Ok before I go into Doñana stories, just going to put up this picture that I took while reading by the river the other day.. It's unbelievable, so surreal, that it's February and outside is a place where humans can actually walk and breath and live and survive and what not. Who knew that actually existed??
Strawberries by the river is always a good decision.
On Sunday, I went to Doñana National Park with Eli, Emma, Erin, Riley, and Kate. Doñana is about an hour and a half or two from Sevilla and is really, really beautiful. We went in really without a plan, just caught a bus and arrived, to find that you can't really walk around inside the park because it's all protected. So, the woman was nice enough to give us a private tour for the price of a normal, group/bus one since that tour got back after our ride back to Sevilla was going to pick us up. It was SO cool and so fun, like a safari but Spain-style. Before we left on the tour we walked around Rocio a little bit, which is the town from which the tour left. It's a really beautiful little village with a lot of history and culture: every year, thousands and thousands of people make a pilgrimage to their church because it has a famous statue of the Virgin inside it. It's said to bless children and have healing powers, so people try to touch it in huge hoards while they're there. There are also 114 "hermandades" (brotherhoods, which are religious clubs, sort of, that belong to certain churches) belong to this church and they all take turns visiting it on the weekends. This weekend was Granada's turn, which is apparently an important one, so there were a lot of people in and around the village.Lots of horse-drawn carriages and little shops and restaurants surrounding the main attraction (the church)Miniature ponies for kiddiesLittle kid and his dad watching the procession go into the church. I'm still not really sure what the processions were because there were multiple of them, one right after the other, that went through the church, and I think it was the same people doing it every time. Not sure.This is the famous church and one of processions.Little kiddie riding a pony and his grandfather :))One of the processions coming back out of the churchInside the church.. So many people!!!The crew.. New people, left to right: Erin (going to Colgate *cough* Sarah take note), Riley, Emma, and then you know Kate and Eli.Lots and lots of horses. There are actually more horses than permanent residents in Rocio.This is the marsh right next to the church area. It's completely dry in the summer, which is weird to imagine.Munching on some lunch.Got to wear my hat, a rare occurrence in fashionable Sevilla. I break enough rules on that front.. A hat feels overboard.One of the main streets in RocioOur first stop on our safari/tour, looking at flamingosAnd here are said flamingos.Eli getting in the safari spiritMy favorite picture of the entire trip.. This guy saw me taking a picture and gave me this little smirk. It feels like a wink follows it, doesn't it? And a hat tip and, "Howdy, darlin'." Perfection.Ready to rumbleMarking down the animals we saw, which were mostly deer and lots of different birds.Our guide, Javi, with Eli riding shotgun in the Jeep. It was like driving in snow because there was really deep sand.This is a famous bridge the "pilgrims" (people doing the pilgrimage to Rocio) walk across before entering the village. All the plaques have the names and founding dates of the different hermandades that belong to the church in Rocio.This part of the forest was SO BEAUTIFUL. Javi told us it's his favorite part of the National Park during this season because it's one of the few places in Doñana that gets this green, and this is the best season to see it like this. In the summer, it dries out a lot and isn't so green.Eli didn't get the memo I guess.Pic under a big oak tree
The whipSo many deerHoof printsPretty DoñanaLovin' itWilderness explorers at their best10 points for Gryffindor if you can spot the bunny.
Ready for my close up
These are actual wild horses that live in a specific part of Doñana and just hang out and live wildly. Reminds me of Spirit (who remembers that movie????).
More soaring birdies.
Ok, that's all from Doñana. Now I just have some stories and stuff to add to the lists that I haven't added to in forever.
First, feeling so proud to have teachers in my family.. I know how hard my mom has worked to become a teacher and how awesome she is at it (7th grade. Seriously.), and watching Elvira as a teacher has been so cool. She's only a part time teacher-- her normal job is in a doctor's office-- but she went back to school at age 40 to study social work and after became a teacher in her department. It's a conditional thing, meaning they call her if they need a long-term sub for someone, but she loves it so much. This semester she's giving three different courses, two of which she's never given before, so she's been really stressing out about it and working so, so hard to learn the material and make lesson plans. The other day was her first real class with one of those ones, and she got home and when I asked her about it, she just started gushing about how amazing it had been and how she learned so much and could tell the students were interested and engaged and how all her hard work had paid off. So happy for her.
On another academic note, I've been reading SO MUCH (lol free time, hello). I finished Fall of Giants the other day and I'm now feeling so smug about myself and about how much I actually knew what they were talking about in WWI (The assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand anyone???). Shout out to Mr. Tureff and Mr. Tracey and two years of some combination of pain and triumph for that. I've also finished Wild, as I talked about in the last post, and I'm 85% done with all three of the Divergent series books right now according to the Kindle. Also, RIP to the bottom right side of the screen of the Kindle that no longer works. Sad day.
Quick side note: Does anybody have any idea what a good source of movies is online, other than illegal ones and Netflix? That may or may not be free? Sorry, I realize those are pretty tough conditions, but if anyone knows of one, please share!! Or movie recommendations that are on Netflix would also be appreciated.
Also, notes on today: got home a little while ago from a scavenger hunt with students from a high school in Sevilla. Pic..
Woohoo. We did not win. But that's ok. Made some friends. Moving on..
Things I Miss:
- Surprisingly, I miss home more than I did last semester. I think that might be because at the end of last summer I was just so excited, A. to be going to Spain and having this new, amazing experience, and B. to leave Cumberland (Cumby, I love you, but you suck sometimes). But now that I've been away from it for a while, and then kind of gotten a taste of it going back during break, I think I value it a lot more than I did before. I value my town and the community, my friends and family, and I miss it more. It's not that I want to go back, but it's sort of a nostalgic missing-- just a greater appreciation for what I had, I guess. Deep thought of the day.
- Miss my doggie so much still. I saw FOUR Golden Retrievers today and was dying to steal them.
Things That Are Different:
- Today is one of the coldest days so far in winter in Sevilla, according to Elvira. It's, like, 50 degrees. I was sweating on my walk to school. Not in Kansas(Maine) anymore, huh? And it's a little windy, which they colloquially call "viruji" (not sure if that's how you spell it), and it's apparently really distressing and freezing for everyone. It's not even bad. Coming from 100 mph wind gusts at Sugarloaf, pretty sure I can handle it. Elvira just walked in and asked me how I wasn't freezing (wearing short sleeves and window open). Oops.
- The music they play during the news is absolutely hilarious.. It's always American music that has NOTHING to do with the news story. Perfect example: Today they were doing a little piece on Will Gadd, the guy that ice-picked (not sure what the correct term is) Niagara Falls and was the first person to do it. Big deal, right? Pretty intense? Impressive? And the song choice? *Drum roll please* Treasure, by Bruno Mars!!! Will Gadd (on screen): intensely climbing up wall of ice beside Niagara Falls, reaching the top and looking super triumphant and proud and accomplished. Bruno (in background): "I know that you don't know it, but you're fine, so fine!! (Fine, so fine) Oh, whoaaaa, oh girl, I'm gonna show ya when you're mine, all mine!!!!!" Perfect song choice. Great work. A+.
- It might be here somewhere, but I haven't seen boxes of Kleenex yet. At home we would always have back-up stores of boxes of tissues in the house, or at school, or whatever, during cold season. And it's cold season here-- Elvira keeps telling me to "abrigate el cuello!!" (wear a scarf, basically) because it's "gripe" (pronounced "greep-ay") season and I'm going to get "resfriada" (a cold). But in spite of that, no one has boxes of tissues. They just have the little travel packs instead. Strange.
- I just noticed this. If Elvira and I, or I assume anyone, are in the same room, she can't help but carry on a conversation. I'll come into the living room to hang out and read a book or whatever while she's doing work, and she'll just end up talking to me the whole time. Reminder to me to not do that because I'm obviously distracting her. Oops.
- Sometimes I look at a building and just think, "That is probably older than my entire country." It's a peculiar feeling. This is an example, the one I was looking at when I thought of this the first time, although it applies to a lot of things in Sevilla. I don't even know what it is, other than a church.
- I've been told here multiple times that rain washes away bacteria, so when it doesn't rain for a long time, the likelihood of the flu/cold/sickness spreading is higher. I don't know if that's true but I guess I'd just never heard it before because it's not like it ever rains during cold season, aka winter, aka snow, in Maine.
- Learned some more things in class the other day that you're not supposed to do in Spanish culture. One is whistle; just not an ok thing. And especially not for women because prostitutes used to whistle at men. The other is stretching. This is so difficult because you know when you feel the need to do something, and then realize you can't, and then that need just automatically becomes so much harder to ignore? Like that itch on your foot that you know you can't reach because you have a shoe on and you're not about to take your shoe off in public? That's what it feels like now when I feel like I have to stretch in public. Struggles.
- This is Elvira's pile of ***IRONED*** things. Yes, it is a pile of towels and sheets. Yes, I did say ironed.
Things That Are The Same:
- Feria is prom, except for women of all ages (0-100, seriously). I came to this realization the other day when Lucía and Elvira were discussing Lucía getting a new "traje" (dress) this year and they were talking about white dresses. Lucía was saying how she shouldn't get a white dress because she has pale skin, and Elvira started telling me about how when women get white dresses for La Feria they spend the prior three months tanning (naturally or otherwise) and I just realized how familiar that sounded. I can't tell you how often people discussed the issue of tans and white dresses and being tan and going tanning and the struggle of it all when it came to prom. SIGH don't miss that. But La Feria, in that respect, reminds me a lot of prom.
- Triana is like Cumberland.. Sometimes it feels like it takes a lot of effort just to leave your little space and go out into El Centro (the main part of Sevilla), or in the case of Cumberland, another town.
Ok. That's it. Until next time xoxo!!
Oh, PS, another side note, if anyone has any suggestions on where I could find good online classes, let me know :))