Friday, April 1, 2011


Last Saturday I had the chance to take a day trip out to a town called Ronda with my friend Theresa from church. We hopped on a bus at 10am, and after an hour and 45 min. bus ride inland we arrived in Ronda. It is a rather large town, set up on a cliff. Sort of. I don't know how to describe it, I'll have to post pictures below! The old town and newer part of town are connected by an old bridge over a gorge. We hiked down part of the way and actually went under the bridge...though there wasn't really a clear walkway, so it was a bit narrow at times! But we had a good time exploring the city and enjoying the beautiful Spring weather that has finally arrived! (I won't linger on this subject, out of respect for my PA friends and family. Sorry to hear about the April Fool's snow :(
ahora, fotos!
Puente Nuevo...the "new" bridge, built in the 18th century. Beautiful!

This is what I meant, about it being up on a cliff! Green fields surrounded the city below.

On our hike down to get pictures of the bridge.

Wildflowers, gazebo, and countryside

Theresa and me (and bridge, of course!)

Walking through town. It's was fairly touristy, but still awesome. I just can't get enough of these narrow alleys/streets!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hey, twice in one week!

Look, I'm back already! Turning over a new leaf? Probably not, but I'll be hopeful that I'll get in a few more blog entries in March :)

I don't know if I've mentioned that I have 2 jobs here. One, obviously, is teaching my 3 lovely ladies. They continue to make me smile everyday with interesting questions that I often don't know the answer to (student: "what color does brown and pink make?" me: "uhhh...pinkbrown?") and shower me with gifts of their artwork and silly bands. (That was today's gift!)

However, I do have a second job working as a part-time administrative assistant for the head of the Staff Care and Development Team (SDCT) from CRM. (The agency I'm working with) The main responsibility involves processing their monthly expenses, gathering receipts, etc, etc...not the most exciting aspect of the job, but after the first month's disasterous attempt (when I'm pretty sure the finance department wanted to hunt down this new Kate person who mixed up all the receipts and emailed monstrously large PDF files by accident that couldn't be opened), I am proud to say that I improved enormously by the next month and hopefully redeemed myself in the eyes of the finance department!
Anyway, all this to say that in this other job I have been delegated the task of putting together a website for people who come to Spain to visit the SDCT team.
When have I ever put together an entire website??- was my first thought. But thanks to Apple and iWeb, it's actually rather easy! I've been considering switching this blog to a custom made website, actually, where I can easily post photo albums and links and all sorts of exciting stuff! (But that's can see how good I am at updating this blog, so let's just stick that idea in our back pocket for now, shall we? ) But I am enjoying learning this program and some of its intricacies. Now, before you all start lining up to have me create your websites for you ;) let me say that I'm no expert...yet. Seriously though, it's something I never thought I'd do and I am enjoying playing around with different features and design layouts. It's a loooong way from done, however, so I'll let you know when (if) it's ever completed. And I need to add, it's totally a group effort. I'm plugging info into the site and arranging the text, etc, but others are doing a lot of research for the site!

And now for some photos. (Which I could put in an album on my someday-website. sigh.)
SCIENCE!! Test tube gardens...first you grow these magic crystals that turn from little salt-like rocks into big squishy things, then you plant a seed in them. So fun! (thanks, dad!) I think the girls' favorite part was growing the crystals and squishing them around...

Me in a funny hat...Lily and I went to a place with little artisan booths for artists from Malaga and Morocco, and at one place the man insisted that we both try on this hat, which I think is traditionally used in a type of dance costume. How could we resist?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Picture Fun

Okay, so my attempt to be a better blogger has failed miserably. Ah, well. I think instead of typing out a bunch of stuff, I'll post some photos with captions about what I've done in the past month.

The end of February/beginning of March was you can see, downtown Malaga was all lit up and decorated, with people running around in fun Halloween-ish costumes, and groups performing songs all along this long walkway. Songs that seemed to be funny, but I really have no idea because I had no idea what they were singing about!

Here I am, ready for Carnaval craziness! It was some sort of mix of Mardi Gras (but not as crazy) and Halloween. Even little kids were dressed up in costumes!

We sort of ran into a parade, so we stopped to watch! When I wasn't being pummeled with confetti from people on the floats, I managed to get a few photos.

Last week I ran around town with my friend Lily and took pictures because she had a Flat Stanley sent to her by a friend! So we went all around Malaga, which worked nicely for me because I got to take a few pictures too. This is a picture looking down on the bull fighting ring in Malaga. And the Mediterranean, of course!

Overlooking the harbor

The view the other direction, which is downtown Malaga.

A back/side view of the main cathedral in Malaga

Oh Flat Stanley (whose name is actually Flat Nathan), what are you doing hiding in that little alleyway??

And I just love beautiful sunsets from my bedroom window (well technically, classroom window!)           

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My, You're Looking Leafy Today...

I just caught myself talking to one of my plants. Hmm...never thought I'd be one of "those" people. :) I won't look too deeply into why I felt the need to speak words of encouragement to my new friend..I mean plant..

Happy Valentine's Day....yesterday! We had a nice little gathering with our kids and team members, filled with valentine making, chocolate fondue dipping and lots of love all around. We had tables set up with fun paper and cut out hearts and stickers, where people could make valentines for each other right there on the spot, then deliver them into their friend's paper bag mailbox. The kids had a good time, as did the adults! I'm not much for this holiday, but I enjoyed spending time with people who are becoming dear friends.

I'm reading a very good book right now (well, I'm reading a few books. I can't help myself!) The one I'm referring to, however, is Courage and Calling by Gordon T. Smith. A friend lent it to me as I am going though a personal process of re-focusing and getting to know myself a bit better. I keep joking that I hope to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, but part of me knows I'm not really joking! The book centers on God's specific call in a person's life, which is your vocation. A person's vocation can be carried out anywhere, at any point in one's life. Most often we think of our vocation as what we do for a living. It may overlap with your job or profession, but maybe not completely. Basically, it's figuring out who He has called you to be, and then being true to yourself in that calling. (Sorry, I'm not good at summarizing.) Just wanted to share a bit about the personal growth process I am starting here, led by some wonderful friends. I'll share a bit more as we go along!
Some pictures...

Poor Yogi had a heart balloon attached to his collar...but it was so cute!

Isn't she a beaut??

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pie and Visas

There's lemon tree right out front of the kitchen window, and it's been heavy with lemons for the past few weeks. Those lemons inspired me and could be the only possible explanation for my desire to bake a pie from scratch! My Grammy's lemon sponge pie is a family favorite, and though I have never baked it before in my life (nor any other pie for that matter) I decided to give it a go! They don't really have pre-made pie crusts in the local supermarket, but they do have sheets of dough that can be used as a crust. I discovered, though, that they are rectangles and didn't quite fit the pie dish I was using. So I ended up making my first pie crust from scratch as well! And I have to say, it turned out rather well. The oven has no option to bake just from the bottom, so the top got browner than it's supposed to, but the taste came out pretty close to what I all in all I'm calling it a success!

Good news...the family I am homeschooling (one of the families, I should say) all have their visas now to live in Spain! Mom and the 2 girls' visas hadn't come through after months of waiting, so they returned to Costa Rica and were gone for about 3 weeks. They finally got the situation figured out and praise God, came back on Friday with their visas! Such a huge burden lifted and an answer to prayer. I'm excited to have my students back :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

¿Qué tal?...what's up?

Life has been rolling along nicely here so far in 2011. I'm not quite at the halfway mark for my time here, but getting close...I can hardly believe it! I feel like I have been here longer than 3 and 1/2 months, and yet I know time will be running out soon enough. I'm still not using my Spanish nearly enough as I'd like, so that is definitely a goal I need to put more energy into in the near future. I am teaching in English, and primarily interacting with other friends and families in English, so it's all too easy to just "get by" with minimal Spanish. I would love to be fluent, and I'm in Spain for an extended period of time, so I don't know when an opportunity like this will come up again! The church I am attending is all in Spanish, so I do have the chance to interact with people there...I have a hard time getting to know people in my own language, so it's difficult to break through that first layer of acquaintance, where you just say hello and how are you, etc. Hopefully I'll be going to a language exchange (intercambio) in downtown Malaga this week, where we'll alternate speaking in English and Spanish. It sounds terrifying to me, to walk into this unknown situation and use my rusty Spanish with strangers, but who knows...maybe it'll be more freeing if I know I may never see them again!

I had the chance to do some more driving practice today. Actually, it's only the second time I've gotten to go out and drive. I think the first time I had some beginners luck on my side, because today I had a lot more difficulty getting into first gear to get the car to go! My friend Lily was very patient with me, and very generous to allow me to continually stall out her car (which she just got a week ago!) It was slightly discouraging to spend nearly 10 minutes in one spot, unable to move the car forward. But, perseverance did pay off and I got it eventually! I only drove around 1-2 blocks over and over again, but that was fine with me. I need to practice getting into first gear from a dead stop. I will come out of this experience with the ability to drive stick!!

Quick school update...2 of my students have been back in Costa Rica with their mom to pick up their visas...well, it turns out at first they still hadn't come through to the embassy, but last week we got news from them that all 3 visas came!! Praise God! It was a long process for them, but was all in God's timing. Meanwhile, I've had the chance to get to know my other student better, as it's just been the 2 of us for the past 2 weeks. She's in kindergarten, and we've been working on letters and numbers together. We're having a good time creating art projects and science experiments, which is a favorite subject of her's!

Speaking of school, I need to get some prepping done for tomorrow and this week. I am determined to blog more, even if it's just about what I ate for dinner, so please don't give up on me yet!
Have a wonderful week :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I have a list of things I'd like to do while I'm here. Some are travel goals, some are deeper ones like spiritual growth, figuring out what to do with my life, etc...

And I want to learn how to drive a manual car. A daunting and scary task? Somewhat!

I had my first driving lesson today with Randy, the dad of my students. It was kind (and brave!) of him to agree to teach me because I know sometimes when I'm stressed out driving my automatic car I freak out a little bit. Like when I'm trying to parallel park and a line of cars is waiting impatiently for me to get out of their way, or trying to park in the cramped parking lots of LA. Panic!

But as I said, he was kind enough to take me in. After some explanation of how to shift and use the clutch and some observation time while he drove, I was ready to get behind the wheel. A brief bout of panic took over when he pulled over to switch but I pushed it aside and powered on! And I have to say, I didn't do so bad! No parking lots for me, we started on roads. (Nearly empty roads around warehouses, but still.) It's a totally different rhythm to get in, using 2 feet to drive, but after about the 8th or 9th time around one block I started to get the hang of it! I only stalled out the car once, maybe twice, but I think all beginners do that. (right??)

Then I was ready to be around other cars. We went up and down one stretch of road outside of town, where I wouldn't have to stop and start so much. Spain also has an abundance of traffic circles, which actually made it easier for me. I only got beeped at once for not pulling out fast enough because I was being extra cautious, but in general people here are fairly considerate drivers. With such narrow streets all over, you really have no choice but to wait for a car to pull out in front of you. All the roundabouts felt weird to me at first, and I don't think I've driven around one since I was last in New Jersey, but I think they've grown on me!

All this to say, I think today was a success. I have another lesson on Thursday, where maybe we'll practice hills and going in reverse. Considering I live on the side of a huge hill with lots of twists and turns to drive up, I think that would be a good skill to practice. The idea of driving up up up these little roads makes me start to panic slightly, but I'm determined to try!

Happy driving :)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Wow, I am a terrible blogger.

And the longer I wait to update it, the more daunting it becomes! I do apologize.
I have had a few fun excursions since my last post, before Christmas. The day after Christmas I took off for Fes, Morocco for a few days and it was amazing! A friend of a friend was up here with us for Christmas and she is currently living in Morocco. I traveled back down with her on the 26th. It was a full day of travel, involving a bus, ferry, taxi, train, and another taxi. (I flew back on a plane, so I pretty much covered all modes of transportation on this trip!)
I had a great time seeing Fes, spending time in the Medina (the old city). It was just incredible to look around at this city that has been there since like 700 or 800 AD. The city was a combination of old and new, traditional and modern. Men and women in traditional dress walking next to youth in jeans, talking on a cell phone. Old structures that have been there for hundreds of years, scattered with satellite dishes. The contrast was fascinating to see!
The Medina is a maze of tiny alleyways, where no cars can go and the main way to transport things is by donkey. Many times I had to flatten myself against a building to let a donkey carrying bags of sand to pass through! We did a tour one day, with a guide who was clearly very proud to be from Fes. He informed us all about how his uncle was a great craftsman, and because he grew up in this city he knew it very well...which very well may be true, but I can't say I learned too much from him. (He was the one who informed us that to be a good woman, you need to be able to make good bread :)
One of my favorite parts of the trip was spending time at the home of the woman who is my friend's Arabic tutor. This woman, Fatima, had such a bubbly personality that it didn't matter that I had no idea what she was saying while we were there! (My friend did translate for me, so that did help.) Fatima had us over 2 nights, once to have tea and snacks and the next night for have dinner. Moroccan tea is a very sweet mint tea...I mean, really sugary! But sooo good! I had it many times while I was there. The next night she made a harira soup, which is like a national dish, according to my friend. It was very tasty...a tomato based soup, with chickpeas, little noodles and vegetables. She brought out spoons for us to use, probably because I was there, but my friend shooed them away so we could drink it traditionally, right out of the bowl. So yummy!
We went back to the market(s) in the Medina the last day so I could so some shopping. There were so many beautiful hand crafted goods, being made right there in front of you. Beautiful scarves, rugs, pottery, leather, just about anything. I was glad to be with someone who was learning to speak the local Arabic dialect, because she did most of the talking in the shops! Well, stalls, really. I think we maybe got a slightly better price because she lives there and knows the language! All in all, it was a great trip. I'll put a few pictures below, but I took a good amount so if you'd like to see more, send me an email and I'll send a link!
My favorite picture of shoes in the market!

A main entrance to go into the Medina (old city) of Fes
A view from above, with the Medina spread out below

The tanneries, where they clean, dye and dry leather

Dressed up in a traditional dress for a formal occasion (We had fun playing dress up!)

I feel so blessed that I was able to go see another corner of the world, one I never thought I'd see. Another stamp in my passport...and, now I've been to Africa! Check one more continent off my list :)
I will update again soon, with pictures from my weekend in Sevilla, I promise. 2/3 of my students are going to be gone for the next 2 weeks, so I will have a bit more free time to upload pictures and whatnot. Thanks for reading!