Tag Archives: sun

the last hurrah; el último olé

In an attempt to do something productive with my Sunday, I decided to get back on the blogging horse.  At least to make one more hurrah, to go out with a bang, to tie up the loose ends of this blogging/study abroad experience.  So today is brought to you by the letter F: Formentera, finalidad, fear, etc.

After school ended, K. and I were lucky enough to receive a personal invite to Formentera, the smallest and most rustic of the Balearic Islands.  Armed with R.’s dungarees and various degrees of SPF, we boarded the flight (followed by the ferry) to destination: Dirección Sur.  Just as we did in Barcelona, we immediately set out for an adventure (“you have to say you did something amazing your first night on the Island!”–R.).  We drove the to the southern-most tip of the island, marked by a beautiful lighthouse beneath which is a system of caves, one of which we descended into.  Placing candles in its crevices as we walked through it, we came upon the opening on the other side where we found ourselves feet from the high tide lapping relentlessly against the side of the cliff.  Shooting stars welcomed us to the island from above.

"baño en Illetes..."

The next day, after 12 hours of sleep (a fact R. would not let me live down) we headed to Illetes, a narrow strip of beach at the northern-most point of the island.  There we braved the freezing water of the early season with the help of wetsuits, breaking for a picnic and a walk afterward.  On the walk we met Johannsen, an older German gentleman who has been coming to Illetes for twenty years to embellish and expand his “castle”: a collection of rock sculptures he’s made from all items he’s found in the area (driftwood, rocks, old ship parts washed up on shore).  From there we went to meet more old guiri-hipis (foreign hippies), arriving at Diki’s house in time for tea and cookies.  Diki is a fixture in Formentera, squatting for more than thirty years on his patch of land, making amazing wooden sculptures and keeping a low profile.  When he’s not outdoors on his land or in his workshop, he’s sitting by the fire in his one-room hut.  He’s the prickly type that I end up grating on with my intensity, so when we broke for another walk I was relieved to have a chance to exhale.  Down to the cliffs we went, to further admire the aqua-blue water and incredible geology of the island.

X.

The next day was spiced up with the arrival of X., everyone’s favorite singer/songwriter who spends half the year physically living in Barcelona, while mentally living all twelve months in Formentera.  Another day at the beach was therefore planned, this time in a new location that required all swimmers to dive into the frigid waters from the side of a cliff.  Then it was back to R.’s incredible homestead (called l’Ermita, the hermitage, due to its resemblance to the architectural similarities it shares with Formentera’s churches) to clean ourselves up for the soccer game we were going to watch in town.  Barça won, and all was right with the world.

From this point on you can imagine the daily activities: beach, try not to burn, try not to get stung by the jellyfish that had invaded the island, amazing seaside lunches, further cave exploration, aiding in the construction of an addition the l’Ermita (okay bet you weren’t expecting that one.  But I’m positive I moved [read: pilfered] scaffolding material from the lot next door at least three times, while wearing a jersey dress), Spanish food workshops led by X., guitar strumming, etc.  It was truly an amazing vacation, the perfect ending to the perfect year abroad. [Suspend your disbelief].

So now we’ve covered the first of the aforementioned Fs (Formentera).  Now onto finalidad with a touch of fear.  I’m going to gloss over the hellish travel stories I have in my attempts to get home, all of which revolve around the f***ing (another F) volcano in Iceland that decided to disrupt all of my well-crafted (and expensive) plans.  But I made it home safe and sound, sana y salva, and that’s what counts.  Being home, however, is weird.  There’s no other way to describe it.  I feel as though I have been teleported into another world, and Spain could not feel farther away now.  All of the people, relationships, and events that used to be the center of my world are now 4000+ miles east, 6 hours ahead and complicated by a language barrier  which for nine months I attempted to overcome.  And things that I yearned for and missed while over there (driving the PT, Bodo’s, my queen-sized bed) are already losing some of their novelty, and life without Radio 3, paella and a metro system seems unmanageable and totally undesirable.  I know I’m suffering hard from the “grass-is-greener” syndrome, and that it’s all a process that I’ve hardly begun, but as M. says “es lo que hay” (“it’s all there is”; “it is what it is”).  And with that statement and the sentiment it conveys I will face the upcoming months, filled with summer jobs, a publishing internship at a local magazine, old friends and hopefully some productive soul-searching and maybe a few steps closer to entering the real world.

Y ya está.  Con eso, mi público, ¡me piro!

Besos from a broad abroad at home.

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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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¡en falles, no falles!

It’s officially fallas season here in Valencia.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen a city flourish in the way that V-town is currently: beautiful blue skies (lies), churro stands popping up on every street corner, mascletà every afternoon in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento (basically, a firecracker show that draws an enormous crowd, leaving you dazed and deaf), colorful lights lining the side streets and alleys proclaming which casal that turf belongs to (the one outside school, for example, is la Bicicleta, and during the second half of my Quijote class on Monday we were entertained by the struggle that was ocurring right outside the classroom window to mount said lights).  It has breathed new life into the city as it awakes from the “harsh” winter (it rained a lot).  Downtown’s colorful buildings are brighter, fountains are spouting water once again, people are taking to the streets for their almuerzos or late-night botellón.  It reminds me of why I love this city.

it's explosive.

So to kick off fallas business, P. and I ventured to the first official event, the Cridà, which took place on Sunday, the last day of February.  We followed the enormous throngs of falleros (those who build and fund the fallas) to the Torres de Serrano, one of the two remaining portions of the walls that once surrounded Valencia.  From the balcony of the towers, the fallera mayor and the fallera menor (basically, “Miss” and “Little Miss Valencia”), joined by the mayor and various other head-honchos, peered down upon a seething crowd, undertaking the task of giving Miss Valencia the keys to the city for the week.  P. and I, stuck behind an ancient magnolia tree, sipping our lukewarm Amstel’s, linked arms and let ourselves be llevar-ed por la corriente (for those of you not fluent in Spanglish yet: “we went with the flow”), cheering with the crowd (which we deduced ocurred any time the word les falles was mentioned) and humming along to Valencia’s anthem.  The ceremony came to a close with the traditional words being shouted by the fallera mayor: “¡¡senyor pirotècnic, pot escomençar la mascletà!!” (which in English translates lamely to “Mr. Pyrotechnician, you may now begin the firecrackers!”.  Just doesn’t have the same ring to it), followed by the most bitchin’ fireworks display I’ve ever seen.  Valencia is known for its pyrotechnics, and I now know why; just when you thought you were at the grand finale, that they could do no more, that you had seen the coolest they had to offer, it got even better: fireworks that dotted the entire sky, beneath which stood us two americanas, oo-ing and ah-ing and “¡anda!”-ing.  I returned home with a sore neck and a smile.

And with the coming of Fallas comes the coming of visitors.  Another reason for excitement: I. comes in from Paris to escape the grey the first weekend prior to fallas-fest; S. concludes her grand tour (glottal French accent implied) of Spain here, staying for the entire week of debauchery and fire; and K. rolls in on a train from Barcelona for the last weekend of the event.  It’s thrilling to know I’m just a week away from seeing some long-lost loves, and mind boggling to think that the world can be so small, even on this side of the Atlantic.

As for the rest of things, well, just ask my Dad.

—-

looking for more info and updates about Fallas? click here!

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my morning

spur of the moment blogging bug. don’t want to read Don Quijote so instead, here’s what my morning is like:

-D[oña] A[dela] cutting squid with scissors as I make my cafe con leche

-pan tostada with olive oil, salt, and a touch of homemade orange marmalade from the lady next door.

-daily skype chat with I. in Paris.

-SUN, not snow.

-shopping lists for afternoon grocery store run, to feed friends at a group dinner tonight.

-Onda Cero radio programs penetrating all the walls of the house.

-job, mp3 and identity searching.

…que tengáis buen día, y’all.

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