Friday, March 23, 2007

The View

As promised, here are some pictures from the terrace of my apartment. The view is incredible, and unfortunately the pictures don't do it justice. They were all taken from terrace.

This is my view of the backside of the Alhambra.

Just off to the left are the remains of the first hospital in in Europe.

This is a picture of a street behind the terrace.

Again, sorry the pictures don't do justice to the Alhambra's beauty, but you have now seen things the way I do every morning. Oh, and I forgot to take a picture of the historic Arab Baths. And my roommates. But I'll save that for another day.

I almost forgot, today the weather warmed up and I got to wear sandals, which makes my foot feel a lot better. I'm definitely thankful for that.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Las Guitarristas

Language school. Mine is called Mester. I go for two hours in the morning, then have a Spanish 15 minute break (25 minutes) where I go buy bread with Molly, then go back for another two hour session with a different teacher. Right now it is really basic, but I have learned a few new things, which is nice, cause, you know, I live in Spain. Or Something.

My class consists of my friend Molly, three 18-19 year old Dutch girls, and a guy from France named Jean. Oh yeah, and me. I pretty much rule the class. Except in guitar skills. The other day Jean came over to my apartment (pictures coming soon) to play guitars, and he schooled me. He's been playing for five years and loves French gypsy music and is great at improvisation. But my guitar is better than his. Ha! In your face Jean! My guitar was bought with money, you couldn't even buy your skills? He also speaks English, French, German, and Japanese. He'll learn Spanish in no time. He is already really good.

Thanks to everyone who sent me notes about my feet. I've got multiple options for treatment, including my Dad sending me my old shoes that are perfectly molded to my feet. Another option is staying off of my feet for a few days by posing as a street performer. Maybe I'd get a little extra cash too.

I was trying to think of something I could do on the blog to connect all these thoughts. I thought about keeping a running tally of how many times I've stepped in dog poop at the end of each post, but a better one just happened upon me. Inspired by Molly, who was inspired by Oprah, who I can't talk bad about because she probably owns the interweb and everything else, I've decided to end each post with something that I'm thankful for.

Today I'm thankful for the unsolicited chocolate I received from Stevo, Sarah, Nina, Daci, and Marko. I'm not even homesick yet and I've been spoiled by Reese's Pieces. I'm not soliciting for more stuff, it was just a great reminder that people care about me and are praying for me. I'm also thankful for the emails I've received. Please, don't stop communicating with me.

God Bless and Good Night (Day)

Sunday, March 18, 2007


Last night was very interesting. Let me give you a little run through. I decided to attend my new roommate's girlfriend's birthday party at what will be my apartment come Monday. Being the overconfident navigator I am, I tried to take the quick, back road way to the apartment, but I got lost right away. How's that, you ask? Well, I was following a narrow, cobblestone street between tall white buildings, but apparently that is what all the streets and buildings look like in Albaicin. Actually, I just got really lost, because I didn't know where the heck I was going (that's twice this week). So I ended up at a lookout place, finally pulled out my map but couldn't find where I was at, then broke down and asked some nice people for directions. They responded with "tan lejos" (very far) and were surprised that I had was walking there. They must be lazy.

Anyway, I finally made it to the party. As soon as I walked in, I was paralyzed by the thought of having to kiss that many people on the cheek. In Spain, when you enter a room, you are supposed to greet everyone in the room, shaking hands with the men and fake kissing the girls on each cheek. Some of you may be saying, "what is his deal, he doesn't want to kiss cute girls?" But what you don't understand is that I don't even like to sit next to someone in a theater, unless I know them really well, because our shoulders might touch, let alone kissing a bunch of strangers. If I could sum up the evening in three words, it would be these:

1) Awkward. Not only did I have to kiss the one stranger who was closest to me upon entrance, but I was the dumb American who couldn't speak much Spanish.

2) Challenging. Not only was I the dumb American who couldn't speak much Spanish, but I talked with a local guy who seemingly said more random vowel sounds than actual words. He was a nice guy, but I found it hard to concentrate on our conversation when I was thinking, "he isn't saying real words, he's just mumbling, how did this guy get into college?" Again, nice guy, but a thick accent.

3) Fun. Not only was I the non-kissing, dumb American, but at some point in time I became the guy playing guitar with another guy. I kind of felt like I was on display at a zoo, or a street performer's monkey. Everybody gathered round and shouted, "DANCE MONKEY, DANCE!" while I tried to play along. The good news. One of my new roommates said he would teach me some Flamenco songs.

I'll post again in a few days to let you know how language school and my apartment are going.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

coche fantastico

Yes, David Hasselhof has used his brand of Miami beach voodoo to witch his way into the hearts of Spaniards. In fact, so much so that Knight rider reruns are on TV here. It's called Coche Fantastico--Fantastic Car (how true). Surely this is a sign that postmillenialism is utterly false, because if the world were getting better David Hasselhof would not still be on TV.

So here I sit, waiting to go check out an apartment that I'm pretty sure David (the other guy here with me) will take. But I have some promising leads, and if none of them work out I can always scotch guard a big screen TV box from the electronics store. That is a pretty big need. So is language. I need to learn Spanish. It seems that no matter how hard I try, these people won't speak english. Like when we went to buy mobile phones and the lady wouldn't speak english. Actually, she gave us our phones in "spanish language" mode because she said, "you need to learn." What? Who is she to tell me I can't speak English? I thought there was some kind of world law that says everybody in the world needs to speak English, but I guess she hadn't heard of it. Seriously, they are like cavemen here.

I am starting language school in a little over a week. This week is devoted to the city itself. I need to learn how to get around, and thankfully we have an assignment to help with that. Taking the bus, going into diferent stores, attending mass, finding all the Plazas, eating shawarma...basic orientation. I'm looking forward to using the little Spanish I know to ask directions and sound stupid.

Well, I'll write a bit more when I get time, but for now I need to eat some Golden Grahams and take a shower.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

And Ward said there wouldn't be landmines...

I'm here. In just this 24 hour period of being in Spain I've already had quite a few noteworthy things happen, and since blogs are all about lists, here is my first SpainList.

1. We had a 7 1/2 hour layover in Madrid (the flight there was only, 7) so we took the subway into town, where Molly bought a pair of shoes. I fell asleep on the Subway.

2. I watched "Grosse Pointe Blank" (sic?) on my iPod while everyone else watched the airline movies and heard terrible sounds that made their eardrums burst--something was wrong, don't fly US Airways International.

3. I ate shawarma, the spanish equivalent to kebab.

4. I stepped in dog poop.

5. I realized how much I wished I already knew Spanish.

6. I got a cell phone (bling bling).

7. I started orientation and met almost everybody I will be working with here.

8. I decided to post on my blog.

9. I decided to go to bed.

Good night...or day...or whatever.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Over the River and Through the Woods...

I'm at my Grandparents in New York state, and I am pleasantly surprised to find that they have cable internet. Way to go Gramps. Anyway, this has allowed me to set up my primitive and incomplete email update list, as well as post on my blog at this very moment. It is tough to be in the in between stage right now, but it is great to visit family--even if everything I unpack has to be re-packed, which means I'll probably have to re-pack everything to get it all to fit back in my bag. The slightest of negative consequences for seeing them again.

Only three days left in the country now. I had the chance to speak with Andy Barlow today, and I mentioned that just in the last week I have begun to look at my situation realistically. Before, I looked at moving to Spain through rose colored glasses, anticipating all my difficulties and envisioning myself tackling them head on. But in the last week I have realized they will indeed be genuinely difficult. There will soon come a day when I am so frustrated with not being able to speak the language that I will wonder why I ever came to Spain. When that day comes I will have to look back and see all that God accomplished to send me, and that nothing worthwhile is ever easy. Except for eating ice cream. Now I look forward to these trials in a different sense. Previously, I saw them as occasions for victory and conquest and feeling good about how awesome I am. Now, I see them as opportunities for failure and being humbled and seeing how much I need God. It's not that I don't want to get through these future trials, but I want God to get all the glory for it, because when I am weak, He is shown to be strong.

On Sunday I fly to Philadelphia to meet up with David, Jamie, and Molly, then we'll all fly to Spain on Monday night. The timing is great as we'll arrive in Madrid just in time to sit in the airport for seven hours. The next leg of our flight is a little over and hour long, so I'm sure I'll need the break. Plus, I'm guessing that the Madrid airport is awesome, right? RIGHT!? I imagine that they have mini bullfights all day long. If not, they probably have a food court, which is just as good.

Well, I'm going to bed. Thanks for reading this and praying for me. I'll keep you posted on what is going on in my life and what I need prayer for.