Monday, May 12, 2014

This past week....this is a long overdue one, I know!

(I kept meaning to sit down and do this...but it never happened...I´m a terrible blogger!! So here's a lot of catching-up....don´t feel obligated to procede if you didn't set aside half the afternoon to catch up on my life.)

Well this last week has been a little more relaxing...but definitely still fun! We have a student teacher (from Spain) here in our class. She just now got to come back from a recent appendicitis, so this is the first time I met her! Her name is Miss Carla. She's great too! At school the students have been working on phrases like "Do you like __________ ?" and responding with "Yes, I do." and "No, I don't." They have also been doing lots of reading comprehension practice. I have spent most of my days going around and helping the students by checking their papers, answering questions, etc. They have continued to work on their poem about the season. They memorized it to recite to Miss Alex. (some weeks they do this instead of spelling tests.)

Monday I have an extra hour before lunch, so while I was just checking out the shops of Sarria, I treated myself to a new dress for graduation!! (which is 6 DAYS AWAY by the way. crazy!!) Then some of us decided to check out an "American" restaurant on our lunch break. It was called "Peggy Sue's" and was decorated like a diner with oldies music playing. They served things like club sandwiches, burgers, chicken fingers, etc. It was cute...but I gotta say, if this was all I knew of American food, I would pity America! The cuisine was definitely lackluster, but we loved to feel the slightest bit of familiarity, regardless. That afternoon I went shopping with my host sisters, Catalina and Carmen! We had a great time! They took me to their favorite little shops near their house. I didn't buy any clothes, but I did treat us to some chocolate dipped shortbread cookies and a coffee from a local bakery. YUM. That evening we relaxed, watched part of a movie and just hung out together at the house. :) I really love days those kinds of days.

Tuesday I had a long lunch break so I found another bakery to satisfy my regular chocolate craving. We usually go to the "Chocolat Box" but I wanted to switch it up. L'Obrador mostly had things like croissants and fruit pastries...and as beautiful as they were, I came for one thing...chocolate. I had to resort to a giant fudge covered walnut brownie....I know....rough life. It was still different from a brownie in America, but hey, I don't discriminate. It was super delicious. That afternoon Jessica and Caitlin accompanied me to check out the neighborhood of Gracía. My host family suggested I come here after I asked for a recommendation of places to shop that were unique and non-touristic. It had all kinds of shops...from expensive boutiques to very cheap overcrowded stores to artisans selling crafts. We made a stop in a market and got some delicious spanish candy Caitlin's host dad had introduced her to... when I remember the name I'll let you know. We walked around and shopped for a while, and we happened to pass by Casa Vicens. It is said to be Gaudi´s first "important work". Very cool!

Wednesday is our day to take one of the first grade girls' classes out to P.E., which is a loud, giggly adventure for everyone. For lunch, Caitlin, Jessica and I went to a very (locally) famous cafe called Tomás de Sarría. It´s been around for decades and is known to have less-than-friendly service. We ordered chicken with the renowned "patatas bravas"--fried potatoes with a cream sauce. It also came with a fried we just mixed it all together and indulged in a year´s worth of cholesterol. It was so worth it. DELICIOUS. And the service was pretty good! After school I walked the kids to music/home and then I went out and shopped around a popular nearby street, Mandri. It was a very nice area and a relaxing afternoon.

Thursday we took the OTHER first grade girls out for P.E. This little doll was sitting by me in the sun. I made a comment about having so many freckles (which are fairly uncommon here) and she looks at me and in her limited english and super sweet voice says "yes...but you are more beautiful with them." *dies.* so sweet.

 Here's a few of the cuties. Love these little girls.

As a reward, the boys got to spend some time playing with legos, cars, animals, etc to practice their english conversation skills. Miss Alex, Miss Carla, and I went to different groups and practiced speaking. I built a lego minion and inspired some little lego prodigies. ;)
After school I took the metro to Badalona to meet with the church there. I had some extra time so I got off at Gracía again to check out a few more shops around there. I found a store that caught my eye and went in. The shop owner was very friendly and SPOKE ENGLISH! We talked for a really long time. He's from Senegal, lived in Paris for quite a few years and then Belgium. Now he´s in Barcelona and takes trips back to Senegal to bring different jewlery, bags, crafts, etc to sell and help support the artisans! So cool. Definitely got a couple things. =) Church was great! It's always such a blessing to be with people who love the Lord. It's amazing how uplifted I am just being with them--even when they discuss in another language!

Friday was a long and crazy day at school, but we survived! ;) The kids were definitely in weekend mode a little early...and who can blame them? We've had so many abbreviated weeks for holidays lately! After school Autumn, Caitlin, and I attempted to check out Tibidabo (a 100 year old amusement park up in the mountains). Sadly, the tram was closed, and by the time we walked to the next one, it had closed! But in the end, it worked out wonderfully! We got to see a very "posh" neighborhood up in the mountains, found a delicious popcorn store, checked out the mega department store--El Corte Ingles (where I got shoes for the graduation dress...success!) and then walked around the city center and ate a delicious dinner at a restaurant called Nuria. It was so good.

Saturday was jam-packed with touristy productivity!
Autumn and I had made plans to check out La Rambla! (Because you can't go to Barcelona and miss La Rambla!) Tiffany got to come along too. We met up at 11 and walked down La Rambla to the port. We stopped at souvenir shops, the huge market "La Boqueria", and some artist booths. We saw lots of human statues and street performers. We walked down to the port and found MORE artist booths. Then we walked to a restaurant recommended by both my lovely roommate Jordan AND the program coordinator. It was called Bo de B. We walked up to find 2 long lines. One for take-out and one to get a seat in the restaurant. It was tiny and SO popular...always a good sign! I got their Patatas Bravas (as Jordan demanded....I mean suggested. ;)) and they were SO good, too! Different than Bar Tomás, but definitely delicious. They had more sauces (pesto, a spicy sauce, a cucumber sauce, and balsalmic.) Again, all together it made for a delicious combination. It's amazing all the strange things I´ve tried because "Why not?! I'm in Spain!" We walked down to the Barceloneta beach and then back up to the city center for more shopping. That night we checked out the neighborhood of "Borne". It was very different! We happened upon it trying to make it to the Picasso museum before it closed. We were not successful with the museum, but it was very cool to check out that area! We found yet another open market, a very old church, and some recently discovered ruins of the older city. It was an important site for many of the wars in Spanish history.

Super cool.

After this, we walked back toward the city center and happened upon a traditional Catalan festival. We saw a few of the performances on the steps of the Barcelona Cathedral. And we got our picture with some of them! So fun.

(Note the progression of my sunburn throughout the day...haha. When I came home my host family was so concerned...they just have no idea how normal this is for a fair-skinned chica like myself.)

 We walked through some more shops and headed home. We were exhausted!!

Sunday I attended the church here for the last time (until I return of course). It was so good to see everyone...they feel like family already!! They have all been so kind, welcoming, helpful, accommodating, and fun to be with! Some of us are going to hang out Tuesday night so it´s not quite goodbye yet...but I still cried! Ha! Sometimes I´m pitiful.
Sunday was my host sister Carmen's 1st Communion. I met up with the family for their big family lunch. It was definitely an experience! Everyone was very friendly and made sure I always found the English-speakers in the group. The party was at a large, old home in the mountains that Rafa´s parents own. It was beautiful! We got home LATE and everyone was exhausted when this morning rolled around...but we have to hit the ground running because it´s my last 3 days in Spain and Rafito´s 6th Birthday is Wednesday! :)

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