mama, i'm coming home

tonight we had a group supper at a chinese restaurant and i think it made me sick.

i just talked to vivian about when i get into bcn. i leave pamplona at 8 am !! and get to bcn around 2, i think. she has been really busy and i might have to take a train from the bus station to her house. normally i am fine with that, i even suggest it sometimes instead of having her come pick me up, but this time i dont know if i'll be able to go down the escalator with all my bags. its going to be difficult.

anyway, i leave bcn on thursday morning and get to cedar rapids thursday around 11 pm, 7 am spain time. almost a 24 hour trip. i hope there are no delays for dad's sake because he has to pick me up at the airport and drive me home.

yesterday i got my photos back from morocco. they're pretty good but a lot of them are blurry because i had to take the photos in a hurry so i couldn't always focus the photo well enough in time. this was for one of two reasons. 1.) people glared at me while i was taking photos. i never noticed this but it made jose nervous and he would nag me to hurry up and 2.) a lot of times i would be getting ready to take a photo and a donkey would come plowing down the street. since the streets are about as wide as a bathtub i would have to hurry up so i could smash myself against a wall so the donkey wouldnt run me over. i got hit but a donkey (or the load it was carrying) at least twice.

speaking of donkeys, i forgot to mention that one day we saw a site where you could go to rent a donkey if you needed to move something from one part of town to another.

who loves the sun? me! me!

for some reason it took me until today to realize that the grass has been green the whole time i have been in pamplona. and i mean really green. and the sun was almost shining and it was warmish. and i realized that in the middle of january it almost felt like spring and just then someone rode past me on their bike wearing a short sleeve shirt. and that made me really happy.
happy enough to want to jump on the bed or smack my gum really loud or bite my lip. because in iowa and missouri right now everything is probably various shades of grey and covered in dirt. maybe there's even snow on the ground. but i am sure that flowers are not blooming over there like they are here.

and then i wondered, if we can't have green grass and warm temperatures in january, ¿why can't we at least sidewalks with cool designs in the states?

and then it rained.

gods elevator, ¿going down?

After we left Mustaffa we had an incredibly good and cheap meal near the port while we waited for our bus to take off. there was a row of restuarants and we ate at the only one with tourists. not only that, but all the other restaurants were full of men and only men. men are scary. its even scarier to be the only woman. plus i had just been hissed at, so we stuck with the tourists.

the bus was surprisingly modern and cushy, just like the buses we take in spain. we got to fes (fez?) late-ish and the bus driver led us to a taxi driver who spoke only french and arabic. so we made up a few words in french to let him know we had no idea where we were going. we just wanted a hotel that had a shower. Now, we're not being picky tourists in the sense that we want a shower in the room, we just wanted a shower in the building.

the cab man took us to three before we found one that had rooms left... the room scared the bejuses out of me - there were stains on the beds and the tub was scary and dthere was no shower curtain and no towels.

so we went walking around to look for another one and within 5 minutes a 'guide' found us and took us to two hotels - one was full and the other was a 4 star hotel!!! and it was affordable! $40, i think. woo, it was fancy. we even ordered room service because we were too nervous and lazy to go out onto the street at dark.

when the bellhop brought our bags up to the room (i mean, really, it was a 4 star hotel!) jose was trying to ask him where he could buy cigarettes. even though the word in french is 'cigarette' we couldnt get the idea across. we even put on a quick one-act-play to demonstrate buying cigarettes and the guy just didnt get the idea. jose accompanied him downstairs to the receptionist while the bellhop explained to the receptionist that he thought jose wanted to buy hash! somehow jose got it all straightened out.

the next morning our 'guide' from the night before was waiting for us outside and he took us to his 'brother' (they didnt look alike at all) whose spanish was not too good and his english was even worse. he did a much better job as tour guide and took us to a really cool factory that makes porcelains and tiles and mosaics. it was really cool and they do it all by hand. of course we couldnt afford to buy anything...
but he also took us to some stupid rug store, a store that sells traditional moroccon dress at tourist prices, and a cool but touristy restaurant at tourist prices. of course at all of these places, our guide gets comission if we buy something.

while our guide at lunch, his other 'brother' took us to see an open air factory where they have sheepskins and they put the wool in one place and they take the skin and soften it in big clay things. the whole place smelled so awful and the people were so dirty from working there. it looked like a really large and flatened out honeycomb. on our way in we saw a man in his underwear washing himself in a public water thing and on our way out we saw a store and a side street completely full of sheeps wool. do you know how much wool it takes to fill a store?

back with our regular guide, we made him understand we didnt want to go to anymore 'traditional' stores because we had no money to buy things and that we wanted to see the market. it took a lot of convincing but he finally took us. woah. it was so nerve racking and it was bustling with people and donkeys and cars and people yelling and donkeys hee-hawing and wheezing and cars honking and there was so much to look at. there were women covered in henna and men selling live snails out of wheelbarrows and stalls full of shiny silver teapots and anything you can imagine and lots of things you cant.

Los parecidos

Girl at Large es lo mas parecido a mi blog que he encontrado. Habla de las cosas cotidianas que le pasa viviendo en un pais diferente que el suyo. Es de los Estados Unidos y se ha traslado a Francia para pintar y seguir estudiando pintura. Ademas, parece que es des medioeste de los Estados Unidos, de donde soy yo. Como ella es pintora, le interesa muchisimo las cosas visuales, igual que yo. Tiene descripciones muy vivas de las cosas que ve por Francia y por su pueblo. La diferencia entre su situacion y la mia es que ella tiene familia en Francia, mientras yo vine sin conocer a nadie. Su audiencia parece ser también su familia y amigos que aun quedan en Estados Unidos y eso tenemos en común. Ella se rodea de gente que son familia y otros forasteros, igual que yo con los forasteros. Aunque los que conozco yo, todos hablan castellano, y los que conoce ella hablan todos ingles.

Un Bahiense en Noruega es otro blog parecido al mio. En algunos aspectos es más parecido porque estamos en la misma situación - los dos estamos fuera de nuestos paises por un tiempo definitivo. Él está trabajando y yo estudiando. El tambien esta rodeado de forasteros, pero parece que la mayoria son de Argentina, como él. Pero lo que nos diferencia es que este chico lleva poco tiempo (igual que yo ahora) en Noruega y yo he estado en España ya varias veces. Por eso, hay cosas, costumbres, maneras de vivir y pensar que le extraña mas al chico que a mi estando en España de nuevo. Su blog parece mas a los emails que mandaba a mi familia la primera vez que estaba fuera de mi país.

El tercero que es parecdio está escrito por un hombre que nació en Bolivia y su familia trasladó a Estados Unidos cuando él tenía 10 años. Ahora está otra vez en Bolivia con una beca de Fullbright. Él también escriba, más que nada, para estar en contacto con su familia sin tener que mandar la misma ecorreo a todo el mundo. Como está con una beca, él tambien está allí solamente por un tiempo definido, igual que yo y el argentino. Diría que la gran diferencia entre los nuestros blogs es que como su familia es Boliviano le interesa más la situación politica y economica y las noticias que pasan en el pais, mientras la mía le interesa mas la cultura y mis experiencias personales. Aunque eso no quiere decir que el deja de contar todo eso.


scroll down to read about my moroccon trip


i just came across a blog about the english language. one of the funniest entries has to do with god.

moroccan bathrooms

lets start with the basics:
1. running water is not always available. each town (in the old part, because the modern part of town in pretty modern) has running water available to the public and people take buckets and bottles to fill up there.

2. when running water is available, do not expect it to be hot. we had hot water at 2 of our hotels. one of those hotels was a 4 star hotel (we felt like kings! i jumped on the bed! we washed our clothes in the tub! we had air conditioning! and heating!) and the other hotel only had hot water in the morning, meaning before 11 a.m. So i got to shower with hot water but jose didnt.
The other shower problem was that none of our hotels, except the fancy one, provided towels. We ended up buying one to share and we had to leave it behind because it didnt smell very nice after using it twice a day, rolling it up and sticking it in the backpack until nighttime at the next hotel.

3. since running water is not that popular, sometimes toilets are not toilets. they are holes in the ground with little plastic grooves demonstrating where you should place your feet. sometimes these 'bathrooms' are clean, sometimes they are not. again, because of the water issue, there is no sink. instead, there is a plastic bucket with a ladel inside. because people dont use toilet paper, you wipe with your left hand and then ladel water onto your hand to rinse off.

4. NO, i didnt wipe with my left hand. whenever it was possible jose and i would steal loads of toilet paper. there is only one toilet paper company in morocco and their toilet paper is crappy and pink. its one-ply and its not rolled very tightly onto the carboard roll. i'm not sure why its pink.

5. every time we went into a new building we would always check out the bathrooms. is it poop-able: is it a hole or a toilet? does it smell bad? is there toilet paper? is there a sink or a bucket? is there soap? at one rest stop we went to, instead of having soap, they provided laundry detergent. and i must say, it worked just fine. Our first day in Morocco we ended up buying a bottle of shampoo that we carried around with us to wash our hands.

6. most bathrooms are unisex.

Gods elevator, going up?

jose and i have this problem where we don¿t bother trying to plan things ahead of time.
for example, we knew we wanted to go to granada a day or two after chrsitmas. so the day we wanted to go to granada, we took our luggage to the train station and tried to buy a train ticket. oops, they were all full. the buses too.

so we went to valencia and arrived around midnight. we walked around for 45 min before we found a hostel. it was in a fun part of town and we had lunch near the market. it was one of the best meals i've had in spain. 3 courses for 6 euros. it was a tiny little place and we were the only foriegners there.

that night we took a night bus to granada and stayed there for two days. i really like granada. valencia was better than i remembered it too. we didnt do anything touristy in either city, we just walked around.

we were in granada for new years. the town hall puts on a party and tehre was a really good local rock band playing, and lots of fireworks. the plaza was full of people - 70 year old men wearing afro wigs, little kids with santa hats, tourists, preps, hippies, families, all until about 2 a.m. The plan was to go to sleep around 2 so we could catch an early afternoon train but we ended up going to a bar and not getting back to the hotel until 7 a.m. I fell asleep with my shoes on.

We got to the train station 10 minutes before teh train left and luckily there were still
seats left.

On the train we met this man, Pepe, who was also going to Morocco, but he was going to Ceuta, a spanish owned city on the coast. So we talked with him for 4 hours and he gave us a coke and a pastry.
He told us great stories - his grandpa was a spy during the spanish civil war for Franco and his other grandpa was killed by the reds (his family was pretty pro-franco). then this old senile man got on the train and jumped into our coversation. i was kind of scared of him and he just spent the whole time making fun of Pepe (who kind of deserves it) and talking about how things were great in franco's time because of corruption. and he actually said, 'Listen to me! I am a catholic and I dont lie.' that almost made me crack up. He went on and on about how he used to be a chaufer for a marine captin who worked at customs in Ceuta and could steal whatever he wanted and one time the captin gave the chaufer a radio. THen Pepe would try and butt in and explain that things aren't like that anymore, that things are more democratic since Franco died but the old man wouldnt have it.
Then before teh old man got off the train, a crazy guy got on and started telling us jokes and was talked about 15 feet long snakes and lions that walk on two feet. jose and i were cracking up but it really pissed Pepe off. He was like, 'come on, now. there is no such thing as a lion that walks on two feet.' he was really serious about it. then the crazy guy asked if jose and i were married, he kissed my hand and then he left.

When we got to Algeciras, the super south of spain, next to Gibraltar, Pepe ran us to the ferry (we almost missed the ferry too, just like the train and the bus...) and then we were off to Morocco!

on the boat, there were two elevators labeled in english. one said PersonElevator 600 kg and the other one said GodsElevator 1200 kg. We couldnt figure that out. We also didnt know why it was written in english when everything else was in arabic, french and spanish.
When we got off the boat it was dark out and we were scared and we didnt know what to do or where to go or even what language to speak in so we kind of let this guy Mustaffa (we think thats his name) hustle us. He took us to a hotel, took us to a restaurant and then came to get us in the morning to be our tour guide.

Mustaffa really gipped us. First, our hotel had no hot water and the bathrooms were kind of scary. And they only had toilet paper at night time. Mustaffa took us to his friends restaurant which was more expensive than most food places (although for a 3 course meal for 2 people it was $25) and then he took us to his friends rug store! We had heard about these rug stores but it seemed more like a myth than reality. Nope, they sat us down, brought us mint tea and gave us this huge demonstration: authentic berber rug, made with camel hair. you like? i give you student price, not tourist price... and on and on. we got suckered into 3 or 4 rug stores before we left the country.
Jose really didnt like Mustaffa because M didnt pay any attention to J. He only looked at me and he only talked to me, even when Jose would ask him a question.

the mighty mississippi

yesterday jose and i went out for coffee and like usual we were speaking in our spanglish - one sentence/paragraph in spanish and one in english. its kind of like a call and response. i want to speak in spanish and he wants to speak in english so i speak in spanish and he speaks in english both of us trying to trick the other person to switch languages.

we do this involuntarily and usually without noticing. obviously, though, everyone else around us notices because we sound like language schizos.

yesterday at the coffee shop the poor bartender had no idea where we were from. at first he though we were english. from mexico? ah, from the u.s. ah... new york right? no. oh, well then from where?
as if new york were the only state in the whole country! the united states of new york.

i tried to explain that i live in missouri.

him: oh yes the river, the mississippi river.

me: well, yes but there is a missorui river too.

him: both states have rivers?!

it was almost too much for him. firtst, ney york isnt the only state and now there are two rivers! omigod!

then he tried to impress me by telling me he saw a movie about tom sawyer... i told him the author was from missouri.
the author? he said. was based on a book.

at least its not as bad as it could be... i have a friend from argentina and people have actually asked her if she has electricity in her house.


yea! we are on our way to barcelona and then from there to granada and from there on to morocco!!



omigod! this disposable camera has 8 lenses!!! 8!!!
AND its only $25 for 5 of them! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!

get your war on!

ha ha ha ha!

i spy with my little eye

all the funny things i have seen in pamplona:

a nun wearing a burberry scarf (sure, it was probably a knockoff, but still...)

a dog washing machine !!

a grumpy old scolwing man carrying a hot pink and purple girls backpack decorated with hearts

a car accident in which the police showed up out of nowhere less than 15 seconds later

several spanish girls who seem to think that neon orange and lime green make a good fashion combination

Halls coughdrops being sold in the CANDY section of the grocery store!...i always get into arguments with europeans about whether or not halls are candy. ¿¿why is it that they think something that tastes so awful and makes your throat feel better and your nose run is candy?? i dont think i will ever understand.

happy day of the constitution!!!

Well this week we had a super long weekend (wednesday was day of Navarra, Saturday was day of the constitution - 25 years - and monday was i dont know what) and we had so many plans but we ended up just staying here and going out for chinese and a movie. but, it was worth it because the movie was SO good. Love, actually. i really didnt want to see it, i thought it would be some sucky hollywood romantic comedy but actually i loved it. we went in a huge group and when we left the theatre just about everyone either was or had been crying, that includes the boys. and, you have to take into account that the great majority of these people have a hard time understanding spanish and the movie was good enough to move them to tears.

i think on wednesday (movies are cheaper on wed.) we're going to see Searching for Nemo.

friday night we went to a really big party and that just threw my sleeping schedule off for the rest of the weekend. i've been going to sleep around 4 or 5 a.m. and waking up at 2 pm everyday and eating dinner around 3 a.m.
supposedly i was going to use all this time off wisely and study for an upcoming test (my first one!!!) and start reporting for a story i wanted to write. alas, i haven't done anything productive.

yesterday we went to pizza hut for dinner. turns out if you order a pizza and you take it away yourself, instead of delivery, THEY GIVE YOU A FREE PIZZA! and right now they have an offer if you spend 17 euros they give you a shower radio! we only spent 16 though, so we'll have to go back to get our pizza hut radio. i love buying things in spain, you always get gifts.


supposedly this photo was taken somewhere between pamplona and barcelona.

Photo by ?

ah, the beauty of lomo cameras. i only have one, but i want just about every single one that they sell. especially the crazy ones. mine, the ActionSampler has four lenses that operate at different speeds.

i get so excited whenever the lomo team sends me a promotional email about some new camera they've come out with and i end up browsing their website for an hour while trying not to pull out my credit card to buy another camera. i already have five. but cameras are like shoes, you can never have too many. they all serve different occasions.


i am looking into a magazine internship in southern spain and along with my resume, they want me to send a photo. why? what if i look too american? maybe i'm too pale to be believable in the south. if i used to scare people in barcelona with my white skin, imagine the reaction in the south!


He escogido el tema de periodismo.
Los mejores sitios dentro del tema en la red (en ingles) son:
1. The New Yorker es una revista semanal. Sos escritores son los mejores. La revista les da bastante espacio para que pueden desarollar su tema y tienen sitio para decir lo que hay que decir. Encima, tienen un sentido de humor listo y sofisticado.

2. Investigative Reporters and Editors es investigative reporters and editors. Hacen un trabajo maravilloso y muy importante. Investigan todo lo que hacen muy al fondo y todo está muy bien explicado y detallado. El sitio en si es un poco caotico pero vale la pena.

3. New Times Publications es una compania de presna alternativa y gratis que publica en unas 11 ciudades de estados unidos. Tambien hacen trabajos investigativos y examinan problemas propios al ciudad, normalmente son problemas que no salen en la prensa más popular.

los mejores sitios en castellano son:

1. Es buena porque es un sitio que facilita la comunicación entre periodistas y gente que les interesa el tema, sobre periodismo, la etica y las noticias de hoy.

2. Sin Columna Es el sitio en que escritores españoles sin columna oficial, van a escribir su columna. Es buenisima porque da voz a todo el mundo que quiere escribir y asi hay un monton de temas y muchisimas puntos de vista.

3 Al final del tunel Es un sitio de noticias que tiene que ver con suramerica y para los inmigrantes en estados unidos. Su enfoque está en los derechos humanos. Tiene una lista largisima de enlaces para periodicos de suramerica.

Y un busquedor bueno
Es un buesquedor de noticias de España. Siempre tiene las noticias más actualizadas y tambieén tiene una noticia del día. Es un busquedor muy claro muy fácil de utilizar.

Y un directorio
Media Resources from the University of Iowa
Es una lista de enlaces muy utiles para periodistas y estudiantes de periodismo, o a cualquier que le interesa el tema. Los enlaces son para todo tema que está relacionado con periodismo: etica, escuelas de periodismo, trabajo, prensa internacional, nacional y local.

y 2 blogs sobre el tema:
1.bitácora almendrón
Lo describe como una ventana al mundo artisitico, cultural y politico. En la parte arriba se concentra en noticias y la parte mas abajo tiene que ver mas con la cultura, arte, ciencias, etc. Es un sitio bueno porque está lleno de los enlaces y no solo concentra en un tema. Tiene noticias de españa, de europa e internacional. Tambien tiene temas que se tratan especificamente de el tema de nacionalismo en españa y de la guerra en iraq.

Tiene que ver mas con la cultura - arte, libros, etc. se actualize casi cada dia y tiene mucha variedad en sus temas. Tambien tiene un enlace a los temas que solamente tienen que ver con las noticias.


i finally went to barcelona. josé and i went for the weekend while bea went north to santander.
i got to spend the weekend with the aznars and josé got to see his aunt.
jose luis bought me a really good cake that we ate on saturday and then i took a long siesta in the afternoon and watched TV with Xènia.
grisel·la and i and a friend of ours, dolores, met up with josé on the train to barcelona to go out for the night. the original plan was to eat something and go to a bar and take the night bus back home around 3 or 4. we went to a bar and around 3 i realized we should get going soon, but decided we should wait until the bar kicked us out. all of a sudden the light were off and it was 3. i turned around and the gate was across the door but the music was still going and no one seemed to be leaving. legally, bars have to close at 3. this place just seemed to close. people who are in the know kept on coming in even though the door was closed and the lights were off. around 5 we left to go to a disco and got home around 7:30 a.m. needless to say, we didnt do much of anything on sunday.


yesterday i saw a man walking a donkey on campus.

more mullet talk

I finally got my hair cut. All the salons that I have seen here are fairly expensive and since I usually go to Great Clips or some other cheap-o hair place at home there is no way I was going to spend over $15 on a haircut here. If it came down to it, I was going to let Jose cut my hair.

So, a friend of mine told me about a hair school where the students cut your hair fairly cheap. We made an appointment (Jose had to go also) for 5 pm and found the direction on the map. We left the house around 4.45 and went to the nearest bus stop where we waited 10 minutes for the bus. We got off at the first stop and had no idea where we were. We walked almost the whole way back to the bus stop (the salon was 2 blocks from the bus stop) and got to the appointment at 5.30. They didnt really seem to care that we were half an hour late.

The place was really loud and they sent us to the basement where it was even louder and really hot. They put Harry Potter robes on us and sent us to wash our hair. Jose's girl had a clear cut mullet with haphazard patches of orange and white hair. The people were really scary. Jose says they looked like post-apocolyptic road warriors with tri colored mullets.

All i wanted was a trim. And i said that. Same with jose. they wanted to give us both mullets.
Because its a school, it took us 2 hours to get our hair 'trimmed'. As soon as Tina cut the back of my hair she had to go find Don Rodrigo and consult with him on whether or not she did ok and if she could advance to the left side of my head. And on and on it went. Every time Don Rodrigo came over so would 5 or 6 other students to stand around at look at me in my Harry Potter robe with my wet hair pinned up at funny angles. It was very uncomfortable. When Don Rodrigo would say something they would all lean in and scrutinize the back of my head or how the hair grazed the tops of my ears. ooooh, they would say in unison. They would all agree on what should be done next but the second Don Rodrigo went away, Tina was left with a handful of my hair and a very confused look on her face that scared the bejesus out of me.

jose left with a quasi-mullet and i left with super short hair and 'long' bangs. the inverse-mullet.
and, Tina, my hairdresser thought i was portugese. but she wasnt at all disappointed when she found out i am american.
oh i know new york!, she said.
Me too, we're best friends, i said.

tuna, anyone?

Last night I went to a tuna party. The tunas are a university tradition in spain. in the 15 and 1600s (i think) they were a group of university students (all guys) who couldn't pay for their tuition and so they went around singing and playing for money. Now each school has one and they have fame for being don juans.
So, only girls were invited to the party and we all sat around chatting (i actually met a few spanish girls) until we realised the tunas were outside the apartment building serenading us. There were 13 of them all dressed in traditional costume, most with acoustic guitars or tambourines and two accordians. We were on the top floor of the building and we could see all the neighbors sticking their heads out of windows on floors below us.
So we let them in and they sang all night until the neighbors complained about the noise around 1.30 or 2 a.m. These particular tunas didn't quite live up their reputation of being funny or suave. Two of the three boys who tried to talk to me were pretty stupid and i just made fun of them until they left me alone.
At least i got some funny fotos.