That’s how long I’ve been in Spain!! A month and a half. I’m only here for 2 more months. Honestly it’s kind of crazy how fast the time has gone. I know I’ll probably keep repeating that in future blog posts to come. But I really can’t believe it.
I didn’t have any excursions this past weekend, nor do I have any the following weekend which does disappoint me a little because I usually write the most after we’ve gone on a trip. Cordoba is a week and a half away, and Madrid is at the end of the month.
I do remember something I did with my tutorial group about 2 weeks ago that I forgot to cover in the blog. In case you don’t remember, once a week, usually in the morning, I meet up with about 6-7 other of the Dickinson students with our tutorial group. I won’t lie when I say people have found the tutorial a bit tedious. It isn’t a class and we aren’t receiving a grade for it so we are all a bit confused as to why we randomly walk around Malaga for 2 hours (at least that’s what my tutorial usually does). I think the other groups usually go to a cafe and churros… we’ve only done that once so far. It’s gotten harder to schedule the tutorials because everybody has started their 5th class at UMA and has class on a different morning. In fact only 4 people showed up to tutorial last week (including me).
However I will give credit to Livia, our tutor. She is very nice and she tries to find fun stuff for us to do and she doesn’t mind chattering away to fill the sometimes empty awkward silence. We are all a bit confused when it comes to tutorial and we aren’t sure what we are supposed to talk about. Livia has never shown any kind of frustration with us, I’ll give her that. If I were her, I don’t think I’d be as cool about it.
Anyways 2 weeks ago (or whenever it was because the weeks are seriously starting to blend in here), we hiked up the incredibly steep Castillo del Gibralfaro. The Castillo is right next to the Alcazaba and you hike up the side of the Castillo to this view point which offers an incredible view of Malaga, including the harbor. The Mediterranean stretches endlessly on ahead and it really is very beautiful. I hadn’t brought my camera so I was not able to take pictures of said view. All the way at the top, you can pay a few euros to actually enter the Castillo. I’m not sure in what century the Castillo was made/who lived in it/what its purpose was. Livia didn’t offer any explanation and as far as I know, Manolo and none of the tour guides have mentioned it. Walking back down the Castillo proved to be quite a feat. It was rainy that day (one of the few days of rain we’ve had in Malaga since I’ve gotten here) and the path on the way down had gotten very slippery. We were all wearing flip flops, not the best kind of footwear to walk down a steep slope. We all made it down alive and nobody fell on their face so that was good.
Last week, when only 4 people showed up, Livia had promised us we would be able to enter the Malaga Plaza de Toros aka the bullfight arena. When we got to the arena, finding a way in didn’t prove to be very difficult. I think tourists are allowed to walk into the arena and look around when there is no actual bullfighting going on. However Livia wanted to find a way to get into the center of the arena, because she had done the same thing with her tutorial group from Dickinson last year. So we followed Livia and it didn’t take long for her to find an open door that led right into the arena. I’m not sure if we were actually allowed in the center… we did see a security guard at one point but for the whole time we were in the center (which was maybe about 10 minutes), no authorities saw us and we were able to look around at our leisure.
Being in the center of the arena is definitely very different than looking on from the stands. I’ve only ever been to one bullfight (and I plan to keep it that way) but I don’t remember the center being so big. While there were obviously no bulls around while we were there, I felt incredibly vulnerable in the wide, open, circular space. I really don’t know how the toreadors can stand in front of the bull all calm and collected while they wave the cape around. Even though they have those wooden panels on the side that the toreros/toreadors can run and hide behind in case the bull gets too crazy, there really isn’t that much space between the panel and the wall of the arena. It’s a very tight squeeze as I and my other Dickinson companions found out (there’s a picture on Facebook with the 4 of us standing behind the panel).
After we left Plaza de Toros, Livia decided to go buy some sunflower seeds. Apparently eating sunflower seeds in Spain is a pastime, maybe even on the level of a national sport. I don’t think I’ve ever seen my host mother eat them… though I have seen her crack open peanuts at night when she’s in front of the tv. Anyways Livia came back with the packet and gave us all a bunch of seeds. She told us she was very used to the process, years of practice during her childhood. I have to say my sunflower seed opening skills were definitely nothing to brag about. I got pretty frustrated with the process and ended up throwing a lot of the seeds behind me onto the beach (we were at La Malagueta if I’m not mistaken) which the delighted pigeons happily feasted on.
This past weekend, I had a 4 day weekend. Sunday was some kind of national holiday in Spain (Hispaniola) and I guess Monday was tacked on as an extra day of celebration to make it a 3 day weekend. Like I said, I got 4 days off because I don’t have classes on Friday. I think Hispaniola has something to do with Columbus discovering the Americas, so I guess Columbus Day isn’t only an unnecessary American holiday, the Spaniards have their own version of that day. My host mother also told me in Madrid, they have some huge parade to celebrate the Armed Forces. So I guess it’s a mixture of honoring the military/Columbus.
Friday I did some shopping solo in the center of Malaga. I finally found the train station (useful to know) and inside the train station there is a shopping mall. In fact, I found another shopping mall in that part of the city so I was exploring at the same time as shopping. And well if you know me well, you also know I bought some books! During this outing, I was also approached by an older Columbian man who I’m pretty sure pretended to be lost in order to talk to me… I politely refused his invitation to go salsa dancing (also to join his yoga group, get my tarot cards read, and to play chess). I found the encounter amusing only because this sort of thing never happens to me, older foreign man usually like to hit on a really good friend of mine who shall remain nameless but who is currently studying in Paris so that should give you a hint.
On Saturday, I went back to Nerja, though getting there this time around proved to be a challenge. We lost one of our group members who couldn’t seem to find our designated meeting point… so we left an hour later than expected. However none of us minded, we got to watch the Mediterranean’s wave activity. It was very, very windy Friday and Saturday, overcast and some rain. I have never experienced this much wind in Malaga (though we have had some windy days prior to this weekend). It really was blowing pretty hard, the waves were crashing against the shoreline in huge quantities of sprays, flooding some of the jetties and swallowing up some of the beaches. I had spotted some people surfing a day earlier so I guess the waves were surf-worthy.
When we finally got to Nerja, we decided to walk to the caves from Nerja. It turns out the caves were a good 2 kilometers or so away from the center of Nerja. I think it took us around 45 minutes to get there. Of course, I wore flip flops again. However, during our trek we were able to see some Roman aqueducts. I had been aware there were Roman ruins near Nerja but I hadn’t know exactly where. So we were able to take pictures of those.
I have been to caves before, but I don’t know if I have ever been in such a wide cave! The caves were very wide with plenty of beautiful rock formations caused by the water that had carved into the rock for god knows how long. Stalagmites and stalactites galore and a lot of those “melted” looking rocks if you know what I’m talking about. It really was worth the 45 minute walk to see the spectacle. However, I was disappointed the visit was so short. I don’t think we were in the caves longer than 20 minutes (also we kind of rushed out because we kept getting stuck behind this huge tour group). There are still excavations going on in the caves today, human remains have been found and pottery as well, and though I didn’t see any, apparently there are remnants of cave drawings. I took some pictures in the allowed section and surreptitiously took some pictures in the “forbidden” section without my flash. (I’m not too sure why we weren’t allowed to take pictures beyond a certain point… probably because the people who own the caves wanted us to spend money on postcards and on those silly individual pictures they take of each visitor as they first walk into the caves)
After the caves, we (thankfully) took the bus back to Nerja. I think some of the girls had hoped that they would be able to sit out on the beach, despite the wind. However it was just as windy in Nerja as it was in Malaga, if not windier. The waves were just as big as they shot spray all over the rocks and the beach we had been to last time did not look inviting at all. The sand was all wet because of the rain and the water’s level had risen considerably due to all the waves caused by the wind. So we gave up on the idea of sitting on the beach (I had brought a towel just in case) and ate some ice cream as we watched girls and women in flamenco dresses walk by. There was some feria going on in Nerja but we weren’t exactly near the center of festivities, we merely saw people walking to them. There was a wedding going on at the church in the main square, I felt sorry for the women who had to wear dresses… it was obviously not dress-friendly weather. By that point, we were too tired to check out the feria, we ate some ice cream and then headed home.
The rest of the weekend was pretty quiet, pretty much for everybody who had decided not to travel that weekend. This is also what could be called “midterm week” for us so everybody is a little on edge because of that.
I’m happy to announce I am officially going to Morocco in November! There is a travel agency here in southern Spain that organizes trips pretty much every weekend. I have no idea if Manolo will organize his own trip in December, but I’m not waiting around to get confirmation. I’ve decided if I don’t like this trip, I can always go to Morocco again with Manolo if he ends up organizing a trip.
Some of the adults who read my blog want to know what is going on in my classes, or question the fact that I actually go to class since all my pictures have been mostly the trips I’ve gone on. I’m a little confused by this because I’m not sure what you guys are expecting, pictures of Cursos Para Extranjeros and the UMA campus? Cursos is an incredibly ugly building, I will probably end up taking a picture of the exterior of the building eventually so you can all stop wondering. As for UMA, honestly the campus is nothing to take pictures of. It’s rather bland and high school looking. In case I haven’t mentioned, I am taking a Spanish language class, Spanish Art History class, Spanish Culture and Society class, Spanish Lit. Class, (all at Cursos) and History of Tourism at UMA. And there’s also the confusing tutorial. I’m not sure what else I’m supposed to say… I’m not going to start describing everything related to the dictatorship Spaniards endured because of Franco or about the different kind of archs in Spanish art, or start giving you a lesson about the uses of the Spanish subjunctive…
I can talk about my favorite professors if that satisfies your curiosity. Besides Livia, our tutor, and Manolo, our tour guide, Piedad is another one of my faves. She is our language professor and she is incredibly nice and warm. She helped write the textbook we use in class so we like to tease her about it. And because she knows the book so well, she really knows her stuff too. And my other fave is Antonio, the literature professor. Sometimes his enthusiasm and theatrics can be a bit over the top, but I’m guessing that’s just his personality. In fact the first time I saw him, he was wearing a belt from Dolce and Gabbana… so in my head I call him Senor Dolce y Gabbana. He is incredibly flamboyant and has an affinity for very tight closing. He also has this habit of addressing us as “Super [insert student’s name here]” so he likes to go around the room and shout for example “Super Amelie! What do you think?” His facial expressions are also very comical. I often have to stop myself from breaking into a fit of giggles. When he listens to a student talk, he has this habit of squinting his eyes and scrunching up his entire face into what I guess he considers is a look of intense concentration. Sometimes I think it looks like he’s in pain… or just really constipated. Even though Antonio has a penchant for absurd displays of… I don’t even know what to call it… He does take his subject seriously (even though he has a tendency to pronounce Juan Ramon Jimenez’s name as if he were some kind of God of the Poets in the way he enunciates Jjjjjuaaaaaaaaannnnnn Rrrrrrrrrammmmooooonnnnnn)
So I hope that calms everybody down and you can finally sleep at night knowing I actually go to class.
In personal news, I was able to talk to my roommate from last year who is in Germany on Skype (GET skype if you haven’t already PLEASE!) and she is planning to come see me which had me jumping for joy. I think some other girls I know in Italy want to come to Malaga, so I’m excited at the prospect of visitors.
Ok well I got to go (and study you know, I’m such a serious student)
Vuestro estudiante favorito,