Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mesquite? Is that made from Mosquitos?

The other day I was in my room, on my computer when all of a sudden I saw a mosquito fly in front of my face. Mosquitos are my 2nd most hated insects. I hate them a little bit more than flies and a little bit less than ticks. I especially hate mosquitos in my room because they always end up having a feast while I sleep and I think I must be slightly allergic to them because their bites usually turn into welts on my skin. So, needless to say, I dropped everything I was doing so that I could engage her in a fight to the death. (Yes, her. For anyone who doesn't know, only female mosquitos suck blood.) I think if anyone had walked into my room at that moment they would have felt puzzlement that would have bordered on alarm. I was frozen in an attack position, waiting for her to fly into my sight. She came into sight a few times which resulted in futile attacks on my part. Then she made a terrible decision and flew over to my wall which is white and made her stand out a lot. I grabbed a notepad and flung it at her and that ended up finishing her off. The crazy thing was that as hard as I hit her with the notepad, her body remained in-tact. Spanish mosquitos are made of steel I think. Anyway, here's a picture of her:

Her stripes are pretty beastly. I think it means she's a tiger-mosquito.

Other big news: I have officially infiltrated the sticker-trade at my school. Stickers are extremely popular here and pretty much every kid has an album. They are very serious about making trades. If someone gives you a tiny little sticker, you aren't going to be giving them your favorite 3-D Hannah Montana sticker. It just doesn't work that way. So they began giving me stickers here and there before and after class and I just started putting them in my agenda book:

That's just the first page. I have at least 2 more pages so far. I'm pretty fond of Sandy Cheeks at the top of the page there. It would take a pretty hefty offer to make me part with her. Last week I actually bought some nice Spongebob and High School Musical stickers to put into circulation. It was a horrible idea. I actually made one of the teachers mad because the kids were becoming too distracted. Oops. Next time I have to make them a prize for good behavior or something.

On a more serious note, I had a nice moment yesterday. I've been here long enough now that there's really no excuse for the fact that I have slacked on getting into the bible. I've joined a bible study through this international church that I go to now, but it doesn't really replace the time that I have one-on-one with God. My bible was still in my bag from bible study so during my break I decided to shut myself into the little classroom they give me and just read. I was really enjoying reading through the parables and stories in Mark. I think the story of James and John asking Jesus to sit at his side in Glory is hilarious (Mark 10:35-45). I think one of them must have pulled the other aside and been like "Listen man, we need to get dibs on the places next to the throne. I'm asking you because I like you and you have sweet sandals that you let me borrow that time that mine were giving me a bad blister." Then Jesus basically says, "Guys, do you honestly think that is a first-come, first-serve kinda thing? Those spots are reserved." But what really makes me laugh is that it says "when the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John." I imagine that to be the most awkward moment ever. "Umm.. James? John? Did you guys seriously just try and ask to sit to the right and left of Jesus? What the hell? What happened to our 12 best friends agreement?"

Ok, so that's my dumb interpretation of that story, but in my mind it was really funny. It was one of those moments where the bible was making a lot of sense to me and I had a hard time putting it down yesterday.

Ok, it's 3:15 on Saturday and I haven't done anything.

35 days until I come home!


Monday, November 2, 2009

I Came From the Montaña

Where to start, where to start... well, it has been like 2 weeks since I've updated and I promise it's not for a lack of commitment as much as it's for a lack of things to say. However, some interesting stuff has happened so I think I have enough for a substantial update now. Also, I think I'm going to just throw tons of pictures at you so LOOK OUT!

Last Saturday, which was.... let me look... October 24th, I went into the city with my friend Erin and we were attempting to go see a movie. We found out about a place where they show old movies for about 2.50 Euros, so we decided to try and catch Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. When we met up, we discovered we both had a different address for the theatre from the internet so we tried Erin's first. That led us here:

So, the sign next to the huge scary door indicated that we were in the right place which was very confusing. Our solution to the problem was to stare at the giant door for 5 minutes and every so often one of us would tentatively walk up to it and nudge it slightly to see if it would open. We did this several times because we were never sure if we had tried hard enough, as we didn't want to be seen struggling with a huge door that was clearly locked. Eventually I gave it a good hard push and we even used the knockers, and we decided we were at the wrong place. That's when I remembered I had a different address which was a few blocks away so we decided to go for that. We were happy to find that it led us here:

We were unhappy to find this sign:

That means they were sold out. In the end, the time we spent staring at the doors to the Filmoteca business offices caused us to miss the show. Oh well, next time. The one thing we accomplished that night was taking pictures at the famous bear statue that is in the Puerta del Sol, which is a famous plaza at the center of Madrid. We use it as a meeting spot often and so does everyone else in the city. I always see lots of groups of young people waiting for friends around the bear:

So let me give you at least a small peak at the area around my house. I took some pictures late at night one time while walking back to my house. When I leave my apartment, I walk down this street first:

When I get to the end, which is where I took the above picture, I am standing at a circle with a gas station on it:

This is the closest landmark to my house, so when I take the night bus home in the middle of the night I know to push the button for a stop when I see the good ol' BP. Here's another picture from the traffic circle of a bus stop:

From the cirlce I walk about another 2 blocks to get to my metro stop which is called Peñagrande. The inside looks a bit like this:

So this past weekend was also a busy one. On Friday, I went with my friend Antonia to a mall near Madrid where there is an IKEA. The mall is called la gavia:

This is the part of the city that it's in:

Besides the mall it looked like the whole place was still being built.

So Antonia and I had been saying to each other that we really wanted to try and go hiking because there are lots of mountains surrounding Madrid. We found out about a little town called Cercedilla. Erin, Antonia and I met at the train station and took the renfe train out to Cercedilla.

When we got there, right outside the train station was the beginning of a really nice trail that we walked. It looked like this:

That last one is Erin and Antonia obviously. The place was really beautiful. It was also really nice to get out of the city for a bit. I hadn't realized how much I was feeling constantly surrounded by noise until I experienced the quiet out there. On the way back to the train station I got some water from this thing:

It was some seriously good water. The town has a lot of ruins left over from the Romans. I'm not sure if this was part of it, but I like to believe it was. That spout looks 2,000 years old, right? I took a picture while we were waiting for the train and I'm pretty sure that woman was getting weirded out that I was taking pictures of her:

Well that is about all the pictures I have. If you're wondering what I did for Halloween after going to Cercedilla, I went to a friends apartment and we watched The Orphan and... that's a really bad movie. So I didn't dress up, but downtown all the young people were running around drunk in costumes. Trick or Treating is a growing concept here so not everyone does it.

I think that's enough for now. After making you wait 2 weeks I've showered you with photos, so enjoy. I will try and update quicker next time.