20.07.2015 - 24.07.2015 95 °F
Wow. Portugal really took it out of us this week. And yet, this was perhaps my busiest week yet.
Monday, Jane, Melissa, Zack, Ethan and I went to the pool with our conversation professor, Lore. We met an hour before "class time" and stayed for nearly three hours. She (Lore) is only 23 so she has kind of morphed from a professor into a friend. We meet her at bars for tapas and drinks, go swimming, and Monday we're going to her apartment to cook lunch and have our final goodbyes we talked briefly about her coming to visit Seattle. I think it was one of those things that was 80% joking around, but also totally serious if the cards fell into place.
Tuesday through Thursday we had our afternoon cooking class. From 6:30-8:30 we went to a university kitchen (funnily enough, operated by Aramark- can we not escape them anywhere we go?) (Aramark operates the dining halls and stores at Western, as well as most state prisons. hmph.). We started each day by cutting fruit for and mixing a very large quantity of sangria. Each recipe calls for 2 litres of wine and a litre of brandy (I don't know even know if I spelled that right. What is the metric system?). Anyways, so good. We drank it at the end of each class with our food. Tuesday we made gazpacho (to be eaten on Wednesday) and paella, which is basically rice and some onions and peppers and either seafood or chicken alongside an incredible pallet of flavors. We made ours with chicken (as with most meat in Spain, it wasn't processed at all- just a whole chicken chopped into pieces- bones, spine, organs, vessels, and all) which was delicious. Wednesday- day two- we made Spanish tortilla, which is essentially a pastry of sorts made out of eggs, potatoes, and onions. It looks incredible but it was yet another item I couldn't try due to the egg content. We had the gazpacho that day as well- although gazpacho is traditionally known as a cold tomato soup, ours tasted more like cucumber, which was a very welcome surprise. Thursday was dessert day. We made arroz con leche (rice boiled with milk and sugar then cooled for a refreshing evening dessert) and a Spanish version of french toast. You cut the bread, soak it in milk and flavors, THEN dip it in eggs, then DEEP FRY it, then ROLL IT IN CINNAMON SUGAR. It's quite crisp and sweet on the outside (think: elephant ear) but mushy on the inside. Mushy but delicious. Thursday was a delicious today.
Thursday and Friday (today) were my finals. I had had a semi-final in my conversation class the previous Wednesday. Thursday's final, for conversation, had an oral portion, a grammar portion, and a composition portion. The composition was two full pages of fictitious narrative, which was a challenging but fun speed-write. Today was the grammar exam. I'm not expecting A's from either class, but probably B+'s (not that it counts, study abroad is an S/U grade).
Anyways, I can't believe how quickly everything is wrapping up. Suddenly I'm counting my lasts and realizing that I've taken a lot here for granted. It's hard to say when I'll be able to make it back to Spain, but I think most I'll miss the architecture and the history within the pillars. You don't see this kind of stuff in the US- you don't sit in classrooms that people have sat in for 900 years.
Tomorrow is our almost-last excursion to Alberca. Alberca is a small pueblo, and I can't wait to get a little taste of pueblo life. It's a fun day planned. We'll have free time to wander the town before touring a wine cellar, which will conclude in a "surprise". What surprise could they have for us in the wine cellar? Then we get treated to a traditional three course Spanish lunch, and then we head to what's rumored to be a hella fancy pool for the afternoon.
Following, Sunday will be our last day here. It will be a day for shopping, washing clothes, and hopefully one last visit to Catholic mass. Then Monday we have classes and packing, Tuesday we get our certificates from the U, say our last goodbyes, and hit the road by 2:30.
Next stop Madrid (three days), next stop Paris (4 1/2 days), next stop HOME.