Tag Archives: Chatham Hall

done and done.

Tonight is a night of cobalt-blue velvet sky, as are many in Valencia, with a warm spring breeze hanging in the air, making it possible to leave the house wrapped just in a light sweater.  The streets are dirty but the city is sweet with the promise of spring, and the summer that follows.

Fallas ended 24 hours ago.

The visits made by I. and S. were absolutely uplifting, and absolutely necessary.  The presence of two of my favorite people in what is likely my favorite place was a surreal event, considering the fact that the three of us have not been in a room together since CH graduation 2008.  I. arrived from Paris a day late due to a canceled flight, and we spent the night doing what we here call a “low-key barhop,” allowing me to introduce her to some of my favorite tapas and copas that can be found in the city.  The next day S. arrived from Barcelona where she had spent the previous week of her two-week spring break, lovesick for a Dutch fellow-hostel guest that she had encountered there, with stories of discotecas and languid mornings after.  I. returned au nord on Sunday, leaving me and S. to conquer the week-long fiesta that awaited us.

Day 2: la mascletà

In stark contrast to S.’s wild ride in Barcelona, our days started as early as 11am, so as to get in some tourism/city wandering before the hoards of people attending the daily mascletà descended upon the city, making it impossible to move, eat, etc.  One morning was spent at the Mercado Central, selecting the freshest and best items for an afternoon picnic in the once-river-now-park (appropriately called el Río) before heading to the famous mascletà (see previous post), where the ground shook and between sips of red wine and shading our eyes from the glaring sun we both had moments of realization that we were in Spain, experiencing this completely foreign thing, sharing it, knowing that we’d always have that between us.

Other days consisted of more park lounging, photo shoots, “day drankin'” and typical Fallas activities: late night firework shows that blow McIntire’s 4th of July out of the park (no pun intended), semi-spontaneous street concerts (M. and his musician friends played a 2.5 hour samba/brasileña/salsa/reggae set outside of one of my favorite bars tucked away in the old city), lots of buñuelo consumption, and taking in the marathon parades (two parades, each lasting seven hours) of all the falleros (those who pay and participate in all the Fallas activites; basically, the members of the clubs that make this fiesta possible) dressed to the nines in their traditional gowns and suits, S. and I sitting so close we could touch these people, commenting on our favorite dresses and favorite characters in boisterous English.

And now all that’s left is filthy streets lined with leaky porta-potties, firecracker wrappers and beer cans, the pictures we took that make me so happy, and a few extra pounds from all the ridiculous food items that entered my body over the past week (at least there was no headcheese).  Also remaining, ever-present and looming over me, is what’s yet to come: I finally purchased return tickets, and will officially be back in the States on May 12th.  The prospect is horrifying, yet comforting; Daddy says he’s already bought me a coming home present, and the joy in Mom’s voice when we remember this fact is so palpable, even from the other end of the Skype line, that I know there’s some good in it; after all, I do miss home a little.  And in some two to three weeks K. and I find out about these English teaching jobs that we applied for, which would allow us to come back next year and stay just a little bit longer, hopefully leading us to other jobs, and in my case, to fulfilling that dream of living (I mean really living) and starting a life in Europe.

So all in all, Fallas was just as incredible as promised.  Valencia has yet to let me down.

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Filed under schmoozing, spring semester, Valencia

Paris, and my entrance into the world of flickr.

WARNING: this email is just a shameless plug and excuse to promote my new flickr photo page. More info to follow.

Seine-ic view.

A bit of everything in this installment.  Firstly, made it to Paris, despite the nasty weekend-cold I had just gotten over a few days before, to see my good friend Isabella from Chatham, who is studying abroad there with Smith College.  I had been to Paris two times before and felt satisfied with the amount of tourism I had done, so the weekend was less about showing me the sites and more about catching up.  She lives in the 13th arrondisement right by the national library, a towering modern building (or, group of 4 buildings) that’s designed to look like four open books that form an enclosed courtyard at the center.

Bibliothèque François Mitterrand

She told me that although it is a lovely design, it was not a well-thought out one: the designer did not take into account the fact that his open window idea (he intended for the entire exterior to be windows, which they are, but did not realize that all that light would damage the precious materials that the library is indeed trying to protect.  Now these windows are merely covered up with a quick fix of Ikea blinds to shelter the books).  We spent most of our time just wandering around central Paris, drinking hot chocolate in a café on the l’île de France, scoping out the Bastille neighborhood by night and hanging around her apartment, a cute and cozy hideout from the November weather (which still has not hit Valencia).

SHAMELESS PLUG: and if you want to see the pictures from the trip, AND all the pictures from the semester so far, just check out my new flickr.com page. I realize I had been sending y’all links to facebook albums that I’ve made private.  So now everyone, a facebook member or not, can see what I’ve been up to.

This week has been relatively low key: my internship on Monday, my tutoring session on Wednesday (not sure if I mentioned but I’m giving English lessons to a 7 year old boy whose family wants him to learn enough language to go to summer camp in America.  He’s a great kid and I’m learning lots about my own language in the process of teaching it!), and on Thursday something cultural; the program bought us all passes to this art exhibit that’s here for a year, a collection of Sorolla paintings from the New York Spanish Society.  Ironic that they’ve been in the states all these years and I’m only just seeing them now in Spain.  It was finally time for my art history class knowledge to kick in, and it made the event more enjoyable, since I could actually see what we had talked about in class a few weeks back (Sorolla is a quintessential impressionist from Spain).

With only a short while left in the semester, the group dynamic and the individuals are definitely changing.  People are starting to get comfortable, starting to feel bad for not having spent as much time in Valencia, and starting to wish they weren’t leaving in 3 weeks.  It’s so hard to believe that the first semester is already over, and that after a month of traveling the program will refresh, start all over again, this time with a new batch of people (and much more of them!).  We year kids keep prophesying about what the experience will be like to be sitting in the orientation the first day, watching the newbies and their anxiousness while we already have 4 months under our belt.  But the change will be welcomed and I’m excited to see what will go on next semester…

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Filed under fall semester, travel