Week 9

This week was really strange because Tuesday was a holiday and most my professors at the university “hicieron un puente” and canceled class on Monday, so I ended up having a 5 day weekend. Now, I am not complaining about a long weekend, but, as I have mentioned before, I am extremely schedule dependent and having so much free time was a little disorienting.

Monday was Halloween, which is one of my favorite holidays (let’s be honest, I say that about all the holidays. I love them all!), but apparently it really isn’t really celebrated here. How disappointing! It is getting more popular, but it is nothing in comparison to Halloween at home. Anticipating that we would be disappointed with the celebrations here, my friends and I had planned to go to a professional “futbol” game instead. Unfortunately that plan didn’t work out, so we decided to go to a discotecca and I went to a store to put together a last minute costume.

I am slightly ashamed to admit that I pulled a “Mean Girls” and wore a black dress with cat ears (can you imagine my mom’s reaction if she knew of this missed costume opportunity!?). In my defense I do not normally go with the cutesy animal ears and dress route; in fact, I am very proud of my creative costume ideas and commitment to character (in past years my friend Barb and I have been Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, Spongebob and Patrick, and Alfalfa and Darla).

(Cats? Photo Courtesy of Liz)

Actually, I went to the costume shop planning to find materials to make a Pikachu costume (which is what I did my freshman year in college), but it turns out that people in Spain do not dress as characters or silly things on Halloween. I tried searching in what seemed like a normal Halloween costume area and was immediately approached by a worker and told that I was in the wrong section and then sent to a section with witch and devil costumes. Halloween in Spain is for scary costumes only.

Aaaanyways, that is how I ended up going as a hardly recognizable cat.

(old city wall)

Besides Halloween the week was pretty uneventful, particularly because it was only two days long.

While I was in Morocco the seasons changed from summer to fall (that really is what happened–I left for the weekend, came back, and it was fall). I suppose I could sound really ridiculous and this transition could be what normally occurs when seasons change, but, being from Texas, I have no idea. What I do know is that I love fall! I love being able to walk to class without sweating and I like getting to wear all of my wintery clothing and this weather is just perfect for walking around and enjoying the city.

(near the old city walls)
(gardens inside of Cordoba’s Alcazar)

On Saturday, a group of friends and I took a day trip to Cordoba to visit the famous “mezquita”.

While we were in Cordoba on Saturday it was a nice chilly/”fresquita” day with some rain clouds hanging around. After finding our way into the center of town we had a snack break and ate our magdalenas (sweet muffins) that we bought at a convent in Sevilla the day before (This is one of the things that was on my bucket list–the convents in Seville make baked goods and have bake sales, but they aren’t open very often, so you have to have a little luck to be able to buy these treats!).

(Liz, Katie, Sarah, and Me in the gardens)
(Guadalquivir River)
(The Roman Bridge and violin player)
(Fountain in the mezquita’s plaza)
(Katie, Sarah, Liz, Me–Third Attempt)

We spent the first part of the afternoon walking around town, visiting the “Alcazar” (the castle), and looking at the gardens. Next we took a lunch break in preparation for touring inside the “mezquita”. The mezquita is a giant, old mosque in Cordoba that actually has a cathedral built inside it.

(Inside of the mezquita)

The mezquita was actually built on top of the ruins of a Visigoth church, and then a cathedral was built within the mosque after the reconquista. The mosque is a giant, impressive building with tons of columns, famous red and white arches, and enough room for 20,000 prayer rugs.

I followed my old pal Rick Steve’s self guided tour and walked along the inner rim of the mezquita from where it still seems like just a giant mosque. After walking around the rim I went into the middle of the mosque where the columns and arches are abruptly interrupted by a giant, towering cathedral.

(Cathedral within the mezquita)

Although building a giant Cathedral in the middle of the mosque seems a little distasteful, it actually can be seen as a sign of respect and deference towards the architectural greatness of the mosque. Rick Steves said it would have been cheaper to tear down the mosque completely rather than build a Cathedral within it. After walking around the mosque we wandered around the streets a little more before heading home.

The next morning my friend Liz and I woke up bright and early to go on a hiking trip our program offered in the Sierra de Grazalema. I was exhausted from walking around the whole day before, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do some hiking in Spain, particularly because it is on my bucket list!

(wild goats on our hike)

The route was 9 kilometers long and we walked from Grazalema, one of Andalucia’s white hill town, to another small town. Once we got to our starting point the guides informed us that it is on of the rainiest areas in the peninsula and this was this first time in the past 3 or 4 years that it hasn’t been raining on the day of the hike (thank goodness it didn’t rain because we certainly were not forewarned).

(little farm house we passed)
(our guide said this was a “woman eater” tree–me and Liz being eaten)

Our guides stopped us every now and then to give us some information along the hike, but for the most part it was just a relaxing, quite walk. The main thing we did get to do was observe a lot of wildlife!

(view on the hike!)

At the end of our hike we took a coffee break (we also made a coffee stop that morning–Spaniards love their coffee breaks) and then headed back home on the bus. Once I made it back to my house and showered the exhaustion from the past three days hit me like a ton of bricks and I was seconds away from passing out at 7:30. The one thing that kept me awake was that I was starving and dinner is usually around 9, so I put all of my last bit of energy keeping myself awake so that I could eat.

(Our guides)
(Wild donkeys! They neighed and came up to us)

At dinner I had a giant plate of arroz con pollo and ate the entire thing! Afterwards my woman (the lady I live with) and I started talking about cooking and it turns out we follow one of the same cooking blogs! We ended up talking for an hour about how much we like to cook, all the things we want to bake, where the best desserts in Spain are, and how Spain has limited baking ingredients.

(white hill town in the distance is where we finished our hike)

Although I was ready to go to sleep hours before this conversation, I could not have been more content talking about baking with my woman! It was one of the greatest moments ever. One thing she told me is about some recipes she has been dying to make from our blog–angel food cake, red velvet cake, and some cupcakes with white chocolate chips–but they all require ingredients that just don’t exist in Spanish stores. I have been planning on having my dad ship something “Texasy” over here to give as a gift at the end semester, but now I have the perfect plan; I am getting my dad to ship over the ingredients so she can bake!

(Donkey crossing!)

Anyways, obviously this is top secret because I want it to be a big surprise for my woman when she gets the package (not that anyone has a way to tell her, but I just feel better saying this). That same night my woman also said that on Friday she would cook pizza and I can watch/help because that is one of the recipes I said I wanted from her but she does it off of sight–how cool is that!? So basically this was the best bonding experience ever and I feel so lucky that this family has welcomed me into their home!

(sheep being herded across the bridge)

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