Monday, December 1, 2008

Thanksgiving...a SUCCESS

So much to my surprise, Amanda and I successfully pulled off a true Thanksgiving dinner on Thursday (and when I say Amanda and I, I actually mean just Amanda)! We feasted on turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese and AMAZING cookies and pumpkin pie, all pretty much entirely prepared by my little chef! As Junior pointed out "Amanda tienes una concinera adentro de ti!" (Amanda you have a cook inside you!) haha and it couldnt be more true, I think Amandita may be the next Rachel Ray (though alot less annoying). I think everyone enjoyed the food, though the Brazilians were a little hesitant at first to eat everything. Angel came as well and brought us some mashed potatoes that were to die for!

All in all I was extremely pleased with how things turned out and am glad I didnt burn anything down (no more toasted coconut mom!). This weekend, Amanda and I hung around Madrid and spent far too much money shopping! I bought a new jacket (my white one had to be committed to the great beyond due to the fact that it looked brown even though its white) and some pants, new boots, a skirt and a 2 turtlenecks! It was some serious damage but I needed some retail therapy! haha

On Friday night Angel surprised Amanda and I by taking us to the theater!!! We were lucky enough to see a compilation of dances, performed by Laura Hormigón and Óscar Torrado two of the former principal dancers of the Cuban National Ballet. We went with Angel's friend Edu, whose lovely girlfriend Myriam was part of the 3rd couple that the show included. SHE WAS SIMPLY FANTASTIC! It was only her 5th show as a professional but she had such poise and strength on the stage that it seemed she had been dancing professionally for years! Myriam was part of the Bolero couple, and the other two were featured were focused prinicpally on Ballet and Flamenco. I was completely enthralled with the whole thing and I can't thank Angel enough for bringing us! What a great surprise from such an amazing friend! (GRAN HERMANO TE ECHABAMOS! jaja). Now if only Amanda and I can think of a surprise thats better to repay him ;)

Also not this past Sunday, but the Sunday before, Fanderson, Leonardo, Alina and I went to Toledo...although I had been there before I had an amazing time and it was nice to discover the city on our own. We wandered up down all the little side streets and had an amazing lunch in a restaurant that we found! We also stumbled upon some huge Catholic hoopla that I clearly didnt understand, but it was pretty nonetheless! Toledo is such and amazingly quaint city, the buildings are ancient and its easy to feel like you are back in the 1700s from the architecture and layout of the city. I am glad we had the chance to go and hopefully I will make it back to Segovia soon (sans ambulance ride/hospital trip) so I can compare the two!

On Thursday Amanda and I are off to gay PARIS! I've never been (due to the fact that the last time I had a ticket I showed up to the airport with bells on only to realize my passport was in my bedroom an hour away) and I cant wait to explore all of the city!!! I am hoping to hit up the Lourve and Montmarte and of course swing by the Eiffel Tower so I can take the obligatory "look I am leaning-holding up-climbing the Eiffel Tower" picture, though I must admit I will not be going to the top of it since I think I would probably barf. Eitherway I am so so so excited to go and to see Katherine as well. It'll be a Falcon reunion Paris Style!

Time is flying here and I cant wait to be home in Bradenton for Christmas! I am so happy I will be able to spend the holidays with the people I care about the most and that my other half will be coming down to do the whole Jesus-presents thing with us too! (Watch out Bradenton, Tara is making her grand return! LOL) Other than that not much to report! I hope this finds you all happy and healthy and I send you all my love!!!!


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Spain with a Hangover...ouch!


Hello global economic crisis!

Segovia, Coto y más....

Hola todos! Well to say the least it has been a very interesting past two weeks. So interesting in fact that I haven't had any time to write! So where to begin...two weekends ago Amanda and I set off on another adventure to Segovia, but this aventura proved to be by far the most hectic we have taken. Now what should have been a fantastic 2 days in La Granja (a town outside Segovia) for our friend Elena's birthday turned out to be my first tried and true experience with the Spanish health care system. So in true I-am-obviously-incapable-of-taking-care-of-myself form we left for Segovia on Friday night, with me blatantly ignoring the fact that my throat was KILLING me for some reason. Turns out on Saturday morning the ibuprofen that I had taken hadnt touched the pain at all and now my throat was so inflamed that it has swollen shut. Poor Amanda had to call 112 (spain's version of 911) and try and explain to the operator what the hell was wrong with me. I think between all the panting gasping and 'No puede respirar' she yelled they got the point. Anyway, the ambulance showed up in about 10 minutes and I was promptly placed inside, stuck with all kinds of thermometers, pulse monitors etc etc. Of course in all my non-breathing glory I manage to amuse Spanish people, since I readily took the thermometer and put it in my mouth and instead of them continuing to check me out I received about a 4 second period of blank stares then uproarious laughter, not because I was practically dying but because apparently in Spain you put the thermometer in your armpit not mouth. Go figure.

Once it was determined that I wasn't about to go into cardiac arrest I was lucky enough to recieve a WHOPPER of a cortisone shot in my left butt cheek that I think hurt more than anything. After this I was transported to a Centro de Salud where I was told to walk in circles (to make the coritsone absorb faster) and given some medication. I also had to remind the nurses about 15 times that I was allergic to Penicillin. Anywho, they say 'take this, wait an hour you should be better'. An hour passes. My throat is worse, so off I go again in another ambulance to the hospital! Get to the hospital, wait for about 4 hours, the doctor sees me, I mention to him that the nurses in the clinic had thought I may need an IV drop of coritsone, I promptly get YELLED AT PROFUSELY for even DARING to tell the DOCTOR what to do ( THE NERVE!), get blood taken, leave the office on the verge of tears (still unable to swallow due to the pain), wait another hour, get taken back into the doctors office and told that there isnt anything more that they can do for me and I should just do what they told me to do in the clinic and send me on my merry way.

The rest of the night was pretty much a blur since I was pretty wiped out from the days adventures and on Sunday we returned to Madrid. I spent all day Monday and Tuesday in bed (more from mental exhaustion than my throat) and managed to get myself back on track by Wednesday.


This weekend, Amanda and I (in GOOD health this time!) set off with our Brazilians to Coto! We left on Sunday morning and took the cercanias to Cercedilla and from there to Coto. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL TRIP! It really bums me out sometimes that I dont live in the pueblos outside Madrid because they are fracking precious! The train from Cercedilla to Coto looks like the train from CandyLand and despite the fact that it stalled at one point ('Hay que empujarlo! We gotta push it!) we arrived in one piece. About 5 minutes into the train ride up the mountain we started to see snow and when we arrived in Coto it was covering the tracks! It was FANTASTIC! Just imagine me in true Florida form freaking out about snow, hollering in English with about 12 Brazilian people all looking at me like I am crazy, it was pretty great. We walked towards the center of the pueblo, found a nice piece of grass and enjoyed our farofa that Junior had cooked us! Farofa is apparently a chicken dish, but in acutality it is fried chicken thrown into a tupperware of bread crumbs, with hard boiled egg, corn, olives and other things. It was damn delicious, so hooray to Brazlian food! Anyway we went hiking (aka walking on the side of the higway) for about 2 hours then made the long trek back to Madrid. All in all it was a lovely time and I am so glad that we went!

This weekend, we are taking it easy, staying in Madrid and enjoying the city! Events planned are : tonight! Spain v. Chile soccer match, tomorrow Bar La Frontera (country music!) in Villalba, Friday Prado Museum and Saturday picnic in Retiro...needless to say I think I am doing just fine here!

Sorry to write so much at once! I send everyone my loveeeeee and hope this post finds you all well! Until next time....


Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Uy uy uy uy uy!!

Hello all! Once again I find myself apologizing for being so infrequent with my postings, but what the say is true, "If you think New York is the city that never sleeps, you've never been to Madrid." I have been going non-stop since I last wrote!

So first off, HALLOWEEN was a BIG success in school here. Everyone got dressed up from the teachers to the 3 year old kids. It was pretty interesting since the concept of Halloween here, albeit a Anglican holiday, has become quite the phenomenon here. What is lacking though is the ability to grasp the idea that Halloween doesnt have to be all about scary costumes. In Spain the more terrifying costume you have the better, in reality its almost a truer interpretation of the roots of the holiday than it is in the states. There are no 11 year old girls walking around in belly-dancer costumes or french maid outfits instead you get the Queen of the Vampires (with blood!) or the Princess Demon, all of which were pretty damn scary! The boys usually stick to ghosts/dead things/masks and anything else they can find that will scary the pants off the girls. Upstairs on the 3rd floor we made a Haunted House. It was pitch black, with scary music, spaghetti brains, eyeball grapes etc. The kids loved it! Some weren't that scared and would pass by me and shout out 'I KNOW WHO YOU ARE!' hahah it was funny. Some of the kids though were scared shitless (one kid peed his pants and another girl in 6th grade cried) so I would say all in all it was a success! As one of the other teachers, Alicia, said, 'This is the only time of the year we have to get back at them for all the shit they put us through the other 270 days'. How true that was.

Aside from the festivities in school, I was able to spend my All Hallows Eve in the campo with my friends Carlos and Amanda! AVENTURA! Let me explain.....So my dear pivón Carlos knows another Carlos who has a few 'houses' throughout Spain. Said Carlos happens to have a place in Alcocér, a pueblo about 1.5 hours from Madrid. So Carlos (DC) and Amanda and I set off on our merry way to find this town. About 2.5 hours later we arrived in the town to be greeted by 1 street, a church, a pharmacy (that was someones house) and 1 bar. Now I've been to some pretty small places before but BEJEEESUS there was NOTHING in this town, they didnt even have an ATM. Upon arrival we sit down at the bar to have a few beers and wait for the rest of the group to arrive. About 1.5 hours later eveyrone arrives and we proceed to the house. Ok first of all, this was not a house it was a CASTLE (kinda, close enough really). It has about 10 bedrooms, 4 salons, 2 kitchens, a basement, 2 patios and much more. So needless to say Amanda and I were a little flabbergasted. Although this sounds SUPER cool (which it was) it also should be noted that this house is not lived in, the caretaker died in it, and since there were no streetlights in the pueblo it was pitch black. Talk about the perfect place to scare someone shitless! And yes, Amanda got me good, took about 15 years off my life and also made me cry. (I WILL get you back woman, you just wait). We spent the night in the castle and went for a hike the next morning, the campo was beautiful (we were in Castilla y La Mancha) and the air fresh.

On Saturday night, Amanda and I went out with Leti and Ricky, danced our butts off til about 6am and then dragged ourselves home. On Sunday we went to my friend Fanderson's house to watch the Formula 1 champion race. Fanderson is Brazilian and so he and all his Brazilian friends were quite stirred up over the standing between Massa (BR) and Hamilton (ENG). In the end, Massa lost, Amanda and I pretended we knew what was going on and ate alot of delicious homemade lasagna.

This week should prove to be busy as always, and hopefully this weekend I will either be going to Segovia or to Toledo depending on what my finances look like! I hope you are all doing well and wanted to thank everyone who voted yesterday! No matter who you voted for the only thing that matters is that BUSH WONT BE PRESIDENT FOR MUCH LONGER. HALLELUJAH!!
Looking forward to a new chapter in our country under President Barack Obama (feels great to type that!) and to regaining our image as intelligent people here in Europe! Its a new era people, get excited!

Much love as always,

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why I Love Bradenton........

Man Hides Bags of Shrimp Down Pants

The Latest Noticias

So the past week has been a fairly interesting one, aside from being under the weather I have managed to enjoy myself. Last week I was at home after school in bed, when Cesár decided that there was something on the street that I simply COULD NOT miss so he decided to bang on my window until I agreed to climb through it onto the balcony. Now at first I was more than mildly pissed that he had woke me up but in the end I am glad he did because what was happening on the street was indeed pretty damn interesting. I looked across to the Peugeot dealership and in front were 2 police motorcycles and about 5 plain-clothed police officers all surrounding what appeared to be a nomral minivan. I didn't think much of it and was noticably upset that I was awake and not in bed until Cesár realized I had no idea what was going on and pointed out to me that on top of the minivan sat about 5 9mm semi-automatic handguns. Needless to say I was dumbfounded...5 guns in a minivan?? I frantically searched the street hoping to see some soccer mom hysterically crying and explaining why these guns were in her car, but to no avail. The two men who owned the car appeared to be in their mid to late 30s and definetly of South American heritage.

And THATS when I began to realize that all of the other people that had been pulled over were also of non-Spanish heritage as well. There were two Africans, a Moroccan guy and some more South Americans. Needless to say I was a little taken aback, I thought to myself 'How is it possible that the police here can be so blatantly racist and cherry pick immigrants off the street to be searched?' But when I proposed this question to Cesár he looked at me like I was crazy, a sort of 'you aren't serious, right?' look, as if it was impossible for him to fathom that the immigrants wouldn't be stopped and interrogated for no reason whatsoever. He bluntly told me, 'THESE are the people that we need to be worried about.' So then I got to thinking, if these are truly the type of people that Spaniards are worried about that I am more worried about them! Are they so blind to their own fellow Spaniards that abuse & murder their wives, traffic drugs, and light homeless women on fire for fun? They should not go without blame either, but no one seems to criticize them as vociferously as they do the immigrants.

Now given, I understand the image that immigrant people have, I am from Florida for chrissakes, we practically have a larger immigrant population than we do native. I understand the stereotypes that accompany these people, but what I dont understand is how everyone can so blindly assume them to be true? The fact that immigrants are notorious for committing crimes etc is an undisputed fact here. No one talks about the fact that yes while sometimes the stereotypes are true, immigration is not entirely a bad thing. It brings development to society and ultimately in one way or another boosts economic production in both legal and illegal senses. Sure alot of work and business is done on the black market but this is still money that enters into the GDP and consumer expenditures. It is something that takes getting used to but there is no way to stop it and personally I find it ridiculous that no one seems to take pride in the fact that there are so many immigrants that choose to come to Spain to seek a better life.

Ok I think thats enough for now since this post may start a whirlwind of comments, but for the record its my blog, my opinions and no one ever said that paradise was without *some* flaws. :)

Monday, October 13, 2008

My days.....

So here comes my weekly update! On the whole things are going smoothly. I am settling into my daily routine and trying to enjoy as much of the city as I have time for. Last week was my first full week of teaching and I LOVED IT.

So for all of you dying to know how my days go, its as follows:
8:15- wake up, shower, try not to make alot of noise so as to not upset sleeping beast (aka Ronnie, our dog who thinks that a creak in the floor is a robber) who if wakes up will in turn awake other sleeping beast (aka Cesár my roomate).
8:55- Leave house, turn on iPod and remember how miserable it is that the silicone earpiece for your headphones was lost some days ago, possible unfortunate mishap with your credit card attacking said earpiece and silicone cover escaping to the safety of the street, never to be seen again.
9:15- Hopefully catch #523 to Móstoles, if not wait til 9:26, in both cases pray that bus doesn't break down, en route on side of highway.
10:00- arrive at school, prepare yourself to be slightly deafened by uproar of 250 children screaming in concrete hallways, carefully make way to classroom, avoid all contact with running children or end up on floor.
11:00- merienda aka snack aka I pig out on pastries, jamón coffee and whatever else they bring us, also gossip with teachers about weekend.
11:30-12:30 another class, chase 7 year olds around classroom, screaming questions in english and hope no one hits you in head with eraser, pencil etc...kick out kid making farts noises (secretly laugh inside) and take a deep breath.
12:30-2:00 do nothing, write e-mails, read and

(OK NOT ACTUALLY OUR TABLE, BUT CLOSE ENOUGH minus strange man in Santa hat hiding in corner)

2:00-LUNCH TIME! Undoubtedly one of the best parts of the day. Picture a room with a 20 ft. long table, plates bowls silverware all laid out and a tray with the most glorious amount of delicious food you could imagine waiting to be eaten. This is also known as Lauren-stuffs-her-face hour where I arrive at my next class wanting to barf since I ate so much at lunch.
2:30-4:00 more classes, more screaming and sometimes sneaking off to the 3 year olds room to play with them and hang out with Diana (the teacher).
4:00- HAUL ASS (scuse the language)to bus stop, pray that bus comes within a half hour
4:30/4:45- arrive at Principe Pio, HAUL ASS to cercanías to catch train to north of Madrid.
5:15-8:00 give private lessons to 3 separate families, color pictures with kids, explain to them that calling you a `cow` because they learned it in school is actually not funny, and hope that they can concentrate long enough so that their parents actually think they are learning something. Realize that talking at a kid in English is almost as painfully boring for you as it is for them and hope that source of creativity can be found so as to not kill everyone involved with boredom.
9:30 Arrive home, eat something, drink mate with Diego, talk about anything and everything
11:00 asleep, dead tired and preparing for the next day!

I think thats a pretty acurate descirption, so until I can find something interesting to talk about for my next post, I send you all my love and tons of hugs & kisses!