Monday, October 10

Wisconsin in Spain

One thing I love about Sevilla is that I am constantly suprised by what I run into here.

Last week I was walking to the train station from my house (takes about 15 minutes) to go to Cordoba. I saw three drag queens (one looked like a shaved caveman in a jean romper with a lovely pink purse... the other two were fairly standard), one bus of tourists, lots of spanish people and a man decked out in his karate suit with a black belt. But by fair, my favorite was the motorcycle gang. It was as if Wisconsin teleported itself to the streets of Sevilla. Six Harleys, 3 handlebar mustaches, lots of leather and noise. Turns out there was a Harley Davidson convention at the Hotel Macarena. Sadly, I was unable to go there and get one of their tshirts- maybe next year!

It also made me crave some Jalapeño Beer Cheese soup.

In other news, I have started working again as an Auxiliar. My first day of work there is a school wide test, so I get to sit in the Sala de Professoras (Teacher's Lounge) and see if any teachers want to speak English. Then tomorrow I get to work in the Elementary school. Time to research paper maché!

Friday, September 16


Spain is a land of smells... many different smells (also the light at night is amazing). Now for my walk from Teacher Class to Home in Smells

Freedom is what I smell as I exit the school, Freedom and hot asphalt from the street... even though its 8pm it is still 40 degrees Celcius (104 in F)

Our journey up C/ San Eloy has blasts of AC and new clothes, makes me want to shop. Finally we reach BK and their fried hamburger patties and french fries... my stomach reminds me how hungry I am.

As I passthrough the plaza with the Mushrooms the odor changes from offputting gasoline to new shoes all with a lovely amonia undertone from former botellónes and dogs who have passed by. (My hungry dissapears) 

Calle Regina is always an adventure with sights, sounds and smells. Fresh paint from a construction site (wonder what store will be there), incenses from the Middle Eastern store, strong cologne from Spanish men passing by and then stale beer from the tapas bar around the corner from my house.

I'm at my door and as I open the door, I get a blast of cold air and dust. I am home. Now three flights of stairs to climb up.

Sunday, September 4

Spanish Race to Find a Place

Right now I am watching the Eurobasket (basketball game between Spain and Lithuania) and listening to the church bells sing their song, procrastinating on my homework.

This is my life in Spain right now. I spent a good part of the past week on a piso (apartment)-hunt. Scouring the internet for potential rooms in my area, for my price and that dont have cockroaches but would hopefully have an oven. Since my CELTA course had started on Monday, I had class from 9am until 6pm, so I could only go see the pisos after 6pm.

Seeing pisos involved alot of speaking on the phone (which I am suprisingly good at... where did these Spanish skills come from?), figuring out where it was in Sevilla and then walking there. I miss my old Sevilla map which I have no idea where it went, especially because the map I got from the hostel doesnt really tell you anything (cant wait to burn that thing!). Over the past week, I believe I saw about 15 pisos, walked 8km per day and got really good at getting unlost. Also, the lots of walking allows me to learn more about the city and hopefully get into some shape! My birkenstocks are kind of destroyed though :(

While looking for pisos, I lived at a hostel near the Plaza del Toros and I was able to meet some people there. A couple of them will be staying in Sevilla, once they find a piso, as well! The hostel was nice, because they gave me breakfast, free internet and was very close to where my classes are.

It was nice to finally get out of there and into my new piso in the center of the city. It is close to the Alameda de Hercules (where there are lots of cool bars, places to eat and always are people), about halfway between my two works (we'll see how that works out in October) and it has an oven! Smallish kitchen, but it has an oven. A bathtub too! The only thing I could wish for was a bigger bed... but that will be next year.

Now I should get to do my homework (since I did sleep all day). This year is looking up: lots of couchsurfers around, cool auxiliares and some other fun randoms.

(Sorry for the lack of pictures! My camera is getting fixed up right now- next time)

Saturday, August 27

The Summer End

The Minnesota State Fair started yesterday and I missed it. Why? Because I was on a plane (delayed 3 hours on the jet way and then we thought it would crash due to the INSANE turblance) to Spain and 24 hours later, I am now sitting in my hostel, looking for pisos, eating kebab and watching the street (talk about multi tasking).

A lot has happened the past two months, it was fun summer: learning new things, hanging with old friends, and finally cleaning up my room.

As stated in my last post, I worked as a baker for an English Language Camp. It was alot of fun, I got to set my own hours, bake yummy things, eat yummy things and hang out with cool coworkers and also the campers. This year in Sevilla, I hope to find a baking or cooking class to do... and maybe I will finally go ask a Panderia if I can work there for free and show these pictures as proof of my skills:

I hope to go back to camp next year as well. It barely felt like a job because it was so much fun. A bit boring at times, bit now I can think of better things to do with my spare time there.

After camp, I came back home for just 10 days. It was a whirl wind of cleaning/packing my room, shopping with my sister and mom, hanging out with my beautiful little nieces, eating out way too much and generally experiencing Minnesota in the best ways: with friends and in good weather. It was really hard to leave Minnesota this year but I will be back soon.

Now in Sevilla... it feels like I never left Spain (that was my exact thought when I was sitting in the Madrid bus station while drinking a cafe con leche). So far I have been lucky, got a ride from the bus station with a friend and I JUST received one call back on a piso! Tomorrow is more piso hunting, homework doing and sun soaking.

Things are looking up this year. I'll miss you, Minnesota!

Thursday, July 21

Catchup (Ketchup)

It has been a long time since we last met. Sorry. I had even forgotten when I wrote my last post (April?! What?!).

Word of Warning: I may have forgotten some events. Oops...

Here is a short summary, in bullet points, of my last two months:
- Paris: traveled there to see my Aunt, Uncle, Cousin and Cousin Fiancee. AMAZING time, but did not eat nearly enough croissants. However, I did stay with a sweet couchsurfer from Iowa, walked around Paris, gave directions to two New Yorkers looking for the Jewish Area, ate AMAZING food, drink champagne, visited a Culinary supply store, went on a chocolate tour, and saw the Eiffel tower during the day, at night, lit up, from the river and even went up it.

- Almunecar: explored the city and the surrounding area, made a MILLION cookies, say goodbye to friends, miss one Good bye party (dont worry, my students were nice enough to throw another- only a few tears, but lots of goodies), went to another Good Bye party at the Grifos, said goodbye to MissiSippi and Jabeque.

- Last Spanish Weekend: my friend Rosa was nice enough to let me come visit her in Almeria! I definately need to return there. The beaches were amazing (clear, warm, sandy - Pictures to come), there is alot of Civil War history, a castle, fortified cathedral (one of a kind), a huge desert and Mini Hollywood.

- The Return to Minnesota: self explanatory, went via JFK and met a really nice Spanish-Minnesotan family on the plane. The father was from Sevilla and told me to watch out for the guys there, that they tend to marry Minnesotans.

- Vermonster Wedding: After much see-sawing, I got my ticket to see my old roommate Lindsay get married!  Stayed in the Stowe Motel with Richmond folk, was able to visit friends that I havent seen in ages, get dressed up, walk in high heels and have fun in a barn.

- Toronto: After bumming around in Minnesota for a bit, renewing my Drivers license before the State shut down, I did a short trip to the country up North (however, Toronto is South of STP). Caught up with old friends, walked SO much around the city, cooked dinner, drank at Einsteins but did not get to Dance Cave or Shake a Tail. I guess I have to move back there!

Now the blog is somewhat up to date. As I am writing this, I am at MVO (Multi-Village Orientation) in Bemidiji, where I am being trained to be a baker and counselor for an English Language summer camp. Today I successfully baked 32 loaves of bread (Vienna and Wheat bread), some rolls, Tator tot hotdish, the beginnings for baguettes and only burnt myself once!

These campers just might survive the summer! Now only I have to survive the heat.

Monday, April 25

An Ideal Monday

On an Ideal Monday, I would wake up at 9 am (not sleep until 11.30), shower and  since I dont have to work until 12, I would take advantage of my morning to go to the Market to buy fresh fruit and veggies, mainly because I ate everything in my fridge on Sunday.

Once I return home, I would drink yummy coffee (not instant) and eat a delicious breakfast. Then it would be about time to head to work. So I would walk a leisurely 10 minutes to the Institute and arrive 5 minutes before class.

My planning classes will not be awkward and we will actually do something. Then in my break, I would  read a book or study Spanish (not run back home because you forgot something for the next class). Then continue on to have a great class where the students all listen intently to your lesson or activity.

After school, I might go for a quick tapa near by and then return home to either: edit my photos, write in my blog, go to the beach, read a book or some other constructive activity. Then I would go for a run and run as far as I can and not get bored. Afterwards, I would make myself a healthy and complete dinner (Not crackers and sobrasada). Later at night, I might go out or I might just stay in.

The Ideal wasn't today, but I did shower before work.

Tuesday, April 5

Por dios y los santos!

It was a relaxed St Paddy's Day in Almunecar at the Mississippi Irish Pub. Drinking a few beers (Guiness of course) to get the honorary hat and try to exchange our gifted "buttons" for the fancy Jamison hat. We did succeed in getting a green Boa though!  That night I also meet a German-Leprechaun (pictured on the left). My Austrian Couchsurfer, Joaquin 2, had started talking to him outside and invited him in to join us. I guess Mr. Leprechaun is squatting in a farm in the mountains behind Almunecar and only comes to town once in a blue moon.

Sadly, it had to be an early night because I had to get up to catch a 6am bus to Granada to start the EPIC JOURNEY TO VALENCIA! (I missed it of course)

La Falla about Spain

The Reason: Las Fallas
Las Fallas is a traditional Valencian festival to celebrate St. Joseph. Essentially it is like the Fourth of July times A MILLION. Fireworks, explosions, more fireworks and fire - Earplugs are a necessary accessory. Each neighborhood creates (or buys) its own Falla, or float, to burn on La Crema (the last night). 

Why wouldnt anyone want to drive across Spain to watch fireworks and some impressive creations of cardboard and stryofoam burn?

With some friends from Granada, two rental cars, a map and a vague sense of direction, we started our journey east to Valencia. Through the communities of Andalucia, Murcia, Castilla la Mancha, Murcia again, Castilla again and then finally Valencia. Our little group saw alot of Spain that day: pig farms, small towns (Jumilla - we had a little side adventure there), cave homes, lots of castles, olive trees but no tumbleweeds sadly. After about 8 hours, we made it to our apartment in Soplaya (4.5 km north of Valencia) just in time for sunset. 

The next day, we spent the morning on the beach, catching the rays and enjoying the lovely sandy beach. The water was extremely cold, it actually hurt to stand in it (that is only my opinion though).

While on the beach we were surprised with a fireworks display. Each day at 2pm during Las Fallas, each neighborhood has their own fireworks display called the Mascletà. First, we had no idea what was happening. But this is Spain, so just go with the flow. The display went on for about 10 minutes and had a lot of smoke and noise. I would not want to be staying in the apartments next to it!

 Women wearing amazing dresses, Las Falleras, gathered before the fireworks display began. They are the Spanish beauty queens, each trying to become the Queen of Las Fallas. I loved looking at their dresses and intricate hair pieces (similar to Princess Leia). Later that night we spoke to some Falleras and they said the dresses did not weigh too much but did cost thousands of euros.

At a cupcake store in Valencia, they even had cookies with the hairpieces! I should have boughten one. Next year! 

Our day in Valencia mainly consisted of searching for Las Fallas, who were spread out in various neighborhoods. You would walk down one street and catch a glimpse of one out of the corner of your eye. Then you would try to find the pathway to it. It was alot of fun.

Other activities included dodging fire crackers, eating pumpkin doughnuts and  listening to a brass band playing ABBA covers on the street. I cannot express how much fun it was listening to them and watching the people dance. I felt like I was in New Orleans for a few minutes, instead of Spain.

 During this festival, every morning brass bands wake up Valencia by playing lively music in the streets and are usually followed by people throwing firecrackers. This activity starts at 5am, which is why it is called la despertà, or the wake up call.

From my observations, no one gets much sleep or quiet during this week.

Finally, at about 10pm the first of Las Fallas burns. According to the locals, only three out of hundreds of Las Fallas burn on time: the first one, the first prize and the one in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. The rest go off when the firemen finally get there. I understand why the firemen are needed: the fire is intense hot (we usually ran back a bit once the fire started) and Las Fallas were sometimes located quite close to buildings. Look how close the buildings were to the American themed Falla!

After another adventure trying to catch a taxi back to our apartment and a failed attempt at hitchhiking, our group made it home about 6am the next morning. Then started driving back home to Andalucia later that day, but that was after mistakenly driving towards Barcelona for about 30 minutes, and then getting distracted by a water park and missing our exit. But without getting lost, where is the adventure in road tripping? (Spoken by the backseat passenger)

I definitely need to return to Valencia soon. 

Two videos that describe me

Some days (especially Mondays), you feel like no matter how hard you try, nothing works completely correctly. Yesterday, I empathized with this girl:


After a weekend in Amsterdam, I return home to have a nice, warm shower. Just as I shampoo my hair, all the water in the piso shuts off. I assume because of the construction work outside - they are planting palm trees and repaving the road. After some quick thinking (I have a degree!), I rediscover a pint of water in my room and use that to rinse (sort of). 

I thought it only happened in movies, but real life is funny. And I love laughing at silly things like that and this:

Tuesday, March 29

The Parental Invasion

 In honor of my Parents arrival and for my dad's "birthday," I decided to attempt a baking adventure and make a Boston Cream Pie. From my knowledge, it is my Dad's favorite cake (or he has just been telling us this and eating lots and lots of BCPs). I scanned and searched the internet for a good recipe and then baked, baked and baked.

When explaing what I was going to bake to my school, I realized that it is a very confusing name since it isnt a pie but a cake. History says that it is called a pie because in the 17th century pie tins were more common than cake tins... and many people in New England make it... thus it is Boston!

The cake was very tasty and even came with a fun little burn on my wrist. I made all my guests eat it: Ana (my mom's favorite daughter), Albert (her hubby) and my parents. Then I ate the rest for breakfast.

So after spending 2 hours in a car driving from Malaga to Almunecar (I still say it takes an hour to drive it!), my family arrived in Spain and we started our tapas tour.

Sadly, whenever we wanted to eat, the kitchens were closed because it was the wrong time or the owners decided to go on vacation. But we still ate well: churros, meat, queso, bread, mushroom stew, chocolate, and a great dinner at Mar del Plata in Almunecar.

Everyone took a day trip up to Granada to eat more and view the Cathedral and la Alhambra. My mom bought some funny genie pants for her girlfriends to drink coffee in, we navigated the crazy streets by car, wandered around the Generalife in la Alhambra and tried to stay dry.

Back in Almunecar, we celebrated the night (aka waited for the kitchen to open to eat dinner) by going to los Grifos. This is a type of bar that I think Minnesota would love. Each table has its own tap and keg, and a computer keeps track of how much you drink throughout the night. AND since it is Spain, you get free tapas. Tables can also race to see which is drinking the most by watching the TV screen near the door. My mom declared that this place had the best tapas and she got to practice her bartending skills.

The next day, we all returned to Malaga for one last hurrah at El Pimpi with Ana and Albert before they returned to Barcelona. Then the next day, my parents and I risked the bus system for a rainy day trip to Ronda. I definately need to return there this summer to go on some long walks and explore the gorge!

Sadly, this time had to end. I had to return to work and my pueblo, and my parents had to go back to cold, snowy Minnesota (perhaps with a souvenir from the hotel?). It was a great visit and it made me miss home a little bit more.

But I didnt have time to miss much, because when I returned to Almunecar, I had three couchsurfers, St Paddy's day and a trip to Las Fallas to distract me. I cant believe I only have two months left!

Monday, March 28

Happy Day

This weekend was one of the first nice weekends in a long time. Amazing weather, great visitors and now I am enjoying some homemade dumplings with a Bells Two Hearted Ale for dinner. Beer with flavor and 7% apv... my taste buds are going insane (but a good insane).

I am currently working on some posts and here is a summary of whats to come:

-  Highlights from the Parental Invasion
- The Burning Sensation of Las Falls
- My visit from Miss Annie Bananie
and anything else I can think of that you might want to hear about.

I also went to the Almunecar Aquarium with Annie and made a new friend:

Sunday, March 13

Vamos a Portugal!

Puente, Puente, Puente!! Yet another Puente happened at the end of February and the beginning of March, to celebrate the Dia de Andalucia (celebrates the passing of the referendum that made Andalucia an autonomous community in Spain) and the Dia de la Comunidad Educativa (Teachers just wanted a day off). Other auxiliares got an ENTIRE week off (Semana Blanca) but us in Granada werent so lucky, but I still took advantage of it.

Two friends (from American but living in Granada and Linares), J and I took a last minute road trip to Lagos, Portugal, which I had visited about 5 years ago and got some awesomely-bad sunburns and ate tasty beef stroganoff. After 6 hours in a car, navigating through Malaga, Sevilla, past a prison, numerous olive trees and a new alternative energy source that looked like something out of LOTR, we arrived at our destination.

This was the beginning of our adventure to find our hostel. Since we reserved with the same company I used 5 years ago, I knew where the office was. But no one was there! Some old man started talking to us about hostel deals, the problems with this office, etc etc etc... And we were trying to call the phone numbers listed on the door. None of the numbers, except for the last one tried worked. So I got to speak Portuguese-Spanish (Portugnish?) to a guy and he said someone would be there in 5 minutes.

Enter Fatima and her grandson. We got to meet all the rest of the family too and neighbors as we were introduced to our new apartment with a faulty hot water heater. But thankfully, Fatima's son got it going so we didnt have to go upstairs for showers.

Our apartment was old school with some questionable interior decoration. It would make a good set for a horror movie. The figureheads on the walls and toys on the mantles were different (MN word that describes something that we don't understand, or don't want to try to understand) But the beds were comfy, there was TV and hot water!

This was a weekend of eating and watching. There was an amazing breakfast place that we went to both days and I realized how much I missed breakfast. Wonderful pizza bolognaise and then local dining: which partly consisted of Vinho Verde and a suprise Portuguese "tapa" of sausage, soaked in sherry on fire. Delicious! Especially the crispy bits, but the bits where the liquor didn't burn off were a bit hard to handle.

The watching portion of the weekend took part at the beach and near Sangres. While the smarter people stayed on the beach, Kelsea and I decided to just take a chance and go for a quick dip. Cold, but no hyperthermia. In Sangres, we attempted to (re)visit Henry the Navigator's school of navigation but it closed 10 minutes before. So we enjoyed exploring the near by lighthouse, the most western point on continental Europe and an amazing Sunset. One day I will return there when it is actually warm.

One of A Million Sunset Pictures

Saturday, March 5

Exploring Baking: The Croissant

Yesterday, I had an urge to bake something sweet but also something I could use to eat all my Hurry Burger (my family's version of the Sloppy Joe via many Lutheran Churches since it uses a can of condensed soup) leftovers. Since my uber nice roommate gave me a cookbook filled with recipes in Spanish for baking for Christmas, I decided to use it as inspiration.

The pictures are beautiful and clean. They help you figure out what the next step is (good for me because my baking Spanish vocab is "interesting"). and lots of recipes for breads, pastries and sweets, and alot of them of Spanish origin. There are many things I will make in this book but I decided to honor my new blog name by attempting the croissant.

Result: Buttery bread rolls masquerading as croissants.

They taste good and are great hamburger buns, but I still need to figure out how to achieve that flaky, light interior with crisp skin. After a bit of research online, I discovered that the recipe in this book is a bit basic. It got the job done, but I think next time I have to roll the dough thinner, have colder butter and fold it more times. If only I had some French in my blood... maybe next I will make a Danish Donut.

Now I am off to Malaga to celebrate my friend's birthday! Next post will be about my last puente and road trip.

Friday, March 4

I love spain

Today, I went to the market and spent 3 euros. This is what I bought:
- 2 cucumbers
- Head of lettuce
- 2 tomatoes
- red onion
- normal onions
- celery
- red pepper
- crackers
- 1 beer (most expensive thing, ringing in at .99 centimos)

What a great day! I can live so cheaply here!

Except for my cold/ear infection. While the doctors visit was free, the numerous drugs he prescribed cost 39.45 euros. That is about how much I spent on food and tapas in a month.

Wednesday, March 2

Different Me

Things I now do since moving to Spain:

1. Eat Olives. Eww, I know. Before here, I would have run away and perhaps hid behind a couch. Olives are everywhere, in all shapes, colors and tastes. Olives have earned my love by slowly wearing down my resistance to them, showing up at all restaurants, bars, homes and even once at school. Thus I now (usually) enjoy them, but still refuse to put them on my pizza.

2. Try Everything, mainly food. This new habit is a result of all the free tapas I have consumed. Since tapas are given freely with a beverage purchase, why should I let this source of nutrition go to waste? So now I will eat everything at least one: fish, seafood, vegetables (how I came to love fried eggplant with honey). However... if it has eyes, I hesitate.

3. Teach: but that is an easy one since it is my job here. Or I should perhaps say that I hang out with my students all day and speak in English at them.  I still have much to learn though.

4. Different Idea of Cold: I grew up in Minnesota, land of the artic winds, book hockey, ice fishing and where we don't get snow days but cold days. But here in Almunecar, it is cold in the winter. Even though it rarely gets below 60 degrees F, it is a different type of cold. A wet humid cold. Brrr...
These birds can stand the Chicago bitter cold
5. Speak Spanish (or Spanglish). Suprise, suprise, I can communicate in Spanish now! You still have to speak slowly to me and there are days where my brain decides not to understand either language, but I can get around just fine. Just need to practice grammar!

Friday, February 25


It is official. I renewed. If they accept me, I will be a Language and Culture Assistant for another year. 

Many have heard my internal debate on what to do next year, mainly relating to staying with my present school, staying in Andalucia or switching entirely. Here is My Decision: I am not staying at Al-Andalus, but hopefully staying in Andalucia  (I hope the Junta will understand the clues hidden in my motivation statement and put me in Sevilla - I want to row!), with Cataluna as my second choice and Asturias third.

I hope I made the right decision. I enjoy my school here, my coworkers are extremely nice and the students are good (aka they don't kill each other or get into many fights. I have also found a way to make them all be quiet). Almunecar is a beautiful little city by the beach with decent weather. However this is an opportunity to live in Spain, to explore what it has to offer. So I am taking it!

Monday, February 21

24 Amazing Things

I shall now count all the amazing things that I have done this month:
1 It was a beautiful day today. I am quite excited that summer is coming, that I will soon be able to go swimming. But some certain Spainards keep telling me that March is an insane month: One day it will be wicked hot and the next it will be wicked cold by SSS (Southern Spain Standards).

Cooking and baking here in Almuñecar 2-6. Valentine Snickerdoodles with Emily, chocolate chip cookies, yellow cake, strawberry pie, pork dumplings, soup of various kinds (todays is onion!) and kim chee (or soon to be... cross your fingers!)

From the Matisse show
7/8/9 I had some visitors:  Ted from Jaen, Emily from London, and Roxann from Malaga. Roxann, Emily and I met in Granada for a whirl wind visit. 10 Emily and I got to see the Alhambra and its Matisse exhibit (free!! You should all go. Yes you... even if you are in Minnesota, Toronto or elsewhere) and then we all went to watch the sunset in the Albizin, which we missed. However! 11 Some Bulgarians thought we an interesting and took a picture of it. The weird thing is that one of them lives in Almunecar.

12 One weekend I went up to Jaen to see Barb and others... and got to go on beautiful sunny hike/run in the mountains South of Jaen. It was like a run through an art gallery except with no security guards and it is uphill, outside.

Then back in Almuñecar I went to a wine tasting class 13 (Cata de Vino or something), which I understood about 20% of what the guy said. But I did get to drink some tasty wines from around Spain along with a food paring. I almost felt like I was at Top Chef, but it was in Spanish, and there was no Tom or Padma.

Early in the morning the next day, 14 I made my way up to Sevilla to see Prachi, a girl I knew back in Toronto. 15/16/17/18 We had fun with our British host, walking around the city, enjoying the sun (and 27 degree day!) next to the river, eating lots of tapas, saw a dj with silver
teeth play, drinking warm champagne in a doorway just because it was raining.

"Tomatoes are green
before they are red"
The Cathedral was beautiful, and people who live in Sevilla are lucky because they get in for free. I could spend hours in there.19+++ Some really good pizza there too: Goats cheese with Jalapeños. If you want to go, the pizzeria is near Cafe Central on the Alameda. It was fun to be able to communicate while traveling... it was the first time I actually felt somewhat comfortable with speaking Spanish. Took me long enough. I wouldnt mind living in Sevilla... I could start rowing again then!

Now for the future 20 I have many plans ahead for traveling: Valencia, Lagos, Paris, Amsterdam, more of Spain and London. 21 The Parents are invading Almuñecar along with the favorite daughter (Ana) and her husband in about two weeks now. I hope they enjoy my new home time and prepare themselves for a free tapas (still have to buy the drink though) marathon!!!!! 22 Annie-Bananie will be coming soon as well, dont know yet but it will be in March! Then 23, Semana Santa travels and visitors (Steph and Natalia right now), I hope Morocco is sane enough to allow for our visit.

Finally 24, which was what inspired this post was: Staring into fires It made me remember how I spent most of the day after New Years Eve. Staring into this fire:

Thursday, February 10

Grocery Store Adventures

There are two main grocery stores in my town, Lidl and Mercadona. Lidl is a giant German discount chain that I believe mainly caters to the large German pensioner population living here. Half the food is labeled in German, which often results in increased confusion while grocery shopping. I love that I can find lots of crazy German beer to subsitute in when I am tired of Alhambra or San Miguel, but I really have a hard time finding cream cheese since there are three types that have the almost the same name, carton, price, etc... I usually go by the picture and buy via trial and error.

While Mercadona is a Spanish company that plays their jingle all the time while you are shopping, which often results in you breaking out humming, "Mercadona, Mercadonaaaaa" while walking down the street, or while doing the dishes. (this girl's version which is pretty bad, but it is better than the hundreds of Mercadona house remixes).

Most of the time, I do shop with my eyes and don't even bother trying to read labels. Now I am trying to get a better understanding of the food available by studying the selections. The main differences I can spot are in meat and cheese. Cheddar selections are one thing I miss here, along with string, pepperjack and marbled cheese. Now I get to choose between Tierrna, semicurado, curado (all appearing to be a mix of goats, sheep and cow's milk) and what appears to be different types of American cheese. And the deli selection, I have no idea where to start. So I take one random sliced meat product each week... and this week it's a type of lomo embucado. Tasty.

Yo Quiero
Just discovered, Lidl's ice cream selection is sad.  Strawberries/Cream, Chocolate/Cream, Cookies/Cream and Caramel/Cream. While all good choices, I would love some Ben & Jerry's Phish Food.

Friday, January 28


Sitting here in the light, listening to the rain and the birds outside, I am overcome with tiredness.

As many of you know, I've been having a few silly issues since coming to Spain. Bureaucracies and I never seem to interact in the most efficient manner. For example, my visa process, taxes, my current idiotic relations with my US bank and now the post offices. Today I went to try to figure out where my holiday packages I sent to the US were, since no one stateside has received anything as of yet. The PO here said it was in the US, and the PO there says it is still in Spain. Where is this package???

This might be a bit of an exaggeration, but I feel I cannot rely on the institutions that I grew up with. Maybe I will go live up in the mountains in a cave and keep my money in my mattress from now on. 

Monday, January 24

Theme of the Week: Decisions

Ewww... Everyone that knows me, knows how I hate decisions. Easy decisions like what to eat, when to sleep (usually) are easier to make. Especially easier when faced with bigger decisions, like -->

Usually around decision time, I am a queen of procrastination. My room is now spotless (ish), I studied Spanish for an hour, folded my clothes and organized my desk, and now even writing in my blog!

So the few of you that actually read this, want to help me out with a few?

Decision Number 1: Job
Deadlines are coming up for reapplying for the next year. For everyone that doesn't know, I am a Language Assistant at a Secondary School in Almunecar, Spain. I will reapply because I dont have a clue otherwise what to do with my life, and I do need another year (at least) of Spanish to get really good. So good that I might be able to beat my sister in a Spanish Speaking Contest (like that would EVER happen).

On the application, there are three choices: Stay in your present school, Stay in your autonomous community (aka Andalucia) or Go somewhere else in Spain. 

If I choose to stay at my school: I already know many of the students, teachers, policies, etc and I like them all. BUT, the town is very small so I would probably live in Granada. 

If I choose to change: I do get to experience other cities/areas of Spain. But might end up in an even smaller town and I do like the playa.

Decision Number 2: Ahora
Connected with the previous decision, what to do now. Should I move or should I stay? I am lazy and only have a couple months left here that I could spend getting into shape (procrastinating on running by blogging), studying Spanish and enjoy the beaches- it is getting warmer. 

Or should I suck it up and move up to Granada. Which will take lots of energy.

Decision Number 3: Summer
Aww, the Summer. I am hearing horror stories from residents of Almunecar. The heat, the humidity, the heat... We will see if I can handle it or if I am even here TO handle it. 

Summer decision requires finding a job: potentials in Europe are au pair or English Language camps (if anyone knows of any openings, anywhere! Send them to me). Or I could return to the States and do something there- maybe State Fair again. Then another activity I have been pondering is a 10 day meditation class in Italy... but I doubt I could do it. 10 hours a day, for 10 days, without talking... hmmm...

Now I am going to get ready to run (with more clothes on than in the picture- its 13 C and very windy)

Thursday, January 20

Fried Food = The Best

I got a craving for some spring rolls (and I would not repeat my Cleveland Airport Panda Express Incident - eww) and made lumpia (like a springroll) wrappers in my piso. My last adventure with batter was "interesting" - I tried to make pupusas and I used what I thought was corn meal, but instead it was corn starch. Which resulted in fried frisbees. This time I was successful!

Fry babies, fry!
As for the wrappers, I was super surprised at how easy it was. Last time I made dumplings, I had an adventure in the China town grocery store when I was trying to find cilantro but didn't know how to say it in Chinese or what it looked like. It just took me about an hour, then the dumplings came out uber salty.

Anyhoo.... From my research there seems to be two schools of lumpia wrappers. One with a more liquidy batter and the other was "goopy" (that was the word used). My recipe was the liquid batter and were kind of like crepes but a bit more flexible and they cooked much quicker. The fun part of making these was I got to use my hands to pull the wrappers out of the pan. Only burnt myself twice.

After frying
 Since I had spinach  to get rid of and some recently found feta cheese, I decided to make Spanakopita Lumpia. Another reason is that I do not have an oven and don't even want to think about trying to make filo dough... eek. The filling was pretty easy to make. Just chop up some spinach and cilantro, throw that into a bowl with some salt, parsley and chili pepper. Then chop up some onion and red pepper (I added the pepper in the second round of rolls), saute them and once cooked. Throw in the green stuff and once wilted, throw in some crumbled feta and pepper. And that is ready to go!

I will definitely have to make these wrappers again and play around with the filling. 
At them with some fresh cucumber and pico de gallo
Tasted good with BBQ sauce too  but everything tastes good with it

Tuesday, January 18

January Thaw

My walk 
Just like in Minnesota, Spain appears to experience a January "Thaw" or a week of 20 degree (Celcius) temperatures with sun (none right now though). I spent the last weekend in Almuñecar and decided to explore the area a bit more, which involved walking to La Herradura without a map. Used my urban navigation skills (aka following cars and standing on tree stumps to try to see where to roads went) to get there. Maybe this weekend I will head up into the mountains!

After Christmas, I somewhat followed my vague itinerary and ended up floating around Spain. Catching bus after bus and even a train! Me and Alsa (the bus company here) are best friends now. So here is what really went down after Christmas.

First! I went back to Almuñecar to digest that amazing Christmas dinner and do some laundry. (exciting!!!). Then I finally got off my bum and went to visit friends in Granada. Made some pumpkin pies from scratch (inspired by Roxann and her pie!), attempted to make chili and then ate some yummy alBONdigas ala Dave.

After a couple days there, I headed up to Linares which is a city near Jaen - only takes like two hours to drive there from Almuñecar but the bus from Granada took three hours! The bus changed in Jaen and I, being the organized individual I am (already missed one bus that day - another story), lost my ticket and had to talk my way onto the new bus. In Spanish! They probably just took pity on the poor blonde girl whose Spanish was funny, but I got on the bus!!!!

Linares' Unique Xmas Lights
Finally in Linares, I got to stay at a work friend's family's apartment. Joaquin's mom was so nice to me and I got to sleep in a real bed! I barged in on their New Years celebrations: eating lentils for Medio Dia and then eating the 12 grapes at midnight, all to get good luck in the new year. J's family had a special dinner that evening (with all 40+ people, his Abuela had 9 children herself, she is quite a lady), where I got to try lots of new dishes and also get to see how a Spanish family celebrates the holidays. After midnight and a family concert, we headed to a cabin to celebrate 2011. I got to meet some more Auxilares and real Spaniards too! I have have understood about 30% of the conversation, it's all a learning process. Supposedly my Spanish has improved- or my ability to pretend I understand. I am a good mime.

Artwork in the Underground
Sleeping Beauty's Castle... Really
Two days were spent at that cabin, bbq-ing, playing with Turkeys and enjoying what little sun there was. Then  I caught the train to Madrid (with 2 minutes to spare to buy tickets). 

In Madrid I met up with Casey from Orientation and finally met Esteban, another Auxilare who is living there. Madrid consisted of a walking tour, a Museo de Jamon, experiencing the brand new No Smoking Indoors rule, exploring the Underground and its graffitti, walking around el Prado and Rebajas (like Black Friday but goes on for a month of so.) Esteban and I took a day trip to Segovia, saw the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty's castle and then caught a bus to Cordoba the next day.

Chris asking for Money

In Cordoba, I stayed with another coworker's family and ate LOTS. That is the theme of the holidays here: eating, drinking, talking, eating, and more drinking. I got to eat Spanish style ribs (with a honey sauce, yummm) and fried food in a shell, which is something the State Fair should think about. I was shown around the Mosque, the Catholic Kings Castle (where Colombus asked to go exploring)  and walked around the Juderia (that word makes me giggle). By then, I was pretty tired from all this bumming around and the fact I only brought clothes for 4 days was a bit of issue seeing that I was gone nearly two weeks (I brought enough undies! I'm prepared somewhat).

Fried Shell with Meat inside, then crackers with Pate
 One Meal in Cordoba. 
Overall, I believe my holidays went pretty well. Got to explore alot of Spain and distract myself from missing my family and friends back home. I miss you all back home and even the cold! 

Happy New Years Everyone!