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Bullfight

Yesterday there was bullfight in Málaga. I went. I figured it was something that I should see because it is very traditional and who knows how much longer it will be around!

There were two matadors who were performing that day and each matador killed three bulls. Each bull took about 15 minutes to fight. It was all much quicker than I had anticipated.

First, they set the angry bull loose in the ring and the three banderilleros kind of tease it to see if it is ferocious enough.

Then the picadores come out on their horses and stab the bull to open a whole in its back between its shoulder blades.

The poor horse ends up getting rammed a lot, but it´s wearing a lot of padding so it never seemed to get hurt. It was actually pretty cool because the horses would stay so calm and actually even lean into it to stand its ground.

Then the banderilleros come back out and they stab the bull again with fancy stick things to open up the wound even more so that the matador can eventually stick a sword in it.

Then eventually the main matador comes out, teases the bull a little more and eventually stabs the bull through the should blades straight down and (if he does it correctly) through the bulls heart. I have no pictures of this part because 1) it happens very fast and 2) I usually closed my eyes when that happened. Then the bull would slowly wander off to a quiet part of the ring to die alone. It was the saddest part. I felt like I shouldn’t watch that part, like the bull just wanted to be by itself. Like I was watching something private.

We also saw one of the matadors get hit by a bull. He was thrown into the air by the bull when he didn’t get out of the way fast enough and then was almost trampled, but the banderilleros distracted the bull away from him so he could get up and finish the fight.

It was definitely an interesting and unique experience.

This week is holy week and in Spain it is known as Semana Santa. Málaga is one of the most serious cities when it comes to Semana Santa. There are processions through the streets from Sunday to Friday and people come from all over to see them. Since my homestay is right on the main street in Málaga I can just poke my head out the window and see them go by. And, lucky me, I can here the drums and trumpets playing procession music from my room as well. Sometimes the processions don’t end until 7:00 in the morning.

This is a video I took from my window at about 2:00 AM last night.

http://youtu.be/xMOFIsn-Jmc

It is very interesting to see the difference between Easter in the United States:

Maggie, Bennett, and me last Easter

And Easter in Spain:

Members of a procession

The hoods that they are wearing are creepily similar to those that the KKK wear, however the “capirotes” as they are called has origins in early Catholicism and came way before the KKK.

Men from each region of Málaga volunteer to carry “tronos” in the processions which are large embellished structures which depict different scenes and characters from the bible.

This one was a depiction of the last supper.

Some of the members of the processions cover their eyes with blindfolds or bind their feet if they are praying for something extra big.

 

General Strike

Something that I have learned while living here is that if there is one thing that Spaniards love to do it is to exercise their right to protest. Ever since Franco died Spaniards have been stretching their democratic wings and have been enjoying certain freedoms which they previously did not have. I have witnessed a number of protests that focused on a wide array of topics.

Today in Spain there is a general labor strike. The two biggest labor unions in Spain organized this strike last week after an announcement was made by the current political party about further cuts in workers right. This means that basically everything is closed and all workers are supposed to be protesting.

Since I live in the center on the main street, I have been able to hear the whistling, shouting, and sirens since 12:00 am. It also means that only one public bus is running so I would have to walk to school which would take about two hours. Needless to say, I (along with most of my classmates) stayed home.

It actually worked out pretty well because I am spending the time packing and getting ready for my trip to Morocco tomorrow! I am traveling with ISA and we are going to Fes first, then we are taking jeeps into the Sahara to spend a few days, then to another Moroccan city and back to Málaga on Wednesday afternoon.

I am so excited to go! I have never been to a country like Morocco before and I can’t wait to experience it. I am a little worried about the food because I have been given so many speeches about not drinking the water or eating anything that isn’t cooked or doesn’t have a skin you can peel. My host mom also has me on a strict yogurt regimen to prepare my stomach for the Moroccan food.

Nonetheless I can not wait to go!

El Torcal

Today I went on an excursion with ISA to a national park that is about an hour outside of the city called El Torcal.  El Torcal is at the top of this winding hill. It used to be under water thousands of years ago but plate movements in the earth (and a lot of other geological stuff that I don’t understand) caused the rocks to shoot up out of the water. Since they had been underwater for so long they are very porous and made of material that is easily eroded. So as the wind and rain hit them they made cool designs in the rocks.

There were plenty of Lord of the Rings jokes to be made.

There are also tons of caves and crevices to crawl into!

Since it is so high up it gets very foggy very often…

The fog came in so fast, but it left just as quickly. Sometimes we could barely see what was around us.

We got to watch the fog role in. I am convinced it was technically a cloud.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a1ybki2N9WY&feature=youtu.be

We saw a random cow. Not sure if it was wild or not.

Wild rock cow!

It was a great day. I would take hiking through rock formations over a cathedral any day!

Valencia

I left for Valencia on Friday evening and of course, because I can’t travel anywhere on my own without something going wrong, my flight was delayed a half an hour and I managed to lock myself out of my phone.  This wouldn’t be a huge problem except for the fact that I was supposed to call Pedro and Mar, the family I would be staying with for weekend, upon my arrival so that we could meet up.

So, I put “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips on repeat on my ipod and settled in for the flight.

When I arrived at the Valencia airport I talked the employee at the information desk into letting me use his computer to look up Pedro’s number, then once I got into Valencia I went into a bar and asked to use their phone to call him. Luckily it all worked out and Pedro picked me up in his car and brought me back to their apartment.

The next day I started out by finding the apartment I lived in with my grandparents when I was in 6th grade. Luckily we lived close to Pedro and Mar’s apartment so I was able to quickly find it by walking 15 minutes down the street.

Our old apartment building

I used to go to the bakery at the ground floor of our building every day after school, so I stopped in and got an empanadilla for breakfast.

I went in so often that the baker would be expecting me. He would practice his English on me and would try to get me to speak Spanish, but I was too shy.

Then I continued walking around revisiting old memories until I got into the city center where all the fallas were.

One of the fallas with the falleras posing at the bottom.

I went to the mascletá in the afternoon and I took a video to try to capture how loud it is.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EfP_e6WxwW4&feature=youtu.be

On Sunday I spent the day in the park that was built in the dried up river that wraps around Valencia. I went to the large Gulliver playground that my brother and sister and I used to play on…

The children are the lilliputians.

I walked around the amazing architecture…

To be honest I don't remember what this building is... it just looks so cool.

and spent the rest of the day finishing the third book in the “Hunger Games series.

Pedro and Mar’s two girls were falleras so they had a lot of activities the whole weekend. They looked so adorable in their fallera outfits!

Alicia is on the left and Lucia is on the right. Mar is standing next to me and Pedro is taking the picture.

On Sunday the girls had a ceremony in which they walked in a parade carrying flowers to the virgin Mary. I didn’t get to see them, but I did see the offering in general which was pretty cool.

The falleras carrying their flowers.

More falleras with flowers.

The flowers are used to make her dress.

The virgin all finished the next day.

The trip was so great. I loved seeing Valencia again and Pedro and Mar were absolutely wonderful hosts.

I left on Monday night to return to Málaga at 10. We arrived in the Málaga airport around 11 so everything was pretty much shut down and deserted. The Ryanair employees directed us down a hallway which turned out to be a dead end except for an elevator. We were a bit confused, but me and about 7 other passengers got onto the elevator and, since there was no direction of where to go, someone pushed the number 0.  We were let off at what looked like what might be a baggage security area with a labyrinth of glass walls and doors which were all locked. We pressed the button to call the elevator back, but for some reason it wouldn’t come. So here we all were trapped in the Málaga  airport. After a lot of pounding on walls and yelling, one of the more claustrophobic passengers ripped one of the doors open and we all flooded into the now-empty airport and out into the night.

I think I might have bad travel-karma…

Valencia-bound

Tonight at 8:00 I have a flight to Valencia! Valencia is the city in which I lived with my grandparents for a short time while I was in 6th grade. This weekend is Las Fallas.

Las Fallas is Valencia’s big festival in which each neighborhood builds a big structure called a “ninot” which is usually satirical of politics and then at the end of the celebration they burn them down.

An example of a "ninot".

Then they set them on fire.

There are plenty of other things going on the during the day including La Mascleta which is kind of like a firework show, but without the lights and just magnified sound.

Sadly I won’t be there the night that they set the structures on fire because I have to be at school the next day… Blah.

But I am so excited to return to Valencia and re-explore everything that I remember!

 

Nerja Beach Day

Yesterday a group of friends and I skipped school and hopped on a bus that took us to a little beach town called Nerja an hour away. It was such a good way to spend the day! It was 77 degrees and sunny and we found a little beach that we had almost to ourselves.

Our beach for the day

We found a pig that belonged to a man who had a house right on the beach.

It's a beach pig!

We also found a dog… actually a dog found us. It relaxed with us on our towels for a bit before heading off into the beachy sunset.

We had a special connection.

We also saw a person harpoon fishing in the clear water near the rocks!

The water was so clear.

It was definitely a good way to spend the day!