Tuesday, May 7, 2013

April Monthly Update: Happy Spring Edition

Seven months into my stay here, and I am both happy and homesick. Happy, because it’s finally stopped being cold and rainy every day—which means you can smell the flowers and wear shorts—and homesick because I miss my family and I’m simply weary of all the annoying things Spain does. Don’t get me wrong, I love living here! But when June 21st rolls around, I’ll be ready to go home.

It’s finally springtime!

Wisteria in the gardens of the Real Alcázar of Sevilla
My joy at spring’s arrival has never been so great. From November or December all the way through March it has been cold and rainy, often for weeks at a time. Talk about demolishing the “warm and sunny” stereotype of southern Spain. I couldn’t go outside without wearing at least three layers and bringing an umbrella, and the bitter wind made the simple act of buying groceries a challenge.

But by April, the winds shifted and we changed our clocks: spring was here! The weather finally decided to cooperate, I wore shorts for the first time on April 12, and all across Andalucía the fragrant orange trees were in bloom.

Traveling to Sevilla

Plaza de España, Sevilla
After waiting for half a year for the weather to clear up, in the middle of the month I hopped on a bus bound for Sevilla, the regional capital of Andalucía. It was one of my favorite trips I’ve taken so far; I really enjoyed walking all across this beautiful city. I got to explore the city’s massive Gothic cathedral and its minaret-turned-belltower, the Real Alcázar or royal palace, Roman ruins, and shady parks and gardens everywhere. The orange trees had blossomed, so the entire city smelled pleasant. And I even got to meet up with Spain expat blogger Cat Gaa (of Sunshine and Siestas) for an afternoon picnic with her friends! It was so kind of her to let me hang out with her for a few hours in her adopted hometown.

Hanging out in Linares and Jaén

Sign for fresh snails at a restaurant, Linares
At the end of the month I got invited by one language assistant friend living in nearby Linares to her bowling birthday party one Thursday night and by another friend to a flamenco show on Friday, so I just decided to make a weekend trip out of it and stay two nights. Bowling was fun, but silly at the same time since it’s really fallen out of fashion in the U.S. The flamenco show was FREE, held inside essentially a garage, and was attended exclusively by Spaniards—mainly grandmas and grandpas. Really great music. Afterwards we went to a restaurant and got some caracoles (snails), typical food for this time of the year.

During Friday’s daylight hours, I went down to the provincial capital of Jaén for a proper visit, since I had only ever gone there for bureaucratic business before. I hiked up the imposing hill outside of town to summit the castle, I patronized restaurants that have been in business since the late 1800s, I descended into the well-preserved ruins of the largest Arab baths in Spain, and I hit up a combined art and archaeology museum dedicated to Jaén province. Everything I visited was free (hooray!), and I feel I can now leave Spain in peace having seen the city one last time.

The last month of the teaching assistant program is May. After a few weeks of traveling in Spain in June, I’ll be back home!
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