Monday, October 10, 2005

Spain 2005 #2

Hey everybody?

It?s been a while since I wrote last, but here I am, writing. I don?t really remember what I said last time? I think just stuff about daily life for me here, so here are some stories of things that have happened cause the school, family, and daily routines have not changed a ton.

By now, I have traveled quite a bit through the south of Spain in the Andalucia province? to cadiz, algecerias, sevilla, granada, almodovar, saw gibralter? I also went to Portugal and morocco for long weekends too. brag brag. While I?m at it, I think I am going to return to Munich for a long weekend and visit Petra (and hopefully Amy vv is meeting us there), and possibly Barcelona and/or Madrid. I chose to not travel in the north of Spain because it will give me an excuse to come back and spend another extensive amount of time here? and I like to spend more than just a weekend in a city or region.

I don?t wanna bore y?all with details of all the sights I?ve been seeing here, but I would like to mention my trip to morocco, in a city called Marrakech (we also went to Casablanca for a night in transit). I went with Chris, Monica, Marissa, and Jessica (some of my ameri-pals here)? and to sum it up, I think Chris put it best: ?anything? absolutely anything, could happen right now, and I don?t think I?d be surprised.? And it was totally true.

The streets there were insane with donkeys, scooters (with horrible 2-stroke exhaust that made me noxious every now and then), dead animals hanging from vehicles of all types, taxis, cars, horses, people, bikes, wagons, chickens, etc. Some streets got too backed up and everybody would try to go at once; even the pedestrians would get in traffic jams. I saw vegetable markets with the food just sitting on the dirty, oily, old, streets, the butcher shops were just an old bloody room with the raw meat and organs sitting on a counter on the sidewalk? exposed to everything passing by (people, exhaust, donkey farts, etc). it was a total culture shock for me and the others, we knew what we were in for when we left? this kind of lifestyle was so much different than anything I had ever seen before.

Also, an interesting thing was that it seemed like the people there didn?t know what the united states were. They could NEVER guess where we were from? often times we claimed to be Spanish without questioning by the Moroccans. I got Japanese, Italian, everything European, and only 1 guy the whole 6 days guessed American? it was strange. Even when I would say I was from the US, sometimes they just returned with blank stares. Aside from the craziness of the way of life there, the people that we dealt with were generally really friendly with us? we were offered food by locals at sundown to celebrate Ramadan a few times, got a lot of stares but usually followed by smiles rather than maddog looks, and the orange juice and dinner guys were like our best friends, always happy to see us around, and would try and hang out with us while we ate.

The way you shop there is strictly by haggling with the shopkeepers, and we quickly learned that we really had to lowball them cause they started with outrageous prices. I got thrown out of 3 different stores because my starting prices were insultingly low (I just didn?t want the junk they were asking me to buy). Lastly, I was there during Halloween?so naturally we bought a lot of the Moroccan garb and dressed up as Muslims to celebrate, it was quite fun, you?ll see the pictures. I now have 5 turbans? or turbs for short.

The aftermath of morocco: I don?t really want to go into the details cause they?re kind of graphic, and generally? girls don?t like the discussion on the consequences of stomach problems so half of my audience would be ill-at-ease (except maybe Rachel and Kelli). But I think I got sick from the pigeon that I ate there? because they are equivalent to rats in my mind, and I imagine they carry diseases quite often?. I?ll send updates on my tapeworm periodically. All 5 of us got sick afterwards, and it?s been 2 weeks now and its still lingering a little bit, but whatever? I had a good time there.

I also saw a soccer game here (well, in Sevilla)? it was pretty fun, although we were never able to find our seats. Spanish stadiums are not marked with gate numbers, row numbers, or seat numbers, but we did have 4 assigned seats? strange. Anyways, it was between FC sevilla and atletico Madrid? and it was really cool to see all the crazy fans there. They have chants like we do, but they sound much more melodic. It sounded like a choir of 10000 people when the crazy end of the stadium would do their thing.

As for my Spanish? it?s getting better. I?m sure my accent is still pretty bad, but things have gotten a lot easier for me since the last time I wrote. I?ve made a few more Spanish friends, and try to hang out with them as much as possible a) cause its fun, and b) cause it helps me get better at speaking. One of them knows English about at my level of Spanish, so we help each other out and practice a lot. Although I?m sure it was ugly on my end, we are able to have interesting conversations about philosophies and crap like that. I also am more comfortable at home now too? I hang out and watch TV with the family, and talk to them about random things, ask for advice on where to go and whatnot. We all understand one another much better now, so I don?t have to think of my conversations before I start them.

I had a few interesting experiences here with the language too? one night, Chris and I were talking to 3 Spanish girls and we were exchanging insults in Spanish and English. For some reason, I thought of douche-bag so told them about it? but then they asked for its meaning. I said it?s ?a thing? but also just an insult, but they wanted to know what the ?thing? was. I don?t think they have them here or something, but the girls were pretty entertained and disgusted when Chris and I tried to explain what it was? the first discussion took 1 hour, and we?ve had 2 more since. One of the girls said she?d like one for a Christmas present, but we told her that she was mistaken. They then told us to bring a picture of one, cause our explanations weren?t sufficient? so that?s my homework for the day. Another story, is one of my friends invited me over to her house for her friend?s birthday-ish party, so I brought Chris along with me. I mentioned that I had been sick earlier, and my friend asked if I went to the doctor, and I said no, I don?t really like going to the doctor. She asked why and Chris said ?bend over and cough? but in English? so this required an explanation in Spanish, involving pantomiming the action. At this point, all 12 Spaniards in the room directed their attention at Chris and I, while we had to explain that when boys get a physical they have do drop their pants and cough, while the doctor does his thing. They were absolutely mortified that this happens on a yearly or bi-yearly basis, and thought that doctors in the states were kind of perverted. One of the guys chimed in with a comment on how it?s a score if the doctor is a female. Right.

Anyways, I realize I have written way too much? hopefully you were able to make it down this far. If you write back, I have been pretty good about responding (sometimes gotta give me a few days), but I enjoy hearing from people back home. My friend loaned me her laptop for the weekend (yeah, I?m in my living room watching a western in Spanish with my ?mom? and she just asked me if I have eaten horse. I said no, and she tried to convince me to do it because the water we drink is dirtier than the water horses like), and I figured out how to steal internet on this computer, so I posted a bunch of pictures of my experiences in morocco, la tomatina (huge tomato fight), and my time here in spain. They have descriptions that are sometimes helpful, sometimes stupid. Keep in touch,


Spain and Portugal:


Tomatina and Valencia: