The Bloggess: Like Mother Theresa Only Better

Rainy day in Navarra…om nom nom!

Rainy day in Navarra…om nom nom!

…I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

From James Joyce’s Ulysses (Molly Bloom’s Soliloquy)

So we burst into colors and carousels, fall head first like paper planes and playground games

I just sat for about an hour doing nothing but looking at all the pictures I haven’t posted on Facebook.  Is that sad that our picture taking revolves around Facebook?  It’s March and I haven’t posted anything since December.  There are like 2000 pictures or something but then I suppose when I get around to it I’ll be more selective and just post the ones I know others will want up.  One of these days I’m going to take all the pictures that I want to keep for me and put them on my computer…actually I might have heard you can’t do that anymore.  Well I hope so!  I didn’t go to my volunteer thing today at the Huerta del Rosillo residency because I got up late and I’m on my period and I feel like crap today.  I needed this morning to just putter I think.  I went for a walk around the shops downtown and up to the Plaza de San Nikolas in the Albaycin—not to be confused with the Mirador de San Nikolas.  I wrote a little…worked on Arabic…listened to the broom of the street cleaner, somebody’s guitar, and the nearby fountain while I got spat on by whoever up there can’t decide on what kind of weather we’re having today.    

So last weekend in Valencia was just super! I really liked Valencia, not as much as Granada, but it was pretty and bustling and fun.  Cara and I met up with our old Spanish tutor/TA Miguel from Central there where he is getting his masters.  He’s friends with a lot of foreign Irasmus students and students not from Valencia…for some reason he’s doesn’t really like it there much…or maybe it was the people.  We had a ton of fun and took an eight hour bus Thursday night.  We got there around 7am and took a shnap…saw some gardens…shopped (ugh I can’t get away!) and we went to some Moroccan chic’s birthday deal at this club/bar called the White House, where some Belgium/German sexy person thought I was Autumn.  All I heard was this exaggerated “THAT’s what SHE saaaid!”  WTF.  It was really funny but I had no idea what was going on.  And then he did that Indian call thing….haha that was entertaining and even more so when he realized I look nothing like her.  Whatever!  Oh it was so funny, there were probably 40 people there for this girl and the doorman was trying to make a reservation for us at this discoteca for us but sometimes the Spanish doormen are assholes and are prejudiced against non-españoles. Gilipoyas!  It was a good thing for us that night though because he would only let us put Miguel’s name on it.  And we ended up just going with three French guys and a Polish girl—without the birthday girl because she was drunk and running around (hey, it happens!) and wouldn’t leave.  So the seven of us had a good time!


Oy.  So next day was rough waking up…late hours and all, but Cara and I wanted to go walk around the science center and the aquarium building and whatever else is over there, so up we got!  It’s the largest aquarium in Europe or something…and there are fake dinosaurs! Rawr.  The buildings look like something out of Star Wars and actually the discoteca we went to the night before was underneath part of the walkway of this place.  It was a sweet spot and there were sculptures and everything was covered in mosaic tiles.  We also tried Spanish horchata for the first time with Miguel later.  I think I like Mexican horchata better.  We missed out on Agua de Valencia, which is an alcoholic beverage and supposedly very tasty.  That night we went to a house party with all of the Irasmus students again.  I haven’t been to a house party in Spain yet, so I can check that off my list now. Yay! I love checking things off lists!

Let’s see…oh and then two weeks ago I went to Toledo and stayed in Madrid.  Tyler came to visit that week as well.  Toledo was GORGEOUS and they are the reason why we call cigarettes…cigarettes.  I think, unless I misheard nuestro guía.  It was there before the Romans came to the Iberian Peninsula, and now I also know why we say ‘Holy Toledo’, because it has as many churches as Granada does bars.  Ha.  Granada actually probably has more bars.  But there are eighty churches or something like that and Toledo is not that big.  (haha…Holy Toledo!..hahaha I kill myself!)  


Madrid, the weekend Jo went to Florida…well, I don’t know how I feel about Madrid.  I like it just fine, but the energy of the place does not suit me.  But I always seem to be sleep deprived when I’m there, so that could be a factor.  I arrived there on three hours, because I went out the night before (I wanted to fall over in Toledo).  Then that night and the next we were up at all hours again.  I mean, why not!  Tyler met us at the hotel on Friday.  After Toledo we were allowed to do whatever that evening.  We all had the intention of going out to see Madrid’s discoteca life but it didn’t happen for the majority of our group of 50 some.  A lot of us stayed in the hotel all night because, well, sometimes one does not make it to the dance club.  Sometimes the pre-party becomes ‘the’ party.  (That and there was some drama of the nonsensical, drunken sort).  We ended up being much safer indoors.  We went to Palacio Real Saturday and Sunday we went to Museo del Prado.  Both were awesome and I got to see Saturn eating his one of his children.  That was probably one of the highlights of the weekend.  All sightseeing would have been better with fully rested bodies but everything was super-Corte Ingles worth it. (Corte Ingles is the Wal-Mart of Spain but like a Macy’s department store and more expensive, they use it to exaggerate things and it’s one of my new favorites). 

We went to a seven floor, overpriced discoteca on Saturday night.  It was someone’s birthday and oh my lord.  I am so glad I decided to be a sober person Saturday (Friday had me covered…and Autumn and Tyler).  Most of our group was one of those really loud shit shows people always stop and stare at no matter where you are or what language you speak.   It was a herd of 20 or 30 drunken American college students running around downtown Madrid for about an hour.  Oy.  Well, the place we went was fun for us, though I’ve heard we could have made closer, better choices.  They had this ginormous smoke machine that shrouded the main dance floor every few songs in big gusts.  Without that, I think we would have been drowned in our own sweat like anywhere else.     I really wish Granada had an H & M.  But it’s probably just as well because I would spend all my money there…I find one whenever I go shopping everywhere else…like Madrid…and Valencia and Milan.  As well as Bershka and Strativarious and Pull and Bear and Zara and Pimpkie and Promod and I could just go on.  There is always a cluster of these stores.  Where you find one, the others are next door.  It’s awful.
 

Hmmm…oh and then there was Carnaval!  Cadiz was super bueno Corte Ingles funThat weekend was great.  It makes me want to go to Mardi Gras in New Orleans even more now.  I went with Autumn, Carissa, Eva, and Renee.  We all went as birds and took a bus for twenty euro that had us there Saturday by 5pm and then the bus went back at 8am.  I guess it’s a Spanish thing.  You go and party all night until the bus leaves.  We should’ve looked for one that left at like 5 or 6 am.  8 am was a rough wait.  Anyhooters (no they don’t do that here…) we bought our supplies that morning, waited for the bus until 1pm.  We did our makeup on the bus and tried to sleep, but we were too excited!  Autumn, Carissa, and I hadn’t really slept the last couple of nights, see, because Miguel had been in town to visit us in Granada and we had to do a real Spanish night out.  Without Miguel, we all usually make it back by 6am without going out for breakfast, but we had to do breakfast and stay out til 8:30am just for the hell of it to say that we do it the Spanish way (at least occasionally).  They go out at like 12am and then they make it to the discotecas around 3am and then the rest varies.  There is no “early morning hours” there is only night and day.    

So. Carnaval, a high high high, right before a week of lows, but that’s the point isn’t it?  It’s the custom before Ash Wednesday.  Carnaval was like a ginormous botellón with costumes in the streets of Cadiz.  Botellones are just people drinking in plazas essentially instead of going to the bars before the discotecas.  They were made popular by the bad booze that some bars gave out I guess, however many years ago.  So people bought their own and went to drink outside because it’s not like most moms are going to be like, “Yes, please bring ALL your drunk ass friends into my house to ruin my floors so the neighbors can call the cops on us.  I would love to see you act like an ass!”  Ha.  Carnaval had a lot of parades and I think I met more native Granada Spanish people there than actual Cadiz people.  All we met were people from Granada, all night long!  My favorite was probably this group of Where’s Waldo (Donde está Wally) guys all from Granada.  They were overwhelming because there were at least 50 of them, no exaggeration.  It was easy to tell who the foreigners were too, because they had masks and no clever costumes (like us por ejemplo).  There were parades and side shows, carnival foods, vendors, the beach, and just the running around and the talking to people part was super.  We must have been on the same ‘track’ if you will as the same people all night because we kept seeing the same costumes and strangers, but we never ran into our friends that we knew were there.  It’s so crazy how things in life work out that way because there were thousands of people there and we kept seeing the same people.  We did run into some people we knew, but like the ones that we weren’t expecting to see and…it was just weird.  Things kept working out and not working out but in ways where everything made sense.  The world is just funny; everyone has weird nights like that though I suppose.     

There was one point in the night where I was not with the girls but when I rejoined them, Autumn was attached to the arm of this rather muscle-y young man.  Apparently she just randomly grabbed him out of the crowd.  (This is why we’re friends, her whole ‘hi let’s be friends’ is just so entertaining.  It’s different than my ‘hi let’s be friends’) This boy’s name was Adam and he was in the Navy.  Now they’ve been talking for the last month, he’s visited, brought his friends, and now we’re going to visit them in Rota at the navy base this weekend for his house warming party since he’s newly stationed in Spain, and maybe stopping there during Semana Santa since it´s next to Sevilla.  Woot!  Funny coincidences keep showing up about him and his friend that Carissa is seeing now, for her and for Autumn.  I had encounters of other sorts, but like I said, Carnaval was an interesting night.    

Though whatever ‘spell’ was going on Saturday was broken when I learned later, that that night Adam also had his car crash.  Or maybe it was more like a dance.  You know in movies where they show parallel events happening and the music escalates and then shit happens?  I felt like that’s kind of what it was.  I had dreamt about Mike all week too, and the dreams had subsided in the last few months before that.  That was such a sad week.  Then Unc’ died on Ash Wednesday, two days after they cut Adam’s life support.  Well, I don’t remember who said it to me, but deaths and whatever else, usually come in threes.  Lance in February, and then Adam, and Unc’ in March.  So I shouldn’t have to miss any more family reunions (ha, at the very least). 

 One of my favorite smells in the world is incense trapped in wood and cloth.  I associate it with card readings, cigarette smoke, and coffee rings…dark lipstick and warmth…nights with guitars, cassettes, booze, and laughter.    When I was about 14, a group of my friends and I were celebrating Halloween.  I was either in eight or ninth grade, which would have made me an evil fairy or pirate, but I’m not sure.  I’m leaning toward eight grade.  I went trick or treating that year—don’t judge! I went this past year too actually….From what I remember, either way, there were parties with food and parental supervision (oy…it really wasn’t that long ago), we had trips planned to the local haunted places, and Mike, one of the planners of our group, a future best friend, had a neighbor, Val, that was going to read our palms.  I am still unclear as to how deep she looks into things like that, like if she just dabbled, or otherwise.    

The memory I have of this night is extremely vague.  I remember feelings of anticipation and I think it was warm in the house.  There were probably around fifteen of us.  We were shoved into her house which wasn’t huge and we all had to wait our turn of course, on top of each other on the couches, costumes and all (I wish I could remember). The lights were dim and we kept ourselves occupied gossiping and with her pet iguana that Mike had to babysit on occasion. The neighbor was dressed in scarves and skirts that suited her role for the night and there was also appropriate music.    

I do remember clearly from the readings, that my Ethereal Juice Lurve is an old soul, and that I’m a young soul (Ha! I feel like a young soul…), and then something about the chains in my love line.  What else is new!  I swear I‘ve had the same fucking ups and downs ever since my first butterflies about boys when I could barely talk(…I watched enough Disney to figure shit out).  There were people with supposed twins, success in love or work, among other things (blahhh).  The most curious reading of the night though, was Adam’s.   He and Mike were best friends since the beginning of their lives and about as opposite as friends can get, though they played off each other well.    

The details of the readings are gone but we all tried to laugh the main thing off.  Val predicted that by the end of high school Adam would essentially be a big fucking partier and that if he didn’t slow his roll he’d die early…maybe around eighteen and most likely by car accident.  Well wasn’t that just a fucking joke. How cliché—that’s one the biggest causes of teenage deaths, and besides, none of us partied. We were the middle group.  The group that got decent grades, knew a little bit of everybody, and threw decently sized get togethers with our parents lurking in the background. 

 It was a little eerie and I don’t think Adam liked it.  None of us did.  If that was him, where would we be?  In the car? Not friends at all?  We did our early teen freak out of ‘what if’ and how we could barely think that far ahead. But c’mon we were fourteen.  The scariest thing of the moment was social humiliation.  Talk about it was barely hot and only long enough for the atmosphere of Halloween to fade into Thanksgiving.   I don’t know.  Maybe that was Val trying to scare us into being good little teenagers, most adults will say anything to kids to get them to behave.  Maybe it was a Halloween show for her.  Who knows, because the thing is, our group, though it never ‘fell apart’, it shifted.  He really did start doing all she said, and it went as she predicted. 

This turned into a rather somber post, but I forgot I hadn´t written about anything in a few weeks until after I was already writing.  Two months left here, more or less.  So much has happened and is happening, or maybe I´m just in a spot where I´m more aware of events outside the U.S.  Probably both.  I decided I´m going back to Morocco before I go home.  The protests never got super serious there and I have a friend now to stay with.  Ha. I remember when we went with the program that some parents were freaking out about Egypt.  Yes, because they´re so close together! (Not, in case the sarcasm was missed.) Then the protests really did spread and then some other trips after us did get cancelled…huh.  Well, hopefully nothing awful happens while I´m there. Whatever though, I´m excited for tomorrow just because tomorrow is tomorrow and why the fuck not!

Fashion Reels Us In…Vooooooolare…(I’m Moonstruck)

 

The earliest memories I have of Cau Khoa, my dad’s younger sis—I mean brother (see jokes by Huy Nguyen), are in both of my grandparent’s houses, and then again when he lived with my dad, about 12 years ago.  (Btw, I love that my parents and their siblings are all around the same age.  It’s just so convenient!)  Those last memories were kind of confusing because there was a nasty falling out and being only seven I was fuzzy on the details.  I specifically remember finding my spice girls notebook at his apartment and wondering how it got there.  I still don’t know but I was excited to find it at the time…anyway, everything is just lovely now and everyone talks to everyone.  Besides, grudges and hate are one of the many causes of cancer.

 

Oy.  I didn’t really prepare anything for Milan except to plan around Khoa’s work schedule and then I found that there was this huge church called the Duomo and some castle.  I figured Cara and I could just wing the rest; maybe find a tourist center somewhere.  That worked out just fine except that The Last Supper was there and we missed it because apparently you have to make reservations online to see it.  Dammit.  Well we got in everything else.  Besides, the main thing to do in Milano is shop your life and soul away…drooling all over the windows and the gorgeous Italian boys.  It’s exhausting to think about…knowing what’s in for every season and then seasons ahead and then there’s the art, addiction, buyers, sellers, meetings, advertisements, shows, economy blah blah money blah, and whatever else you might add…I saw not even a glimpse of the world Khoa works in.  Not that it’s a huge mystery or anything but wow does it move at such a constant and fast pace.  It’s a business I suppose, like anything else.  He did say I could intern during summer! I would love to get the experience even if I don’t think I’ll stay in fashion.  This summer is unrealistic because after Spain, I’ll be nearly broke, it’s not a paid internship, and I’d need to rent a place in New York.  He said he would find me a decent paying job to do the days I’m not interning though…oh my goodness, I really want to go.  Still, I have next summer he said, and I could go either Ferreti (sp?)or Moschino if his friend Lucy was serious!

 

Adventure Milan:  We had to leave Wednesday night for Madrid because their last bus was 7pm, the flight was a 6am and the 12:30am bus would cut it too close with a 5 hour ride.  Trying to be a good student, I stayed in class till 6:10, thinking that would be enough time to get to the station…and it was for those people that pay attention to small details, like which way the city bus is going on its route.  Holy fuck.  Why the hell don’t I pay attention?! That was a lesson from Madrid! Though I think I was more focused on the calm down and remember to feed yourself part.  This mistake was just carelessness.  Pure lack of attention and carelessness on my part made me miss the bus to Madrid.  That sensation is so awful…akin to the one you feel when you forget about really important homework.  At that point I refused to believe there was nothing I could do.  I should’ve accepted the fact I was going to miss my plane as well, but I tried anyway.  I took the 12:30am bus; I took a taxi with some nice girls that coincidentally were from the CLM and traveling at the same time.  They were lovely and calmed me down a little.  I was trying not to freak out in my head but for some reason I couldn’t stop worrying.  The taxi sped, I literally sprinted (my thighs hurt the next day), I cut through lines in security, and they still closed the gate before I got there.  I was even there before the plane took off, but they wouldn’t let me on.  Welp.  Life sucks, sometimes I make little mistakes, and sometimes I make ones that cost 150 dollars.

 

Shouldawouldacoulda.  I am thankful, in contrast to my first day in Madrid, that I had a phone, and people who could keep me out of my own head.  I am so thankful that dad could talk to me and call Khoa, tell mom to call me, and I got to talk to Jo.  I was still ultimately making it to Milan.  I met some other girls studying in Sevilla who were super sweet that morning before they left for Brussels.  Kindness and comfort and realistic optimism keep me sane, I swear.  The funny part about waiting in airports is how boring it is and how tired it makes people.  I had to wait for the 6:45pm flight (12 hours, aw yeah).  I miss the carpeted airports of the states, but eh, sleeping on linoleum isn’t all that bad.  I also pin curled my hair around 1pm just because I didn’t want to have to deal with travel hair.  I got some pretty interesting looks.  Why yes, all American girls do this to their hair in public restrooms.  I still got hit on though!  I don’t care how much of a dork I look like with those buns all over my head, apparently I’m still just as charming!  I got Ritz crackers and honey peanuts (protein candy!) and I thought about my sister.  I refrained from eating the whole ginormous box I got in one sitting…not that she would, but she would debate it…there were also large Twix bars for a EURO but I didn’t get one….

 

So after I took my hair out, without tools, I looked like I had stuck my finger in a socket, but I just kept going because honestly I was ready for anything and people kept saying they liked it anyway.  (Not that anybody’s say so made a goddamn difference).  There was a huge vendor sign that advertised Bergamo to Milan buses, so that was a huge relief.  I met Granada residents on that bus actually.  Then once I got off I realized there was a group of Americans from Barcelona and we happened to have the same address to two different hostels—how convenient! (Our ‘hotels’ were in the same building).  I had a group to walk with to the hostel at 10:30 at night.  Saved me the trip going it alone, and yes I was going to go by myself! Cara said it was within walking distance by like 10 minutes.  Fuck the taxis…they weren’t hanging around that time of night anyway.  So we found the hostel together, and we were supposed to meet up and go out at midnight, but Cara made me realize I hadn’t slept in a good 48 hours and I had to get up in seven…so probably a good idea I didn’t go out.  That and I think the group didn’t really want me to come with them anyway, I went down to tell them and they never showed.

 

Omygoodness was I glad at 6:45 am that I had not gone out (meeting Khoa at 8:30).  I felt like I’d been hit by a fucking bus.  The beds were uncomfortable too, I usually don’t mind but they were pretty bad.  Laying there, we just started laughing because we couldn’t find a good position…plus it got cold and we had to spoon and sprawl all over each other.  I was so happy to see her after the long day and the fact she’d never really been alone like that before.  She had managed to find a grocery store, buy food, and figure out where we were in Milan.  (Her pre-exploring was so useful and saved us time through the trip).  We chose the hostel because it looked close on the map to Khoa…um yeah it was like around the corner.  We were a half hour early and he hadn’t even woken up yet, but it was good because we ended up being late anyway.  It was the funniest thing! He and I were on the same ‘late’ schedule.  He would say a time and he meant 10 minutes later.  Cara and his friend Lucy bonded over this…we were also the only ones I think that the um, ehem, the champagne/chardonnay affected Saturday.  Oy, Saturday was lovely…but anyway!

 

The morning show went by so fast, we were there waiting one moment, the next, it was happening and I got really shitty pictures.  Periodically Khoa would introduce me, us, to someone and sometimes the same person 3 different times; because I think everyone meets tons of people all the time.  I thought it was kind of annoying that they would ignore Cara sometimes, not that Cara or the other person ‘mattered’ in the other’s world, but I mean  c’mon there was hardly an acknowledgment of existence.  Regardless, the show was fabulous with the model attitudes and gorgeous clothes…Khoa’s friends were very fun.  There were these random guys that Khoa knew because one of them was a nephew of a friend wanting to get into fashion (Danilo) and his friend was in the same boat.  His name escapes me but they took us to coffee and they just talked fashion fashion fashion.  But they were charming and wanted to meet us again that afternoon.  Though we kept running into Danilo at random times throughout the weekend we never solidified any plans.  One of the curious things I was not expecting was all of the fashion bloggers at the shows taking pictures of random people and the models.  Cara and I weren’t nearly interesting enough but Danilo and his friend were dressed…um, de la moda y la gente took a lot of pictures of them.

 

Lunch with Khoa that same day…well we had to meet him at the Moschino studio…(I feel like I keep getting to see fun work places!) and almost instantly after I was working charades out with the receptionist this chick across the room was all, ‘Oh my Mother told me you were coming!’  Ok, I’m not a bitch but I have my moments.  I like meeting people and I’m super friendly and excited but a)this chick did not introduce herself b) she just assumed we knew who the hell she was, either that or she was trying to make some kind of point c)I suppoooose it’s possible that’s just how she is. But anyway! She was gushing with my mother this and we need to go find her that and lunch blah blah blah, kissing all these people, and Cara and I were just like, ‘who is this bitch and where did she come from’ as we were wandering around the upstairs looking for ‘mother’.   And bitch as in random chick, wtf is going on, and what are we doing.  I was doing my best to reciprocate her enthusiasm and ‘yeah great to finally see you’s.  I didn’t want to be rude in my confusion and since we were all taken aback and what not.  I am just going to assume everyone loves Khoa because why else would they so nice?  But it also might have something to with the business….anyhooters, we went downstairs after…whatshername went to the bathroom and we ran into Khoa and ‘mother’ who happened to be his boss, Michelle.  I feel bad but the daughter’s name escapes me and I kind of liked her after lunch and the second fashion show.  I actually have vague footage of both of them at the first show by accident.  Lunch was great, Khoa was a fabulous mediator between the world of rich fashionable people and the awkward college students.  The daughter scooted off without really eating much to see her boyfriend who had interned under her mom a couple months ago.  I find it sooo amusing that Khoa’s lady coworkers later the next night were gossiping about it a little.  Oy.  I can only imagine my friend’s parents and the church ladies.  (HA, for some reason I get a HUGE kick out of that).

 

That night and Saturday Cara and I spent shopping, wandering, and seeing the Duomo (GORGEOUS), and drooling over various things (gelato…boys…clothes…gelato…clothes…more clothes…).  Saturday night was probably the highlight of the trip for me.  I actually got to see Khoa work, get harassed by buyers, hang out, talk, drink, eat some more delicious food, and the fashion show was way more chill and fun.  The Cheap and Chic theme was the fashion capitals of the world so they had Paris, Milano, London, and New York pictures on the runway and incorporated in the clothes…all of it for next winter…fall whatever.  The venue was awful though because it was jam packed and nobody but the people in front and tall people could see because it was standing room only.  Everyone complained, I don’t think Michelle, Khoa, or any of them could see actually.  Cara and I were right behind the one girl by accident and her Italian bf.  She was actually very sweet and it was kind of cute to see her completely consumed by this guy…her first love or something, if I remember right (according to Mother and gossip).  Michelle was actually super matronly and told me to button up my coat after lunch…and then there was some story about her trying to yank a hair off Lucy’s face or something…(haha) idk, Khoa said she was a great boss.  We saw her again at dinner after we had been at a bar after the show.  I was so happy I got to talk to Khoa more that night! It was just fun getting to know him a little.  When dinner time came his coworkers all wanted pasta, but Khoa wanted to go to this other place that didn’t have pasta. Oy.  So after we had gotten a table, done bathrooms, they decided to just leave!  So we had to go too.  So maybe we were all a little tipsy, I don’t really know.  Khoa had to apologize as we were going out the door, laughing about girls and cravings (Italian) I think. 

 

So we got done with all of that around 1 or 2 am.  Everyone was tired and had a lot to do the next day I guess.  Khoa was so sweet and took care of everything for Cara and me.  Oy. But then Cara and I had to rush to the hotel, sleep for 3 hours and then get up at 4:30am, get to the bus, check in by 6, and fly out by 10 am, catch the afternoon from Madrid to Granada, and then we were home by 7:30pm.  The only thing Granada needs is a cheap international airport and it would be perfect.  That five hour bus is a bitch.  Ah well.  When I got home I got to wait for two more hours because Camila had me leave the key and nobody got home until 9:30pm because she thought I was taking a later bus and I couldn’t tell her because my phone ran out of money in Milan and it was after I could go to a freaking phone house to recharge it.  Oh well, I mean relatively two hours outside my apartment door inside with no strangers around is awesome compared to 12 in an airport. 

 

 

Two tears in a bucket, mother fuck it—My Finest Hour, by the grace of God I go…where is John Cusack and my mother when I need them?

Sometimes I sit and laugh to myself around meal times…what face would Jordan be making if she had to eat this? I don’t even know what this is…but it tastes good and I’m going to shovel it in! There are varied situations for each student, but my family always makes sure I’m clearly full, offers more, but respect when I say no thank you. I eat everything that is on my plate, unless it is physically impossible…so far I haven’t encountered that. It’s amazing what some of us do to be polite. I’d like all of my family to know that I eat chicken…a lot! But I eat a lot of homemade chicken soup, often with bacon floating around in there. Yes—homemade bacon and chicken soup…usually beans and no noodles. It’s fucking delicious.

I’ve also eaten a lot of salad…but it usually has bean sprouts (jarred…questionable looking things, but it’s like soup, they taste like everything else and the dressing), shredded carrots, lettuce, corn, various fruits, and raw onion. I eat that raw onion like it’s my fucking job. I may even like it now. One particular unknown thing I eat probably once a week is this fried bread crumb-breaded thing that has the consistency of pureed fish and creamy potato mixed together…I have no idea where it comes from. I don’t know if it’s a frozen thing, it appears to be fattening, and it tastes like something I’d eat at an Asian place. So you know I’m down. I just wish I knew what it was.

I haven’t eaten out at any meal places yet, just because the idea of not spending money, and then spending it on sweet, desert things, occasional alcohol, and shoes, is so much more appealing. They don’t really do desert here so much as ‘meriendas’. That’s snack time and it’s perfectly ok to get something sugary and lovely at this time. The churros and chocolate places are to die for…pastelerias…chocolaterias…heladerias…MOUTHGASM. I’ve also discovered I like White Russians made like a milkshake, thanks to a lovely Irish pub. Some people are surprised to find how much I like Guinness. (I guess I owe someone a thank you for her gasoline coffee and my Irish roots). It’s a nice place just to talk and laugh really loud without getting harassed, or so I found the other night. It was just one of those nights I wasn’t feeling upbeat but I was antsy and just wanted to talk. So I did, for two hours with the Irish bartender (he’s like 50, don’t get any ideas). He was surprised by my conversation, but then, I do that a lot. I don’t know what people expect me to be like, but this happens to me all the time, especially with ‘grown ups’ and guys.

I’m really lucky my host mom (grand mom? I found out she is 82 years old and you would never know with her level of activity) is such a great cook. Though the other day I felt so bad! I went to Almuñecar for the beach with a few girls. I had a fever, but I don’t have time to be sick dammit, and I went anyway. The only problem was that I forgot to tell Camila that I was leaving around lunch time and wouldn’t be back until 10 or so. She also somehow missed me babbling about losing my phone in Morocco. So she was worried and called my program director…I think she (Veronica) has to deal with the host moms doing that when there’s ever a misunderstanding because she is so lax and rolls her eyes at whoever (the student or the mom) is being ridiculous. She has the craziest stories. Anyway! It’s all good now. It’s the first time I’ve forgotten to tell her about my plans. I’m just glad she didn’t yell at me. I know some students get that. I definitely would have gotten it at home in the states…then I would’ve gotten a call, “WHERE the HELL are you?!” Then hurried my ass home, and no one would be mad because they exerted it over the phone, or were faking it just to make me miserable. What? Oh, no, of course that never happens.

Practically everyone I know is sick or has been or is getting there. Rain is unusual for this area but for the last three years I guess they’ve had a lot. You can tell this place needs its sunshine because everyone is down with this weather. I keep getting waves of seasonal blues but I make myself get out of the house and go. Everyone always says to go out while I’m here, even if I don’t feel like it. But dammit sometimes I need to stop moving and hide in my room. I’m tired!

Getting into a schedule has been nice, even if that means class. I have no class before 11:30 am though, so it’s lovely. Classes are an hour and a half long and I’m taking Islamic Culture, History of Spain, Notions of Grammar, Arabic, and then Phonetics, tutorials, and Granada Seminar are required. I was taking a European Union class but it got switched for Islamic Culture. I would’ve been happy with either one. I wanted art history here too, but SOL, I guess I have to take it at Central.

Every single professor here is awesome. They all love their jobs and make it fun for the students. I think they realized they might as well be lax because all of the students are in vacation mode. All of the professors I have met have a fabulous sense of humor. They constantly make jokes between Spanish and English. One in particular loves cussing in English and we all died when he said that his favorite phrase (on top of the part where his voice doesn’t match his appearance) was, ‘to shit a brick’. To be honest, I never thought I would hear that here. It doesn’t even get used enough in the U.S.! OH! Even better, he said he found his second favorite as well to be, ‘Two tears in a bucket, fuck it’. First of all, he says it wrong, but his voice is so high and he has a lisp and he says it like he’s reciting poetry. It’s hilarious. Then he loves saying ‘ass’ with a Chicago accent that is to die for (LOL ok, so you have to be here for it, but I have special connections to both of these sayings!!! And not one person I’ve talked to has seen Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil…OY noooobody gets me…Ha). Another professor, along with many others, calls the Pope ‘la Papas Fritas’—that’s French fries—because they call him ‘Papa’ here. Oy I love this country!

I’m only half Asian…but I’m American so I must be blonde?? Oy.

As soon as we arrived in Granada from Morocco at 8:30pm, I went straight home, switched my toiletries to my next backpack, ate dinner, and took off to the bus station at 11:30pm with Cara, 1:30am bus to Madrid, 1pm plane to France.  I love being a college student!  We’re traveling for fun, on as little as possible—that including: sleep, money, knowledge, experience…and whatever else young people don’t have.

Arriving in France, I had to search for a little old Asian man that I imagined would look maybe like Ba noi.  He, however, was looking for a blonde American girl who stuck out like a sore thumb….  What?? I was so confused when he told me this.  He said he did not expect me to look like an Asian.  I know Dad exaggerates, but these people really are crazy.  Ba noi told me to call him Ong Vinh and then he was confused when I didn’t call him Bach Vinh.  Oy, I give up.  It was so funny because throughout my whole stay he kept asking how his English and the cousin’s English sounded.  It really wasn’t that bad, but I had to be careful not to speak to fast.  

Also—I cannot imagine this almost 70 year old man having a mistress…are you people making that up?  His wife was away in Vietnam for four months, but do married men that age have that strong of a libido?!

I really wish I could have spent more time in France, but with Mom and Jo and Dad.  All of Europe actually, but France made me very aware of how much I wish I could share part of this trip with them.  Or even just one of them there would have been nice.  It was because I was staying with family, and their house felt, smelled, and sounded like every Vietnamese house I’ve ever been in.  The last time I saw Bach Vinh was literally fifteen years ago.  I didn’t know them personally, so it was a strange mix of feeling at home and so far away all at once.

They put me in their guesthouse that I believe was a converted garden house/shed.  It had two bedrooms and a bathroom.  It was very warm, thank goodness because Paris was freaking cold.  My room was also the color of pistachio ice cream with a lime sherbet inclination.  I like green, but now I don’t think I’ll ever need to use that color.  Bach Vinh had to translate between me and my actual Bach aunt and uncle persons (his son and daughter in law) and she asked me if I was going to be scared out there.  I gritted my teeth, pants smoking, and smiled, of course not!  YES I’m a huge chicken shit.  I was creeped out of mind (scared is too much, creepy, not what I want to say, therefore: creeped—in Spanish they call it un palabro, I learned that last week!).

Bach Vinh dropped me off at the metro the next day, paid for my two day passes, and said cya!  Well, I had tried to contact mis amigos that had come with me, and I was SOL.  Paris…by myself…I was sightseeing in Paris by my fucking self and I did not know more than maybe five French words—bathroom not included.  Alright, I could do this.  I only got lost sort of once! On the RER lines actually, and they really aren’t the metro anyway.  That first day I covered Sacred Heart, The Arc, The Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, and I saw both the old and new opera houses from the outside (I didn’t make it to tour the inside of the old one, sorry Jo, I would have taken pictures of the lake for you).  I was pretty proud of myself.  I wish I had had enough time to get lost in the Sacred Heart/Moulin Rouge/artist/sex trade area.  Some of my friends said they got an awesome tour up there and I was a little envious.

One uncomfortable truth that has been emphasized through my weekends in Spain and definitely while in Paris was that going to the bathroom was optional, and when you have the option for free, you better fucking take it because who knows when that will happen again, none of those damn monuments have bathrooms.  Another uncomfortable truth is that old, pretty churches make me want to bawl.  I definitely cried in Sacred Heart and in Notre Dame twice—the first time walking in with the service, and the second in confession.  Anyway, I had to pee the whole two hours I was at Sacred Heart.  It wasn’t so bad that day though as the next day when I was in the catacombs…but I’ll get to that.  I also learned to use my camera timer when I had the chance, being careful not to put it too close to the edge so that it didn’t tumble down Sacred Heart and kill someone.  I also tried to do it discreetly so I didn’t look like a freak…try doing that at the Eiffel Tower and not have people give you funny looks, laughing in some random language.  The top of Sacred Heart was so. Cool.  There was not a huge sign that advertised the way up…at least not in English, and I just stumbled on it.  The tombs were sealed off, dammit, but the view from above made me very happy, aside from trying not to piss myself.  The Eiffel Tower scared the shit of me, because I am terrified of heights.  But I went up as far as I could without having to pay again to go the top.  I even took the fucking stairs, so I was pretty proud of myself.  I didn’t go on top of the Arc, but I took picture across the road.  To end the day, I ran into my group accidentally at Notre Dame when Bach Vinh called and I had to rush out of the service I was sitting in on (No communion, no mass).  I didn’t get to go out and check out the young scene because Bach Vinh lives 10 minutes outside of Paris and away from any metros.  Even so, they probably wouldn’t like me staying out late.  I would also need five separate keys for all of the locks they have.

The second day Bach Vinh took me to see his old Bartisserie that he used to own, but now I think his other son does…or maybe his friend, I’m not sure, but they were so nice, and gave me juice and a sandwich for my lunch.  I think in that instance it would have been rude to refuse a gift.

I covered Notre Dame (bawled) again because they closed off some areas the night before, I took a video for Jo along the river because I obviously had to show her what the real one looks like (wouldn’t recommend to anyone else, because it makes me want to barf), I went to the St. Michael Fountain, St. Chapelle, the Luxembourg Gardens, the catacombs, and a lot of random wandering because I lost daylight and time in various ways (damn RER).  I also lost my day pass on the metro after the catacombs, so I did a little bit of ‘jumping’ (yes, I felt like a badass).  St. Chappelle was a total accident, even though mom and Bach Vinh suggested it.  I saw this sweet looking spire by the Notre Dame area and I wandered over there.  It was a wonderful surprise, with the walls of stained glass, and I sat underneath Numbers (I think) and just stared with my mouth hanging open.  I decided I love getting lost.  It has done nothing this whole trip but ultimately lead me somewhere good.

The Gardens were nice, but I bet they are prettier when things are in bloom.  I didn’t expect them to be so huge, or to see so many local people hanging out.  I swear this trip would have been better with a lover too.  Everywhere I looked there were people eating each other’s faces, making out…snogging, whatever (I love that word, ‘snogging’ it’s so goofy)….  It was miserable sometimes.  Oy, speaking of miserable!  So I peed for 40 cents at the damn gardens and then promptly had to pee again right as I left, but it was like the pee had been waiting for my bladder to empty so it could fill up again.  I tried to ignore it and nearly peed my pants wandering around looking for the catacombs.  I literally had to sit down in a doorway to compose myself.  I am unashamed in saying I had some unobvious leakage because I had to go so bad.  I was going to find a café before this when I got off the metro, but I didn’t see one I liked and decided to wait till I got to the catacombs.  Well, after composing myself, I finally found the catacombs when I saw a few people go to this shady looking doorway.  There weren’t any obvious signs because then I saw literally three different groups of people I’d seen wandering around moments before go in with me.  We’d all been lost, apparently.  THERE WERE NO PUBLIC BATHROOMS IN THE CATACOMBS.  There was, however, a stairway going down to the mining tunnels that preceded the catacombs, with a space underneath, and little traffic.  Oh yes, I did.  Believe me; I had to backtrack from the mining tunnels because I didn’t want to desecrate anything.

The catacombs were creepy, but fascinating.  I wish more had been open to the public, but I would not want to be down there by myself.  No thank you.  No flash photos were allowed, but I did my best and I tried not to touch anything.  Right after, I wandered into a shoe store.  I can’t help myself.  I swear it happens every day in Spain.  EVERYTHING is on sale right now.  I left without anything and then got lost on the way to Versailles, so I gave up and tried to go to a China town section of Paris Chau and Bach Vinh mentioned.  I don’t think I wandered enough there, but it was dark and I was trying to be a smart, safe cookie.  It would’ve helped if I knew either Chinese or French to get around in Paris and just ask about in the areas, like I do in Spain.

The third and final day was spent shopping with Betty, who was a sweetheart and it was her birthday.  I wish I had known. I would’ve actually bought something for her.  But they all kept insisting I was a guest and I didn’t have to pay for anything.  I paid for admission costs and French desserts.  I did buy a few things in the mall when we went, nothing I couldn’t get in Spain to be honest, they have a lot of the same stores, but I was still super happy with my purchases.  Vinh picked me up at the train station and Betty left for Paris.  He took me to a bus that went to the airport at 5pm, and I made it 15 minutes before they left!  Granted there were like three buses, but I was lucky.  Traffic is literally fucking insane there, the bus would normally take an hour, but they leave three earlier than each flight just in case (it took us two).  It makes me never want to drive.  I met up with my group again, flew back to Madrid by 11:30pm, 1:30am bus back, and back by 6:30am, to my house by 7am.  Fourteen hours, check.

At the end of Morocco and at the end of Paris I was so excited to be in a country I could speak and understand 95 percent of the time with full comprehension.  There was no better way than to make Granada feel as good as home.  I wanted to kiss the ground practically.  (After what I’ve seen and know, this is merely an exaggeration).  I decided I love Spanish. I love Granada.  I wish I had more time here.  Joder! (This word is more like ‘dammit’ here and ‘fuck’ in other countries, use with caution)  I have a new found appreciation for familiar languages.  I believe Charades is truly an art and those who master it, I respect deeply.  I didn’t say this about Morocco, but we literally had to play this with our host family.  The nine year old and the mother knew sparse English and the father less.  But it was fun, and I would do it if again without any common language.

On the way ‘home’ from Paris, I really wanted to watch French Kiss.  That has to be one of my favorite movies.  When I was younger I used to be embarrassed for how ridiculous Meg Ryan was, but now I just wish I could have a crazy adventure running around some foreign country.  Going to France did not make me want to watch Moulin Rouge so much as this movie.  Also, I never ate anything other than a few French pastries and Vietnamese food.  Bach Vinh took me to a Vietnamese restaurant for my first meal, and then that’s all they cooked.  FYI, this is Not a complaint.  I was in heaven!  But I do regret not trying more French food.  So, until next time!

Marruecos…why would I shower? I’m wearing the same clothes for three days.

Ok, so I’ve only thrown up on one bad plane trip, I was around 10 and ever since then, whenever there has been a hint of turbulence I get waves of motion sickness.  It’s silly because I had flown every year before that since I was 6.  I keep telling myself it is all in my head…so far, no luck! 

I found out on the ferry ride across Gibraltar, that I am also prone to sea sickness.  Woah was I seasick.  They said it was worse than usual, however, so I feel justified.  I refused the Dramamine like 5 different times preceding the trip, because I prefer to not take medicine if I can help it and the trip was only an hour.  Of course, immediately after embarking I was sick and decided the bathroom would be a good place. SO WRONG.  Walking made it worse, being in the bathroom was worse, and I couldn’t move without making myself feel worse.  I almost made it.  At the time I didn’t realize you had to take the Dramamine a half hour before and I also didn’t realize we had maybe twenty minutes left, so I tried to take it, and in turn, threw up: My first lesson of the trip.

Northern Morocco is absolutely beautiful.  The first thing that hit me off the ferry, other than relief, was the light rain and sunshine.  Forget any stereotypes about Africa—everything was green and it rained a lot while we were there.  It was mountainous and there were a lot of farm animals.  We got to ride camels on the beach right when we got there! Sure, riding a camel is do-able in the states, but not on the beach and we were in Morocco.

The Muslim influence in Morocco is much more prominent than it is in Spain (for reasons I am currently learning in my Islamic culture class, but I only noticed then), but it was interesting to see the similarities between Granada’s Albaicín and each Moroccan town’s old section or Medina.  They were built similarly and the streets are narrow and often cobbled.  I think taking Arabic and Islamic culture classes will be fun for me…though when I’m ever going to use Arabic who knows.  We got to go sightseeing at the King’s tomb, at some old ruins where parts dated back to Roman times, and a few other places.  We were not allowed to go into the Mosques, but we heard the prayer call periodically during our stay.

Our program split our group into 3 smaller groups for travel and itinerary purposes.  It was an awesome way to force us to get closer.  We were all dirty, wet, and skeptical of the Turkish toilets under certain, um, conditions… (Ha). Most of us had traveler’s diarrhea.  The food was to die for tasty but my bowels were not happy with me.  I ate so much bread!  Then there was this kind of crepe/pancake/dough bread that I got with chocolate and jam.  I forget the name but I died and went to heaven.  The tea was delicious, but it was basically green tea, usually with fresh mint and a lot of sugar.  I could have done without the sugar, but it was a part of the experience.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was when we got to talk and hang out with Moroccan students.  They were our age and it was scheduled into the program, so they get to hang out with foreigners often.  We talked about everything from politics to dating.  They were all so fun and open.  They took us to the beach, it was pouring all day, but I think it added to our spirits and we had fun anyway.  We jumped around in the waves and then a few locals let us kick a soccer ball around with them.  I thought that Spanish people were nice, but Moroccans are a hundred times more hospitable.  We did a little shopping in the Rabat markets but they told us to wait for out next city because it was supposedly better.  (It wasn’t in my experience, but I don’t think I had the bartering down).  We ended the day at a café and I had a cappuccino with a tower of whipped cream on it and chocolate syrup (Mouthgasm). Unfortunately, sitting down came with a realization of how cold and soaking wet we were.

Turkish baths here we come! It was the best thing we could’ve done after our long day in the rain.  It was awkward for some of the girls to bathe topless, but they came around.  Psh! Like I care—what’s a little boobage?!  This bathing experience opened my eyes to the fact I not exfoliate often enough.  I was not alone though so I don’t feel bad, especially since I only shower a third as much as most girls.  They had just as much come off them.  They gave us these glove scrubbers and body oil.  I have never seen so much dead skin come off anyone, let alone a collective group of 15 girls.  It was disgusting and fascinating.  To hear us, it was, “Ew!!! Oh my God, did you scrub here?!  OMG do your elbows…”  Blah blah blah….

My host family and Morocco was very sweet.  It was a nine year old girl, her parents, a grandmother, and another unknown girl who may have been a cousin.  The little girl meowed to be silly sometimes and it made me miss Stella so much.  Stella is the only person I haven’t talked to in my family yet.  Oh, and their house/building (similar to a Carmen) was 300 hundred years old! I roomed with Cara and Autumn, which was very fun.  We were lucky to get a Western toilet, but we had to manually fill up the tank with water by turning a knob on the pipe.  I don’t like this custom, similar to Europe, where slippers and shoes are required in the house.  I enjoy taking off my shoes.  Though in Morocco there was never a moment of being warm; just damp and not as damp and sometimes soaking wet.

Our last two stops included a village house and Chef…something or other.  I don’t remember how to spell the name of the city.  The village was in the mountains and spread out.  The family we ate with was composed of the paternal grandmother, two parents, and three sons.  They had an olive farm and mad e olive oil.  We had conversation and a question exchange after lunch, with the two dominating topics being politics and a slightly heated one about a few of us (ahem) not particularly being interested in marriage.  The countryside was so beautiful, the husband took us to a hill where we could see down into the valley, and the sun was setting just then.  I didn’t take a lot of pictures though because Moroccans, especially more conservative ones, aren’t comfortable with pictures for various reasons.

Oh! I played frisbee with their five year old son! It was a little, unexpected gesture, and it was an Aha moment.  Like I finally understood why I had to learn a minor equation for the final problem.  I’m not sure why.  Frisbee is something I miss about warm weather and home, but here it was in Morocco, in the middle nowhere spitting rain and sunshine.  Everyone was either helping prepare lunch or sitting inside.  I didn’t know what to do with myself, so I was just gaping at all of the beauty outside.  He rode up to me on this little bike, handed me the frisbee, and just looked at me and ran over to an open area.  We didn’t speak the whole time; just a lot of looking.  He threw it upside down and tried to show me I was doing it wrong. 

During the last stop we did had more time for shopping, though I didn’t end up buying as much.  We got to eat out and it was a four course meal.  I really wish I hadn’t had my weight in bread the first course, because I couldn’t finish my main course, which was some kind of deliciousness wrapped in pastry—believe it or not, it was chicken.  All the girls at my table were passing forks around with bites of things and everything was delicious.  Ooo fun fact: I could’ve joined the ‘fat kids club’, according to my girlfriends at the table, but I failed because I couldn’t keep up.  It was the funniest time and we were so loud it was almost embarrassing, but there weren’t a lot of other people in the restaurant.

It was a beautiful, cold night.  So, afterward, I stayed up late with some friends on the roof of our hostel.   I also decided to get up at 7am; it was possibly a bad idea because of how tired we were (only four out 15 made it out) and hike up to the top of a nearby mountain where a mosque overlooked the city.  I was happy to work off the dinner though and the experience was worth it.  After all, I could sleep in the bus and I love love LOVE hiking.

 

 

This is my living space…there is no room for yoga in a any part of the house.  It has a lot of rooms, but there is too much shit every where! Pretty furniture shit, so lovely and cozy, but where am I supposed to do yoga?!  There are more rooms and a ‘y’ shaped hallway that connects my room and Loli’s (in/off the entry way), the dining/kitchen/laundry, and the salon which has another hall leading to Camila’s room and her bathroom, and Victoria’s.  I suppose it is rather big for a complex.  She kept saying that in Spanish anyway…(Camila)