible to spread, impossible. Wrong. There are not just two kinds of butter spreadability, but rather two kinds of butter spreaders. Those who can only spread the soft (like me), and those who can spread it all. So far every German that I have encountered in a butter spreading situation (which have been several) has been the latter. (As a disclaimer, if you are german, reading this, and not an EBS (extraordinary butter spreader), I do not claim that all Germans fall under this category, simply those that my path has crossed thus far).
  • As in Spain, dinner is also lighter/not typically the main meal. Here, a spread of fresh breads, cheeses, meats, maybe a saldad, and of course butter (straight from the fridge) is set out. I attempt to just do what Anna does but instead end up with embarrassing chunks of cold butter on my now crumbling and broken bread while she (and everyone else in her family) have a perfect smooth coat on their intact brötchen. 
  • On the topic of food, perhaps it was just my 'host family' that didn't eat much bread, but in Spain I would say that tomatoes and olive oil came first whereas in Germany the bread wins. (Take a moment to note the play on words since Germany's economy is doing so much better than Spain's).
-The word "doch." it doesn't really translate to english, but it's a great word. Example of one usage: in english we might say "nuh uh" "uh huh" "nuh uh" "uh huh" but in german they would say "ja" "doch" "ja" "doch" or "nein" "doch" etc.
-My personal experience of going from living in a the very middle of a decently large city to living in a smaller area (but everything is still closer together/often walkable unlike the US!)

And actually there are many more differences but none in particular that I can think of now so maybe I will just add some more in my next post. I am also currently in the process of almost being sure of what I will be doing for the rest of my gap year after I get back from Germany! But to leave a little suspense, I will talk about that in my next post. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Schifahren in Austria!

Schifahren in Austria. What a title for someone who before this week long trip had only ever skied for about 4 hours on fake snow and fake hills.

We got to Austria and it seemed like almost as soon as we crossed into the country there were snowy mountains everywhere. We then went and rented skis and helmets and I signed up for 3 days of Schischule. I started off ski school with a bang by falling on top of who I assumed was one of the instructors while attempting to put on my skis. Fortunately this young lad helped me into my skis and then it was smoother sailing from there. I had assumed he was one of the instructors because he could do everything but it turns out he was actually from russia, pretty much spoke no english or german, and just better than the 4 romanians in my class and me. I was in the English speaking class, but I was the only native English speaker, so basically it more like the non-german speaking class.

The first two days we did basic stuff mostly on the smaller practice hills, and there were many funny moments because my ski instructor, Herbert, was quite the character. The third day, my basic German and advanced English helped me understand that Herbert decided not to teach us "I'm done. I don't teach today" "But Herbeeeerrrrt we like you Herberrrttttt!!!!" (conversation between Herbert and an entertaining Romanian woman) and put the Romanians in a lower class, me in a slightly better one, and the Russian with the higher class that had some other Russians so he could finally comunicate with language instead of us playing charades. Side note: Since I seemed to be the only one who understood that "Ruski" means Russian (note to world, the word "Russian" sounds similar in pretty much every language) and could decipher/communicate with charades, everyone in my initial class thought that I was Russian so were surprised to learn otherwise.

Anyway, I think I improved a lot in those two days, and then the third day of ski school the instructor took us up a very steep red slope (the colors are different) with an unfortunate amount of moguls (little mounds of snow) and told us in his very heavy Austrian accented German (oh yes, I forgot to add that I was placed in a german speaking class for the third day.... "sprechen sie englisch?" "nein" and that was that) that he would not have taken us up there if he didn't know we could do it. He made us do this part of the mountain several times until everyone could manage to get down decently smoothly. After the third day, I went with the Boschs and Abby everywhere and was by far the slowest, but it worked out and by the last day, I was even going down blacks. Maybe not the steepest blacks, but that is an unimportant detail.

The ski day is typically 8-4, so we had nice relaxed afternoons back at the lodge filled with chocolates, games (in particular; banana grams, german trivial pursuit, trouble), sherlock, and more food. One of the days we ended early so Abby and I went to an indoor pool/water park (while Anna studied...I'm glad the US does not have the Abitur). This was pretty fun actually because it was a very high tech pool place with fun areas and two slides. I should also mention something that Abby left out in her most recent blog post. One of the slides used a tube, the other did not. So we are standing in line for the non-tube slide and I go first then am waiting for Abby to come out when who should appear from the slide, not Abby, but an old man. I'm a little confused because the slide didn't look scary or anything so why would she have backed out... The old man looks very confused and concerned and is trying to tell me something, but I couldn't really understand what he was saying... but I did get something like "I think your friend is coming" so I continue waiting while the man continues to stand there concerned when who should come out next but a little boy. At this point I'm slightly concerned because she would have made it down the stairs had she backed out, but who knows. Finally a very slow moving Abby comes out of the slide laughing and somehow she was having difficulty sliding down the slide/got stuck and two people passed her on the slide. Note that the slide doesn't have a huge circumference and is also dark so it's very lucky they didn't run into her. Also note that there is a decently long wait between sliders. So that was pretty funny.

Basically Austria and skiing was really fun and I'm very glad that we got to go! I should also mention that all of the food was fantastic and the views were nice too ;) As Abby put it "I've only ever seen mountains like this on a Toblerone bar." Gotta love her.

And here are a few pictures from the trip:
The females!
The funny Romanian forementioned 
Abby and me with the mountains!
A wonderful germknödel
Yes we did ski [and anna snow boarded] through clouds.
Top of the mountains!
A little bit pretty. Just a little.
Outside of the lodge we stayed in.

After getting back from Austria, Anna had to go right back to school, and Abby and I accompanied her for half of the day every day except for Thursday when we took the train to Frankfurt and toured around. That was fun, though quite cold, and we got to see some famous churches,  a very very very (can't emphasize enough) odd modern art museum, and more. I think it didn't help that we were pretty much the only people in the museum other than the workers that just stared at us, and construction workers. But we left with kind of a creeped out vibe. Maybe it was the toilets that played creepy music. Maybe it was the exhibit that was a locked room with a wall that had a mans legs sticking out from behind it. Maybe it was the dark room with a slideshow and a tv screen with a guy just watching us and pictures on the walls of creepily face painted people in a sunflower patch. Maybe it was just the general vibe. There was actually a pretty cool "America is terrible" exhibit though. That wasn't the actual title of the exhibit, but it was just a bunch of pictures of decently upsetting things going on in America with descriptions of what was going on. Examples: picture of KKK, picture of mentally retarded cross bread tiger, picture of nuclear bombs in a body of water, picture of a decaying dead person in a forest for a forensic study, etc. Here are some pictures from Frankfurt and some of the other touring we did in Germany:

America is terrible room

The history museum on an island that Herr W always talked about (in my Uni High German 1 class)

This is an exhibit?

I'm pretending to be a mouse in front of the mouse castle. (duh)

The Rhine river! At the Loreley view point.

A wee bit windy.

To conclude, I must mention the fiasco we experienced at the airport dropping Abby off yesterday. We get there a litte over 2 hours early (as you are supposed to), go to check her in at the kiosk, but the kiosk just wouldn't do it, so then wait in line for after all of the Koreans going home on Korean Airlines (she had a layover in Korea) finally get there and the woman says she can't let her through because she doesn't have a visa or return ticket. So then another person comes over, also says no but he can call the New Zealand airport and ask. He calls, they say no she won't be able to enter the country. So then we go to the last minute ticket booth to see if Abby can buy a ticket to Fiji (what...?) halfway through her stay because somehow that makes things legal and the man apparently pulls a maybe not legal thing and gets her a cancelled ticket or something so it looks like she is going to Fiji but she won't actually go to Fiji and that will somehow make it legal for her to get into New Zealand and then work out getting a visa once she gets there. So this takes quite a bit of time and struggle but eventually she is able to check in and we finally get the group photo that I had been wanting the whole trip (since there wasn't one of just Anna, Abby, and me, and I mean who knows when the 3 of us will be together again? it just had to happen). Then we had an odd parting of ways (odd because knowing you won't see someone for at least 5 months is always odd) and hopefully Abby has now made it safe and sound to NZ. 
Look at that beautiful approved ticket!

London, Paris, maybe Tokyo...

First off, I apologize to all of my loyal readers for the nearly month long blog hiatus, it has been a busy and exciting month though so you might want to sit back, relax, grab a cup of tea (or coffee depending on your personal preference and perhaps the time of day) and several cookies, and prepare to read what will probably be a long (but hopefully interesting) post.

Secondly, you may be wondering, "why on earth would she make the title 'London, Paris, maybe Tokyo...'" and here is my answer, when I was a young child, I had a slight obsession with Hilary Duff (embarrassing, I know) and this was the line in a song of hers. At the time, I had never been to any of these places and they all seemed so foreign and far away, yet here I am now, having been to all three. "What in the world? I've read the blog post about Paris, remember Marie went to Tokyo with the Uni High Japan trip...but London? when did this happen?" is what you must be thinking now, so I will start by talking about London which I went to this past month and got to spend New Years with my friends Anna and Big Ben.

My last day in Granada I went to part of the Alhambra that I hadn't been to, walked through the city and took pictures of cool Graffiti (which there is a lot of!), and also sent a bunch of postcards because I had several that I had been meaning to send, and I also realized that the 15 euros of stamps that I had bought probably would only work with the Spain post office... so I couldn't wait until I got to Germany to send them. I also sent a package to my family. The last day the post office was open before holiday break. Talk about timing.

I was a little bit bummed to be getting to Germany the evening of the 23rd, because Anna had said that all of the Christmas markets would be closing. However, I actually got there just in time to see the Rüdesheim Christmas market. After hearing so much about them, it would have been a shame to miss it. And it did not disappoint. The germans that I met in Spain were always saying that Spain didn't even know what a christmas market was. And now I must say that I agree. This was not just a little Christmas market in a plaza, but rather the whole town transformed into a Christmas market. So that was a fun welcome. Also nice to be greeted with open arms by Anna and her wonderful family! So I spent Christmas in Germany, and for those who don't know, Christmas is officially both the 25th and 25th of December here! With Christmas Eve the 24th still, but most people open gifts the evening of the 24th.

Then a few days later, we left on a night bus from Frankfurt to London! There were 8 of us in total, and I had briefly met everyone going to London with us before, so that was good. It's also a pretty nice way of travelling to leave at night and sleep on a bus then wake up and be there (more or less). I also got to sing the song "I see London, I see France, I see ____'s underpants" while crossing the English Channel and have it be true ;)

The first day there (which was New Years Eve) we saw Buckingham Palace and ate a traditional English meal of Indian food, then went into the heart of the city and saw the count down and fireworks and walked around and such. Then the next day we did a lot more touring and I got to feel like Harry Potter on several occasions, from walking through platform 9 3/4 to being surrounded by death eaters on Millennium Bridge and ending the day by walking through Diagon Alley and bumping into the Weasley clan with the trips night bust tour (yes of course all of this really happened, I would never exaggerate). We also saw London Bridge, Big Ben, went through Camden Lock area, St. Peters Church, Westminster Abbey,  and other touristy stuff. But anyway, London was really really fun and it was so cool to be there over New Years with the 250,000 other people along the Thames River.

For those of you who don't have facebook, here are a few key photos from the trip:
The whole group!

Then just a day after we got back from London, Abby arrived and we hung out in Rüdesheim for a few days and then headed off to ski in Austria! To keep this post from getting too intimidatingly long (I've found that the intimidation level in reading two medium sized posts/articles/anything is much less than in reading one long one).

Friday, December 21, 2012

Últimos Días en Granada

I cannot believe that I have been in Spain for 4 months now. It seems like only yesterday that I arrived here and was unpacking all of my suitcases, and now, as I write this (well actually I am taking a little break) I am repacking all of my stuff + a lot of more stuff into my suitcases. Yet as they say, it also seems like forever ago that I arrived in Spain and began my gap year.

This week was pretty much the most packed week of the entire semester. I had several finals, papers (Yes, I do applaud myself for now having written three 6 page papers in Spanish in the past two weeks. You are welcome to take a moment to applaud yourself ;) ), and also a presentation. But of course, since this was also the last week here for the majority of my friends, we were also all busy doing last minute touristy things, going to tapas, having goodbye/navidad parties, etc.

Yesterday (Thursday) was Liz's last day here in Granada. It's too bad that that was also the last day of finals, because that means we were all busy right up until the end. I would say that almost all of the CLM left for home today, but a there is also a group leaving tomorrow, then I am leaving Sunday, and anyone who hasn't left by then is staying the whole year. I got up this morning at 6:40ish to help take her stuff to the bus stop since it's an unbearably long walk if you have 4 pieces of luggage and only two hands. I will be taking that same bus Sunday, and after one of the most uncomfortable and terribly awkward lunches of my life, Rafael agreed to help me carry my luggage to the bus stop (though not because he has to/it's his obligation, but because he's a nice person...........). But that's a whole other story that I can tell all you readers personally haha.

Anyway, it was really sad to say goodbye to Liz because we have become really good friends over the past 4 months and I'm so glad that she was the one to move in here with me. I know that we will see each other again and keep in touch, but it's weird to not know or even have an idea of when that might be. Morgan and I had our last Smooy tonight because she leaves at 3 am on a bus to Madrid and then back home for Christmas break tomorrow morning. That goodbye was also weird. Last night a group of us went out for tapas and then back to one girls apartment just so that we could make the last night last a little longer. We were all talking about how we are all terrible with goodbyes, and the question came up, is anyone really "good" with goodbyes? No. That could go in the "stuff no one says" youtube video.

I have now pretty much finished packing my suitcases! Crazy. Tomorrow I'm going to the post office as soon as it opens to mail a package, then I have my last flute lesson, then I will get a few last minute gift items, and hopefully later make one last visit to part of the Alhambra. Though I am essentially done with the shopping having bought my friends, family, and myself pretty much an entire extra suitcase full of regalos. I figured since I won't be getting many christmas presents this year, I was allowed to buy myself some. In one store the salesperson asked if what I was buying was a gift and if I would like it wrapped. Naturally I said yes. Now I will have a few things to open on christmas day ;)

Luna will absolutely miss me when I'm gone, since our level of friendship has really risen in the last few weeks. Tortuga, on the other hand, probably won't notice that I am gone, because he is still in turtle hibernation. As promised:

The next time I post will probably be from Germany! As I might have said before, it's weird to be leaving Spain, but I'm not really sad to be getting out of this apartment and since most of my friends have gone/are leaving, it does feel a little bit more right. I'm also extremely excited to go to Germany and to see Anna and her family and later be joined by Abby! This year has already and I'm sure will continue to be a year of fond memories for a lifetime. Life as I have come to know it in this past semester has pretty much come to a close, which is a very surreal thing. It's hard for me to believe that I have about 30 hours before I get on a bus and make my way to the Airport. Time is such a strange thing.
Speaking of time, the world hasn't ended yet and here it's already technically the 22nd, so I think it's safe to assume that we can all rest assured tonight. Buenas noches!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Last week of classes?

This past weekend Liz went to Morocco. This past weekend I went and saw the new Twilight movie in Spanish. That's right, we can play the "my weekend was better than your weekend" game. Just kidding. I actually had a really awesome long weekend (there was a Spanish holiday last Thursday, so no work or school! and I never have classes Fridays).

Anyway, I kicked off by finally going to the Frederica Garcia Lorca park for the free wednesday tour of his house. I wouldn't go to Granada specifically to see his family's summer house, but it was still cool! The christmas lights throughout Granada also all turned on Wednesday evening, so the walk home from the park was beautiful. The Christmas markets also opened, so I browsed and bought some dulces de la navidad.
Plaza bib-rambla

Where I live!

But what I'm sure you really want to hear about is the new Twilight movie. It was pretty good, especially because my friend Morgan and I had mostly forgotten what happens in the book so the surprise at the end was actually a surprise. It was also kind of a nice test of how good our Spanish is because there weren't subtitles or anything. The movie was also without a doubt more enjoyable in Spanish. Even though I don't usually like watching dubbed movies (in any language) because it's kind of weird, the whole art of dubbing is pretty cool. I mean, they really have work hard to get a translation that also matches with the lips. So I applaud the producers on that. The twilight movie actors and actresses also kind of have a deserved reputation of not being very good. Let me tell you, Spanish Bella has quite a bit more emotion in her voice. There were also a lot of funny to us parts because Spanish is just kind of a funny language sometimes.

Then on Sunday I went to the Sierra Nevada with Morgan and some of our other Erasmus friends (the European study abroad program) and their friends. It was so much fun. We took the morning bus up and spent the first half hour just walking around the ski village (the tourist office was closed, sup spain sundays) but there were lots of skiers and we eventually found someone who could tell us where the hiking paths were and what else we could do besides ski. For those of you who don't have facebook, here's a little anecdote from the bus ride:

On the bus to the Sierra Nevada, making the obligatory i'm-sitting-next-to-you small talk:
Me: "Sí, voy a hacer senderismo."
German guy on the bus: "....uhh no entiendo."
Me: "hacer senderismo.... como caminar por las montañas"
German: "oh sí sí estoy aqui hasta miércoles."

Me: "Yeah I'm going hiking"
German: "uhhh... i don't understand"Me: "going hiking... like walking along the mountains"German: "oh yes yes, I'm here until wednesday"


We first went on this giant slide thing, kind of reminiscent of the Alpine slides in the west of the US, but elevated on a track several feet above ground. This was pretty cool because the first part is automatic, so the little cart thing takes you up the mountain (one part straight up) and then you get to the top and can control the speed going down. I held back a little this summer on the Colorado alpine slide, but this time I had a seatbelt so therefore no inhibitions. We then found a nice long trail and went on a hike. Unfortunately what looked like it should be snow was actually ice. So that was fun. Especially for the girl who wore boots with a heel. Fortunately, none of us took any great falls, and we found this giant rock on the edge with a great view and took a break and I got a group photo with the handy dandy self timer.

We kind of look like some reality tv show commercial "a lot of blondes + one brunette meet wild"
Now that's a view, folks.

It's also very weird to think that this is my last week of classes, then finals, and then I leave for Germany! One of my friends leaves this coming Wednesday, and then about 90% of the CLM, including Liz, leaves the 21st (friday) and I leave the 23rd! Tomorrow is my last day at my internship, but yesterday I had my last classes with 4 of groups I help in (and then I will have my last classes with two different groups tomorrow). I got a photo of one of my favorite group of 12 year olds yesterday, and again when I entered their class they all cheered and screamed "WE LOVE YOU" in their funny little heavy spanish accents.
This class was pretty much in complete chaos all the time, but also a fun and mostly sweet group to work with.

This morning I turned in a 6 page paper (1.5 spaced. Who assigns 1.5 space. To me, that's worse than single spaced.) about symbols Salvador Dalí used during his surrealist phase. Probably not the absolute best paper I have ever written, but hey, it's hard enough to write that much in English. I spent way too much time on it and went to bed way to late last night working on it (as you can see, my Uni High paper writing methods have stuck with me), but I got it done. This morning there were literally 40 of us trying to print at least 5 pages each on a broken printer. Note to world: for being so 'technologically advanced,' printers could use a lot of improvement. A lot of button pushing and messing with the paper trays and turning off and back on again finally got it going, so I was able to hand in a hard copy. Yippee. Another note to world: they say that in tough situations, people bond the most. Very true. All 40 of us were friends by the time we left the computer lab.

And now for a brief Luna and Tortuga update. Luna has met her match. Q-tips. I swear she is more fascinated by these little cotton swabs than she would be by a live animal. And tortuga is in fact still hibernating behind the couch. Here's some photographic evidence of Luna, and for my next post I will get a picture of Tortuga.

Finally, life in the telenovela has been renewed for another season, but I'm happy to say that two of the main characters will not be coming back. Okay, so I'm not actually happy to be leaving Spain. In fact it's weird to me and I'm not quite ready to go (but I'm very excited to be going to Germany!), so basically this weekend will be jam packed with doing everything we still want to do and also some studying (though probably more of the former than the latter). I am not, however, sad in the slightest to be leaving my 'host family.' I feel bad for Silvia because her sickness really is awful, but she's also crazy. And Rafael has more moments of niceness than we give him credit for, but he also does some weird and inconsiderate things and is definitely just in it for the money. Basically I've come to the conclusion that they may both be good and nice people deep down, but I personally don't really enjoy either of their company and therefore will not be sad to leave the set of nuestra telenovela. Doing the host family was definitely a good experience, and had I not, I would never have met Liz but I think that if I had known what it would be like when I got here, I would have opted for living in an apartment with Spanish flatmates. 

Anyway, I'm off to get tapas at an internet cafe whilst working on some final presentations and enjoying the 11 remaining days that I have here in Granada. But fear not, I will surely be returning to this giant pomegranate (for those who don't know, granada is the spanish word for pomegranate).