Entry 1: June 30, 2012
Life passes fast in Spain! This will be a very brief summary of what's been going on in my life lately!
Our first Thursday night we all went out to dinner in a café in the Plaza Roxa. For future reference, the cheeseburgers here are not the same as the cheeseburgers I get at the Farmer's Market. It was nice to go out with everyone though! After dinner we hung out in another café for an obnoxiously long time waiting for the night to begin. We watched a Eurocup game, so that was exciting. In our waiting time we started wandering around and found a place to play BINGO! So excited- until the man asked for our passports and we noticed the 1,500 Euro buy in. Adiós hombre! After yet another café, we met the other chicos in our program and went for drinks, or a sit in my case, at a bar in Old Town called MoMo's. (MoMo's not to be confused with the mystery gladiator Marley and I met on Halloween downtown whom we can't decide if he said his name was Bo or Mo, so we continue to refer to him as BoMo.) MoMo's was such a pretty place! There was a garden in the back with fountains, hanging lights, and a pretty backdrop of Old Town. The other people in our program can be described in basically four words: Out of their minds! They are so much fun to be around though- I'm glad we have started hanging out with them more and are no longer referred to as "the mystery girls from Meredith."
After MoMo's the other people in the program left to go to another place called Central Perk while I had every intention of going home to sleep. On the way there we stumbled across a "discoteca" (basically a Spanish dance club) that looked too much fun to pass up. Saying I'm glad we stopped by is an understatement- it was SO much fun! The place was absolutely packed, an accomplishment in a warehouse sized building, and there were red lights, flashing lights, strobe lights, black lights all flashing at the same time. The best part though was the fact that there was a live band of Spaniards singing both Spanish and American popular music. One minute we were jamming out to Spanish pop and the next we were serenading the crowd to Adele. I couldn't resist telling everyone "fank you" multiple times after the song was over. The place was definitely a honey hole. After this we really did go home despite being called boring for going home at 2:30. We Meredith girls are just not cool enough for Europe, and that's totally fine with us.
Friday was uneventful really. We went out with the Wades to celebrate our first week in Spain. What a slow, packed week it has been. After lunch we rode a cute little train that Connor would have gone nuts over all through the historic district of Santiago near the Cathedral. I can't tell you much more about this because I slept the entire time. I just can't stay awake on trains! There's an amusing picture on Facebook of me passed out, hanging out the side of the train. I slept like an angel in case you were wondering.
Saturday morning was our first excursion with Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, so the entire program was together. As we were boarding the bus one of the more entertaining fellows in the program said he hadn't gotten much sleep. In fact, he said "I walked out of the club and it was daylight, I've never had that experience before." To give you an idea of how active Spain is at night, no one blinked an eye when he said that. Locos... Our excursion was to La Isla de Ons! An island off the coast of Spain that is directly parallel to New York. We had to take a boat to get there, considering it’s an island. As we approached the island on the boat I think we were all a little taken aback by how beautiful it was. If I could paint a picture of paradise, it would be the Island. There's no way any amount of description will portray how beautiful it really was, but there are also pictures on Facebook of that too (in the album Spain Dos). The first thing we did on the island was take a hike to its highest peak and look at the view from there. We also learned a little about the native animal populations- kind of a dry content for a blog. For lunch we ate on these giant rocks and the first photoshoot of the day was born: Kayla looking contemplative on the beach/rock. The rest of the day we just explored the island, took a ton of pictures, climbed rocks, went swimming in FREEZING cold water, played games, napped, ate, and got sun burnt. It was SO nice.
Saturday night we all split ways, some of the girls went with some of the other people in the program to A Coruña, another beach about 30 minutes from Santiago. The others of us stayed in Santiago to watch the Spain/ France game in the Plaza Roxa on the big screen. It was crazy to watch how into the game all of the viewers got. I wish we had things like that in the US, there is nowhere to go where you can just feel the shared enthusiasm and culture of a place like a town plaza. After a smashing victory of 2-0, we went to a café for coffee. We also met Emily, Dr. Wade's wife, and her friend Emily to walk around some before the Festival of San Juan began. As we were wandering the streets looking for fire my second photoshoot of the day began: Kayla being European, also featured on Facebook. Emily and Susan turned in pretty early and Dr. Wade came out with us instead. Now, La Noche de San Juan is a pagan and Christian festival that has been smooshed together and is celebrated in summer. It stands for many things, San Juan because it takes place on the birthdate of San Juan marked in the Catholic calendar? I'm not sure on that note, but I am on the others. It is the celebration of the change of the seasons from Spring to Summer and celebrates the Summer Solstice's longest night and shortest day. The festival takes place all over Spain, mainly in Galicia and always features fire. In Santiago there were fires in the streets all through old town with people jumping over them. This is where the paganism comes in. It is believed that by jumping over the fires seven times you "burn" your past and have a fresh start. In some places you wash your face the next morning with flower scented water to really purify yourself. Also, in some places women with fertility problems use this as a time to go wading in the sea and jump waves to help combat infertility. I personally thought it was just fun to say I have jumped over a massive fire in ballet flats and fossil purse. The festival also had ALOT of traditional Galician music and songs. Bagpipes everywhere. I don't think I will ever be able to smell a fire again and not think of San Juan. It was such a fun night! On the way home I even decided what I would write my thesis on: teaching Don Quixote in the classroom. Success and fun? I think yes. The party was just warming up when we all called it a night at 3:30ish. Yes, Dr. Wade was hanging in there with us.
Sunday was a funday too! We slept in a bit and then grabbed lunch before the rest of us caught the train to A Coruña for the day to meet the others. Our first independent travel and it was a success!! A Coruña is the wealthiest city in Galicia for its booming textile industry. It has the largest IndieTex plant in the world! If anyone is familiar with Zara, a clothing store across Europe and other place, it started in A Coruña. The first one ever is settled nicely on a corner. We managed to get all the way from the train station to the beach simply by asking the NICEST people ever without the use of a map- champions. When we found the others we spent the rest of the day lying on the beach. Don't worry, I was the weird girl wearing a t-shirt all day to keep from dying of sunburn. I'll tell you one thing, the sand on that beach must be made of fairy dust because I have never slept so hard in my life! We came home around 8:30, and when we got back I couldn't help but feel incredibly independent and so proud of the group. We are troopers that's for sure.
Let's just say that Sunday night I was sleeping and class this morning at 9:30 was a struggle.
Cuando en España...