Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Is this Real Life?

Yesterday I drove to Madrid to watch a Real Madrid soccer game. Yes, you did just read that sentence correctly. I drove. 4 of my friends and I rented a car and drove to Madrid for the day. It was epic. I was the only one who knew how to drive a manual so I was entrusted with the task of the 9 hour round trip drive.
This is what I drove:

6am. ready to leave Granada!!

It was so crazy to not have driven for 3 months and then all of the sudden be driving a manual Volkswagen van on a highway in Spain and through the streets of Madrid. I learned a lot about European driving. And while driving around in Granada at very early hours in the morning that street signs just do not apply to you. 

We arrived in Madrid around 11:30am yesterday. In Spain, the rest stops consist of a hotel/gas station with a cafe next door and you go in, sit down, drink a coffee, eat a snack, converse and then leave. Stopping is typically a big ordeal and when you do stop it isn't just for a bathroom break. I quite enjoyed this style of traveling. 

While in Madrid my 4 friends went and toured the stadium where Real Madrid plays before the game. I wanted to be completely shocked and awed when I entered for the game later so I opted out of the tour. Instead, I happened upon a Starbucks (go ahead, criticize away) and sat there reading and journaling for several hours. 

When the tour was over a few of us headed over the Prado art museum via the metro. We eventually all met up for dinner. The entire day at different times somebody would spontaneously shout out "Ahh! I'm so excited!!" nobody could contain their excitement. My friend, Charles, had dreamed about this moment since he was little kid. The build up of excitement before the game was just as fun as the game itself.

For dinner we ate at and 50's American themed diner. Yes, more America. It is hard to just drop your greasy habits cold turkey. They had everything you could think of. Onion rings, french fries, hot dogs, hamburgers, milk shakes. I had a BLT with REAL BACON and onion rings. And they were actually the 3rd best onion rings I have ever had in my life. No joke. I was so mesmerized by it all I didn't not get any pictures. After we finished eating we all felt like crap but were satisfied. I talked about that meal all day. 

Then came the moment we had all been waiting for. We walked over the stadium and took a few pics outside before wondering indoors. I'll never forget walking through the door and seeing the field/inside of the stadium for the first time. It was gigantic and incredible and I kept having to pinch myself. 
And our seats were first row at mid field. It was unreal. We watched both teams warm up and then watched Real Madrid massacre the other team 6-2. They scored 4 goals in the first 20 minutes. It was so fun. 
anxiously waiting to go inside

warm it up!

right by the action the whole time

yes, it was raining and cold. but i didn't mind a bit

this is apparently when we were on tv

the crew

so many security personel 

parting shot

After the game we exited with the masses and went over to a bar/cafe we had visited earlier on that day. I had a pre-drive coffee and we all watched the highlights of the game we had just attended. It made me very much understand the atmosphere of soccer. 
Then we headed for the car and proceeded to get very turned around in the streets of Madrid. Finally, I made it back onto the highway headed home. Then the torrential downpour started and didn't stop until about an hour away from home at which point the stars all came out and it was absolutely gorgeous.
We pulled into Granada at 4:30am exhausted but satisfied. I didn't walk in my door until a little after 5am . But don't worry! I still made it to my 9am class!  
This was an experience that I will not soon forget. It still seems so crazy but I have the pictures to prove I was there!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why yes. This is España

Found this today in our pantry here in Spain. I think this was that moment when I realized I am, in fact, in Spain. it is ok to be a little jealous...

*i apologize to all the vegetarians in the world. And while i respect your decision wholeheartedly, you sure are missing out on some things. 

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Los Cahorros y Las Alpujarras

I never have school on Fridays and I have been sticking close to Granada the past few weeks so this week I decided to do a little hiking. A 30 minute bus ride from the city that cost 1.30 euro took me here...

Indiana Jones bridge

part of the trail was a single track concrete trail and they had these handholds hammered into the side of the valley to help you along. 

we made 2 frieds that day. This cow and our new Australian friend, Jack.

this would be when we took a wrong turn and got 'lost'

then decided take a break and turn around. none of us had the desire to spend the night in the woods without supplies.

Then today my program took everybody to the Alpujarras. Picturesque mountain villages about an hour outside of Granada. Unbelievably gorgeous. At one point, while tucked far away into the mountains you can see the Mediterranean Sea and if you go high enough, you can see Africa. I didn't see Africa but I saw this... 

my favorite

a local carpet making workshop. pretty cool

The last two days have been just what I needed. And I still have one day left to rest. So amazed by this place in which I get to live for 10 months..

Friday, November 11, 2011

Esperanza Rising

November. Still a dreaded month in my family. Actually, the beginning of several sad months in my family. What used to be the absolute happiest time of the year for me is now coupled with unbelievable amount of sadness. We are about to hit the 2 year mark of John being gone. And honestly, the 2 year feels way worse than the 1 year. Because it is real. Because I am actually processing. Because I am in a foreign country. Because I won't even go home for the holidays this year. Because a piece of my family is still missing.

Also, this year is probably the first time I am truly grieving John's death. That I am truly sitting in it, thinking about it in a healthy way. And the ironic thing is, I am far far away from anyone who could help me walk through it but yet somehow, it is better this way. Because it forces me to sit not only with my sadness but to sit holding the hand of Jesus only. It has been a gift to hear his voice very clearly. To truly trust his presence and what he has me here in Spain for. And in the midst of all of my sadness and homesickness, I am finding joy. Not happiness, but joy. I cannot do this feeling justice with words but I will say that I feel, for the first time since my brother died, like I am waking up. And who knew it would take leaving every comfortable thing and person behind to make it happen? Jesus did. He knew that I was strong enough to go, to be here in a foreign land. And so, I am here. And it took me a semester almost to get to this point of understanding and obviously it is not like I will reach an end and have complete understanding but I have a Hope (esperanza) and Trust (confianza) in someone is who is way bigger than I am. Thank goodness.

So this November I will cry a lot and laugh a lot because I will remember all of the crazy awesome things about John Noll and his 16 years on earth. Because I sill miss his laugh a whole lot, his sometimes obnoxious whistling and singing, his jorts,  his hatred for technology, his simplicity of life, his extreme love for all things outdoors, his kind spirit and his love for his family and heart for serving Christ.

 And also making movies of him and with him. I am glad that I have these kinds of things to remember about him. and yep, the movies are real grainy. It was the year 2008 and my camera stunk.

Boone, NC. my senior trip with the fam. John used to laugh so hard he couldn't talk.

part 1 of a movie for John's spanish class. I was 18. Too embarrassed to show part 2

Monday, November 7, 2011


Yesterday my program director took us to a small pueblo outside of Granada and had some of his friends teach us how to make a traditional Spanish dish called 'paella.' It is basically composed of rice, meat, tomatoes, parsley, white wine, garlic, onions, green peppers, red peppers, dried peppers, olive oil, and a few other ingredients. I took notes and hopefully, when I come back to the US I can just travel around and have Paella Parties for everyone. Paella, sangria, and story time.

Anyway, it was a gorgeous day. A little on the chilly side but the hot spanish sun helped warm things up a bit. And if any of you have ever watched Anthony Bourdain's show, No Reservations, I felt like I was in my own personal episode of the show. It was fantastic! The two ladies who taught us how to make paella were great and i stood by the fire the whole time and they would tell me exactly what they were doing. I have had a few different paellas since arriving in Spain and this one was by far my favorite.

I know all of you love my pictures so here are few from yesterday. I wish I could live this life everyday that I am here..

the beginnings..

fresh 'granadas' (pomegranates) 

i chopped all of the onions. 

getting closer..

bam! finished product. i stuffed my face

a few pics from our post-lunch walk

Next week, we go hiking in the mountains. I can not wait..