Monday, November 29, 2010

Water, water everywhere

Things are getting a bit soggy here in southern Spain. The rains have come, which means Winter is upon us! It doesn't get cold enough to snow where I am living, but it does get to be quite chilly. And rainy. It has rained 3 of the past 4 days. I like rain, but not in my bedroom...
I think my family water curse has followed me here. Water is trying to seep in through the bottom of my door that leads out to the patio. Then I started hearing a drip-drip-dripping sound over the weekend, and saw my roof was dripping in 2 spots. (luckily, not over my bed or anything!) I only mention the water curse because these water incidents are on top of my toilet not flushing properly at the moment, the lack of hot water for a week until we had the hot water heater replaced, and the kitchen sink upstairs that is leaking in the cabinet below. I'm not complaining, just realizing that perhaps my family does have a water curse! At any rate, I'm still feeling thankful and blessed to have hot showers after a few days of trickling, cool water showers in the chilly mornings!
On Sunday it did not rain. In fact, it was gorgeous and clear, and I took the opportunity to walk around my neighborhood. Below is a photo of the view from the top of my street. I am living in one of the pinkish houses you can see in the near distance, to the right a bit. So blessed to be here!!
The Mediterranean in the distance. I can't get enough of these views!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

Living outside of the US doesn't stop us Americans from taking time off from work/school and stuffing ourselves full of turkey and mashed potatoes! Sure, there were a few elements missing (the Macy's parade, football, the snow that apparently fell in Philly...??) but those aren't what really makes Thanksgiving a great holiday. As much as I love eating all the food, one of my favorite parts of the day is the time spent cooking with others in the kitchen. I like the chit chat and time spent together as you do even the most mundane tasks, such as peeling potatoes or chopping vegetables. At least this year I didn't have to fight off 4 cats who know how to jump up on the counters :)
Our little community of 11 came together yesterday to have Thanksgiving, and it was a really great time of fellowship and laughter, with a few small cooking missteps (ovens in Spain are weird. Though from what I hear, it can be normal for a house/apartment to not even have an oven.) But the turkeys came out great, as did all the side dishes. I was in charge of mashed potatoes and broccoli salad, naturally. The kids had all made little Pilgrim and Indian dolls from toilet paper rolls, and created a little village! I love the creativity these kids have.
There is just so much to be thankful for right now...thank you to everyone who has been praying for me and supporting me. I'm truly thankful for God's provisions for me here and everything he has done in the past few months. Amazing! 

Happy Thanksgiving, and Happy Black Friday shopping to you all!!
And now I can start listening to Christmas music ;)

Our village people!

Ready for dinner

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Discount Shopping and Hot Engines

Today I went shopping! There have been signs all over Alhaurin and Malaga for a huge discount shopping weekend at the Malaga Convention Center, where vendors come and sell maybe their overstock? Or items that are out of season? Anyway, it involved clothes, shoes, children's clothing, housegoods, and even some kitchen appliances. My friend Lily invited Doralicia (mom of my students) and me to go, so the 3 of us ladies piled in the car and headed over this afternoon. After we exited the autovia (highway) and were approaching the convention center, suddenly the little screen in the middle of the console beeped and flashed a message at us to inform us that they engine was too hot and needed coolant. Sure enough, the little gauge was all the way over in the red, and in the middle of the area in front of the driver there was a red light and kept flashing STOP STOP STOP over and over at us...yikes! Luckily, we were already there so we were able to keep going long enough to park safely and let the engine cool while we shopped.

And shop we did! It was overwhelming...we realized we came right after siesta, so there was a huge rush of people that arrived the same time we did. I had expected a crowd, and it was a bit crazy at times. Sometimes just walking down the aisles I almost started throwing elbows just to get through :) But they did have some good deals..I realized it is a tad chillier here than I had anticipated, so I bought another long sleeved blue cardigan. I also found a pair of green flats (shoes) that were on a good sale. I was tempted to buy a pair of cute boots, but I restrained myself. (Well, plus the ones I tried on didn't zip all the way up my leg. Boo for having fat calves :( But the ladies at the shoe booth were friendly and patient with my broken Spanish!
Also, we got a microwave for my little kitchen area. hooray! After doing a little research in the past few days, we got an idea of the prices of microwaves in the main stores around here. They had a nice looking microwave today for 39 Euro, which was by far the least expensive we've seen. It wasn't fun to carry it all the way through to convention center out through the parking lot to the car, but hey, we got it there!

We pile in the car and go to drop off some people who met us there and sure enough, after about 5 minutes the car is again yelling at us to STOP STOP STOP! and we're in the red again. Lily's friend points us in the general direction of where she's pretty sure there's a gas station and after a scary 5 minutes of not seeing anything, the bright BP sign is like a haven. Thank you Lord! We pull in to where you get air and water, and luckily there is a guy there who had just finished putting air in his tires. Dora (who is fluent) goes up to him and asks if he knows anything about radiators (like, where they are under the hood...?) and explains the situation to him. He very kindly helped us out by not only finding the radiator, but filling it with water for a quick fix to get us home safely. We got in the car and again said thank you Lord for sending us this guy! We made it home safe and sound and tired from a long evening of shopping. But it was a good time :)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


I feel like I say that a lot to people here! I had the chance to practice my Spanish a little more today...and I discovered I'm still horribly out of practice! I had to send a fax from a store in town, and it didn't go through. The man said something to me that I didn't catch, but I was able to understand that the line was busy and I'd have to try again later. I'm hoping that that overwhelming sense of panic and deer-in-headlights look on my face when someone speaks to me in Spanish will eventually diminish as time goes on :) I suppose it's up to me, though, to get out there more! I've also been able to interact with employees at IKEA and the supermarket to ask basic questions, but I feel like I communicate like a 5 year old. "I want, I need, where is..." etc. I think this needs to on a list of goals for my time become more comfortable with the language and actually use it in the community! It's just a challenge for me when I'm not really that chatty to begin with, even in English :) 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Field Trip!

Life is rolling along nicely here in Alhuarin de la two students are still eager to come to school, so that's a good sign! I'm enjoying getting to know them and their unique, fun personalities. Sometimes I forget that they are in the midst of such a huge transition in their lives- moving across the Atlantic to live in a new country. They are adapting well so far, and in fact the whole family has been a huge help and support for me too, during this time. They are living here in the same house as me for now, while looking for a house to rent. They're a blessing :)

On Tuesday of this week, we went on our first field trip of the school year! A group of people here that work on CRM's staff care team planned a trip up to the city of Granada and we decided to go along. More specifically, we went to visit the Alhambra, which was (insert history lesson here...) a huge palace, fortress, and small town that was built by the Moors in the 13th and 14th centuries. Granada was the last Moorish kingdom left in Spain by the end of the 1400s, and the Alhambra was the center of the Moorish rule there. In 1492 the Reconquista, led by Ferdinand and Isabella, reached the Alhambra and the Moors surrendered and left Spain. (Sorry...I studied and taught all about the Alhambra with my girls on Monday, so I need to spread my knowledge somewhere. ;) I even had them make a foldable to help them learn the basic facts, with a little help from my dad on Skype! Thanks, Dad!)

Anyway, we woke on Tuesday to a sunny day here on the coast, but as we drove inland the rains descended. And cooold! It was the cutest thing, the girls had gotten their first pair of winter gloves before coming here to Spain and they were super excited about them! Coming from Costa Rica, gloves were not a winter necessity, I suppose. They were fuzzy, muppet-like gloves and by the end of the day I was wishing I had had my own pair!
We had a fun time anyway, despite getting rained on throughout the day. The gardens around the Alhambra are beautiful, as is the Moorish design and architecture. I can't even put it into words, I'll just be attaching some pictures below to show you! You can't even wrap your mind around how much work must have gone into building this place, with all the intricate tiles and designs carved in the walls and ceilings. I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in Spain!

I highly enjoyed the city of Granada as fact, I'd like to go back and do some more shopping. In addition to all the twisty little alleyways we visited, filled with Moroccan goods and teterias (tea shops, many filled with hookah things), I also made an exciting discovery as we were driving out of the city....a Sephora! Woohoo! Bare Escentuals makeup, here I come! (it's the small things, okay?)

View of the Alhambra, on the left, from the gardens

Waiting to go inside...getting rained on...with the village Albaicin in the distance

The beautiful columns inside with intricate arabic designs

This is a ceiling in one of the cool!

Hanging out in one of the courtyards, by the reflecting pool

This is just a sampling of the Alhambra...I can put more pictures in a Snapfish album, if anyone is interested..let me know!
Thank you for all your prayers and support for me while I'm here. Please know that I am thinking of home often, even if I'm not able to call or write as much as I'd like. But please feel free to email me or try me on Skype! It's just my first and last name. Even if you don't have video, I can still use it as my phone! It just gets a little lonely here sometimes, though I know I am where I'm supposed to be :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Eating nutella straight of the jar can only mean 2 things....1- nutella is awesome and delicious and 2- I desperately need to go food shopping.
As a small jar of peanut butter costs about the equivalent of $5, nutella is making itself a fine replacement. Not the same, but also delicious!
Life suddenly got rather busy, which is why I haven't blogged lately (and why I'm getting down to eating nutella a la carte), but I will very soon put up pics about our field trip yesterday to the Alhambra in Granada!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

El parque de las palomas

Pigeon Park! That's where we went yesterday on a little outing, because Nov. 1st is All Saints Day here, which means the kids had off from school. Since my littlest student turned 6 today, we took the opportunity to celebrate her birthday yesterday while everyone had off from school. We had a little picnic and spent the afternoon at the pigeon park, which is a really pretty park right on the coast. Like, you could see the water from the top of the hill where we ate our snack. The weather was gorgeous- sunny, blue sky, a bit windy, but still nice... and we were surrounded by nature. Literally. There were free roaming chickens, roosters, and giant bunnies!
So, we're walking to the entrance, and I'm hearing roosters crowing and I'm like...where is that coming from?? Apparently, from the roosters wandering around inside. And they're not afraid of you. They're not aggressive or anything, they're just not afraid to start cock-a-doodle-do-ing from a foot behind you while you're sitting on a bench, trying to have a conversation. :) I found it all delightful, actually. And of course, there were pigeons down by the little lake. And little turtles, swans, seagulls, ducks, etc. Also a place to bring your non-traditional pets, because we saw 2 ferrets on leashes, and a small 5 month old piglet! Needless to say, the kids had a blast with all the animals.

Below are some pictures from the day...

The pond below

From where we ate lunch you can see the Sea!

And I forgot to mention the decapitated heads the children could climb and play inside. Hm.

Aforementioned chickens and roosters, looking for food.

One of the free bunnies, enjoying some peace before being chased by children.