Adios, o Hasta luego? :(

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In the last few days I have become closer with my already close Spanish friends. I have had deep talks over Spanish snails and listened to my favorite music from the semester while browsing the Alcazar castle. Friends said goodbye behind teary eyes at CC-CS’s goodbye party, and gloomy hugs were accompanied with gifts when I said “Hasta luego” to my host family for the last time.

I spent a day walking slowly through every single one of my favorite places in Sevilla, and I couldn’t push away all the love I’ve grown for this place. Ivy and I always say we want to feel the places we go to in this world, not just see them. So, how has Sevilla made me feel?

It’s made me feel inspired. Seeing castels and churches carved with detail unimaginable to me before has give me reason to believe in everything great in us as people. There are artists, in the past centuries and today, who see past efficiency. They see beauty and life. They see a reason to spend their lives creating beautiful things.

It makes me feel humble. I am just one, normal person in the midst of this crazy world and for the first time in my life I’m content with that – because I know the right people will see value in me alone. We’re all more than simply the efficiency and things we can bring others. And I can feel the same about others now – I want quality over quantity in every relationship I have. I’ll take a café solo and a long talk over a red carpet event in Los Angeles any day. I hope to show the love I saw in people like Abdhul and Ibrihim from Morocco, the humor of my good Italian friend, the patience of my host family, the easy-going spirit of my favorite cafe waiters, the instant friendliness of our new French friends, and the amazing thirst for knowledge of Ivy’s art gallery boss, to others. They have now all become pieces of me, and because of this I have never loved myself more.

It makes me feel thankful. The first week I was here, my host mom Toni told me <<Nos disfrutamos la fruta de la vida más que dinero>>. I watched the dynamic of her family. They all love eachother so much, and Juan is gold in their eyes. Wow.. my mom did all of that for me. Every family has their problems, Toni told me. And you know what, I understand that completely now. Our family is the only one we have, and there is a certain part of our hearts that can only be fulfilled by loving them. We can’t change our families (not that I’d ever want to) but only accept eachother for what we are.

It makes me excited. I’ve met so  many wonderful people, and I only want to know what else is out there in the world. After Sevilla, I am traveling to Vienna to live with my cousin and aunt for the summer. I will be writing for a science company there, and I couldn’t be more excited. I want to see all the concealed treasure I know is waiting for us out there.

So now, as I realize it’s time to leave Sevilla, I feel absolutely terrified. I’m terrified I will lose everything I’ve learned, or that the pieces of this fairy tale will dissolve into the black spaces of my memory. I’m scared I will melt back into the habits that now seem so ridiculous to me. I’m scared I will look back on all of this and it will seem far away and hazy, or that I’ll just consider everything I’ve felt the whimsical thoughts of a study abroad student getting swept away by the moment. I fear I’ll deny this was the real world as I’m enveloped by my life at home. Will the family and friends I’ve become so close to here in Spain become has-beens in my life? Is this a life-changing semester, or just a college-changing semester? I don’t want to lose this.

My last few hours in Sevilla I went to Plaza de España and made a wish in that beautiful fountain I’ve seen so many times. I have never wished for something so strong, or so truthfully, in my life. I told myself not to forget.

Now as I’m sitting in this plane that will rip me away from everything good I’ve seen on this trip, I blink back tears. I feel almost panicked that it’s all going to be gone. Yet then I remember one of the first things I learned on this trip… the Sevillan city slogan.

NO8D0 – The city has not abadnoned me.

And I truly believe that it never will.

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Barrrrcelona (Insert rolling of R for fun)

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Barcelona had a heart that beat to an indie rhythm. For some reason, the image I had always envisioned of the city was a metropolitan jungle, with a blurry night life along the lines of Ibiza. Yet what I discovered was a mixture of fresh markets overlflowing with every healthy food possible, trendy vintage stores, and modern art galleries.

We saw more than just a few people with dread locks, and the entire population seemed to consist of avid tea drinkers (the market streets offering delicious tea samples were a plus). The beach that opened up to the Mediterranean ocean was beautiful, but certainly not the only reason to visit the city. When we saw the coast, we were too distracted by the huge Olympic structures from the world games that adorned it.

We visited an Ice Barcelona – where even the cups and seats are frozen – but decided to spend the night in the sand of the Mediterranean coast outside of it instead. 

The city is characterized by everything Gaudi – an amazing architect that will change the way you think about architecture. His work does not consist of buildings or structures – it’s art. 

Also, funny fact… many Barcelonians want to be separated from the rest of Spain, so you won’t spot any Spanish flags flying. You will, however, see more than a few jerseys labeled “Messi”. 

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And she had a fan.

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Today I was walking back from class through crowded Tetuan street. I love this street. There is always a range of people from street side performers, to elderly couples with grandchildren, to young fashionable students roaming through its stores. I happened to see a glimmer in the corner of my eye.

And no, I hope I wasn’t hallucinating. With this almost-100-degree weather it’s hard to tell…

This little red flash came from the hand of a beautiful woman who had a floor length summer dress on and her wavy hair pulled back in a clip. She had a red Spanish fan in her hand, that happened to match the details of her dress, and was casually waving it front of her sunglass-adorned face. It was so beautiful, and so elegant.

Throughout the day I’ve noticed more and more people with these fans. For some reason, I had just assumed they were only for celebrations like Feria. But why not use them to stay cool – both in the heat and in the fashion trends!

Fan shopping, anyone? That’s one accessory I have never been on the prowl for before.

;)

Do you see the sea foam green?

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Sometimes Ivy and I like to give cities colors.

A color that describes their personality, their vibe, and the overall feeling you get from them.

Rome was orange. It’s agressive, loud, and exciting.

Paris was rose petal pink. It’s sophisticated, feminine, and peaceful.

Sevilla is a pretty brown. It’s historical, beautifully rustic, and charming.

The only way we could describe Mallorca was sea foam green.

This Mediterranean island of the coast of Spain was beautiful and made us realize that those beach vacation hot spots (always oh-so-abundant in chick flicks or romance movies) actually do exist. And they look just like Mallorca.

The entire island almost has a reggae feel to it. Vendors by the beach sale everything you would expect a beach bum to have stored away, and tiny bars line the shore behind them. The city of Palma is dotted with modern art and a beautiful cathedral that overlooks the ocean. Not to mention a street of extremely pricey shopping – probably for the many American celebrities that make the island their second home.

It’s impossible not to come across a pearl shop – Mallorca’s main industry – and the treats you purchase by the ocean taste as wonderful as the scenery looks. And yes, it’s somewhat geared towards tourists. Ask for extra parrot straws in your dessert – they won’t be able to say no.

P.S. Fun fact: They don’t speak Spanish in Mallorca. They speak Mallorcan – which is, indeed, different.

 

 

A few pre-sleeping thoughts.

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I just had the most meaningful conversation with two friends and a ton of churros. That is something I’m going to miss. We’ve all become so much more contemplative here, and so much more thoughtful about what our world is.

Yes, I’ve traveled more places than I can even keep up with in blogs (although I will try!). But it is not the places I have seen that have touched me. Castles aren’t structures without the careful touch of a person, and cathedrals aren’t beautiful without the devotion of a person. Oceans would have no bottles with messages to find, and art would have no emotion, without a person.

A culture isn’t a culture, without countless people.

Every story, every piece of advice, every joke and every bit of laughter I’ve shared with these people who live across the globe from me has opened my eyes in more ways than I can imagine. The more I learn from others, the more I realize how clueless I was before. I’ve met wonderful girls who live without a cent and sweet, hard-working guys that protest in Spain because it’s what they feel is right.

I couldn’t value that more. Travel is not the knowledge of the world, but rather of the people who change our view of it.

 

Firenze!! (Yes, I did go 5 weeks ago…)

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My last blog entry…

was a very long time ago.

But I will eventually tell every story of my Sevillan and European adventures. Even if it’s for my own sanity of remembering each and every one.

I think about the last 5 weeks of my life surrealistic dream.

The past month, like the two before it, has been so wonderful it must have been at least inspired by some of my daydreams.

And it must have cotton tree season in Florence. We floated through streets amidst white, weightless puffs that drifted through the air from flowering trees. The river twisted itself through the city nearby.

I inhaled deeply.

Ahh. That fresh smell of the river.

Exhale.

No…. I don’t want to exhale.

Inhale again.

Rivers are just so…… WAIT…

It was a different scent this time. Ivy and I grasped each other’s arms at the same time.

PIZZA!!!” we squealed, and ran to the corner restaurant that it was coming from.

And let me tell you…. pizza isn’t the correct word for it. At least, not if Pizza Hut or Dominoe’s Pizza are still in business.

Yes, it looked like pizza, but the many different pieces I savored in Italy were slices cut straight from heaven. Talk about a cheesy milky way… let’s just replace the stars with sprinkles of oregano.

“Ciao, Bella!” isn’t a cliché. Neither are singing waiters that seem incredibly happy, regardless of how many hours they’ve been serving pizza.

The old man with his round stomach and greying beard hummed as he lifted the wine glass from the tray, and rolled around the water inside.

“Give it a taste, Bella,” he said, with a swooping gesture of the hand.

I took a sip.

“Magnífico!!” I laughed. I had just tasted the most plain water in the world.

“Oh! I am so glad!” he smiled, and the humming burst into Italian singing as he filled up the rest of the glass. He then disappeared inside to leave us under the lush vines that were adorning the street side restaurant. Passerbys began to hold hands as the moon came up.

Markets overflowing with leather kept tourists busy during the day. Corner performers, fountains, and sculptures dotted the thin cobblestone streets.

Oh, and those oh-so-famous Florence bridges… they weren’t too bad either.

Zesty… “Can you use it in a sentence, please?”

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I used to think a Chipotle burrito with extra hot sauce (and extra onions, please!) was zesty.

I used to consider the jazz dancing you see in movies like Chicago, complete with sparkles and canes, zesty.

I used to call a pair of 6 inch, hot pink stilettos dunked in glitter zesty.

 

 

And then I went to a Flamenco show… and discovered that this, boys and girls, is what you call zesty.

 

Maybe it was that fierce expression on the dancer’s face (what is she thinking about!?). Maybe it was her lime green dress that she accentuated with bright flowers in her hair. Maybe it was that her feet were stomping so quickly I thought the stage was going to start on fire… I was almost surprised they didn’t have firefighters on call.

Whatever it was, I loved the zesty flamenco show I saw last night with my intercambio. The emotional singer, the suave guitarist, and the dancer of course. It was a platter of Spain served with fresh spices… and I am hungry for more.