Sunday, May 13, 2012


“Decir ‘Adiós’ es morir un poco”

Just as it was before I left 3 and a half months ago to come here, I have so many emotions floating around in my head and my heart that I can’t even begin to categorize or make sense of them. Happy? Sad? Anxious? Nervous? Excited? Heartbroken? If I had to pick just one, I guess the best fitting word would be: ready.

When I left for Spain, I was ready to start a new adventure; ready to see the world, meet new people, and make new experiences and memories for myself. I can honestly now say that I have successfully done all of that and more while I have been away from home. However, now that it is just about to come to a close in less than three ever so short days, I am also ready for this chapter of my life’s adventure to come to an end, and to return to the one place that I miss the most: home.

I can’t believe that it has all come and gone so quickly. I can write it down, I can say it out loud, but three days still feels so far away. It feels like the day that I come home will never arrive, like it is always just slightly out of my grasp. But at the same time, isn’t that how the feeling of home always seems to be? Once you leave, you can never really “go back” even though they say you always can. Sure, once you grow up, move out, go away to college, whatever and wherever it is that your life takes you, you can return to visit, but somehow… it isn’t ever really the same, is it? I know that the word “home” has a different connation for all, but for me, I can now see more than one place in my head when I think of home.

The first images are ones of my lime green bedroom in my parents’ home; a backyard full of trees and brambles; my little sisters smiling face; my parents cooking breakfast in the kitchen; my cat sunbathing on the front porch…Saugatuck. Lake Michigan over the top of a sandy dune, with the sun shining in every direction, sending glimmering shimmers across the water which seems to go on forever and ever…Mount Pleasant. Central Michigan University; my apartment; my beautiful roommates; my best friends; Beta Theta Pi…Sevilla, Spain…

Sevilla has come to grow into a home that I never imagined that it could become. I knew that I had already fallen in love with it before I even stepped off of my first plane ride ever, but what I did not know was how important it would become in my life and how much it would hurt me to leave it behind, now. A part of my heart will always stay here.. .within the winding streets and alleys, among the towers of the Giralda, between the flowers and hedge mazes of the Real Alcazar, floating on the gentle rolling tides of the Guadalquivir River, dancing in the fountains of Plaza de Espana, roaring in the stands with the fans of Real Betis F. C. , dancing quick time to a flamenco beat, pulsing with the rhythm of the discoteca, drifting through the air that smells sweet like orange blossoms and incense, and at the end, softly crying, watching one last sunset over the bridge before I make the last walk home with Ebony.

Ebony. Leaving her will be like leaving a part of my heart behind in yet another place. I cannot believe how impossibly close we have grown over the past months, and I can’t even image a world without her in it. I know that I have made a forever friend and Spanish sister in her, and I can’t wait for our roadtrips to see each other as the years continue on.

Years seem to be such a fleeting thing these days, though. Although my time here has passed so quickly and yet so slowly, I have begun to realize that my time in college is also about to fly by just as fast, leaving me just as breathless and caught off guard. Where does the time go when we are not looking and when we’re too busy, out having fun? The sunlit days and moonlit nights all blur together, and before we know it, we’re saying dreaded goodbyes, and closing the doors on things. But then new days always follow, and we open new doors, say ‘hello’ and ‘I missed you’, and ‘nice to meet you’.

But ‘goodbye’ is always the hardest of words to say, it seems, no matter how many new hellos come in its place. I have made so many good friends here, and seen so many beautiful things, that as much as I miss home and am dying to go back to it, I can’t bear the thought of seeing all these things go away. The difference is, when you leave home, you know that it is always going to be there, never changing, waiting for you to come back. It is just as it was, but yet you are not as you once were, and nor can you go back to being so. Spain has forever changed my life, and I have become a different person in many ways from studying abroad. I have learned how to: successfully travel on my own, make plans on the go in a split second decision moment, communicate in two foreign languages with more fluency and proficiency, accept things, situations, and people for who they are in a more open minded manner, be an independent woman, read maps, be brave, be strong, be FREE.

For someone who had never stepped foot on an airplane or gone west of the Mississippi up until four months ago, those are some pretty exciting accomplishments! I can successfully say that after this study abroad experience, that I have now seen 4% of the world, holy cow! It may not seem like a lot, but I am thrilled with that statistic. I have travelled in planes, trains, cars, buses, bikes, taxis, boats, and camels; I have eaten foods that I never before would have dared to try in my life; I have handled situations that I never thought before that I could handle; I have lived in a foreign country, and been absolutely enthralled with it. I have now visited: 2 continents, 5 countries, and 15 cities.

This is not to say that there were not “bad” moments where I got sad, or missed home, or had too much school work to go out and play for the day, but overall, the great moments outweigh the negative ones 100 to 1.

Right now, memories are just flashing through my mind like photographs. I can picture our very first days here in Sevilla, and how nervous I was, but also how excited I was. It felt like the whole city was so huge and vast that I would never be able to find my way around it. But now, I can’t imagine getting lost here! Navigating the little winding streets that spill out onto grand plazas filled with couples strolling hand in hand and kids playing soccer and laughing in delight all seem second nature to me. it’s going to take a lot to get used to walking out of school and, number one, not being able to walk anywhere! Here, I can walk everywhere and anywhere I like. At home in good ole Michigan, this is near impossible! However, I do miss my car more than words can express, and I am dying to put the pedal to the medal and roll all the windows down and just drive and drive and drive…

After all the trips that I have gone on, and all the places that I have seen, it is so surreal to think that the next plane I go on will be the one that is taking me home. Will home be the same now that I am different? Will I still fit into the places where I once belonged, or will the places and people have evolved, changed, and grew as much as I have? I don’t know what has been going on in some of my best friends lives, just as much as they don’t know what has been going on in mine. Will our worlds be able to meld back together with ease, or will there be tension? I have a strong feeling that the reverse culture shock is going to hit a lot harder and feel a lot weirder than the culture shock hit me when I landed in Spain. In an odd way, I feel as if I was sort of always meant to be here. The Spanish lifestyle is definitely something different than the life I lead back at home, but it was also surprisingly easy and comfortable to fall into it. It felt just as natural as breathing to wake up in the morning, eat a light breakfast, walk to school and enjoy the lovely weather and the breathtaking sites, sit in small, discussion based classes where the professors are all on a first name basis, and then return home for a big lunch of the freshest foods, take a siesta, wake up and do homework, relax, admire the city from the rooftop, and then enjoy every night as it came. As much as I enjoy having my own room at home and at my apartment, I will very much miss lying in bed every night and talking to Ebony until we both fell asleep. It was like a four month long sleepover, what more could you ask for?

My final weekend in Spain was perfect, and I am so lucky that I got to spend it with my Cheetah Girls: Ebony, Keslie, and Vasanthi. On Friday, after we finished some of our exams, we went out to a discoteca called Abril, and danced our feet off until 5 in the morning, just like true Spaniards. The night life here is certainly something else, and I was glad that we got to have one last go at it before it came to an end. On Saturday, we all went to Triana to do some shopping and walk on the riverside, and today, we went to Plaza de Espana and made fools of ourselves in the rowboats, splashing around. After lunch and a siesta, Ebony and I went to a bullfight, something that I still have mixed feelings about. This is how it works:

There are six bulls, and 6 toreros (matadors). In the beginning, all of the toreros, their ‘assistants’, and the men on horses  file into the bull ring for a prayer and a moment of silence out of respect for the bulls. Then, after everyone leaves the ring, the first torero goes back in alone. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a huge black bull with gleaming horns comes rushing into the ring. As the torero glides his red cape back and forth, dodging the massive, angry bull, the two dance from side to side, testing each other’s strength. Let it be known that in Spain, bull fighting is HUGE. It might even be tied, or even more popular, than soccer, which is saying something. There is a huge amount of respect placed on both the bulls and the toreros, since both are raised to play the parts that they do. The crowd loves a torero who can taunt and tease the bull without getting hurt, yet they also love a toro who is big, bold, fast and strong enough to defy the torero and graze him with its horns, or tear his cape away from him. The people love a bull who can show just how brave and strong he is, with no fear of the man in front of him. Before the fight, the torero throws his cap to the ground, showing his respect for the animal that he is about to challenge, and by the rules of the game, eventually kill. After the bull gets agitated, men on horses come out. The horses are in a thin layer of padding, and heavily sedated so that they cannot run. Then the bull charges. It literally lifts the horse into the air with its horns and thrashes it around. This is to further agitate the bull. However, at this time, the man riding the horse also has a spear, that he is trying to stab into the bull as it charges the horse. This is when the blood starts and where is starts to just get ugly. Now the bull is super mad, and three men with brightly colored spears shaped like bowling pins come out and have to try and jab them into the bulls back. Once they do, the torero comes out again, and once more, it is just him and bull in a final dance till the end. Once again, the people like a show. They don’t want to torero to fail, so they want it to be a fast kill, however, they also like a see the bull put up a damn good fight in the process. But even when the bull is tired, bleeding, foaming at the mouth, and swaying, it is hard as hell to take him down. These bulls are born and bred just for this purpose. They are given the best lifestyle that any bull could dream of. Just to die within 30 minutes. Eventually, the torero is able to drive his curved sword into the flesh of the bull, and down he goes. Then another man comes in and stabs him in the neck, in a spot where he dies instantaneously, supposedly. Then the bull is hooked up the horses, and dragged out of the ring, leaving a trail of blood in the dirt behind it. You can imagine what the ring must look like after six bulls or more…however, at the end, if the crowd deems that the bull was worthy and put up a valiant fight, they all stand up and fiercely cheer and applaud, waving white handkerchiefs in his honor. Then they also throw roses into the ring for the torero, to reward his bravery as well. I couldn’t help but cry during the entire fight.

So here we are. So close to the end, almost full circle. Surreal, don’t you think? A bullfight symbolizing the circle of life and death and the finality of all things; how some people die so others can benefit (every piece of the bulls meat goes to feed the hungry in Sevilla). And here I am once again, just as I was in the beginning, with a swirling mind and an uneasy heart.

See you in three days, America. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

“The Final Countdown”

So the final countdown begins: I arrive home in one week from today! At 2:15pm, on Wednesday, May 16th, I will be landing in the beautiful city of Chicago at O’Hare International Airport!

However, between now and then, there is a lot to get done. I have three final exams, two of which are this Friday! Which means I will be spending the next two nights studying my butt off. Thankfully, my final term papers have already been turned in, so that’s a load off my mind. After Friday’s exams, I have the weekend, and then nothing on Monday, one last exam on Tuesday, and then home on Wednesday. I can’t even believe how fast the time has flown by.

Yesterday, I had my last day of tutoring with Reyes and Angela. They were so sweet and they made me cookies all by themselves without the help of their mom! So even though the cookies were a little burnt and crumbly, and tasted like too much oil had been added, I gladly let them fill my plate full of star, moon, and heart shaped cookies, and we ate them all with chocolate milk. After words, since it was the last day and I didn’t want to do anything too difficult with them, we just played Pictionary with vocabulary words that I had put on cards. They had fun trying to draw dragons and castles and princesses. It was sad to leave them, and their mom welcomed me back any time that I liked, and the girls said they didn’t want me to leave because I was like a big sister to them. I literally almost cried. I hate goodbyes in any form, and I know that this week, a lot of them are ahead. I am trying really hard not to think about it just yet.

Tonight, a group of girl friends and I are going to go to Cien Montaditos one last time for €1 Wednesdays. I am really going to miss that place! Such awesome and cheap food, ugh! They could really make a lot of money if they opened up in a college town. Along with that “last”, a list of other “lasts” to come this weekend are: Alcazar gardens visit, Plaza de Espana visit, tapas everywhere and anywhere, drinks by the river, discoteca Buddha, Triana Market, and just generally enjoying Sevilla and soaking it all up these last seven precious days! The weather is certainly telling us to go outside: 90 degrees and hot hot hot! Too bad we don’t have enough time to go to the beach one last time. Oh well, Lake Michigan will be just as welcoming (albeit cold) when I come home so soon.

Along with all the lasts, there is also one first: on Sunday evening, Ebony and I are going to a Bull Fight! Something that I am secretly terrified to do/see, but I know that the cultural significance for Spain is HUGE so I want to see one for that reason. Wish those poor torros some suerte, por favor!

I am jealous that everyone at home is done with exams, you lucky ducks! Throw some suerte my way, while you’re at it with the torros!


Sunday, May 6, 2012

“!Hala Madrid!”

As weird as this is to write, this is my last post about a trip from study abroad! There will be no more weekends of just jetting around Europe! However, as much as I feel blessed to have been able to have all the experiences that I did and see all the beautiful cities and places that I did, I am definitely very ready to just have to get on one more plane in ten days: the one that will take me home.

Madrid started off rainy, and when Brent and I met in the airport on Thursday, it was quite wet and dark outside, much to our dismay. However, that didn’t stop us from going out and exploring! We checked into our hostel, and then went out and explored a little bit of the city. We stopped for a snack, since Brent had to try some typical Spanish cuisine: Chocolate con Churros! Also, we had one of Brent’s favorite lunches: Cien Montaditos! After, we went to Plaza Mayor, and then explored a cool open air market. Not as cool as the one in Barcelona, for the record! We walked up the Paseo del Prado, and walked through Parque Retiro, which was very nice, but would have been much better in the sun! We went to the Museo de Reigna Sofia, which is one of the modern art museums in Madrid. I really liked it because not only did they have modern art pieces, and rotating temporary exhibits, they also had classic pieces like “Guernica” by Picasso! It is much more amazing than I could have imagined in person. There were also several works by Dalí, Miró and Calder. Surprisingly, even Brent enjoyed himself at the museum. There was an exhibit related to economics and he liked that one a lot. After we left the museum, we made our way back to the center of town, and after looking around for awhile in the rain, we had some amazing tapas for dinner.

Friday, we got an early start and had some great Spanish breakfast at a café near our hostel. We also did a little bit of shopping in the main shopping district; however, we cut it short since we wanted to see more sights! We were planning on going on the free walking tour with our hostel, but it was such a joke that we dipped out after five minutes. After we decided on our final shopping purchases, we made our way to Templo Debod, which is an Egyptian worship temple that was donated to Madrid after Spain’s help in some war of theirs, way back when. After words, we went to the Palacio Real, which is where the Royal Family lives! We explored it a bit, and then we went to Montaditos once again for a feast of a lunch. We then rode the metro two stops down to the Estadio Vicente Calderon, where Atletico Madrid Futbol Club plays. We wanted to see how much tickets would cost for the game on Saturday night (we didn’t end up buying them, anyway, even though they were pretty reasonably priced). At this point in the story comes some semi bad news. After we left the stadium, we rode the metro back to the center, indenting to go to the Museo del Prado, which I was of course really excited about. However, once we got off the metro, I realized that my camera had either gotten lost, or stolen from my jacket pocket. Sadly, there is not a happy moment here, where I can tell you that after looking, I realized that I had it all along, because this is not the case. I did not find it, and it is still lost forever to Madrid. At this point, I was really upset about losing my camera, but I didn’t want to let it ruin my mood/our great weekend, so we still tried to go to the Prado. However, once we got into the really long line, we realized that it was during the free public visiting hours, so we left, deciding to leave the museum for Saturday. Then, in search of something to do, we tried to go to the Thyssen Foundation, another art museum, and they said that it would take three hours to get through, and they closed in two, so that was a bust. Since we were both a little down after this, we just decided to save a little money and make dinner in the hostel that night, so we bought some wine and some pizzas and ended up just staying in and talking all night, which was actually very nice and cheered me up. Brent is a very good person to talk with.

On Saturday, we hit the ground running, determined to get everything in on our last day. We started off with another huge breakfast, complete with churros and horchata, and then we went to the Museo del Prado right when it opened. It was even more amazing than I could have imagined, and we walked through rooms and rooms full of Titian, El Greco, Goya, Cranach the Elder, Bosch, Velazquez, Bernini, and more and more and more! It never ended! It took us about 3 hours to get through the entire museum, but it was well worth it, and I loved every second of it. After the Prado, we went back to the hostel for a moment to rest our feet and eat our leftover pizza. Then we were off again and we went to El Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, where Real Madrid Club Futbol plays! We went on a tour of the stadium, which was really really cool and I enjoyed it a lot. Best futbol club in the world! After we left, we went to Starbucks and sat outside just spending some time just enjoying the sunshine, the weather got a lot better after the rain on Thursday! We ended up going back to the Palacio Real and walking around the Royal Gardens and then we just walked allllll over the city, exploring all of the “nooks and crannies” and doing some window/souvenir shopping. That evening, we sat in the hostel lounge and we watched Chelsea play Liverpool and win the FA Cup title! After that, we went back out to get tapas for dinner, which were amazing and a delicious way to end the weekend.

This morning, we had to get up early because my flight back to Sevilla left at 8:20am. Brent went with me to see me off, and then he went back to the hostel to sleep for three more hours until check out. His flight didn’t leave until 4:30, so sadly, he had the afternoon to himself in Madrid. I always hate saying goodbye to him, even if it is only another 3 to 4 weeks until I see him again once we’re both back in the states. I hope that he makes it back to Prague alright! Overall, despite the camera loss and the rain, we had a great weekend, and I always enjoy every moment that we spend together. It was a great final trip for both of us to end our study abroad semester on.

On the other hand, both of us are ready to go back to the states for the summer. We agreed that as much as we have loved everything we have seen and everywhere we have been, there is no place in the world like being home with all your family and friends. Every trip that I have taken this month has made me more and more anxious to go home. In just ten short days, I finally get to go home! As much as I will miss Spain, I am ready! I just have to make it through four days of class this week, and then 2 days of final exams next week. This weekend, some girls and I might go to the amusement park in Sevilla for one last time to hang out together.

Congratulations to everyone at CMU on graduating this weekend! I am jealous that you all are done with exams and on summer vacation already! I can’t wait to see everyone so soon :) Just pray that I make it through classes, finals, and packing in the next ten days!


Sunday, April 29, 2012

''The City of 100 Spires''

Hola from Munich!

Since I am currently sitting in the airport with a three hour layover before I depart back to Spain, I decided to write my blog now rather than later. I apologize in advance for any spelling or grammer errors, since this German keyboard has some oddities that I am not used to, and I can't seem to find certain keys...

This weekend, I was lucky enough to head to Prague, Czech Republic to meet up for a visit with my amazing boyfriend, Brent, who is studying abroad there for the semester.

My journey was a long one, and I started off by waking up at 6am on Thursday to walk from my house to the bus station that would take me to the Sevilla airport. From there, I flew to Madrid, where I would make another connection to Frankfurt, Germany, and then carry on to the final destination of Prague. Both of my flights were delayed, and I basically spent the entire day travelling, but it was well worth it once I finally arrived and found Brent waiting for me in the airport. It was so nice to see him after over a month apart, since we last saw each other in London.

It was a gorgeous sunny weekend in Prague, 75 and sunny, and we left the airport and took a bus to his house that he shares with 4 guys and 8 girls. Although it is a bit far from the city center, the view is gorgeous and his backyard is filled with flowering trees and grass. Instead of going right home though, we headed into the city from the airport, since it was only about 7pm and still perfectly light outside and very warm. Brent showed me around some of the city, and it really is just as beautiful as I have ever heard that it was. Every building and street are so perfect and precious, filled with churches and castles, towers and clocks. Cobblestones weave through wide streets and spires can be seen on every building top within eyesight. It really is something out of a fairytale book. We walked through the city up to the Prague Castle, which is where the President of Czech Republic lives! Behind/next to the castle is this amaying church called St. Vitus that truly looks like Cinderella is about to open the window any moment and start singing out to all the birds. It was kind of a climb to get to the top, but it was a really pretty view of the city. I also got to see where Brent goes to school, as well as the Lennon Wall, which is super cool and covered in graffiti spreading messages of peace and love.

We took the metro back to Brent's and then we made some spagetthi for dinner, and I got to meet all of his roommates, and they are really fun and nice. We all went out to this place called 'The Beer Museum' where they literally have a menu of 100 different beers! We sampled lots of different kinds and they were all amazing! Afterwords, we headed to the 'Beer Factory' where there are built in kegs in every table that you can dispense your own beer from. And of course, before going home for the night, they insisted that I try some true Czech cuisine: street vendor food. Fried cheese sandwhiches, something that sounds a little weird, but is amazing, quickly became one of my new favorite things! Finally, we headed home for the night, but I got some amaying night time views of the the city all lit up, especially the beauty that is Old Town Square!

Friday morning, we woke up and went to get some pastries, and then set out for a day full of exploring! Brent took me back through the heart of town to see things in the daylight. We saw Old Town Square, which has the astronomical tower and Tyn Chruch (which also looks like a castle where I am sure that Rapunzel lives). We climed all the way to the top of the astronomical tower for another amazing view of the city, and of the sqaure. I love how all of the rooftops are red and there are dashes of color everywhere, from all the gorgeous buildings and houses. After coming down from the tower, we walked through the old Jewish ghetto (which ironically now in modern day is filled with high end retail stores) and saw the oldest synagouge in Europe, as well as a really haunting Jewish cemetery where they had to pile all of the bodies on top of each other because there wasn't any more space allowed for them to expand. It was really sad and crazy to think that Czech was under communist rule until just a mere 20 years ago! After we left the Jewish ghetto, Brent took me to his favorite place in the city: Charles Bridge, which crosses the Vltava River. It is truly a remarkable and beautiful work of architecture and has lots of legends and mystery behind it. For example, the day, year, time, and hour that it was built on all make a plaindrome of numbers. Also, there is a statue about half way down the bridge that has a dog on it, and if you pet the dog, it is supposed to bring you good luck and make you come back to the city one day! I sure hope so!

After walking over the bridge, we saw some cool Franz Kafka art. There are statues by him and another artist (the name I wish I remembered) who put crayz surrealist art sculptures all over the city to undermine the seriousness of the communist regime. We walked through a super nice little park that had amazing smelling flowering trees and lilacs, my fave! We watched the ducks in the pond and a big golden retriever came and splashed through it, chasing them. Then we made our way back towards Brent's neighborhood and stopped for lunch at a really yummy pizza place. It was cool to be able to hear Brent speak in Czech when we went out. So proud of him! After lunch and relaxing our sore feet for a bit, we went to a church called Vysehrad and walked around the gardens and had some ice cream. After walking around for a while and admiring the amazing views of the city, we hopped on the metro and stopped at the store to buy some ingredients for an amazing dinner that we made: greek quesadillas, but with a twist. SO GOOD. After dinner, we relaxed and then went out with Brent's friend Steph. We ended up back at the Beer Museum and just talked and talked for hours. It was a very good night.

On Saturday, we woke up and took the bus to the Prague Zoo! I love the animals (: It was such a nice day outside though, so it was super crowded. But we got to see lots of cool and cute animals, and had a nice morning at the zoo. Since the zoo is built kind of on a hillside, there is a cool ski lift like thing that takes you up and down. It was kind of scary but so cool! The zoo was great, but unfortunatley, I got pooped on by a bat when we went through the open air bat enclosure. Awesome! After leaving the zoo, we went back home to make some more greek food for lunch, and then we headed out to Petrin Hill, which is the highest vantage point in the city, and has nice parks and trees that go alllllll the way up the hillside. We hiked all the way to the top, stopping at several points to admire the view, and then we went to the top to climb the Petrin Tower, which is pretty much Prague's version of the Eiffel Tower, they even look similiar. Petrin isn't as tall, but you can see farther than the Eiffel because Petrin is on much nigher ground. The view from the top was breathtaking. Prague is so very beautiful. Eventually, we descended the hill, and went back to Brent's to make some dinner and get ready for our date night out on the town!

We went to the famous Prague Black Light Theatre, in the heart of the city, right near Charles Bridge, and saw 'Aspects of Alice' which is loosley based on Alice in Wonderland. The performance was without words, only music, actions, lights and sounds. It was definitley something very different, bizarre, and surreal, but I enjoyed it very much and it was so artisticly full of symbolism about life and love and death. After the show, we enjoyed walking through the city at night, and eventually made it home and went right to bed.

That brings us to today, where I regretfully had to leave Brent, and head to the airport. I never like leaving him, even though we will see each other again this weekend in Madrid (yay!)

I am in Munich, using the free computers, and writing this blog, and I still have two hours to wait for my flight back to Madrid. I am so super tired, but all of my travels have been %100000 percent worth it! I loved Prague and seeing Brent, and I really hope that I can go back and visit that magical city again one day. I did pet the dog, afterall!

In other news, I have only 17 (can you believe it!?) days left in Spain until I come home for the summer! Some news regarding the homecoming: I have now got two summer jobs at home! One at Zing, the restaurant/bar that I worked at last summer, and a new one at Uncommon Grounds coffee shop! I could not be more excited!

Love you all, especially Brent, and I am missing you and Prague already.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

"You Know I Love You So"

“When you’re on a holiday, you can’t find the words to say all the things that come to you, and I wanna feel it too. On an island in the sun, we’ll be playin and havin fun, and it makes me feel so fine I can’t control my brain…”

Lagos, Portugal. Those are the only two words that can be smashed into one definition: paradise. This past weekend, I went to Lagos, a city on the very southwestern point of Portugal, on the Atlantic Ocean. I have honestly never been to anywhere more beautiful. I have gone to many places so far on my study abroad trip, but cities can only be so beautiful to a point. Manmade structures are one thing, but completely raw and natural beauty carved from the hands of the earth is another thing completely…

Upon arriving after a four hour bus ride from Sevilla, our first stop before checking into the hotel was la Ponta de Piedade, an amazing natural rock structure lining the coast for miles and miles. Its arches, peaks and points all converge together to create coves, nooks and crannies in the rocks and that tiny dinghy boats dash in and out of to show people to inside of the watery caves. Although it was a bit cloudy when we got there, it was hot and humid and the air was thick with the smell of saltwater. I have never seen water that is clearer or bluer than the water on the coast of Lagos. The pictures that you see are not enhanced or photoshopped, it is just that amazing!

After spending some time admiring mother nature’s sheer beauty, my girls and I discovered that our hotel was literally right on one of the many many amazing beaches that Lagos has to offer. After checking in and throwing on our bikinis, we ran right down to Praia Dona Ana, a basically secluded cove of natural rock formations jutting up from the depths of the crystalline teal water, and lined with white sand covered in seashells and tiny little scurrying crabs, that are quick to run back into tide pools filled with sea urchins and anemones. We spent the entire day lying on the beach, exploring the rocky caves, wading through the ocean, collecting shells, building sand castles, soaking up the sun, and drinking fruity beverages. After a long day of relaxing, we got dressed and went down into the center of town. Lagos is definitely a summer destination. Although it was amazing weather for us, most locals think that it is still “too cold” to go out to the beach much. It wasn’t cold at all for me, quite the contrary! People in Europe still amaze me. In Sevilla with 70 degree weather plus, people are still wearing sweaters, and I am fighting the urge to wear jean shorts, even though that is socially unacceptable here. Anyway, we ended up eating at cool surf/reggae themed little restaurant called Nah Nah Bah, where we got some delicious sangria and amazing burgers with pineapples and some amazing spicy orange sauce on them. After dinner, we went out to a discoteca called the Grand Café, and danced the entire night and early morning away.

Saturday, we started the day off right, because despite little sleep, we boarded a large sailboat and took a cruise out into the ocean, and through the caves and coves of the shoreline. The water was so clear, and the sun was shining, glimmering onto the ocean’s surface, throwing glittering reflections of light and glass off my sunglasses. We went in a tiny dinghy out into the coves, and I was literally waiting for Ariel to pop out and any second and start singing about how she wished she had legs to join me on land. After two hours of heaven on earth out on the ocean, when I thought things couldn’t get any better, they did. We went to another wonderful beach and played in the tide pools and lay in the sand all afternoon. I took an amazing nap in the hot sunshine, and my back hated my for it later because of the sunburn, but it was vale la pena! After a long afternoon on the beach, we returned to our hotel for showers, naps, and a change of clothes. Then we left for Cabo San Vicente, which is the very tip of Portugal, which looks out onto the Atlantic Ocean (17 day boat trip to the USA, fun fact). They call it “The End of the World” and it is not hard to see why. Back in the day, before maps and modern technology and the concept of gravity, people in Europe DID think that the edge of Portugal really WAS the end of the world, and that if they continued into the distant horizon, they would fall off the edge of the world and forever be lost to the unknown fathoms of its depths. I have never been to Ireland, but I would imagine that the view is something similar to the Cliffs of Moher. The view of the sunset was incredible, even though it got a bit chilly once the sun set.

After returning to the hotel for a moment, we went out to dinner at a diner called Rockafellas, where although the wait was long, the food was good. After dinner we went to a little hole in the wall bar called Joe’s Garage, where we spent most of the night.

Sunday, our last day, was spent much the same as the first two: beaching, napping, and wishing that I never had to leave the beautiful paradise that I had found. I spent my last hours soaking up all the vitamin d that my body could handle, and I left the beach with great memories, a sunburn, and sand caked into my hair. If I ever get the chance, I would return to Lagos in a heartbeat, and I would also love to see more of Portugal!

In other news, here in Sevilla, this week is going to be one of the hardest to date! I have to finish my history term paper by Wednesday, and on Thursday, I am going to Prague to visit Brent, finally!! I am so excited to see him and to also see Prague, the city I have heard so many great things about. This week/weekend is also what is called “Feria de Abril” in Sevilla. Basically one of the biggest street carnivals/parties in Spain. People from all over come just to see it! But that means for me, that I am babysitting right now, and that I will also be here on Tuesday and Wednesday night, because Reyes and Angela’s mom and dad are out partying the night away at Feria while I watch their children and slave over all my homework after they go to bed, waiting for their parents to return in the wee hours of the morning. Oh well, at least it gives me no other option but to buckle down and do homework! And they money doesn’t hurt either ;)

For everyone back at CMU, kick butt on finals! You’re so close to being done! See you in 24 days, America! 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

“Life Carries On”

Hola, everyone!

How has the week/weekend treated you? My week went by pretty slow and felt long, but I guess that’s how the weeks always start to feel as the semester nears a close: stressful, overwhelming, and full to the brim with things to do. This past week started off slowly, because it was the first week back to school after a 13 day spring break, of which I spent half of in Africa on vacation. All of my teachers were talking about final papers and final projects and final exams that are all coming up very shortly within the last four weeks of the semester. I have two research papers that are due on May 2nd that I have been working on this weekend, but I am still overwhelmed a bit with having to research and write a long paper completely in Spanish. Not that I haven’t done this before at CMU, but I feel like here it is worth more and the grading is going to be a lot harsher. To be honest, I am scared to death to turn in these papers! I have been researching a lot this weekend, and making progress, but judgment day will happen when I actually hand them over for grading.

In some good news, I got a 94% on my literature midterm, and a 98% on my history midterm! So hopefully that trend will continue for my final exam! However, I only got a 75% on my business midterm, which I am incredibly unhappy about. I guess that means that I will just be throwing all of my efforts into studying very hard for my final exam.

Other than all of my anxiety about the impending finals ahead, the week passed without much more to speak of. Ebony and I had some of our girlfriends over to our house this weekend for a sleepover, and we made puppy chow and no bake oreo balls (to the best of our ability, Spain lacked some ingredients that we needed, so we had to improvise). We ordered pizza and watched scary movies and generally just laughed a lot and had a great night. In the morning, or more like afternoon, when we eventually woke up, we made French Toast! Something that they never eat in Spain, really. It was delicious, since breakfast isn’t really a huge meal here, mostly consisting of toast and ham or some coffee and a piece of fruit. I miss pancakes, and I can’t wait to come home and go to ihop!

I got Ebony started on watching the tv series “True Blood” this weekend. Looks like we know what we’re gonna be doing when we’re not doing homework! ;)

I know that I should be enjoying the last month that I have hear, but with all the school things that are coming up, I am just feeling stressed, tired and homesick. I love Spain, so I know the feelings will subside eventually once I get my assignments back under control again. I will feel very relieved once I finish my papers, this week.

I leave for home in ONE MONTH FROM TOMORROW! I am very excited, but I will miss Spain very much when I leave. In the next month before coming home I have to: write two research papers, take three final exams, go to Portugal, go to Prague to visit Brent, go to Madrid with Brent, pack, pack, pack! So much to do in so little time!

I hope that everyone has a great week, and that everyone at CMU is kicks butt on final exams! And also, congrats to all my favorite guys in Beta Theta Pi Fraternity on their new pledge class!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

"African Sway"

Be warned, friends: this is a long one! I spent five days in Africa, what can you expect, I have a lot to say! So get cozy, grab a hot mug of something, and listen in.

My trip to Morocco, Africa began on Saturday morning at 3am, when I awoke to drag myself out of bed so that my roommate Ebony and I could walk to the bus that would take us all the way down to Tarifa, the tip of Spain that the ferry leaves from. It was a dark and chilly walk with our backpacks and shared suitcase, and we boarded the bus at 4:30am and our journey began. The bus ride to Tarifa lasted about 3 hours, and we got to the harbor to take the 9am ferry from Tarifa, Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangiers, Morocco. The ferry was only about 40 minutes, but it was a bumpy and rainy ride. Thankfully, I don’t get motion sickness, otherwise it would’ve been a lot more uncomfortable, as I know that it was for some people. In the rainy distance, the continent of Africa was visible through the mist. I had no idea what to expect, but I was ready to meet whatever was waiting for me on that distant shoreline.

Once we arrived on African soil, to say that I was surprised is an understatement. Maybe I need to brush up on my African geography and history a little bit more, but the first site of Morocco was not one that I was expecting. I know that Morocco is a Muslim country, and that it has history of being taken over by the French, however, I was not expected to see and hear the abundance of Arabic writing and French language being spoken rapidly around me. Although the rain had stopped, it was still gray and cloudy outside, also another thing that I wasn’t expecting. I mean, I know that Morocco is far north, but come on, it’s Africa! Isn’t your stereotypical image of a wide open plain with hot sun and lions? Well let me tell you right now to check those stereotypes at the door, because that is not the type of Africa experience that I had! (Arguably, I think that mine was better, but one day maybe I will again travel to Africa and this time head south).

Once we got off the ferry, we exchanged our euros for dirham, which is the local currency, and the exchange rate is about ten to one, meaning that for every euro, you get ten dirham. So suddenly the twenty I exchanged turned into two hundred. Then we boarded the bus from Tangiers and took a ride to Rabat, which is the capital of Morocco, situated on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. On the ride there, the weather got nicer, and the sun came out. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the window, even though I was so tired, and wanted to close my eyes and sleep. How could I when everything was so beautiful?! Rolling sand turned into lush fields full of purple, yellow, and red flowers, which then melted suddenly into forests full of curving and green trees. Every field was filled with livestock: goats, horses, sheep, cows, camels. Tiny towns of white crumbling brick and wood were filled with boys playing soccer barefooted as their dogs raced by their sides. The streets were populated by women in hijabs and men in colorful clothing. Everything I saw went past in a blur or color and light.

When we got to Rabat, we stopped at a restaurant to have lunch, and we were served an amazing veggie plate with tomatoes, peppers, olives, cucumbers, and oranges. For lunch, we had this pastry sort of thing that had a flaky baked crust with baked shredded chicken inside of it. The outside was covered in cinnamon and powdered sugar. A perfect blend of savory and sweet! It was delicious, and I can’t wait to recreate it in my own kitchen in the states! After lunch, we took an amazing walk on the beach. I was fascinated with the rocky tide pools teaming with the life of clams, anemones, and sea urchins. The water was so clear and blue that I was expecting Aerial to pop out at any second, calling for Prince Eric. We left the beach to go on a walking tour of Rabat, most notably, the Medina. Medina means city within a city, and it is typical of Moroccan life. It is a walled city within the city itself. The idea is supposedly that if you live in the Medina, you never have to leave it to get what you need. It Rabat, this isn’t the case. The Medina certainly is big and vast, but most people who live there leave it to go out and carry on with their everyday lives. The walls of the Medina were painted all different shades of blue, which signifies the Jewish quarter of the area. The walls of the Medina are from the 12th century, and they are named the “Andalusian Walls”, oddly enough. Andalusia is the province of Spain that Sevilla is in, where I live. The reason that Rabat became the capital of Morocco in the first place is because it was the port that the soldiers left from to go to Spain during the war (it became capital in 1912). Currently, Morocco is a constitutional monarchy, and Mohammad VI is the King of the country. However, the parliament really doesn’t do anything, and the King makes most of the decisions for the people.

After we made our way through the Medina, we passed the cemetery, which is situated on the hills next to the ocean, in order to be far away from the city center. Overall, I was impressed with how modern that Rabat seemed to be. Although it was rustic and crumbling in places, and so clearly filled with rich history and heritage, it had a good public transportation system and appeared to place as much value on growing for the future as it did about protecting the importance of the past.

We left Rabat, and endured another three hour bus ride towards Fes, which is further south into the country. As we left Rabat, I bid goodbye to the crystal blue ocean, the colorful boats along the docks, and the children running on the beach with bright yellow and green kites. We arrived in Fes by dinner time, and we checked into our hotel, The Fes Inn, which was not an inn at all, but more like a super luxury resort. Vasanthi, Ebony, Keslie and I found our room and got rid of our bags, and then went downstairs to have an amazing Moroccan dinner. The food was delicious! There were so many veggie options that I didn’t even have any desire to eat meat. (This trip has really made me consider going vegetarian again). After dinner, we went back to our room and went to bed after a long day of travelling.

Day two began with a breakfast in the hotel and then getting on a bus for a five hour ride south, heading towards the Sahara Desert. It was super rainy again, and as we wound our way up and down the Atlas Mountains, I was getting motion sick and cranky. Thankfully, we got to take a pit stop when we noticed some monkeys playing out in the rain, so we played with them and got to stretch our legs for a bit. There were also some very cute stray dogs that I played with. It breaks my heart to see stray dogs. I just want to take them all home and give them a bath and snuggle them. After we got back on the bus, things seemed to be improving a bit: the rain stopped and the blue sky was poking through a bit. Everyone on the bus started telling jokes and having sing alongs. However, as we got through the mountains, we passed through a small town and then we hit a traffic jam. Really. A traffic jam. In Africa. Apparently, it exists. The road that we were trying to drive through (a dirt road) was flooded over because of all the rain, and so no one could pass through, causing cars to back up and lots of Arabic screaming to ensue. Our driver got off the bus and tried to sort things out and eventually, we were able to get through the flood, but later, a lot of people found out that because of this, the luggage they had stowed under the bus had gotten wet. Thankfully, I was not one of those people. Through all of the difficulties we endured in getting through the flood, the wait and struggles were worth it, because when we crested the mountain, we had a beautiful view of the Moroccan sunset over the desert. So beautiful.

We arrived at our “desert oasis” which was literally a resort in the middle of nowhere. And I am not kidding when I say nowhere. I mean the middle of the Sahara Desert! Look left: sand. Look right: sand. Look up, down, all around: sand, sand, sand! Everyone’s moods were instantly lifted when we all wearily walked into the lobby greeted by drums and women dancing and singing, and men in turbans and traditional Muslim wear offered to serve us tea (which is the most amazing tea I have ever drank in my life, for the record). After leaving our bags in the oasis, in the dead of the night, we piled into jeep 4x4’s and took off for the heart of the desert. I can honestly say that this night was one of the most amazing that I have ever experienced in my life thus far. Picture this: speeding through the desert at 150 miles per hour, sand flying, Moroccan rave music blaring on the stereo, hands up and flying through the air, everyone screaming with a pure rush of happy adrenaline, and the stars shining like crushed diamonds above in the blacker than black sky. After our jeep ride, which I honestly don’t know how long it lasted for, if I had to guess, roughly an hour, we were let out in the middle of the desert where a Berber family was waiting for us with camels to take us into their home in the dunes. Berbers are the traditional native tribes that live in the Sahara, completely disconnected from modern societal needs. They use the land to live, and they use their camels for transport. So cool! There really are no other words to describe it.

At first, I was a bit shy to approach the camels, but once I laid my hand on its soft nose, I was in love. There are so soft and gentle and they have zero complaints about carrying people on their backs for miles and miles through the desert. All that they ask for in return is some hay or desert scrub to munch on, and some water to guzzle down. I made fast friends with my beautiful camel, Pico, and he obliged in taking me on a thirty minute ride over the winding sand dunes to the Berber camp where we would stay the night. And of course, leave it to me, while everyone else is whispering in the darkness, to start belting out…. “ARABIAN NIIIIIIGHTTTTTTS!” I couldn’t help myself! You know they were all thinking it too! But despite my outburst which drew laughter from the silence, it seemed almost appropriate to sit in silence and appreciate the beauty of the night around me. The air in the desert was warm, and wrapped around my skin like a sheer blanket. I could feel the rhythm of the camels’ shoulders moving beneath me, making my body sway from side to side as he plodded across the smooth, rippling sand. The stars in the desert were so bright since there was no light around for miles and miles and miles to pollute the purity of the night sky. I have never seen anything so beautiful.

After half an hour on the camels, we arrived in the Berber camp. It was a little circle of tents constructed out of wooden posts with blankets making a roof, walls, and floor. There were mats inside the tents with pillows and blankets, where the Berbers normally sleep. (I guess they don’t go without alllll creature comforts). We dismounted our camels, and ate a dinner of amazing veggies, and once again, although it was offered, I ate no meat. After dinner, we sat around a big bonfire and listened to the Berbers drumming. As cheesy as it sounds we did dance around a fire and sing all sorts of chant songs in Arabic that I couldn’t understand, but loved all the same. When my feet got too weary to dance, I fell onto my mat in my tent, and slipped into sleep listening to the sound of drums.

When I woke, I also woke up the sound of drums. I don’t know if the sound was meant to wake us up, or if the drums had been playing all night, but I rolled out of the tent quickly because I knew I only had a limited amount of time to descend the dune in order to view the sunrise. As tired as I was, from only having four hours of sleep, I rolled up my pants and took off my sandals and began to climb the dune in the semi darkness to get to the top. I climbed alone, since my friends wanted to stay closer towards the bottom of the dune. My calves burned as I neared the top, but I liked the familiar feeling that it made me think of cross country camp, and running, and it made me eager to want to get back into better shape this summer. Shortly after I sat myself down in the cool sand, the first glimpse of golden orange was visible on the horizon. It rose slowly at first, and then higher and higher it ascended until it was a fiery, burning ball of light, illuminating everything and making the sand glitter with light. Once again, I began to sing Disney. This time, “The Circle of Life”. However, this time I wasn’t the only one, and there were people scattered across the dune at varying heights attempting to sing the beginning of the Lion King. It was quite an amazing way to wake up. After brushing my teeth with my water bottle and grabbing my backpack, we were off again, to start another day.

This time, I got to meet another camel friend, Michelangelo! He graciously gave me a two hour ride back to the desert oasis through the hot sun. The desert was hot, but the breeze was relieving. I had to tie my hair back with my scarf because the wind kept blowing it into my eyes, and it was getting annoying. However, despite this, the daytime camel ride, although 4 times the duration of the nighttime camel ride, was amazing. The views of the desert and the shimmering heat were spectacular. In some ways, it reminded me of being back home in Saugatuck, with all the rolling sand dunes. Except here, there was no water in site. After the two hours, we were back at the desert oasis from the night before, where we had left all of our luggage. Only this time, in the daylight, I really got to appreciate how awesome it was! It was like a full blown resort! Hellooooo, vacation time! Now it really felt like we were actually on spring break. The first place that I went to was the spa, to take a hot shower and get the sandy camel smell off me. Regrettably, this is the location where I lost my makeup bag at some point. As sad as it was, I am glad I didn’t lose something more important like my passport! After a shower, we had lunch and then relaxed by the pool for the afternoon in the sun.

Unexpectedly, we took a walk into the tiny little town that was closest to our resort, and the only one around for miles. What they didn’t tell us is that we had to walk on foot for half an hour through the desert to get there. Holy heat stroke. After sweating through my shirt, severely sun burning my neck, and guzzling a liter of water, we made it to the town. And by town I actually mean a really super teeny tiny village. Everyone was taking pictures of the people in the town. It actually made me feel rather uncomfortable. As an anthropologist, I am inherently intrigued by people and their way of living and their values of life. However, I felt like I was being judged by the local people because I was with the group of clearly American tourists who were snapping pictures at rapid fire of every little thing in site. I, on the other hand, was slowly driving myself insane wishing that I spoke Arabic so that I could go and sit down inside the stone bake house with the women and children and ask them their views on life, and religion, and Americans, and everything! I wanted to shed my red white and blue skin for a moment and be shrouded in a hijab and bury myself in the beautiful Moroccan culture. However, I was quickly reminded that this was not the case as another flash bulb went off in my peripheral vision. I did my best to make my way through the village and remember as much as I could with my eyes, and not my lens. I wanted to take in every detail, and scribble it all down in my notebook field journal. We arrived at a small market, where everyone wanted to haggle for prices on hand made goods. This was another thing that made me slightly uncomfortable. A lot of the goods that were being sold were pieces that had been longingly created by hand over a long period of time, that people were trying to get a super cheap deal for. In the end, I didn’t buy anything. After this, we walked back to through the waves of heat to the oasis, where I ended up passing out next to the pool for a solid hour before eating lunch.

After lunch, we got back on our bus, and headed to another resort further north in the desert, closer to Fes, where we had stayed the first night, and would be going back to on our last night. The resort was called “Xaluca” and it was just as swanky, if not more so, than the desert oasis. After checking into our rooms, we went to have dinner, and I entered into a diabetic coma at the desert bar. Everything was so tasty and foreign and sugary, how could I not eat it? Immediately after, we ran to the Jacuzzi and soaked our sore, camel ride broken bodies in the warm water for awhile. After we got dried off and changed, we went to the lounge/bar area in the resort and watched one of our tour guides give a magic show, which was surprisingly good! Then with the lights down low and the red velvety walls glowing in the darkness, the music was pumping and the dancing began! One of the best nights that I have had in awhile. Eventually, we made our way to bed, and I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

The next morning, we were up and out early, and after breakfast, we were on the bus all day. Literally. We drove all day back north to Fes, where we stayed the first night. Unfortunately, this was the day that I got sick. I had a miserable cold (which I still have right now) and I was dying on the bus. By the evening, when we arrived back at the Hotel Fes Inn, I was so sick that I skipped dinner and went straight to bed. At 7pm. My ears were on fire, and I couldn’t stop blowing my nose. I slept for twelve hours, and woke up the next morning and still felt tired. After leaving the hotel at 8am the next morning, we went on a walking tour of the Medina of Fes. Gratefully, I was able to actually be coherent during this time; however, it wasn’t the most pleasant day.

But the Medina of Fes is one of the craziest, most amazing things that I have even seen. As I said earlier, a Medina is a city within a city, and in theory, everyone who lives in the Medina never needs to leave it. In Fes, unlike in Rabat, this is actually the case. The Medina of Fes is home to over 250,000 people, and it is within the walls of the city of Fes, itself. There are no dogs allowed in the Medina, which of course I disliked! However, it is because the people think that dogs are too expensive to take care of and feed, whereas cats can just eat the scraps of fish and meat that fall to the ground in the market. Also, cats are supposed to be cleaner and have some sort of religious significance? So despite the lack of dogs, the Medina was actually super cool. It had high walls of stone that made it humid inside because of the lack of airflow, and it was also a bit dimmer because of the lack of direct sunlight. The Medina has over 9,000 streets in it, and all of them are unnamed and unmarked! Can you believe that? Lost much?! If we didn’t have a guide, I would have been so lost and confused in there. Around every corner was another color, another scent, another site to be seen. However, not all of these smells were good smells. For instance, the leather tannery that we went to, which is one of the biggest natural tanneries in the world, uses all natural dyes to color the skin. Which means that it does not smell very nice, but it was very cool to see! Also, the various kinds of fishes and meats in the markets did not smell very nice either, however, people do have to eat to live, and I am biased because I don’t like fish and/or meat very much. And it broke my heart to see the camel heads hanging in the markets. After becoming so attached to these amazing creatures over the past five days, I was literally teary eyed to see them killed in such a cruel way.

After our guided tour, they gave us some free time to explore the Medina on our own. As if this is possible to do without getting hopelessly lost! So Ebony and I set off to hopefully do some shopping and not get lost. Again, haggling commenced, and although I was not so okay with it, I did it and got some darn good prices for some gifts for friends and family. Ebony and I were looking at some silver jewelry, and Ebony asked the man where we could buy some rugs, and he said he would take us to the shop of his friend. When he took us there, he said “he is good boy, he take good care of you!” and then off he went, and Ebony and I were left to follow the other man into his shop. He showed us all of his amazing hand woven rugs, and we wanted to buy some, but when he told us the price, it was way more than we could afford to pay. We told him this, and he tried to bargain us down a bit, but it was still too high. Then things got weird. He kept saying “I am good boy, I give you student price, and you play me like fool! You can’t buy all of Morocco for 150 dirham!” He grabbed Ebony’s arm and took her into the other room, and I grabbed her other arm and said “Time to go!” and we were running through the rooms of rugs, colors blurring as we raced down the stone steps and back into the streets. Now we’re panicking, since we don’t know if this man is chasing us or not, as the last thing we heard was him screaming after us. And as fate would have it, we were lost. I rapidly turned my head back and forth, looking for something familiar but everything was a big swirl in my head, and I had no idea what direction we had came from and where our group was. We set off in one direction, clinging on to each other so we didn’t get lost in the sea of people. By sheer chance, as we passed a little shop, Ebony recognized one of the girls from our group and we dashed inside. Luckily, she was able to help us get back to where we needed to be. What a relief!

As we left Fes, I was more than ready to get on the bus and sleep forever. My mind and body were so exhausted, but sleep did not come on the bus. Eventually, after driving all day, we made it to Tangiers for our 7pm ferry back to Spain. The ferry was delayed, and we waited for awhile to board, but once we did, the ride was fast and easy and we were in Spain in no time. But the two hour forward time difference meant that it was already 11pm in Spain and we still had another three hours to drive back to Sevilla. Thankfully, this part of the bus ride, I did sleep, and when we got back to Sevilla at 2am, Ebony and I took a cab home, where we both slept forever and ever and ever.

The End!

But really, Africa was an amazing and life changing experience, and I want to go back one day and see and experience even more of the things that it has to offer.