Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bull Fight & Coming Home to America

As usual I'm late on writing this blog post. Unfortunately I can't lie and say I was busy culturing myself with new experiences abroad. Instead I was catching up on jet lag, playing video games, and eating copious amounts of Chipotle. Although I promised my grandma I would write this today, so grandma, this one is for you!

To the left you can see one of the milder pictures I have from the bull fight. The tickets were five euro and we got to sit in the VERY FRONT. When I say very front I mean that there is the bull fighting ring, then there is the place that I sat. We didn't see this video till after but this happen at the venue I was at and I was sitting right behind those wires the bull jumps onto initially. So five euro got us front row seats to six bull fights, not to shabby.

The bull fight is essentially broken up into three parts. The first part you have about four guys taunting the bull and then hiding behind a hole in the wall when he charges. If I were to participate in bull fighting this would be my job, all the fun without any of the danger. After they have their fun a guy comes out riding a horse and pokes the bull with a long stick to get him even angrier.

During the second bull fight the bull ended up getting under the horse and flipping it. Initially it looked liked the horse broke its leg, and it fell on the rider, so we assumed he was dead too. They both ended up being fine. Not sure how the rider survived by the horses are covered in some magical blanket looking material that protects them from the bulls horns. They are also blindfolded. I don't know how you train a horse to be okay with any part of this situation but they preformed valiantly and I was impressed.

Then during the final stage the matador comes out and does all the normal stuff you would expect in a bull fight. He supposedly has three chances to kill the bull before they put it out of its misery but I think only two of the bulls were killed within three strikes.

The first few were sad because the bulls gave up and sat down. At this point a guy comes up and stabs the bull through the top of a head with a knife, killing it instantly. There were a few bulls who fought until the very end though. I was impressed with their endurance and unwillingness to give in.

There was also a matador who got stabbed in the leg by a bull's horn. It is dishonorable not to finish a bull fight unless you are injured to the point where you can't continue. He hobbled around and finished the fight, losing a lot of blood from his leg the whole time. With his injury his reaction time was slower so this made the end of the fight a lot more interesting.

Bull fighting is now illegal in a lot of Spanish speaking countries. Spain is one of the last countries to allow it and I believe there is legislation in the works to outlaw it there as well. Not something I'd do again, but definitely worth seeing once.

The the right we have my "spanish family photo". From left to right we have "Don Juan", me, Jake, Teresa, Jack, and Mitch. You'll notice my host mom is holing a sword. Isn't that just awesome?

So before coming back to America I was looking forward to the following things in the following order: Chipotle, bottomless cokes at restaurants, public restrooms, and air conditioning. Since being back I have had plenty of each and now miss various things about Spain.

The pastries in Spain are unmatched in America. Specifically the neopolitana. This is essentially a croissant with chocolate all through the middle. I'm fairly certain they could use it to treat depression or cancer. It is by far my favorite food there. Their coffee is also unmatched in here. I was satisfied with American coffee before I left but now my morning Joe leaves me feeling empty and abandoned. I really began to hate taking the metro while I was in Spain but now that I'm back I kind of miss all the homeless people and bad street performers.

Finally I'll leave you with some interesting anecdotes from the flight home. I purposely didn't eat dinner on the flight so that I could rush to chipotle before it closed and be reunited with my favorite food. Unfortunately there was a half an hour "food science" show about pizza on the plane. I watched the whole thing because I couldn't fall asleep and immediately began craving pizza. Obviously my love for chipotle runs deep and requires more than an empty stomach and a food network special to make me betray her that easily. I got off the plane and ate a small snack to tide me over until I got home. When I went to the gate to wait for my connecting flight a lady sat down next to me with an entire California Pizza Kitchen pizza. She ate one slice and asked me if I would like the rest. Unfortunately free pizza was not something I could pass up at this point. I gave in and ate the whole thing, it was amazing! ...Although I still feel incredibly guilty for not saving myself for chipotle like I originally planned.

I'm heading to Mexico on Saturday for a mission trip with Flatirons. I'll probably write a blog post on what happens there. Anyway, if you've been reading this the whole time, thank you. Mo, if you read this, you still owe me $5.

Monday, July 4, 2011


So first things first. Happy 4th! Kind of wish I was back home today, definitely one of my favorite holidays. A girl in my art class brought a small American flag to class, and I'm writing this post without a shirt, but other than that haven't done anything patriotic today. Apparently the US Embassy is throwing some sort of 4th of July party so we might go to that later.

Second thing next. I have a new roommate. Her name is Fredrica and she is from Taiwan. Her English is amazing but she speaks absolutely no Spanish. After translating everything our host mom tried to tell her I asked her if she had any questions to which she responded "Can I take as many showers as I want?" I told her she could but was very confused. All I know about her so far is that she is an extremely picky eater. Other than that she normally locks herself in her room and never ever comes out. I don't know if its culture shock or what but shes interesting.

Anyway went to Barcelona last weekend, it was an adrenaline rush! Took an 8 hour bus ride and got in about 8am. Checked into the Urbany Hostel Barcelona. That whole building is the hostel. By far the best one we've been to. 12 floors, rooftop pool (never had time to use it), 3rd floor balcony with a decent view.

We couldn't check in until 1pm so we dropped off our bags, changed into our suits and headed to the beach. As some of you may know I wanted to really experience Europe to the fullest and part of this means I have to get out of my comfort zone and experiencing new things. It started off as a joke. I told my roommate Jack that I would buy a speedo if we could find one for under 10 euros. After a dare and a few hours of shopping we ended up finding them at H&M (amazing store) for 9.95 Euro. So the whole weekend in Barcelona we wore them.

The beach was normal except for the fact that these Asian ladies were constantly walking around asking you if you wanted a massage (pronounced Massage-ee?). My roommate eventually gets fed up with it and one of the ladies comes around and asks if he would like a massage and he responded "How about I give you a massage... for free. Would you like that?". She looked at him angrily for a second and then walked off. Guess she couldn't handle a dose of her own medicine. Serves her right. So now I'm sitting on the beach, in my speedo, wondering who in the entire world actually pays these women to massage them? Then, BOOM! I see the guy behind me in his underwear pay the lady to rub tanning oil all over his back.

After the beach we head back, check in, and go to sleep for a while (hadn't slept on the bus somehow). We woke up and headed out to the beach for the festival of San Juan. Just like we randomly found ourselves in Portugal for their biggest festival of the year, we also happened to be in Barcelona for theirs. The festival of San Juan.

Now for my pick pocket story. We head into the metro to go to the beach and it looks like this. If you can't tell from the picture you basically can't fit anyone else in the metro. It was packed to the brim. I think to myself "man, if was going to steal my wallet, I'd probably do it here.", so I stick my hand on wallet and just keep it there. The train comes and people start SHOVING on, I was pushing the guy in front of me as hard as I could to get on, and the guy behind me was doing the same to me. We get on and I feel someone grab back pocket. I figure its probably one of the people in our group trying to not get lost. After a few seconds the fingers are still in my pocket (still grabbing on to my wallet the whole time) and I start to get suspicious. I decide to check it out and I see two fingers in my back pocket. I follow them back to the owner and is some completely random dude. At this point it clicks and I realize whats going on. I turn around to grab him and hes gone. The doors close and we start moving. I turn to my roommate and tell him what happened and he tells me the same guy had his hand in his pocket as well. Neither of us had anything stolen but interesting experience none the less.

We get to the beach and the closest thing I can liken it to is 4th of July. EVERYONE is shooting off fireworks EVERYWHERE. There are huge bonfires on the beach every couple hundred yards and tons of music. We just walked around for a while but it was pretty fun.

The next day we went to Sagrada Familia. This was especially cool because I had been here once before in high school so I got to see the progress. For those of you who don't know its a church inspired by Gaudi. Its been under construction forever and is scheduled to be finished in 2026. When I went back in high school the whole front of the church on the inside was under construction, its completely finished now and looks a lot better. There was an hour and a half wait to get to the top so unfortunately we didn't get to do that.

Saturday we took a cable car to the top of a mountain/hill and wandered around another castle. I finally see why people say "once you've seen one castle, you've seen them all". Its pretty repetitive. This one overlooked the Mediterranean Sea and a huge port in Barcelona which was cool. I also went to Park Guell which is a park full of Gaudi art. There is way to much stuff in there to talk about it individually but it was very cool. When I get home I'll put up an album everyone can see and there will be some good pictures from there in it.

I went to a bull fight last night so I'll be posting about that next.