Saturday, June 19, 2010

May-June happenings

So after temporarily quitting the Camino, my life went back to normal. I would play squash on Wednesdays, occasionally go for a run, have conversation classes in Ourense, and then you know, actually go teach classes in Monforte. I fill my time watching some of my favorite movies and bad tv shows online and read on trains. I went to a 5.5k race in Santiago for women and against breast cancer and I placed pretty well! I sort of have a horrible sleep schedule on the weekends after getting back to the apartment around 7am and then recuperating that day or the next. There aren't tons and tons of things to do, especially without a car, but I have kept myself active and entertained.

May was a month of tension at the school. And I mean tension. Suffice it to say, I am more than content to not have to go there and sit in the teachers' lounge while people are purposefully not talking to each other to avoid a repetition of a screaming match.

Oh, speaking of match! USA hasn't lost yet! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!

At the end of May, my brother came to visit me all the way from Kansas! I bussed down to Madrid to pick him up because maneuvering the subway system can be slightly difficult and no need to cause extra stress. We work our way through the metro to the bus station again and then head off to Seville! Seville is one of the prettiest cities ever. There is almost always a cloudless, blue sky and the tiled roofs add a nice touch. Shade from trees and buildings is a godsend, this place was like Kansas but in July or August. In May it is just nuts! After visiting the typical tourist things, the Real Alcazar, the Cathedral and the Tower of Giralda (you will notice the resemblance next time you are at the Plaza in KC and glancing at the Cheesecake Factory), we tried to do less typical tourist things, but sometimes luck just didn't go our way. The hostel we stayed in was nice, although on the street where they were doing a neighborhood block party each night that was kind of killing the sleep-ability.

After Seville, we went to Granada. Granada is one of my favorite cities in Spain because it is so college town-y. So you can eat cheap and stay cheap and there are always lots of people in bars. Since the only real tourist thing to do there is the Alhambra and the viewpoint thereof in the gypsy barrio, and flamenco, but that's in the gypsy barrio also. We were able to walk around a bit more and enjoy the eats. At the gypsy cueva, it was THE SAME GYPSY TROUPE AGAIN! I do not know how all their information gets to every hotel I've been at, but seriously, that is ridiculous. The third performance I've seen. On the bright side, the angry old lady was smiling at a kid this time and wasn't death-staring anyone who held up a camera. Also, it's kind of weird to see how the young girls have aged. Doubly weird is that now I could understand what they were saying!

After Granada, we tried to go to Córdoba. This is where things got annoying. We missed the bus by literally 1 minute, after waiting in line for 30. So we had to stay at the bus station and wait for the next bus, 2.5 hours later... Which meant that we missed the check-in time for the hostel/hotel. So I was on the phone with the guy and updating him every few hours so that he wouldn't close and lock us out. We finally got there, showered, then looked to get something to eat. Except at 11.30 pm, apparently all the kitchens were closed! A wave of panic hits as I realize I am going to starve. WHO IN SPAIN CLOSES AT 11.30!!!!! Seriously, that is like a crime against humanity. Here I am all adjusted to eating late and now they are closing the kitchens. So we go to bed so we can wake up to have breakfast. Thank Allah (hey, we are in southern Spain) for breakfast. We visit the Mosque-Cathedral and then spend most of the time in the hotel (with a tv!) and go out to eat. Since we don't have a map and my navigational skills, while they have been greatly honed on this trip are still not a GPS, we don't wander too far so that means many places with food are kind of tourist traps so we hit up a mom and pop grocery store. The next morning we get to the train station to go to Seville. From Seville we bus to Madrid. From Madrid we get on the train to Ourense. Let me tell you, the worst is the overnight train. You have to be ready to be awake at 4:45am to get off the train at 5:00am, and there are no announcements about where you are.

Once in Galicia, we spent the first day or two recuperating. Now that I'm old (24 as of last week!) I needed to recuperate. Also I had internet withdrawal. Don't judge me. Then we went to Vigo to go to Isla Cies, a world-renowned beach. From there we walked around the island than laid out in the sun. I tried to go in the water but it was pretty much glacial and I decided it would be less than fun to be in a wet swimsuit on a 45 minute ferry then a 2 hr train ride. The boys, Ted and Manu, did not think the same. The beach was gorgeous and the fact that there were trails to go around the island was amazing! The water was cold, so I feel like the Caribbean islands win in water temperature while they lose in the lack of walkable trails.

We also went to Santiago where Manu gave a fabo tour of the city, while trying to avoid the rain, and we went through the Cathedral and hugged/kissed the saint or whatever there. Like every time I've ventured near the Cathedral this year, there has been a huge line. Holy year. We walked around Ourense, but because there is only the thermal fountain and thermal springs way far away, we opted for a bit of nightlife with my roommates. It's nice to see a difference between what tourists do and then what locals do, since we didn't do tons and tons of local stuff while in the south.

And that's about it! Ted went back to KC, my responsibilities in Monforte are over, no more conversation classes in Ourense... After recovering from my vacation, then recovering from my birthday week, I have about 2 weeks left in Ourense. Trying to really start my pre-training for my next marathon, thinking about the night marathon in Bilbao! It came highly recommended to me - well, going to the city, obviously not doing a marathon - from other teachers at the school and some students, for being a really uniquely beautiful city. And it's at night, so we get glow-y, reflective gifts! Unfortunately, my plans for a summer camp were basically DESTROYED! by people changing schedules and then people deciding that it really won't be an English camp but a crafts camp or beach camp. Very convenient.. but on the bright side it will give me more time to be lazy but get some running in, I've gotta start now to be ready for October!

Next time I'll post some pictures of our trip to southern Spain and around Galicia, so you all can sit there salivating for the next post! haha.