Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Quick Note

Didn't want you guys to think I fell off the side of the earth or anything. (I come from a long line of worriers. You know who you are).

So, just a quick note to say that there won't be anything from me until Monday. We had a field trip today to look at some old buildings we learned about in art/culture class, which I'll probably will write about later and will get pictures up of later as well.

And...I'm going to London. :) We have a five day weekend because Tuesday is an international holiday (Labor Day) and we don't have school and Friday anyway. So I'm leaving for London after class tomorrow and I'll be back Sunday night. (It was a $200 or so difference to come back on Monday or Tuesday because of the holiday, not including the extra for the food and lodging).

So that's where I'll be and I'll write about it when I come back.

Have a bloody good week, ;)

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Las Cuevas (The Caves)

So Friday we had a field trip to look at two different caves - Cueva del Castillo and the Museo de Altamira.

First was the Cueva del Castillo (or Castillo Cave for you non-Spanish types). It was pretty cool, although alas, we weren't allowed to take any pictures inside so I can't show you. They didn't have a gift shop either, so I can't even show you other people's photos, although one of the girls took some anyway and she's supposed to send them to me. We'll see if they came out or not.

Anyway, Cueva del Castillo was this really big cave that had these paintings in them that were roughly 18,000 years old. We learned about them in our art/culture class, so it was cool to get to physically see what was talked about. There were three types of Paleolithic drawings: animals, normally ones that they ate (bison and dear), hands in positive and negative, and abstract designs, which could have been a source of communication but we really have no idea what they mean. This cave had 50 hands, all in negative (where the paint is around the hand; positive is where they dip their hand in paint and put it on the wall), and 45 of them are left hands, they think because the people were probably mostly right handed. There were also some cool bison and horses, most of which I wouldn't have been able to see without her point out where the heads and everything were, but they are pretty good.

Then we went to Museo de Altamira (Altamira Museum). Altamira was discovered in 1879 and is one of the big Spanish discoveries. Unfortunately, the cave was closed to the public in the 1970s because the increased temperatures and changes in humidity from so many people being in the cave was damaging the paintings, and then it was reopened in 1982 to a limited number of people. They built a replica in 2001 and that's what we went to. I don't know if the real cave is still open or not. Anyway, so we got to go on the tour of the replica, which was disappointing. One, we weren't allowed to take pictures, even without a flash, which made no sense. I understand the other cave since it could damage things, but this was a replica. I think they just wanted you to have to pay money to buy pictures at the gift shop. The "cave" looked nothing like a real cave - the replica was only on the ceiling on we were on a sidewalk. One part had a hologram of the "ancient people," which seemed really out of place. I was disappointed, especially after the last cave with was cool in just being a really big, cool looking cave, and then even more spiffy with really old paintings. This one felt completely different.

The museum part was pretty cool though, and that's where the pictures I do have came from. The really great part of Altamira was we participated in a workshop where they showed us, somewhat, how they made their spears. The guy broke off flint from a piece of rock and showed us how sharp it was by cutting my friend's hair. He also showed us how to make the rope out of tendon, which was really strong and would have taken forever to do. Then we got to throw replica spears with replica atlatls! I don't remember what he called the atlatl in Spanish, but we got to use them to throw our spears at a deer target. (Atlatls are small wooden things that you hold and hook into the end of the spear and it lets you throw it with a lot more velocity. It's the thing in my hand in the picture). It was a lot of fun - I missed the deer completely, but I was getting it the distance, I just can't aim.

So that was the field trip. The last thing we did was go through the fake cave, so it ended on a crappy note, but the rest was fun.

Until next time - same bat time, same bat place! (Hee hee..I know, I need help). :)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Semana Santa (Holy Week)

Alright, so this was the week before Easter, but it takes forever for me to upload pictures because the computers here won't let us download any of the easy upload tools.

Anyway, so Semana Santa is the week before Easter. We had the Thursday and Friday off from school and everything was closed - yeah for 94% of the population being Catholic. They have this precession Wednesday through Sunday night of the different churches. Each one has a float, I believe different stations of the cross, and they wear different colors. The kids take part in it too. The crazy thing though is the adult outfits look like the Ku Klux Klan! (Note: Looks like the KKK, is not the KKK. Probably where the KKK got the idea from!) Our coordinator said they wear the hoods because they are sinners and so they have to have their faces covered (I guess kids haven't sinned enough yet?). Some had hoods pointing up and some were down, but I don't know what the significance was in that. The ones with the hoods down looked like executioners, so I don't which was worse. Then the floats are either carried or on wheels, and they apparently weigh a ton. The ones that had people carrying them had 12 people and they took breaks. They had the floats on display in town the whole week when they weren't in use.

There were some bands with mostly drums, but one had trumpets and trumpet-like instruments that sounded really out of tune, but maybe it's supposed to sound like that. I could hear it from my apartment and was able to go down the street to see the people walking on their way to the precession. I'm glad they warned us about it because while it was pretty cool looking, it would have been pretty disturbing to run into it walking down the street.

There was also a festival at a town nearby that I was going to go to, but that didn't work out. My friend said it was like the live version of Passion of the Christ, and there was a guy who jumped and hung himself from a tree (with a harness, but still.) Crazy stuff.

If you want to see more pictures of the processions you can go here.

Happy belated Easter,

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

La Comida (Food)

So, as you might of guessed, the food in Spain is different. I know, big shocker.

First off, the eating times are different. Breakfast (desayuno) is when you get up, kind of like with us. My host mom is still asleep when I leave for school, so I get to eat what I want, which is usually a thing of yogurt and some bread from the day before. However, most people have just coffee, or coffee and a piece of toast.

Then comes lunch (almuerzo). Lunch is the most important meal of the day here - store close for lunch and people have off from work to allow for them to go home and cook and eat lunch. It's a big deal. The weird thing is that it's 2-3ish. We eat at 2:30 because I have class until 2. My host mom works 10 to 2 and then 4 to 8, which is completely normal, and the stores normally are closed from 2 to 5ish.

Then dinner (cena) is around 9ish. Some people cook something small, but I just eat the leftovers from lunch, or she makes something before she leaves to go with the leftovers. Like one night she made an omelet.

It's weird, but you get used to it. I kind of like coming home from school to a home cooked meal, and I think I might adopt that habit if I can because when I do finally get home at 9 in the States I don't feel like doing anything, much less cooking. Then I end up eating ramen or fast food.

So beyond the times, the food itself is different. Refrigeration isn't so big here - she leaves lunch out on the counter until dinner. It doesn't seem to cause a problem. We have fresh baked bread everyday - there are bread stores all over. It's usually french bread and I am definitely getting used to that. Other than that, the food is okay. Some things are really good, like today we had chicken and rice cooked together in the pressure cooker that was damn tasty. Other days...well, I come home for lunch with a mixture of excitement and dread. We had morcilla one day, which is blood sausage (see pretty picture). Thankfully I didn't have my dictionary at the table to figure that out before I ate it. Luckily it tasted better than it looked, like a weird meatloaf, but that paired with the beans...I dug into my stash of ramen I brought with me for dinner that night.

All in all, that's food in a nutshell. (Ha! Nutshell!) :)

Tastily yours,

Monday, April 16, 2007

Greetings from España!


So, in the grand tradition of those who have studied abroad before me, welcome to my blog. You knew it had to happen sooner or later.

So here's my initial, make sure it works post. I have all my pictures on Flickr so you can look at more if you want to. They're organized into little folders - I recommend looking at the folders, since the main page doesn't let you change the order at all. If you use the detail view you can see my comments and explinations too. :)

That's it,