Monday, March 10, 2014

Bruges is the cutest

A day late and a dollar short is how I feel about this post! We went to Bruges back in December and LOVED IT. It was a quick trip though so I really don't have much to say except that Bruges is precious and absolutely worth the day trip from Brussels. Saturday morning, Charlotte, Mary, Samantha and I had coffee and then bought train tickets to the little Belgian town about an hour away.

Little canals are interwoven throughout the city; hence it’s nickname as “The Venice of the North”. I definitely recommend taking a boat tour, tasting the chocolate from The Chocolate Line, the French fries from the wagon under the bell tower and riding bikes out to the Damme. Bon appetit!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Finde esquiando en Baqueira

Yep, getting fancy with a spanish blog post title.

I can only imagine how obnoxious my blog is getting with every trip post starting out with how amazingly, incredibly perfect the weekend was. Personally, I would find myself super annoying if I was still back in Dallas working at a desk job. Pero, this weekend really was the BEST WEEKEND EVER so I'm just going to have to go there and say it once again.

Our wonderful friend, Javier, invited us to his beautiful home in Baqueira, which is in the north of Spain near the French border, for a ski weekend. My family grew up going skiing every spring break, but I hadn't been since college so I was super excited. Plus, I've been hearing how amazing Baqueira is and hoping to make a trip for a few months.

We left Thursday night (thanks boys for driving) and planned on skiing Friday, but it turned into a super foggy, snowy day so we played games, lit a fire and hung out. That afternoon, the sun came out and we all moved to the deck to have drinks and enjoy the perfect views of the mountains. We stayed in cooking dinner that night and wearing pajamas. PS have I mentioned how much I love the way spanish people pronounce pajamas as "piyamasss"? It's so cute and funny to me.

Saturday was sunny and clear for skiing. I *may* have talked myself up as being a great skier as a joke, which somehow turned into me competing in skiing when I was younger as well... Please imagine how funny/awkward it was when I fell off the ski lift and ate it and the guys were expecting me to be some phenomenal skier. I still have the bruise.

So after a fun day on the mountain, we skied to the Moet Chandon lounge. I know... A champagne lounge in the middle of a mountain? Is this what heaven is like? I think yes. It was all sorts of wonderful. We had the best weekend (sorry, there I go again) ever. Great friends, great skiing, great food, great drinks, great laughs, great everything really.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Que Sera, Sera

Oh, Spain... I love you, but you drive me loco sometimes. This past month has been full of surprises. Like the week we had no hot water.... Es verdad, for seven days we had no hot water. That is a reaaaaally long time to not shower.

Joking. I have to shower every single day. Showering is my favorite! For that long week I was bathing at my gym or at friend's houses because our landlord does not have a working phone or email so we weren't even able to talk to anyone about fixing the problema. We had no idea Maria was so off the technology grid until the hot water mishap because we have never needed her since moving in. Luckily, watergate 2014 ended when I met a really nice guy at a party who offered to look over my lease and make some phone calls to take care of everything.

Watergate came to a close, only for me to be robbed on the metro. Someone with elf fingers unzipped my purse while my hand was resting on it and snatched my iPhone. Thankfully, it is just a phone and easily replaced. A friend gave me her Blackberry, which I keep calling my Barbie phone because the keys are tiny! Excuse all my typos on WhatsApp, I promise I'm not drunk - I just can't type on this thing very well.

Most recently, I have been juggling skype meetings and interviews for a summer job. I was offered an incredible teaching opportunity in Zambia, only to have it retracted a day later due to a problem with accommodations. I honestly felt like I had been broken up with. I was really sad, but I just kept reminding myself that everything happens for a reason and works out for the best. That being said, I am going to spend the summer with the most wonderful family from Aravaca (suburb of Madrid) at their beach house in Cadiz in July and then traveling through England in August. Their father is British and the mother is Spanish and I just adore them. I had dinner at their house Monday night and the three children (Ana, Victoria and Charles) came downstairs in matching pajamas, robes and slippers and then played the piano and sang for me. I was dying! Just call me Maria....

Finally, after my school asked me to return next year, I went through a very specific renewal process to reapply that only allows me to come back at my school. My principal called me into the office this week and told me that sadly they couldn't have me come back anymore. First of all, I love my little bebes and can't imagine not teaching them again next year. I also didn't know if I would even be eligible to receive a different school placement because I applied as a renewal. I felt like Spain was breaking up with me! First Africa, now Spain... what the heck. I said some major prayers for things to fall into place and to be at peace with the outcome even if it wasn't what I wanted. Twenty-four hours later, my principal told me the problem was resolved and I could come back next year. Madre miaaaaaaaaa. 

Whew! So this was a really long and pretty pointless post. I totally apologize to anyone who read the whole thing. I just have felt like my head is spinning a bit and wanted to write it all down. I think living here has made me much more flexible than I ever could have imagined. And at the end of the day, every little annoyance is completely worth being here. Life would be boring if things always worked out how we wanted, right? :)

I love these grumpy cat pictures and this one made me laugh :) Have a wonderful weekend! 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Hola, Helena

One of my favorite little muffins at school is named Helena. She is hilarious, rambunctious, brilliant and adorable. She is also very determined. The children are told I don’t speak any Spanish at the beginning of the year to encourage them to always try to speak in English with me. However, five year olds really don’t know much English, but they want to tell me allllll about the tooth they lost, their little brother, their birthday party, their Halloween costume, their headband, their Disney backpack, what they ate for breakfast, etc. They are always running up to me and excitedly speaking in rapid fire Spanish and when I can understand them I am always nodding and trying to respond back in English, but every now and then I forget and will start talking to them in Spanish (oops).

So you can imagine that this conversation made me laugh with Helena…

Hello, Helena
What’s Up
(confused look from Helena) Hola
….. Hola.

Her eyes got big and she started smiling and waving her arms yelling, “MEES EWISABETTT HABLA ESPANOL. ELLA ENTIENDE!!!!” 

One of the best was a day they were all asking me in Spanish how old I am. I told them I was twenty-seven and they started arguing with each over, "Ella tiene diecisiete anos... No, no, no ella tiene cincuenta y siete anos." I quickly jumped in, "Y'all, I'm not seventeen OR fifty-seven. I'm twennnttttty-seven."

Also, don't be jealous, but today Martín made me a broach out of orange and blue play-doh. I have no idea how I am supposed to pin this play-doh creation to my clothes, but I love it all the same :) His latest thing is sitting in the back of class blowing kisses at me and making a heart shape out of his hands and putting it over his heart. I mean.... so precious. They really are the cutest kids in the whole world and I feel very, very blessed to be their English teacher.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Morocco... Surf, Sand + Sun

Morocco is incredible and felt so different from anywhere I have ever traveled. Before this weekend, the very little I knew about Morocco was based solely on movies like Indiana Jones and books like The Time in Between by Maria Duenas... 

This was my first time surfing and it goes without saying, but I am awesome. It is just very easy when you are as naturallyyyyy athletic and coordinated as I am. That being said, I've never laughed so hard as I did those few hours in the ocean with our surf instructor who only knew how to say, "paddle" and "no" in English. It was honestly one of the best mornings ever. Between the ocean, friends, sunshine, surfing and whole experience I was just so happy. I love those moments when you realize there is absolutely nowhere else you want to be except exactly where you are. (Sorry, I can't help be but reaaaaally cheesy sometimes.) We all highly recommend surfing lessons with Abdel at Medina Surfing Association.

In terms of sightseeing, the Kasbah des Oudaias is gorgeous! Overlooking the ocean and marina, the white houses and bright, blue doors give it a very oceanic feel. We also loved the Mausoleum of Mohammed V. The white marble building is very beautiful. Additionally, the medina (market) is insane and cannot be missed. Walking through the tiny, colorful, winding streets felt like a scene from a movie. For eating, Le Dhow was our favorite restaurant. It's located on the water in the bay and serves French food (and vino). Another good and cheap place is called Dar Naj and it's right outside the medina.

Culturally, make sure to dress really conservatively and always be well-covered if you are female. Also, be prepared to be woken at 5:30 AM every morning by the call to prayer over the loud speakers around the city. That was a weird and unexpected way to wake up our first morning! And don't expect to be served wine with your meals. Very few restaurants serve alcohol, but they all offer this amazing mint tea that Morocco is famous for... yum!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Update: There is no sharks in morocco

I feel like Abdel didn't take my email asking what the shark situation is in Morocco seriously.... :) haha his response makes me laugh. I'm glad we don't have anything to worry about. 

Cole was telling me last night that the surfing lodges in Rabat are fairly new and have become really popular lately. The story is that King Mohammad VI of Morocco was walking on the beach and saw some surfers in the ocean, but had no idea what they were doing. When he "discovered" surfing he loved it and wanted Rabat to become a surfing community so he personally financed the first surf club. I had no idea if any of this is true, but it's a cool story. 

My completely realistic surfing expectations

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Looking forward... Spanish, sharks and summer jobs

Last night, I finished my application to teach in Spain for a second year! I'm not sure what next year holds, but I love my kids and think this is a wonderful opportunity so I would be grateful and excited to stay in Madrid again. Yesterday, I had my seven-year olds draw pictures of the homes/neighborhoods so they could explain to me in English where they live. One just drew a picture of Burger King. 

As for this summer, I have three months off and have been daydreaming about summer jobs around Europe....  I'm applying to a company in Paris (aka my first love... no offense, Madrid). I reaaaally want to live in France and learn a little French. Another possibility is working and volunteering with YoungLife. Tonight, I'm skyping with the European Director  about what they will be doing in Spain, Poland, Germany and Switzerland this summer. Lastly, I am talking with a university in Zambia called Northrise, which would be amazing to work with as well. There is a lot up in the air, but I'm hopeful for what shakes out. Once I know my summer location, my ultimate pipe dream is to start shadowing a photographer or working as an assistant. I have no training or skills; I just love photography and want to improve :) 

Looking forward in the short-term.... We just booked a surfing trip to Morocco next month! I KNOW! Crazy! Besides being super uncoordinated and irrationally terrified of sharks, I think it will be great! It will definitely be memorable! Surfing lessons have been on my bucket list for a while so please pray I don't get eaten by a shark :) That would be a real downer. I *might* have emailed our surf instructor today asking him about the shark situation off the coast. He hasn't responded... Rude. Google says I should be fine though and to poke an attacking shark in the eye. OK, got it. Thanks, Google. 

In a completely unrelated note, I started taking private Spanish classes; I love my teacher and think this will really help me :) My numero uno resolution for 2014 is to speak more Spanish. Maybe I will even blog in Spanish at some point...

Ciao! Lots of love from España!