Happy and Wholesome

I was going through notes on my iPod and deleting ones I didn’t need, and I came upon one from last summer’s West Coast road I took with my family.  It was full of random quotes and sayings that my sisters came up with and wrote down to pass time in the car.  Some are actually relatively intelligent, while others cannot be repeated in order to protect myself from future heartless accusations if I ever go into politics and become president.  So, as a tribute to my sisters, and since I have been missing everyone like crazy the past few days, this post will be laced with some of their “inspirational” words.  I don’t have who wrote which one, but great minds think alike, right?

“When the roof cracks and the rain comes pouring down, forget the nails and forget the shingles; just go out and dance already”  

This week has been ridiculously busy.  No, I’m not complaining, but it just goes to prove the fact that when it rains, it pours.  Unfortunately not literally though – I’d like some rain or some autumn weather or something like that.  It’s been blazing hot/humid here in Alcalá (mind you, coming from someone who believes even 5% humidity is getting up there), a major history test has been a dark cloud looming overhead, and I’m starting to get sick.  However, there has been a silver lining.  This week, on October 9th, was Día de Cervantes, and Alcalá was converted overnight into a medieval festival.  These people have spared no expense in going all out.

All of the streets in the old university district are lined with little booths and stands, selling handmade goods ranging from braided crowns to hand-carved bowls to pounded metal jewelry.  Fortune tellers sit in little tents on the corners with lines of girls eagerly waiting for their fortunes to be told streaming down the streets.

“I was once confronted by an old indian fortune teller.  She told me I would very soon die a slow and painful death.  I got married the next day.”  

Enlightening, isn’t it?

Every morning I walk past a man pounding and kneading bread dough to prepare for the rush to buy his fresh artisan bread.  Flags stream from above and the smells of spices, incense, roasting pig and sweet delicacies mingle together making you feel like you’ve been transported back in time.

yeah...he looks evil and thrilled to be about to boil the octopus to death

All of the shop owners even dress up in era-appropriate clothing to complete the look.   All of this has made me wish so badly that my family could be here because I know they would absolutely love it…I wish the festival was here year round!  I took lots of pictures of things that “I could totally make” and I’m starting to formulate how to do them.

Like these creepy little wooden keychain things (not very “spanish”, but still).  How adorable would these be as halloween party favors or crafts?  IKR?!?!?!?!

The biggest problem I have faced this week was how to balance the festival (what I want) with studying (what I need).

“When the sky starts falling…go grab your tinfoil cap.”  

Akin to “do as the Romans do”, I decided that since everyone else was out on the streets enjoying themselves, I may as well do the same.  Alex and I were somehow able to wake up early and study before going out and trying to use enough self control to buy everything.  I died.  It was amazing.

As soon as I’m done writing this post, I’m probably going to be back out there.  This place is almost better than Costco, I kid you not.  Alex, Kari and I went around to every booth and had samples of all sorts of fresh cheeses, sausages, pork ribs, candies….EVERYTHING.


The little eating places are INCREDIBLY adorable too…  I am determined to recreate them at a wedding/party/some-festive-event in the near future.

look at this seating area!!!

The colors were amazing…I just wish I could have gotten a picture with people sitting in it, but the restaurant wasn’t opened yet.

“You can always tell what a man is feeling by his passive or aggressive behavior.  You can always tell what a woman is feeling by…well, you can’t really ever tell, can you?”  

Tensions have been high this week because of the impending doom of the test, which none of us had adequately prepared for up to this point.  I have a new sympathy for men having to deal with girls all the time – there’s so much unseen drama and petty struggles that are made even worse when stress and hormones are involved.  I wish I could go into details, but somewhere, I know Big Brother is watching.  Scary, I tell you.

“Don’t think about it more than is deserved.  You’re just wasting your stupidity.”

Wednesday, on the eve of the test-day that had come all too quickly, we went to Madrid.  Perhaps it wasn’t the best judgement, but we figured that we would be able to get enough studying in on the bus, and everyone just needed a break from history overload.  A broadway show did just the trick.  Sit back for a second and imagine this scene:

Eighteen girls, all dressed up in skirts and high heels, running to catch a train, squishing up against smelly people to get into the same car, running out of the train to catch the metro, squishing up against more smelly people (lady with dreads…yeah,  your head smells like a horse), then running with heals down the streets of Madrid trying to find food before the show starts.  Obviously someone enjoyed it, because they started yelling, “run, Forest, run!” in a nice spanish accent.

The quotes my sisters left on my iPod can provide a nice moral to this story as well:

“There was once a very old shoemaker who lived in Uzbekistan.  He had a terminal illness and was due to leave this earth in two and a half days.  His final wish was to make the ultimate pair of shoes for the President of the United States.  He worked on this pair of genuine traditional Uzbekistinian sandals until minutes before his death.  Seconds before he died, he told his parrot to deliver the shoes to the White House.  Then he died.  When the shoes arrived, the President tried them on and wore them to an important press conference. They gave him blisters, therefore resulting in a crappy and half-hearted speech.

Moral: don’t trust Uzbekistinian shoe makers”

Apparently you can’t trust Chinese shoe makers (or wherever the shoes we wore are from) either, because our feet definitely weren’t loving us when we got home.

We stopped at this little frozen yogurt place on the corner before going into the theater.  Well…we thought it was little.  As it turns out, it had a whole downstairs filled with a room covered in chalkboard.  We went to town.

Now, I’ve seen the Lion King in english once or twice on broadway, but in spanish, El Rey Leon was breathtaking.

The costumes, effects, choreography, every single detail was just as stunning as every other broadway version.  But the songs – I was blown away.  There is something about the way they have to change the words in spanish that make some of them so much more powerful and give them incredible depth.

I think I’m in love.


Actually, every single girl in our group was in agreement that we fell in love when the grown up Simba came out on stage.

Literally our whole row turned to each other and started whispering about him.  I’m positive we were all wondering why we can’t see people like him just walking around on the street.

“Boys are like peaches: juicy goodness on the outside and a cold, hard pit on the inside.”

**Cultural insight** Going to the gym in Spain (maybe other European countries too, I’m not sure) isn’t a big thing at all.  Whereas in good old Provo,  you have your typical “GTL” guys (GTL = gym, tan, laundry…stay away from them) who walk around knowing that they look super strong and buff and annoying, there are very few Spanish men who appear as if they go and lift weights or do anything for that matter.  Which isn’t bad, but it’s just interesting.  Maybe they all like looking like 14 year olds.  Hence why we were all so shocked to see the most beautiful creation to grace Spain walk out on stage.  Little did we know that he was from Mexico.  Hmmm.

But that’s all beside the point.  Let it be known that seeing this play has been a highlight of my time in Spain so far.  The music, the atmosphere, the people, the streets of Madrid lit up at night…everything was spectacular.  We even got some studying about the Visigoth kings and Arab emirates in during the intermission.

“My boyfriend caught me kissing the cabana boy, but just as he was coming over to intervene, a coconut hit him on the head, nearly killing him.  The next morning, he couldn’t remember anything.  Moral: some tragedies aren’t that bad.”

Although not QUITE a tragedy, the musical didn’t get out until after the last train left for Alcalá, so we were out of luck in that department.  Luckily I travel with intelligent people and they knew about a night bus that we could take.  We left the glitzy, upbeat nightlife behind and made our way through the sketch parts of town, passing bar after bar filled with smarmy drunk men who apparently thought they were pretty slick with words.  Wrong.

“Drunk people are cute.  So are mexican hairless dogs.”

When we finally crowded onto the bus, by the looks of the people who’s personal space we mercilessly invaded, they weren’t too thrilled to have a bunch of girls cramming for a test accompany their ride.  On the bright side though, half of them were probably too high to even notice because the bus reeked of weed.  The source?  The bitter looking 20-something-unshaven-most-likely-single guy sitting next to me.  As we made our way home, I played teacher and we had a surprisingly effective review session.  Future career, perhaps?

But, finally, we made it home and good news!  None of us.  No – not a SINGLE ONE OF US slept past our alarms, and we were all able to take the test this morning with ease (??).  Lovely lovely lovely.


*********UPDATE AS OF LITERALLY 1 HOUR AFTER I POSTED THIS!!!!!!!**************

I asked for rain and….what did I get?  YEP!  A full on hail and thunderstorm :)))