Saturday, January 2, 2010

La Navidad y El Feliz Ano Nuevo

Now things have finally slowed down a little bit after the holiday season. It almost dosen't feel like it was Christmas and that were into 2010...Buena noche or Christmas Eve isn't very significant here in Catalunya it's more the day of the 25 and then the 26th, so I felt like there wasen't much build up for Christmas day. Everyone in my family slept in, and naturally my inner child had me wake up at 7am which is early by all means in Spain! Kind of meandered around the kitchen, sunbathed in the living room, took a shower...and then at around 10 my parents woke up. I had bought gifts for the day so as a secret Santa Claus hid them under the tree. Our 2ft, artificial tree. Being born and raised in Alaska it was almost a sin, haha, but I understand there aren't exactly Blue Spruce trees in our garden! I guess this was one of the aspects that made this Christmas feel so different, no falling flakes outside my window, snow angels to be made, dark stary sky...I'm living in Spain and this is it. We had a family lunch at 12 in my aunt's house so we had to wake the siblings up to open presents so they could have the time to shower as well. I thought it was a lot of fun to open up presents - although mine were pretty smallish. I can't lie. Spain has hit the bank account hard, haha. All those weekend trips to Barcelona, and window shopping turned into just trying on that sweater, turned into going to the cash register! New years resolution: SPEND LESS. We were running late, as always. The past time of Espana, but we made it to Lleida and had a lovely gourmet lunch. The meal was more of a modern Catalunya dish, the first plate had different things varying from vegetables, rice pilaf, salmon rolls:) lots of flavor, that's basically what's most important. For the second plate I was served a whole fish. It looked like a capper, but honestly I have no idea what it was! It tasted good though! And of course for postres (desserts) we had Turon's, which are like very dense cakes that are very typical of Catalunya. They are intensely sweet and rich, I can only bring myself to have several bites. So after eating my body weight, sipping a nice warm tea and having good conversation at the table, my aunt got out the 'Tio'. El Tio is simply the Catalunya version of Santa Claus with some minor differences...those being: it's a stump of wood with 4 legs and a face, a blanket is tossed over it and the children sing a special song that makes it give, or in the more graphic and real words give presents in the form of going to the bathroom - the verb cagar in Castellano. It was fun to see my cousins who are younger sing the song and tap the magical tio, then quickly run to the back room and wait for their gifts! Coloring books, money, clothing, chocolate, El Tio :) The next day was another filled with incredible amounts of food, but this time in Alcoletge which is the town of my grandparents. This time the comida was more traditional. A soup followed with a typical dish of all sorts of meat imaginable. I still haven't brought myself to eat the blood sausage, don't know if I can pull that one of this exchange! But my brother and I did cap off some bottles of homemade sangria from my grandpa! A second day of el tio, laughing, good cheer and family time. It really showed me how important the true aspects of Christmas are; love and peace. Finding that through which ever way comes to you.

After recovering for uhh let's see her, 4 days it was New Year's Eve and my good, close knit group of friends and I had a big dinner planned out for the evening. We all dressed up, girls in dresses and boys in nice shirts and all pitched in a dish of food! It was really impressive how the young population takes traditions and fiestas very seriously and with a great amount of responsibility. We had the house to ourselves and let me say it wasen't exactly in the best state after the final countdown, however everyone helped out and it ended up being pretty clean! The New Year's thing to do in Spain is at the countdown from 11:59am stick a grape in your mouth every that was interesting. Unfortunately I don't have photos because we were a little preoccupied, however just seeing everyones faces will be enough in my memory! I think I held myself pretty well, haha, it was a fun thing to do! After cleaning and dancing, eating and celebrating we walked to the main plaza in Tarrega where a dj had a set up in a huge tent for the public. It was the place to be for the night so I got to see all my friends and basically everyone I know. The music was a hilarious mix of 80's, Grease Soundtrack, meet's Black Eyed Pea's :S but I had a great time. Everyone was dancing and I couldn't believe it when I looked at my phone and it was 6am! Time fly's by here because no one really cares about it. Living in the moment, living it to the fullest. My feet were killing me by now. I made the unwise choice of wearing some hot stiletto's and when I was walking home felt the pain, but then I decided why not just take them off? You're in Spain Kayla. Living, learning, loving...what really matters? So I took off my shoes and had a wonderful walk home, hardly believing it was the new year and I'm here in this amazing country.
So today is the 3rd of January and I'm off on another adventure to Manresa this afternoon via autobus to see my best friends Patrick (USA) and Gunnar (Iceland). Coolest guys ever. Pretty stoked to see them, and spend some time exploring. Monday were off to a surprise party for another friend who's turning the big 18! It's looking like it's gonna be a great couple of days. I start my second trimester of school next Monday which seems to be looming nearer and nearer...but for now taking it each day by day, as I have learned life should. As for the weather things have raised back up to a normal temperature. It's crazy how much it changes here. Tarrega is a basin for the fighting god's of the skies.

Well I'm off to pack! I hope everyone had a great holiday filled with love, peace and happiness. Being here has helped me realize even more to keep those you cherish close to your hearts and remember that they will always be there for you. No matter the distance. No matter the hardships. Warm wishes


  1. peace and love to you babe! happy 2010 :)

  2. Yeah so we are having so much fun with you right now!! Thanks for name dropping us.. hahaha. So thanks for the warm wishes. Now I feel warm. Good to know that you are getting along great with your sister. :P So I hope we are gonna go eat more candy or something because its a little boring listening to you and Gunnar talk about Gossip Girl. Anyway, you can definitely come again. We are gonna have a massive party upstairs. PREPARE.

  3. Hi, my name is Layna. I'm a freshman in highschool and I'm really considering being a foreign exchange student my junior year. I've done like a bunch of research and everything about going to Argentina, but after reading your blog, I'm thinking about Spain. Was there anything that really set your mind on Spain instead of other Spanish-speaking countries? Also, what was your main ways of saving money for the costs?

  4. Hey Layna! So I guess for me the main reason was I wanted to be in a Europeon country. There just seems to be a different level of living here that I was drawn too - as well as the deep, rich history of the Spanish. The language of Castellano is different as well, although I'm in Catalunya and should be learning Catalan which is a much more Romantic dialect. Argentina would have been my second choice if I was choosing to only go to a Spanish speaking country, but I'm so happy and thankful I choose Spain. The diversity in the land, people, languages is amazing. I can drive about an hour to the mountains and 2 to the beach...the people are quite a mix of South Americans, Eastern Europeons and Northern Africans obviously leading to a wide range in languages - plus the Regional dialects as well. Money here can definitly be a problem. I saved up by working a job through the summer, sending out sponsorship letters to family and friends, and also having the advantage of the perminent fund dividend in Alaska...just remember that when you're here to budget yourself a good amount of money monthly. Between the travelling expenses I pay to go to the city by train which is a 3 hour train ride and 2 hour bus ride it can range from 7-13 Euro's one way, shopping (you will shop till you drop here, fashion is such a important part of the culture, especially in teens), and random things like cafe and toiletries. The Dollar right now is pretty low, so I'm finding things are almost double in price -- bummer. The crucial thing to remember is to budget yourself, alot a certain amount of money you can afford monthly and stick to it. Also keep your receipts to go over your spending. This has become quite the long post but if you would like to email me go fot it
    Peace and Love

  5. Thanks for not responding to me Kayla. Anyway, look at you with your blog getting featured again and like convincing people to go to Spain and everything. By the way, I am here with Gunnar and he says I am a major ass for writing this.

  6. What?? I didn't know this! Your not an ass Patrick :) I love you.