Thursday, June 07, 2007

Well my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...

I leave Santander tonight, heading on the night train to Madrid to catch my flight to Athens tomorrow. It's hard to believe. Jackie, the first in the group to be taking off, is leaving on the 7pm train (her flight leaves for the US at 6am tomorrow). I am going to help her take her suitcases down to the taxi stop in about ten minutes, and it is pretty bizarre.

It's going to be weird to leave here. I've been here two and a half months, and I am really used to it. A guy asked me for directions yesterday, and I knew where he was going and could give them to him. (Although it ended up being in English. I started in Spanish but was trying to explain a turn-around, since I don't know the word for it, and he said I could speak to him in English. At least he didn't ask me in English to begin with, so maybe my neon "American" sign is dimmer now after all.)

I miss home. I miss the US, I miss English, and I really miss the food. But a lot of things about here have become normal now, like eating lunch (disgusting as it may be) at 2:30pm, or walking everywhere.

I don't know, but I'm still really excited to be leaving, and going to Greece. I am going to walk on the island that is the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis. And I lived in a foreign country with a foreign language for almost three months. It's pretty crazy.

Signing off for the last time in Europe (this time around at least),

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Picos de Europa

We went on our last excursion this past Friday. We went to Santo Toribio de Liébana, Picos de Europa, and Santa María de Lebeña.

Santo Toribio de Liébana is a church that has the biggest remnant of what is supposed to be Jesus' cross. The church was in it's holy year, which is when their saint's day falls on a Sunday. We walked through a door that is supposed to give us time off in purgatory, due to it being a holy year and all. Then we got to touch a little piece that is open for people to touch, and it was really smooth. Then we left.

Then we went to the Picos de Europa, of the Peaks of Europe. We rode a cable car up to the top and got to wonder and eat our sack lunches. It was pretty nice, a good view, and pretty spiffy. I'm glad we waited for the trip, since originally it was a few weekends earlier but the cable car was going to be shut down.

Then we headed back down the mountain and to Santa María de Lebeña, which is a tiny little church. It is an example of mozárabe, or Christians living in a Muslim area, which is rare for this far north. Muslims generally had good hold over the south and the Christians had good hold over the north, although they kept going back and forth over who's area was who's.

So that's pretty much it. Not a lot of learning or sightseeing on this trip, but pretty nice just the same.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Well the time has passed so quickly...

I have less than a week left in Spain, and it is hard to believe that this is my last weekend here. It all went by pretty fast.

I still have a hard time understanding when people talk to me, more so than I think anyone else in my group. Part of the problem is with my host mom - I see her, at most, a half hour a day, which really doesn't make me as submersed in the language as I was expecting. I'm a little nervous about Puerto Rico, but hopefully it will all click early on. I have found out that I am a whiz at grammar though, making only two mistakes total on my last grammar test (and one wasn't grammar related, but vocab. I used the wrong verb in a sentence - to die instead of to kill. Oops.) I can tell when my friends are talking and they use the wrong grammar, and I think I talk fairly well...I just can't understand people half the time. Oh well. :)

I have had a change in plans that I keep forgetting to tell you guys about. (Although, that's assuming anyone actually reads this...) ;) So first, the good news: my mom is getting better! There is a really good chance that this round of chemo is the last round and she will be in remission in July! The doctors, of course, of dumbfounded, but we seem to like doing that as a family. :)

In other things, I discovered two things from my trip to London: 1) I don't like traveling as much as I thought I did (at least not running from one place to another really fast to see as much as you can in a limited amount of time) and 2) It's a lot more expensive than I thought. So, after my London trip, and with my mom getting better, I thought about it and decided to change my plans for Europe. Rather than run around for 25 days, not getting to see everything I want because of time and money constraints (I swear everything has an entrance fee), plus then arriving back in the US without a dime to my name (which would be a problem with Puerto Rico), and possibly not even enjoying it that much, I am coming home sooner.

I leave Santander on Thursday night on the midnight train to Madrid, and then fly from Madrid to Greece. Then I'm hopping on a ferry and going to Mykonos, one of the islands, where I will be for a couple of days in my own little beach cabin (surprisingly the cheapest accommodations). I'll get to see Delos, a nearby island which is the birthplace of Apollo and Artemis, and just relax and enjoy. Then I return to Athens by ferry, spend a few days there seeing those sights. (I'm staying at Hostel Zeus...hee hee...) Then I will be returning to Las Vegas on June 15th.

I'm happy - I was able to buy some souvenirs for others (and myself) today that I wouldn't have been able to buy otherwise, and now I can choose to maybe do something I wouldn't have before because of worrying about being able to afford sleeping and eating. I also get to spend six weeks with my mom instead of three, which right now is more important to me than seeing Europe anyway. I figure I can always come back later in life with more money, and even if I don't, I wanted to see Greece more than anything else anyway, and if that's all I ever get to see, I'm fine with that too.