Monday, April 25, 2011
Sunday, April 24, 2011
Sunday, 1:47 p.m.
I’m not going to lie to you guys – I’m a little disappointed. Easter Sunday Mass was nothing like I expected. As a matter of fact, Easter in Spain is nothing I expected.
First of all, it was weird to wake up on Easter Sunday and not hunt for the Easter Basket
my dad the Easter Bunny hid somewhere in the garage, dishwasher, or kitchen cabinet. I guess it was nice that nothing stood between me and my Cadbury eggs and chocolate bunny (courtesy of my mom and dad), but I missed the hunt all the same.
I left my room this morning and found Ramón, the three-year-old, sprawled out on the floor watching House of Mouse…that didn’t seem very Easter-y to me either. Wasn’t he supposed to be hyped up on sugar already, strewing the contents of his Easter basket around the house, leaving a foil-wrapper path in his wake?
I ventured further outside to go to Mass (yes Mom and Grandma, I went!), and was met with gray skies, chilly wind, and a light drizzle. Obviously I can’t hold the weather against Santander, but it still isn’t what Easter is supposed to be like in my mind (although if I recall correctly, the past few Easters have been pretty rainy, so maybe it is more like home that I thought).
As I walked to the cathedral, I passed lots of people out for a Sunday stroll. I noted that no one was in their “Easter best,” while I shivered in one of my favorite dresses. Everyone seemed to be treating this as any other Sunday, while I was expecting some huge Spanish fanfare and Easter dresses and bows and hats and suits.
Mass itself was also not what I expected. For one thing, the cathedral is enormous. So enormous that you can’t actually see the altar if you’re in the back and are left to watch the Mass on a TV screen that strains your eyes (maybe just mine…I was wishing for my glasses the entire time). The cathedral was absolutely packed. People crammed in like sardines, grabbing chairs and setting up makeshift rows, before the latecomers (a steady stream of them came in for almost half the Mass) filled in all the floor space in between.
All the hubbub of chairs being set up and people standing made the cathedral extremely noisy. My cold I’m fighting has settled into my head, so my clogged ears couldn’t pick up anything being said pretty much the entire time. Luckily I know the stories and know the flow of Mass, so I wasn’t lost.
The Mass didn’t seem particularly Easter-y to me either. No one was baptized, there were no bells accompanying the “Glory to God”, there weren’t any happy, “He is risen” songs…it just seemed like any other day.
I am home now, waiting to eat lunch, which will just be like any other lunch today. Nothing fancy, no extra family or friends, no special treats. I know that isn’t the point of the day, but it all just seems off to me. I suppose I wouldn’t be disappointed if I didn’t have all these expectations in the first place, but back home Easter has always been a huge deal to my family.
It’s a time to celebrate the resurrection of Christ, of course, but it’s also a time to spend with family. Here it seems like any other day, which makes me miss home and all its comforts even more.
On the other hand, Holy Week receives a lot more emphasis here, so maybe that’s all the Spanish need? Or maybe my experience isn’t the typical Spanish Easter experience. Regardless, it has been a very un-Easter feeling day for me. I’m about to work on a presentation I have tomorrow, and later I’ll go to my friend Kyla’s to finish up and post this. (Doesn’t that seem weird too? You don’t just go over to friends’ houses on Easter!)
I hope you all have a lovely Easter!
[[Update: 3:27 p.m.]]
Lunch was a little later today (it usually is on Sundays), and there are more people here. Conchi is gone on her excursion, but her daughter Beatriz (she’s been “babysitting” me this weekend) and Bea’s (Bay-uh) husband Roberto were here, along with Christina, Luís, and Ramón, and another one of her niece’s and her niece’s boyfriends. Introductions are few and far between around here, so I don’t know their names.
We had a pretty elaborate feast of paella (pretty good, but a lot fishier than I would like – the dish included shrimp that were still staring at me with their dead little beady eyes, crab, and clams) with bread, followed by a pastry that tasted like burnt graham crackers with a creamy filling (it was tasty). It was a good meal, but I am really missing fruits and veggies right about now!
Friday, 7:51 p.m.
This post is going to be pretty photo-heavy, and light on the words – I’m feeling a little under the weather (I’ve been fighting a low-grade temperature since this morning), and sleep is more appealing than anything else right now. Also, the pictures I have really speak for themselves.
Semana Santa (Holy Week) is a big to-do in Spain. Kids are out of school, stores are closed a lot of the time, and the whole town – Catholics and non-Catholics – is extremely invested in what this week represents.
There have been processions all week, usually taking place in the evenings. Churches each have their own “float” that they take through the city, accompanied by drums and incense and huge flocks of people.
I’ve caught the small ones here and there throughout the week. Thursday’s procession was enormous. It consisted of all the churches that have participated thus far, plus additional drums and instruments, to make a huge procession. Each group started from their own church and met up in a spot on the Paseo to start the procession.
The sidewalks were packed full of people eager to see this intense form of art and reverence all rolled into one. Last night’s statues weren’t the intense ones processing tonight (my not feeling well and it being a little rainy outside are keeping me from seeing it), but they were beautiful, as you can see:
The procession took around an hour-and-a-half from where I watched it, but it was such an incredible sight to see.
This morning (Saturday) a group of us who stayed in town this weekend went to the nearby town of Castro Urbiales. Every year since 1985 the town has put on an reenactment of the Passion.
We arrived at 8:30 a.m. and made our way to the cathedral, the first spot of the reenactment. The reenactment started at 10:00, and by then the place was packed. Since our group was so early, we managed to snag some really good spots right up front.
Watching the reenactment was amazing. Around 600 people in the town were in it, playing roles from Jesus and his disciples to Pontius Pilate to prostitutes to townspeople to lepers. Dramatic music played the entire time, and the cloudy weather and circling seagulls overhead really added to the somber atmosphere.
The reenactment went through the town, so I didn’t get good spots for all of the scenes. Here are a random assortment of pictures, ranging from Castro Urdiales itself to the crucifixion:
There were some incredibly intense moments – like Judas hanging himself (pretty convincingly) to Jesus being lashed 40 times (not as convincing, but he was being hit with whips dipped in paint, which adorned his back like real blood). It was all done so incredibly well and I was very impressed.
Even though I didn’t always understand exactly what was being said, I found that I was able to pick up on the general idea of things thanks slightly to my Spanish ability, but more significantly due to my growing up in the Catholic church. Not to mention my family’s Easter tradition of listening to Jesus Christ Superstar – I was singing the songs in my head as the reenactment was taking place, so I could refresh my memory about the story.
We took the bus home and now I’m waiting on dinner, then am promptly going to bed. This fever needs to be gone by tomorrow because I have a presentation on Monday that needs my attention!
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Tuesday, 9:31 p.m.
I am writing this with my eyes half-mast – I know it’s early, but I am so incredibly tired right now! Today we went on an excursion after school to the nearby towns of Comillas and Santillana del Mar.
It should be noted that all of the following pictures are from my iPhone – I forgot my camera at home.
In Comillas we went to the Palacio y Capilla de Sobrellano. I think. I get confused sometimes – I usually just stick to figuring out the general idea of what is being said, and names seem to escape me.
This particular palace was another royal vacation home. Can you imagine?! I mean seriously, look at this place! It’s absolutely insane.
We had a tour of parts of several of the rooms (we weren’t allowed to take pictures in most parts of it). Here is the entryway – please note the arches. Or whatever it is I was supposed to be paying attention to for my culture class. See? Things just escape me.
After the palace we went next door and saw this cathedral (a “small” one by Spanish standards), but only from the outside.
Then we headed back to the bus (I have named him Barney since he is large and purple) before heading to Santillana del Mar.
There, we looked at another cathedral:
And then we had time to explore the village before calling it a day. This is what Spain looked like in my head before I got here:
I bought presents for my sisters in this cute little town, then got back on the bus and headed home. After a nice dinner of tortilla con patatas (a cross between an omelet and quiche, but a little more potato-y) I took a shower and sat down here to write this before I forgot anything. Which clearly didn’t work, considering I forgot about half of what I learned today.
But I tried.
Right now I am hearing another procession somewhere in the city – it sounds pretty close! I’m beginning to really enjoy the sound of the drums.
Tomorrow is my last day of school this week. It’s a short day too, we only have two of our three normal classes and are finished for the day by 1:00 – a great way to start my weekend!
Monday, April 18, 2011
I went home for a hearty lunch (I see a lot of bean soup in Spain) before heading to Playa de Bikinis, which is a beach right in front of Palacio de Magdalena. That beach is supposed to be the best one to go to on windy days because it's well-protected from the wind.
Sara and I were there with some other people from our group until one gigantic cloud rolled in, driving us home. Now we're at the Paraninfo, the university's downtown computer lab. I have 22 minutes left of internet (only started out with eight) and a keyboard with a sometimes-functioning letter 'p'. But hey, at least it's internet!
Tomorrow the group goes on an excursion right after school - we're headed to Comillas and Santillana del Mar at 2:45 before returning home at 8:00. I know nothing of these cities except that our advisor referred to them as 'must-see' cities in her e-mail, but the weather looks nice so it can't be too bad!
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Friday, April 15, 2011
Friday, 4:14 p.m.
Well, I’m still without internet…it’s really frustrating. What do you all know about the so-called “internet sticks” and how they work and last? If I don’t have consistent internet I’m going to go crazy. I know that as far as having contact with people back home, I have it made compared to years past. But I was just getting used to my routine – wake up in the morning and Skype Jonny, come home from school and send e-mails and post on my blog before Skyping my mom, Skyping Jonny to say hi before he left for school, then one last time before I went to bed.
Not having internet definitely puts a damper on all those things – I try to find internet on the street corner (sad, I know) before I leave for school. I frantically search for it during break time at school, sometimes going to use the computer lab if it’s open instead of eating my mid-morning snack. I search for it again once I get home, then give up hope and compose e-mails to send later. I search for it while I’m wandering the city, and again before I go to bed. There are places I know I can find it, but I’m constricted by their hours of operation, as well as my discomfort with walking alone at night.
Right now I am posting this from Kyla’s once again, but I don’t want to have to bug her every single time I’d like to get online. Clearly, I am not coping well with or embracing the lack of internet in my life.
This morning I woke far too early for my liking – after drifting off to sleep around 2:00 a.m., 7:15 a.m. with a noisy three-year-old seemed like some sort of nightmare. Luckily he left and I fell back into a peaceful sleep until 10:00. I had breakfast, cleaned my room, and got ready to go meet my conversation partner, Javier.
I dragged Sara with me, because I am dreadfully shy around those I don’t know (Sara isn’t) and because I am consistently tongue-tied around Spanish people (Sara isn’t). Javier speaks incredibly quickly, with a slight mumble, and the customary Spanish lisp (say it with me: Barthhhelona)…all of this makes him incredibly difficult to understand and renders me pretty much mute. I let Sara do most of the talking, and Javier commented on how quiet I am. I informed him that in English I can’t shut up.
I don’t know why I shut down when I need to speak Spanish outside of class, but I do. A lot of what is being said goes over my head, and at that point I feel lost and my mind gets stuck on certain words and then I’m a goner. It’s frustrating to say the least. Luckily I have a friend like Sara who understands what’s being said and can answer on behalf of us both, but at the same time I wish I was able to hold my own in a conversation. A great deal of learning throughout this experience is supposed to come from our interaction with our host family and other native speakers. I’m failing in that regard. Don’t get me wrong, I’m trying! It’s just not coming to me very easily.
We wandered for what seemed to me to be an excruciatingly long time, then parted ways. After a quick lunch (pasta with bacon and some sort of sauce, plus an orange) I let myself take an hour-and-a-half siesta. The group is trying to be a little more like the locals tonight, not meeting to go out until almost midnight, so I’m going to be grateful I got some rest!
Friday, 1:02 a.m.
I know what you all are thinking – how in the world was Abbie up so late? In Spain terms, however, I called it a night tonight rather early. The streets were just starting to get loud and the night was just beginning for most. I, on the other hand, was extremely tired and knew I’d only become more of a party pooper as the night wore on, so I decided to call it an evening.
I’m sitting here without internet once again, so this post will have to wait until I can get to Mercado del Este later. I really despise not having internet. I used my phone over here to make a one minute, 17 second phone call to Jonny, just so I could have some contact with him…but that probably cost me at least a euro…which is like a dollar fifty. I’m not complaining though! It was worth every euro cent, but it just bums me out that getting in touch with people back home is so difficult without the internet.
Tonight a big group of us (almost our entire group) met up to go to Café Retro, a bar that features an “English Night” every few weeks.
I treated myself to the most delicious mojito in the world:
Then I got down to business! The bar has a trivia game for all of us English-speakers to play, so we formed some teams and set out to answer random questions. Not going to lie – these were difficult. They involved kilometers and random facts about things I had not a clue about.
I did pretty well in the facial recognition part of the game (thank you, Perez Hilton!), as well as in the music recognition (obviously everyone would get “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynard Skynard, but how many would get “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals? Or know the title and artist of “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers? I owe my vast expanse of music knowledge to my dad and uncle).
The response I felt most proud of was one that only my group answered correctly – all thanks to my love of words. The question was something along the lines of “What commonly consumed food’s name literally translates to ‘cooked twice’?” I sat there saying ‘bi…bi…bi…bi…’ to myself for the next few questions. We moved on with the game and when the questions were repeated at the end I declared the answer to be “biscuit” and called it good.
I was so excited when the scores had been tallied and it was announced that only one group got the correct answer – biscuit. I literally shrieked in celebration – a lot of these questions were really difficult and only answered correctly by European English-speakers, so being the only one in the entire bar with the right answer kind of went straight to fluffing my ego.
I felt like we had won after that…it didn’t matter that we pretty much failed the game overall. That one question made it all worth it!
After the game was over, we wandered to another section of town. By that time I was dragging and exhausted, so I called it a night and now I’m getting ready to hit the hay.
Tomorrow (today) is Saturday and should be a pretty good day in Santander. Sara and I are going to meet with my conversation partner in the afternoon, then I hope to get a run, some studying, and a nap in before the evening’s festivities. I’m not really into the whole “going out” experience, but it sure beats sitting home alone on a Friday night! That’s considered lame even in U.S. standards, so in Spain it just wouldn’t fly.
I love and miss you all and hope to talk to you soon! Keep crossing those fingers (and maybe toes) that I find internet again soon!♥ abigail
Thursday, April 14, 2011
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Monday, April 11, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Thursday, April 7, 2011
Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Monday, April 4, 2011
And in other other news, today is my lovely Aunt Gwen's birthday. Happy birthday Gwen!