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