Monday, August 29, 2011

La tarde en Granada

This afternoon, Micki and I embarked on one of our homework assignments, a glorified scavenger hunt throughout the city, assigned in the hopes of familiarizing students with the important buildings around Granada, such as the main farmacías, theatres, and fountains. Of course, Micki and I got lost but passed a
very pleasant afternoon getting to know the city in our own way.                                               

 Beautiful paper lanterns stringing from a plaza's trees (Granada seems to have an infinite number of plazas each with its own intricately beautiful fountain that you are NOT to go in under any circumstances...).

 One of the many narrow streets tucked behind the main square.


Our school

The river bisecting Granada (calling to memory Javert, obviously).

A picture of my host father in uniform. I have no idea what he does, but it looks impressive and he has a name tag that says "Capitán." But today he was most proud of the many varieties of fish he caught on a friend's boat.

Bimba, la loquita.

¡Aquí estamos!

After a hellish two days of travel (punctuated by podcasts of Jonathan Goldstein's hilarious "Wire Tap" that  made me laugh out loud on the plane, sparking glares from other dehydrated and cranky passengers), I arrived on the busy Poeta Manuel de Góngora street that Micki and I will call home for the next four months.

Today, in the bright sun, it is beautiful. It is busy and loud and there are a stupefying amount of vegetable sellers, but it feels good. My host mother, María, is super friendly, and so is her husband Eloy. And then there's Bimba, an out-of-control Yorkshire terrier that sounds like an angry pig when she barks.

Micki and I are set to explore the city this afternoon, so hopefully we'll have photographic evidence that we are actually in Granada this afternoon. So far my local exposure has been going to the supermarket to buy frozen peas to ice my foot, so here's to broadening my horizons!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Please God, not another travel blog.

Like so many of my dear friends, I am beginning my study abroad adventure. In a few weeks I will be jetting of to Granada, Spain for four months with my "sister from another mister" Micki, to study Spanish language and culture. And after that, I head to Mexico for another six months.

My feelings are mixed. I have spent the past two years spending countless nights hunched over the dismal glow of my laptop in an otherwise abandoned library, waiting for the day when I could finally start what I had been planning for years- a year abroad, learning my father's language and understanding a little more about how the shards of the world fit together.

On the other hand, I know what it means to travel. To travel well is not to have what you later describe to your friends as "crazy adventures" with photographic evidence of yourself posing awkwardly in front of monuments and museums or in dimly lit bars and restaurants, sometimes (God forbid) flashing the peace sign. Not that there is anything wrong with crazy adventures. We all need those too.

To travel well is to allow yourself to be hurt by what you experience. To sometimes embrace the feeling of inevitable loneliness that comes with starting a new life, to feel the pain of others who have lives harder than your own, to reserve the right to feel underwhelmed, bored, or homesick.

My prayer for this year is to allow myself to fully accept and participate in whatever it brings, the moments of joy and adventure and also the moments of adjustment and pain. So often it seems we are too eager to sugarcoat our travel experiences without understanding that the less-than-perfect, less-than-thrilling moments are just as much a part of our own story, and ultimately, just as valuable.