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Posts from the ‘Spain’ Category

about leaving Spain… for now…

For me, the last couple weeks in Sevilla were a blur. So many things to do, to see, to enjoy, to love. It was different leaving Sevilla this time… I was content. I don’t know why. I was sad to leave, don’t get me wrong, but it was different. When I left Argentina after living there I was a waterworks show. Crying… sad… depressed… for days. I can’t explain why it was different in Sevilla. Perhaps, deep inside when I left Argentina I knew that I may never come back here to live… the life would never be the same as it was those past 11 months that I had been there… and for me Buenos Aires signified so much… I changed, I grew, I became someone I never knew I was, I taught, I loved, I cried, I lived, I did things I never thought I would, I felt change, I struggled, I fought, I saw life differently. I lived in Sevilla for the same amount of time as BsAs, but it wasn’t the same experience. I’m more mature now, I know what I want in life, I trust myself more, I feel more capable, I have more faith, I believe in myself more, and I know deep down (and not so deep down) that I will be back. Very soon.

G and I did the Camino de Santiago after we left Sevilla and it was magnificent, inspiring, unforgettable, galvanizing and fantastic. Can you tell I liked it? For those of you who don’t know what this is I’ll fill you in. A camino in Spanish is a ‘way’ or a path of some sort. There are many caminos across Spain that you can ride your bike, sometimes drive in your car, walk, run, ride a horse…. however you want you can take this path and there is always a certain destination. More traditionally caminos are considered pilgrimage paths or routes and have religious significances. The Camino de Santiago must be one of the top three routes in the world. There are many different ways that you can do the Camino de Santiago, but all of them have one thing in common, the destination. Santiago de Compostela is where the apostle James is believed to be buried and for this reason there has been a massive cathedral built on this burial ground and bam! the camino was created. Pilgrims from all over the world have traveled these routes, leading to Santiago, for hundreds of years all in search of different things. Nowadays many people follow these infamous routes for leisure, clarity, zen, challenge, holiday, love… you name it… I’m sure it has been a reason.

Since I heard about my friend’s camino experience last year, I have had an urge to do it also. So, as a closure for our time in Spain we decided to head up north to Galicia and do the last 120 kilometers of the camino (it is 800 total, but we only had about 5 days). Oh, and 5 days just wasn’t enough! I’m addicted now and want to do the whole camino next year! It was so cool. I can’t explain why it was… but I can try. You change as a person, things happen and this was only 5 days… can you imagine 5-6 weeks? The people you meet, the places you see, the ideas and thoughts you think about, and the times you have alone and with people make you a better person, no matter how you look at it.

An average of 24 km of walking a day it was the best way we could have finished our time in Spain. I kept a journal while I was walking, but it is full of way more rambles then this blog could ever handle.

Flying back home was exciting. I missed my family and spending a month at home was exactly where I needed to be.

More to come… as always.

about the Camino de Santiago…

Well the Camino was everything we expected and so much more. G and I did the Via de la Plata which is the Camino de Santiago, but starting from Sevilla and going north. We didn’t have that much time to do it so we started in Orense.  I’m just posting some picture in this post and will write about the actual Camino very soon! Enjoy…be jealous.
– L

about beaches, fiestas, and Sevilla love…

Spring in Sevilla has an overwhelming amount of celebrations….fiestas…happiness…culture…love…and allergies. And I just can’t get enough of it. Here is a review of what I’ve been up to.

Cruz de Mayo– This is a fiesta that takes place all around Spain and other South American countries. It is a day to celebrate the day Catholics believe the true cross (where Jesus died) was found by Saint Helena in Jerusalem. Really, in Andalucía everyone eats a lot, drinks just as much and dances flamenco around a cross that is beautifully decorated with flowers. Needless to say, G and I drank, ate, and danced flamenco around a cross (well maybe not the last one, but just imagine).

Carmona- This quaint little village lies about 50 kilometers outside of Sevilla. We decided to take a short day trip to the village to see the Roman ruins that have been discovered in the town some years ago. It is also a nice excuse to leave Sevilla for a few hours.

Bull Fight- I didn’t really watch it, I was there more for support so G didn’t have to go alone. Even not watching it I think I was scarred for life. It is a tradition I just can’t seem to accept. Enough said.

Andalucían Flamenco Ballet- Phenomenal. Spectacular. Unforgettable. The only sad thing is I don’t have any pictures because we weren’t allowed to take them during the performance. The performance was called Poema Del Cante Jondo and you can view it by pressing on the link (view it!!!!!).

Virgen de Rocio- Is a pilgrimage that is made every year at the end of May or beginning of July. It is celebrated because of a hunter who, back in the 13th century, discovered a statue of the Virgin Mary in a tree trunk. A chapel was built there and the pilgrimage to this place began. Now the hermandades (brotherhoods) all over Andalucía do this camino (walk) at Pentecost. The journey takes about 4 days and that includes about 4 days of partying. The Spanish way… of course. Dressed in their flamenco attire and dancing the whole way to Almonte, the pilgrims are accompanied by their oxen pulling elaborate carriages, which carry all their gear (food, sleeping equipment, and drinks) for their trip to Almonte. We didn’t take part, but enjoyed watching the hermandades leave Sevilla on their journey.

Sevilla FC wins the Copa del Rey- Sevilla Football club wins the Spanish Cup! We got to see the team parade it’s way down Constitucion (the main avenue in Sevilla). It was fantastic and almost like being at the game itself. I’m proud to be a wannabe-Sevillana.

Zahara de los Atunes- G and I were able to enjoy an awesome day at the beach with our good friends Sarah and Jordan. We rented a car in the morning and headed down south to the beaches between Tarifa and Cadiz. It was fantastic, shades of blue that I had never seen in the water and the glorious, hot sun. The day was incredible, the company was incomparable, and the beach was always a delight. My ideal Saturday.

I have a little more than a week left in Sevilla and you better believe that I’m making the most of it… Sevilla has my heart…and I’m not letting go so easily.


about the Feria de Abril…

I finally experienced the oh so famous Feria de Abril in Sevilla, and it was spectacular…to say the least. The pictures say it all and there is really no need for me to ramble on about it. I will however give you a mini ramble about what this actually is.

Have you ever seen those Spanish women in pictures and they are all dressed up in flamenco dresses (trajes)? polka dots? stripes? paisley? Then on top of their colorful and figure-hugging dresses they decorate themselves with colorful accessories… earrings, broaches, shawls, flowers, hair clips, bracelets… you name it… they got it. If you have seen pictures of these women and children, probably they were on their way to the Feria de Abril in Sevilla!

The fair or feria is just another excuse for Sevillanos to drink, eat, dance, and party. And who could argue? Starting in 1847 the fair started to gain popularity and created this idea of casetas or small houses. These houses are owned by the elite Sevillanos whose families carry on the tradition of owning and keeping these casetas for all family and friends to come and strut their stuff at the feria. Each caseta is a little bit different, but all of them include a dance floor, a mini-restaurant, and seating. Now in Sevilla many of the big companies have casetas too, which has added to the amount of casetas that totaled more than this year! Many Sevillanos ride in on horseback or horse-drawn carriages and there are also daily bull fights…its all tradition of course.

G and I were so fortunate to have some Sevillanos take us around to their casetas and we enjoyed drinking rebujito (manzanilla wine with sprite), eating to our heart’s content, and showing a few moves on the dance floor… which was cut short seeing as the rebujito was WAY too easy to drink.

You can also see more photos on my picasa page…as always. Don’t miss your chance to go to the Feria de Abril it doesn’t disappoint.

Happy to be able to breath again (figure-hugging dresses or figure-life-sucking dresses),

about Semana Santa…

Semana Santa was spectacular. Although I’m sure it has a stronger religious significance for Catholics all over the world (and I am not catholic), I still found it to be very powerful and profound as a Christian. However, it was more for the artistic talent, time, and atmosphere that this week produces. The pasos are phenomenal and the bands that play during the processions make the procession really what it is. I dragged G around to as many processions as one could see and each one I was blown away by the passion and fervor (perhaps this is what made me keep wandering the city looking for the next paso).

One of the things that I found so remarkable was the amount of enthusiasm and vigor everyone had. From young to old, punks to nerds, toddlers, teens, beauty queens and wannabe beauty queens, everyone participated in this event.

The masks that the Nazarenos wear were scary to me at first… not gonna lie. Growing up most of my life in the U.S. all you can think about when you see these masks is U.S. history classes talking over and over about the KKK and Civil Rights and the images of the KKK all dressed in white with pointy hats. However, it didn’t take long for me to see past this and into the eyes of these Nazarenos. Why were they there? What did it signify for them? Only tradition? Religion? Hope? Jesus? I don’t know really… but for me it was a comforting thought to think that these Nazarenos were walking the streets of Sevilla for hours not thinking about horrific events in U.S. History, but rather of the resurrection of Jesus (or when they were going to eat next).

Oh man… and I have never seen Sevilla so crowded…. all day and all night… literally. Some processions were 12-14 hours and had hermandades (brotherhoods) with over 800 people walking (including the bands, the costaleros (people under the paso), the nazarenos, and the penitentes (people carrying crosses)).

When we got back from Portugal on Thursday that night was the Madrugada when the processions begin around 1am. We stayed out all night and watched different ones…the atmosphere was incredible and seeing the processions at night had a bit more passion and a little more magic… if that was possible.

I can’t wait till my next Semana Santa…

p.s.- The last picture here is taken by some of our great friends, Jordan and Sarah Bentley. Jordan is tall.

about Spring and Sevici…

I am proud to say that spring has finally arrived in Sevilla. Yes, today was a glorious spring day full of sun, blossoms, and sneezes. So glorious that I decided to jump on my Sevici, which made it even more glorious. What is a Sevici you may ask? Well, it is the sah-weet public bicycle system in Sevilla. With just 15 Euros you get a year subscription to the bike system. The program allows you to take a bike at any Sevici location around the city, by simply swiping your card in the machine. For the first 30 minutes the bike is free and then the next hour you pay .50 cents, then each hour after that you pay one Euro. Not too bad, especially considering you can pretty much cross the entire city of Sevilla in 30 minutes. Please note that there are short-term contracts for five Euros a week, but the prices and fees change a bit. You can see all the information about the bikes on Sevici’s website.

The other cool thing is that whenever you want to see if there are bikes available at a station you can check online! One tip if you do have this bike system or are thinking about using a public bike system (they are also available in Paris, London, Lyon, Barcelona, Stockholm, D.C., and the list goes on!) always check the bike carefully before you take it out for a stroll, chains come lose, brakes fail, and bells sometimes don’t ring.

As for the rest, the famous Semana Santa week is starting tomorrow with Domingo de Ramos (Palm Sunday…or literally translated, Branch Sunday). There is apparently no other Semana Santa like Sevilla’s Semana Santa and I’m anxiously awaiting the processions, celebrations, and fervor I have heard so much about. Although I am in Portugal for most of the week I have heard that Thursday night is one of the best nights, as the processions start at midnight and promenade the tiny calles leading to the notorious and spectacular Catedral. Well, I arrive back here on Thursday so I will be definitely getting some procession action despite scary kkk costumes (it’s tradition, I know, but still…) and potent incense.

Until then… the beach awaits me.

about free surprises…

One of the best things about living in Sevilla is that there is *always* something happening. Always. No Exceptions. The Sevillanos love to be out of their homes, to walk the streets of their city, to eat tapas, drink a beer, eat churros… and how can you blame them? Sevilla is charming, beautiful, and happening (especially on a beautiful spring day!).

Today as G and I were running errands we passed the Museo de Bellas Artes and decided to go in and see ticket prices because one of my students had told me about a good exposition happening right now. I think my appreciation for museums grew to what it is today because of my daddy! I can remember going to museum after museum when I was young and especially on family vacations to Europe. I was bored. Like bored to the max. My brother and I used to linger behind my parents as they moved from piece to piece…just praying that it was the last (although the trip to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum was awesome). Eventually I grew out of this stage and learned to see the talent of artists and the history that the art was displaying instead of flying angels and half-dressed men and women.

Anyways, to our surprise the ticket lady looked at us with a big smile and said… “es gratis!” (it’s free!) I responded with “que guay!” (how cool!).

So there we were entering into this exquisite museum for free.  We were able to see a fantastic exposition by one of the most important Baroque painters in Spain (he was also from Sevilla), Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. It was a double dose of culture points for us. Although I’m not a huge fan of Baroque art or religious art in general, I can, again, appreciate the skill and artistic talent that was shown throughout his work. The museum itself is fantastic and stunning. It was originally a convent in the 17th century and then later became a museum in 1839, so you can imagine the architectural detail it has now. It also has many courtyards filled with flowers, trees and benches… It was a wonderful time to spend a couple hours on a lazy spring day.


about a little sunshine…

In the many places I have lived, I can think of one constant thing that has made each place so memorable. That would be my dear friend, the sun. I can no longer remember the days of sunny Seville because since I have arrived in this oh so sunny in 2009 city, the 2010 version of Seville has decided to be a little less sunny. So, what do I do? I look at all the pictures of  the sunny places I have been and lived. This has given me small portion of hope (albeit without the vitamin D) that there is sun somewhere in the world. That and my mom’s care packages. Oh yes… I may not be in college anymore, but travelling and living abroad you learn to live without a lot of things, but some things I just haven’t quite yet departed from.

So I have decided to put together a list of things that I always make sure I have at least one of from back home:

– brown sugar (I love to bake and for some reason only the U.S. bakes with brown sugar)
– peanut butter (I’m American.)
– make-up (make-up is expensive in the U.S., you can imagine what it is outside of the U.S.)
– face wash and some toiletries (for the same reason as the last item, but also because if you are attached to some products your best bet is just to bring them from home.)
– Emergen-c Super Orange (they are lifesavers when you feel a cold coming on or you just can’t get to fresh fruit.)
–  good hiking shoes or outdoor gear (for the same reason as the others, you can find it abroad, but you will pay.) (this includes cliff bars, not everywhere you can find 24 hour places and when you travel all hours of the day you may find yourself without food.)

And I’ve been trying to bring the sun with me for years… sometimes it comes. sometimes it doesn’t.


about equality…

Today I asked one of my business classes, which consists of three women, what they would change about Spain if they were president. I thought that they would say something about the politics or corruption, which consume this country despite what most may think, but their answers surprised me. It first took them a while to think of an answer, one woman even said she was happy with the way Spain was and she wouldn’t change anything. I thought it was quite bold to say such a thing, but clearly as a pessimist I always think there is something negative about situations or countries.

The next woman said she would change the rights of women in Spain. I looked at her with a sort of astonished face. I asked her what she meant, convinced that it might be lost in translation. She continued to tell me that Spain, although it appears to be an equal rights country, has many problems when it comes to the rights of women. The other two women were quick to agree with her and added that a woman’s salary in Spain is significantly less than most men’s salary, they also require just as much time at work as a man and are still expected to carry on all the duties at home.

As the three women sat there and spoke to me about these problems and issues in Spain, I couldn’t help but think how far women’s rights have come in the US and why haven’t they come so far in Spain? It’s a ‘western’ country, so why are women still fighting to have the same equality at work and home? I know that in Andalucia the women are expected to cook, clean, and maintain the house despite what they do at work or if they even work, but still… Anyways, it made me proud to be sitting in this room with three women who hold quite high positions in this company, despite the social pressures they encounter.

English tip of the week: It is true that make, do, take and have create much confusion in the mind of an ESL student. After all, in many languages there is usually one verb to do all the tings that these four verbs do in English. However, when my students decided that you ‘do’ friends and not ‘make friends’  in an exercise this week, it made me chuckle.


about the oranges in Sevilla…


Ok, so the post really isn’t about the oranges in Seville, because you actually don’t eat the oranges in Seville (how did I not know this?). However, the streets are full of trees bearing the little orange fruit and especially at this time of year (February) it is a wonderful time to walk the streets and smell the oranges (don’t tell, but I do eat the oranges, free food!).

I made Seville my home last September and haven’t looked back since (and yes, my Middle East posts were super delayed).  It has been a wonderful place and change. Before living here I recently lived in Phoenix (pop. 6 million), Buenos Aires (pop. 13 million), and Milan (pop. 1.5 million, but feels bigger!) and Seville is a nice change of pace (pop. 700,000). It is conveniently located in the south of Spain and has a wonderful, but sometimes frustrating, relaxed lifestyle and mentality. Later, Later… they say.

I have found a steady flow of private students and a school that I work a few hours for during the week. We have been able to visit Madrid, Granada, Cadiz, and Lisbon while we have lived here and it has been an extraordinary adventure rediscovering parts of Europe that I had not seen before. I shall write more posts about these places in the future, but for now I just simply want to catch up a bit so I am more motivated to write about current and future events in my life.

The Sevillanos (people from Seville) are an interesting folk. They are proud to be from Seville and I think if it was up to them would make it the capital of Spain. However, I think the responsibility of this would put them off in the end, because it would mean the loss of the 3-hour siesta in the afternoon. Despite this, Seville is a wonderful place to live with a high quality of life and full of content people. The cafes, tapas bars, children in matching clothing, spanish evening strolls, colorful buildings, love for all things with meat, cruzcampo, feria, flamenco, and their own way of speaking Spanish (i.e.- impossible to learn) makes Seville a haven for all things Spanish. And I’m loving it…

More to come.

Hasta Luego or in true ‘Sevillano’  Ha’uego!