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Below are the 17 most recent journal entries recorded in Rob's LiveJournal:

Sunday, August 24th, 2003
10:17 pm
The Final Chapter
It has been way too long since I last updated. I had a lot of momentum with my journal entries but when I returned state-side, I had no inclination to write anymore. Now it's been over two weeks since I left Spain, and it feel like much more that that. On with the show.

The last day of Cadiz we spent on the beach with some 40s. It wasn't like our last time with 40s, but it was pretty fun. The wind was fierce and playing cards proved extremely difficult. Several girls made plans to go skinny dipping that night, and I was in. That night we had our last dinner with Rosa, which wasn't any special meal, but slightly nostalgic nonetheless. I exchanged e-mail and address information with Laura. That night it was bar hopping, and when the girls were drunk enough, skinny dipping time! Got to see 5 of the girls or so and unfortunately a few guys. Abby and Louis scandalously disappeared.

The next morning, the goodbye was not that traumatic. It hadn't really sunk in for anybody I don't think. Or maybe only living with someone for 4 weeks doesn't create a bond as tight as you might think? Who knows. Off to Sevilla! Sevilla was really hot, and a really pretty city. It's a shame we only spent 20 hours there. There were many monuments and other historic stuff that we could have spent more time at. I went inside the 3rd largest cathedral in the world (#1- St. Peters in Rome, #2- some cathedral in London). It was big and exceptionally gothic.

When I came back into the hotel, the concierge was surprised when I asked for a wake up call in Spanish. Apparently all the nova kids were speaking English, which the concierge spoke, but he didn't like that they were here to learn Spanish and not practicing. He told me about how when he studied in Japan, they were only allowed to speak Japanese. Then he started telling me about the history of the Spanish language, then the history of English. It was mildly interesting but I decided to leave. A lot of people didn't go out that night, so I watched 8 Mile in Spanish in Matt's room and went to bed. Earlier I had given Jess my key so we could get some cuddling underway when she returned from a club. Later that night, 3 girls rushed in my room with that card. I was somewhat expecting it, but Louis had no idea what was going on. He shot up so fast and was so scared, I couldn't stop laughing. It was Lourdes, Dana and Jess, followed by Pat and maybe one more person. They stayed there a while talking with us, then everyone left except of course for Jess.

Granada the next day. Granada is extremely picturesque. It's hilly with old houses built right on the hill. We had a free day so a few of us guys went around taking pictures, seeing some sites. Before going out, we played some beer pong in Jess and Peggy's room while some others did a power hours and others simply drank. Pat and I were team Frat Central, and as expected we went 5 games undefeated in beer pong using hotel issued short glass cups, very difficult. Jess tried to take a picture of the beer pong, and decided to stand on the night table that had 15 wine glasses on it or so, and she knocked the whole table over and all the glass shattered, making the loudest possible noise. Shortly after (or was it before...? Hard to keep track) Lauren spilled wine all over her ass somehow...very reminiscent of Lourdes' ass in Madrid, which she blowdried. We went out to a bar that night that had 1 Euro shots, which we were actually able to afford (at this point, everyone was broke and no one wanted to take out more from the ATM). After that it was a club, that we set up exactly like Joy in Madrid, although it had gold couches. Fun times.

The next day we went to the Alhambra, an amazing Muslim fortress. It was more than that though, as it used to be a city within a city. Every wall was carved and decorated very ornately. The views of Granada were amazing from there. Attached to the Alhambra was the Generalife, a long walk completely surrounded by super gardens. Once again, only pictures can describe. That night, we went up to the highest point in Granada to take pictures of the sunset. I only had one pic left so I saved it for this. On our way back down (it was a 45 minute walk uphill to go up), Scott and I passed some restaurant, and a guy tried to hand him a flier. Scott didn't want it, so he didn't take it and kept walking. The guy said something like [in English] "Yeah that's the 3rd time you passed by me mother fucker." Scott:stopped. turned around. "What'd you say?" Scott started to turn a greenish hue, as his transformation to the Incredible Scott commenced. Scott had told me earlier in the trip that he has a tendency to flip out, although he's learned to control it somewhat (compared to his past self). I witnessed firsthand many flipouts on girls on the trip. But now he was real pumped up. The guy's friend was holding Scott back, because Scott was ready to kill the guy. The guy was talking a lot of trash and acted stuff, but he did so from a safe distance. Scott was making a remarkable scene in front of many people dining outdoors. It ended with Scott walking away, but spitting a massive spit directly at the guy's feet. I was impressed.

Next day, got up, breakfast, of to the airport! The flight from Granada to Madrid was on time, short, and smooth. Our flight from Madrid was not. Pat lost his passport somewhere, and snuck past the guards and planned on trying to get on the plane somehow. Then the plane got delayed 3 hours. Then 2 more. We ended up playing a lot of cards, chess, etc. to pass the time. They gave meal vouchers, and we cleared out the cafeteria. Eventually we got on the plane, Jess came to sit up by me and Justin. Justin and I were crossing our fingers for X-Men 2 to be our in flight movie, but it turned out to be A Guy Thing, which kinda sucked, and I'm With Jill, a chick flick that was so so but entertaining. Jess started philosophizing about her relationship with her boyfriend, based on the movie, and before we knew it, the flight was over.

Goodbyes were made pretty rapidly, as people would leave when their bags came. Of course, my bag was last, or so I thought. Really they just removed the tape that distinguished my bag, so I found it in a pile later. Dad was outside, where he was waiting for 3 hours with New York's finest specimens. Took the long drive home...it was around midnight, but to me it was 6 a.m. Spain time, and I had only slept 3 hours the night before. It took me a solid week to overcome jetlag...I didn't think it would actually affect me but it did.

So that's about it. Everyone exchanged IM names and cells through e-mail. I'm back at Nova now, and I have to see if these Spain parties are going to happen. I am more than ready to break out the 80s Power Hour or Forty Hands at any moment. Paz
Tuesday, August 5th, 2003
8:51 pm
Ya me voy otra vez, te dejo Cádiz
I leave Cádiz tomorrow morning. Que lastima. Here we go:

Yesterday on the way to the beach, I was approaching the lair of the secret gay guy behind the wall, and I thought I saw him walking towards me, but he looked different. He wasn´t wearing his signature orangepink shirt, didn´t have giant gold hoop earings, and generally looked different so I was unsure. He must have seen my confusion and confirmed his identity with a smile, a tongue tap on both sides of his mouth, and I popping sound (ask for a demonstration in person).

Kristin Weiser from the group told me yesterday that she thought I was from California because of the way I look and because of my personality. i´m cool!

Last night Luís and I had dinner with Rosa, Laura, Manuel, Javier, and Carmen. Sometime during the convo, I mentioned Kermit the Frog. Blank stares. ´You know, Kermit!´ Nothing. Here, Kermit the Frog is called La rana Gustavo. How gay is that? Gustavo is a regular Spanish name, nowhere near as unique and cool as Kermit. Damn them.

Drunk beach day again. Nipples again. Even more tonight, because we plan on meeting in the Plaza de San Juan de Dios outside my house, drinking, karaoke maybe, then several girls pinkie swore among themselves to skinny dipping.

I leave for Sevilla tomorrow...because it is so far inland, it gets incredibly hot. On Friday it was the hottest location on the planet.

Coming home soon! Get that American food ready for me.
Sunday, August 3rd, 2003
7:38 pm
Wild On: Spanish Riviera
We had a graduation ceremony type thing on Friday where we all walked up and got our diplomas, clapped, etc. I took a picture of Big Hair Profesora because Myk and Dan wanted to further understand the bigness of her hair, but it was from a distance. Afterwards we had a little lunch hors devours type thing with our host moms invited. Rosa was going up to the boys saying ´Sí, tu eres muy guapo...pero mi chico es más guapo.´ Go Rosa! Pat and Scott´s host mom was guzzling down the free beer, and I was going to tease her about it but last time I did they told me she got really upset when I left because she didn´t want me to think she was a raging alkie. I saw Big Hair Profesora talking to Hot Lola Profesora, and I saw my big chance to get a pic in between them. It was perfect because the other teachers weren´t around so I would feel obliged to get pictures with them as well. I snuggled between BGP and HLP and got my snapshot. Small talk for a couple minutes, then we had to rush out. A small group of us went home and packed for the Costa del Sol.

The bus ride east to the Spanish Riviera was a typical bus ride. We passed the olive trees, sunflowers, and millions of bulls. Eventually we got to Marbella, which is a little west of Málaga (unofficial capital of the Costa del Sol). Marbella is where celebrities, movie stars, and generally rich Europeans pass their time. There are yachts everywhere. The town is sparkling gorgeous. The old sector reminds me a lot of Cádiz, except a lot cleaner. Not that Cádiz is dirty, but I even red in my Spain guide how Marbella is notoriously sparkling neat. Perfect palm trees line the streets and Dalí sculptures and big fountains are in the plazas.

We stayed at a hostal and paid $12 per night a piece. That´s pretty good since we were only 2 blocks from the beach. We had a nice patio that we hung out on. 6 of the guys went and 2 of the girls. Pat´s friend from high school happened to be studying in Marbella so we hung out with her on Friday night. She brought her friends from the program, and they were all Scottish, Pakistani, Polish, Russian, etc. After checking out the local bars, we took cabs over to Puerto Banús, where all the action was.

And this is when it turned into Wild On. Everyone there was like a super model. People back in Cádiz told us everyone was rich and snobby, and this was true. Girls walk around looking for yacht parties to get invited to. The main street of bars goes along the marina with what seemed like hundreds of yachts. The girls were ridiculously hot. You could hear every lenguage, but mostly it was English and German. A lot of Swedish people too. The main road (walking road) had bar after bar after club after club. It just kept going. We heard horror stories of 50€ covers, but the only one we paid was 10. Drinks were about 9€ though. We hung out at one club with Pat´s friends until about 6 am, went home, slept woke up, beach.

The landscape was really cool, it was giant mountains right behind the beach. I took one of those 6 picture spin while you landscape shots. The Mediterranean is nothing like the beach at Cádiz though, and the sand was really dark and shelly.

That night we got a lot to pregame with on the terrace, and Justin made some Danish friends. They had pure platinum blonde hair, and I thought they were English for a while first. They spoke perfect Danish, English, German, and pretty good French. I asked if they speak English a lot in Denmark and they said no, just if they travel and need to speak English. It kinda made me how they could easily speak and comprehend a second language, and here we were trying to hard to learn Spanish. The one guy had a good point though, that only 5 million people speak Danish (1.2 of which live in the capital Copenhagen), so they had to learn other languages out of necessity just so they could talk to more people. Plus they have the advantage of being about a 3 hour train ride away from 5 countries or so. They were cool and had been a lot of places and knew about a lot of different things. Talking to them made all of us feel very uncultured.

We got out to Puerto Banús late, around 2:30 am, got separated, and basically did the same thing as the night before. The place is cool to see, but I couldn´t see myself doing the rich Wild On lifestyle every night of the week like the European elite were. Pat spike his hair to a mohawk, and girls were coming up to him saying ´Hey David Beckham, you must have money.´ Left at 5:30, the cab line was HUGE, so we had to cut, while the police were shoving guys and girls to get out of the road. I saw a shooting star too and made a wish.

Later we got back, there was a mysterious note under my door. It was from the Danish guys. It read something like:

Hope you found the bars ok.
I hope we didn´t give you the wrong impression on our views of Americans.
You have given us Jack Caravak, James Dean, curly fries, Jack Nicholson, and many other things I couldn´t live without.

Actually the paragraph that listed the things that "I" gave him was much longer, listing many American artists, writers, and actors, I just can´t remember them right now. I showed it to everyone, and we thought it was weird because they didn´t make it seem like they disliked Americans at all. They made fun of the people on Jerry Springer, but that´s about it. They said that all the Americans they meet are cool. I thought it was so nice for him to go out of the way to try to avoid a misunderstanding or whatever and praise our culture.

Went to bed at 7 am, woke up at 10 am to pack, check out, and catch the bus. Spent a lot of the day on the bus, got here around 4 and went to the beach for about 2 hours. I need to go for many hours in the next 2 days (my last 2 days in Cádiz :( because I´m not as dark as I´d like.

There are lots of mullets, rat tails, and super euro-mullets around. Guys and girls. The super euro is buzz cut in the front, and then 2-3 foot long dreadlocks in the back, also very common on girls.

I don´t want to leave sunny Cádiz, but I am kind of excited about my next phase. These summer abroads are like the Real World because you start off as strangers, and become super friends really fast. I think it´s because it usually takes a cool, open person to live in another country for an extended period of time. And plus you spend so much time with them, more than you would with a new friend you met at home. So my advice is to go study abroad now, right now! go.
Thursday, July 31st, 2003
11:43 am
Cause that´s when those louses go back to their spouses
Nothing to major to report, just throwing out my random thoughts before I forget.

Many people in Cádiz remember my name. For example, whenever I got my film developed a second time, like a week after the first time, the lady remembered my name and even correctly spelled my last name. The travel agent remembered my first and last as well. They say it is a very uncommon name and that my last name is pretty, they say it like "feeyodenteeno."

I call Rosa "gordi" because apparently it´s a compliment when you can call someone fat and everything´s ok, and we´re chill like that.

Myk, the sandals you bought me turn my feet blue every day. And they cut into my feet.

When handwriting, Spaniard´s A´s look like triangles.

More lies: I convinced Peggy and Jessica´s host sister not to talk to Javier Cerrato, a chaperone, at the bar because he hits girls all the time.

40´s + la playa = tops coming off left and right! Thanks Jess and Lauren ;)

In Morrocco, while those pesky guys would follow us trying to sell crap, Louis tried his bargaining skills, since you´re supposed to start really low. His lowball offer would usually be between negative 5 and negative 1€. He would say "Negative 5 euros...You give me 5€ and I will take it." The shadies got really confused about it, and when further questioned, Louis would reply "Estoy loco." Eventually he would bargain up to positive amounts.

Pat and Louis do the funniest Pike impressions. They feed off each other like two pikes getting ready for a club or something...it has to be seen.

I had 2 take home exams for my 2 classes, for a combined total of slightly less than 4 double spaced typed pages. For finals.

At the beach I explained the ´up and tuck´ and other guy tricks to some of the girls.

Yesterday I bought two 6 packs of Heineken for 5€. That´s as cheap as Natty. Bottles of decent wine are like 2€ here. We went to the Plaza España nearby and drank there, trying to play beer pong on chess tables but it was really breezy. There was a giant marble chessboard on a platform in the middle of the park. The squares were big enough to use real people for pieces. It takes 32 people to play a game of chess. We took a group picture on the board. Then we went to a bar called Woodstock. It was Erika´s 21st birthday so we all bought her chupitas (shots) until she projectile vomited on the floor, at which point people brought her home. Then we went to a club that is built into a fortress wall. It was hip hop night, and they played rap songs from like 4 or 5 years ago. It got cooler once they started playing Spanish music. Got home around 5 am, woke up for a field trip at 8, handed in my take home finals, pretended to miss the bus, and went home and back to bed. It´s too hot to sleep though because they don´t believe in air conditioning here.

I have gone about 5 weeks without a cell phone, tv, movies (except one), fast food, a car, or rain (more than 5 weeks because it was nice in the US before I left). It shows you can get by without these things. Once I get back, I´m sure I´ll fall right back into cell phones, movies, Taco Bell bean burritos, etc. It´s the last day of July, only slightly more than a week before I come home!

A lot of the groupies make me guarantee that I´ll be hanging out once we get back. I have nothing to do until 22 September when I start work...is it weird to hang out with Villanova people when you already graduated? Will I be the proverbial "that guy"??
Monday, July 28th, 2003
10:02 pm
It´s gonna take a lot to drag me away from youuuu *or* There is nothing that a hundred men or more..
Lotta stuff to go over here, hope you have some free time. Keep in mind that you would be incorrect if you claimed that I were 100% un-tipsy, so be patient. We left Cádiz on Friday for our field trip down south to Tarifa. It´s a big wind surfing town with lots of international folk. As we started getting further away from Cádiz, we started to notice some white stuff in the sky. ´What the carajo is that?´ We pondered. It was clouds, clouds and mist. We are so spoiled from perfect Cádiz that we forgot that clouds or mist existed and we got all pissed off.

So in Tarifa we visited a castle, again, it was mediocre. Now that I´ve traveled all over Spain I feel pretty castle savvy and certain ones don´t do it for me. Then we went to a town nearby to check out some Roman ruins. It was pretty cool, I took a rock from the ruins as a souvenir. Me and my group of 13 Nova people and 11 California people went off on a bus to Algeciras to make way to Morrocco. On the bus, Lourdes expressed that she felt this was going to be a ´Mo-rockin weekend.´ What a dork.

We hopped on our cruise ship and were disappointed to find that there was no gambling onboard >:0 Oh well. We took some pictures with Gibraltar in the background. Morrocco time is 2 hours behind Spain, even though it is directly south. We took over the movie theatre, and watched A Few Good Men in French, since I guess Morrocco was a French colony o algo así. We got off our boat, met up with Larry, a Morroccan guy who I´m sure is not really called Larry, who spoke many languages. He reminded me a lot of a used car salesman. He told us everything we needed to know at the time, and we shot over to the hotel Solazul in a cab. The girls in the front asked the cabbie how many languages he spoke. He said 4. They then asked if he spoke English? Yes. French? Yes. Spanish? Yes. Chinese? Yes. Catalán? Of course. Fillipino? Yes. And so on. I think he is a liar because the math doesn´t add up.

We paid 57€ for our whole trip. 3 days and 2 nights in a hotel, ferry to and from Morrocco, and transportation to the ferry. Pretty cheap. Our hotel in Morrocco is a 4 star hotel, but our chaperone informed us earlier that 4 stars is not the same in Morrocco as it is in the US. He said it´s about 1 1/2 stars. He was right. The paint was all falling off the walls on the outside, and gorgeous views of dirty lots were seen through our windows. But we were in Africa so we weren´t expecting much. To be fair, some people had rooms facing the beach, which we were about 50 feet from. And all the fancy decorations, such as ornate rugs, were on the inside of the building, as is typical in Muslim cultures. The rooms were nice, but no TV or minibar, and the bathrooms were real ghetto.

Wait, first let me tell you what we learned about Morrocco from the guides. First, don´t be female. According to many sources, including Road Rules, you will be hated if you are a girl. The guide say that scantily clad girls may be hissed at by local women. The correct response is ´shuma,´ which mean shames, and causes the veiled ones to back the f off. They speak diaraja, an arab dialect ´peppered´ with Spanish and French. Their monetary unit is the Diram, which $1 = about 100 diram. Women are advised to show as little skin as possible, and to wear a bra at all times. On the way to the ferry, Dana had a funny quote. Someone asked jokingly if she was gonna hook up in Morrocco and she said ´Yea man, I´m going to Morrocco for straight ass. I´m gonna flash my right shoulder yo...´ It was funny at the time. We made bets on the bus as to who would get kidnapped first.

So, we went to dinner across the street to the restaurant/ ´pizzeria´. Just like New York let me tell you. Everyone looked at us. We requested a waiter who spoke Spanish. It´s kind of weird but a sign of progress when we are relieved that we can find a Spanish speaking person (as opposed to how we´re usually relieved to find an English speaking person). We all ordered pizza because that was the only thing not in French. It turned out to be small Elio´s microwavable style pizza and was completely horrible. I saw a fight and took a picture. It´s definitely a different feeling being in an Arab country...not so much scary as mildly alarming.

Some people were surprised that we decided to go to such an unsafe place, relatively speaking. Others weren´t impressed. One guy´s mom said ´Morrocco? Why don´t you just go to Afghanistan, pussy?´ Or so he said.

It was an early night on Friday, because we had to get up at 8 for breakfast and then a tour. Larry met up with us, and we drove around in a bus. We saw cool parts of Morrocco, including the ´California´ section, where rich Americans and Brits live. It was really nice looking, I wish I caught a picture. We stopped by the coast and took pictures in an area that looked very African. Larry wanted to get in the picture with the girls, and then started chanting ´Whisky, potatoes, Coca-cola, 69. I´m a dirty old man.´ It was pretty hilarious, once again I guess you´d have to be there. He was dressed like Obi-wan Kenobi in robes.

Good Humor in Morrocco is called Miko.

Then we went to the camel rides. Rides is an overstatement because really we just walked around in a circle. I paid my 1€, rode in a circle with Jess, got my picture taken, then took a picture of just the camel, then his toe, then we were off again. We went to the Caves of Hercules, which were pretty massive and opened up to the ocean. There were bats flying all around us.

Then, shady entrepreneurial Larry brought us to a rug demonstration, where a guy put on a presentation about these rugs we should buy. They were really expensive, and Dana told us earlier how rug people in Morrocco send you a crappy and incorrect carpet in the mail when you pay for an expensive one. Then shade Larry brought us all through the market place, not stopping. I got to see many flies, chickens hanging from the wall with their jaws ripped out, and guys on the streets following us around trying to sell us bongo drums fake soccer jerseys.

Eventually Larry brought us to another scam, a ´pharmacy.´ Here, a charismatic Morroccan put on a little show, demonstrating herbs, powders, and oils that could help your sinus´, help you lose weight, fight insomnia, counteract impotency, makeup, all sorts of crap. But the demonstration was so fun and convincing that we bought stuff no matter how ridiculous it seems.

My roommate Louis and I lie a decent amount. This guy Pat hooked up with a girl from the Cali group that wears all black and big army boots. We told her that we heard she had sex with Marilyn Manson. He got all disgusted. We also started telling people how there are lots of ninjas in Morrocco. There were ninjas in our shower when we first got to our hotel but they politely left. In fact, ninjas control most aspects of Morrocco´s government.

You would be surprised how easy it is to convince someone that ninjas not only exist, but control a country. We told an attentive group of girls in our group how there are currently 3 million ninjas in Morrocco. They believed it all. It´s amazing what a straight face can do. Whenever anything went wrong while in Morrocco, we would blame the ninjas. Our host sister Laura and her friend Marta came with us too. We told them about the ninjas. When we came home, we told a confused Rosa all about the ninjas. Odín is a cool dog.

After the tours, we hung out by the pool. The guys had bathing suits, the girls had jeans and long shirts, even though there were other tourists in bikinis and stuff. It´s not like we were walking around on the streets where you get suicide-bombed if you show skin. On the beach, all the women were veiled head to toe. But the girls coulda been normal by the pool. Oh well. The sun in Africa is really hot.

That night, we paid 150 Dinam for dinner and belly dancing. I didn´t think it would be that great. Dinner for me was salad, Spanish omelette, and cous-cous (really good!). But the show was awesome. I thought it would be one band or whatever, but there was a backup band and all these extra performances. First came out these 3 crazy African noise makers, clanging things together, swinging their heads and hats with tassles, and kick-dancing Russian style. Later came out a mysterious veiled belly dancer. She was picking people out of the crowd, and Louis wanted to dance with her but she was only picking girls. She picked Jess, who went out and danced like a trooper. Then she picked Lourdes, who chickened out. Next came a guy with a tray and lit candles on top, he danced and swung around and did all crazy things without anything falling. Next came these 3 acrobatic brothers, one was in his 20s, then early teens, then one was maybe 4 or 5. They did the craziest flips and acrobatic stuff, only pictures can describe. Then came the mysterious women again, who was now unveiled and wearing a red white and blue glittery outfit, she kinda looked like an Arab wonderwoman. She did some crazy dancing, and this time took Pat out to be her victim. She turned the lights out, then when they cam back on, Pat was wearing a glittery skirt and she was trying to put a glittery bra on him but he was yelling No NO. They started belly dancing together, and Pat got a diploma of belly dancing from the restaurant owner. It was really really funny.

Then came out the crazy clappers again, they got us all in a circle, did a congo line kinda thing, elephant walk kinda thing, and we all had a good time. I felt like Islamic royalty, with our many courses and multiple performances, all for 15 bucks.

We didn´t do too much else that night. The club scene in Morrocco is only so so, as you can imagine. On the way back on the ferry, I read Jess´ journal, and I was on her quote page quite a bit. I don´t like to list my own quotes...I think it´s kinda like when a person says ´I´m so drunk!´ No, drunk people pretend they´re sober, you´re just trying to act drunk. I don´t know what that has to do with quotes, but yeah.

So we got back to Spain, and boy did we miss it! It was an awesome trip to Africa, but it is generally dusty, sketchy, and unsanitary. I feel less spoiled now, before being in Europe somewhat seemed like roughin´ it, but not any more. Pulling up to Cádiz after a 2 1/2 hour boat ride and 2 hour bus ride felt like home. Cádiz is paradise.

And now for random thought/observance time. A Manuel story: Here when someone sneezes, they often say ´Jesus´ (Hay-soos). So Manuel was studying in Ireland to learn English, at a Catholic school. A priest sneezed, and Manuel said ´Jesus Christ!!´ The priest got all pissed.

When Spanish people say ´see,´ or are talking about looking at something, they point to their cheek below their right eye.

Anyone who´s been to Spain will notice the lisp. Spaniards pronounce their ´c´s and ´z´s like a th, making them sound gay. I asked Laura´s friend about it, and she says that gay people here DON´T pronounce the lisp. They prounce their ´c´s and ´z´s like s´s, just like we do. Isn´t that weird?

About 15 years ago, Rosa went with her (ex) husband to Ibiza, for a weekend trip. They ended up staying there for a friggin month. She said it´s the most amazing place. What a party girl.

There are hostal´s everywhere in Europe. There are at least 5 within a 2 minutes walk of my house here. There and so many in Madrid and all on the side of the road when you travel anywhere.

I have found that when learning a language, there is a tradeoff between accurracy and fluidity. As in, either you speak slowly and correctly, or quickly with mistakes. I asked Carmen, the main chaperone, which is better. She said that she´s always told everyone to speak quickly and make mistakes. I was surprised to hear that from a teacher. She says you´ll always make mistakes in an extra language, and that it´s better to be fluid and conversational, rather than take half an hour per sentence. Entonces, I find myself speaking quickly and making a decent amount of mistakes, which I sometimes correct right after.

Today, Jess, who claims that I ´ooze sexual energy´ decided to bring cards to the beach and told everyone to bring beer. We had 15 forties. Forties cost 90 cents here. It was a mess. The water didn´t feel cold at all after a few forties. We played Asshole, and I was the president every time. The rules me and my VP after each round were No using people´s names, then no saying Asshole but Cabrón(a) instead, and then no speaking English. Played Kings, did basket tosses in the water, then everyone started getting scandalous. It´s 11 PM right now and we´re meeting for (more) drinks soon. I have nothing to complain about at all.
Thursday, July 24th, 2003
7:52 pm
To french kiss a French girl
I didn´t think I´d have enough to write today, but I got some random thoughts, I figured I´d clear all this stuff out to make room for when I get back from Morrocco on Sunday.

To answer Dan: Manuel´s last name is Colasgil, or something like that. He´s a cool guy. I randomly bumped into his cousin last night (she´s friends with my host sister) at a barbeque, and she says he gets no chicks in Spain, all the American girls love him because they think he´s a ´Latin lover.´

A little more about my chaperones: The other one is Javier Cerrato. You may recognize his name because he teaches Spanish at Nova. For Myk, who´s very into race: Manuel is from the south, and so is very dark toned, while Javier is from the North, and is really pale. We learned about that in my culture class, the people from Galicia (northwest Spain where it rains 24/7) are basically British. Those from the South have more Arab and Roman blood running through them, thus the darker tones. Plus the sun shines a lot here in Andalucía.

A little bit more: Javier is from Basque Country (País Vasco). They speak the oldest language in Europe there, it´s called Euskera. It sounds nothing like Spanish, or any other language for that matter. The people from Basque Country want to have their own country. To appease them, Spain added ´Country´ to their name, to make it appear that they are a country, while they clearly are not. At one time, a long time ago, Euskera was spoken west and east of Basque Country, even in southern France. Because of this, Basque Country not only wants their independence, but they want all those lands that used to speak Euskera also, including southern France! What jerks. They don´t even care that the neighboring Spanish provinces of Navarra and Aragón don´t want in on their little independence thing. It would be like if New Jersey decided it was going to be it´s own country, and we´re taking Delware, Maryland, and Nebraska with us, against their will.

Because of their desire for independence, a terrorist group formed in Basque Country called the ETA. They blow up policemen in other parts of Spain and stuff like that. Terrorism is expensive (bombs and guns and stuff), and so they are funded by death threats. They call up rich people, and say ´Give me 2 million € or we´ll kill your whole family. And the rich people give them the money, but it´s all done in secret. No one knows who has contributed to the ETA, because it´s all kept quiet.

Anyway, I went to a Spanish movie theater the other night and saw 28 Días Despues (28 Days Later). Movies here are always dubbed in Spanish...never subtitles. I think I complained about it in a previous entry. This dubbing company has a lot of clout, and so every movie in theaters and TV is dubbed over by the same 5 or 6 voices. We were worried about understanding the movie at first, but it wasn´t bad because it´s a horror/action type movie, where it´s pretty clear what´s going on most of the time. And the language was pretty simple (´Te voy a matar!´) so we got it. Pretty crappy movie though...maybe it´ll be better with the intracacies of English.

So at the barbeque the other night that I alluded to, I met a French girl named Charlotte, although that´s not how you say it in French. We ended up talking for a really long time...it´s kinda weird talking to French people in Spanish. But I felt a little cool because my Spanish was better than hers, so I didn´t have that un-confident feeling I often have when talking to Spaniards. I thought it would be cool to french kiss a French a girl (like they say in that beer commercial), so I asked Laura the host sister about Charlotte. It turns out that the frenchie is leaving Cádiz to go back to France on Saturday

Most of the girls here either wear no bra, no top, or bras with clear straps. I think the clear straps look stupid...they just draw more attention because they shine in the light, and anything see through draws attention.

Rosa has a crush on Lance Kenney, direct of Study Abroad office.

When I was in the U.S. I thought that Internet Cafes would be like the coffee house in Friends, plus computers. They're not really, they're like computer labs at school, with better lighting and atmostphere, but no couches or food you can order. The whole cafe part of the title is a rouge. In the cafe I'm in right now, there are a bunch of posters here and there showing wear Native American tribes lived in the states....weird. I guess it's kinda like if we had posters of Japanese dynasties or midievel territories or something. We see people wearing 80s metal tshirts sometimes...Poison, Megadeath, Sepultura. A few Nirvana shirts too.

Tomorrow while you're hanging out in NJ or wherever you are, I'll be in Africa! Weird.
Tuesday, July 22nd, 2003
8:19 pm
How to pick up a chica en España
Congratulations Shannon! I would make this more personal but I don´t know your e-mail address. If it´s a boy, name it after me. If it´s a girl, name her Nefertari, Queen of the Nile.

Playing cards are strange here. Instead of the regular suits, they have espadas (swords), copas (cups), oro (gold), and bastos (club, the kind you strike someone with). They look like tarot cards, and instead of jack they have cota or something, horse instead of a queen, and they still have a king. But there is no 10.

Peanut butter is rare in Spain. My Rosa didn´t really know what it was, she said it was mainly an American thing. It took me forever to find some in the supermarket...they had only one choice, and it was 3.5€ for a small jar. I grudgingly bought it.

I don´t know if it´s the sun or what, but siestas are addicting. After lunch, I sit down on my bed, chatting with my roommate, and I just fall right out. Don´t wake up for like 2 hours. It sucks because that means I don´t get to the beach until 5 some days. Must resist the siestas.

I was at the beach yesterday, and this hot girl from the group was chatting with me while sunbathing. She had her top pulled pretty low to get maximum tan. At some point, it started revealing quite a bit, but I had my sunglasses on so I couldn´t get caught. Then Manuel, the 25 year old chaperone that all the girls love, says ´Hey, pull up your top. It´s wrapped around your stomach.´ What a fag. Louis and I were telling Rosa this story at dinner, and she said ´Que tonto´ (what an idiot) And Louis said ´Well, she is one of his students´ to which Rosa replied ´Sí, but he´s a man, he´s not made of wood.´

We also said how it´s hard to meet Spanish girls. Rosa told us we just had to try harder. We don´t know how to approach them though, so we started testing out pick up lines on Rosa. We would do direct translations to Spanish. I started off with ´¿Puedes prestarme 15 centimos? Mi mamá me dijo que tengo que llamarla cuando estoy enamorado.´ -> ´Can I borrow 15 euro-cents? My mom told me to call her when I fall in love.´ She said that was precioso and would work. Then Louis comes out with ´¿Es tu padre un terrorista? Porque tú eres la bomba.´ -> ´Is your dad a terrorist? Cause you´re the bomb.´ Rosa thought that was the funniest, greatest line ever and could not stop laughing. We tried out the running through my mind all day one, the moon underwear one, the I like you clothes but I´ll like them better crumpled up on my bedroom floor one as well. It´s a good opportunity to learn Spanish. We´re trying to come up with a translation for ´Is that a keg in your back pocket? Cause I´d love to tap that ass.´

We´re going to Morrocco this weekend...if we use Louis´pick up line and ask ´Es tu padre un terrorista?´ I don´t know if I want to hear the girl´s answer...

There´s a new group of students from California in Cádiz. They´re only allowed to speak Spanish to each other, according to the laws of their program. They´re not as rambunctious as our group, but maybe they´ll come around in time. For now, they just take up all the computers during the break between classes >:0

They paid Rosa the other day for her services as a host mom...but they pay the mom´s in $US. She wasn´t too happy about that, since the dollar sucks. Right now one € costs $1.14. Yesterday, for a few seconds, one € cost $1.70, that´s crazy. I´d like to take this time to thank George Bush, for our strong economy that´s funded by taxes he keeps cutting, and tax dollars that he spends in a new war every five minutes.

Ice cream here is such a hit. I´ve probably said it before but I´ll say it again. Magnum has these 7 bars called the 7 Pecados Capitales, 7 deadly sins. They have Greed, Wrath, Envy, etc etc, but it´s all in Spanish. Good times.

Enjoying the sun, weather, perfect bodied Spanish women, but missin the American food! Someone send me some ravioli or something! Por favor
Sunday, July 20th, 2003
1:37 pm
Friday night: Went to that plaza again, only this time there were millions of people. KJ, a guy from the group, and I watched Spanish girls for quite a long time as we drank our rum + fruit cocktail. It was BYOBottle as usual in the Plaza de Victoria. Drug dealing teenagers wandered around, making chit chat. It´s a very good spot to sell drugs in my opinion, millions of young people and tourists, no cops. After all that, the group split up. I went to a club, where I got to dance to Euro Techno all night with a slightly older crowd. Since in Spain, we´ve been hearing a lot of the same songs all the time. Got home around 5 am, slept till 1 pm.

Funniest quote of the night: ´I´m a Villanova girl and I live in Ohio and I have two ponies, I do not want to see cocaine!´

Overall best thing to hear of the night: ´If I didn´t have a boyfriend...´

Last night we went to the Feria one town over. It´s like a big Spanish county fair. We took the bus over around midnight, a rather large group of us. We gathered in a circle with our drinks of choice outside the Feria, as many thousands of Spaniards were doing. There were people everywhere. Around 3:30 am we started to go in in small groups. There were stands that sold food like a fair back home, but they sold things like churros and coconut slices instead of cotton candy. There were giant tents lining either side of the dirt road that made up the labrynth of the Feria. Each tent was a mini club with it´s own music. Everything was really packed and hot, and I started getting tired around 5. It was a fun experience, but I had enough of it already. Got home at 7 am, right now a lot of people are going over to a bull fight in a neighboring town.

Rosa said that she went to clubs up until 4 or 5 years ago. She told Louis that she didn´t like the old people clubs, she went to the young ones. Until people started looking at her funny for going, and she stopped.

¡Rebajas! The sales here are so good. I went in a sports clothes place, all the sneakers are like 12€, soccer jerseys and shorts are like 3€. I gotta stock up on soccer stuff even though I don´t even like it.

I don´t know if I said this already, but they use oil in everything. At the supermarket, people buy gallons of olive or sunflower oil. Rosa uses oil all the time and fries a lot of stuff. Grilled cheese sucks in Spain! I want Kraft deluxe.

Good Humor is called ´Frigo´ here. Ice cream is huge, they have stands everywhere, and McDonalds has a large selection of soft ice cream.

10 of us were at the beach yesterday, and there was this topless girl and her boyfriend a few feet away from us, speaking Spanish. This guy in the group Justin said something like ´Being in Europe, you get to see how ugly (boobs) can be.´ To which the topless girl started screaming ´Thank you! Thank you so much.´ In a sarcast tone of course. Apparently she spoke English. And her boyfriend started yelling at Justin in Spanish. Quite embarassing.

Maria is such a common name here, that they have an initial for it. I can´t show it here, but it´s Ma with the a small and up, superscript. Maria Jose is a common name for girls here, and Jose Maria a common one for boys. Nothing like mixing boy and girls names.

I get new teachers tomorrow. My midterm for history consisted of a 15 question multiple choice quiz that we already took a week and a half ago. My midterm for language is a take home 4 question deal, where I have to identify whether or not stories are fables. Real hard. I´m sad I won´t have my history teacher anymore, she´s so hot and her hair just takes over the room it´s so big.

Hasta luego.
Thursday, July 17th, 2003
7:59 pm
Grand Theft Purse
Yesterday afternoon it was beach time. A group of us were laying there, not doing too much, not going in the water or throwing balls around or anything like that. At some point, one of the girls woke up and realized her purse/beach bag was missing. She looked all over and started freaking out. Someone stole it from right in between her and another girl in the group while they were right there.

She started crying and flipping out immediately. Although our chaperones told us not to bring anything to the beach, just a towel and a few Euros, this Villanova girl had in her bag 80€, an electronic phone book, all her credit cards, CDs, and two Tiffany´s bracelets.

Apparently some of the girls noticed three teenage boys sitting near us against a ledge watching us, and they got shaded out but didn´t think anything of it. The boys were nowhere to be seen when we were finally up and looking for culprits. We talked to some police on the beach, me and some others from the group acting as translators since the girl was hysterical. Then we had to go to the police station and fill out a police report. It was generally really sucky for her, she had to cancel everything and call her parents and all that.

Ah Rosa´s daughter has arrived, so we have another person living in the house. She´s 23 and studying to be a phys ed teacher. That´s pretty much all I have to report on her.

Last night we went out late because we had no school today, field trip instead. We went to that plaza with drinks, then moved it over to the beach. Two chaperones, who are also teachers of the group, came out as well. General fun and good times on the beach, then we went to a bar, got home sometime between 3 and 4.

Today we went to Jerez, went on a really crappy tour, and then to a horse show. It´s kinda like at midieval times, where the horse does tricks before the jousting, but longer. The tricks were cool, but it was so drawn out.

Nothing to exciting in this issue, I have to study for my first test tomorrow. It´s true false, and is supposed to be really easy. We only have 7 days of classes left (because of days off and field trip days), where´d the time go?
Tuesday, July 15th, 2003
9:13 pm
Back from la muerte @or@ secret gay guy behind the wall
No accent marks today. This keyboard sucks.

The past couple days have been a mess. Friday night I stayed in bed while the group of fun seekers and adventurers went out. Here, everyone goes to this big plaza in new city called Plaza de Victoria. People bring their own alcohol, mixers, cups, and either drink there or on the beach. An inexpensive way to have a good night. This is what everyone else did except me. The guys said it wasn´t too great though because the dumb girls constantly need to be taken care of. The vacation mentality has seeped in deep, and their goal is to hook up with the nearest Spaniard, German, or Romanian around. The guys on the other hand have to stop these girls from going back to these shady guys´ hotel, car, moped or whatever. The males aren´t too pleased, and have been trying to break away from the girls recently.

Saturday was similar, or so I hear, but more low key. I had the pleasure of having two girls serenade me through my living room window (2nd floor) and ask me to come out, but I passed again. I just hang out with Odin and talk to Rosa about random things.

3 of the girls on the trip got to meet the king and queen of Spain on Friday because their host mom´s son has an important government position or something to that effect. The king became king after the military dictator Franco died in 1978, and he restored democracy with a figure-headish monarchy. The queen is from Greek royalty, her brother is the king of Greece. The girls said they both spoke a bunch of languages, perfect English, and they were very proper and ´pretty.´

One girl got her digital camera stolen the other night at a tiki hut. Some seemingly well-to-do guys approached to them, talked to them for hours, and stealithily took her camera when they left. She was really sad because not only did she lose the expensive camera but all the pictures she took so far.

Louis and I were talking with Rosa the other day, and somehow the topic of nude beaches came up. She was telling us about one a little south of here that she went to when she was younger. She said it´s a ´sensacion maravillosa,´ a marvelous sensation. To run around naked, and swim, etc. I was pretty surprised to hear her speak so enthusiastically and bust into so much detail. Rosa told us we had to be adventurous while we were still young. I jokingly said to Louis, ´Yeah we should get the hottest girls from our group and bring them.´ To which Rosa replied, ´But sometimes the girls with the pretty faces aren´t so pretty down.´ :o I couldn´t believe she said that, she was totally serious and speaking in a giving me advice manner. I couldn´t stop laughing. She describes herself as a ´españolita loca´ which is kinda true. She says the mirror tells her she´s 50, but in her head she´s veinte-tanto, twenty something.

They don´t have cencorship in Spain. You can say or show whatever you want on any channel. I told Rosa that certain words get bleeped out in the U.S. and she said that we´re not really free. I guess she´s kinda right.

Green beans here are called Judeas Verdes, Green Jews.

Correction: It rains 0 days a summer in Cadiz, not 1.

On my way to and back from the beach, there is an old gay guy up on a ledge behind a little wall. It´s difficult to explain, but there´s sort of a ramp that goes up along a building, with a 3 foot wall alongside to make sure old gay guys don´t fall off while they harass passers-by. He always wears a pink-magenta bright shirt, giant gold hoop earings, PR style, and has no teeth. I don´t think he can talk actually. He just makes slapping and clicking sounds with his tongue to get our attention. When we look up and see and old man behind a wall, he starts doing other foul stuff with his tongue and hand. I don´t know if it´s an invitation or if he just does it for fun. What I do know is that he´s there every day for a few hours. His skin is dark like leather. I think the wall gives him the physical and psychological protection he needs to get away with stuff like that. I´m gonna take pictures of him as soon as I get a new battery for this camera, or whatever´s wrong with it.

I kinda feel better, although my stomach is killing me. I´ve gone to the beach the past 3 days but I don´t feel completely ´there,´ I´m not enjoying it as much as I otherwise would. People are starting to make plans for this weekend. Some want to go to Sevilla, some Portugal, some Morrocco. I don´t know why everyone thinks Morrocco´s gonna be so cool, I think it´ll just be dust and Islam. I would go I guess, but I´m afraid of getting suicide bombed. I would wear a Canadian flag tshirt and not go with girls. The dumb girls on this trip would go in bikini tops probably.

Rosa and a kid from my group were watching James Bond: Tomorrow Never Dies on TV last night (the one with Holle Berry). There is a scene from the movie filmed in Cadiz, where Holle steps out of the crystal clear water in an amazing bathing suit. Pierce Brosnan ate at a cafe under my apartment, Rosa saw him but didn´t have the guts to go up and say hi.

I´ve been wanting to see Godfather I and II lately, and Braveheart. They don´t have subtitled movies in Spain...A dubbing company has a lot of power here so no English in movies for me. If anyone forgot to get me a birthday/graduation present in June, feel free to pick up any of those 3 on DVD for my triumphant return to the Western hemisphere.
Friday, July 11th, 2003
6:43 pm
Paradise lost
I feel like crap. I´m sick. 7 students didn´t make it to class today, and one teach because we´re all sick. I think I got sick from some shrimp I ate yesterday. After classes, the students split into 3 groups to eat lunch with the directors of the Villanova study abroad program. He asked us general questions about the trip, and all the girls could do was complain. It was all stupid Villanova girl type complaints, like ´my hair dryer doesn´t work in these sockets´ or I have to walk too far to class. Lance Kenney, the director, said to me later towards the girls ´Ya know, if you love America so much, why did you come to Europe?´ and ´All the girls always complain how all the girls in Europe are skinny, then they complain that they have to walk too much...Hmmmm´

Anyway, because me and Louis live with Rosa who is in charge of the host families, we had to bring him to meet her and act as translators. We were a little worried, unsure of our abilities. But they met, we translated very well, and it gave me a nice feeling of lengual ability.

So then around 10pm me Louis and two girls were looking for this Flamenco dancing show. We walked so long, and it turned out we needed a private pass. We walked all the way back and got lost a few times. We were sitting outside in a plaza waiting for others, and I started to get cold. Everyone else said they were hot. I went up to my room and shivered uncontrollably. I shut all the windows and wrapped myself in blankets but I was so cold. I hardly slept, and had these weird dreams that I was the center of a parade, and at a certain point I would have to throw up to please the crowd. I ended up throwing up a bunch last night, felt slightly better, and got up a 8 a.m. for school.

I really didn´t want to go to school, but I figured I´d try it out. Scott, one of our walking partners from upstairs was sick and wasn´t going. I took a bus instead of walking, felt like crap, and decided once I got to school to come back home. Rosa has been taking care of me and I´ve been sleeping mostly all day. This sucks! Other people were at the beach today, and everyone´s partying like crazy today (except us sick people). Maybe I´ll feel better in time, but probably not.
Wednesday, July 9th, 2003
8:38 pm
Summer fun
Let me talk a little bit about my casa first. Rosa Sempere is a housewife, but en España, they don´t say housewife, they say ´Ama de Casa,´ literally meaning Lover of the House, which I think is a nicer description. She has a little dog that looks like Toto, with freshly cut hair. His name is Odín, and it´s a very fun name to say. The dog´s really smart, and barks like crazy whenever she says the word ´malo´, meaning ´bad.´ She really does express her feelings at all times, and a very fun person in general. A lot of the time she walks around the house, cleaning and singing in Spanish. She is what every Spanish mother should be. She has a 16 year old son nicknamed ´Chiqui,´ which is short for chico or chiquito. He is very lazy, like most Spanish males. Spanish boys don´t get jobs here, they just hang around. She told us that all Chiqui does all day is blow dry his hair, play video games, go on the internet, and stay out with amigos until 8 a.m., and I´ve witnessed this to be true. Every once in a while he emerges from his lair to make some demand, complain, or something like that. He doesn´t talk to me or my roommate really but Rosa talks to us all the time. She speaks Castellano (Spanish), Catalán, and Valenciano.

I met the mayor of Cádiz yesterday, although they don´t call it mayor here, some Arabic word I think. She´s tall and has dyed blonde hair. My professor refused to talk to her, apparently a lot of Spaniards hate her and their president because they are really conservative and the Spanish population is very liberal. The whole country was against the war in Iraq but the conservative parties in Spain went along with it.

They call the refrigerator here ´el frigorifico.´ I think that´s funny because it sounds like terrific fridge.

So my host mom showed me on the map where the topless beaches are, and I thought I would have to go to the far part of the island to get there. Little did I know that all the beaches here are topless. The spot she showed me must be super topless. And it´s not like you might expect where the only girls topless are the ones who shouldn´t be...almost all these girls definitely deserve to be topless. Thongs all over the place. Almost every girl has a 9.5 body out 10, but the face is often lacking. No big deal. Many Spaniards resemble British people with darker features and better teeth.

Our first beach day we didn´t get there till 4ish, because they eat late lunches here. We stayed 3-4 hours and had a really good time. We had a group of around 20, and did all sorts of water fun with volleyballs tennis balls paddles etc. It´s not very hot on the beach, just sort of warm like how it feels at night during the summer. There´s always a warm breeze as well. And the water is always great too. Sound like the perfect beach? Yes, you are correct. There are views of castle walls and towers in the distance, and blue blue water. I went today also and got some good color for only 2 days. I must be super duper tan before I leave.

Yesterday I had the stiffest neck ever. I still feel it a little. The pillows in Spain are like giant tootsie rolls. They are long and thick, cylyndrical. I got my host mom to find me another one. She´s been making the best food. I´m definitely smuggling her back to the U.S.

We were drinking at a Tiki bar last night, and the waitress asked me where I was from. I understood her Spanish very easily. It turns out she´s from Germany. Her accent makes her sound like an American trying to speak Spanish. I thought it was cool that English is my language, German is hers, and we were communicating just fine in Spanish. Afterwards, two of the guys in my group picked up some French girls that were wandering around the city. We might hang out tonight.

I like my classes a lot. It´s sorta like if we took regular english and history classes in 5th grade. In lit class we´re learning about fables and legends and stuff. Our history class is a big overview of Spanish history as well as demographics, political stuff, etc. Veeeeery interesting.

Hour´s up. later
Monday, July 7th, 2003
3:12 pm
The Real World: CÁDIZ @or@ I got robbed by a gypsie
Let´s do this chronologically, rather than blurt out the stuff I´m most excited about first. Two days ago (Saturday) was a museum day. We went to the most famous museum in Spain, the Prado, and then to the Reina Sofia which had modern stuff, a lot of Picasso and Dali especially. When I say ´we´ I mean basically the whole group of 34. We didn´t get to the museums till like 17:30 though because we were really hurting from El Palacio the night before. After that I didn´t do too much, because we had to wake up 7 a.m. on Sunday to take the bus down to Córdoba to tour and then to our final destination: ¡Cádiz!

Some people got really drunk that night instead of staying in and just didn´t sleep...they went right to the bus at 7 a.m. in their club clothes. The bus ride was long, 4 hours to Córdoba. The countryside reminded me of Sicily in Godfather 1 when Michael Corleone is hiding out, except less mountainous. Millions of Olive trees and sunflowers on either side of us, all in neat thin rows.

We got to Córdoba, and the main attraction was this really old mosque that had been converted to a church. The mosque is completely unique and has a lot of different styles and periods apparent in its architecture. The place was huge and ornate. Cordoba was the capital of Islamic Spain when the Muslims owned basically the whole country from 700 to around 1100 A.D. Córdoba was well known for its religious tolerance, where Jews, Muslims, and Christians worked side by side.

When it was time to shop, a mysteriously women came up to me and handed me the leaves of some flowers or plant. She said ´monedas´,which I thought and still believe means coins. I figured she was begging so I was gonna give her some coins, but she said something like ´No, paper money.´ At this point I thought she wanted changed because she opened her purse and there were a bunch of crumpled bills in there. So I handed her my 20 and she started reading my palm. I´m going to have two loves in life, two kids, and my family will love me. At this point she wanted to leave with my 20. I wasn´t pleased. I tried to get her to give it back to me, I tried to snatch it from her hand like a little kid, so finally she started to give me back some money. First she handed me 5€, and I was like No, my 20. Eventually she gave me 15, and I was running out of time and the bus was going to leave, so I figured it cost me 5€ to learn the lesson to never hand someone money, unless they give you something first.

When I was talking to some girls afterwards and told them the story, they told me that the woman was a gypsie. When I looked back, I saw a whole bunch of gypsies dancing around and chanting or whatever gypsies do. I expected gypsies to dress differently, like in long sashes and stuff, but when I first saw them they appeared to me to be Spanish trash, not gypsies. Consider this a warning to anyone who goes to Spain! The gypsie did have beautiful vibrant brown eyes though, covered in thick makeup.

We left Córdoba and took the long stretch to Cádiz (8 hours in the bus total :P). Cádiz is a paradise. I was expecting a ramshackle little town on the beach, but it´s nothing like what I expected. The buildings are fairly tall and the streets are narrow, to block the sun and create shade. Everyone here is beautiful. There is a very beachlike presence in the people. They dress like a combination of beach bum mixed with Spanish pop, as you might see on MTV Latino. The entire city is a narrow peninsula, so you are never more than a few blocks from the beach. There are no houses, only apartments. I live in ´Old Cádiz´, which is the furthest part along the peninsula. It´s less touristy and has a lot of character.

The bus stopped and we met our host families. Everyone was nervous, it´s a weird feeling looking for the people you´re going to live with for the next month or so, and knowing that you can only speak Spanish to them. I met Rosa Sempere, and received my first European double-cheek kiss. She is also the program director here, so she investigates the other host families to make sure they´re up to par and suitable for students. At first I thought she was kinda of standoffish, not talking to me or my roommate Louis that much. She was trying to find the other host families that hadn´t come yet. Finally it was time to go home and get dinner.

The apartment is really nice, with tiled hallways and floor, leather couches, two living rooms, 4 or 5 bedrooms, a computer and a Playstation 2. Rosa cooked us an amazing meal. She knows I´m vegetarian and made a veggie feast. First she cracked open a bottle of 5% alcohol apple cider, and brought out our first dish: Spanish omellete (tortilla). It´s potato and egg and tastes awesome. She also made some sort of chili type thing, no beans or anything but the sauce reminded me of chili. Also awesome. A bowl of some sort of soup came next (she told me what was in it, I have no idea what she said), some bread, and clams. She told me to try it so I did, because Cádiz is famous for its seafood and clams. I actually like it. She kept bringing out more and we had to stop her. So much for the Spaniards having small dinners.

She became very social as soon as she was done finding the host families at the bus stop. She´s somewhere between 45 and 55 I believe, and I think she´s really cute despite her age. I could tell that when she was younger and slightly thinner, she was probably a hottie. She confirmed this later when she showed me portraits and pictures of herself in her younger years when she was hot as hell. She has vibrant brown eyes, sort of like the gypsie but sort of yellow, like my cousin Tiffany. She winks a lot and has flirty mannerisms (not towards me, just in general). The program director from Villanova ate with us last night and told us that the people of Andalucía (the south of Spain) have ´mucho amor´ and always express what they´re thinking, with words actions and body language.

I like the way the speak down here. They just drop letters sometimes. Most Spaniards pronounce this city Cádiz like KAH-deeth. Rosa calls it like KAH-dee or KAH-ee. When I asked where her son was, she said he was ´miendo´ instead of ´durmiendo,´ sleeping.

It turns out two of the guys on the trip live one floor above us, which is cool cause we can walk to class, gym, or beach together. Everyone else is spread out kinda far. Us 4 guys went out with our program chaperones, Manuel and Javier, and a group of Puerto Ricans (2 I knew from Nova...random) who are in Spain for a month. We didn´t stay out too late because we had to get up this morning.

Got up this morning and had our orientation, basically just showed us around the college. We decided to meet at the beach at 16:00, 4 p.m. for you Americanos. I´m off now, so hasta luego.
Saturday, July 5th, 2003
5:05 pm
Spain is the best place in the world
The clubs and bars here are awesome. I think they´re way cooler than Cancun, New Orleans, or anywhere else. Two nights ago we went out to a club called Joy Madrid. It is an old movie theater that´s 4 levels and they converted it to a club, but they still have the movie screen and play all this crazy stuff on it. A mix of American and Spanish songs. The cover was 15€, and drinks were like 9 so a few of us left to another bar, got a few drinks, and came back. The whole group of 34 was there and we took the dance floor by storm.

Last night we were going to go to El Capital, a monster club that´s 7 floors, each with a different style of music, and the top floor is an open roof. We pregamed with a few bottles of Bacardi beforehand, which were 10€ for a liter, less than half the price in the U.S. The girls own the 10th floor, so all the doors were open and it was like an around the world party. One of our chaperones, Manuel, told us that Capital was shady though, so instead we went to El Palacio. It is literally a palace. It was a giant mansion, with artwork everywhere, murals on the ceilings (the ceilings were like 30 feet high), and about 20 different rooms. The rooms had different dance music in each one. We were in the American room a lot, and moved back and forth into the Spanish room. I felt cool because they played a few songs I knew some of the words to like A dios le pido, Suerte, and Torero so people were like ´How do you know this?´ It was ridiculous fun, and afterwards Manuel took us all over to a diner where we got 14 plates of churros and hot chocolate. The hot chocolate was like a hershey bar melted, so thick. Ya can´t drink it though, we just had it to dip the churros in. Got home about 6 a.m. and went to sleep, my roommate thought it would be a good idea to wake me up to go to breakfast, didn´t happen.

Yesterday during the day me and the guys went on a little shopping spree. We kept going into Springfields, this clothing store that is ridiculously cheap. We bought dress pants for 6€, ties for 3, and one guy got a blazer for 12. We went to the soccer stadium for the team Real Madrid (pronounced Ray-ahl Mah-dreed) which is probably the best soccer team in the world. The biggest news in the country the other day revolved around the team getting David Beckham from the English team.

There is so much sexual advertisement here. There are naked people all over the place and on TV commercials. We´ll probably see more naked people today when we go to the Prado, a famous museum. No heavy drinking tonight, I have to wake up at 7 for the bus ride to Córdoba and then finally...Cádiz! A week from today is the running of the bulls in Pamplona..it would be a big train ride from Cádiz, and probably expensive, so I have to figure out if I´m going to try to make it to that. Most of the guys want to go, I´ll have to see.
Thursday, July 3rd, 2003
8:17 pm
I am in Spain
Departure time from from JFK airport was 6:05, my dad dropped me off at about 3 and the plane didn´t leave the ground until 8. Service was interesting on Iberian airlines. The stewardesses (for they were all women and wore skirts, 1960´s dull yellow skirts and white shirts) were sort of mean. They would assume everyone on the plane spoke fluent Spanish, even though there were a lot of high school kids cleary speaking English, and so would bark out orders in Spanish. We didn´t receive a drink for a long time, or pretzels or anything like that...instead they handed out packaged socks. I´m serious.

By the way, I´m having a little trouble typing. The space bar doesn´t work very well, and Euro keyboards are different than American ones. For example, where a big Enter button should be, there is a medium sized enter and a ç button where the rest of the enter should be. When you hold shift and press the top row numbers, this is what you get: !"·$%&/()=
And where the colon is supposed to be is a ñ. Everything else is all good though.

Anyway, I decided to spend a little of my 7 1/2 hour flight dealing with and studying the Euro-stewardesses. They talked to each other a lot, and close to each other´s faces. I had a runny nose, my claritin was in my suitcase so I had to ask for napkins every 10 minutes or so ("Servilletas, por favor.") They handed out headphones that were clearly used on other flights. The Hours was the movie, and they cut out the lesbian kissing scenes, a very important part of the movie. I guess I forgot to order a veggie meal, so I had to deal with side orders for chicken. Our friends at Iberian air also messed up the order of 40 kosher meals for a Jewish high school trip on the plane, so all they were able to eat was bread.

Due to lack of proper service, the neighboring passengers and I made it a habit to conspire to get the things we needed (napkins, butter, water, etc.). Note that I was sitting with random strangers, not my Villanova group for we were scatterred throughout the plane. So strangers and I would inform each other when the coast was clear and one could sneak into the kitchen place to secure our goods.

So several hours later, we arrive at Madrid airport. I was anxious to get a claritin so my nose would stop running. It was very windy on the open runway that we got off onto, a little chilly. We got on a bus that took us to our Hotel Suecia (Hotel Sweden), a nice hotel in the middle of Madrid. Madrid is awesome. The buildings are all sort of the same height, so when I went on the roof of the hotel I could see the whole city in every direction for miles, no buildings blocking sight. Madrid isn´t on any body of water either, so buildings went packed in every direction for a long distance. Around this area, the ground is yellow with bonsai like trees growing on it,sort of like a desert that is well watered.

They love mopeds here, more than you would think. I saw a few BMW mopeds, that were built with a roof (sort of like a bubble with a little bit shaved off on each side). The cars are tiny and funny looking...if you saw Just Married, where they rent that funny looking car, that is no exaggeration. They drive on the right side of the road here. People like to wear business suits, even when it´s 90 degrees (32 degrees celsius) and even on their mopeds. The metric system is a pain in the ass. They use military time here also.

I´ve found the Spaniards are generally friendly and patient with broken Spanish, as many people told me before I left. Everyone in Spain has a lisp. If they want to say that something is close to the plaza (cerca de la plaza) they would say "therca de la platha." We´re all trying really hard not to catch that. The group is really cool, it´s 8 guys and 24 girls. My roommate here is going to be living in the house that I lived in last year...random.

Walking around in Madrid is cool, there are tons of places to shop. I hate the Euro because our dollar is weak and things are generally more expensive here than back home. Things will be cheaper when we get to Cádiz. All the cafes have tables outside and everyone eats outside which is fun. The heat is weird here...there is not really any humidity in Madrid, and if you´re in the shade it feels nice or a little cool. When you´re in the sun, it feels over 100º. The sun is brighter here than I´ve ever seen it anywhere. And the sun stays out until 10:30 PM, so everything happens later here.

The first night we were here, we went out to a plaza with a bunch of restaurants all around. We sat outside, ordered food, and got a few pitchers of Sangría. The sangría is awesome, and strong. We broke out into smaller groups because it´s hard to find a table for 34. Everyone´s generally getting to know everyone which is cool. A man closely resembling Gandalf came over to our table to talk to us about not following people, how one should have sex, and they (he referred to himself as We or Us because he was reincarnated 39 times so far) are the father of Jesus. He was German but spoke good English.

Woke up yesterday morning with not nearly enough sleep, and took a trip to Segovia, Avila, and La Granja. The countryside is beautiful, and in Avila we saw the biggest walled city in Europe that hasn´t been reconstructed. Tons of pictures. In Segovia we went through a picture perfect steretypical castle, and also saw a Roman aqueduct. La Granja had a giant garden with many fountains that put on a super water works display. The day was amazing and could better be explained in pictures. The night we got back to Madrid, and all went out again and split up again. More food, sangría, and fun. We decided that we would do that every night on the trip. Plus the beach everyday once we get down to Cádiz on Sunday. Everyone has a feeling that classes are going to be a joke and this is going to be an awesome vacation.

We went to Toledo today, which is an awesome sight. There is no city in the U.S. that can look like these cities, they are just awesome. Millions of pictures. The roads are like alleys and road-raging Europeans whip around on their mopeds and tiny cards honking their horns at us tourists. We got to see some cool paintings, the richest church in Spain that was ridiculously decked out, and a tour through a weapon making factory.

Tonight we´re going to a club type place I think, and we have the next two days free to ourselves. We all love Madrid, but we´re anxious for Cádiz also. We need to speak Spanish more often, we use English too much. My hour at the Internet Cafe is running out so I´ll type more lata.
Sunday, June 8th, 2003
10:00 pm
I went with my mom to K-mart yesterday morning to buy a tent to help our effort against the rain before my graduation party. Every time I go to K-mart I think about how I like Wal-mart so much better. Sure enough, we were confronted with shitty service. I don't why everyone who works at K-mart sucks, maybe they just don't have the same screening process as Wal-mart or something.

Anyway, had my graduation party yesterday. Lots of family members or friends of the family that I didn't know came and gave me money, so I'm no longer poor! For now. Uncle James hung a massive tarp from our roof and trees to cover half our backyard to block the rain, but most people were inside or in the garage. The garage was where all the action was. Pong was going all night, Myk and I won the first 4 games but then he sucked and James and Joe Zito took the table for 7 games, after which Myk and I de-throned them. The funniest part was that Anthony and all of his friends were blatantly driking, and they would go up to my mom and say "Mom, we're gonna go underage drink right now."

That's all I got, other funny stuff happened but I'm not sure if I want to post that stuff on the internet, this is my first real entry and I don't now what's ok to write yet, so more interesting stuff to come I guess.
Wednesday, June 4th, 2003
11:36 pm
I am now on Live Journal! Because Myk has informed me that it is recommended that people going abroad (me) have a live journal. I'm not really sure who I'm writing this too though b/c I don't have any friends on here. sad face
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