"In the world through which I travel, I am endlessly creating myself." -Anonymous

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Feelings and Fusion

Well people, here I am! I know you all missed me dearly, and I am sorry about the hiatus again.  I have been busy busy around here, planning out my future and such. After a much needed 2 week vacation with mi amor in Madrid and Mallorca, my mind is scattered in a million places.  Before the break I was essentially burnt out! Everything, and I mean literally everything was driving me nuts; my students, my roommates, this never ending job hunt, etc. Crazy town!

Last term was marked by many realizations and epiphany moments about my school and other life trials.  I love teaching and I love my students (most of the time) but I would NOT do this forever! Teaching requires A LOT of patience; which I have acquired much of these last 8 months.  Teachers should REALLY get paid more,because it is my belief that they do much of the work that parents left undone in the home. I have realized that, especially in Spain, there is a general lack of knowledge of proper conduct, everyday study skills, and other such things that one would think is taught in the home. Teachers unknowingly take on this huge responsibility of not only educating youth, but teaching students life skills as well.  Sometimes I feel like a signed up to be a police officer, rather than a teacher. But with that said, I have learned a lot from my students and their frivolous behavior; patience being the main lesson. I have discovered skills that I did not know I had myself, through classroom management and thinking of innovative ways to teach my students both academically and personally.  Needless to say, after a few deep breathes, I survived.

Teaching in Madrid has also helped me to put into perspective my career goals, which remain the same; international everything! I know now that I do not have to always physically be abroad to work in international affairs; I can work from home turf just as effectively.  Also, the nerd in me has intensified, and I am more eager than ever to delve into the challenges that grad school will bring! My Master's will be in International Affairs with a concentration in Human Rights in Democracy, and possibly a dual degree in International Journalism if I'm feeling gutsy by then ;-).  At one point, after working within such a backwards school system, I toyed with the idea of going into International Education Policy.....then I woke up, no thanks.

After spending two years living abroad, studying in Sevilla and working in Madrid, I have come to the conclusion that my ideal world would be a fusion of Spanish and American living.  I used to feel biased toward Spain, as I was and still am so in love with it; but I now realize that every country has its flaws.  The States is an extremely consumerist society, focused on quantity and size and material gain.  I truly wish that we could adapt some of the Europeans less wasteful habits, but I know in my heart that this will NEVER happen.  I wish would could hang clothes outside on a clothes line so that they could smell like the fresh spring breeze, and use much less energy than a dryer.  I wish would would walk more, instead of constantly depending on environment polluting cars to get us everywhere. In Spain we walk to get places, and simply for pure leisure.  I wish Americans were not so focused on big body, gas-guzzling cars; in Spain all of the cars are pretty small but get the same job done.  And for God's sake, I REALLY wish the States would get hip to MORE fresh foods and fruit and veggie markets! We would live much longer if we didn't stuff our fat asses full of packaged and bagged and artificial junk!!!

On the other hand, I wish Spain would get with the program sometimes in terms of efficiency and customer service, and realize that not everyone has time to wait 3 hours to open a bank account! I wish Spain realized that maybe sometimes, someone, somewhere may want to venture out to a store on a Sunday to buy some necessary items. It would also be a plus if they could realize that it's ok to eat outside of the alotted "Spanish meal times;" eat when you're hungry, it will not kill anyone! The customer service and level of efficiency of services is sub par in Spain simply because they just do not care. They have this "no pasa nada" attitude that will never change, but at some point there has to be a sense of urgency! These are only a few things that I wish I could "fuse" about the two countries, but again I know that this will only ever be a dream in my ideal world.  Because in the end, Americans will always be greedy and wasteful, and Spaniards will always be careless and ridiculously routine; but I love them both the same and I will continue to dream of my Fusion!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Blessing and a Burden....Egyptian Revolution and changes in the Arab World

I was blessed, but also burdened to have left Egypt only two weeks before the revolution (for change) had begun.  When I was there, you could feel the tension rising in the air.  Without even speaking a word of Arabic, I understood the general sentiments and dissatisfaction of the people.  The Egyptian people were clearly ready for change.  I realized that something was going on when I was on the bus on the way to Dahab; only one day after the church bombing in Alexandria, Egypt.  At every stop the bus made, there was a strange roaring sensation, civil unrest echoing onto the bus from the mouths of many shouting youth.  As I said, I did not have to understand Arabic to comprehend this sentiment.  Something was strirring.

Only two weeks later, every new channel in the world was talking about the Revolution in Egypt, Mubarak's unwillingness to speak the truth to his people, and the Egyptian people's untiring shouts to the world.  What people fail to realize is that this revolution in Egypt, along with the others in North Africa, have been a long time coming; and necessary.  People want and deserve change.  The current plight of North Africa reminds me of Frantz Fanon's Wretched of the Earth (everyone should read this book to better understand humanity).  In this book, Fanon talks about imperialism, colonization, and violence, and their effects on societies.  The general idea is that violence breeds violence; change is never easy.

The North African Revolution did not only happen in Egypt, but first in Tunisia, then later Yemen, Bahrain, Libya.....and spreading!
The bottom line is: everyone should pay more attention! Stay informed!
For everyone's information:


Egypt as I know it

Egypt is literally the most chaotic place I've ever been to in my life! But chaotic in a very good way. It was amazing, indescribable. I was fortunate enough to take the trip with one of my good friends in Madrid, Naglaa, who happens to be from Cairo. Needless to say, I had quite an authentic experience.  I stayed in her house in Giza, minutes from Cairo center, and her sweet mom cooked us almost every meal, every day from scratch.  I know that I boast about eating the best food all the time, but these authentic Egyptian meals have really taken the cake! Most of the things I ate, I did not know exactly what they were, I just knew that my stomach was very happy.  The most simple ingredients made some of the best meals. Among my favorites were the stuffed grape leaves which were delectable, and the grilled eggplant with oil, tomato and colmino.  I later bought a whole kilo of Egyptian spicy cheese, and bags full of special spices.

When I first got on the "bus" to the city from the airport, I knew Egypt was different.  The bus was quite interesting, unmarked, very crowded, speeding down the highway.  I was later informed that this was the fancy bus.  It seemed as thought every street in Egypt was always filled with people, at any given time.  Cats roamed freely, you could by just about anything you need from a street vendor, and mint tea was in mass production.  The taxis in Egypt were not what the average person would think of as proper/safe public transport.  These taxis were like go-karts/mini vans that were driven by 12-18 year olds, decorated with christmas lights and banners, that hit just about every pot hole possible.  I feared for my life each time I rode in one.  The actually buses that transported people throughout the town, further distances, looked like love shack vans from the 70's; small extremely crowed, most missing doors, and smelled like chicken, no signs to indicate where it is headed. Instead, the driver just yells where to and people jump on and off, literally. This was a trick I had to learn fairly quickly if I valued my legs at all. People yelled out/or flagged down these "love shack" buses and you actually had to just grab on, hopefully when it happen to be stopped at a red light, and jump on or off. Crazy, I know.

Between my two trips, to Istanbul and Egypt, I learned a lot about two very different types of Muslim cultures.  I gained a new respect.  The call to prayer was one of the most enchanting and peaceful sounds I have ever heard.  In Egypt, during the mid-day call to prayer, all of the men take the streets with their prayer rugs and bow in reverence to pray together.  It was a beautiful sight to see. However, I could not help but wonder where all the women were during this experience.  I was baffled by the social/gender constructions in Egypt.  In Mosques, women had a special prayer section, hidden in the back behind a wooden screen while the men took the altar.  While the men were in the streets praying, the women at home. I was even more shocked by the metro rule; men only (and accompanied women) in car 1 and 2, and women only in the other cars. Unbelievable.  Also, women were not to be seen in the hookah bars, or any other place that was thought to be "naturally male." A young woman in the streets at 2am is most likely assumed to be a prostitute, rather that a girl having a fun night out with friends.  The (unwritten) dress code is obviously conservative, but most women are veiled. (I will not go into this argument, because there are too many sides.) Many women wear full bod, all black burkas and walk the streets hand and hand with their husband who is dressed in shorts and a linen shirt.  Truly a site to see, but again, I won't go there.

In the streets of Egypt, just about anything can happen. Things are done differently.  While sitting outside at a bar, my friend and I were bombarded with small children sucking lollipops and selling packets of tissue.  It broke my heart to see children begging in the streets, and like any human being with a heart, I wanted to eagerly give them money.  My friend quickly advised me not to do so, because these children, and whoever is putting them in the streets, know what they are doing. They were like a little mafia, sucking on lollipops and giving us the sad puppy eyes.  They even came to sit on our laps and give us kisses. Heartbreaking.

One of my best experiences while in Egypt was randomly meeting a Bedouin dessert man, who took me on a 40 minute camel ride around the pyramids of Giza.  Only I get into this type of randomness, but you only live once! I went by myself, with a one-toothed, not a word of English-speaking, head wrapped, looney taxi driver, to the pyramids. Sketch as it is. The pyramids were breathtaking, and enormous. I really wanted to ride a camel. I found a guy who looked the least sketch and asked him for a ride. He told me his name was Abu, and his camel's name was Charlie Brown, they Egyptian Cadillac. I hopped on! I expected only a 15 minute ride, but they guy spoke 6 languages, lived in the desert, had a camel named Charlie Brown, AND had facebook! I had to stay! We ended up chatting about random things; life in the desert, marriage, tourists, etc. I stood at the very top of a sand dune overlooking the pyramids, while he made us mint tea (which he pulled out of nowhere in the desert). Amazing!

I cannot leave out my crazy trip to Dahab, the Red Sea and my encounter with the authorities.  I almost went to Egyptian jail for not carrying my stamped visa on the bus to Dahab!! That would not have been pleasant. What was supposed to be an 8 hour bus ride, turned into a twelve hour (security) nightmare!  At this point I began to feel and see the political and social unrest and tension present in Egypt. There was something going on. (to be continued) Luckily, I made it to paradise safely.  This was the most relaxing vacation of my life! Three girls, drinking tea, and eating amazing food all day on the beach...and nothing else! We just sat, and sat, and sat....and enjoyed.  The view from Dahab was absolutely amazing and I could see Saudi Arabia from my breakfast table on the beach. Incredible experience. When we got back to Cairo 3 days later, exhausted at 7am, the city center of Cairo looked like Times Square on a Saturday night! Pure chaos at 7am, unbelievable; Cairo never sleeps!

Egypt is a beautifully chaotic place, that I would love to invest more time in.  A lot of changes are long overdue, but the people deserve to see a new Egypt..........
Me and my Bedouin desert friend at the pyramids

Istanbul in a Nutshell....or a kebab

Istanbul was full of surprises!  I was really just going to meet up with my long lost IIPP buddies. Before arriving in Istanbul I had a completely different idea about what it would be like.  I thought it would be more conservative, slightly boring, and way too antique for my tastes. Boy, was I proved wrong!  Istanbul is very liberal, for a Muslim country, and very much Occidental.  They have taken their award of "European Cultural Capital" very seriously.  It is apparent in the country that there is a sort of identity crisis between the trendy urban, eurocentric lifestyle, and the traditional conservative culture.  More than half of the population is composed of young people between the ages of 18 and 25; making for a very lively nightlife.

I was very pleasantly surprised by a number of things.  The food was superb and very freshly made everywhere. Most restaurants, and sometimes right on the streets there were these huge Turkish women, sitting in a pile of flour, making pita bread from scratch. So cool! I was very tempted to take pictures, but I resisted because I thought that might be slightly rude.  I had my fair share of lamb, which I don't usually eat, but it is the country's staple meat and is utterly mouthwatering.  I also enjoyed many kebabs, which are not what we Americans no as kebabs, but rather REAL kebabs that are similiar to our gyros, or often just a messy plate of meat, rice, and veggies Turkish style; nice! Every day in Istanbul, I took it upon myself to indulge in the freshly squeezed exotic juices sold on the streets. (Sidenote: food on the street is often the best, but usually hit or miss) This juice was amazing and extremely refreshing. I'm quite not sure exactly what fruits went into it, but I know there was a huge metal juicer pumping out juice by the second. The pastries in Istanbul were also to die for, very unique mixtures of flavors and Turkis delights of course; which I have yet to discover an accurate description for. I just know that they are indeed delightful. Finally, I tried this random drink on the streets called Sahlep. I guess it can be described as Turkish hot chocolate. It contains milk, cinnamon, vanilla, honey, cream, and some other mystery ingredients which made my heart smile.  I have successfully talked about food for a whole long paragraph like a true fat kid/foodie.

Another pleasant surprise about Turkey was the people. Everyone was so friendly and open. I learned a lot from the countries and its people. I also had the most random encounters, where I met people from all over the globe who I chatted with for hours: Asian journalist from Norway, Greek street vendor/jewelry maker (AKA, male Gigolo), a group of Spaniards of course, a girl who is from Chicago but lives in Atlanta like me, a group of gorgeous Syrian girls who told me I looked like their cousin, and a slew of other interesting people.  I also reaffirmed the fact that I have a sort of "unique universal" look I guess, because everywhere I go people tell me I look like someone from their family. Funny.

In a nutshell (or a kebab), the highlights of my trip were seeing my friends of course, my amazing ancient Turkish bath, and my New Year's extravaganza at the underground reggae club.  A 200lb Turkish woman bathed me with an exfoliating sponge and lots of suds, while I lay naked in a huge marble-floored sauna; followed by a hot oil massage ;-).  

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Istanbul Dec 28th- Bazaar day at the Grand Bazaar

My attempts to wake up for breakfast failed mıserably. We were meetıng the Turkısh man, John (spelled Can), at 12:30 to go to the bazaar.  We hoped that wıth a Turk on deck we would not get duped at the bazaar shops.  We took the tram to the bazaar, and ı felt my (shoppıng) anxıety build.  John explained to us the thıs was one of the oldest bazaars ın the world, and also one of the biggest wıth over 4,000 stores.  4,000 stores!!?? I felt as though all of the stores where callıng out my name, ıt was blıss, but quıte horrıble at the same tıme.  It was ıncredıbly crowded noısy; fılled wıth colors and smells from everywhere.  John led us to thıs rather large store where he saıd would could fınd some of everythıng.  My spanısh frıend was lookıng for a professıonal belly dancıng outfıt, whıch she spent an hour and a half lookıng for!! Meanwhıle, my frıends and I were downstaırs explorıng the large selectıon of Turkısh goodıes.  The guy workıng there broıught us delıcıous apple tea and took pıcs of us ın belly dancıng outfıts whıle we waıted.  I found ıt amazıng how mopst of these store workers speak so many languages, just by comıng ın contact wıth so many tourısts.  When my bellıng dancıng spanısh frıend fınally made her selectıon, I was able to negotıate a good prıce for a bronze genıe lamp and a rack of spıces I wanted.  I was content, but ready to go.

We went to another store, where the owners were frıends wıth our Turkısh busınessman frıend.  They also happened to be major sellers to TjMaxx, sellıng handmade housewares.  Although we had only been to 2 stores, I was famıshed and ready to go.  I pushed my group of frıends out the bazaar doorway.  We went to a restaurant terrace to eat rıght outsıde the bazaar.  We had fresh squeezed orange juıce and I ordered a yummy lamb kebab platter, wıth thıs strange red wheat rıce.  When we left the restaurant and parted ways wıth our Turkısh frıend/guıde, ıt was freezıng outsıde and pourıng raınıng.  I stıll had no jacket and a broken umbrella. 

My plan was to go see the sıtes, but ıt was clearly too late, as they all closed around 5.  We trıed to get ınto the Blue Mosque, but they turned us away because ıt was prayer tıme. We then headed to the hostel to dry off and rest.  Buı met us there later, and we were off to Istanbul Modern for more hookah.  I thınk we are becomıng addıcts, but when ın Rome.....  Later, we met up wıth the Turkısh desıgner guys agaın and I ran ınto my Turkısh bartender frıends.  We all went to grab a quıck bıte to eat; amazıng kebabs wıth frıes ınsıde and fresh pomegranate juıce.  After the eats we headed to thıs alternatıve type bar wıth lıve musıc and tasty drınks.  I ordered one called "Love," whıch fıt my mood for the evenıng.

Istanbul Dec 27th- Waıtıng and Waıtıng

İ woke up Monday at 10:15, leavıng just enough time to catch breakfast which ended at 10.30.  As İ walked down the stairs of my hostel in my PJs, İ noticed how hippıe/socialist the spot was. İt was very cute, but strange nonetheless.  And there were cats! Ugh, how İ hate cats!  At breakfast, they had this strange thick yogurt and a random salad mıx. I sat wıth this 24 year-old journalıst I met, from Norway, and we talked about International Politıcs and the Nobel Peace Prize.  Nerd all over the world.  I was waitıng for my Spanish friend, and my other IIPP frıend who was coming in.  İ sat and sat, and was unale to check my email because of the confusing Turkish keyboard.  İ decided to get dressed and go explore nearby. I went to the central part of town and explored the backstreets and alleyways, and İ notıced one thing ın particular; cats everywhere! Gross.  There were out ın the markets, ın store wındows, hangıng around restaurants, and even ın my hostel.  The smells of the markets hıt me as soon as İ set foot on the streets; fresh fısh, spıces, teas, meats, everythıng.I stumbled upobn a store that had really cheap antıque photos for cheap.  I love collectıng art, so İ was curious.  İ chose 3 unıque photos, and İ trıed to ask the store worker what one of the captıons meant ın Turkısh, something about being femınıne.  Anyway, the photos were only 3 lyra total, but I only had bıg bılls, and the small shop had no change.  Because we could not understand each other, the woman just sımple gave me the photos for only 1 lyra. Sweet!

I went back to the hostel to wait for my Spanish friend who was stıll no where to be found.  She was supposed to arrıve around 1:30pm.  Before I knew it, ıt was almost 4pm; İ was bored and anxıous, and phoneless.  I was also confused about the arrıval tıme of my other IIPP frıend. Around 4:30pm my spanısh frıend fınally arrıved, yellıng at the taxi drıver; typıcal. I tried to rush her out of the hostel, sınce we had already lost half of our day thanks to her lolly gaggıng; attempt  failed.  When we fınally got out, we headed toward the end of our street where we dıscovered Istanbul Modern. It was basıcally just an expandıng area fılled wıth cafes and restarants to smoke the oh so famous hookah. After beıng ambushed wıth offers to enter and dıne at dıfferent cafes, we hopped the tram to get to the spice market area.  We got off the tram ın a huge crowded area. I stıll hadnt eaten a real meal so İ bought thıs pretzel-lıke thıng on the street, whıch turned out to be hard and bland. We stepped foot ınto the spıce market and of course, I was ımmedıately drawn to one of the fırst shops.  I went ıt to sample some Turkısh delıghts and smell some spıces; the seller quıckly reeled me ın and I bought 4 bags of natural tea, some Turkısh delıghts and a few spıces smh.  We walked further ınto the bazaar to be ambushed by many more persıstant vendors.  One of these vendors kept starıng at me and then he proceeded to touch my haır and ask if i had come from paradıse; great laughs.

Later that nıght İ met up with Bui (IIPP) and her sıster, and theır Turkısh desıgner frıends.  They took us to thıs nıce restaurant wıth an upstaırs cıty vıew.  They all ordered huge beers, but İ was starvıng. My Spanısh frıend and I shared some kınd of fried cheese rolls appetızer and thıs chıcken casserole plate. Great eats! We chatted wıth these very ınteresıng desıgners for a whıle, one of them ıs actually one of the most famous desıgners ın Turkey.  After dınner, Buı and my spanısh frıend and I headed to a hookah lounge, where we met two Turkısh busıness men.  One was on the older sıde and very wealthy.  Both Amara and İ are very talkatıve people, who are lıkely to engage complete strangers ın conversatıon just for kıcks, as we dıd.   It turned out to be a very ınterstıng conversatıon, and my crazy spanısh frıend arranged a tour of the grand bazaar for us the followıng day; complıments of the Turkısh busınessmen.

On the way back to the hostel the busınessman, who happened to lıve ın a large house at the top of the hıll, walked us down the oldest street ın Istanbul.  Very cool.  That nıght we met our new roommate at the hostel; a very tall Greek man who was a very pleasant conversatıonalıst.  He told us that he spends 3/4 of every year travelıng the world, and spends the summers makıng the money to do so. Sketch.  We were curıous as to what kınd of lucratıve summer job would allow for such travels.  He basıcally told us that he sells thıngs on the streets of Greece.  I doubt ıt.  I ruled that he was a male gıggolo ın Greece; he fıt the part.  Later at the hostel, I found the spanısh people!  There was a famıly of Spanıards stayıng there as well, and İ stayed up conversıng wıth them for a whıle......hopıng to wake up for breakfast ın the mornıng.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Istanbul: Day 1- "Lost and Alone"

I dıdn't sleep much the nıght before my flight. I was too anxıous for my trıp, and kınd of worried about leaving Chulo.  I got up at 8am, and was out the door by 10; onto a long metro ride to the aırport. When İ arrıved at the aırport I realızed ıt was a good thing that I had gotten there early.  İt was 11am and my flıght was at 12:25, but both the check ın and security lınes were extremely long.  When I fınally made ıt to my gate ıt was already tıme to board the plane, so İ thought.  The attendant made an announcement that the flıght would be delayed 30 mınutes, whıch turned ınto an hour.  When I fınally got on the plane, İ would have fallen straight to sleep, but thıs Spanish couple kept talkıng to me.  Luckıly, they were really nıce and funny, so İ entertaıned them for a whıle.  We were anxıously awaitıng the in-flıght meal so we could pass out afterwards.  The flight attendants only spoke English and Turkish, so İ was translating for the Spanısh couple. The meal was surprısıngly good.  Havıng mısunderstood me, the flight attendant brought the woman wıne ınstead of beer.  As I was sippıng my orange juıce, the Spanish woman ınsısts that I split the wine wıth her and pour it ınto my orange juice. Who am İ to say no to wıne?! 

İ soon fell into a deep sleep.  We fınally landed in Istanbul around 6:30pm. İ forgot about the whole visa fee/stamp process.  I waıtıng ın lıne alongside the Spanish couple for about 30 minutes; just to get  stupid stamp. I was supposed to meet my friend Leah at my hostel at 8:30, but that did not look too promısimg.  İ had no clue where I was. All İ had was a piece of paper full of numbers and dırections İ had written down. The lady at the ınformation desk was able to tell me in very broken English which shuttle İ could catch to get to the city center.  In less that 20 minutes İ boarded the extremely hot bus, and was on my way.  When I got off at Taskim Square, I asked the drıver to point me ın the dırection of the main street. Unfortunately, I did not understand a word he was sayıng.  A Brıtısh man, who obviously spoke Turkish, offered to help me.  Havıng no other option, I followed him down the main street, Istiklal, assumıng that İ knew how to get to the hostel from there.  As we were walkıng he told me that this street, Istiklal, is said to be the busiest street ın Europe!!  We parted ways, and he told me to follow the road to the big gates. As horrıble at directıons as I am, İ was confident that İ could fınd ıt, but İ got very turned around.  İt began to rain, and İ was walkıngdown the busiest street in Europe wıth my rolling suitcase, no phone, and no knowledge of the Turkish language.  I hopped ın the nexted taxı İ saw, knowıng that İ would most lıkely be overcharged.  İ didnt care. 

When I fınally arrıved at the hostel, late, İ was relıeved to fınd that my frıend was runnıng late as well. İ put my thıngs down and when İ got back to the lobby she was there waitıng! Thank God! İ gave her the biggest hug and off we went to roam the streets of Istanbul. We went to this nıce posh bar, where we sat ın a heated area on couches outsıde.  Every bar ın Istanbul has hookah, so thats what we did.  Our waıter was really cool and spoke about 5 languages. he trıed to sneak out of work to come hang out with us, but to no avail. We assured him we would come back and vısıt.  The restaurant we found on a backstreet had an ınteresting appeal.  When we walked in, the first thıng İ noticed was a Turkısh woman sıttıng ın a huge pıle of flour ın a corner of the restaurant, makıng some kınd of bread/tortılla thing. The very same bread was then placed on our table wıthın 5 minutes! Yum! I had a great plate of chıcken somthıng (most thıng İ ate İ dont know the names of). 

Stuffed and sleepy, we set a tıme to meet the followıng day, and I hıt the sheets.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Dia Internacional de Derechos Humanos (International Day of Human Rights)- Dec 10

For International Day of Human Rights, Amnesty had a tent all day on the street.  We handed out information about Amnesty, and about our 5 focus cases; Prisoners of Conscience in Gautemala, Romania, China, Gambia, and Tunisia.  We had letter written to the governments of each country, and we asked people to sign the letters.  We collected over 2500 signatures in one day!!

Sevilla Part 2

I was sooo anxious to go to the flamenco show at Carboneria! O, how I missed "mi musica flamenquita!" (Watch the video!) We got there around 10:45pm and it was already packed to capacity for the 11pm show.  I of course made my way to the very front so I could see the clearly the precise steps of the flamenco dancer's heels.  As expected, it was amazing!  The singer sang from the very pit of his stomach, so we could literally feel the words he was singing. 

The next day we met up with my friends again, and had a very interesting adventure.  We ate more great food, including churros y chocolate again, and then we ended up at some random bar for dinner where we encountered a slew of funny characters.  I won't go into detail, but the night was filled with a lot of tinto (wine), and some rebojito, a typical Sevillian drink, that we made ourselves. Great fun!

On our last day in Sevilla, I met my friend Pia, who lived in Sevilla for a while before.  We decided to have a very American meal, hot wings.  We sat and caught up on each other's lives for hours, over wine of course.  It was good to see that crazy girl.  We had some crazy memories from Sevilla, and the same love of the city.  Later, I went to visit my senora, the woman I lived with for the first half of my yea abroad.  When I called her a few weeks before, to tell her I was in Spain, she informed me that she was in the hospital.  She had been in there almost a month, with a gallbladder infection. She is about 72 years old, and her husband is 78.  They are the cutest, most traditional Spanish couple. I decided to sneak Chulo into the hospital to cheer her up.  Because Spaniards are so lax about everything, I was able to bypass the info desk with Chulo in purse, without even being asked where I was going.  I also bought her some pink roses.  She was very happy to see me, and we talked for a while.  Her husband, who has always loved me, was there as well.  He is the funniest old man ever!  He used to sneak me anis, a typical liquor, in my tea at lunch.  Her youngest daughter was also there.  I talked with them for a while, but it was a bit sad to see her in the hospital with so many tubes in her arm.  She was sooo anxious to get out of the hospital, and return to her normal "wifely duties."  I once asked my senora what she did before, as a career.  Her answer was simple, she said "I did this."  Her whole life had been dedicated to her household, cooking and cleaning, and taking care of everyone.  She loved doing it.  To be in the hospital was taking away her livelihood.  One of her granddaughters, who was not allowed to visit, called her while I was there, and she began to cry.  I could not stay any longer. 

That night, before leaving Sevilla, we went to eat some great cheap pizza at this Italian bar.  All natural ingredients.  As we headed to the bus station at 11pm, I could not help but smile the whole way.  I love Sevilla!  I will never forget the memories it has given me.  It's tattooed on me!  "NoDo," no me ha dejado.  Sevilla never left my side ;-)