The way it goes

It’s nice to have a quiet morning, wake up without an alarm, and sit at the table sipping coffee as long as I want.

Lots of things going on here.

I got my hair cut on Thursday. Apparently I didn’t do a good job describing what I wanted in Spanish. Then again, hairstyle standards are a little different here. Regardless, when I got home and looked in the mirror I was pretty horrified. Anna got home from the bar, laughed at me, and tried to even it out a little bit. Nothing like a tipsy roommate, a pair of scissors, and a haircut that really couldn’t get much worse. Here’s the cut before Anna fixed it, and then after she evened out that weird uneven part in the back…

 

What the heck is my hair doing in the back? It’s not even at all. It’s okay; I’m told that it looks “mas o menos normal” in Spain. Oh well. At least it’s not a mullet.

Regardless, Spanish hair and all, I went out again Thursday with Sergio, a spanish friend, and some of his other amigos. I mangled a lot of Spanish and they mangled a little bit of English. It was a good time. I think they are just as amused by my Spanish as I am by their English.

(Eating tapas in Spain means a lot of MEAT! …in various stages of sketchy.)

Yesterday was also our class trip to Salamanca. Alas, no puenting. 😦 But I liked Salamanca… it’s something like the Ann Arbor of Spain, since it’s a university town. The University of Salamanca is one of the oldest universities in Europe, and has students from all over the world. (Their campus in Ávila is where we are taking our classes, and it’s pretty exciting that we’ll get a certificate from the University of Salamanca at the end of this program.)

(That building on the right is the public library…) 

The university is beautiful. Salamanca has places like this, and Eastern has “Mark Jefferson Mall” and so on. 😉 On one of the buildings, part of the intricate decoration is a tiny frog perched on a skull. If you find the frog, supposedly you have good luck in your exams. I hope that’s true.

 

Can you find it? 🙂

On many walls you can see inscriptions like this:

When a student gets his or her doctorate, they celebrate with a bullfight, and then write a commemoration on the wall with a mixture of paint and blood from the bull.

Salamanca has two Cathedrals… one in the Roman style of architecture, and a newer, bigger, Gothic cathedral built onto that. (Well, new compared to the old one, at least.) The plaza in front of the main doors of the Cathedral is often called La Plaza de las Tres Coños… because in the cold winters people stand there and say “Coño, qué grande… coño, qué bonito… ¡coño, qué frío!” (How big… how pretty… how cold!)

(Quick cultural lesson… don’t look up coño in the dictionary. The literal english equivalent is incredibly obscene, but here in spain it’s used as a very common and fairly tame exclamation… much like ¡joder!, which also doesn’t have the force here that it does in the U.S…. more like “Oh, crap!” than anything more profane. Expressions tame enough that our professors use them in class… well, our younger professors, at least. Who go out dancing all night with us, too…)

On another puerta of the cathedral, during one of the renovations, they added a little astronaut as a symbol of the 20th century. He’s right in there with all the saints…

We also visited the parque made famous by La Celestina, which we all had to read at some point during our Spanish Lit. classes at Eastern. Here’s the old crone herself:

 

The story takes place in Salamanca, and many of the more dramatic moments occur in this park… for example, the meetings of the lovers, and ultimately the protagonist’s fatal fall from one of the walls. The park was full of roses… another one of my favorite things about Spain. I’m glad we’re here in summer.

Salamanca was a very happening place this weekend. There was a parade, courtesy of the Red Cross, with all kinds of dancing and costumes from around the world.

We ate lunch in the square near the cathedral, where there were booths with people grafitti-ing them, a DJ, and break dancers. It felt like we had been transported to Ann Arbor.

After shlepping around all day, I slept a little on the busride home. I tried to siesta back in Ávila but for some reason I couldn’t, even though I only got a few hours of sleep the night before and walked around all day. I’ve been having really weird nightmares the past few weeks. I guess there’s something to be said for a screwed up sleep schedule where I never actually got enough sleep at a time to dream much anymore.

Anyway, in lieu of sleep, last night I went out to the fiesta in the park of St. Antonio, with some fellow classmates and Miguel (our profe). Despite the inordinate amount of skanky drunk middle schoolers who were out in full force, it was still fun. Lots of dancing to traditional Spanish music. Lots of dismay at Spain’s lack of public restrooms. Lots of peeing in the bushes. Lots of abandonment by the rest of the group because I went on said excursion to pee in the bushes. Etc.

After the party died down, I was sitting on a bench with one of my classmates, and I got fed up with the piropos from all the drunk bichos raros meandering by. I was tired and irritated, and when one more guy walked by and said something stupid, I snapped and put my knowledge of Spanish and Mexican insults to use. I don’t know how intimidating my (broken Spanish) ranting was, but he left.

One of my goals before I leave Spain is to have the level of language necessary to really tell someone off, without sounding hilarious…

Anyway, I think I am going to the bullfight tonight. Little bit scared. Wish me luck.

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2 Responses to The way it goes

  1. Amy says:

    I found the frog. And I think the hair looks fine! Definitely not a mullet. 🙂

  2. claire says:

    i, too, found the frog. somehow i think it was easier than circling the entire building though!

    their library is sooooo much cooler than ours!!

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