Wednesday, March 3, 2010

March Flowers Brings April Showers

I can hardly believe that March has rolled around. The trees are sprouting buds, the sun is shining brighter, and with the changing of seasons brings bad health. I'm taking the day off because I can barely talk, and la garganta me duele muchisimo. It's giving me some time to catch up on some important things like writing letters, reading the prophet, and getting back to my blog which I have been neglecting so terribly! My month of February was literally just booked. Weekend after weekend of plans, exciting, adventurous, epic Catalunya plans. So I guess I'll just start at the beginning. The 6th was a very dear friend's 16th surprise birthday party I helped put on with another friend. I've never seen a surprise party go by so smoothly, in fact it was the best feeling to see complete shock on Patrick's face when he walked through the doors. I took the train after school which has become basically a past-time. I know all the ticket collectors by shifts and have found ways to bypass paying full fare just because there is a break in the track so we have to switch to a bus, and then back to a train if you're going to full distance to Barcelona. When I tell my friends that I always take the train and not the bus they think I'm crazy, but I love the adventure, I love the scenary, and I love saving those extra 7 euros :) So that was a night filled with fajitas, sing star, and late night movies. The next weekend was our mid-year 3 day AFS orientation in the mountains. We were staying in a simply gorgeous city Olot. It has a history of being the winter vacation hotspot for the rich of Barcelona who want to get out of the city to ski or relax. It was pretty evident from all the amazing homes that dusted the streets. It almost felt like I was in the Beverly Hills of Catalunya, but I'm sure this was just a taste of something much bigger. We had a good three days to explore and spend time together which was really nice. I was just so stoked to get out, taste the fresh air and soak up the amazing landscape. Saturday was pretty much dedicated to hiking to these volcanos that surround the city so that was a great opportunity to do just that! Everything was the most vibrant shade of green, there were tall trees and country farm homes. Winding streets, rock walls, and the sound of birds singing in the air. It was almost serile. It was like a piece of home had finally come back to me. You really have no idea how long it had been since I had spent time in a real 'wilderness' or secluded, natural environment so I really wanted to soak it up. Claire and I decided to go ahead and just wander the trails by ourselves. A more independant and personal experience you could say? Well we had no map, pumping energy and the desire to do as much as we could in the day. Our intense hiking turned into trail running, our navigation skills were aided by a very kind French gentleman, and we ended up seeing some beautiful things I never thought possible. We found a slightly random organic dairy farm, a very mysterious wishing well where we threw in some euro cents because come on, we all know they really aren't worth anything here, found a wonderful small stone hedge monastery and laid in the sunshine for 30 minutes. We were in such zen zones and then all of sudden were talking about what happened to the other afs kids. What do you know? We spot this orange jacket and a very tall guy - Mack and Andrew, hahaha. So looks like they did catch up to us...after an hour or so! We decided to take off again, ready to see what else was in store for us, but this time added Miss. Christina Betty to our list of BAMF's. Which we later named our small, but stealthy and freaking strong group of wilderness ladies. With more short running/jogging around the crater of a very unimpressive volcano we headed down hill where we met up with the AFS group again, apparently they had found a shorter way then us. Betty stayed with them and what do you know, Claire and I were off again. This time there was a bet invovled to whom could make it to the hostal first and we were determined to win this one. So with our really cool bright marmot rain jackets, spandex running pants and 50 cent blaring via ipod earbuds we were tearing up the trail. Is it a sin to listen to intense pump up rap when your running through farmland and passing shepards and monasterys? Well after running, weaving through several unmarked trails we made it back to Olot in about 2 hours and very surprisingly managed to get there before everyone else! It was an awesome weekend filled with Sarah Palin look alikes, teatro, and late night dancing. I love our AFS group. Gonna miss everyone quite a bit. Good thing to look forward too is I now how the outlets to plan a circle the globe trip too see all my amazing friends.

Next weekend was Carnaval here in Tarrega! Something I had been looking forward too ever since I knew I was going to be spending my year abroad here in Spain. It's probably one of the greatest and grandest festivals celebrated and I was just super excited to be able to be a part of it. My friends had ordered our costumes at least a month in advance and I had never tried my little red riding hood costume on untill the day of. The one size adult/child was rather short I will say, but it was great to see all of us dressed up with unique little changes. Some girls had braids, baskets with fruit, I decided to put a red rose in my hair :) The tarrega parade was pretty fun. The people got quite into the idea of group costumes, there was everything from utensils and food, to lady gaga's, flapper dancers and ballerinas. Not very traditional but a good time none the less. We all went out to dinner which is the Friday and Saturday night past-time there was even a Barca game on the tele so the restaurant was pretty packed and filled with loud, shouting voices. After dinner, some playing on the jungle gym and climbing a giant tea-cup we all headed to the Plaza de Nacions where there was a dj set up in the Mercat de Municipal. Every young person and even some adults were there singing, drinking, socializing. It was fun too see everyone so happy and free. What I truly believe is the Spanish spirit. I went into the Mercat at about 1am and stayed till about 4am when I walked home. My heels in hand and a smile on my face it was a great night. That Sunday was filled with lots of sleep, good yogi chai tea and a religion essay. Low key to say the least.

Sometime during December my friend Arthur who has the same indie/blissful/free music spirit as myself found out that Vampire Weekend was coming to Barcelona and they had found a venue. After a quick skype sesh we bought our tickets online and began counting down the days till Feb 27th. So that just passed by Saturday and it was epic. Can I really desribe the feelings that were rushing through my mind? Not really. Words won't do it justic but I will try. So we were running a little late due to buying a new camera at El Corte Ingles to document this adventure and running through the Ramblas with our backpacks to our hostal to change, but finally we threw ourselves into a subway and made it to Plaza Espanyol. Next challenge find Poble Espanyol and then find the club. Our map didn't have any streets marked, neither did the club's myspace, website or facebook so we were pretty much running on a map I had written on lined paper in technology class. We climbed the stairs to Montjuic and asked some people along the way who told us to go up this hill and through the trees where we should find it. Oh okay, sure. We actually found some cool students from Pittsburg who studying in London who came to Barca for spring break looking for the same venue. Chatted with them for awhile and then there we were, standing in front of a castle with a long line and some pretty scary bouncers and a red carpet leading into a dimly lighted cobble stone street. We were here. And to top things off we had bought tickets online which had made us Heinekein Espana VIP ticket holders so we even got our own line, and a one way pass into Poble Espanyol free of identification checks or other problem arisers. With lanterns lit and some people walking through the streets we followed the music and after turning some corners, passing through some arches and midevil stairs we came to La Sala Penelope. An ancient facade with all this amazing molding and a gorgeous fountain led into some neon lights and glowing stairs to an amazing stage set up. There were two floors and the bottom was beyond packed so Arthur and I headed up to the top floor. We found an awesome spot next to one of the bars and just started to groove it out. Here we were in an amazing exclusive club in Barcelona, Spain listening to Vampire Weekend. Can you live in the moment any more? The music was even more entrancing in person and it was just an awesome feeling to be in such a great place with some really interesting people. It was a good feeling to look around and be able to communicate with anyone you wanted to weather that be through dancing, or our new language skills. It was just a moment that I will remember forever. We had a hostal for the evening so headed back there where I hit the bed hard. I was so tired. Walking in the moonlight, vespa posing, metro taking, beach running. Sunday breakfast was destiny. As I looked out our balcony window there was a gelato shop. Bingo. So we walked down and met a lovely Indian man who we talked with for about 20min, ended up getting an extra free scoop. Score. The day was pretty quite. The streets were filled with endless German and English tourists. The catch phrase of the day was, 'Oh no they're not English'. Caught the bus home and this week has been filled with stuyding for finals. Next week is the big week, and then after that is down hill till Semana Santa where I'll be heading down South too Madrid with my family for 10days. I'm really excited to travel through Spain a little bit and get out of Catalunya. We'll see where the winds will take me in these next 4 months. I can't believe that it's already that time. I just know I want to soak up as much as I can, but you can only do so much.

Echa mano a la ligera; soltar a la ligera. Este es un de los grandes secretos de la felicidad en el amor... - Spanish Proverb

Take hold lightly; let go lightly. This is one of the biggest secrets of happiness in love - Spanish Proverb