Mi Fin de Semana

This title means “My Weekend” (it’s not just a blog, it’s an online Spanish class!). This is going to be super long because I never posted about Friday night or about Saturday, and I have a whole morning to talk about too! Let’s get started then, shall we?

Friday afternoon Inma gave  us what was basically a vegetarian lasagna for lunch, except no pasta. It was zucchini, eggplant, and cheese. It was very good, but there was a lot of it and the eggplant was hard to cut. She made an entire 13×9 or so  pan of it, and I think she actually expected Danielle and I to eat it all. There was a lot of food there! We couldn’t finish! I felt terrible but I just couldn’t put anything else in my stomach. We then got to talking about food a little bit more and we learned that in Spain, it’s actually rude to ask to take your leftovers home with you from a restaurant. Inma said she thought that it was silly because they’re just going to throw the food out, it’s not like they can re-serve it, but that’s how it is. It was interesting.

Friday afternoon my Spanish class met up to go on a walk with our teacher through a part of the city called El Albaicin. It was stunning! The views of the Alhambra, the buildings, it was all just absolutely beautiful. I’ll post my pictures of that later. It takes a long time for me to upload photos here. My teacher is great, so friendly and funny, and she knows a lot about the city. We had a lot of fun walking around and I feel like I know the city a little bit better now than I did before.

Saturday was something else. Our program went on a hike through La Alpujarra, a valley in the Sierra Nevadas. It was one of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen. For a while I actually kinda felt like I was back in Peru, walking around in the Andes. It has the same kind of feel, small towns, animals walking around everywhere, beautiful mountain view. I took a lot of pictures of that so I’ll upload those too. We started by taking a bus from Granada to a small town called Pampaneira where we received a small orientation on how the hike was going to work, and a little bit of information about the mountain range. Then we got to explore the town a little bit. I made sure to buy a water bottle because I hadn’t had one to bring with me. Then, we got on the bus to go to another town, which I forget the name of, and that’s where we started our hike. There were actually two options for the hike, one a little bit harder and one a little bit easier. Me being my carpe diem self did the harder trail and was so glad I did. It was about three hours long (we took a break in the middle for lunch) and it was incredibly beautiful. It actually wasn’t even super difficult. I never felt like I was in danger of falling down the mountain, but there were some narrow, slippery spots. There was also a lot of water that we had to cross over. Needless to say, I got a little damp once or twice. But it wasn’t bad. The whole hike was just so refreshing, so enlivening, so breathtaking. I didn’t mind getting a little wet and dirty. One of the last places we went on the hike was another small town, although I don’t think that they ever told us the name. But, apparently it was the last place that the Muslims had control of when the Christians were taking over Spain, sort of their last stronghold. Also, I guess after a long time of rule by the Christians, and having the right to practice their religion taken away, they finally rebelled against the Christians and were able to get their rights back. Cool little piece of history.

After we got back, I went back home and Skyped with people for a while. When it was about 9:00, Inma came in and I told her about the problem I was having with my phone, that I couldn’t add more money with an American credit card online. She told me that I could go to this place called El Corte Ingles, and intense Spanish department store, and add money there, but it closed at ten so I really had to book it. We got there, I added more minutes, all was well. Now, just a little bit about El Corte Ingles. When I say intense department store, I’m not kidding. It’s got shoes, purses, jewelry, beauty products, men’s clothing, women’s clothing, electronics, a hair salon, a coffee shop, a grocery store, and tons and tons of other things that I have yet to explore. It’s like an upscale Walmart, but better. We went down to the grocery store just to get a few snack like things, and some frozen dinners for those nights we didn’t feel like going out for tapas. I got Pringles, Cheetos, and frozen pizza. It’s nice to have some foods that you’re kind of familiar with for those times when you’re kinda missing home and the people there.

This morning was my first time going to mass in Spain. I’ll upload pictures of the church later too (man I have a lot of uploading to do!). Again, it was absolutely beautiful. It was very small, but very intimate as well. Everyone there seemed to know each other (except for me of course). I sat next to an older woman who seemed to be a little suspicious of me, but by the end she seemed friendly. When I first entered the church, I panicked a little. Why? No missals. They say that the great thing about the Catholic Church is that no matter where you go, the mass is the same. Well, that may be, but even though the mass itself was the same, the language was completely different.  I understood pretty much everything that the priest said, but I had no idea how to respond. The only prayer I know in Spanish is the Hail Mary, and that’s not a part of the mass. So most of the time I just didn’t say anything, but sometimes I tried to follow along, and sometimes I just prayed in English. I had planned on just following along in the missal, but now that I know that there are none, I’m going to have to work a little harder to learn the Spanish mass. I made sure to donate to the collection because I felt badly for not really being able to participate in the mass. And the woman next to me seemed mad at me for not being able to pray.

It was interesting to see the differences between this mass and the mass that I’m used to. For one thing, there was no music at this mass. There was singing, but no music to accompany it. There wasn’t a procession either. The priests just walked right from the Sacristy onto the altar. They used incense at this mass too, although I think it might have been a special mass. I think there’s a possibility that it was a feast day for San Cecilio, who I think is the saint for that church (my street is called Parra de San Cecilio, so that’s what I’m guessing). They also didn’t stand until the end of the Alleluia, whereas in the US we stand right when it starts. They also knelt differently during the consecration. I wasn’t really sure what to do, so I just watched what most of the people in the church did and followed them. One thing that I really liked was during the sign of peace. The priest actually came down off the altar and shook hands with the whole congregation. It seemed like he had an intimate relationship with each person or family, which was really nice. What I didn’t like though was how communion was done. There was really no rhyme or reason. People just kind of got in line, they didn’t file out row by row like in the US. I felt a little uncomfortable because I didn’t know when to go. I was just going to wait until the woman next to me stood up, but she never did, so I just muscled up some courage from who knows where and got in line all by myself. After mass I walked around and took some pictures of the church, which I knew was okay because I saw tons of other Spaniards doing it. One even got up in the middle of the mass and took a picture of the priest at the altar. It really was beautiful.

Now I’m back home waiting to go out to meet a friend who I haven’t seen in a couple of years. She used to go to my school but then transfered, and now she’s studying in Granada for the whole year! I’m so excited that I get to see her again. We’re going to go out and spend the afternoon in the city. Then I’m going to come home and actually have dinner here. Inma has a baptism to go to so she won’t be home for lunch, so we decided to swap her giving us lunch for dinner today, which was really nice of her. I’ll probably go have a snack though to tide myself over. Well, until later then!

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