Saturday, 29 December 2007

beaching


cartwheels on the beach in Cadiz...

shopping

shopping is not my first love. indeed it is far far from that place. whether supermarkets, shopping malls or even random arty markets i seem to get the same feeling of claustrophobia and weariness and sadness at the overwhelming consumerism that dominates the minds and actions of the people around me in those places. i have also been thinking about trying to live more simply - having only what i 'need' and not all the extras - and using my money more wisely and less selfishly. I have been overwhelmingly blessed throughout my life by the generosity of friends and relatives ~ most of what i own was a gift or the result of a gift ~ and i think it's time to reflect my thankfulness in my economic decisions.

and YET, this materialistic culture permeates deeper than i think. it's easy to say all of the above until you are standing in a clothes shop during the sales and tops are going for £3 and suddenly your mind goes blank of all the tops you own already and that one suddenly does seem like a necessity. and after all it's Christmas; it's OK to treat yourself... and you try to forget everything you've ever heard about shopping ethically (same goes when i am in 'desperate need' of chocolate and galaxy is half the price of a fairtrade bar...) and tell yourself NEXT TIME... NEXT TIME...

i also bought a pair of boots that are exactly the same as the pair that i have walked all over Sevilla in this year and made holes in the heels. I've never done that before; bought an exact replica of something. I feel like my Uncle who was talking about how he buys the same pair of shoes and trousers everytime; and wears them till they wear out then buys more. 'how boring' i thought to myself... and now here i am. But in my defense they are the only pair of shoes i've had in a long time that i find really comfortable and that fit my 5 1/2 feet suitably. My feet rebel against nearly all shoes, they'd really rather be bare, but sadly that's just not always possible. More so in Spain where it actually seems to be offensive to remove your shoes!

So, with my new shoes and top i don't know whether to feel guilty, which doesn't really solve anything. I guess i should enjoy them but at the same time i do really want to make 2008 the start of a more simple and ethical way of living...

Friday, 28 December 2007

christmas

apologies for the long space between posts. excuse: my sister and a friend came out to visit during my last week in Sevilla and then a week ago i came home for Christmas. In the last week I've been from Oxford to Stanstead to Birmingham to London to Oxford to Newcastle and back to Oxford (via London on the megabus!) and seen family and friends from many different "chapters" of my life... from uni, the 3 schools before that, my 'Ibiza' team, and other random things...

ITS BEEN GREAT!!

I don't think i've ever appreciated being in England as much as I am at the moment; it's a weird feeling - having been someone in the past who was desperate to escape this small rainy island as soon as possible - but i think it's a good thing. I am enjoying being able to understand people talking around me, and just observing the weird and wonderful British ways. It's also been fantastic to be with friends who make you feel immediately that you can be yourself - and that that is all you need to be.

I was still struggling a bit in Spain even when my sister was out visiting, athough we had a lot of fun especially going to the beach in Cadiz, hearing live jazz, and having a deliscious meal with friends. It wasn't till i was on the plane that i felt 'lighter' and i think a lot of that was due to my sister praying. I'm a bit worried the same feelings will return when i go back to Spain, but am trying not to think about that too much and just make the most of my time here. Which is going way too fast!!

Friday, 14 December 2007

burden is light?

"Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light"
Matthew 11:29-30

that´s not how it feels at the moment. does that mean i'm actually following something/someone else? have i missed something here? this week i've felt heavy... like everything is an effort and that numbness continues - like even though there's been lots of good things that normally i would really enjoy it´s as though their colour has faded and again i'm watching myself go through the motions without really feeling like i'm there.

but i'm beginning to think maybe it's nothing dramatic, maybe it's just that i'm tired. end-of-term and need to go home kind of tired. tired of a term that´s lasted about 3 months instead of the 10 weeks i am accustomed too, of spending over 2 hours every day walking/bus-ing around the city, of trying to learn spanish and of not really feeling at home in my flat. that's not meant to sound like complaints - usually those things don´t bother me. maybe i'm just trying to tell myself it's ok that i'm feeling ready to go home. so that when i come back i can appreciate things again.


but yeh there have been lots of good things this week:

  • like baking christmas cookies in my second-home (the flat where i stayed in the beginning and now spend at least one night a week) with the christmas tree and christmas lights and christmas carols playing
  • having friends that will listen to me moan and then go see 'Bee-movie' dubbed in spanish so that we don't have to think for a while
  • baking cookies again (i must do this more, i forgot how much i like it! shame i don´t have an oven in my flat...)
  • going for a drink with the whole 'anthropology of development' class including the professor, instead of having our last lesson of the term
  • coffees in the sun (as usual!)
  • two 'bring-and-share' meals; one with people from anthropology and one with people from the CU - very different crowds of people but both good nights of good food and interesting conversations...(i will talk more about these!)

sadly this week i also have to say goodbye to some good friends who are leaving Sevilla and not coming back after Christmas like me. i will really miss the girls from 'Acento' - one of the private American programmes here. i met some of them right at the beginning and continued to see them at least once a week when they'd always brighten my day. it won't be the same without them here. Also my friend Abi is going back to Germany which is sad because was only just getting to know him and will miss having someone to be rude to :o) but hey, more places to stay in my future world tours...! It´s weird for once not being the one who is leaving, but the one being left. it's made me realise i'm not ready to go yet though, which is good.

tomorrow my twin sister and a friend who is pretty much my fourth sister are coming to visit which will be so great! my first proper visitors! can´t wait to chill with them and enjoy this beautiful place together.

OK there is lots more i´ve been thinking about this week but i think they need to go in separate posts, which i will do my best to write today or tomorrow...

Thursday, 6 December 2007

england and numb


I think actually today wasn't the first time i started appreciating Sevilla more, like I said in the last post. It was actually at the weekend, when i went to the cold and rainy North of England! And instead of feeling like i was "home", i ended up thinking of Spain the whole time. I guess it has been my life for 3 months... (Crazy how in just 3 hours I arrived back in England; which always seems so far away).

And i think i felt more out of place at the football match watching Wigan play Man-city than i ever have done here. The anthropologist in me (yes it's having an effect on me!!) was thinking on overload about England's cultural and regional differences! But i won't confuse/bore you with all those thoughts! Or maybe it's more a case that i feel kind of embarrassed that I didn't feel totally at ease. And that I was thinking more about taking photos of the stadium than watching the match. Does that make me a snob? Maybe just a female!!


That said i did have a really good time - I ate lots of good food, spoke to lots of friends on the phone, chilled, saw friends in Manchester and enjoyed hanging out with Will. I just felt a little disconnected, and catching a cold on the plane on the way there didn't really help! This disconnection continued when I came back and I realised it's something i've felt for a while. Or NOT felt. That's the problem, it's like my feelings have been toned down leaving me feeling kind of numb when in my head i have every reason to feel happy/sad/excited/nervous... sometimes i think it's a kind of peace - preventing me getting overly upset about things that in the grander perspective don't really matter. but sometimes i just feel like i'm not quite human. and that scares me.

Sevilla is pretty




i walked through Sevilla today without a particular aim and without rushing to be somewhere,and i remembered how beautiful this city is and what a privilege it is to be here. i walked past cafes full to bursting of families (it's a public holiday today), joined tourists taking photos of the intricate architecture, heard snatches of all types of music like someone playing jingle bells on the accordian, and sat in the sun by the river next to a fisherman. yesterday i walked into the end of a church service organised for and by my american friends and the quote on the powerpoint was




"life is what happens while you're making other plans"




having just sat through classes that day (every day?) trying to pass the time by going through my diary and dreaming about the future. being present in the present is something i've been challenged about a lot recently, (actually for the last few years!) but seems it's taking me a long time to learn!




back to the american friends... I see them every wednesday, and sometimes other times too, and they always make me smile. they are here with one of the many programmes linked to universities in the states and are leaving next week. this makes me sad; i shall be several friends down next year. they have encouraged me, challenged my stereotypes and made me laugh a lot. and now i can do a tour of the USA and have many homes to stay in. woop!


Thank God for friends! here are some of them, with some Sevillano friends tambien






Friday, 30 November 2007

no more rubia!

i am tired of being "rubia" (blonde) now... people warned me i would get more attention for it and they were right although it wasn't too bad so i delayed dyeing my hair (not that the blonde is even natural!) as i'm pretty sure it will go wrong... but this week i have had enough after 2 occassions of men being way too friendly and clearly assuming i was 'up for it'. i hate the fact its just about the colour of my hair and then that i'm not super-rude to people if they talk to me. and it makes me sad to think mayb their sleazy tactics have worked before. grr angry! but i don't know how to be angry in Spanish!

On a much more positive note, i am about to go to England for the weekend to watch a football match and eat pie and probably be very cold... i.e. be typically english! i've been here nearly 3 months now so i wonder what it will be like to go back to the 'home country'. although i won't be going home home so i guess that's kind of different. but i am going in 3 weeks, which is also crazy to believe! suddenly time flew...

This week i was mainly thinking about this weekend, but still had lots of good times... predominantly eating/drinking and talking to people and appreciating friends. yesterday afternoon i felt like the world was smiling, like it wasn't such a bad place - but i have not got time right now to explain why as it requires some filling in of details from last 2 weeks or so. but i shall do this soon.

Monday, 26 November 2007

goodbyebicycle

my bike was stolen this morning from the courtyard of my block of apartments (which you need a key to get into) where it was LOCKED up to a metal bench with a thick thick lock. but apparently they have very sharp apparatus here for combating such locks.

so now i am without a bike - which i had grown more fond of and did not go anywhere without - and walking seems to take even longer now!

'que puta' in the words of an elderly neighbour!

Sunday, 25 November 2007

drum and bass

i don't claim to know anything about drum and bass, or in fact about any genre of music. i just, like most of us i suppose, know if i like something or not; and what it makes me feel; and if or how i want to dance to it.

i went to drum and bass nights for the first time in Brighton and although i didn't go to many i always really enjoyed them. i love the way that you can't look good dancing to the music but you can't not dance to it because the beats just fill you so everyone goes kind of mental and looks kind of silly but has a great time. i like the random selection of people that you find there; girls in high heels, boys in caps and hoodies, dreadlocks, piercings, white designers trainers... i love the way the music builds up tension and everyones waiting for the beat to drop - shaking their heads slightly, looking around expectantly... and then there it goes and everyone goes mental!

last night i went to my first drum and bass night in Spain. One random flyer handed to me by a friend was the only advertisement I'd seen or could find, and so as a friend and I walked through parts of Sevilla that we'd never been before - quiet residential areas - just after midnight, we wondered if it was actually happening. but then we spied some hooded guys just ahead and followed them until we came upon several groups of young people standing around drinking coke and rum that they'd bought at the supermarket. this was definitely it, but it took us a while to find the actual venue - which by all appearances was a small warehouse adjacent to several identical structures. when we went in no one else had yet entered so we exited, determined to 'make some friends, or at least conversation. But after sitting for a while in the cold hoping someone would approach us two blatantly 'first-time' foreign girls and asking someone for a light... we gave up and went back inside. i was so frustrated because i so wanted to talk to people, and i knew the worst thing to happen was us get ignored or embarrassed (which happens enough anyways so i should be used to it!) and at least we would have known we'd tried. but couldn't work up the courage, couldn't think of a suitable opening question (in spanish!), so we consoled ourselves by saying 'next time' we will. it's so pathetic, i wish it wasn't such a big deal to me... because it's not. yet couldn't get over my fear.


inside there were two rooms, one playing drum and bass and the other reggae but with the other music audible in the background! the bar tenders looked amused when we asked for fruit juice as our complimentary drink - in a place where the consumption of certain substances was far from subtle! i did manage to ask someone if there were more nights like this and get an email address... so that's something i suppose! most people seemed to know each other - i guess if these nights are regular and they're not that big then that would easily happen. especially with everyone drinking together before.

once i started dancing i was happy. i had felt like lots of tension had built up in my body over the last few weeks and this was just what i needed to release it all. met a couple of english people who promote dnb in london and were just visiting Sevilla for the weekend. It was weird hearing their accents after being so used to the english accents i hear being American or 'European'.

we were not harcore enough to stay till the end - whenever that was! when we left at 4am other people were still arriving!

but yeh it was a great night and hopefully will go to more. i felt myself there. and i also felt i wanted some more piercings and a different haircut! so watch out... :o)

Thursday, 22 November 2007

inadequate?

nothing like university and language barriers for making one feel inadequate! I just had lunch with a German friend from my anthropology class and a 'Sevillano' that i met in one of the first weeks of uni. I am getting tired of defining friends by nationality - because it seems to box them in and strip them of their individuality. i am becoming more and more aware of the divisions created by the notion of nationality while living here. maybe thats a topic for another day. We ate 'platos combinadas' - meat (in my case swordfish!), with chips, a green pepper and a fried egg. all greasy and tasty!
they are both really great people and really interesting and good company. so i hate it that i came away feeling more frustrated than anything because i'd ended up comparing myself to them and coming up short, rather than just enjoying their company and learning from them. It seems like everyone has a plan, a skill, and knows so much more than me about politics, history, philosophy, etc. I sat there wishing i could say that i played some obscure instrument, or had a passion for one particular acitivity, or could give an informed opinion on nationalism, the European Union or a particular political movement. And i barely spoke because of feeling like my Spanish was 'inadequate'. And what's so annoying is I know this feeling has no positive affects, and that it is based on measurements that deep down i know are not important. That all it does is hold me back from being truely myself.
Like even though i feel stupid in discussions - in and out of class - because i have not heard of this philospoher, and i do not know that theory, the truth is i'm not that bothered about knowing. it would purely be to show off and to appear a more 'well-rounded' and interesting person. And i cannot say i support a particular school of thought in terms of power and politics, because the truth is i am interested in a higher power, a leader that is GOOD and who, contrary to the world's expectations, became like the lowest of the low - washed his followers feet and gave up everything for the sake of love.

i may appear biased but i shape my life around something/someone that i believe to be true, something i believe that will last longer than just a few years. and this is more important to me than anything else. i wanted to say this today. but i don't know how to express it properly in english let alone in spanish. so i just stayed silent. silent about the biggest part of who i am and what i do and my reason for being.

and as for future plans, i really respect the dreams and ambitions of so many of my friends, who are working hard to get to positions of influence and wanting to make the world a better place. i envy their driven-ness and creative ideas. and i hate saying that 'i don't know'. i don't know what where when how. i know i want to make a difference, a good difference, i know i want to speak up for the oppressed and fight against injustice. but right now i feel really small. and all i can do is today.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

and, less singing in the rain

so, it turns out the cat wasn't going crazy because of the rain. let's just say she's in need of some male-cat contact. she was trying to mate with my shoes and is now rubbing herself up on my laptop. desperate measures. because i know you wanted to know!
on that note... if anyone happened to want to chat up a spanish girl, translating "HOT" directly into spanish does not mean the same thing! don't say i didn't warn you.

So the rain wasn't affecting the cat too much, but it did affect the city - which at only a few metres about sea-level cannot cope too well with torrential downpours! It rained all day yesterday... roads were flooded, a tree or something fell on my housemate's car and smashed the back window, i got drenched twice (even though the second time i had a coat and umbrella... and i didn't sing). There were even tornados in nearby towns. As i sat drinking hot chocolate in the uni cafeteria with a german girl, we admitted we couldn't really complain at our damp and cold state after two months of weather that's better than our countries ever see!

Rain has not been the only thing on my mind, but there's almost too much to even begin. so i'll give it a day or two to think about what i really want to write about, and what still needs time to "simmer".

But... i did sing again on my bike today, not because it was raining but because once again i am feeling so ovewhelmed-ly (word?)blessed and 'full'... especially in terms of the friends that i have in my life - both in Spain and other places. and i don't know how to say thank you.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

singing in the rain

sometimes you get to a point when you get so wet that all you can do is SING IN THE RAIN.

i could link that to something philosophical, but i do just mean it literally. the heavens opened over Sevilla this morning and i was on my bike and after while i gave up trying to dodge the deep puddles and i sang my way round the green cycle paths that circle the city. shared smiles or even laughter with every cyclist i passed... we understand each other.

the rain seems to be driving the pets crazy. i found the tortoise escaped out of its tank, walking across the living room floor, and the cat is literally trying to climb the wall! fun times...

Monday, 19 November 2007

weekend in sevilla

it feels like the first time in ages that i actually spent a weekend in Sevilla, in my flat (well, mostly!) - you know, just a 'normal' weekend - without going off to other parts of Spain, or going to conferences, or staying with someone else, or having visitors... OK i kind of did have visitors, but in a chilled kind of way.

But yeh it was good. and went really fast like weekends tend to do. Last week had been full of thoughts about all kinds of things, both frustrating and encouraging, some of which i do want to write about some time... like "academic inadequacy" and some things that i am about to get more involved with here in Sevilla. But not today, because today was when i was supposed to be "getting serious" about studying... and i have already spent far too long "playing". Anyways the point of this paragraph was to say i managed to turn off my thoughts for a bit and have some fun and rest as well.

I went to the Brazilian church on saturday and it was good to see friends there, although i think everyone was slightly worn out by the shouting/shrieking-preaching-lady who was a visiting missionary from Brazil. Everyone was assuring everyone that that wasn't 'normal'! It struck me again the difference between those of us who are here short-term and the majority of the church who are immigrants. it's humbling.

I didn't go to church on Sunday but instead prayed with a friend up on the roof and talked bout stuff we'd been learning recently. that feels a lot more real to me than a lot of services do. we talked about love. and how big it is, and how it's more important than anything. and how it's hard to do.

in the evening i went to my friend's house (where i first stayed when i got to Spain) - i come here a lot to chill, it's really peaceful. we had some friends around and ate brownies and played cards which was quite hilarious because there was a mixture of german, english and spanish speakers (with a variety of accents!) and not one common language. plus the game was a little complicated. i think some people never quite got it. but we laughed and it was a good time.

so that was my weekend...and now it's monday and another week and only about a month til i go home for Christmas. crazy!

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Orishas


Last night I went to see the ORISHAS perform live in Sevilla with a friend from Brighton who is studying in Madrid this year and is currently touring Andalusia with some friends. Now I must admit before thursday night I had never even heard of the group - I'm not sure if that's like some unforgiveable omission in my musical knowledge, but then it never was very extensive! For those, like me, don't know about them, they are three guys from Cuba with a style that's a mixture of rap/hip hop and latin (they were salsa-ing on stage beautifully!) and their "lessons" for the night to us the audience were
- down with war
-down with racism
-up with marijuana!

so... fully supporting the first two though not so convinced about the third! Although we were probably all slightly high by the time we left due to the amount of people in the audience who were clearly in agreement with the latter point! That said, by the time we left I didn't feel high, i felt cold (the concert was in an open air venue on the other side of the river) and tired (we'd arrived at 21:00 and Orisha didn't come on until after midnight, and we'd been standing the whole time).

BUT...not meaning to sound like a 'party pooper'; their music was great and they really seemed to enjoy performing so there was a good atmosphere with everyone dancing and singing along (I was maybe the only one who didn't know any of the words!!). As always dancing made me happy!

Monday, 12 November 2007

salamanca snaps

sunrise at one of the bus stations on the way to Salamanca
inside the cathedral

sunset catching the cathedral

Salamanca

Another weekend away and more happy Katrina!

This weekend i went to Salamanca to visit a great friend from uni who's studying there this year. 7 hours on the bus each way was worth the trip to a city that's very different to Sevilla. It reminded me more of Oxford, being a university town with the oldest university in Spain. It was much colder than Sevilla and the trees showed the signs of autumn. It's a lot smaller than Sevilla, and maybe i would feel claustrophobic living somewhere like that, although at same time when you're only living somewhere for under a year small can be better because it doesn't overwhelm you. And when we walked around we bumped into people Heloise knew. Which is the kind of thing that makes you feel at home.

Anyways we did lots of things that make me smile, with Heloise's friends who are really nice, and from Italy, Germany, Colombia, Venezuela, Belgium... (so some interesting conversations and funny uses of language!). We ate some really good tapas by Plaza Mayor - the central meeting place - including some very interesting tortillas for example one with goat's cheese and jam! We went to a club ('El Sabor') where there was first a couple of Cuban singers performing, and salsa dancing for all. I tried. Tried being the key word. It's more difficult than I expected! haha...

We rested a lot, and played football (yey!!), and cooked, and talked and walked and laughed and drank coffee and had a picnic by the river. Hmm this sounds like a romantic weekend away! no but it was grand. And all those things i much prefer to walking around museums and galleries and checking out builings and being touristy. Sometimes it takes a while to realise that!

But it felt OK to come back too, which is good. The only hard thing is bus journeys give one too much time to think! I did get to see an amazing sunrise on the way and a sunset on the way back though. i didn't really sleep at all either way, so thats a LOT of thoughts. One of them being feeling really small driving through all this big darkness. and how if i wanted to i could get out at one of the stops in a place i've never been before and just walk. and see what happens. and some people do that kind of thing all the time. i couldn't work out if i would or not. sometimes i so want to. and other times practicality takes over. in fact nearly every time. so... then... is freedom a mindset?

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

"developed"

First things first...(being english n all..)
weather update:
sun is still shining and it still reaches over 25 degrees during the day. Winter keeps threatening to arrive and then disappears again. Sometimes the nights are really quite cold although they're not too bad again this week. But i wouldn't mind a blanket with my sleeping bag! I can't complain though, Sevilla is the warmest part of Spain. I am so spoilt!

***

Many times this week I have ben overwhelmed with how privileged I am. There are so many GOOD things in my life. In many of my classes we've been talking about development (which for me is a 'blessing' in itself as it's an issue i really wanted to study at uni in England but was unable to) and among the many definitions of what constitutes a developed society is having the opportunity to CHOOSE - what work we do, where we live, to a degree what social group we belong to, etc. I am in Spain by choice - with one of the aims being to further increase my choices in the future. And i could always chose to leave if really wanted. Other people are here because of a LACK of choice. A matter of survival. Friends in the church in Badajoz are living in a different continent to the rest of the family and don't know when they'll next see them or when they'll be able to return to their countries of origin - that is if there's anything to return to.

I am part of a tiny percentage of people in the world who can afford to travel "just for fun". Who no matter how hard things get always have a way out, always a ticket elsewhere. an elsewhere that is safe and warm and more than enough.

So we sit there in the Spanish sun feeling overwhelmingly greatful yet not sure what to do with what we have in our hands. I think it's OK to enjoy and celebrate what we have been given - to fully appreciate it... after guilt won't achieve anything. yet at the same time we cannot pretend that we are not surrounded by people with so much less.

But where do you start? And how? Throwing a few cents that we'll never even miss at the blind lady outside the supermarket to quiet our conscience just doesn't seem to cut it. We know money doesn't buy happiness. It's love that changes things. but i don't know how to love.

While we sit there over coffee pondering and wondering a man approaches us asking for money. silence and awkward shuffling in our seats and avoiding eye contact and the same questions and opinions flashing through our minds until he shuffles on to the next table. Suddenly there are a million excuses... barriers of language, age, sex and "what will he do with the money?"

AARGH why is it so hard? we say we don't want to be people who just "talk" but to live out what we believe. yet when opportunities come our actions remain silent.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Badajoz



Badajoz is a city north of Sevilla, in the region of Extremadura, very near to the Portuguese border. It took me about 4 hours to get there on the bus, although we stopped several times in small towns on the way. The guidebooks are not very complimentary about Badajoz, as it is in one of the poorer parts of Spain and is not as 'aesthetically pleasing' as other cities. But i like it! Because it's about the people... and there are some great people living there! :o)


I'd been to Badajoz a year and a half ago to visit some friends who lead and/or are part of a church there so it was great to see people again. Also this weekend coincided with some very good family friends from England also visiting the church - so i was happy!


So the weekend consisted of much food: at Burger King - i am ashamed to admit, but there weren't any good films on at the cinema - with some of the girls from the church

a picnic in the 'countryside' with Holly where we got surrounded by farm animals! Extremadura is really beautiful... hills and space and big blue skies. it felt good to drive out there.

supper with my friends where i felt very loved!
and a shared lunch after the church service on sunday.


i also got to see the children's choir rehearse (they were really good!) and on Sunday evening just before i caught the bus back to Sevilla i went to a small town outside Badajoz where they are starting a church. It was really exciting to be there, and to discover that we were a mixture of people from Spain, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras, Dominican Republic, Bolivia, England, America and... sat in the back, five guys from Romania! Alot of the people are part of the church in Badajoz but sat in the front were a few old ladies from the town and they are the reason there is now a church meeting there. amazing!
So yeh it was a great weekend. I'll be back!





Thursday, 1 November 2007

a few of my favourite things


so i am feeling a bit like i'm on holiday. my wednesday evening class was cancelled, today is a national public holiday and tomorrow i go away for the weekend to visit friends in Badajoz. and in fitting with the theme i have been very privileged to do some things that i love.

on wednesday night i got to cook for/with a couple of friends who have recently moved into a new flat, then go out.. first for a 'cafe con leche' mmm (i am addicted!!), and then out to the reggae 'fiesta' (a weekly night in Garammon - a smallish club in the centre) to which i have been a couple of times before. This week 'Mezcla Manos' was playing - a Brazilian band. Everyone enjoyed dancing to their tunes, and you could tell they enjoyed playing!
I am starting to recognise people there - some from uni (it's popular with anthropology students), and some i saw at Obbio this week, a cafe-bar that shows free films three nights a week. This week was 'In this World' a docu-drama (is that a genre?) about two guys trying to get from Afganistan to London in the hands of people trafickers. Heavy stuff. But yeh it's funny how all this reminds me of Brighton! Sometimes i can't believe i'm in Spain. Anyways... back to wednesday. It was grand to dance as always, and we even finished the night off with churros (greasy batter goodness) dipped in hot chocolate sauce at 4am!

and TODAY... I went to 'Isla Magica' - Sevilla's theme park! A lot of debating went on in my head as to whether to go or not, but I'm really glad i did. I forget how much i love rides and the adrenaline rush from them. I just end up laughing on every ride. i think i freaked out the people i went with a little bit! ah well...

It was better than i expected with some good rides and also cinematic experiences such as an AMAZING lazer show ( i get a bit excited about lights!). I think I'd go back... There were loads of people there today being a public holiday including loads of children dressed up in Halloween outfits. Which was yesterday. hmmmmm

SO yeh Katrina is tired but happy, and looking forwards to the weekend!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

content moments

today i felt happy. just a sudden feeling of contentment, quite randomly, as i walked down a street in the sun in a small town outside sevilla where i'd just been to church and was on my way to the house of a friend for lunch. funny how i feel that at random times. like sitting in a car in Bolivia one evening with the windows open and warm air rushing in. that feeling of not wanting the moment to end. because it feels... "right".

i hadn't been to the church before but knew some of the people who went there. everyone was really friendly... i think i might go back. i went to lunch at the house of a friend from Costa Rica who lives with his sister and her family. Sampled some great food, like platano fritter-type things and enjoyed being in a family home, and feeling at home with them.

and...got a call from a really good friend in england and then from my sister on the way home. so a good day!

am learning sometimes less is more... have done very little this weekend in some respects - but i feel rested and like i got to really enjoy that which i did do. :o)

Friday, 26 October 2007

changes...


so the temperature in Sevilla went from an average of about 30 degrees to less than 20 overnight - causing most of the city to now be coughing and sneezing. it's done this before though and got hot again, so not sure what to expect each day. like england then! according to the paper having weather this hot this late in the year is not normal, and although obviously everyone enjoys it, climate change is the primary environmental worry of Sevillanos.
as for life in general, feeling a lot more peaceful and positive about things, more like i felt when i arrived here in Sevilla - just taking each day at a time and trying not to get tooo busy so there's flexibility to be spontaneous or just rest. last night i slept for 12 hours! which i really needed after a week of not enough sleep.
and there's been lots to be thankful for, mainly due to being able to meet up with people that i feel i haven't seen in ages, and being reminded i do have friends here!
yesterday i had lunch with the librarian of the anthropology library who wanted to practise his english. i've never heard anyone be so enthusiastic about libraries! we got talking about Semana Santa and the meaning of easter and the Catholic church. really interesting!
last night i somehow ended up at an Alpha supper/worship evening in one of the 'pueblos' (towns) outside Sevilla, with a mixture of Spanish, Americans and Germans. The theme of the evening was 'hay mas?' ('is there more?') and included a clip from chicken run (!), tapas, many conversations and some beautiful music. Hearing people play really well in worship to God just made me think about how in the Jewish temple they used to have people who's one role in life was to sing, or to play a certain instrument. they must have sounded amazing! and while i know God sees our heart rather than the offering, i definitely think there's something really powerful about it being done well. and the beauty of the music lifts people's souls to the Beautiful One.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

The FEAST

so. this weekend was the 24-7 FEAST.

a gathering of about 200 people from all over the world who are in many different ways linked to the 24-7 prayer movement. i was there because... because it was in Sevilla! and because of going on teams to Tenerife and Ibiza. and having many friends involved in 24-7. and mainly because i like it and get excited by the different expressions of following Jesus and worshipping him.

i was feeling pretty down before the weekend and actually until saturday night if anyone asked me how i was doing i would burst into tears. i don't know why i felt SO sad... but i did. and i was frustrated because i wanted to make the most of the weekend, and basically didn't want to be this miserable little girl that i felt i was being! but things did turn around, and if i'm honest it wasn't during someone's inspiring talk (altho don't get me wrong, there were many!) or while singing or praying. it was actually a combination of FOOD and FRIENDS. which isn't discounting God because He created them!

so let's start with FRIENDS.

four good "mates" (wanted to use a word other than friends...altho... i never say 'mate', and i don't think i want to start. it doesn't feel right!) that i met in Ibiza this year stayed in my little flat over the weekend. and they just LOVED me. as in showed love. and kept on loving me till it brought the real katrina out of the shell in which she'd been hiding. i felt so surprised by this, i don't know why. maybe because i haven't been around close friends for a long time. and maybe because of that lingering mindset that i need to earn it. and at the moment i don't feel i have anything to give.
there were some other friends here for the weekend to... so we all did a lot of talking (till 6 in the morning on sunday night!) and dreaming and discovering new things about each other. and i met some new friends too... not loads cuz didn't feel like i had enough energy to talk to loads of people - but less is kind of better cuz means we can keep in touch and see where it takes us. i like it when God hooks people up :o)

and FOOD...

is best enjoyed in an unhurried manner, sitting outside, accompanied by a good drink and good conversation. and this took place many a time over the weekend. but the highlight by far was saturday night, which was when i decided that it was time to stop treating my stomach delicately with chicken soup and plain rice, and that for at least that night the gates would be wide open to accept any food that came my way.

because saturday night was THE FEAST. and that's exactly how i'd describe it. a rag tag bunch of sweaty pilgrims treated like royalty in a beautiful old house in the centre of sevilla to endless amounts of tapas, beer, wine, sherry, desert as well as a flamenco band! and it was all FREE! a gift from churches in england... we all felt LAVISHED upon - i think it was the best illustration of God's generosity to us that i've ever experienced! we took communion together in the middle of the evening and danced to the flamenco band later and it felt like true worship - celebrating life together and giving all the glory to Him.

***


now everyone has left sevilla and i'm still here. but feeling a lot more positive about it... and have been reminded before anything i need to climb back into the lap of my Creator and pour everything out to Him while i listen to His heartbeat and let it overshadow my insecurities and worries and start to learn what really matters

in brief

so much to say!

and not enough time (too many long anthropology texts to read!) i want to give this weekend justice.... so it might be a day or two until i can write properly about it.

but for now i will just say it's amazing how good friends and good food can make such a big difference! this weekend i remembered what happy katrina is like, and what she loves to do. but it was about a lot more than friends and food. it was about new friends, stories, dreams, creativity, realness, misfits, and a calling us back to what's really important.

Friday, 19 October 2007

faith

is what it comes down to. again.

"the fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. it's our handle on what we can't see"
Hebrews 11:1 (the message)

it heals, saves, gives life, moves mountains

enables ordinary people to do extraordinary things

to believe in great promises, take hold of the unseen, to have hope

"It's impossible to please God apart from faith. And why? because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that he exists AND that he cares enough to respond to those who seek him"

Thursday, 18 October 2007

sick

at the weekend i thought i was getting better, then i got sick again. being ill is RUBBISH!!
it colours everything in negative shades. i just felt really frustrated that i was missing out on so much... missing out on the reasons that i'm in Spain - i.e. to study (missed lots of classes), to meet people (missed out on coffee with various people that I'm only just beginning to know), to learn more about God (missed going to church or any bible studies) - until i just ended up wondering what on earth i was doing here. i know now everything gets blown out of perspective when any food you try to eat is rapidly exciting at both ends and your body hurts and no one's at home. but at the time perspective seems irrelevant.

and on the positive side i guess i was frustrated because there ARE good things about being here. it would be worse if in a whole week i didn't feel i had missed out on anything. also it showed there are people that care. maybe i'm also annoyed that once again it's proved i'm not as independent and tough as i thought. truth is my stomach is easily upset and i need people. there we go i said it.

and today... i haven't had to run out of a class to throw up and my breakfast is still inside me. good signs i'm hoping.

tonight some friends who work in Ibiza (who i met when i worked with them in the summer) are coming for the 24-7 prayer conference this weekend. i can't wait to see them and i can't wait for the conference. :o) hoping for some refreshing and connecting and learning... should be good!

Sunday, 14 October 2007

i like to ride my bicycle!

i have a bici!! :o) wooooop

ok so it's a boy's mountain bike, the saddle is hard and the front wheel veers to the right slightly... but it is a bike! i got it his morning from the "gypsy market" on the other side of town. it took less time cycling back than the bus took to get there. this is the point! it cost 40 euros which is less than 30 pounds so can't really complain and at least if it gets stolen (which is quite likely!) its not the end of the world.

sevilla is really flat so makes good cycling and there's lots of cycle paths. although they sometimes take you the long way round. not sure it's a good idea cycling on the roads though with the driving as it is!

Also this week...

i got ill again with exactly the same thing i had a few weeks ago - temperature, bad stomach, headaches... not sure where it comes from. and most frustrating thing is once again it was while Will was visiting. so he still hasn't managed to see much of Sevilla at all! just sick katrina... who appreciated being looked after! I'm feeling a lot better now (now that he's gone! :o( ) . Thank God for cheap pharmacies on every corner. Oh and so you know, the Spanish word for diarhorrea (spelling?!) is very similar to the english, as i discovered when the pharmacist shouted it to me over the counter in front of everyone. i can no longer be embarrassed about such things...!

i went back to the Brazilian church last night. I like being around the people there. today, after my bicycle hunt i think i need to rest to get properly better, and also catch up on all the work i missed last week. mmm fun!

Saturday, 13 October 2007

enough.

i am not enough

not enough as a friend, as a student, as a girlfriend, as a housemate

not "english" enough, nor anything else

not "good" enough
not "christian" enough

i can't love enough

BUT

HIS GRACE IS SUFFICIENT

sufficient = enough


and i am asking for the faith to believe this and live by what i believe

otherwise i am not free
otherwise what is the point of the cross?
otherwise it is not LIFE

Monday, 8 October 2007

madrid

sorry i haven't written for a while, internet is quite dodgy in my flat and also last week was the first proper week of uni so everything got a bit hectic. so the main feature was actually the ruck sack! and lots of walking around and coffees and attempts at understanding mumbling andalusian professors and timetables and suchlike. i felt more like myself because suddenly i had more to do than i had time for, and had to begin prioritising... . ah. the dreaded word! i don't want every week to be like last week - i want to make time to chill, and actually have gaps in my diary so that if plans change, or if i decide i want to spend an extra hour talking to someone, it's OK! this is the plan anyways... :o)



but... onto more exciting things!



this weekend i went to Madrid, to meet up with 7 friends from my university in England who are all studying/working in different parts of Spain this year. we gathered from all corners from the country (Sevilla, Barcelona, Bilbao, Salamanca...) to... well... what did we do?



I guess it wasn't so much about doing or seeing - no one was too fussed about seeing particular 'sights' - more than that we were all so happy to be with each other; to be KNOWN; to miss out on the small talk and speak about real life. even my tense back relaxed! we did go to a cafe that had a massive selection of board games and exciting coffees; had chocolate and churros for breakfast; saw la plaza mayor, the palace and chilled in parque retiro; drank more coffee; went to the massive market at la letina and took lots of touristy photographs! but we also spent hours just chilling at Matt's lovely flat - talking and laughing and being. in fact so many hours that when we finally left to go for a meal, everywhere had stopped serving food! thank God for olives!

it was funny hearing a lot of us are in a similar position - of really missing brighton and looking forwards to going back - while feeling slightly guilty that we are not yet feeling like we are having "the best year of our lives". yet that is the reality. it is hard sometimes, and we miss friends, and we're tired of introductions and small talk, and we don't LOVE the food (!). haha. i think that pressure of loving every single thing and getting totally immersed into the culture straight away prevents us appreciating the good things. because after all none of us hate where we are; we all have somewhere to live, we all have met people that could become good friends... we can't really complain! and yeh we're all here to learn spanish and this is the best way to do it!

so.... yeh. its all good. and i was not really looking forwards to coming back to Sevilla - after having had such a good time, although its funny how it feels really familiar in comparison with Madrid after just a month. but there were more pleasant surprises in store. i was invited to a birthday celebration and ended up having a really great evening eating chinese (yessss!!) and cake and laughing and yeh - feeling like i was again with friends.

woop.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

back to the sack

today, after countless years of the shoulder bag, i returned to the classic two strapped rucksack, due to many complaints by my shoulders and back.

So, forsaking any element of style, i now look like a european school girl. which i guess i am in a way...

and it's so much better!! :o)

Saturday, 29 September 2007

cadiz...




so i FINALLY got to the beach... on the one day that the temperature wasn´t over 30 degrees and it was cloudy! even still it was really good to get out of Sevilla... after 4 weeks of being in one place i get a little restless! and the sun did come out for a brief spell while we were on the sandy beach so i was happy.

Cadiz is a lot smaller than i expected, seeing as it´s pretty well-known (i think... is it?) and pretty and old...but i think i´d reccommend going when it is sunny and hot as there isn´t loads to do and the beach is really nice (altho the atlantic is quite cold!) also... a tip... if you get sangria at the beach bar it´s very strong! drink slowly... and it takes 30 min to get back to the bus station, IF YOU RUN through parts of town. which is difficult in flip flops. aaaaaand, read menus carefully or you end up with chicken salad and an omlette INSIDE a baguette... good if you´re hungry i guess!

there´s lots more i want to say from this week (it´s been kind of roller-coaster-ish) but the internet isn´t working in my house and so i have to come to an internet cafe, where i´ve already spent far too much time!!

so chau for now x


Tuesday, 25 September 2007

celebrando...

it was silly to try to summarize a life in a few words and pictures... trying to decide whether to just delete those posts. just wanted to show i'm thankful...

anyways yesterday... was hard in places - being away from people i'd really have liked to spend the day with. but thank God for phones :o) and... the evening was ok in the end. felt really nervous before and not very up for it - images of no one turning up except my tired housemates. but people did come - a random mixture of people from Spain, Costa Rica, Brazil, Germany, America, England and France that I've met in the last 3 weeks... sat by the river with 'cervezas' and sangria. and two of the american girls went on a mission to find me cake! this made me smile a lot.

Afterwards i went with 3 friends to another bar where there'd been some flamenco which we unfortunately missed... but got to meet some more nice people (more Americans, Spaniards and a German erasmus student) and practise more Spanish so it was cool. People find it funny when a couple of people who both speak english chose to speak spanish instead. but this is how we will learn! it's cool hearing people's stories, how for all different reasons people are in Sevilla at this time...


today i'm chilling and trying to work out my timetable for university starting tomorrow... something i was so nervous about before coming to Spain but kind of forgot about it during the last few weeks. and i guess there's no point worrying until i'm actually in a class and don't understand a word the professor says!! haha... we'll see how it goes...

Monday, 24 September 2007

21 years of....


(bournemouth, easter 2007)
FREEDOM... taking photos and beaches and sunshine (some of my favourite things...)




21


these feet are 21 years old today. as is the rest of me... :o)
and all i can think is how privileged i am to have had such a rich and full and life so far, with so many amazing experiences, places and people.
i don't know why... it's nothing about deserving it,but i do feel overwhelmed when i look back and think of all the memories, all the things i've seen and heard and learnt and loved. so thanks to peope who are reading this that have been a part of that.
today has been chilled so far, barely seen anyone, but that's ok, have learnt to be ok with my own company... and am enjoying the sunshine, the walking, the peace. and i got post!! woop woop! later i'll meet up with people that i've met so far during the last 3 weeks. and just heard about a reggae night thats on on wednesdayso hopefully then there'll be some dancing! i miss it so much!!

Sunday, 23 September 2007

el fin de semana

so i've just spent four hours speaking spanish and drinking coffee in a plaza on a sunny sunday afternoon... feeling quite proud of myself and a lot more knowledgeable about Costa Rica, which is where my coffee drinking companion is from!

also today i ended up helping out with my flatmates at a race (1500m, 3000m, 5000m and 10000m) in parque maria luisa, one that anyone can take part in and happens every month. the people of Sevilla like to run it would seem! was cool seeing another aspect of the city and its people, although was rather chilly at 7:30 am and felt very aware of my lack of spanish-speaking ability! But hey it's all gonna help me improve. and i got paid 30euros which i wasn't expecting. woop!

yesterday i went to a Brasilian church... why? because... Brazil is just somewhere i get excited about and have wanted to return to since i went when i was 15. also one of the reasons i'm learning spanish is that it'll be easier to learn portuguese afterwards! Anyways i had a good time, managed to understand quite a bit of the service and met some really nice people who i hope to see again. Meeting them and also through talking to my Costa Rican frien made me realise that even though i really miss people at home i'm so privileged that i can return anytime i want. They are separated from their families and don't know when they'll be able to see them again. They're here to make a better life for themselves... i'm here... because i can be. need to remember this when i feel sorry for myself!

tomorrow i turn 21... don't feel old enough to be an "adult"... in some ways. in others i feel ready for it. i don't know. it wil be hard being away from my family, but at the end of the day it is just a date on the calendar... and i did get to celebrate before i went. so it's all good, i'll enjoy whatever comes...

Saturday, 22 September 2007

flamenco!!

i saw my first ever performance of flamenco tonight...

it was part of the noche larga de los museos, when lots of the museums in sevilla were free and open from 9pm to 3am tonight. so i went with my flatmates to the one nearest us which was the museum of traditional costumes and tools (we tried to go to the flamenco museum and couldn't find it!) - which i wasn't so excited about... but yeh there ended up being flamenco right there in the courtyard of this grand building! a man playing guitar, a lady singing, another lady clapping and a lady dancing. sooo beautiful!!! it's quite sad music - like it makes you feel something somewhere deep down. it kind of fitted my mood as i'm really missing friends tonight. but also made me smile a lot too.

Thank You!! :o)

Friday, 21 September 2007

where my night walk started


La Barqueta

following a tune

last night i felt really restless... not wanting to go home yet no plans to meet up with people were falling into place either.

so i walked

along the river.

it was a very warm night (later on there was a massive storm) and i needed to do some thinking.

i've met quite a lot of people already cosidering the amount of time i've been here, and it feels like each one represents something different i could commit to, a different potential area within with to invest my time; to give something of myself to. and i know from experience i can't do everything. so was just feeling a bit overwhelmed, and after some conversations i've had and things i've read i was wondering if the answer lies in simply doing what we'd really love to do, or whether there are seasons when we need to lay down those things that get us excited and make our hearts beat a bit faster and instead learn to love something or someone new and different to what we've known before.

anyways as i was pondering this along the banks of the Guadalquivir, with joggers and cylists passing me regularly (i guess it's too hot for that earlier in the day) i heard the faint sound of music carrying over the water. it came and went a bit so at first i thought i was imagining it. it sounded kind of sad but beautiful and i had romantic images of a lone man playing his saxophone to the stars. so i decided to discover the source - after all i didn't have anything to rush home for, and any excuse to explore more of Sevilla is a good enough excuse for me! so my search eventually led me to start crossing the river on one of the bridges, while all sort of possiblities crossed my mind. mayb it was an open air concert, or a private showing with some notes managing to escape into the night air. as it was, as i neared the other side of the bridge, wondering if it was a good idea to be walking in an unknown part of the city at 10pm i discovered the mystery music maker. and he was none of the images i had in my head. he was probably only 15 years old, playing the trumpet, and by all appearances was walking home from band practise with his friend who had a snare drum hanging from his neck! i had to laugh to myself. i wish i had said something to them anyways, just because their music made me smile, but i was too tired to think in spanish. surrepticiously i turned around after i'd passed them and followed them back to the other side of the river and then continued on my way.

but that wasn't the end of the story! as i neared the torre del oro (tower of gold), tired-footed and wanting to be in my bed, i came upon not one trumpeter but many! i guess this was where my earlier 'friend' had been heading. it seemed they were rehearsing - about three groups of musicians playing the tunes i had heard earlier but together and in harmony and it sounded beautiful! i smiled A LOT as i sat and listened for a while.

and it made me think... maybe God is calling us to follow the tunes that play in our hearts, no matter how faint and nonsensical it seems... because often they lead to greater things...to other people with similar tunes so we can play them out in harmony.

so i want to continue listening to and following the whispers on the wind, to chase after the things that make me feel alive inside.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

more good

i wrote the last post first in a notebook in el parque alamillo (which i'd never been to before... it's beautiful!!), before i met up with one of the girls i lived with in my first week and her friends. it feels weird to now write about things that made me so happy, but i guess that's a reflection of life...


anyways... a group of young people and students, many of them from the same church but not all, majority from spain but america, germany and costa rica also feautured, met in the park for a picnic, some cheesy games and general getting to know each other. i would have cringed if i'd done the same thing in england. but here.... here it was what i needed. to be with people who i don't yet really know but we all have that same thing in common. and by the end of the night when some of us had run to catch the last bus, joked about bra sizes (women are the same all over the world!) i felt like i was at home with them, i felt able to be myself...even some dancing on the pavement may have made an appearance...and i felt alive.

***

and tonight i met up with some american girls to pray, and crazily enough when i arrived they were just talking about the good things and the bad things going on in their lives at the moment. and one girl too had lost a friend this weekend and was finding it hard that she was far away. and during the meeting that followed they read psalm 13 which i was reading last night. i like it when things fit together. reminds me God Knows. feel encouraged.

goodbaddeathlife

the weekend was intense. when i tried to write about it before i couldn´t put sentences together or make it make sense.maybe because it didn´t. but then did anyone ever promise that life would? or death?

DEATH is the taste this weekend has left in my mouth. darkness hanging around the edges of a time when there was a lot of good too. maybe i´ll start with that.

GOOD was telling someone something i´d wanted to say for a long time
GOOD was dozing in the sunshine in a beautiful park
sitting on a floating bar on the river drinking icy cokes
hearing from friends
presents and laughing and dancing
GOOD was answered prayers about the housewarming party on friday night - for energy and good atmosphere and connversation.

then, there was BOTH : goodandbad : it often tends to be a mixture... i know its never clearcut!

like bad was being ill but good was having someone there to look after me
bad was missing out on beaches but good was talking and resting and learning
bad was crying and feeling small and overwhelmed; good was listening and being listened to, and praying and clinging with all my strength to the Rock.

but then there was that which only seems bad at this point in time. bad and sad and angry and dark and death...

is merciless killing in the favelas of rio de janeiro for money drugs power NOTHING

is slaughter of thousands in Uganda because of one man´s fear and insecurity.

and yes they were films that i watched but still speaking about reality.

and then a phone call halfway through one of them brought it all home. a school friend ending his life. suddenly. aged 20. leaving parents,brother, baby son, a church, friends all over the world.

life is so fragile. a fleeting moment. yet we pretend to ourselves that we are unshakeable. with our anti'wrinkle creams and fitness instructors and death kept underwraps in sanitised hospital siderooms.

if death was more of a reality to me, if mere survival was viewed as an achievement, would i live the same way i live now? would i fill my days with such trivial things? pointless worrying and purchasing and pondering and worrying some more.wasting precious minutes. because we can be no more sure than someone living in a war zone that today will not be our last on this earth. i don´t want to sound morbid. or maybe i don´t care if i do because maybe its more real than a lot of things i say and do. and i know there is more than just the here and now. i know this. but i guess this weekend that´s not how i felt. i felt alone, left to try to work out how to best spend this breath of life on a planet groaning at what it´s inhabitants are doing to it and each other.

i feel i need to fight to make this time worth something. only there seem to be so many battles. and i don´t know where or how to begin. and i´m scared that´s an excuse to do nothing at all.

Thursday, 13 September 2007

music moments

well i didn't dance at the concert...because it was a full on orchestra! man it was so beautiful. an amazing location and the square was full of people...all watching in near silence. it's funny how everyone kind of knows classical music whether they listen to it purposely or not. as in we all know how the next bit sounds. maybe thats a bit of a generalisation...

anyways it made me happy. just like other types of music outdoors does (combining two amazing things like outside and music can't be bad in my opinion!); like people whistling in the park the other day as they walked along; and a group of guys on a street corner with one playing the violin and the other a guitar; and even people playing their music really loudly out their car windows always makes me laugh.

yeh there's been quite a few moments like that since being here when u just have to smile and u feel a bit overwhelmed and wish u could share it with someone. thats what's weird about being on your own in a new place...making all these discoveries but all just for yourself. but today i get to share some cuz i have a visitor from engerland coming in a couple of hours... wooooooop!!

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

missing things

today is...

the first full day in my new flat! not that i've spent much time in it - been out attempting to register at uni, which wasn't too stressful although i have to "come back tomorrow!" just hoping my form will still be there... :o)

so, mi piso...
it'a kind of nicer than i remembered and my room is quite a good size. AND it has a ROOOOOF!! and i didnt even know. that made me really happy!!! someone knows the things that make me smile...

the girls i'm living with are nice; older, and i find their spanish really hard to understand and i feel almost like we are on different planets... BUT i think i expected this and hoping little by little bridges will build and i can be a friend as well as a flatmate. just need a lot of help!

today i miss my friends. i miss the living room of my old house in brighton where guaranteed there'd be someone, or someones i loved - on the sofas, and good conversations going on. it helps to know that some of them are in spain, going through similar things, but at the same time i kinda think distance is distance once you can't connect with someone in the way you really want to.

i'm also missing hugs. i haven't had one since my dad left last wednesday :o(
they're a little bit like food to me...


but on a happier note... tonight i'm going to see a free concert right in the middle of sevilla with some people i met last week and probably their friends. maybe some dancing might even happen... (i miss that too) although got no idea what type of music it is... but i shall le u know how it 'goes down'

Sunday, 9 September 2007

rest and people and truth

Rest is good hey? i really want this year to feature more of it than my life has before now. i listened to one of Brian Heasley's podcasts the other day about rest and then yesterday suddenly felt really down even though i'd had a great couple of days...and took a while to put two and two together - as usual... until fell asleep while writing my diary!
so today i rested: read and drank coffee and ate chocolate and walked round Parque Maria Luisa (love it!) and feel a little better. think a full on week just kind of hit me suddenly ... u know just a whole new country, lots of new people, new language - guess it's got to have some impact!

yeh friday and saturday were full of new faces...which was fun and exciting even if it was tiring. how incredible it is to be part of God's family ~ everyone i met was because of that... from my columbian current flatmate to girls from england and spain who'd done erasmus last year to spanish guy students to a texan missionary family, to american girls studying spanish here, to a pastor-DJ from Caliornia/Sevilla, to whole churchfull of people from Spain and South America!

because of this i also had the privilege of eating more tapas, sampling vino tinto con naranja (red wine with orangefanta!) in Alfalfa, painting the wall of a living room green, swimming, sunbathing, visiting a market and perhaps most exciting going to a youth meeting at one of the churches here where they were performing/worshipping in all styles of music from Bolivian folk to flamenco to reggaeton!

so have had lots of fun, made lots of attempts at spanish, and as i expected had my people-stereotypes challenged muchly!

so yeh just quite privileged really!! and yet after all that mainly because i was tired all i felt was like crying and quite lonely. hmm emotions... when do they ever make sense?! but i know everything will be ok.


***


and just to end with a quote i like from "Velvet Elvis" by Rob Bell which i'm reading at the moment and feeling quite excited and challenged by...TRUTH ALWAYS LEADS TO MORE TRUTH, BECAUSE TRUTH IS INSIGHT INTO GOD AND GOD IS INFINITE AND GOD HAS NO BOUNDARIES OR EDGES. SO TRUTH ALWAYS HAS LAYERS AND DEPTH AND TEXTURE

Friday, 7 September 2007

"sleeping on it"

attempted to "sleep on" a decision about a certain flat that i saw yesterday...which meant i didn't sleep for ages because it was going round and round my head...

i think halfway through the night i decided i did want it, and then i overslept and worried i'd be too late to call!

but as things stand i'll be signing the contract and moving in on monday...

all the things that i was praying about that were important to me it has... 2 spanish ladies - who are fine with me having people to stay there; walking distance from uni; internet (hopefully!)... it'll be good for me to not be around english speakers as it'll be right in the deep end with language! i don't know why i still feel a bit unsure, i think it's just cuz it's quite a big deal for me to move in with people i don't know anything about... but then i didn't expect this year to be all easy! and again, He who is in me is greater than anything i'll face.

and yeh other things that i'd thought about or prayed about before i came to Spain kind of fit with the place...so that's also helped me make a decision. but more on that another time...

stereotypical?


so many of the things that people said about sevilla that i assumed were stereotypes may just be true... :o)

Thursday, 6 September 2007

beginnings

Beginnings:

of a new blog (to commemorate a new place,a new determination to blog frequently, and... mainly a desire for a blogging site that's easier for my untechnical mind to use!). so welcome! :o) i'm kinda excited...

of a new city - SEVILLA - like a blank space before me waiting to be filled...
with places to discover and friendships to form

of new opportunities - to become more independent (or maybe dependent!), to find out more about me, about Spain, about people, about the things that matter and the things that don't, and to begin to let my life be shaped more in reaction to what i learn

***

in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth

and it's so beautiful! the palm trees and the river and the blue sky and warm sun make me smile. but also the architecture is stunning...it's cool to think a lot of it was built as places of worship...reflecting the creativity of the One who made us... (like Father, like sons..) although at the same time part of me wonders if some people missed the point - spending their lives building when i believe it's our lives He wants to build. anyways...

in the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God, and the Word was God.

and He's with me. and His word is LIFE. and LOVE - which casts out fear and breathes in FREEDOM. and this is how i begin. and end.

***

so.my new life in spain. it's the beginning of a new adventure... although don't feel very adventure-some, in fact i don't feel very much at all. and i haven't done for the last few weeks. maybe extremes of nervousness and excitement and sadness and anticipation have all balanced each other out leaving me feeling quite numb. or is it peaceful? because i know i am held in the palm of the hand that flung stars into space. and i am sheltered there. and anyways, we always seem to be telling ourselves not to rely on feelings so maybe this lack is good. athough its making me 'feel' rather disconnected, like i'm just watching all this happen from behind a screen.

But i need to 'connect' pretty soon as my first necessary task is to find somewhere to live. well not just find, because that's not so difficult, but DECIDE. it's harder than i thought it would be and i don't really know why. because no where will be perfect at the end of the day, and whatever i face i know i won't be alone.

but until then i have a sofa bed in a lovely flat with 2 really nice girls...courtesy of friend of friend of friend...love it! having 'family' all over the world is soooo good. such a privilge.

and.that.is.all.for.now. x