Should have been posted on Friday.
I have been in Santander for three-ish days. We came in on a bus from Madrid. I say we because, unbeknown to me, there were 11 students that all planned on being in Madrid at the same time. Regardless, it was fun. The bus ride took us through mountains and mountains and mountains, all of them magnificent. (See picture somewhere if I can figure out how to make it work)
*Disclaimer, the next paragraph is more pensive than it is comical or informational about my voyage*
feel free to skip to the next one if this doesn't sound particularly sabrosa
I thought I had never seen mountains, but I guess I had seen the Appalachians. Those are not the same. They don't give the same jaw-dropping sense of wonder as these mountains. These mountains have waterfalls at the bottom and snow at the top. I slept a total of ten minutes during that five and a half hour bus-ride. I wish I had not. Every minute a person can spend breathing in scenery that awe-inspiring is precious. It is precious because it is in those minutes that a reverence for the natural world, the world where we all live and all die, is formed. It is precious because it is in those minutes we understand that which we cannot possibly understand otherwise. We understand that we are both small and temporary. I am small. I am temporary. Small in an immense world, and temporary in a timeless one. I am small, but my connections to this world are both extraordinary and everlasting. I have left footprints on its beaches, taken fish from its rivers, worn its clothes, tasted its air, climbed its trees, picked its flowers. I am this world, as much as the mountains are. We are all this world, and I have also made connections with you. We have lived together, danced together, loved together, cried together, laughed together. Any impact we have on each other, we have on this world. That is timeless. It is because of this I can stare at the mountains and feel both small and powerful. We all leave an impact. We all change the world.
*The following paragraphs are void of any contemplation, but packed with tales of Espana, enjoy*
Funny story. I called my host family once from Michigan. It was a couple weeks ago now. I couldn't understand the woman who I talked to that well. After informing her who I was and why I was calling she told me I needed to talk to the padre de la casa (father of the house) and to call back later. That was okay with me, but I wanted to try to get to know the people I would be living with. So I talked to her about the World Cup... for a while. I called the family again in Madrid. When the woman picked up I thought I had called the wrong number. She didn't sound the same as the woman I had talked to from Michigan, and she didn't tell me to talk to the padre de la casa. In fact, she made plans to pick me up on Saturday for me to move in. I said I thought I had called the wrong number, and I had... from Michigan. Somehow in my nervous turmoil immediately preceding the first phone call I had dialed the wrong number. I call people eight hours a work as a job, ridiculous. Anyways I called the wrong number, the wrong Spanish woman had picked up, and I had talked to that wrong Spanish woman from the wrong phone number about the World Cup for ten minutes. That has to be one of the most confusing phone calls that Spanish madre will ever receive in her entire life.
1) Her phone rings
2) A foreign number with the wrong amount of numerals appears on the caller ID
3) She picks up the phone, somebody who barely speaks Spanish is suddenly talking to her
4) Person who barely speaks Spanish is announcing himself as the student who is going to be living in her house for the next two months
5) Confused, she suggests that foreign caller try back later to talk to her husband
6) Foreign caller who barely speaks Spanish refuses to give up and starts talking about the World Cup which doesn't start for weeks
7) Foreign caller finally hangs up, but never, ever calls back to speak to her husband who has no idea who the hell that was that called when she tells him the story.
Anyways, it was definitely the wrong number. I live with Conchita Hernandez. There is no padre de la casa. She is an older woman (I would guess in her 60's) who has three children who have all moved out. She had another study abroad student, Justin, who moved out in April. From what I gather Justin was a whole lot better at Spanish than I am. This seemed to disappoint her at first, now I think she sees it as a challenge. She is undoubtedly the hardest person to understand that I have encountered yet, but I already see improvements in my ability to do so. Mi madre espanola is a ridiculously amazing chef. La comida aqui es de puta madre. I eat an outrageous amount of the amazing food, an amount that I haven't been able to eat since I was a swimmer, but she is always saying that I "como poco" (eat little) and that "Justin comio mucho mas que tu" (ate a lot more than I do). I think Justin is a competitive eater. There is no other way a kid of his size (oh by the way there are several pictures of him in the room I sleep in) ate a lot more than I do now. It isn't possible.
Santander is beautiful. It's still in the mountains but is right on the ocean as well. The beaches are massive with light, fluffy sand. The girls are beautiful. Soccer is popular. People love to dance. It's a good place to be, but back to the first day. I arrived in Santander Friday night with a group of students all staying in a hostel. We decided to go to the playa (beach) and jump in the ocean, simple enough. The beach is on the opposite side of the city as the hostel but we decided to walk anyway. On the way, we asked a couple locals for directions to una playa. One of them pointed up a staircase to our right and said "peligroso." Trevor, who has become a kind of older brother/father/grandfather of the group, said, in his infinite wisdom, "Oh, there is a beach named peligroso." For those of you that don't know, peligroso means danger in Spanish. We all knew that. But, we followed Trevor's advice and followed the locals advice to the beach 'peligroso.' Bad idea, we started walking past a clear gang, into a really sketchy part of town, and ended up nowhere near a beach. We would later find out that the beach is actually named Peligros. The moral of the story, if somebody points a direction and says DANGER, don't go that way. Anyways, we made it to the beach. They are amazing, all of them. (There are six or seven different beaches in walking distance from my house.) I took off my shoes and my shirt and raced to the salty water sand kicking up behind me the whole time. I entered the cold, crisp, delicious ocean and knew that I belonged. I had made it to Santander.
The weekend was kind of a haze. I don't have a phone yet so I didn't hang out with any of the Americans. I played futbol en la playa with some natives, I was probably the second worst out of ten, and talked to some fishermen. Its intimidating. I understand Americans attempting to speak Spanish much better than I understand Spanish people speaking Spanish. Almost all of the people here have been nice though, they don't have a problem helping with directions, or taking a second to struggle through a conversation with me.
I speak Spanish all the time here. It isn't easy, for two reasons.
1) It just isn't easy, it's a completely different language
2) I am usually the funny, outgoing guy (or I try to be) in English. In Spanish it's a different story. Sarcasm doesn't translate really well. I make tons of people laugh when I am talking, but it is more because I mess up than me intentionally being funny. Women are scary enough to when you can communicate with them, it gets much worse when you can't.
Other than that, the trip has been wildly enjoyable and informative. I learn more in a day here than I do in weeks in Michigan. The classes are taught by brilliant professors, Esther y Manolo. I am saving stories of Manolo for another blog,
he calls me Five because
Michael -> Michael Jackson -> Jackson -> Jackson Five -> Five
but he teaches Spanish in a way that is actually approachable and comprehensible. It has already revolutionized how I approach the language. I will tell all of you about this later though, in another blog.
I leave for Ribadesella today. There are prehistorical cave drawings and a lot else to see and the World Cup starts today. BOOM! I will post a blog on Sunday or Monday, look forward to it. Follow me, you know you want to.