Tuesday, July 24, 2007

20 on the 20th

Birthday dinner. And that's apple cider, of course.

And so flees my adolescence...

I feel as if I should be writing something deeply profound, reflecting on the importance of life as I transition from blissful days of being a child to the throes of adulthood. But since this blog is certainly not meant to lull you all into a deep slumber, I instead present you with a more lighthearted twenty...things. Yes, things; no common thread, no particular theme. Just 20 random thoughts off the top of my now 20-year-old head. Vale.

1. My birthday was rather eventful I should say. I just about suffocated from inhaling feces odors for four hours, touched sheep wool, sifted flour, and had my first tasting encounter with beer. Ho hum. On Fridays, our group takes "excursiones" with this past week's being to Grazalema and El Bosque in Andalucia. A disillusioning two-hour (each way) bus ride and pointless hike through what felt and looked like the windy roads of Valley Center & Palomar Mountain. Needless to say, we didn't take very many pictures. And Sierra and I somehow got relegated to the seats next to the bus watercloset, hence the poop fumes which just further served to authenticate the VC aura. Delicious. Included in our excursion were also trips to an antiquated wool factory and a wheat mill/bakery. I think the highlight of the morning was when the tour guide led our group to a molded over pond complete with every species of algae, fungi, and green sea creatures, and some girl had the audacity to ask in total earnestness if that was where the bread was made. I almost fell in.

2. My boyfriend Sierra treated me to tapas and dessert later that night. The kind and generous soul took me to see an incredible sunset at La Playa de la Caleta, paid for my dinner, and even finished off my beer (she ordered it) when I decided after a mere few sips that I could not handle the horrific fermented flavor (as much of an acquired taste it purportedly is, I simply don't believe in masochism). And of course, as is always the case with Sierra and I, time never fails to pass without its adventures. Neither of us possessed the slightest clue as to how to order tapas nor had we any idea what awaited us when we attempted to do so anyways. Fortunately, the tortillas de camarones and choquito frito turned out to be quite the delectable morsels. Whew! (We've done that a lot recently...order "something" on the menu and hope for the best. Praise the heavens that we've been successful every time thus far.) Pastries and the essential cafe con leche at a sidewalk cafe followed, and then a trip to the "Trendy Bar" with some friends in our group rounded out the evening. Good food. Good company. Good times. And how many people get to spend their birthday in Spain? (Aside from the 40 million people who live here, that is.)

3. Alarm clocks and cell phones. Never underestimate the power of a little device that emits sounds annoying enough to shake (and bake) you awake. Wednesday of last week was our first day of class, and we were set to take language placement tests at 9:00 in the morning. I hadn't yet bought a cell phone and had no sort of clock/alarm, so I was depending on Sierra to come wake me up at 8. WELL. At 9:15, I awoke to the frantic pounding and yelling of Inma, our program coordinator, bellowing outside my door that I was desperately late and I had a TEST that day. ::insert immediate panic:: Si and I more than hurriedly grabbed our stuff, and along with a few other kids, raced out of the building. There we were, running full speed through the city streets of Cadiz. Back to that movie I said I felt I was in (in the last entry), this was like the action-packed, adrenaline-pumping car chase part. Probably would have been more entertaining were we not stressing for our lives. Incredibly, the same thing nearly happened again the very next morning. No further comment, thank you.

4. On Saturday, Sierra and I woke up at 17:00. That's 5PM to you. [Si and I eating "breakfast" at 6:00PM.]

5. We tried paella Wednesday night. For being one of Spain's most traditional and well-known dishes, it HAS to be good here, right? Not. Lamest plate of food I've ever seen in my life. One small chicken drumstick, one measly shrimp, one nibble of a mussel, and one tiny pork rib bone. The silly lemon slice was bigger than everything else! My grandma could own this entire country.


6. What IS good here is the ice cream. Mmmm, gelato and wafer cones. We've partaken four times already. La Jollan gelaterias wither at the mere thought. Interestingly enough, Ben&Jerry's (or Jen&Berry's, thank you, Neo) is the luxurious novelty here. (No, the spoon is not in my nose.)

7. And churros con chocolate. Sticks of greasy (and we mean GREASY) goodness dipped in liquid heaven. Uf. Things only to be eaten about once a year. (Kelby, these have your name written ALL over them.) Quotes from Sierra: "I won't be surprised if I'm nine months pregnant with churros tomorrow."

8. Hammmm. The Spanish are serious about their jamon. There is ham in everything--I don't think I've eaten anything without it (intentional or not), except perhaps the gelato and even then I wouldn't be surprised if some pig had snuck into my cone. Jamon Serrano. Jamon Iberica. Jamon in paella. Jamon with fish fillets. Jamon in the pollo frito. Jamon in the morning with Nocillo (Nutella) toast. Jamon with chicken and mayo sandwiches. Jamon stacked against store-front windows. Jamon hocks hanging from the ceiling like ducks in a Chinese restaurant. Jamon coming out of my ears...per chance even literally.

9. Reasons why I love Spain: (hint: it's all about the sign)

10. Tortilla Española de Patatas. A recipe from class; dine with us! Ingredientes (para 4 personas): 6 huevos; 300 gr. de patas; 9 cucharadas de aceite de oliva; sal. Preparación: Se cortan las patatas en laminas pequeñas (como haciendo sopas) y se fríen muy despacio en la sartén con 6 cucharadas de aceite moviéndose de vez en cuando para que no se agarren a la sartén. Una vez hechas se sazonan y se pasan a un bol en donde estarán los huevos batidos. Se pone el resto del aceite en la sartén, y cuando este caliente, echaremos el huevo y las patatas. Se revuelven a fuego rápido con un tenedor y cuando empiece a cuajarse, prescindimos del tenedor y haremos a la sartén un movimiento de vaivén hasta que esté cuajada la tortilla. Cubriremos la sartén con un plato, dándole la vuelta recogiendo así la tortilla en el plato. Pasaremos la tortilla a la sartén la haremos por el otro lado pero no la dejaremos mucho tiempo si deseamos que la tortilla esté jugosa.

11. As much as alcohol is not growing on me, I am becoming a devout caffeine fiend. At least one cafe con leche with a packet of sugar everyday. I even find myself thinking about that morning cup of coffee as I get into bed some nights. Not to mention, I am with Sierra, the patron saint of Starbucks herself, after all.

12. Speaking of saints, Sierra and I were navigating our way back to La Residencia the other afternoon when we realized all the alleyways leading to the front door of the courtyard were blocked with hoards of people piddling around. As it turns out, we were just in time to catch "La Coronacion de la Reina del Carmelo." An extensive parade of priests, bishops, altar boys, photographers, viejitas dressed to the hilt, old men carrying walking stick-sized candles, and a jolly band passed through the narrow streets. The spectacle culminated in a huge ornate metal ::insert whatever it's called; see picture:: carrying the virgin Carmen. We weren't exactly sure what was going on mostly because we were practically asphyxiated from the incense smoke and mob claustrophobia. We figured it was significantly significant though considering the entire city was blocked off and life was otherwise put on pause for a few hours.

13. Journaling. I've kept a journal (and I'm pretty sensitive about it being called a "diary," so none of that) since eighth grade, and it has become quite a serious pastime in especially the last year or so. Si and I vowed to write everyday during our time in Spain, so each afternoon during siesta and sometimes also late at night, we pick a different park, plaza, or cafe and sit for a few hours. So far, SO GOOD. Certainly the highlight of my days (even though technically everything is a highlight).

14. Warning: Sierra and I might unintentionally come back to the States as chain-smokers with emphysema. The cancer stick affinity is so rampant here, Las Vegas air seems pristine. I'm pretty sure I've breathed in more than enough cigarette smoke to keep a celebratory bonfire burning when we return home next July.

15. Una boda? Don't be too surprised if you all receive wedding invitations in the mail sometime during the course of this year. Sierra's quite intent on finding her husband here (nevermind the fact that she thinks she's going to marry every single guy she sees...). It's a full-time job trying to keep her reigned.

16. Spanish lisp. They really do thpeak with a lithp here, and it stickth more eathily than I antithipated. My s-pronouncing abilities occasionally thlip out for vacation, and thometimeth I find mythelf lithping along with the rest of Ethpana. The conversion is very thubconscious and thutle.Theriouthly.

17. Bikini bottoms are big here in Spain. And I don't mean big as in they come in excessively large sizes and therefore consist of copious amounts of fabric to cover more surface area. Big as in so accepted, they suffice to stand alone. Eek. Men, women, little girls, little boys...speedos, man-thongs, woman-thongs, underwear bottoms, small children swimsuit bottoms (basically any kind of topless bottom)--that's all people wear to the beach. It goes without saying, but no pictures for #17.

18. A talent I have picked up since coming to Spain: showering without moving. The showers in our room are barely the size of Sierra and I back-to-back, standing stock still. A flimsy curtain "encloses" two of the four sides, and essentially provides no protection. As such, it is an utter art form to successfully bathe without flooding the entire bathroom in about ten feet of water; a feat which I have yet to master. Sierra tells me she's a "dropless" winner everyday though. Maybe I'm still moving too much.

19. I've been having severe trouble sleeping aqui en Espana. Despite being utterly exhausted everyday, I still end up tossing and turning for hours each night. We hadn't been able to remedy the situation until today. Apparently, the solution is none other than a park bench. This is me completely conked out in some parque publico. Best sleep I've gotten all week.

20. Last note: Skype. It's free. And easily downloadable. Get it. And call us. (We're nine hours ahead, by the way.)

Y ahora les presentamos con mas fotos:


grace said...

awwwww. wonderfully written.

jenchiu said...

Love&Envy from Fremont =)

Anonymous said...

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