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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Service Learning Class

Ok, so I realized that I haven’t really written much about my other experiences here in Spain besides the food, my family, and traveling. I am taking a service learning class over here about immigrants, which is actually turning out to be really interesting. I volunteer 3 hours each Monday for this class helping to teach an English class in a nearby elementary school. The school I work at is called Colegio Alberto-Sánchez and is a public school with a moderate number of immigrants, and a lot of gypsies (that is what they are called, I’m not being racist here). The president of the school told me the first day that the gypsy girls marry when they are 13 or 14. Also, the gypsy students tend to come to class with dirty clothing, lacking boots, without their books, and tend to be very outspoken and unruly, since in the gypsy culture there aren’t really any rules for kids. A lot of the immigrants come from Morocco or Bulgaria or south America.

One of my students, Marrod, is a Moroccan immigrant who came in September, and I also have another girl from Bulgaria (I don’t know her name) among others who I haven’t found out yet/been specifically told who they are and where they are from. This past Monday I was working with Marrod helping him fill out a vocab list of English and Spanish words for clothing. It was interesting to see that he actually didn’t know a lot of the Spanish words, so his “English class lesson” was actually working to help teach him Spanish. The poor kid is behind the level of all his classmates (because he just started studying English and Spanish this year) so he has different worksheets that he has to work on alone during class. They are soooo boring. He literally has been coloring fruit and clothing (to learn colors and now clothing names) for the entire time that I have been helping with class…so about a month and a half now. This past Monday was the first time that I actually sat down and worked with him for the entire class. I ended up playing a game with him, because his worksheets were so boring he couldn’t concentrate on them/didn’t want to do them. I would tell him the name of a piece of clothing (in English or Spanish – the Spanish ones were harder for him!) and he would pretend to put it on, or point it out in the classroom if it was a girl’s piece of clothing. He started laughing when I accidentally told him to put a dress on. He said to me, “But I don’t have one!!!” and continued to giggle for quite some time. After class I saw him go up to the teacher and say something. It was only at the start of the next period that she told me that he had asked her if I was going to come again the next day. Poor Marrod I wish I could :(

That same Monday I was summoned by one of the female gypsy students. She didn’t have a workbook and wanted me to get a photocopy of the worksheet for her from the teacher. Here in spain public schools apparently they have to pay for their books. When I asked the teacher for a photocopy she replied that she was making no more for that student. She said that the girl refused to buy her book because she doesn’t like English class (not a financial reason – the teacher pointed out that she always shows up with nice clothes). In fact, right before this encounter the girl had summoned me over and asked if I liked English, haha. Seriously? When I said yes she responded “Why?! It’s not useful for anything! I don’t like it”. I really didn’t know how to handle this, but it was really sad to see her refusing to learn something that could potentially help her down the road.

There is one guy student in the class who is always goofing around and never serious – Christi. I actually had the chance to sit down with him this past Monday and play the “platter” game where you had to choose what you were going to “eat” through the exchange of “Do you like rice?” “Yes, I like rice” “Here you are”. (Sidenote: Spaniards cannot say “sausages” to save their lives). Once I started playing with him he actually got into the game (first time I’ve seen him ever do an activity in English class) and I feel he actually learned something, for once.

The teacher I work with here really doesn’t have any control over the class. The students are always walking around and talking. Spanish teachers also yell a lot more, and directly at the perpetrator for a good amount of time (which is the only time that the other students are completely silent…they all love listening to the student’s disciplinary talk). A lot of the time I feel like the kids don’t really learn much in class, which is hard to watch, since I feel like if she conducted class differently it would help them learn more, and in a more fun/engaging way. I don’t really have a role in class, besides bringing in American money next class, haha. I just walk around helping to check homework, answer questions, and make them concentrate. Lately I’ve been trying to focus on one-on-one help, which I like a lot better since I feel like I actually accomplish something, and the student I help likes it a lot more, too.

This weekend is Lisbon, Portugal! I’ll write about Córdoba/Granada soon, and also about my lovely experience in the Prado museum a few weeks ago! But for now, I’m just going to go research/read/write my 10 page art paper on El Entierro del Conde de Orgaz by El Greco. Interesting, but still painful and complicated…If anyone wants to come tour the Prado Museum with me, I am now a certified Greco expert. And I could probably do Goya and Velázquez justice, too!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

¡Málaga y Torremolinos! La ciduad de gatos...

I am about to begin the long awaited blog about my trip to Torremolinos! But first, I need to mention that I am becoming scarily adjusted to the food here. I can barely survive a meal without eating atleast one small piece of French bread. On top of that, I prefer if lunch is served with soup as the first course. Also, I have developed a liking for a certain type (not all of them…just one or two so far) of Spanish sausage, yes the stuff I gagged on the first day. The other thing I gagged on one of my first days here was cold tortilla española, which tonight I ate, enjoyed, and had seconds. My choque cultural (culture shock) upon re-entering the States is already looking dismal, and it has only been a month and a half... What am I going to do without my salty chicken broth and tiny noodle soup at lunch every day? What about my quesitos? Cold tortilla Espanola? Fruit after dinner every night? Spanish sausage? Iberian ham???! Trina (fruit juice or soda…depends, lol)?!! And we cannot forget the delicious, amazing pastries they have here-EVERYWHERE! Where in Minneapolis can I find a chocolate sauce filled donut with chocolate covering? How about a flaky deliciously sweet bread pastry filled with nutella-like chocolate? Or churros and chocolate on every corner? Tapas?!?! Siesta?!?!! What about my daily café con leche?!?!?!?!?!?!?! I might have to stay here…or else you’ll all be facing a terrible grumpus for the first few weeks…Mom you might even have to come over here just to force me to come home, haha.

Ok! I’m done with my tangent. Torremolinos. Right. I went with my friend, Kyle and we stayed with Barb and John Komoroske, who are family friends and neighbors of my Nana (that’s “young grandma” for those of you who rudely call your grandma “grandma” ;) They were amazing hosts, to say the least. Our trip began with a night bus ride at 10:30pm from Toledo to Madrid. From the bus station we weren’t sure how exactly to get to the airport…so we explored outside. We went down into a subway station after looking at a map. We had no idea how to buy tickets, so after going to the window we were sure we got the right tickets. This was good, but then we accidentally exited the place…twice. Needless to say our tickets no longer worked to open the doors to get into the subway area again. We enjoyed a bit of reckless, ummm bar jumping and eventually got to where we needed to be. The subway was uneventful. Upon arriving at the airport we found our terminal relatively easy, then decided to sit outside it at a café for a while before entering since nothing was open past security. We had a café con leche con bailey’s which was delicious. After exchanging life stories we passed by security and found a comfy (bahaha or not) looking bench and settled in for the night like a couple homeless people. We didn’t sleep much, but the good news is the night passed uneventfully, and once things started opening we devoured a bag of potato chips (think 6am…) and had amazingly delicious donuts. Seriously, I’m amazed at how horribly even us fat Americans do donuts. Even the culturally thin Spaniards have better donuts.

The plane was relatively uneventful, besides some great turbulence over the mediteranean sea…From Málaga we took a taxi to Torremolinos, and were met by Barb in the lobby! We set down our stuff then went out for lunch (scrambled eggs and bacon and wine) with Barb and John. After that Kyle and I wandered the beach and managed to make it back in time to shower before cocktail hour in their room.

Torremolinos is beautiful. Gorgeous beaches that never end, and an adorable boardwalk along the whole thing. At one end is a wharf with amazing sailboats and yachts docked there. At the other end are cliffs (which apparently seem to serve as cat villages – there were cats everywhere here!). There were a number of guys who made amazing sand designs, which you could take a picture of if you paid them. They were amazing enough to do just that.

After cocktail hour, which passed quite enjoyably (we never ceased to be amazed at how fun the “older” tourists we met in Torremolinos were). Barb and John recommended a Chinese restaurant they liked, so we ended up being treated to dinner there. Both Kyle and I loved how John prepped us for this meal. We were informed that it included, if one wanted, a small glass of “blandy” at the end. We got a kick out of this, and of course John secretly bowing his head saying the Chinese word for “thank you” after the waiter left. Dinner was delicious as promised, and we headed over to the neighbor resort for bingo and a flamenco show.

Saturday Kyle and I decided to explore the wharf area. We ended up finding a really cool opportunity to go out on a sailboat dolphin watching. So we hopped on the boat. We sat in the front with the hilarious Canadians that were with us on the Australian-driven boat. After a while we moved to this hammock-type apparatus in the very front of the boat. I think this was my demise. All of a sudden, after the boat had slowed down for a bit, I didn’t feel so great. I’ve never gotten sea sick or motion sick, but I figured our pretty quickly what was happening. I crawled my way to the edge of the boat and quite gracefully ended up feeling better ;)
The Canadians commented that they were confused because I was out in the sun and should have been gaining color, but there I was losing color. The boat turned around to head back, so we switched to the other side of the boat to be in the sun once again (it was a tad chilly in the shade). Once again, I just didn’t feel the best. Again, it passed relatively gracefully. Oh an experience I’ll never forget. I really enjoyed the trip, as I love boating, and even though we didn’t see any dolphins I would do it again in a heartbeat. I just might sit in the back for a while every once in a while ;)

That night we went to cocktail hour, ate dinner in the resort, then went to a cabaret show at the neighbor resort. That was interesting, to say the least. Sunday we headed out pretty early, and took the renfe train back. I love European trains, except apparently they like to sell seats twice?! Haha there was a bit of confusion that I wasn’t really affected by, but the guy next to me was moved, moved back, and then told by someone he was in the wrong seat. He refused to move, since he knew he was in the right spot. Anyway, he was served a meal because of the confusion, and gave me the dark chocolate that came with it, so all in all, a great trip. I would however, love to return to Málaga, since we didn’t get to visit anything there, and I really want to see the Picasso museum!

Looks like there might be plenty of rain for our Andalucía trip this weekend…hopefully not! My host dad does love informing me that everywhere I’m going it’s going to rain. Tonight he went so far as to suggest I bring a canoe. The sad part is, he’s probably right as they have already experienced horrible flooding in both Cordoba and Granada. Jolly.

Tomorrow I’m hanging out with my intercambio, Arantxa (a 17 year old spanish female student here in Toledo – she’s hilarious. She talks to me in English, and I in Spanish to her to practice), and I also have salsa class taught by the Puerto Ricans! :) and maybe am playing volleyball after that!?
¡Hasta luego amigos! ¡Qué tengáis una buena semana!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


This past weekend was our adventure to Seville! I wasn’t sure what to expect, but everyone I talked to described it as being amazing and beautiful, so I was pretty excited. It started off with a nice 6 hour bus ride…yup. And that one only started after we took an hour long bus ride from Toledo to Madrid where we then took the subway to our bus station. The joys of traveling! It wasn’t too bad actually, considering we had a lot of leg room (weird right?). Since we left at 10am from Madrid we got to Seville at about 4. We found our hostel no problem with the help of Mike’s navigation skills. It was a nice, clean hostel, with not-so-friendly French owners who made us turn in our key every time we left and who gave our keys back without so much as asking for identification. That was a bit sketchy/scary. Amy and I were upstairs, with the guys downstairs right next to the front door. We were lucky enough to be down the hall from some serious pot-smokers…one day it reeked like nothing I have ever smelled before…

Our first day consisted of wandering around near our hostel. We explored Corte Ingles (a department store like Boston Store, but with a floor for every department pretty much. Oh and they had a flower section). After that we split up, with Maren, Matteo and I going to explore more buildings and the other group taking a shopping trip to H&M and other stores. We explored a smaller church, which all the churches here are really cool and old with paintings and interesting sculptures. Hunger struck so we headed to an Irish café to get some caffeine. I tried café caribeño which probably had more chocolate sauce than it had expresso, and it definitely had more whipped cream than it had expresso. Thus, it was delicious. Matteo had the guts to try café dolce which had a splash of cream of whiskey in it. The Spaniards LOVE their whiskey. Apparently it was actually really good. Maren ordered a delicious looking chicken sandwich and hot chocolate (think a cup of melted chocolate..mmm). After this we headed back to the hostel to meet up with the others. After an eclectic dinner of foods from the grocery store we headed out for a bit. Our friend Brooke was in Seville for the weekend as well with her parents, so we ended up meeting up with them and took them to a Flamenco show (the only free one in Seville!). It was in a really interesting bar, and the area where the show was was packed (lots of tourists). The flamenco performers consisted of a heavier woman in a purple dress with a more-or-less manly-ish face, a male singer with a long dark ponytail and facial expressions of near-tears when appropriate for the song, and then two other guys on guitars. The music was surprisingly good, considering the fact that it seemed like it was improve most of the time. The dancer didn’t dance for the first few songs, but when she finally got up and danced she was ridiculously good. My legs would fall off if I tried to dance like she did. I don’t think I can even stomp that hard…We watched two different parts of the show before leaving. (We saw people drinking this white-smoothie type drink and found out it was called “Agua de Seville”. I forget how many liqueurs the waiter said were in it, but basically it is a ton of different alcohols with some cream and ice and it’s called the water of drunks, lol. We tried finding it the rest of the weekend to try it, but failed. I guess I’ll just have to return to Seville someday :)

After the show a few headed back to the hostel, while the rest of us went to another bar for some wine. We ordered a bottle for all of us, and just sat and talked. The night spiced up when we spent about 2 hours or more trying to find our way back to our hostel. Seville is a confusing city to begin with, and we somehow managed to end up without a map….Needless to say, I enjoyed seeing almost all of Seville at about 3am :)

After breakfast in our hostel the next morning we headed out to start touring the city! We saw:

-The Cathedral- ridiculously huge and amazing. This was definitely my favorite part. I saw Christopher Columbus’s tomb!! We also were able to climb the Giralda, which is the tallest tower of the cathedral, with 35 flights of ramps to the top. The view from the top is amazing-you could literally see all of Seville! I have never experienced such a great view before. It was soo windy up there; I was almost blown off of the window area where I was standing, lol.

-Torre de Oro- this was also really cool. The name basically means Tower of Gold, which I think it gets from its goldish color. This also had a huge tower which we climbed to the top of (not as high as the cathedral). Inside there were a lot of exhibits about Christopher Columbus’s trip to America. It was really cool seeing all the paintings and especially the recreated mini-models of all the ships on the voyage.

-The Alcázar- which usually means palace, but I think this one was more just like a donated house of someone really rich. It was interesting, there wasn’t much inside to see, and since the gardens were closed (which is the best part) it was a little disappointing. We were still able to see some of the gardens, but not even close to all of them :(

-Plaza de Toros- unfortunately I didn’t get to go in and take the tour, but I saw the pictures and the outside. I would love to return and go here in the summer when there are actually bull fights taking place! Whatcha think mom?!! How’s a bloody bullfight sound to you?! ;)

-Plaza de España- This was ridiculously huge and cool to see. It was a half-circle building with all of the cities represented by a painting on the walls. (outdoors).

We also just walked along the edge of the Guadalquivir River, which was really cool with all the interesting bridges. Amy and I bought these sweet souvenir board things with pictures on them of Seville. We walked a TON this day! I was soo sore the next day!

We did another eclectic dinner of interesting pre-made ham/cheese/croissant/mysterious sauce? Sandwich things, carrots, cheese slices, ice-cream bars, and very cheap (and disgusting) sparkling Rosado wine. Since it was close to Brooke’s birthday we decided to go out for a bit and celebrate! Some people wanted to try orange wine, so we found a restaurant which had it. It tasted a bit like orange flavored cough syrup. I didn’t really mind it, but a lot of people didn’t like it. We had an interesting encounter with Spain’s drunk homeless here…this drunk homeless guy came up to our table, grabbed Brooke’s stepdad’s glass (with wine in it) and put it up to his lips. He was mumbling and clearly wanted more alcohol. He was a very aggressive homeless man; we had to pretty much yell at him to get him to leave. He then proceeded to run inside the restaurant where they didn’t hesitate to scream at him to leave. After this he went to a table outside a different bar, and I presume, he picked up one of their glasses and dropped it, as we heard shattering glass soon after.

After the homeless encounter we left, with information about where the night life of Seville is, thanks to our waiter. Walking through most of Seville it is pretty much dead at night. We barely saw anyone, until we arrived at the recommended street. There were about 5 or so bars on the street and every single one was packed to capacity and spilling out onto the street. We finally found a semi-well hid one which wasn’t as packed, and we found seats in the back area where we could chat. After a round of tinto veranos everyone proceeded to celebrate Brooke’s birthday. We had a great time, and even managed to meet some lying Spaniards (2 claimed they were brother-in-laws to Brooke, then later a different one told Brooke those two were brothers). Brooke and I pulled the sister routine of course. Though this time we gave up trying to convince people that we were from Germany, since neither of us speaks a word of German. We left the bar at closing time (4am) and took the long, but sure (we were not about to wander Seville again for 2 hours, as fun as that was…) route home – in bed by 5:30am. Actually relatively early for a Spaniard. I feel though, that we are becoming more and more Spanish as the days pass. Not only do we stay out almost as late as them, but most of us are developing our Spanish attitudes (no, no, noooooo and other seemingly-whiny Spanish responses) and our ability to lisp almost every word containing a ‘c’ or ‘z’. I have also slowly acquired a liking for Iberian ham, which is basically cured raw salty ham (think beef jerky of ham that is very very moist). We also have perfected our ability to bargain, obtain free maps, and ignore ridiculous comments. We still need to work on our comebacks to these comments, however.

Sunday passed easily and calmly. We found the Spanish equivalent to Subway (of course it didn’t taste as good) and enjoyed another 6 hour bus ride home – this time in a bus with much less leg room.

This coming weekend I’m off to Andalucía once again (Seville is in Andalucía also – which is southern Spain for those of you who don’t know Spain very well. Think nice 60s – 70s weather!). This time I’m going on the trip with our program. We’re hitting up Córdoba and Granada. I cannot wait!!

I swear I’m going to write about Madrid and Malaga soon…bahaha

Monday, February 15, 2010

Picture Links!

Ok, so I forgot to put these in the other posts. Here are links to my pictures in Spain!

El Escorial:




First few pictures:


A meal to write home about! :)

So I think since Thursday was my host-dad’s birthday we had a huge lunch today. It started off with these shells in a yellow soup. The shells don’t really have any meat in them…and it tastes a bit fishy, so they are not really my favorite. The way of eating this shell soup was interesting as well. You had to scoop up the liquid with the shells themselves and slurp it out of them…needless to say, it turned out to be a very messy meal. Then we ate shrimp/langostina – the ones with the head, legs, tail still attached. I’m pretty sure you are supposed to suck something out of their head when you rip it off, but I just pretended like I didn’t know that. The shrimp were actually really really good. Then we had fried chicken breast, which I think she uses an egg covering over the chicken before she dips it in bread crumbs (or just flour?) and fries it. Delicious. Then my dad brought out the fruit, like usual, but also brought this cake-type thing. It was a roll of cake filled with thick whipped cream, covered in an orange sauce and chocolate sprinkles. It was amazing, I could have eaten the whole thing! I thought then we were done, because that is a lot more than we usually have. But then Jose brought out lemon sorbet and a bottle of champagne, which we mixed in a glass and drank. Raul kept telling me the cake was going to make me fat because I don’t run or play sports here, and that I was going to get too drunk to do my homework right now off of my ¼ glass of champagne, bahaha.

Later today, Emily, Brooke, and I are going out to celebrate Valentine’s Day together :)

Upon my return from this dinner I was given a glass of sparkling apple cider. Once again Raul informed me that I was going to get drunk off of this because it contained alcohol. Oh boy.

Btw, they watch the movie “Ghost Busters” here. Only it’s called “CazaFantasmos” which literally means ghost-hunting.


This past weekend was Carnaval! We’re still not completely sure what it celebrates, specifically, but in general I think it is just celebrating the week before Ash Wednesday. Festivities started on Thursday, but I did see people dressed up on Wednesday. We didn’t do anything for Carnaval on Thursday, but some of us went to Enebro’s as usual in Polígono.


Friday we had a trip to “El Escorial” which is actually a town called San Lorenzo de El Escorial. We toured the monastery located there which was really cool to see. It was a bit chilly though, since the monastery is simply a stone castle with no heating system. The church part of the monastery was probably my favorite, it is amazingly beautiful. In a 3 sided square surrounding the pulpit is the palace part of the monastery, where Felipe II lived. It’s is cleverly built so that both Felipe II and his wife could watch the priest during mass from their beds. I also really liked seeing the tombs, even if it was a bit creepy. The whole place is full of paintings and is really interesting. I would love to return and wander through the place by myself for hours, on a much warmer day of course. After the tour we ate “comida” (lunch is the small snack they eat at like 10 or 11 which includes coffee and a pastry or small sandwhich, comida is the huge dinner-type meal they eat at 1 or 2 or 3pm) at a restaurant nearby. We had pasta with a sweet tomato sauce, a huge slice of pork chop, and a crepe filled with some banana/cinnamon/something? sauce which was delicious!
FRIDAY NIGHT! = Carnaval in Polígono!

Brooke came over to my house to get ready since she lives in Buenavista (a different neighborhood of Toledo). She, Lis, and I were disco balls. How does one dress as a disco ball?? We bought silver sequin dresses which were on sale for 5 euros at Zara and paired them with huge silver earrings, a sparkly necklace, and lots of bangles. Brooke and I both decided to wear a black shirt/sweatshirt and two layers of leggings/pants/tights underneath our dresses since it was freeeeezing Friday night. Our outfit was completed with silver eye makeup and lots of glitter. Upon descending the stairs we got to present our costumes to my family. My host mom said “How pretty!! But, what are you?” I finally got a picture taken with most of my family, minus Olga since she was in her pajamas and refused to be in the picture (I’ll post a link to my Carnaval pictures later).

Carnaval in Polígono was located behind the library and consisted of a large stage with a live band. It was actually pretty sweet. There were drink stands surrounding the place, and millions of crazy costumes. We encountered a Pac-Man guy who went around saying “Guapa Guapa Guapa” constantly. That translates to “pretty girl” for those of you non-spanish speakers. He was hilarious and told us he’d be at Zocodover the next night, so we made plans to try to find him again on Saturday. Some of my other favorite costumes I saw included (and yes, I did take pictures of these) a mermaid (man) with a full, uncovered plastic chest, tons of chickens and tiny chicks, the characters of Grease, and the gingerbread people (who refused to take a picture!). Everyone here gets really into dressing up, and the cool thing to do is to plan to dress as a theme within your group of friends. On Wednesday night in Zocodover we saw a person dressed as Jesus, followed by his 12 disciples, complete with one of them splashing wine on the ground in front of Jesus’ feet. I tried a new Spanish drink tonight! It consisted of red wine and coca-cola, and was actually very good. This was also the first time I encountered Spaniards that actually danced! Oh, and another note: they have a hilarious song here about “las chinas” (Chinese women) and also they do a different chicken dance, which is much more fun than the one in the states!


Today there was a parade at 5:30 in new Toledo. It was a lot of fun once it finally got to us, but I feel as though it just made me more confused about what Carnaval is celebrating. Apparently each neighborhood dresses up for the parade as a specific theme to represent themselves. I saw everything from a movie theater complete with tiny walking popcorns to Aztec dancers. I also heard the “Ding Dong Song” which is definitely not age-appropriate for the kids at the parade. Good thing it is in English, and I don’t think anyone there actually knew what it was saying…The parade went on forever, check out my pictures to see some of the highlights!

Saturday night!!
I went to Brooke’s after the parade where I got to meet her dog, Jack, her mom, María, and her sister, also María. We warmed up some paella (which was very good) and then her mom made us a salad…lol Well, she said she was making us a salad, and that we should get it out of the microwave once it was done. It turned out to be tomato slices covered with melted provolone-type cheese, which was actually delicious. I still find it hilarious that our ‘salad’ was made in the microwave though! After fruit for dessert we rushed to get ready and caught the buho bus at midnight to Zocodover. The same stage and band were at Zocodover as was in Polígono the night before, but there were tons of people shoved into the plaza. We pushed our way through the crowd, searching for someone we knew. We finally found some kids from our program and ended up standing right next to some older people (40s+) dressed as Indians, complete with a teepee set up, and smoking pot in their pipes… I find it really odd how they gather to celebrate here. Everyone just brings a bottle, mixers, and cups to the plaza or street where they are meeting and then sets it all down and forms a circle around their alcohol. It’s so different from the States I feel like. After dancing in the plaza we went to O’Briens bar to warm up for a bit. From there we returned to the plaza for a while. Once we were chilled again we went to our favorite discoteca, Camelot, and danced until we had to catch the bus at 3:30am.

I’m thinking that the United States really needs to find more reasons to throw weeklong fiestas like Carnaval!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Comida deliciosa

Sorry, this is not really for the benefit of readers, but more so for my benefit. But once I get these recipes I’ll be sure to pass them on if you are interested!
I need these Spanish recipes:

-Apples in the oven (like applesauce, but better). Cook at 180 degrees until skins are brown and apples are mushy (I think). You can also core them before and then shove an orange slice in there and cook it like that if you want. I have not tried this version, but apparently my host dad thinks he’s quite the chef and that is how he makes his. (considering this is the only thing I’ve seen him make I’m not quite sure whether to believe it’s good or not..)

-Breakfast bread

-Soup recipe(s) esp the one with cabbage in it

-Uh oh…there were others and I’ve already forgotten them.
I need to find a place in the US to buy “quesitos” also - think cream cheese with more of a goat cheese type taste…it’s delicious.

Monday, February 8, 2010


Sunday, February 07, 2010

I would call this past weekend my first true weekend that I have spent here in Toledo. Thursday the Polígono people went out to Enebros. We had a larger group this time, and we dominated the empty bar (apparently the Spanish people don’t go out if it’s been raining…or even sprinkling within the past 24 hours…). It was fun to just catch up and chat (interesting converstations…) and then of course to play Nin-Jeti thanks to David.

Friday was a bit more intense… A bunch of us (myself included) had to go to the Prado Museum (ok, we got to go, not had to) for our Master Painters of Spain class. It was interesting to see all of the Greco and Velazquez paintings while getting a guided art tour of them. My favorite is now the last and most famous Velazquez painting of the princess and of Velazquez himself looking out at you. The story and confusion/wonder about the painting’s meaning really intrigues me, and I think I could stare at it for hours trying to figure out what I believe he meant by painting it that way. My other favorites are definitely all Greco paintings. I find his style so amazingly intricate it never ceases to overwhelm me. Where do you start when you first look at a Greco painting?!

After the Prado I went back home where I took a quick siesta, made myself a quick dinner consisting of 2 slices of buttered bread (there was no turkey for my sandwich) and some cornflakes in chocolate milk. Just like the US :) I then met up with Kyle and our intercambio partners, Arantxa (not sure how to spell her name, it sounds like Aran-cha) and Gonzalo. We chilled in a park talking, with them ripping on our Spanish pronounciation for a large portion of the time. They had to leave at midnight (they are only like 16-17 years old) and so then Kyle and I went and met up with a bunch of the Polígono friends at O’Briens bar. A bunch of us split a pitcher of sangria while we just hung around for an hour or so chatting and dancing a little to the oh-so-American music. We also met a guy who spoke English and who happened to be with the traveling circus which was in town. He also turned out to be a bit of a creeper, so those who were smart ignored him, bahaha. We then visited Explorer’s (a discoteca) which was empty so we went instead to Camelot, one of our favorite discotecas as of now. We stayed at Camelot for a while dancing a bit and having a good time (el Azul!). Once Camelot started emptying at around 3am we decided to go over to Explorer’s again and see if it was any better. It was. That place was packed, both floors. Unfortunately the music was not the best and we had to catch the bus at 3:30 (we thought..) so we didn’t stay too long. The bus ended up coming around 3:50 instead of 3:30, so Liz, Matt, Felipe, and I got back to Polígono at around 4:10ish. Felipe had been talking about this “Churreria” he went to with his host brother, so we decided to give it a try. After touring almost all of the industrial park of Polígono we finally found it. Fresh churros and chocolate have never tasted so good.

Saturday I had planned on going to the mercadillo in Polígono with Amy and Liz, but it turns out I had other plans… I had agreed the night before to go to Eroski (think Spanish Walmart) with my host mom and dad because I was going to look for contact solution there while they picked up a few things, or so I thought. Well, Matu (mom) woke me up at 10:30, a good 4.5 hours of sleep there… and we left at about 11am for Eroski. They didn’t have my contact solution and it turned out to be one of the most painful shopping experiences of my life. I really am learning just how much patience the Spanish people have. My host mom took her time. With everything. I enjoyed seeing all of the different products they sell here, but after seeing them all for the 3rd time it got a little old, lol. After about 2 hours there we left, me with the skinned conejo (bunny rabbit…) in hand. Needless to say, I didn’t make it to the mercadillo. After we got home I took a siesta, ate dinner, and met up with friends at Zocodover Plaza (in old Toledo) for the botellon. With a box of sangria and some cups in hand we headed to the park outside the walls of old Toledo for the botellon. Botellon happens every Thursday and Saturday night in the same spot. It’s basically a high school reunion for Spaniards. About 200-300 people were there, drinking and chatting with friends. There really isn’t much to do besides socialize and freeze if it’s cold out, which it was. Once we couldn’t feel our feet anymore (from the cold! Jeeze!) we walked to a new discoteca. I never really figured out the name of it, but I know it said “rock music” on the outside, but on the inside they definitely played only crappy techno. It was a cool place, actually. 2 stories, with the top floor being like an overlook of the dancefloor below. We stayed for maybe an hour before heading to catch the bus.
-The bus had some interesting characters on it. Some extremely drunk and probably on drugs Spaniards kept trying to harass two of our guy friends. Luckily some of the Spaniards were not so messed up, so they helped keep things calm. Still, it didn’t leave the greatest impression on me about how “accepting” Spaniards are of outsiders. I don’t think I have ever witnessed anything like that on a bus in Minneapolis, and that is saying something.

Sunday Liz, Matt, Felipe and I climbed “Pride Rock” which overlooks all of Toledo. My lunch before the climb consisted of a tuna/boiled egg/seafood-tasting mayonnaise salad (which I luckily didn’t have to finish because my mom just made me try it, she must have known it’s not a hit with people from the US) and conejo. As I was eating my bunny rabbit my host dad pointed at it and exclaimed “Bugs Bunny!!” That really did not help it go down any easier. I think it only went down because I was actually hungry and for the most part it tasted like chicken. Although watching my mom eat the bunny’s brain after I finished almost compromised my previous accomplishment of getting it down in the first place.

Mmm dinner was a huge hotdog and scrambled eggs. Thank goodness I told Matu I like scrambled eggs early on. :)

This week is Carnaval, well more specifically, I think it is this weekend. I’m not quite sure what that is going to entail, but I am excited to find out!! And I promise, the Madrid and Malaga posts are coming…sorry!

Monday, February 1, 2010


Domingo, el 31 de enero.

Ok, so I found out my host dad’s b-day is actually the 11 of February, and not the second…and they don’t really do anything for birthdays…not sure if I should do anything or not.

I talked with my host parents today about politics (great, I’m horrible at talking politics in English). It was really interesting actually. They don’t like Republicans since they think they are all about money and oil (and they are…pretty much correct). They also argued strongly and intensely with me aobut how social healthcare is better in every way possible. They said that the quality of doctors doesn’t decline, and also proved every other doubt I had about it wrong, I’m still not sure where I stand on the whole issue, but it was really interesting to hear how much they love social healthcare, considering they know what it is like. They really really do not like the system we have now. Guaranteed they don’t really know everything about it, but they do seem to have a good take on it, and can form a rebuttle to whatever point I may make. They hate Bush. Bahahaa, as does everyone. They also said the US needs to focus on our own people, instead of worrying about everyone else—we do have enough problems at home to keep us busy for centuries I think. Also, we talked about schooling, and the costs of school. I wish I could go to school in Spain…it’s soooooo much cheaper! More people my host dad knew about: Davey Croquet, George Washington, John Adams, Sitting Bull (my favorite, bahahaaa), and also West Point Military Academy. I wonder where he gains all this information…

Sorry that is such a random collection of thoughts/conversations, but it’s actually really hard to describe my conversations with them, they really are just random tangent conversations, although the healthcare debates we have (frequently) usually follow a pattern.

PS Malaga was amazing. I still need to write about Madrid. And then Malaga after that. Sorry I’m behind….it’s been a busy week…2 weeks? I don’t know how long it’s been since I’ve written!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Interesting things of the week:

-My host-dad knew who Lady Gaga was…

-My family didn’t realize the music they listen to is American music…Shania Twain was playing at the mall and they just thought it was Spanish music, along with Katy Perry’s Hot N’ Cold, Backstreet Boys’ Incomplete, and sooo many others. A lot of our old songs are their new favorites

-I was invited to their house in Leon for Semana Santa (Holy Week, Easter).

-As a group we go to Madrid this Friday, and then I think on Sunday of this week Matu is taking me to Madrid again to give me her own tour since she went to school there for many years before she was married.

-I think I need to take a video of Raul talking in order to fully explain why I cannot understand a word he says.

-You can order a waffle at any point of the day here, from almost every store. It’s ridiculous.

-Bizcocho means cake. Like really really good cake. I love eating meals 8 hours apart if it means I get coffee and cake at 6pm!

-No tengo clases manana!!
Como siempre,
Lindsey. (pronounce len-say).