Thursday, October 21, 2010

La Sonámbula

I wrote this on the Mediterranean beach of Nerja around midnight. Just got around to posting it.

La Sonámbula

My camera lens is useless.
Any level of aperture can’t capture
the flecks of forgiveness the water presents
in a photo-invisible, lavender air of honesty.
The pace of my mind has gone from
the mean streets of flamenco
to the separation of cliff and crystal clear water—
that warm sea parting my eyes from the south of Spain
to Africa’s glowing horn.
This place is a dream world
and I, la sonámbula, float aimlessly, contently
from fantasy to reality,
testing all that is pleasing to me
and dozing back into the doorway of my dream come true.
I’ve done it.
What’s more, I’ve abandoned all that is comfortable
for all that is ordained for me and my wandering heart.
Mi poesía es libre
y mi corazón esta abierto.

No iambic pentameter can fully express
the artistry in my adventure in solitude
or the realizations of my voyage.
Pressing on through border after border
and listening to each dialect whispering intonations
of pensiveness and inner truth.
This scene of sensation; the waves kissing my feet,
the scent of jasmine and wet stone,
cannot be recreated but in my mind
to visit again and again
wherever la sonámbula ventures.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Festivillo de Membrillo


Our house really is amazing. Fernando and Miguel took many of us to Málaga yesterday to go to H&M! It's the nearest branch to our house. It felt so good to get back in that lovely store. I feel like even H&M is more stylish in Europe. Then we stopped at Ikea for those darn delicious Swedish meatballs. I refrained from purchasing half the store with the thought in mind that I would have to actually DO something with all the things I buy when I go home this summer. Hah. But I did buy a wine glass. We all did. :] We're matching and cute.

That night, the lovely and sweet woman who cleans our house, María, was performing the lead role in a play at a festival of the arts. The entire festival was created to protest something (that we didn't fully understand) that had to do with the university. Not completely sure, we abstained from signing anything, but boy those protesters throw a great party! It was called, "Festivillo de Membrillo," which means, "Festival of the Quince." (Quince, as in the fruit, not the Spanish word, "quince." Haha. Yes, it caused some confusion).

We missed María's performance as we got back from Málaga so late, but we went to support and eat some delicious Thai food. The performances were awesome. There was a Flamenco dancer that blew our minds. Their feet really do keep the rhythm.

A jazz band came up and played many familiar songs. America created Jazz, after all.

Finally, a belly dancer performed and we were all baffled by how crazily she could move her body. It was a little depressing, as the girls recently tried to go to a belly dancing class, but we got lost and didn't make it on time! Next time for sure. This was too inspiring!

Another nice family photo. Left to right (since there's a new face in this particular shot): Fernando, Julie (from Belgium), Alex, Chelsea, Brandon, Natasha, myself. :]

Friday, October 15, 2010

Renaissance Fair!

[I'm making up for lost time with my blog and posting quite a bit today, be sure to scroll down and get caught up!]

Natasha discovered this awesome medieval fair on the way home from work the other day, and we had to see it for ourselves. It was just like a Renaissance Fair in the States, but more legitimate since this country actually boasts medieval history. Hah!

The trinket stands and vendors were pretty cool. Natasha and Arisa bought some beautiful rings (I abstained for once!). Chelsea and Alex bought matching leather bracelets. You know, generally pseudo-medieval stuff. The best part? THE FOOD. I feel like my mom. I think a good percentage of my blogging revolves around Spanish grub. Meh.

To everyone at home who has heard me speak of this miracle that is part burrito/part gryo, here she is. THE CHAWARMA:

Chelsea bought a plump baked potato filled with ham, cheese, spices and ketchup. (Don't judge! It was delish.)

Now that I think of it, it's really convenient that this fair took place right as I started my Spanish Literature: Renaissance and Baroque class.

The only thing it was missing? Turkey legs. ¡Viva America! (And its horrid misconceptions of the Renaissance. Hah!)

Family Dinner Party

Last Saturday, our landlords hosted yet another famous "Mojito Party." But this time, we had a very multi-cultural potluck beforehand! I should have thought to take pictures of each dish, but I was so focused on gorging myself, it completely slipped my mind.

The morning of, Fernando approached Alex and I in the hallway and asked if we were going to make something. We said of course, but we didn't know there was going to be a potluck. Fernando said, don't worry. He suggested just making something cheap and simple. Our minds drew a complete blank trying to think of American food that would be a hit. Best alternative? Mexican food, of course! All of the Americans in the house are from California anyway, and the majority of us are from the San Diego and Los Angeles area.

Do-It-Yourself nachos it was! And they were delicious! My guacamole was a hit! And the salsa was incredibly refreshing (y picante!).

Yuri made "Tortialla Japonesa," which is Japanese Tortialla. In Japan, they have a similar dish to the egg and potato Spanish Tortilla dish. Hers had teriyaki and cabbage and all things delicious.

The Spaniards made Huevos con Atún Tomaté, which is like deviled eggs but with tuna and tomato in the center--yum.

The Italian girls made some delicious pasta (I overate this). They also made "chocolate salami" for dessert. Wow. It was like fudge from heaven.

Then came the mojitos, and the fiesta began!

Many of the house mates in one gluttonous photo. Back Row: Yuri's friend Ken, myself, Natasha, Brandon. Center on floor: Arisa, Fernando, Chiara, Chelsea, Alex. Back to front in left corner: Belén, Sara and Guilia.

This picture is just to precious. Yuri (after ONE mojito) and I. She's so little, she cannot handle hardly any alcohol, but folks keep trying to hand it to her. She's the sweetest!

I am so thankful to live with such amazing folks. :]

Marbella, Gibraltar, y Tarifa.


Yes, I've yet to have my Euro Trip, but I sure enjoyed a Spanish Road Trip this past weekend. Fernando and Miguel drove two cars stuffed with the following Americans: myself, Natasha, Brandon, Chelsea, Alex, Arisa and Christina to a beautiful holistic getaway in Tarifa--but not before making some epic pitstops on the way.

We stopped in Marbella for a lunch. Marbella is a very, very affluent coastal city. It was a cross between what I imagine Monaco in France would be like and Newport Beach, California. Wow. The cars, stores, and yachts said it all. Of course, we are all university folk and dined at:

Burger King. Yep. After six years of abstaining, here I am. Eating American fast food in the South of Spain. My, my.

So Dad would have liked this city, but not loved it. It was like the difference between the Dunes in Newport and Shoreline in Long Beach--there's just something about wooden docks versus concrete. This place was concrete city. But beautiful nonetheless:

A nice family photo. Back: Fernando, Natasha, Brandon, Christina. Front: myself, Miguel, Chelsea, and Alex. (Arisa took the photo.)

Proof that it was in fact, a road trip. I am playing co-pilot here as Miguel drives us on the Spanish equivalent of the Pacific Coast Highway. At one point, we saw a land mass in the ocean. "Qué es eso?" I asked. Miguel looked at me confused and asked, "Eso?" "Claro! No sé que es." He laughed and replied, "Eso es Afrika." Yes, that translates to my being confused, asking the native, and finding out that I was looking at the continent of Africa in the Atlantic coast of Spain. Jaw-dropping to say the least.

Unfortunately, our trip to Gibraltar was brief and didn't require any photos. But I did get to use my passport for the first time since entering Spain! Gibraltar is British territory. Shortly after Gibraltar, we were in Tarifa and I was impressed by the heavy Muslim influence, but also the existance of Catholicism.

We had to drive up unpaved and muddy roads to get to the retreat. It was so hardy though! There were cows just chilling in the road. We all had such a bad laughing gag at this image:

Finally! We were at our retreat in Tarifa. We were expecting rain and lightening storms, but we did not prepare for the mud. Wow. It was glorified camping, as Natasha and Arisa will demonstrate with the Morroccan tent that Fernando, Alex, Chelsea, Brandon and Christina slept in:

And that's me with a cat:

These felines were everywhere. Arisa lovingly named them all: Serina (who later became Charlie as we discovered its masculinity), Chompers, and about a million other names I don't recall.

Arisa, Natasha, Miguel and I stayed in a yoga room-turned sleeping area. It was so beautiful! There were murals of blue people on some walls, colored sheets covering glass skylights, stain glass windows, hand-thrown pottery and stone floors. Amazing!

The bathrooms were hilarious as the entire area is compost-compatible. So boys peed in the woods, girls got to use a toilet without running water (you rinse with a pitcher of water next to it). And for number two, well, Chelsea and I can't find a better way to describe it than "India." Hah.

Then came dinner. What a feast! The lovely María and Laura cooked for us and they did a fantastic job! The entire meal was as earthy as the retreat--a micro-biotic meal of Moroccan cous cous, a tomato, mixed greens, sunflower seed (and what ever else laid in the garden) salad, and an amazing dessert. This bad boy was cobbler-style apples, peaches and pears with home-made soy whip cream. The dessert was 100% raw and 1,000% delicious.

Brandon and I feeling very at peace (and very full) after dinner:

Since we were camping and in the process of making a bonfire outside, Fernando surprised us with face paint and we became in touch with our inner savages. :]

Yet another hilarious family photo.

That night was so beautiful. The rain stopped long enough to build a good bonfire and sit outside in the hills. We saw the lights of Africa over the ocean, the gorgeous beach, and the stars above. The sky was so clear that we could see the Milky Way. Shooting stars galore. Overall, a fantastic night.

On the way home, the rain cleared and the sun came out. We stopped at the actual beach of Tarifa and frolicked on the beach. Some of the boys raced and the girls leapt into the air at every photo opportunity. Unfortunately, Brandon took those amazing photos and he waits entirely too long to upload his photos. So I will have to post those another day. But I assure you, they are worth the wait. For now, I'll leave you with this photo of Africa from Tarifa.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


This Mediterranean beach city is a paradise. Five of us decided to go for three days and two nights to this heaven to soak up the last bit of sun just as tourist season was ending. Excellent timing. We ran into a couple of our friends from our program there at one point which was also very nice.

Day 1:
We dropped our things off at our hostel ran by our new American friend Blake. Hah. What a character. He proceeded to give us the most stoned lecture on American politics the first night there. He's from Wisconsin, but wow. Talk about a California spirit. Anywho. He runs a pretty sweet hostel called The Fountainhead--yes, just like the novel I love. :]

Then we meandered over to the beach to get some grub before our full day of beach-lazing:

After a delicious meal of pizzas, bocadillos (sandwiches) and a couple tropical drinks later (Chelsea and her make-shift piña coladas, hah!) we were off to the beach. It was a little foggy the first day but wow. After it cleared up, it took my breath away. (Photo credit to Chelsea for the sunny photos.) The water was crystal clear and displayed a plethora of sea creatures including a fish that nibbled Chelsea and a JELLYFISH approximately a foot away from me at one point:

Relaxing on the beach:

My tan is an optical illusion. But Brandon and I on top of those big ol' rocks IS NOT. We jumped off those bad boys. We figured the highest one was about 20 feet or so. Such a rush!

That evening we explored the nightlife a bit more (under Blake's detailed recommendations). For dinner, we went to a fresh seafood joint that sold a huge plate of mussels for €3,00. Yeah. That's about $4.11 for fresh MUSSELS. Mom, eat your heart out. Of course, our finely-tuned noses found the gelato place right quick. Also, Brandon made the executive decision that he and I earned a beer after our death-defying leaps earlier that day:

Old and lovely church in Nerja's main plaza, as Natasha is demonstrating:

The beach is even more beautiful at night:

(Preciously awkward photo above that I wish Chelsea could have been in!)

Day 2: We took a bus to the famous caves of Nerja. While waiting for our tour, we explored the area:

This cave was discovered by two kids playing in the hills. When explored more thoroughly, people found 20,000+ year old cave paintings inside it. Also, this cave boasts the largest connection of stalactite to stalagmite in the WORLD:

This place was magical to say the least. But I was happy to come back to Granada. It's not quite as urbanized as Madrid, but much more lively than Nerja. I am still pleased with my choice. :]