I arrived late Friday night after a very long flight. Originally I had planned to arrive in Spain on September 16th. Mike and Victor Aram had planned a trip for Sam and I to spend my birthday weekend in Arizona at the Ritz and at a New England Patriots game on Sunday September 11th. My plan was to arrive back in Florida on the 12th and fly to Spain on the 14th. Well things back in Florida were getting pretty complicated and I decided to 86 this plan and change my flight so I would arrive in Spain two weeks earlier than originally scheduled. Hence, my LONG flight that brought me around the world before I arrived in Spain! I landed in Madrid and from there had to take a cab to the train station. Than I had to take the high speed train from Madrid to Seville. Than I had to take another cab to my new home in Spain. I left my apartment in Boca at 9:00 on Thursday morning with Amy as my chaffaur to Miami airport. I arrived here at 10:00 at night on Friday. And, of course, I blame Mike for my bloodshot eyes and dehydrated skin.
The house I am staying in is beautiful. I have the entire third floor to myself. I have my own bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and private terrace. The woman that owns the home is named Gloria. She is very nice and a very good cook! Her son Pablo has been showing me around and took me to the phone store to get my new Spanish phone number. This city is BEAUTIFUL! Today I went to the Seville Cathedral (it is the largest Cathedral in the world), and The Arabic Bath House. Both were amazing! I spent 4 hours at the Bath House! Tomorrow I start school and I am really looking forward to it-especially since no one here speaks English! These people do not even understand me when I order an espresso! I thought “espresso” was universal!? Needless to say, the past few days have been a bit challenging!
So today was my 1st day of school. I left the house 2 hours before I had to be there and thank God that I did! I originally left this far in advance thinking I’d make a pit stop or two for my “singular cafe con leche” (I had to 86 my use of “espresso”). Well, I got lost. This turned my 45 minute walk to school into an hour and a half long walk to school. Just when I was fully convinced that my GPS had brought me to the opposite side of town than my school was actually located, I looked up and there was my school! At this very moment, I tripped over a cobble stone and fell flat on the ground. I had scrapped my hands, feet, and legs. I’m okay-this could have been SO much worse! No one saw me AND my phone was not broken-both miraculous considering I was carrying my phone in hand and was in a crowded intersection with people everywhere.
My teacher, Raquel, is so nice and school went really well. I have school Monday-Thursday from 2:00-6:00. Gloria made another delicious dinner tonight and as Pablo and I were talking over our homemade gazpacho, he tells me that it was 56 degrees Celcius today! It was 132 degrees today! It’s no wonder that I got lost and tripped and fell and had sweat dripping into my eyes!
I officially declared a double major today! Eating and Speaking with a Concentration in Paella!
School went really well! I walk one way to get there and than another way to get home. I believe that the GPS is really useless half of the time in this city and I’m certain that anyone who has ever been here will agree with me!
Raquel and I have started researching the procedure to obtain a Visa. I have a small problem. I am only allowed to be in Spain (well the entire European Union) for 90 days. This seriously throws a wrench into my plans over here, especially considering that my flight home isn’t until January 3, 2017. I am contemplating fleeing to Morroco for a week and than returning, but something is telling me that this is not a good idea. Besides, if I am able to obtain a work visa than I can start teaching English. Having some funds coming in will definitely help my overall current situation.
The waiter Pedro (he insists on being called Peter) and I went for some tapas tonight to practice our Spanish/English conversation. We stood up while eating our dinner of small portions and both are entirely new experiences for me! I just love everything about Spain! They are going to have to physically evict my from this country!
As my first week of school was coming to an end, Raquel had decided to top it off by giving me a tour of The Alcazar of Seville. And, it was amazing! Did I mention yet that Raquel is the best tour guide ever? Not only has she lived in Sevilla her entire life, and a fountain of information, but she’s also very fun and makes already fantastic activities even more fantastic!
The Alcazar of Seville is a royal palace located right next to the Cathedral. It was originally developed by Moorish Muslim kings and is regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of Mideast architecture found on the Iberian Peninsula. The upper levels of the Alcazar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and it is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.
After my personal tour, we went to lunch and Raquel taught me all about the food and the menu. After lunch we strolled by the Cathedral and stopped at a Heladeria and got helado. As we continued our walk down the street, the masked man under the table jumped at us while chirping his notorious noises! This mask gets me every time and we laughed so hard I nearly dropped my ice cream. We than went back to ESIC to have class. I learned so much already this week about geography, history, gastronomy and culture. This week has been just amazing and I feel truly blessed!
Gloria made Chorizo for dinner and Pablo and I ate and spoke about my upcoming weekend trip to Ronda.
Yes, you guessed correctly-today was another spectacular day!!! I slept in and started my day with a walk to the American Consulate in hopes that they will be able to provide me with some information on the Visa process. Well the very pleasant man working there was entirely too happy to tell me that they were closed for the day. Only in Sevilla would the Consulate be open from 10:00-1:00 Monday-Friday! Coming from someone that has been working 18-20 hour days for the past 15 years-this town is looking BETTER and BETTER! I did however, leave the consulate very disappointed. Oh and hungry! I found a very nice tapas restaurant in the heart of Plaza Nuovo and ordered the Carrillada. Than I set off on foot towards the bus station in an effort to purchase my ticket to ‘Ronda’.
More about Ronda after the weekend. But to give you an idea as to where I’m headed, I thought I’d post these pic’s.
Now let’s keep in mind the current conditions I’m dealing with-such as the the fact that it is still 130 degrees! Everything is done in military time, kilometers, Celcius, and all in while speaking Espanol. Oh and I haven’t taken a bus since I was in high school so I’m not even sure if know how to do this back in the Estados Unidos. But I do know that I will figure it out because nothing is going to stop me from spending my birthday weekend in southern Andulusia in this beautiful, breath taking town called ‘Ronda’.
I managed to successfully purchase my bus ticket and am scheduled to leave at 9:00 tomorrow morning. I head over to see David at the peluqueria to have my hair blown out and than home for siesta.
Before dinner I decide to take a walk to Plaza de Espana. The Plaza de Espana is a principal building built on the edge of the Maria Luisa Park. It was built in 1929 for the Ibero-American Exposition World Fair. The walls of the Plaza are tiled alcoves each representing a different province of Spain. And, it is unbelievably beautiful.
I arrive home for another one of Gloria’s delicious home cooked meals to find three beautiful Italian girls sitting at the kitchen table.
First of all, I have to tell you that I absolutely LOVE traveling alone!! It is just devine!
As my bus pulled into the station in Ronda on Saturday morning, I received a text from Pablo telling me that there was a ‘feria’ going on this weekend. Pablo’s good friend dates the daughter of the mayor of this town so now I’ve got the whole lowdown! I am quickly rearranging my plans for this weekend as we text back and forth.
I manage to snag the last room at a beautiful hotel on the ‘Puente Nuevo Bridge’, a moorish bridge built in 1616, and than run off to do my sightseeing. I can feel the history in my bones as I explore this town. Ronda received the title of city at the time of Julius Caesar and you can feel the Roman presence.
I start out at ‘El Tajo’, run through the ‘Old City’, making a pit stop at ‘The Alamenda del Toro’ and than find myself standing in line at ‘The Plaza de Toros’ to buy a ticket to a “very special Bull fight”.
Ronda is famous for their bullfighting traditions and this bull fight was special all right! It was 4 hours long, for starters, and 7 bulls were sacrificed. And, to answer your question, no I will not be attending another such affair.
Overall, my weekend was absolutely spectacular! I arrived back home just in time for another one of Gloria’s homemade Sunday dinner’s with my 3 little Italian Genius’s. These girls are a breath of fresh air! Not only are they absolutely beautiful, they speak 5 languages!! They will be staying here for the week and I am thrilled!
I walked to school in the pouring rain today. It wasn’t that bad! I actually sort of enjoyed it. I made my usual stop at the panaderia. I have an ongoing joke with the owner of this lovely bakery. I have been stopping in here everyday since my 1st day of class. She makes these delicious little pastries and in an effort to describe them to me in ingles she translated them as “poof pastry”. Well naturally we both giggle out loud everyday about this when I order one. Today she gave me my bottle water on the house.
I am learning all about food at school right now and I had 3 hours of homework today. Thank God my little Italian genius’s were here to help me. I’ve recently come to realize that it is much harder than I originally thought to learn a new language. Looks like I’m going to be here awhile!
After school, I walked to the old part of Sevilla and stopped at my favorite Heladeria again-this makes 4 days in a row! Today my new friend, the owner Jacques, gave me several samples to try of his latest creations. I ordered a scoop of the pine nut cream and a scoop of the torte de limon. Soooo good!!
Well I was supposed to meet Maurice this morning. Maurice is a friend of Raquel. He works at ESIC and is married to a Spanish woman. Maurice is from Kentucky so Raquel thought it would be a good idea for us to meet.
Yesterday, Maurice had asked me if I had a favorite cafe in my neighborhood. Since I roam around aimlessly all of the time, I told this to Maurice. Fast forward to today…Maurice texted me at 11:15 saying “How about cafe Indies?”. I responded “Sure!”. I was THRILLED that Maurice actually picked a place that I knew how to get to! (I walk by this place when I roam home from school). I arrived at ‘Cafe Indies’ 35 minutes later only to find that Maurice was not there. He was at a different ‘Cafe Indies’ and this one was right next to where I lived! Needless to say, we never ended up connecting today.
So I decided that, despite the fact that I was very bummed out about not meeting my fellow American friend, that “I could start my day over at anytime”. This is one of many of my friend Laura’s favorite quotes. So I continued trucking forward.
Since Dr. Wallace is arriving in Sevilla on Friday, I set out towards the ‘Museo de Flamenco’ to score us tickets to a show for Saturday night. Now the real adventure begins…
As I head towards the museum, also in search of food, I decide to enter a cafe. I sit down at the bar and as the waitress approaches me, I mentally prepare for the conversation. Did I mention that I have been living off of ice cream and ham and cheese for 2 weeks now because it is the only things that I know how to order? This very nice waitress promptly leaves and returns with the worst looking ham and cheese sandwich that I have ever seen! Now I have been sucking it up lately and eating food that I do not like, but not now-not today! There was no way that I was going to accept this sorry excuse of a sandwich. I tried to ask her to switch the sandwich bread to a baquette and for it to be heated. Well I gave up, put 5 euro on the counter and left. My search for food continues…
I get the Flamenco tickets and start heading towards school. Yesterday I had asked my teacher if we could start class 30 minutes early and now here I am running late! I had spent the past 2 and a half hours walking around accomplishing nothing and not even knowing where I was at any given point! I was exhausted and my day hadn’t even started yet! I had blisters on my feet and I was still starving! I hd been rejected again by several restaurants, all because of timing and the slight communication barrier! Nothing was going in my favor it seemed. I had even contemplated calling Raquel and asking for the day off. But I quickly thought better of that because I just knew that when I saw her that we would quickly be laughing about all of this! I also promised myself that I would not dare tell her that I was having a “bad day”. This does not constitute a bad day.
After getting further lost through the streets of Seville, I finally spotted a bus station. I immediately ran towards it to flag down a cab. I was relieved! Than while I relaxed and took a moment to breathe, the cab driver drove past my school! As I sit in the back screaming “aqui aqui” he speeds up the taxi and pulls the car over in the middle of traffic and signals for me to “get out”! I was about 8 blocks past my school and already late. This was the way the day was…
I scurried along to school. Than, opposite of what I had anticipated, as soon as I laid eyes on Raquel, I found myself fighting back the tears-for about a second and than I had a full blown meltdown! Crying, hyperventilating, nose running-and poor Raquel! Standing there with her music box in hand, all of her teaching materials, as she tries to make sense of my blabbering! Of course, a mind reader couldn’t of understood what I was saying! But, Raquel managed to make very good sense of what was happening and took me to go get a tea. She could not have been more kind as she sat and said everything that I needed to hear in an effort to make light of the situation. She even said that it was good that I cried. And, tomorrow is a new day….
Well it seems at the moment that yesterday will not end. Despite the fact that I had a beautiful night sleep.
Maurice was kind enough to reschedule our meeting telling me yesterday that he had to come to ESIC (mi escuela) today and asked if we could meet at 11:30. I was thrilled!
I understood to come to ESIC. I was running late because just as I was about to leave my house to walk to ESIC, Gloria decides to give me a lesson on how to use the washing machine. I can’t speak enough Espanol to explain to her that I do not have time to learn this at this moment so I stand there with ants in my pants from my nerves telling me that I am going to be late for Maurice! I eventually make it out the door and 10 minutes into my walk I manage to flag down a taxi. I hop in and am on my way to ESIC! I arrive at ESIC just in time. Maurice had texted that he was wearing a blue pullover. I look all over and my heart sinks into my stomach and I break out into a cold sweat! AGAIN, I am at the wrong location! Maurice is waiting for me at the ‘Cafe Indies’ next to my house!! I am now in a full blown panic! But within minutes, Maurice arrives on his motorbike. We sit and talk and Maurice is incredibly kind. I explained to Maurice my situation with my work Visa and he called a friend that he believes can be of help to me. I am extremely grateful for all of his kindness and help.
After we finish our coffee, I head upstairs at ESIC to have class with Raquel. After school, Raquel and I go for tapas. We always laugh and have great conversation. She’s the best! After lunch we went sightseeing in the Jewish Quarter and roamed through the narrow streers. The Jewish District begins with a wall that during mideval times separates Jews from the rest of the city. The cobblestone streets were made so narrow in an effort to keep the pedestrians cool, even on the hottest of days. This neighborhood holds a wealth of history and is charming and gorgeous.
After saying goodbye to Raquel, I sat down in the old city next to the cathedral and phoned one of my very best friends back in Texas. Megan and I hadn’t spoken in a few weeks so it was wonderful to catch up. I than started my walk home for dinner. Pablo’s sister-in-law Maria has now moved into Gloria’s. She was in the hospital and now came here for Gloria to take care of her. It’s a good thing that there are a lot of beds in this house! I am just happy my little Italian genius’s are here for another week!
When I went downstairs for my coffee this morning, I find a random Chinese girl sitting at the kitchen table. I’m thinking “Oh great. Another girl that I won’t be able to communicate with”. Boy was I wrong! She introduces herself as ‘Monica’. She will be staying with us for a month and speaks English. AND, is here to study Espanol. I need to mention at this point that Gloria’s home is like a hotel! I never know who’s checking in and who’s checking out! I quickly befriend her, thinking the whole time that this is too good to be true! Not only do I have a study partner but a smart, nice one at that!
I take her to get her SIM card and her new Spain number. And than we continue running through Sevilla stopping in pharmacies, looking for beauty products, clothing stores, etc. Around noon time my friend Eric from Estados Unidos calls. He is my friend from Florida here to do a bike tour through Andalusia. Monica and I skipped across town to get Eric and the 3 of us went for tapas. After lunch, I thought we should start our sightseeing tour at the Real Alcazar.
Monica and I headed home for a siesta, stopping on our way to purchase a hair dryer (I’ve been living here for 2 weeks without one).
I went back out to meet Eric at Plaza de Espana and than we walked around and ended up a great little tapas restaurant and I had the best dinner that I have had in 2 weeks!