More pictures from the beauteous Prague…
I recently took a week-long adventure to Eastern Europe. The first stop on the tour…Prague! Or as the locals call it, Praha. I thought it was extremely beautiful, but was slightly turned-off by how unfriendly most people were that I came in contact with.
I took an outrageous number of pictures in this city specifically, so here is part one of my time in Prague:
More to come in the near future…
I was recently invited by some Spanish friends to go on a hike up a mountain called Sierra de Huétor. It was beautiful! My friend Peter and a new friend Amy came along too, and it was lovely to be one with nature. Naturally, my camera battery was dead, so I stole these pictures from other people.
Although I do quite a bit of walking around the city being sans-car and all, I was not properly in shape for a 10 km hike up and down a very steep mountain. The one thing that kept me from sitting on a rock and not moving, is that I have too much pride to be the weakling of the group (which I probably was, anyway). My drive to not look like an idiot really helped me conquer this trek. It was a 7 hour excursion…from leaving Granada to the celebratory cerveza at the end. It’s funny because it was so warm that day in the city, but at the top of the mountain there was snow!
Hey, also, I’ll stop sucking (legitimately) at writing this blog. I’ll post a couple more times this week, and then I’ll be in EASTERN EUROPE! After which you can anticipate lots of pretty photos and good stories 🙂 Let’s all cross our fingers for no surprise strikes, delays, or general travel drama.
So, I’m sort of in love with Spanish. And languages in general…how language reveals things about a culture…what there are words for, and what there aren’t words for, and how many words there are for the same thing. This year has been the equivilent of about 5 years of Spanish class (or more) for me. I knew close to nothing upon arrival, and after flipping out about how inept I was, I started to calm down and to listen to what people were saying. And then, all of the sudden, I was understanding. It’s brilliant how immersion can do that to a person.
I’ve started to thirst for more. I was at a trivia night the other day, and met some people from Italy and France. I can’t speak Italian, or French, so all three of us were communicating in our second language, Spanish. One of them asked me, in the most matter-of-fact way, “Don’t you want to learn a third language?” As if being “bilingual” (I put this in quotes because I still wouldn’t consider myself fluent) was some sub-par thing. I didn’t know how to answer. Why DON’T I want to learn a third language? Italian could be nice. And it’s quite similar to Spanish. Perhaps I’ll work on that next. However, Europeans really do have an unfair advantage. They are surrounded by a plethora of native speakers of several different languages. In Spain alone, there are four different languages. Castellano (“Spanish”); Catalan, which is a combination of French and Spanish; Gallego, which is a combination of Portuguese and Spanish, and Euskera, which is totally unique and difficult to learn.
There are some Spanish words that I find really fun to say, and have therefore, declared them my favorites:
1. Frugoneta- Meaning van. Yes, like the mode of transport. It just sounds really pretty, though.
2. Chiquitina- Meaning little. It rolls of your tongue, I promise you.
3. This isn’t a favorite but…the verb for “to give birth” is “dar a luz” which literally translated, means “to give to the light.” I think it’s quite similar in Italian as well. How gorgeous is that?
In addition to learning about Spanish, I have had a chance to learn about my own native language, by teaching it. I have never thought of many English words as pretty. But the other day, in a conversation hour with one of my private tutoring clients, I said a word, and my student exclaimed, “How beautiful!” Want to know what the word was?
I guess it’s beautiful? Is English beautiful? Do you have a favorite English word?
Being a 22-year-old, I consider myself relatively technology saavy. When the TV won’t connect to the DVD player, I can usually mash enough buttons until things begin to function. And if it doesn’t start to function…well I didn’t want to watch that movie ANYWAY. However, I am concerned that the part of my brain that houses this information is slowly melting while in Spain.
Yes, I have a Spanish cell phone. It cost 30 euros. It’s pinkish red. It’s a flip phone. I have to type text messages using T9. Remember T9? From wayyyy back… 2 years ago? That used to be the prominent way to send SMS messages before touch screens and keyboards. I also don’t have a contract. I use pay-as-you-go. Why? Because I have all of 20 contacts, and receive approximately 4 calls/week and 10 texts/week. I’m super popular. In defense of me actually having friends, us abroad kids typically use the Internet to make plans because it’s free-er. I never have my phone with me, because I never really miss anything. Sometimes, I get myself in trouble with the few people who actually use a phone to contact me because it maybe take upwards of 5-8 hours before I notice a missed call.
There is a brilliant thing the Spaniards who use “pay-as-you-go” do. It’s called a toque. Let me teach you about the toque through an example. You and I are going to lunch at 2 p.m. I am there, and waiting for you. Instead of spending the 15 cents to text you to say “I’m here” they simply call, let it ring once, and hang up. No one is using their credit on their phone (called saldo in Spanish) but messages are coming across. It’s so genius!
I’m concerned for myself when I return to the U.S…how will I ever re-connect to the wired world? I don’t have any phone number there at the moment (word on the street is that, while I was once a 410 girl, I may have to change my area code) and when I do have a cell phone again, will I remember to use it? Will people call me? Or maybe… I will be so excited by the fact that I am not paying for each individual text message that I will text everyone the most random and unnecessary pieces of news. We’ll have to see how things pan out.
Either way, I have in fact purchased my ticket back to the U.S. and should be making my state-side debut mid-June. Get ready, people!
Sorry my blog has sucked this past month. I know, it really has sucked. There were fewer pictures, and fewer anecdotes. I’d like to insert my fabulous excuse (here), however, I really don’t have one. I’ve been traveling less, and saving (well, trying to, but mostly failing) more. I’ve been sick. But mostly, I’ve had a rather boring existence this month.
Last weekend was a holiday weekend in my area of Spain (no work Monday and Tuesday). I had lofty plans in mind…The Canaries? A beach house? Malta? But none were able to come to fruition, which is probably best for me and my budget with so many trips planned in April, May and June (Eastern Europe, Gibraltar, Portugal, Greece).
I did have this little moment of clarity about it all though…I’m living in Spain. I live here. When you live somewhere, you don’t typically travel every weekend. And not every weekend is special. I can come back to Europe anytime to visit a couple of places that are still on my to-do list (granted, it might be more expensive…) but I can’t move back to this time in my life, with these people, in this apartment, in this part of Spain. This is a once-in-a-lifetime stint.
Some fun things that have happened in February, as a consequence of being around Andalusia:
- Attending a birthday party in a huge house in the most beautiful neighborhood in Granada featuring flamenco guitar and other miscellaneous instruments.
- An overnight trip to my favorite city in Andalusia, Sevilla (insert love music here) with some friends. It’s SO magical!
- A day trip to Antequerra (a little town about 1.5 hours away by bus) with a friend.
- Celebrating Dia de Andalusia at school with my students! There were oranges and ham and bread and chocolate (specialties of Andalusia) at snack time, and lots of fun games during the afternoon. They all did little presentations about the different provinces of the area, and the rivers. They made flags and buttons (they made me one too!).
- Lots of sunshine and freckle collecting in my favorite park. It’s been amazing weather!
- Random rendezvous with lots of wonderful people from various EU countries.
- Catching up on reading, sleeping, and skyping.
So really, I can’t complain. I may not be somewhere exotic right now, but I’m still living the dream, and securing my place as a Granadina.