Sunday, April 10, 2011

Vida de Reflecciones

Tonight, as I bite into a dark chocolate covered shortbread cookie that some Germans kindly made for me (yeah, these "Zartbitters" are as good as they sound), I silently castigate myself for my not so nice break from writing for these last couple weeks.

Sorry about that.

Regardless of the pause in my electronic word-flow, there was much Spanish being spoken and much life lived. A lot of that has to do with the fact that spring's turned into summer and the orange trees are in bloom.

I cannot describe the sweet-freshness of the aroma of Sevilla's orange tree blossoms. The whole city faintly smells of the azahar white flower. The breeze carries this scent through the stretched-thin streets, passed all the building whose colorfully painted tiles glimmer in the sunsets. It does not overpower, only adds beauty to this already remarkable Andalucian city. A city I like to call home, even though I only have a month left within it's barrio of Triana.

What a menagerie this semester has become.
To describe what has been going on here, I'll try to make a little collage of words and stories and algo así in this blog. It may just become a list. I'm sorry if it does. A list would make these last few weeks seem dull. And dull they have not been.

For starters, I went to Lisbon, Portugal. It was nice. But it's not Spain. And for that, me faltaba algo.

I really do enjoy a good day in Spain. Sevilla, like I said, has been beautiful. I got to experience it in a different way on the 3rd of April, when I ran in the Carrera Popular y Escolar Triana.
Basically, there is a wonderful path along the Río Guadalquivir that I have grown accustomed to running about every other day for miles on end. Along this path you can find roller-bladers (It's cool to roller-blade in Europe, I don't understand it), Bicis (bicycles), the occasional khaki-clad-backpack-wearing tourists, men running in spandex shorts, and finally American college girls. We get a lot of stares from the gente, let me tell you. After a couple of months here, I heard about the City's monthly 10 k races, or Carreras, and thought: Well, I might as well do something with all this ridiculous cadio stamina I've been building up because I like looking at the pretty river sparkling in the sun (most of my reason for running, I'll be honest). So, with the help of my friend Pablo, I figured out how to register for the race. Then, on April 3rd, I ran the 10.7 km race with a bunch of Spanish men! You can see from the results that there were other women in my gender/age group, but not many. We ran around the Los Remedios and Triana neighborhoods of the city all morning, finishing about an hour later to receive free t-shirts, granola bars, water, and, of course, Cruzcampo for all!

There were more days passed in Andalucia. During which, Consuelo's son, wife, 2 1/2 year old, and newborn, all of whom live in China, came to visit and stay with us...for a month.
They are muy guay, I love the toddler, Lucas, especially. Once he figures out sentence structures a little bit more, he'll speak English, Spanish, Chinese, and American Sign Language
I'm jealous too.
Right now his speech is a mix of vocabulary and phrases from these four languages (English from TV and movies, Spanish and ASL from his home-life, and Chinese from school). It's the cutest. It really is. He also speaks technology (operating his Dad's I-phone and I-pad solo, to play Vocabulary, spelling, and games with ducks in them). We share a common love for the movie Toy Story and the pass-time of misconjugating verbs.

Luca's dad works in China at a factory of some Spanish company. He speaks Spanish, English, German, Chinese, and some ASL and Japanese. His wife knows a lot of English and Chinese as well. They are unconventional Spaniards and I love living with them. Many days, I wake up to Luca yelling "Nye-Nye! Nye-Nye!" (Grandma! Grandma!) in gleeful tones, trying to get Consuelo's attention. Emma, the newborn, rarely cries and mostly just sleeps peacefully and beautifully in her mother's arms.

Sevillano life was continued with two very important Andalucian things:
Churros con chocolate and Trajes de Flamenco.
Churros are a typical merienda, or snack, here in Southern Spain.

Kelly and I went to get churros con chocolate one day after a rather dreary day of classes. I'd love to tell you we didn't finish this mountain of fried dough, but that'd be lying.

After that, I decided to go a little more native and dress a little more Sevillana.
Flamenco dresses are typical of the Spring celebration of Feria de Abril, that will occur the first week of May here in Sevilla. Girls and younger women all dress in them during this weeklon celebration of drinking, eating, and Flamenco music. It's kind of a huge deal. Sevillanas take it very seriously. And, of course, so did Christie and I:
Basically, Flamenco dresses are ruffly, eye-catching, voluminous, and heavy. And not to mention expensive (these costing 190 purchases were made).

This past weekend, I got a break from the heat of Sevilla, and experienced a trip of a lifetime.

I travelled to País Vasco, saw the Guggenheim Museum, and didn't get killed by ETA terrorists. Basically, it was muy guay.

My Favorite works of the weekend were by artists like Mary Cassat, Chillada, Grís, and Gaugin.
Above all, I loved the Guggenheim Museum building, itself. Frank Gehry. American ingenuity. Spanish, Seattle-like city (on account of all the creativity, greenery, urbanity, and rain--without the coffee I'm afraid). This city is off the typical tourist's path, but is growing in popularity, especially in the Art world. I travelled with my interest group Arte y Sus Raices, basically my Art club from the CIEE study-abroad program, to have a jolly good time in Northern Spain, looking at works of art that once lived in only in my dreams.

Life goal #46- complete-

The audacity and vitality in art makes life seem so tangible and seeable.
I can reach out boldly to pick it right off of some big tree and eat it when it's ripest, only to be left feeling satisfied. But not completely so, because there's more, and there will always be more, because there always can be more.
It's yours to discover.

I think that is the way we're supposed to feel after seeing man-made creations.
But I'm not sure.
Maybe, looking at a work of art is like watching a child mimic its father. Draw a tree almost makes a tree, but not quite. Not at all. But almost sometimes.
Art reflects life. Artists reflect God.
Only a reflection, an 'almost' that shows a relationship. Just as a child cannot be its father, but can learn to show his same kindness or graciousness.
We see so much and experience worlds within worlds.
Infinity can never be known, and yet there are incalculable things within each of our lives, no matter where we live.
It is impossible to tell you all about the worlds within my life. Or show you all of what I've seen.
But I try and will try, because I must.
See beauty and reflect it.

Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.
C. S. Lewis

Through the wall of my bedroom, I can hear Consuelo talking to her sister on the phone while she lies in bed. It's nice to be here, where it smells faintly of azahares and there are German cookies and Spanish words and, above all, where I can see a little of what the world holds. God has made it so, so full. We don't need a TARDIS to see universes (although, granted, I'd still leave to travel in the blue-box without a second thought).

I only have about another month here left. Above all, with this last month, I hope that life will be lived and more world will be seen. Reflections of the creator in the creation around me. I'll keep running along the river, speaking Spanish to those who will listen, and explore by travelling a bit more.

Wittenberg and Berlin, Germany, on April 15th.
Rome, Italy, on May 2nd.
United States of America, May 14th.

There is much more, as always. And I am ready to see it, hold onto it, and continue to reflect it to everyone else.

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