Monthly Archives: December 2008

Adventures off the bottom of the map

Heya.
I’m currently in Bilbao, wandering around with Kona. It’s very pretty, and very green, and rather wet. Yesterday we went to the Guggenheim museum, which was really cool.

We’ve been having some trouble with our maps, in that we seem to keep winding up in places just off the bottom of them – this happened when we tried to walk to the city from the youth hostel, and in Madrid, where the only map we were still on was the one with all the subway routes where you could barely see the streets and there were no street names.

I’m a bit sick, but doing pretty well. We’re having a good time. There’s apparently some sort of Christmas festival today, and we’re going down to see that, among other things.

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LEAVING

And despite all that I say about how glad I will to be home again, it’s suddenly struck me that I am leaving Pepi’s house tomorrow, and even though I will stop back again before I leave, this is the end. I won’t live here again. I’m leaving. And there are so many things and people I don’t know half as well as I would like. And I’m beginning to wonder if the things remaining on that big List Of Things To Do Before I Leave aren’t going to get done.

I have made wonderful friends here, and I will miss them.

Maybe I feel so odd because even though I’m leaving, I’m not going to anyway. I mean, I am going to Asturias, and possibly Malaga or something, and then we’ll be in Córdoba and Granada, but that’s all tourist stuff, and home is still weeks away.

I want to not leave yet. I want to be home already.
I don’t really know what I want, although if I can manage not to cry when I say goodbye to Pepi, that would be nice.

I should also mention that there’s no guarantee that I’ll have good internet again before I get home. I’m certainly leaving the computer behind this coming week.

At least I’m done packing.

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Language and Further Adventures in American Cooking in a Spanish Kitchen

Cut, as per usual, for longwindedness.

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Things I will and will not miss about Spain and things I will be glad to come home to.

It occurred to me today – in 21 days I will get on a plane and go home. Twenty-one days. Three weeks. That sounds like a long time, yeah? Too soon to start thinking about, really. But the group flight leaves Madrid on Thursday December 18, and the group bus goes to Madrid on Wednesday, and I will go with it. And then Kona and I will wander around Asturias (a province in northern Spain) for close to a week, and then I’ll get myself back down here to meet family on the 24th, and then we’ll be in Córdoba for four-five days, and then we’ll go to Granada for a few days, and back to Madrid for an overnight and then we’ll leave. And when I put it that way, it seems like very little time, especially since most of the rest of the people on the program are looking at leaving on the 18th or something like that, and therefore all in just-about-to-leave-Spain mode.

So it seems like an appropriate time to do a post of this sort. This list is in no particular order.

A very long list

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More rambling

I was watching the news with Ana a few days ago, and something came on about members of ETA as elected representatives in el pais vasco. I was confused by this, since itś my impression that most people don’t support/approve of ETA, and she said that thereś a lot of extortion; a vote-us-into-office-or-we’ll-attack-your-families sort of thing. She described this as una vergüenza (a shame, shaming). I found it horrifying. Spain is a modern democracy, not some one-party ‘democracy’ or country run by a military junta. Admittedly it hasn’t been a democracy for terribly long; it only became one thirty years ago or so. But itś been working very hard to catch up ever since, and it feels like a modern, first-world country where no one is being pressured into voting for a terrorist group.

I’m not so much of a stary-eyed idealist to believe that no one in first-world democracies is ever pressured into voting for Candidate X, ever. And I’m sure that there are people all over the world who sell their vote. But while I don’t approve, the latter is their right, and if it puts food on the table, at least they eat that day. And the former – what can you do? But the idea that a terrorist organization can scare or persuade enough people to get into power (on the actual support base that I perceive them to have) – that terrifies me.

The news lately keeps reporting captures of ETA leaders, mostly through cooperative efforts by Spanish and French police. I do find this somewhat encouraging, but it also depresses me, because I know that there are always more extremists who will step into those roles, and that terrorism in general isn’t a problem that can be solved by just cracking down on it hard enough.
The news in general is depressing, actually; here in Spain, where the television is on almost all the time when Pepi and Ana are home, I have reaffirmed my belief that I really prefer to get my news from the radio and newspapers. The commercials are distressing, to, though often in different ways than the news.

I should mention that paper correspondence ought to be directed to my Philadelphia address or my Smith address.
And I’ll be home January 3.

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Thoughts

I am perhaps homesick. I’m not unhappy, but I feel that I am ready to go home.
I didn’t realize that Spain would be so . . . far. I figured, I go to school for months and months, or I go to Spain for months and months – there isn’t that much difference, right? But I hadn’t counted on the foreignness. I miss home food, and home assumptions and worldview, and home methods of interpersonal relations (which is to say, quieter ones). I miss church that isn’t mass and classes that have more discussion than lecture, and I miss the ability to be able to say whatever comes into my head (for while these things arrive in Spanish, or at least turn into Spanish, rather more frequently these days, I still haven’t a clue how one says “lime green hedgehog” in Spanish, and am not liable to learn, short of looking it up in a dictionary).

I miss home more than I ever did my first year of college. I’m not sure why that is; I certainly came here with more acquaintances than I had at Smith. Perhaps it’s the culture I miss, as much as any specific people, or perhaps I got lucky at Smith, or maybe I was just too busy, between schoolwork and an entirely new social situation, to miss home. But the fact remains that, so far as I can tell, having carved myself a niche at Smith doesn’t make it any easier to carve one in Spain; it just gives me more people and more places to miss. Which is not to say that I haven’t carved a perfectly respectable niche in Spain. But it’s still kind of rough around the edges.

This was the first year I wasn’t home for Thanksgiving. Similarly, I’ve always come home for Christmas, and I won’t be doing that, either. It’s odd to watch Christmas decorations going up, lights being lit, holiday celebrations being held, and to know that by the time I get home, it will almost be time for Christmas decorations to be coming down again (at least, if you pay proper attention to such things; I have no doubt that that awful inflatable reindeer on the neighbors’ roof will remain there long after I’m back at Smith). I know that family are coming to see me, which makes things better – but I still won’t be home. I can’t even really pinpoint what home is; it’s not a house, or even a place; it might be a conglomeration of people, and there’s something to do with food, although food can’t be a terribly important part of it, because dining hall food would be acceptable . . . I guess that it’s this whole batch of things that I miss, that are different, that are something or other.

I’m sure that my Spanish would benefit from more time in Spain. But I’m really glad that I won’t be here until June.

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I owe you pictures

Lots of pictures. Hopefully I still remember what I wanted to say about them.

Without further ado . . .

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