Las Fallas 3/19/13

If you come to Spain in the Spring, you must go to Las Fallas. If anything, you will see just how crazy the Spanish actually are. Never ever will you see anything like this in the United States. There are too many opportunities for someone to get hurt, a building damaged, or all hell break lose. Fallas is one big lawsuit just waiting to happen. What happens is. It’s a festival where hundreds of statue type artwork is constructed throughout the city with different themes depending on the artist/organization. Some are huge, over 20 stories huge! others are required to be under 3×3 meters. It lasts the entire month of March but the final day is when it gets really crazy. Starting at 10, all the smaller “fallas” are prepared, fireworks go off, and the little cardboard masterpieces are set on fire! The first one I saw, I couldn’t have been more than 15 feet away. I think I was actually closer than I should have, apparently some guys were warning me, “cuidado gidi!” The pyro was coming out of me and the fire was really thrilling. However, at one in the morning, after all the large fallas have burned to death, the major centerpiece of the festival in the center of the city is destroyed in a blanket of fire after a spectacular firework display. They don’t hold back here. I guess they don’t have many regulations because these fireworks were better than Disneyland’s display! Immediately when they finished, the “gidi fallas” was there one moment and then the next, it was gone, entombed in a furious fireball!

Now, the end of the night was definitely the best part of the trip. However, my friends and I wanted way too long to experience these miraculous sites. We all payed 32 euros early in the semester to a program set up by the University because we were told they only limited seats available. They ended up adding I think up to five more buses. We left the city at 8:30 in the morning, had a short, sporadic, and rapid tour of a few places in the city and then taken back to the plaza at one to get a good view of the “Rhythm of Thunder”, or at least be close enough to the center were they are set off. Everyday for a month at 2 in the afternoon, a pattern of thunderous explosions go off in the center of the city. It’s so loud it makes your heart feel like it’s going to explode from your chest, very interesting and a must do. However, we waited over an hour for a five minute thunder display. After this, there wasn’t too much to do. We walked around for hours in the markets and to see the different Fallas. But we still had too much time with nothing to do. We sat around and took naps in the plazas, sat at cafes for hours, bought bunuelos (delicious fried pumpkin doughnuts) and churros. But there wasn’t enough really to do for the time we were given because the main event happened so late at night.

My suggestion: make your own trip out of Las Fallas. It’s a long weekend so you get Monday and Tuesday off. Leave either Sunday or Monday morning and stay in a hostel. Explore the city and see all the Fallas you can. Then come Tuesday, you’re able to rest and do as you wish until the main show Tuesday night. You might be able to get a train back in time for class Monday, but if you can’t, just use one of your absences. Most people skipped class anyway Wednesday because we didn’t get back to Alicante until 5 in the morning! If you’re gonna do Fallas, do it right. It’s something that’s special about Spain and the region of Valencia. Alicante has their own smaller version in June but most of us will be gone by then. So if you’re gonna go, don’t do what I did please. The trip could have been more fun than it was.

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Class Trips!

CIEE is very generous to provide a few trips within Spain. All is optional, but you need to go. It’s included in the price of study abroad so you’d be losing money if you don’t. But they’re all great, though they’re not perfect.

Madrid!
Being the capital, Madrid is one city in Spain you just can’t miss. We left early Friday morning and travel by double-decker bus. When we arrived, the weather wasn’t beautiful to say the least. We walked to the Parque del Retiro because we had to wait for the The Prada to open. I’m sure the park would have been beautiful if it wasn’t freezing cold and raining. Having to wait over thirty minutes outside the Prada didn’t help things either. By the time we got inside, I was tired, hungry, and ready to take a nap. The Prado is huge. You can spend days in there if you really want to see everything. But, if you want to see the highlights, find “Las Meninas” by Velazquez and the works done by Goya. I spent way too much time just wondering like I usually do in museums. I didn’t have the energy to go to the Reina Sofia afterwards so I went back to the hotel.

The next day thankfully was nicer, but still cold. We took the bus to El Escorial, which is one of Spain’s royal sites. It’s the historical residence for the King of Spain turned monastery, school, and museum. The best thing was going into the Pantheon of Kings (and Queens-unofficially). It’s where the royal family share their final resting place. The cathedral is probably one of the largest most beautiful one’s I’ve seen in Spain. Big let down is that you can’t take pictures of the beautiful inside. And when I was outside, I was too much in a hurry to get out of the cold to think about taking pictures.

When we got back to the city, we had some time to explore before our next visit, the Real Madrid stadium! Granted, I am a F.C. Barcelona fan, always have been. But still, this stadium beats any football stadium in the states. Hanging out on the benches was really fun, though we couldn’t touch the field. Didn’t mean we didn’t think about it!

Back at the hotel that night was very relaxed. A few friends and I enjoyed being able to have a “sleep over” since we left the states. We hung out and ate salads from a restaurant next store and played Catch Phrase all night! If you’re into the nightlife, be ready to spend some money. The club you want is Kapital. It’s not like Alicante, the drinks are overpriced and there’s an obnoxious cover usually over 10 euro depending on the night. Along with taxi fair and the weather, my friends and I weren’t willing. Plenty others were though and they all had a great time, no reason you wouldn’t either!

Next and final day, we got to explore the city a bit more. Saw the Royal Palace and the Cathedral right next to it. Afterwards, we walked to the Plaza Mayor where we were able to break off and do a little shopping. Warning: anytime you’re in a city with a lot of people in close quarters, there will be pick-pockets. Just be careful.

Overall, Madrid was nice. I feel like I definitely had the tourist experience there and would like to come back because they have a world famous gastronomy and culinary scene. But that’s for a different trip, preferably when I have more money to spend. I definitely prefer Barcelona.

Next trip two weeks later was a quick one night trip to Granada. I really wish we could have spent more time here. Unfortunately, it was planned for the weekend before midterms and I think they expect us to study or something… anyway Granada is awesome. The weather turned out to be very nice all weekend, though we expected rain. The city is famous for its tapas. You order a drink and they bring you a free tapa to snack on. However, the further you are from the touristy city center, the drinks are less expensive and the tapas are of a better quality. Being a little limited by walking distance, I didn’t get that full experience, but no pasa nada. The city has maintained a lot of it’s old beauty and charm from when the Arabs were in control of the city. They ruled the city until the year 1492 and their presence is very visible, from the kebabs, the Arab market, and of course flamingo! That night we were very lucky to see a flamingo show. My Language and Context class actually took a flamingo lesson to prepare us for the experience. It was very dramatic. Different women and one man would come out and dance to traditional singers, different percussion, and the Spanish guitar. I think the dances were supposed to tell a story. If so, the last one was more obvious. It was about a wedding and the drama that went along with it for the bride, groom, and their mothers. If you’re looking for a night club to go to in Granada, the best place to go is Mae West, in case you’re interested.

The next day was devoted to Al Alhambra, an absolute must do. You don’t come to Granada and not do this. The Alhambra is Granada. A fort/palace controlled by the Arabs until the reconquest by the Christians (1492 if you remember) the area has been so well preserved over the years, and it’s the most beautiful example of architectural detail I’ve seen in all of Europe. The buildings themselves are very simple. However, once inside, you see all the amazing details. This is common in Islamic tradition because like people, the inside is what’s important, not out. The Alhambra is definitely a special place. I wish we could have been allowed more time!

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Mentality of Studying Abroad

Hola chic@s,

Some things are very different than what I expected about Spanish culture and I can’t always look passed them so easily. For example, the “Spanish mentality” is very different than my own. I’ve come to expect it so I’m not nearly as frustrated. Also, most people are very nice. The great thing is that this place is so multicultural. I’ve made friends from England, France, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, parts of South America, and of course all over the United States.

There are many comforts of home that I’m missing though. T.V. in English for one. I want to watch the Cooking Channel so bad. I watch TV
with Mirebel over meals (the thing is hardly ever turned off). It’s fun to watch because most of the time it’s stuff like crazy game shows. But I can only take so much at a time.

The food. It would be better if I had a greater ability to do my own shopping and cooking. I do it much more often, making me get creative with what the little ingredients I have at my disposal in the kitchen. The markets have everything you could want (except peanut butter). Just the Spanish cuisine is traditionally VERY simple. Even more so than Italian I think! Everything Mirebel cooks me for lunch is always fantastic. Lunch is the main course of the day and it’s meant to be more filling. The number one tool in a Spanish kitchen is a pressure cooker. I think 3 out of 5 meals are prepared using it. It really fascinates me. Though they aren’t new in American kitchens, I just haven’t see them used that often outside of TV shows. I think I’m gonna have to get one because lentils con carne y chorizo just won’t be they same!

I am a firm believer in study abroad. I’ve learned more here than can imagine. However, this is not to say it’s rainbows and sunshine everyday. Quite literally, that was what I was expecting the weather to be like from the moment I arrived. However, winter is still winter where ever you go. Here it seems to be especially unpredictable. It SEEMS like it’s finally starting to warm up… but I don’t know. Anyway, while living abroad, everyday is a new experience. This makes the thought of having to leave very upsetting. You get in a rhythm and everything becomes comfortable. Until suddenly, things change again and you find yourself having to adjust. Like all things study abroad related, you have to be willing to adapt. You either complain about everything and have a miserable experience; or, you pick yourself up and make the most out of every situation.

One great thing about study abroad is that you make some amazing friends in the process. They’re super cool and you can’t imagine life without them. However, never forget that when living in a foreign country, you are your own best friend. Things don’t always go according to plan and you have to learn to take the punches. You’re going to have your bad days, where nothing seems to be going right and all you want is a big hug from your mom. My suggestion to get passed these moments; exercise for one is a great way to release any built-up stress. Surround yourself with those awesome friends you’ve made. It’s hard to be upset when you have positive energy coming your way. Spend some time alone, with caution. Spending hours on end in your room does not solve anything. Go for a walk, explore the wonderful city you chose to live in for a few months. Beware of stress eating. Treating yourself is great every now and then, but wouldn’t you rather return home with a heavier suitcase? You’re never really alone but it’s normal to feel lonely. You’ve put yourself in a very vulnerable position studying abroad. It takes an independent mentality to withstand the rough patches. Stay strong and enjoy yourself. Don’t let this good time go to waste!

Side-note: We leave for Granada tomorrow! I hate that we only spend one night there. It’s supposed to be exceptionally beautiful. It is however supposed to be cold… no me gusta. Pero no pasa nada!

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CARNAVAL!!

Since I am studying in Alicante, you must hear about the amazing party held every year. Traditionally a pagan celebration, Catholics transformed it into their own holiday. The one in Alicante marks the week before the beginning of Lent. Practically just one last chance to be bad before you’re supposed to be good. What better way than to dress up like someone else and drink all weekend?

This “festival” lasts an entire week with different events. The main day is Saturday because it’s the day when people dress up and main street in the city turns into a discoteca. My friends and I started the night the perfect way. We went to the store and bought materials to make dinner at one of my friend’s house. She lives more centrally so it’s perfect. After gorging ourselves on baked penne with cheese and spinach salad, we got ready for the night’s activities. Not quite sure where to go, we ending up following other people, everyone curiously holding liters of soda and bags filled with bottles…

At the end of the yellow brick road, we came upon a part of the city completely different than what it normally looks like. Packs of people dressed up as everything imaginable: bullfighters, fairies, Bob Marley’s, zombies- it was crazy. I myself was dressed up as Minnie Mouse. What I thought was original, turns out eighty other girls had the same idea. We stayed by the pier for a while until we ran into a few of our other friends.

After a while of hanging out, we all made our way to the concerts. One end of the street had a live band. We were successful like always as sticking out as “those Americans” since we probably sang the loudest when they played a block of Micheal Jackson followed by Bon Jovi. After they were done playing, we went up the street were the DJ was playing. This had more of the club music we’re used to. Despite the cold, everyone had so much fun!

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Barcelona!!

After a very long train ride, I arrived back at my home sweet
home-stay! Barcelona was such a great trip. We arrived in Barca
Thursday morning only with a rough understanding where Anni and Buff
were living. With a little direction, I was able to find it. Their
apartment was huge, but more importantly, they had their own kitchen.
Of that I am jealous. However, though I love the city, I’m very happy I
didn’t study there. Everyone speaks English, and even though they speak
Spanish, they refuse to speak it; only Catalan.

We went out the first night then I spent the majority of the next day
with my friends from the program. I actually made dinner with Anni and
Buff that night (I miss it so much) and then we went to a pub crawl my
friends’ hostel had set up- a great way to see the city! The two next
days I experienced Barcelona my way. I woke up early and spent the
majority of the day in the Sagrada Familia. Then I walked around the
Boqueria, had lunch then explored parts of the city I missed on my last
visit. Mostly vintage shops with clothes and accessories. I did howevermanage to find an old Journey vinyl record for 4 euros! That night, we
went to a local gourmet burger place. I it was really good but
afterwards I think I was just so tired from lack of sleep and an active
day, we all just went back to the apartment and I went straight to bed.

The last day, I woke up early again so that I could arrive at the
Picasso museum before it opened. Every first Sunday of the month, the
museum allows free entry and I definitely took advantage. It was mostly
his early work, things very different than the few pieces I saw at the
High a last year. It’s more classic and therefore I was more attracted
to it for it’s beauty and immense detail. They also had his famous
“blocking” style portraits of his girl friend/wife. I can appreciate
them, they’re just not as pretty. They also had a collection of his
pottery, of which I previously was completely oblivious. After walking
around the Gothic quarter, I found this great old school tapas bar.
There were so many people in there! But for three tapas and a glass of
wine, it only cost me 7 euros!

My friends were worried that I was upset I didn’t spend time with them.
But honestly, I was much happier. I saw the two attractions I really
wanted to see and was able to see them at my speed without worrying
what about another person’s opinions. It is however good to be back at
my temporary home. I started my regular classes this week: Spanish Cinema in the morning and Art in the late afternoon. I have those on Monday and Wednesday. I have a Seminar on Living and Learning in Alicante once a week on Tuesdays, then of course Spanish everyday. Today was especially difficult because I have back to back class then I have to wait three hours until my next class. It’s good because it allowed me to do homework, but definitely had to motivate myself to the track/gym
afterwards.

This weekend is Carnaval! I’ll have a new post soon about that adventure.

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Living in a City

My friends and I have come to the conclusion that Alicante isn’t that big. Sunday morning I took a needed run throughout the city. Out of my group, I have a better sense of direction in comparison to others. I was able to navigate myself to climb up the back side of the castle to the very top, back down to the beach/pier, and around the out of the city all in about an hour and a half. Granted- I got a little turned around towards the end but it was no trouble once I found my bearings. Later, enjoying the beautiful weather by the beach, I must have run into over eight CIEE students.

Despite the seemly small city, you still have to walk everywhere. I live in San Blas, which I recently discovered is pretty far from the center of the city. I wish I was a bit closer, but all this walking is definitely beneficial. Sometimes it’s nice, especially now that the weather is getting warmer. But there are definitely time I wish I didn’t live so far. Taxi’s are tempting because they’re inexpensive and readily available. However, that five euros could easily be spent somewhere else. Which brings me to my next point…

Living in a city is expensive. I’m not doing terribly at the moment but I’m a little more cautious because I’ve never had to spend money like this before. It’s difficult especially one the weekend when you want to go out and have fun with your friends. Nobody wants to sit inside and do nothing. Especially since it’s so much fun to hang out together! It makes it even more difficult because going over to a friend’s isn’t really a part of Spanish culture. I wouldn’t call the home-life private, but it is much more common to be with other people outside. The Spanish are a very social people.

Then there’s transportation costs. I mentioned the taxis, but I have to take the bus to and from school everyday. You pay for a certain amount to get a number of trips. I think I only have a few left and will soon have to refill it. Also, while living in Europe, it’s very evident that it’s easy to take advantage of the proximity of other awesome great cities in Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, even the British Isles. These also add up very quickly… without even realizing there’s an exchange rate.

On top of all these things you have the random stuff like a membership to a terrible gym that looks like it hasn’t been updated since the 1980′s. Also, random necessities: shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash. Back at home I said I would just buy these things while here. Now that I’m starting to run low on the travel sized products I brought to hold me over- I’m thinking I’ll probably just purchase the cheapest products I can find. Seriously, hopefully along with learning Spanish, I’ve been dealt a taste about what it’s like to live on your own in a city. I don’t even have a job! I can’t imagine how expensive living in even bigger cities must be. New York, London, Paris; I might have to wait a while before I’m parking myself in one of these megalopolises.

On a lighter note… We discovered many of Alicante’s little gems this weekend. Friday night, we experienced this great seafood place where we could pick the kind of seafood we wanted and how we wanted it prepared. Also, there was an amazing little Sicilian gelato place near buy that is amazing! We went to two great clubs- Carpe Diem and 5 Avenida (which doesn’t open until four and you need a wrist band).

The next night I watched a Manchester United match with a new friend in a bar called Route 66- probably only one of handful of places that have ESPN. For dinner we went to an Italian place called Sal y Pepe, had the best pasta I’ve ever had. It had bacon and mushrooms in a creamy sauce. Very reasonably priced as well. Sunday I discovered all the cute cheapo little stands that random items like bracelets, bags, scarfs, clothes. Then all the fake designer sunglasses and watches. That night- we found the best, authentic Indian food I’ve ever had. And I can say that because I’m friend from India approved! We were craving a little spice because honestly, the Spanish are dead afraid to have their roof’s lite. It’s not so much that the cuisine is bland… it could just use a little something sometimes (My friend from India is even considering buying a bottle of hot sauce to carry around, if only she could find it in the market!). Overall, a great weekend. I’m looking forward to much more!

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First Section Complete!

¡Hola Y’all!

So excited this morning. Yesterday was the last day of intensive language classes. We had class everyday from 9-11 then 11:30-1:30 everyday- all in Spanish and all moving at super fast speed. I held of talking about it because I knew that my stress level wasn’t the healthiest from the intensity of the courses. But now that it’s over, I am able to be a peace with the immersion tactic because I know in the remaining course of my time here, these past two weeks will have been academically the most important. It’s a little scary how fast these two weeks have flown by. I can’t take for granite one minute of this place. All I have to do now is not to forget everything I studied. The good thing is though- it’s difficult to forget something when you’re forced to use it everyday.

From here on out, I have four classes. Clase de Espanol- todos los dias. Monday-Friday, 9-11. The program requires us to have Spanish everyday because we’re the “babies” compared to the upper two levels and require more attention. Then I have Spanish Cinema and Spanish Painting, these however are only twice week. I also have a Seminar on Living and Learning in Alicanté that meets once a week. I’m very excited about these classes because they’ll give me a better impression of Spanish life and culture.

Something else to be super excited about- my friends and I actually booked a trip to Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day!! Nothing is going to be more fun than this trip. There was definitely a lot of stress involved with coordinating and finding a hostel. Thankfully we’re all booked and set. I’m not sure exactly how many from our group will be there, but I know it’s a decent amount. My suggestion is, if you ever feel you have to be in Dublin on the 17th of March, book it a year in advance. Despite the stress involved, I’m here and I’m going to take advantage of my proximity to some of the best cities in Europe- Barcelona, Madrid, Granada, Valencia, Paris, maybe even Prague or Copenhagen!

Side note- if you ever find yourself in this wonderful city I’ve made home for the next few months- go experience the nightlife. You meet the most interesting people. But more importantly- you have an absolute blast with your even more amazing new friends!

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Interesting Differences

Being in an entirely different country, I was bound to find some peculiarities. Some I’m adjusting to easily, others well, simply put: “foreign”. I wanted to start to make a list that will surely grow as time continues. However, this is not meant to draw a line between the Spanish and American cultures. When this adventure is over, I’d like to look back and remember what I used to think of as strange or different.

1. Meals: Small breakfast (pastry/bread, coffee), Snack (coffee, maybe small sandwich, something sweet), large lunch late in the afternoon (Pork is almost always served in a variety of dishes in various ways with starch/vegetables and a baquetta on the table), maybe another small snack, dinner is served very late and is smaller (earliest nine, very simple), dessert is always fruit
2. People go out and stay out LATE. I’m talking, if you come home before four, you’re home early. Also, the bars don’t start getting crowed until 12. Unless you’re partaking in botellons (which are “illegal”), drinking is a social event. There isn’t has much “pounding” as in the states.
3. Family is very important. Every home-stay I’ve heard about has an emphasis on the closeness of families and relationships in general. Kids a lot of times live with their parents until late in their 30′s or until they’re married. If they live somewhere else, they live close and they visit everyday. Also, young couples are together for a very long time; since they were children. Boyfriends are practically adopted by the girlfriends’ family.
4. Generally, every Spanish person I met is extremely kind and patient if you don’t speak Spanish.
5. If they don’t work in an area in which tourist frequently visit (department stores, banks, information desks) they most likely do not speak English. It’s starting to change with the younger generation but don’t be naive enough to think everyone naturally learns English.
6. Sadly, this is a smoking country. There are Tobacco stores on almost every street. Practically everyone does it. Thankfully, people are no longer allowed to smoke in public buildings.
7. There are dogs everywhere! What’s even better, they are all extremely well behaved. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an unleashed dog walking calmly next to its owner. It doesn’t even look up at me when it passes by.
8. Stores take their siestas seriously. No, people don’t sleep for two hours in the middle of the day. It’s generally 30 minutes. But small stores/shops will be close from about 2-4 everyday. And don’t even think you can get in a shop on Sundays.
9. Meals at home are always in front of the TV. (And I thought this was only an American thing!)
10. Spanish use utensil when they eat. (Including french fries or potato frites as they call them)
11. They do not eat spicy food, at all! The spiciest thing they serve is “potatas bravas” which is fried potatoes in what they think is a spicy sauce. It’s laughable how weak the dish is.
12. “Spanish Time” is very different than “American Time”. Though not entirely universal, students are still expected to show up to class on time, the majority of people never seem to be in a hurry. Like today at the bank when I was exchanging money, the teller was very casually taking his time, while I was anxious to get to class on time. Living here takes patience.

Again, these are just my own personal observations thus far. I’ll be sure to continue when possible!

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Weekends in Alicante

What an amazing Saturday! CIEE planned a great trip for everyone. We met in the plaza a little before ten and took a bus ride into the mountains. The view was amazing. From so high up you can see all the way to the coast. It would have been even more beautiful if it wasn’t so overcast, but it was nothing to complain about. The purpose of the trip was to explore a cave. It was really interesting because it was as if we were underwater. I didn’t know that caves are sort of like a living organism, slowing growing a miniscule amount everyday. We weren’t even allowed to touch the beautiful walls around us because it would stop them from growing- practically killing it!

Afterwards, we drove a bit further to a small town that’s seriously has been there forever. The bad thing was, it was pouring down rain. I looked at the weather forecast and the night before and they said there was a 30% chance. Stupidly I didn’t think twice about it. It’s been so beautiful these past few days and it hardly ever rains so I figured it was just wishful thinking. But nope. It was a downpour. Most people would use that as an excuse to have a miserable time. But I think it’s more memorable when things don’t go as expected.

We toured a reconstructed old home that was owned by a noble family named the Curiosidades. It was huge! I think there were four floor. The back of the house overlooked a reservoir and a valley with cascading steps that grew olive trees. Even more beautiful was climbing up to see the graveyard. The view was too beautiful to be captured by a camera. The photos I took don’t do it justice.

After exploring the little town a bit, we got on the bus again to San Juan. By this time, the weather had actually cleared up. It’s a good thing to because it was our first time on the beach. But the real purpose of the trip was a little place next to the beach called Valor Chocolate. And O-my-lord I was in heaven. We sit down and they place this plate stacked with churros and with that, a tea cup filled with hot, liquid dark chocolate. Pure magic. It wasn’t too sweet but it was rich and thick. The churros themselves were yummy fried deliciousness. Cripsy on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside. I’m not ashamed to say my four friends and I were able to take down almost the entire plate. I definitely have found my kind of people here.

After a quick photo-op and getting my feet soaked, we returned to our wonderful city. Being Saturday night, we went out to the Barrio. I think Mirebel must have thought it strange I hadn’t gone out before because she seemed adamant about me going. Alicante has a great nightlife. I had a fantastic time and am thankful I’ve made such great friends.

Today’s Sunday and I’m spending the day sitting on the couch with Mirebel. For lunch she made me fried pork and potatoes fritas… the woman is good.

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Mercado Central!

I was really excited about Friday because after our test, we got to go down to the Mercado Central for an assignment. It was so much fun. There was something very similar in Barcelona but I definitely like Alicante’s better. It has two floors: upstairs is all carne and downstairs is pescado. Beware if squeamish!! It’s just stall after stall of dead animals. But I absolutely loved it.

The fun part was really running around the Mercado and trying to talk to the venders. Most were more than willing to help us along the way to answer our questions, especially this one couple who owned a carneceria. If I remember correctly, that’s a shop that only sells cured meat and cheese, nothing fresh. You walk downstairs and you get a huge whiff of salty, smelly ocean. The smell whacks you in the face and not in the best way. A lot of the animals are still moving they’re so fresh. You get used to it after a minute or two… or ten.

Along with fish, you also find a large produce area. They sell everything imaginable, along with the unimaginable. There was one item, it might have been a vegetable, but I’ve definitely never seen it before. There were also dried fruit and nut stalls with buckets of different items. My favorite part were the panercerias. It’s were they sell all the fresh baked breads and other pastries. There were lots of sweet treats but also savory empanadas witch had cheese, tomato, meat, or a combination.

More than anything, I want to be able to communicate with the people so that I know how to order and ask questions to know the proper way to prepare a certain cut of meat or fish. It’s definitely motivating me to learn more Spanish.

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