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!