The First Weekend

Saturday morning came way too early because we had to get up for a bus tour of Sevilla and a trip to Italica.  Everyone was exhausted from being out late the night before and it didn’t help that all tours and explanations were in Spanish.  It’s very frustrating because I really am interested in the history of the city and the meaning behind the Roman ruins, but it takes every ounce of my concentration and effort to focus on the Spanish especially when a lot of the vocabulary is foreign to me.  I took some pictures of the impressive mosaic designs on the remaining floors of the houses, but unfortunately I could not tell you the meaning behind them.  It was hot and difficult to concentrate.  Everyone was dragging.

In the afternoon I took a nap and then decided to meet Jessica on la calle de Asuncion.  My roommate came to and we met at 5:30, casually forgetting that for some stores, siesta lasts from 1-6 or 2-7:30.  It must be nice to have all that time off, and for it to be socially acceptable.  It’s so weird to me because Saturday is the probably the biggest shopping day back home, but here the world basically stops on Saturday and Sunday. So we walked around a bit and shared our frustrations over our new Spanish phones, laughing about how all the food here is filled with olive oil and salt making us thirsty 24/7.  The funny thing about that is…you can’t walk into a cafe and ask for a free glass of water without buying anything so you have to buy a water bottle.  A bottle which is usually much smaller than the US standard and more expensive.  Ay the Euro.

We met up with a bunch of other girls from our program at a cafe and everyone though we are not supposed to talk for a long time in English, we spent about an hour swapping stories of our senoras, cell phone worries, the food, new rules, and just all the changes we are going through.  Then a few of us walked around el centro de Sevilla and searched for a good ice creamery.  Dessert hardly exists in our new homes.  For most senoras, dessert means having a piece of fruit or a small yogurt, while to us that is a part of the meal or a snack.  I can’t believe how much I am going through withdrawal, from cookies, potato chips, candies, and drinks other than water. Our pantry is basically stocked with fresh bread, rice, pasta, and cereal and our refrigerator contains little more than  water, fruit, yogurt, and some cheese.  The two weirdest things I have noticed are: the milk and this low-alcoholic drink called Tinto de Verano.  The milk my family uses is powdered and they must have about 10 boxes of the powder in the pantry.  To make coffee, Angel takes some milk powder and mixes it with warm water and then mixes in instant coffee and sugar.  When they drink milk, they simply mix the powder and water.  I haven’t tried it and I don’t intend to.  It often looks lumpy and warm, and to be honest I’m sort of afraid of it.  Tinto de Verano is apparently wine mixed with seltzer water.  It’s basically watered down fizzy wine, but I sometimes drink it with a meal just so I can have a break from water.  At home I drink juice, iced tea, milk, soda, or coffee, but here I have learned that water is basically the drink of choice.  When I go to cafes I try to get a bottle of something different just to mix it up a bit.

Saturday night was magical.  At first I didn’t want to go out because I was really tired, but our student orientation guide, Megan, was going to show us some more authentic spots for nightlife and I didn’t miss out.  At first she took us to a packed flamenco bar.  I watched intently as one man played gently on the Spanish guitar, while another sung and a women danced alone with great emotion and intensity.  Though I barely see, it was quite exciting to get a small taste of the real Spanish flavor.  Afterwards we wound though the impossible streets in the center of Seville until we reached the Alfalfa Plaza.  There we found several bars lining a small cobblestone streets and endless clusters of Spaniards drinking laughing and smoking.  Several of us purchased what were, in my opinion, very delicious mojitos, and we spent the majority of the night taking in the atmosphere of that small street and enjoying ourselves.  Some people sang “Feliz Cumpleanos” and we also encountered a man wearing a devil’s costume and a woman’s blonde wig.  We later found out it was his bachelor party and  it seemed like he had no idea what was going on.  Some of us went home rather early because we had to be up on Sunday morning to go to the beach.  On the way home I noticed that every street was like a hidden treasure lit up by the small lamps of the bars and glowing with personality.  The cathedral was very beautiful and glowing in its spotlights.

Old Sevilla is so precious.  Everywhere you step there seems to be another fountain, or building, or archway with immense detail. And I live here?  The few pictures I have taken don’t seem to do it justice.  I am excited to become acquainted with the small bakeries, bookstores, and ice creameries that line these streets.  I am even more excited for the change in season when I don’t sweat every moment of the day.  Those of you who know me, can attest to the fact that I am a winter girl and this heat is killing me!  I can’t wait until I can retire my tank tops and sandals and break out my scarves, jeans, and flats.

On Sunday we went to the beach!  It was about an hour drive to Matarascanas and when we got there it was packed!  At first glance it reminded me of Ocean City, Maryland. Hundreds of multicolored umbrellas, and children running back and forth with their boogie boards.  Now that I think of it I have no idea why anyone would bring a boogie board because the water was as warm and calm as a bath.  It was so pleasant I barely laid on the beach.  It was also ridiculously hot, so for me lying on the beach was an uncomfortable and sweaty experience.  After what seemed like too many hours in the water a bunch of girls went to find a cafe to sit in.  But since it was almost 5:00 PM many had just closed to begin their siestas!  I was so confused because I thought siesta would be over, when I remembered that many remain open for siesta because people like to purchase their lunch at the beach.  We finally found an open cafe, but I couldn’t seem to get the attention of the bartender in order to get a drink.  It’s frustrating because I couldn’t tell if she saw me or not and I didn’t know the polite way to get her attention.  After a while I gave up and drank my warm bottle of water that I had brought from home.  Warm was better than nothing.

Aside from the smoke, and heat, and overcrowding the beach was beautiful.  The water was almost a crystal green and the sand wasn’t too rocky.  It was really relaxing, but after about six hours at the beach everyone was ready to go home.  Eliza and I crashed early and slept for more than 12 hours on Sunday night which I guess we needed.  All and all I couldn’t imagine a more perfect introduction to life in Spain.  I could definitely get used to this 🙂

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