October 3rd, 2013

Paella and Bulls: So Spanish

After living in Madrid for three weeks I already feel like a Spaniard! When I am not talking I feel like I blend in perfectly…..then I start talking. It could be spanish or english but some how this awkward “Texas/Chicago want to be spanish” accent of mine just gives me away. Alas, I am having the time of my life here in Madrid.

I know everyone just wishes that our lives could be perfect and that we would never go a day without missing something or someone and studying abroad only magnifies the want for a perfect semester. However, all of a sudden, all the feelings hit you and all you want to do is go home! Ya, that happened to me. Not only did I miss my cousin’s wedding, a baby being born in my family, but only one of the most important days in a sorority woman’s life: BID DAY! Everyone says “but you’re in Spain/Europe/Madrid; don’t think about it” but I’m here and you all are there and sometimes that just stinks! Anyways this feeling lasted about two weeks and then I moved on, lingering only makes it worse and I AM in Europe! Life can’t get much better than this right now; except for maybe the rain. I failed to do some important research when choosing which semester to study abroad in. Did y’all know that fall is Europe’s raining season? Ya, neither did I. So that first day it just felt like: “hello rain it’s nice to meet you, we don’t get a lot of you in Texas!”

Adventures in Spain and Europe just keeping coming. A few weekends ago I traveled to a National Park in Spain: Parque Natural de las Hoces del Río Duratón. This national park is located in Castilla y León in Spain, just about 2 hours outside of the city of Madrid. For three hours myself and the other students in my program kayaked in the Duratón River. It was one of the most beautiful Fridays! I enjoyed listening to the history of the park, the things we saw, and of course the endless singing of show tunes from Pocahontas. I mean, who wouldn’t sing “just around the river bend” as you paddle just around a river bend? It was really a lot of fun/ work out extraordinaire. At the end of the day we enjoyed some amazing Paella made with seafood and chicken. Paella is one of the traditional dishes of Spain! A definite favorite of mine!  Check out the photos below!

After a relaxing Saturday at home getting all that terrible thing called homework done, I prepared myself for an eventful Sunday afternoon at none other than a BULL FIGHT! That’s right everyone I attended a bull fight and yes, the bulls do die at the end. A point I had to gently explain to my friend coming with me. Now I’m usually not the first person to sign up to watch animals die but bull fights are a very traditional spanish activity and as the saying goes, “when in Rome…”

While bull fights are a traditional spanish sport, it is currently under heavy scrutiny and is very controversial. I was told that in the future it could cease to exist all together but I’ll believe it when it happens. We can all speculate about it but the bottom line is that bull fights are a part of spanish culture now and they will forever be a part of Spanish history. I thoroughly enjoyed the candy and nuts I purchased from a street vendor before the fight. As you enter the arena you climb the steps to see concrete benches all around the center. They offered seat cushions for a small fee in my section which made me feel like I stepped back in time. The whole place was gearing up for the fight. Once it started we couldn’t peel our eyes away from the center. Every little motion was captured on film. Then the first bull died. Now as I told you all above, I KNEW this would happen. But without fail my friends and I looked at each other in shock. What had we got ourselves into. Two more bulls came out and I decided I had had just about enough vowed to leave after the next one. I am throughly pleased to have been able to see this young matador in action. Before his one on one with the bull he jumped on the wall and yelled something in spanish out to an elderly man in the audience and then threw him his hat. The old man stood up, blew him a kiss, and remained standing during the entire fight. I think he was the matador’s father. This matador was the most elegant of all the men. It sounds weird but everyone in the arena held their breaths with every close encounter. We all ooohed and ahhed with every swift move. This young man had immense respect for his sport and for this bull he was fighting. In the end the entire arena erupted in cheers and waved white flags for the matador. He is whom I imagine little boys dream about becoming, the way he fought is how I imagine the matadors from ages ago fought. I am so blessed to have been able to experience something so amazing and in its own way beautiful.

 

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