I Guess It’s Bittersweet Poetry

 

If you don’t get the title reference it’s a song by Kanye West and John Mayer. Not really sure if it fits in this context but whatever right?

 

This past weekend we had a 4-day weekend. So we had class on Wednesday but then had Thursday and Friday off. Most of the people in this program decided to make the trip to Portugal. The plan was to spent one 1 day in Lisbon and then 2 days in Lagos.

 

Our bus didn’t leave until like midnight on Wednesday so we spent most of the day just hanging out. Luckily Spain played Chile at 9 pm on Wednesday so we were able to go get food and then watch the game, which was very awkward because the defending World Cup champions were ousted in the first round with a 2-0 defeat to Chile. Oh well, at the USA was still in it. After the game ended we started making our way to the bus station.

 

The ride to Lisbon was supposed to be around 5-6 hours and since we were leaving late at night everyone’s plan was to just sleep the whole way. So everyone proceeded to take their melatonin/sleeping pills/or whatever other drugs they needed to make it through the bus ride and we hopped on the bus.

 

The ride was pretty all right at first but after one of our pit shops, the AC stopped working. That’s a problem. Why? Cuz nobody likes sitting on hot buses. Duh. So basically we spent the last third of the trip on what seemed to be the hottest bus on the planet (I thought this at the time but would ACTUALLY experience the hottest bus ride on the planet later that weekend). Like I would be sleeping and I would roll over and my shirt would be soaking because I was sweating so much. It was bad guys. But somehow we all made it to Lisbon in one piece….at 5 in the morning.

 

So we all split up and got taxis to our hostel. Thankfully all hostels are pretty much open 24-hours we didn’t have any problems getting in. Unfortunately, we still couldn’t check into our room until 2 in the afternoon. They had a dining room area and a lounge where most of us posted up and napped for a while. Close to around 8 we gathered up a group of people to go out, explore the city and finally get some food in our system.

 

While exploring we food a kiosk that sold passes for a bus that would take you all around the city. It was pretty cool because it was “Hop On, Hop Off” policy, so you could get on at one stop and then get off at another one to look around and then catch another bus to ride around some more. It was also especially cool because it was one of those double-decker buses so you could sit up top and really take in the beauty of the city. By the time we had done all of this it was getting close to our check-in time.

 

So we all made our way back to the hostel, got our stuff out of the storage room and made our way up to our rooms, where were proceeded to nap for the following 2 hours. When everyone finally regained consciousness we thought it would be a good idea to make use of our bus rides and start exploring more of the city.

 

Its corny to say it but basically everything here was beautiful. The architecture and the landscape was just so unique from anything that we have in the US. I probably took about 50 pictures of just buildings and stuff. No particular reason, they just looked cool. Anyway we got off at the stop where the aquarium. Some people wanted to go but it was a little too expensive so most people were content to just keep walking around. Because we did, we were able to find a cool carriage/canopy thingy that would carry us across the sea to the other side of the water. After that we caught another bus, which took us to a park. After looking around for a little be we decided to get some lunch and head back to the hostel.

 

Apparently there was a cool church that was also nearby the hostel but that also cost money so we just walked around that area for a while and then did a little souvenir shopping. There was also a central plaza that had a huge jumbo-tron so we were able to catch the last bit of the Colombia-Ivory Coast game before heading back to the hostel.

 

One of the really cool things that the hostel did was an organized dinner that was cooked by one of the owners, who was appropriately named “Mama”. So for only 10 euros we got a 3-course meal, not to mention unlimited beer and wine. Everything was very on point. Wish I could have been there for another night just to get the food again.

 

One of my friends had a friend who was an exchange student at his high school. He lived really close to our hostel so he was able to come out with us and show us around the city at night, which was really awesome.

 

The following morning we were able to catch an early breakfast at the hostel and head out to explore the city again for a little bit on the buses before we had to head back to the bus station for our bus to Lagos. Unfortunately for us, we miscalculated how much time we had ended up in a weird part of town when we still needed to get back to our hostel, pick up our luggage and get a taxi to the bus station. It was a little stressful at times but we were able to get to the station on time. However it was still a little bit more stressful for me. Before the trip I had already bought my bus ticket to Lisbon and the ticket from Lagos back to Sevilla but I hadn’t bought my ticket from Lisbon to Lagos because most people said that they would just buy them at the bus station when we got there. But when we got to Portugal most people said that they had already bought their tickets to Lagos. So I was stressing the whole ride over to the bus station because I wasn’t sure if there would be enough time to buy a ticket so that I could get on the same bus as everyone else. So we get to the bus station and I immediately head to the ticket office, where I sow the worker one of my friends’ tickets to show her what I wanted.

Her response: “Oh no this bus is all full.”

 

Me: “Fack. Just fack.”

 

I asked her when the next bus would be leaving and she said it would be in like three hours. Dejected, I bought the later ticket and returned to my friends to deliver the news. But somebody had the idea that I should ask if I could do standby seating, like if somebody didn’t show up for the bus and see if I could take there seat. So I head back to the ticket office and do just that and thankfully she said that would be fine and if there were any open spots on the bus I would be able to take one.

 

As the time slowly approaches the take off time, I get increasingly more nervous as I see all of the people crowded around to get onto the bus. I just keep praying that there would be just one spot on the bus. After a few minutes, the bus driver signaled for me to wait as he checked the bus and the sitting arrangements. I waited for what felt like hours but was relieved when he got off the bus and motioned for me to come abroad. THANK GOD. We were in business. I was on the bus with all my friends and on my way to the beautiful beaches of Lagos.

 

After a 3-hour bus ride, we were pulling into the bus station in Lagos. I stepped off the bus and was hit with a wave of the smell of sea and salt. We were at the beach again. We admired all the sights and smells as we made our way along the coast to our new hostel.

 

This hostel was definitely way different from our other hostel. Not bad just different. Very international. The owner of the hostel was from Slovenia and many of the other workers were from places like Estonia, France and Australia. Our room consisted of my two friends, a random guy, who we would be later that night, and myself. Our last roommate was from Colombia. We walked into our room, dropped all of our crap, got out bath suits on and made our way to the beach. Why waste time right?

 

And I’m glad we didn’t wait because the beach was gorgeous. We probably laid out there for a good 2 hours. I tried going into the water and of course it was freezing but unlike other times, I actually decided to stay in and enjoy it, or at least try to. After a chill afternoon at the beach we returned to our hostel to shower up and get some dinner. The owner suggested a great burger place that was cheap and close by. It was a great spot because we could sit outside and watch the France-Switzerland game. The restaurant started getting pretty crowded so we decided to dip out and find another place to watch the rest of the game. The game ended up being a massacre. France crushed Switzerland 6-2.

 

After the end of the game, my roommates and I made out way back to our hostel, where, we were welcomed by screams and cheers from our neighbors. Like I said some of the people in our hostel were from France, and since they won they were drinking and partying like the world was ended.

We were hanging out for a while until one of the workers came to our room and invited us to a bar crawl around the area. We figured why not and we joined the large international group for a solid night of alcohol, exploration and soccer.

 

The first bar we went to was called the Black Cat bar. There was next to no space in this place but somehow we got in. One of the few things that surprised me was the drinking culture. Apparently beer bonging was a huge thing there which just interesting to me because it not something that I would consider super common at most bars, even in the US. Anyway, I digress. After a few drinks we made our way to the next bar which was just more of the same thing. At this point my roomie and I were getting a little tired. It was getting a little late and we had to be up early the following morning for a boat tour that we were trying to do.

 

The following morning, we meet up with our other friends, who were staying in a nearby hostel and went to one of this attraction offices, where we could but tickets for a boat tour that we wanted to do.

 

The boat ride was awesome. Not too long. Only around like an hour and a half and we were able to see along of cool places and explore some of the caves. After the boat tour, we hit up a local supermarket and got a bunch of lunch stuff that we could take to the beach. We were able to find a great spot on the beach and were able to post up there for most of the day. A few times during the day some of us would just look at each other and smile. Nobody could really believe that we were laying on a beach in Portugal. It felt so natural that nobody really thought about it. It was just weird to think that then I was laying on a beach in Lagos, drinking Coke, and in two weeks I’m going to back in North Carolina, applying for jobs and going to interviews. But right then, everyone was just enjoying the moment.

 

But how could we when there was so much to take in? A few times we would get up and just walk around. There would always be some caves to explore or some rocks to climb or some sight to admire. It was so beautiful that, if I hadn’t taken pictures I wouldn’t have believed that something like that could ever exist in real life.

 

But after a good while we finally decided we should get back to the rooms and get ready for dinner. We went to dinner at a place called NahNah Burger. Hands down one of the best dinners I’ve have in my life. This place was the triple threat: cheap beer, huge burger with everything on it, and fries that make my mouth water now that I’m talking about them. After dinner we went to another store to pick up some wine and drinks for later.

 

We made a quick stop at the room and headed back out to meet our friends to go to the beach, but not before our hostel lady offered us jello shots (they’re crazy here). We met the rest of the crew and headed to the beach. We set up towels and laid down and gazed at the stars for I don’t know how long. At the moment, nothing seemed to matte. We had no worries and cares.

 

It was weird. 5 weeks ago these people we complete strangers to me. Now they were family and I think about how truly blessed I have been to enjoy some many experiences with these people who were now some of my best friends.

 

Enough with the sentimental stuff. We stumbled back to our hostel at dark-thirty o’clock in the morning and slept a bittersweet slumber.

 

The following morning everyone met up and again and we decided to look around the city some more before our bus ride back to Sevilla. We packed up our stuff on the bus and just like that we were on our way back home.

 

You know how early I said that I would later experience the hottest bus on the planet? Well that was this bus ride. I don’t know what it is but we always seem to have the worst luck with buses. Like how hard is it to have a bus with AC? Mind you this was a 6 hour bus ride so AC was kind of a must. After about 2 hours on the mobile sauna, we made a pit stop. Thank the Lord. Thankfully the driver said that we would be making another stop in 30 minutes so that we could switch buses. Praise Jesus, bus with AC. The rest of the bus ride was uneventful. We made it back to Sevilla at around 8 at night, just in time for dinner.

 

We would end up going back out that night because the US played Portugal in the World Cup at midnight so obviously we couldn’t miss that. Damn shame. US should have clutched it but all they have to do is take care of business with Germany and they’ll be moving on the next round.

 

As I’m writing this post, I’m constantly hit with a sense of finality. My time in Sevilla was coming dangerously to an end and there was still so much to be done. It’s definitely hard to come to terms with the program ending. Like I said, it’s very bittersweet. I’m gonna miss all the things I’ve done here, all the people I’ve meet, the places I’ve visited but I’m also excited to be reunited with friends, family and, most importantly, food.

 

Don’t know how many people have actually been reading this. I’d imagine just by family but that’s alright. Initially, I was on the fence about writing a blog like this but I’m glad I did and I will be cool to look back on this in a few weeks or months and just re-read my stories as I experienced them.

 

I think this will be my last post but I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to listen to my story.

 

Signing off for the last time,

 

Kendall (aka Andre Brown, its alright if you don’t get the reference, in fact you shouldn’t, it’s a bbg thing) Garriss

La Copa Mundial

 

As I mentioned in my first post, Spaniards love soccer. So the fact that we get to be here during the World Cup is a treat that few will be lucky enough to experience.

 

As a part of our Grammar class, we have to do a 10 minute presentation based on a list of topics the professor gave at the beginning of the class. Me and two of my friends decided to sign up to talk about the World Cup, which was probably one of the best decisions I’ve made since I’ve been here. We talked to out prof and she said that we could all work together and just make one big presentation so long as everybody spoke equally long. Fair enough, right?

 

Like all college students, we decided to wait until the day before to start working on our presentation. But it didn’t really matter because it subject matter was so interesting that it didn’t even really feel like work. I love sports. I love watching sports, I love talking about sports, I love writing about sports and I love playing sports. The project was cake for us and not only that it was great. Hands down the best presentation in our class. Yes I’m a little biased but everybody said they loved our presentation. It was really refreshing to work on something like this because I hate my grammar class so it was awesome to finally be able to do something in this class that wasn’t complete bs or a waste of time.

 

I’m not even a huge soccer fan but there’s just something about events like the World Cup that just draw you in and make you a fan.

 

Since Brasil is the host country this World Cup, they were guaranteed the first game, which was last Thursday. So a bunch of us went to this American bar we go to a lot called Phoenix Place to watch the first game of the World Cup between Brasil and Croatia. It was an epic opening game. After letting in an own goal, Brasil rallied behind Neymar to score 3 unanswered goals, giving the host country its first win.

 

For Spain’s games we go to this other bar called Coffee Corner, which is a primarily Spanish bar, which always provides for a great environment. The following day we went to Coffee Corner to watch Spain play the Netherlands, a rematch of the World Cup final in 2010, in which Spain’s Andres Iniesta lifted Spain over the Netherlands with a goal in the 116th minute of extra time. So it was shaping up to be a great game. Things got off to a great start when on of Spain’s players got fouled while in the box, which resulted in a penalty kicked for Spain. The entire bar walked in silent anticipation as Spain’s Xabi Alonso approached to take the PK. Alonso would slot the ball just past the keeper, giving Spain a 1-0 lead. However it would be Spain’s defense that would be their eventual downfall as the Netherlands would rally back with acrobat goals from Robin van Persie and a strong showing from veteran Arjen Robben, resulting in a 5-1 Netherlands victory. As an American, this was an extremely awkward game to watch because at first Spain had all the momentum and everyone was excited but one Holland started making plays the entire demeanor of the bar just did a complete 180. Like Holland would score and nobody would react, just straight silence. Anyway, Spain plays again tonight against Chile so hopefully they can rebound and get the W.

 

Probably my favorite soccer experience so far had to be this past Monday, when the US played Ghana. If you don’t know, Ghana has knocked the US out of the last two World Cup. The US has, arguably, one of the most difficult groups to get out of. Along with Ghana, the group is also consists of Germany, who is a strong contender to compete for the World Cup, and Portugal, who has Cristiano Ronaldo, cited as being the second best player in this years World Cup. So going into this Group the US is definitely considered the underdog.

 

We ended up going back to Phoenix to watch the game and the atmosphere was crazy. I wasn’t sure how the US was going to react but they came out swinging. The US was granted a throw in which was sent to Jozy Altidore, who tipped it to Jermaine Jones, who tapped it to Clint Dempsey. Dempsey would dodge and weave through defenders and then BANG! Just like that the US was up 1-0. Dempsey was just able to sent past the keeper, scoring the 5th fastest goal in World Cup history. 35 seconds. The Ghanaians would not go away easily though. Ghana was able to beat Tim Howard on a corner tying the game up. Things started looking bleak as time was running down and the US’s main striker, Altidore, had to leave the game with a sprained hamstring. At around the 75 minute the US was make a substitution, putting in defender Scott Brooks, a rookie appearing in one of his first games on the US national team. In the 86 minute the US would be granted a corner kick. Zusi would send in a perfect ball that was headed by the sub Scott Brooks, beating the Ghana goalkeeper. And in the blink of an eye, the US was back in the lead with only 5 minutes left, thanks to the help of a player whose name nobody knew until he made that play.

 

It was a beautiful moment being there for that game and just being in an environment where everyone is just as excited as you are. It was truly something special and I hope that the US can make a real push in the World Cup this year.

Granada, I Know Ya Really Wanna

Before you say it, yes this is a very lame title but it sounded kinda cool in my head. Vale, let’s continue.

 

So this past weekend the program took all of the students to Granada for the weekend. I was actually really excited for this trip because one of the main things Granada is known for is the Alhambra, which was the city that was created during the 14th century by the Nasrid dynasty (I learned about this place too in my art history class if you’re wondering why I know any of those random facts).

 

After a 3-hour bus ride from Sevilla, the UNC bus pulled up the hotel Los Angeles, where we would be staying for the Saturday night. We got there at about 1ish in the afternoon and our directors gave us free time until 3 when we would head over to the Alhambra. Since the hotel had a pool basically everybody from the group got suited up and chilled by the pool for most of the afternoon. After a little while my friend and I decided to explore the city a little bit and look for a tapas bar for some food (apparently if you buy a drink, you get a free tapa along with it. Which is freaking awesome).

 

So after a little bit of walking we find a pretty average looking bar and order a couple of beers. And just like that the bartender hands us a menu of like 10 tapas that we could choose from for free. It was such a good deal we ended up getting a second drink. So for 4 euros I got 2 beers, a fried egg with fries and a mini burger. Really wish I could go back just for that.

 

At this point it was time to get ready to get to the bus and make our way to the historic Alhambra. From class and studying, I have seen a bunch of pictures of the Alhambra and all of its different parts but pictures truly don’t do a justice for this beautiful edifice; you really can’t properly appreciate until you’ve feasted it with your own eyes.

 

Like I said, the Alhambra was basically an ancient city so it took us almost 3 hours to explore every nook and cranny of this place but it was honestly worth it.

 

 

My only regret was not being able to get a beer there. Reason being, the Granada the main beer there is called “Alhambra”. Thought it was have been pretty cool to say that I drank an ‘Alhambra” while at the Alhambra. But hey, that’s just me.

 

After the visit, we took the bus back to our hotel. We had about 2 or 3 hours before dinner so we decided to find another bar to chill at for a while until we decided to go back.

 

The dinner at the hotel was probably one of the best meals that I have eaten since being abroad. It was buffet style and they were just serving out all the classics: fish, chicken, steak, fries, bread, ham you name it.

 

A little after dinner the program offered a walking tour which was talk us to one of the peaks in the city where we would be able to see the city lit up at night. It was a bit of a hike but it was well worth it. It was beautiful being able to see the Alhambra in the distance, covered in light. The rest of the city was so lit up it literally looked like the whole city was sparkling.

 

The rest of the night was pretty low-key. England and Italy were supposed to play at around midnight so we went to one of the nearby bars to watch the game.

 

The following day we were to visit the Capilla Real, another one of Granada most prized possessions. I wasn’t entirely blown away by the church but it was definitely worth the short visit.

 

The rest of the afternoon was just free time so we had time to walk around, do some shopping and get some lunch before getting back on the bus and going back to Sevilla.

 

All in all, it was a solid outing. Glad I had the chance to make the visit. This weekend we have a four-day weekend so a ton of us are going to Portugal. Our bus leaves at midnight tonight and it should be about a 6-7 ride. We’re spending the first night in Lisbon and then the second two days in Lagos, which is supposed to have beautiful beaches so it should be a lotta fun.

 

Deuces

BARCA: Parks, Hostels, Micky D’s, (IceBar)celona, and Futbol

 

I’m back muckas.

 

This past weekend a bunch of us organized a group trip to Barcelona.

 

So Friday morning we all skipped class and headed to the bus station to get a ride to the airport. Unfortunately, that entailed having to wake up at 4 in the morning to catch our 7 am flight.

 

When I got on my flight to Sevilla from the US, it was probably the first time that I had flown anywhere in about 10 years. Needless to say, I may or may not have forgotten many of the rules that go along with flying. For example, you can’t take things like shampoo or toothpaste that are bigger than a certain size otherwise they make you throw it out.

 

I had to throw out both my toothpaste and shampoo. Yayyyyyy great start.

 

Thankfully, that was the only issue I had to encounter.

 

Also thankful that we survived our flight there. And I do mean survived. This plane service was especially sketchy. The pilot landed the plane like it was his first time flying a plane. After we landed the intercom started playing some celebratory mariachi music, which was followed by this message:

 

“Last year 90% of Ryanair flights landed…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..on time.”

 

The pause was literally that long. All my friends just started looking at each other like “what do you mean 90% of your flights last year land? What happened to the other 10%?”

 

That was just further confirmation about how sketchy this flight service was.

 

Anyway we were finally at the Barcelona airport. We bought train tickets that would take us further into the city and then took the metro to around the area where our hostel was. Unfortunately, we got there around 12ish in the afternoon and we couldn’t check into our hostel until 2 so we decided to go find someplace to get lunch.

 

One of the guys that was traveling with us had actually visited Barcelona like 4 years before so he was able to tell us a bunch of stuff that they did when they visited that was cool.

 

We decided to buy tickets to the Camp Nou tour, which was basically a huge tour of the FC Barcelona football (soccer not football but football) stadium and the museum that was also created as a part of the stadium commemorating the past and present success of this football club.

 

I’m not even a huge soccer fan but I love sports and I love sports history and this place was the best of both worlds. FC Barcelona was one of most prolific football clubs in the history of the sport and the museum had probably about 100 of their trophies that they have won over the years.

We also got to walk onto the field and see the seats where the players sit during the games. Overall, a pretty crazy experience.

 

After that everyone was pretty beat from all the walking around and the early morning flight so we caught a metro to our hostel, where we could finally check in.

 

I was not really sure what to expect from a hostel, considering my only experience with hostels is from the horror movie, “Hostel”, which is currently streaming on Netflix if you’re interested (and if you like that then you should consider watching the sequel, “Hostel II”). Anyway, the hostel was very cool. It definitely had a very hipster-esque kinda feel to it but it was really nice. Our room was fairly nice too but it was pretty small. How small? Imagine a typical hotel room. Well this was about a ¼ of that size, packed with 4 bunk beds and a 1 ft by 1 ft bathroom and shower. So after about a 2 hour power nap, everybody regrouped and we made plans for dinner. We were able to take the metro down to the beach and we were able to find a really nice restaurant that overlooked the water.

 

Solid first night.

 

The following day we all got up relatively early and made our way out to explore what the city had to offer. With churros in hand, we started making plans. The same guy that had been in Barcelona before said that the La Sagrada Familia, basically just a big church, was a really cool place to go visit. We made our way over there but the line for tickets was insane. Straight up, there were people wrapped around the entire building. Close to 200 people and the number grew ever minute. Thankfully everyone was in agreement that it was cool but nobody wanted to waste the whole day waiting to go see a church.

 

Instead we decided to visit the historic site known as, Parc Güell. It was a bit of a hike to get there but it was definitely worth it. All of the architecture and the artwork was done by the famous artist Antoni Gaudi. It was truly a beautiful sight to be able to go to the top of the park and see the entire city.

 

After we all the walking we had done that day people finally decided it was that time. And by that time I mean time to get McDonald’s. Yes we all got Big Macs and it was the most delicious thing I ever tasted. We all wanted Micky D’s because it was something familiar and it was also cheap. One of the worst things about Barcelona was that you had to pay out the ass for almost everything. There was no such thing as free anything and it felt like you couldn’t do anything without dropping 20 euros.

 

As we all nurtured our McDonald’s food babies, we thought it was would to be cool to visit this open market that was supposed to be really awesome. The market did not disappoint. The first thing we saw when we walked in was a candy stand that was bigger than our hostel room. I was in heaven. The market also had just a bunch of other random foods like cow tongue, liver, kidneys and the biggest kickers were the 10 pound Ostrich and Emu eggs that one stand was selling for 50 euros.

 

After exploring the market and some of the other local stores, we made our way back to the hostel and relaxed a bit until dinner. We were able to find a really classy place that was actually cheap too. Don’t know how we found it but it was spot on. One of the girls with us had a friend who had just gotten to Barcelona for her study abroad program and she recommending doing this thing called an ice bar.

 

The gist of this bar was you pay to get a jacket and gloves and they take you into a room that was negative 10 degrees C, which is pretty damn cold if you’re wondering. It was awesome though, literally everything was made out of ice: the cups they gave our drinks in, the couch and the bear sculpture in the corner. As fun as it was, we could only stand about 30 minutes of it until it got too cold.

 

Most of the people from our group had flights that left at about 11-12 the following morning so most of them just got up and left right in the morning for the hotel. Me and three other people had our flights later that night at like 7 so we still had the majority of the day to get out last taste of the city. We took the same metro we took the previous day down to the pier where we spent the whole day on the beach. It was really nice just being able to sit back, relax, avoid studying for my upcoming tests and being accosted every 30 seconds by an Indian offering us mojitos.

 

After getting lunch at a cool Greek place long the beach, we started packing our stuff up and finding a bus that would take us back to the airport. We cut it a little close with time but we were all able to make it onto the plane for a slightly less sketchy flight back to Sevilla.

 

We ended up getting back at around 10 at night so we stopped at a local tapas bar and got food before heading back to our respective homes.

 

It was a lot of fun but it made me appreciate Sevilla even more. I loved Barcelona but I couldn’t have lived there for six weeks. Barcelona is very Americanized, expensive and I wouldn’t want to have to keep dealing with Catalun.

 

!Viva Sevilla!

 

Thanks fo readin

The Art of the Haggle

Salutations readers,

 

I realize it’s been a while since I’ve written a post. There’s just been a ton of stuff going on and it’s been hard to find time to sit down and write.

 

So lets recap:

 

The most notable thing that happened this past week was our trip to Morocco.

 

No I didn’t stutter, I said Morocco, as in Africa. Back to the Motherland.

 

So there’s local company called DiscoverExcursions, whose job is basically to organize trips for college students to places like Morocco, Portugal and other places. For a pretty fair price, the company covers things like the hotel, travel, food and what not. So pretty much all the kids in our program decided to sign up for one of the trips to Morocco.

 

It was really cool because when we showed up to the bus stations there were a lot of other kids from other schools like Arizona State and Clemson on the trip.

 

So after about a 2.5 hour bus ride, we got to a port, where we would take a boat to Africaaaaaa (this would also be the last time that I had reliable WIFI for the whole weekend -_-). The boat ride was very chill; we were able to walk around up top on the balcony. It was perfect because right while we were on there the sun was setting so that was a beautiful site.

 

And just like that, we were in Africa.

 

We didn’t end up getting to Morocco until around 10 at night and we had another 1.5 hour bus ride to the hotel where we’d be staying at. So we get there close to midnight and thankfully they had dinner prepared for us at the hotel.

 

I can honestly that my first meal in Morocco was….interesting.

 

The first course was a mystery soup. My friend got the bowl first and started eating it and then just sat there and tried to figure out what the hell he just ate. Not because it was bad because it was just the weirdest thing we had ever eaten. Its impossible to identify what exactly we were eating. It was just warm. No taste. Nothing. I felt like I was eating a bowl of slightly flavored air. The rest of the food was eh.

 

Finally we were able to get to our rooms and since the company made the accommodations I was expecting an incredibly average hotel with crappy everything. Wasn’t like that at all but I’ve never been happier to be proved wrong. These rooms were nice. I’m talking Temper-Pedic mattress and memory foam pillows nice. I so wish I could have taken this bed back, even just a pillow. But no, instead I’m writing this post from my dinky twin bed, as my feet hang off the front end because my legs are so long.

 

Probably the worst thing about being in Morocco/Africa was the water situation. You had to buy bottles of water before hand because water there is just so unsafe to drink and if you do you can say hi to diarrhea and vomiting for the next week. It was actually kinda funny how paranoid people would be a dinner.

 

“Can we use the silverware guys? Like they have to clean them with the water right?”

 

The second biggest hassle was the WIFI. The representatives from the program were like “Oh yea, I know all of you are wondering but yes the hotel does have WIFI so all of you guys can go and update you Facebook statuses and whatnot”. Yup that was definitely a lie. There were like 50 different networks at the hotel but literally none of them worked. Sometimes one of us would get lucky and get like 5 minutes of WIFI before they were kicked off it. I was actually in the middle of talking to my sister and telling her how bad the WIFI was when I got caught off from her. Didn’t get it until we got back to the ferry on the way back to Spain.

 

We were up the following morning bright and early. After a quick breakfast, we hopped on our bus and made out way to the city of Chefchaouen, where we had a guided tour of the city. Some of the site were incredibly beautiful at times you could definitely tell that you were in a 3rd world country. Many of the buildings were run down, there were homeless people all over the place and stray cats and dogs everywhere.

 

But after exploring the city we had lunch and they gave about 2 hours to walk around and shop around. If you don’t know to much about the streets of Morocco but it basically just like a market style place where you kinda just make the price and you have to battle with the vendor for a reasonable price. This was sorta fun but like many things there, a hassle. Because people would see we were tourists and say “oh yes yes come in my store. Yes we’re family. Have a good day brother”. I have literally never met a group of more persistent people in my whole life. And they all want to fed you the same bs. “oh no pressure to buy, you no buy, its fine.” But if you don’t buy you’ll be lucky to get out alive.

 

Another thing our guides warned us about was that dealing and selling hash was a really big thing and people and people on the street target guys specifically. I wasn’t sure how prominent this going to be but I realistically I think I got offered hash about 34 times in that one day.

 

Here’s how it was usually go down:

 

Me: *just walking along*

Random Hash Dealer: “You.” *Points to me* “You, African. I have good hash very good hash. You interested?”

 

Me: “No”

 

Dealer: “I also have marijuana and cocaine. Very cheap. I give you good deal”

 

Me: “Nope I think I’m good” *Powerwalk away as fast as I can only to be approached by another guy*

 

Another thing, I was also mistaken for being an African a lot. Like people would look at me and be like “Oh where in Africa are you from?” and I’d just be like “Oh just the US, it’s a pretty small province in South Africa, its not that well known.”

 

But It was fun though because bargaining involves a lot of lying.

 

“Yea man I only have like 10 euros man I can afford much of anything. Nah man I promised my parents I wouldn’t spend more than 20 euros.” Blah Blah Blah.

 

I only had two goals for the day: find some awesome funky/baggy pants that I could wear on our camel ride the following day and a dope hat.

 

Got em both. 🙂

 

I found one store with these really nice pants and I knew they were the one. So I called the guy over to see if we could “hash” out a deal (I know that was a horrible pun but I just had to) He started off at 10 euros. I wasn’t feeling it. I said 5. He counted with 9. I bumped up to 7. He dropped to 8. Then I was like 7 is really as high as I can go but he wasn’t feeling either. So I said alright I guess I’ll just go someplace else. That’s when he caved at 7. You can get almost any price you want but just pretending you’re going to leave.

 

So after a full day of bargaining and exploring, we made our way back to our hotel where they had a party for all the people on the trip, which was pretty fun. Well not really but I’m gonna pretend it was fun. They set up a game of musical chairs and the winner would win a free trip to Portugal for the following weekend. It was actually pretty cool because they had a girls and guys round and one of the girls from our program won the trips for the girls. Me and my friend repped Carolina for the guys round but I lost in the second to last round. Still bitter about that.

 

The following morning was what everyone was looking forward to because we would all get a chance to ride camels!!!! CAMELSSS!!!!

 

So we take our bus to the spot with the camels and had a glorious time. There were about 10 camels around, 5 for the rides and a few others that people could pet and take pictures with. Probably have about 100 camel pictures and I’m not ashamed of it at all.

Some of the camels were surprisingly aggressive. One of camels I took a picture with, I named him Jeffery, actually smacked me in the face while I was trying to get a picture. Still worth it. The camel ride was a lot of fun too. I never rode horses or any kind of stuff like that so I wasn’t really sure what to expect but it was a lot of fun, just very bouncing. Oh and there was hella camel poop everywhere.

 

After everybody had their fill of camels, we made out way to restaurant where we ate lunch before we visited out final city, Assilah.

 

Assilah was basically just a smaller verison of the city that we had visited the previous day so I wasn’t entirely blown away. But again we were given more time to look around and haggle more.

 

After that we packed up our stuff, got on our bus and started heading to the port where we would catch our ferry back to Spain. The bus ride there was…….interesting.

 

Another one of the things that the tour guides told us was that here it was incredibly normal for little kids to jump onto to the bus to catch rides. When I say jump onto the bus I mean like they were literally hanging on the exterior of the bus. It was all very weird. When we got to the port, out bus was swarmed but about 10 kids who were all trying to get onto/in the bus. We asked around and a lot of these kids try to get into the cargo area of the bus so that they can get on the boat, which will take them to Spain. Thankfully the police were there and they were able to shoo away most of the kids.

 

Finally we got on our boat and made out way back to good ol’ Spain. But it wasn’t without a little excitement.

 

When we got to the port in Spain our program director called everyone over and said “Guys, I have so bad news. One of the kids that was trying to get on the bus got injured while we were in Morocco so we couldn’t bring that bus. So we only have one bus right now. We called the company and they should be sending over another one but its probably going to be able another 2 hours before it gets here. So basically we can only take half of the people back. So here’s how we’re gonna do it: everyone who is not living in Sevilla, like, you live in a hostel in the area or something like that will be on the first bus and the rest will be UNC students.”

 

Cheers broke out, and people started celebrating like we had just beating Dook at Cameron Indoor. It was a good moment. So I chucked up the deuces and said peace out Clemson and Arizona State kids, enjoy your bus ride back…..in two hours hahahahaha. Mean? Yes. Did I care then? No. Do I care now? Still no.

 

We ended up getting back to Sevilla at around midnight. I drug my tired body back to my apartment and passed out in thirty seconds, but not before I enjoyed the pleasure of drinking water straight from the tap.

 

All in all, the trip was really fun. I wouldn’t necessarily say Morocco is a fun place to go but it was definitely a great experience and I’m glad I got a chance to go.

 

Thanks for reading.

 

Keep it classy, never trashy.

A Day at Da Beach

This past week has been pretty hectic. We’ve had a speaker, a meeting, or some kind of trip almost everyday. I know it’s been a while since my last post but I’ll try and recap everything that’s been going on for that past week.

 

This past Friday we took a trip to Cordoba, to visit the Great Mosque of Cordoba. This was a very ironic trip for me, as this past semester I took a class on Islamic Art and Architecture and actually learned about many of the monuments that I have been able to visit while in abroad. One of the things that I really hated about our professor was that at least once a class she would say something along the lines of “If you ever find yourself in New Zealand or France you should definitely check out this monument that we just talked about in class.” And every time that she would say something like that I would just roll my eyes and mutter something angsty under my breath like “Yeah cuz if I ever find myself in New Zealand or France, the first thing I’m going to do is go visit a monument that learned about in my BS art history that I took to get rid of general education requirements. Like that would happen right?”

 

Welp, I’m eating my words now because that exactly what I’ve been doing since I’ve been in Spain. As of now, I think I’ve probably visited about 3-4 monuments that I had discussed in that class. And as weird as it sounds its actually really interesting to have learned a lot about something in class and then actually have the chance to see it person. When we were taking our tour of the Mosque of Cordoba, I can honestly say that I probably knew more about the monument than our tour guide.

 

Like I would just be walking along and drop random facts like,

 

“Oh yeah, the Great Mosque of Cordoba, created in 784, under the Cordoban Umayyad dynasty. The initial patron was Abd’ al-Rahman I but later additions were made by Abd’ al-Rahman III and Al-Hakam II.”

 

“See those arches? Those are called polylobed arches because they are arches within arches.”

 

“You see that red and white pattern? Well that style is called voussoir. The white represents stone and the red is baked brick. This style was also used in the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. “

 

If you haven’t caught on yet, the moral of the story is that I know way more than I will ever want to know about Islamic art and architecture.

 

Anyway that visit was beautiful and I got a ton of great pictures from there.

 

This past Sunday we had a double-header and we got to visit historic Italica and Matalascañas (aka Da BEACHHHHHH).

The visit to Italica was nice and everything but it was basically just a bunch of rocks.

 

Exciting stuff……..

 

Thankfully, the bulk of the day was dedicated to the beach, which was great. The weather was perfect. The only downside was that the water was colder that Mr. Scrooge’s heart at the beginning of A Christmas Carol. Most of the day I just laid on the beach with my friends but toward the end I said I wanted to at least go in the water for a little bit.

 

And by a little bit I mean 3 seconds. No exaggeration.

 

I literally started walking toward the water, my foot touched the water, I spun on my heel and made my way back to my towel.

 

It was really cold.

 

But after that we all got ice cream and prepared for the bus ride back to Sevilla. All in all, one could say it was a solid weekend.

 

Tomorrow a big group of us is going to Morocco for the weekend so it should definitely be a fun week. Most of the following weekends will be a lot of trips and stuff. I plan to go to Portugal (Lagos and Lisbon) and Barcelona with friends and I think the program also takes us to Granada (where we’ll get to visit the Alhambra, which I also learned about in art history).

 

Get excited! Lots of good stuff to come!

Skool & Lyfe

 

 

Wow. It’s really hard to believe that about a week ago I was getting on a flight from RDU to JFK, which would eventually bring me here to Spain. It’s weird to think that I only have 5 more weeks of this experience. One the flipside, I’m lucky to be able to say that I have 5 more weeks of this experience.

 

I haven’t had much time to write since we started taking classes at the local university this week. I actually like the fact that classes finally started because it’s given me a chance to get my daily schedule figured out.

 

Here’s a typical day for me:

 

Wake up at 8:30, get ready, grab breakfast (toast and an apple) and head to the EUSA (our school)

 

9:30- History of Spanish Art. This is a pretty solid class. Not too much work and the teacher, Fernando, is mad chill.

 

10:45- Head back to my homestay, which is thankfully really close to the school, and take my Pre-iesta. If you’re unfamiliar with Spanish culture, everyday from around 3-5 in the afternoon they have what is known as a Siesta, which is just a glorified term for naptime. Just another reason to love Spain. They literally have time during the day that has been specifically allotted for napping. Any country that has successfully integrated a naptime into their system is doing something right. Apologies for the tangent, but back to my main point. When I get back from my first class of the day I like to go back and take what my friend and I call a Pre-iesta, which is just a shortened nap that we take before lunch. We do this because we just have an awkward gap in-between our two classes, so its just more conducive to go home for both of us. And 9 times out of 10 I’m still tired from art class so I usually just come back to the room and sleep until my need class which is at 12:30

 

12:30- Hustle back to EUSA for my grammar class. I’ll be frank: this class sucks. A lot. I was actually hoping that this would be a really productive class that would help me further my grammar skills so that I could more effectively use them when at home and around the city. The main problem is the teacher. First of all, she speaks extremely quickly. I mean most Spaniards speak really fast but most Spaniards are not my teachers. It’s a little frustrating because she should know what we are not accustomed to the culture yet and it makes it hard to learn anything when you can’t keep up with what she’s saying. Further, it feels like every day she’s teaching her first class because she literally never has any kind of structure when it comes to a lesson. We’ll be doing on exercise for a few minutes and something else completely unrelated next. And we really don’t learn anything. She doesn’t teach us at all really. We just spent all of yesterday’s class going over the homework we were supposed to for that day. I’m really disappointed in this class so far. I hope it is not like for the rest of the 5 weeks because that would be such a waste

2:00- Come back to the homestay for lunch

 

3-5: Siesta Time

 

After siestas I usually like to go to the park and go for a run. Its nice because I get a chance to work off all the food our senora feds us and it’s a time to take in all the beautiful scenery.

 

The rest of the afternoon usually consists of just hanging out with friends and chilling at home until dinner.

 

After dinner I’ll either meet up with people or stay in and catch some extra ZZZ’s.