Monday, March 31, 2008

The storks are flying....

My lifelong friend Roxanne (Curry) Bradford and her hubby are having a BABY! My mom three wayed her and I so that she could tell me herself! I am so excited for her to be the most adorable certified HOTTIE pregnant woman and then to birth the world's most athletic child! Keep them and their family and all that comes along with this blessing in your prayers! Love ya, Rox and Baby-to-Be!

Thursday, March 27, 2008


What to even say? Where to even begin?

Well, in Spain, Easter is a really big deal, due to the overwhelming Catholic influence. The week before Easter, or Resurrection Day is called 'Semana Santa' or 'Holy 'Week' and the entire country is put on hold. There are processions everyday that parade through every street of every city. Huge ornate images of the Easter story carved in brass silver and gold are hauled through the streets, often requiring 50-80 men that could start as NFL linemen to bare the weight of the monument. The processions are accompanied by band music and incense and crowds of emotional observers weeping and screaming. In the major cities, almost all roads are closed and moving transit throughout the city becomes virtually impossible. School and many jobs are dismissed the entire week and the entire life of the town is transformed and fixated on this rich, intense cultural tradition. Well, so I hear.

The Friday before Semana Santa even began, I was on a plane from Madrid to Casablanca in Morocco, Africa. It only struck me later, that on a day designed for the remembrance of the very act that I base my entire faith upon, I left a country who dedicates a week to this event with all focus and passion to be in a country which does not even recognize, as a nation and culture, the very God I serve. But with this abandonment, I was witness to more that taught me about my faith's role in my life. It was a truly special week in so many ways, but specifically as a most unique way to remember the most generous act of mankind.

Firstly, I was traveling with 4 others--Audrey, Beth (Americanas) and then Reda and Salah, both flatmates of Beth and native Moroquis. We arrived in Casablanca, we went directly to the beach for an over-due date with a plate. We then headed for the train station to take us in to Marrakesh, a city known for its wild labyrinth of open-air markets and snake-charmers and spices. It was absolutely wild! The first day, we went to observe the markets, to set sights on our potential purchases; it was absolutely too overwhelming to even consider buying anything! At the outskirts of the market, it a huge plaza, probably close to 5 acres (I am really bad at estimates like this--could have been really from 1 to 20!) but anyhow... it was FILLED with people and snake charmers and people with monkeys in clothes and horse drawn-carriages and motorbikes trailing crates of fruit and goods as the weight balanced awkwardly over make-due trailers. It was a swarm of activity and sounds, and my memory of it now is somewhat of a hazy image, only sharpened by the still-life pictures I have to return to. Nightfall, and the shops begin to close, and as we leave the winding row of retail and emerge to the same circus-like plaza we left earlier in the day, a completely new scene awaited out arrival. The snake charmers and monkeys were all gone, only to be replaced by an open-air food court constructed temporarily for dinner each evening! Accompanied by the aroma of a thousand smells that my nose has never known are the sounds of groups of night performers gathered to share their music or stories with the world. Groups of 30-40 people would gather by soft lantern-light around a small band of hand drums and singers and sitars to enjoy the warm evening air and incredibly cultural cuisine! We walked through the now maze of food options passing eager chefs at every step throwing out assortments of languages and phrases and menus all vying for our bodies to fill the diminishing space at their tent restaurant. The aspiring linguists were oozing with charisma and witty English phrases such as "See you later alligator!", the lyrics to the famous Top Gun song, "You've Lost that Lovin' Feelin" and even an extensive and impressive vocabulary and speaking structure I would be overjoyed to witness in my English classes back in Linares! And besides this impressive display, they were similarly familiar with at least 7 other languages that I witnessed-- Dutch, French, Japanese, Arabic, Spanish, German and Italian!

The next night in Marrakesh, we went to s "Spectacular," which most similarly translates into an Arabian form of Medieval Times. It really was phenomenal! We drove about an hour out of town to the unsuspecting countryside and pulled down a seemingly insignificant road until in the faint distance emerged a brilliantly and colorfully lit Arabian-style castle! At the entrance, two rows of men with Arabian desert garb mounted on camels lined out pathway to the castle doors. Dinner was held in huge, lush tents that seated around 200 each. The tables were set with fine dinner ware indicating a minimum of 5 courses by the stack of plates and forks waiting in front of me! Dish after dish (no less than 2 feet in diameter) were set before us 5 in and in true-Arabic fashion, we all dug in with fingers and bread, with complete disregard to the more modern western customs of manners and knives and forks! We had couscous, chicken asada, a beef dish topped with vegetables, typical Moroccan soup, an incredible pastry of sweet sheets of bread and a pudding-like cheese filling, and the obligatory fruit dish with Moroccan Tea! After dinner, we rolled our stuffed selves over to the arena at the center of the castle to find seats and blankets to watch the show. There were dancers, and men doing tricks on camels and horses and fire works! It was a completely invented, but incredibly special way to really dive into the ancient traditions of this rich culture.

Well, I have to get going for now, but there is still more to come of the adventures in Rabat (the capitol) and Tetuan! Talk soon and thanks for reading! *britt

Monday, March 3, 2008

I'm still on this side...

Ronda is DREAMY!

Well, hello, Readers...

So--this past weekend we had Puente for Dia de Andalucia... a puente is a Thursday and Friday break from work (and school), so Caroline, my roommate and I decided to go to Torremolinos, which is just outside Malaga and take a day trip to Ronda.. a beautiful city about an hour inland with a breath-taking bridge and the oldest bullring in Spain. Pablo Romero, considered the father of modern bull-fighting, developed the modern rules in this arena. July-October are the bullfights, so we weren't actually able to see a fight in the ring, but we were allowed to go inside and play on the field and walk through the stands and tour the museum. The museum was extremely interesting because it housed old weapons and costumery of the torros and torreros (bulls and bullfighters), but also, it had quite and extensive rifle exhibit and a specific section on the history of the Duel (Western style duels)... there are actually codes to a duel--it is not just something that happens in old western films... I may be a little late to this news flash, but I just thought it was extremely interesting because there is even a philosophical essay on Duel Ethics from what you should wear, the terms of the revolvers, distances, shots fired, and even standing and sitting positions... it was just kind of crazy to me to realize that when someone's pride was offended, this was actually a socially acceptable way of dealing with the issue. Anyhow, we saw some pretty incredible vistas (sights) throughout the day, but maybe one of the greatest things was that I was in a tank top! It is getting warmer here and I LOVE it! It was just a nice relaxing weekend with beach, a lot of bus riding and one other thing which I must relate....

So.. Caroline and I were pretty fond of just walking up and down the sea walk in Torremolinos, and one night we walked so far, we actually ended up in the neighboring town... but it was there that we discovered AUTHENTIC TEX-MEX!!!! We decided we simply MUST eat there, so we returned the next night with fermented appetites, pre-set to some long overdue tacos and guacamole! We wanted more than just one thing, so we shared a MASSIVE mound of nachos with queso cheese, refried beans, pico, sour cream.. mmmmmmmmm.. you don't even understand- I am salivating even as I recant! Then, we also shared the Santa Fe salad with more avacado, thinly sliced chicken, a wonderful salsa dressing, pineapple, cucumber slivers, and other wonderful jewels, which I can't presently recall. Anyhow, it was WONDERFUL...!! I felt right at home... kind of an eerie feeling, actually to be getting a whole mean, a whole Texan-size and style meal, on coastal Spain!

So great weekend! Also, a group of exchange students from Christchurch, England and two of their professors came to IES Hermanos Media Revilla for an exchange program about 2 weeks ago.. We had a great time with the students and a lot of fun with the two professors, as well. The students were incredibly well-behaved and respectful, which was really so refreshing... We were able to do a few 'touristy' things with them, too, so you will see some photos from the trip here, as well... Well, thanks again for reading... we will catch up more later... love you all!

Another breath-taking view of Ronda... it really was straight out of a movie or dream or something...

The famous "Puente Viejo" (or Old Bridge) in Ronda.. there is a long path (pictures below) that you take down, down, down to get to this picturesque look-out point... it was a great place to soak up some some, take some fotos, take a rest, and eat some golsinas (treats)!

Heaven might look something like this.

Caro and I playing in the Bullring! We had the entire stadium to ourselves for almost 20 minutes--it was GREAT! Then three groups, each consisting of about 30 people, of German, French, and Dutch nationality rained in on our make-believe torro fight! too bad...

Caro caught me sunbathing on the bleachers of the stadium! We just had to soak up all the sun there was! I LOOOVE the heat!

Loving life together in the oldest bullring in Spain

Because I just had to.

Some kinda artsy ones on the path down to the Miradora Puente (Bridge Look-out)

Caro being the little Modela she is!

I was just messing around in the crag of the rock, but Caro had her camera goin' like we were on a photoshoot!