These past couple of weeks I have been exploring some of the natural beauty in the areas near Alicante. I’ve visited some parks and climbed some mountains. There was one farther inland from Alicante near a town called Alcoy which is very secluded and surrounded by forest. The other mountain was right next to the coastal city of Calpe. Spain has so much more natural beauty than I ever thought!
I also mentioned in my last post that I would be going to Carnaval, which consisted of a giant concert in the street and a whole bunch of food trucks sells all sorts of goodies like chocolate-dipped churros. Also, everyone was dressed up in costumes ranging from scary skeletons to silly fairies.
We visited “Refugios de la Guerra Civil” which are the bunkers that Spanish citizens would go to take cover when Alicante was being bombed during their civil war. I think they said that there were several hundred of these bunkers in Alicante and that it could hold up to 1400 people, although that would be extremely crowded. When the sirens went off the people would take shelter in the bunker for a few hours, but since they wouldn’t be sure when the sirens might go off again, people would often stay in the bunkers overnight.
This week I went with my friend Isaiah to play Pádel with a couple of Spanish friends he knew. Pádel is kind of like pickle ball and tennis combined, except that you have to play in a special court that has glass on half of the fence around the court and you can use the glass to bounce the ball off of during game-play. It was a lot of fun, and I made some new Spanish friends!
Next weekend my whole program is going to go to Granada together. There should be some really cool older buildings there full of history and plenty of sights to see.
¡Hasta la proxima vez!
The first month has ended and my classes have changed. I'm in the next grammar class up and I'm taking a culture class about Spain. A group of students and I visited a nearby city called Murcia a couple of weekends ago; the city was filled with beautiful cathedrals and quaint little shops. A couple of my friends tried some cooked octopus tentacle and I tried out their lattes - they did not disappoint. I've put a link in the videos section to my Murcia video on YouTube. We also watched Insidious: The Last Key at a cinema back in Alicante. The movie was all in Spanish with no subtitles, but it was very cheap - about five dollars per ticket and another five for their largest popcorn. We learned how to cook paella which is a pretty common dish here made out of rice, oil, an assortment of vegetables, and some type of meat like pork, chicken, or seafood.
Cultural differences time... If you didn't know, here in Spain they eat lunch at 2 pm and supper at 9 or 10 pm. They still eat breakfast around 7 or 8 in the morning. This took the most getting used to, but my body seems to finally have gotten used to being hungry later in the day. At sit-down restaurants there is no such thing as dividing up the bill so that each person only pays for what they got - you get one receipt and have to divide it up yourselves. You are also NOT supposed to leave a tip as the tip is already added into the price. One of the things I really love about shopping here is that all of their price tags already have taxes added into them so the price you see is the exact price that you will pay at the register! One other funny thing about Spain is that the people will park their cars everywhere! They park them on sidewalks and drive up on the side of the curb and when they do parallel park they're not afraid to bump the cars in front of and behind them to fit their car in the spot!
I started tutoring a couple weeks ago. I tutor two brothers, one is 12 (Sergi) the other is 5 (Marc). Sergi is in middle school; he has had some English classes in the past but this year all of his classes are in English because the school system here wants all their students to know Spanish and English. I mostly help him study for tests, especially in biology and English. Since Marc is still really young I mostly just play games with him and get him to practice numbers and colors. I have a picture of Marc and I below.
Side note: We eat bread with every meal here and it is delicious. We also ate at an Italian restaurant for a friend's birthday and their Italian food was much the same as it is at Italian restaurants in the U.S. I got lasagna of course. This Thursday we got to learn one of the traditional Spanish dances: Bachata. It was quite a bit of fun and it seemed pretty similar to swing-dancing.
That's all for now, but this weekend and throughout next week is Carnaval, which means there will be parties, concerts, and food all over the place. Think of Halloween and the carnival coming to town at the same time for a week along with concerts late at night and that's what Carnaval basically is. More fun and photos to follow... ¡Nos vemos!