Thursday, June 23, 2011

Treasured friendships

What a great week and a half it has been in Spain. We spent 3 days in Madrid with Silvia. 4 days in Alicante with David (and were fortunate enough to spend a significant amount of time with Melina, Ana, Marga, Irene, Esther, Manolo, Vero (M´s gf), Natalia (David´s gf), Damian & Francis. What a treasure to be able to catch up with some wonderful friends after 11 years!

Alicante is in a time of fiesta right now. They are celebrating Hogueras de San Juan (Bonfires of St. John), which is a very young tradition of only 83 years. Similar to Las Fallas in Valencia, huge monuments are created by the 91 different precincts & judged for first prize. Then on June 24, all of the monuments are burned during la cremada. During the week, there is much fiesta, including many parades, las mascletas (fireworks & rhythmic explosions), as well as going out in the evening. Mike got has gotten a taste of Spanish life, staying up until 4 in the morning and then sleeping until 12 noon. :)

But really, we haven´t just been partying it up. We went to the beach, visited the castle of St. Barbara, got a tour of a bodega, visited and archeology museum, and have had a lot of great conversations over delicious food with some generous & hospitable friends. :) 

I´ve been slowly losing my English, particularly in Alicante where I´ve felt a little bit more in-between worlds than ever-- hearing Spanish in one ear, English in the other & having to translate one way or the other. It´s been good for me to be immersed so deeply again. In fact, as I write this, I find myself translating from Spanish to English in my head, and my dreams are all in Spanish again...that´s when you know you´re in deep. My friends have been patient, explaining and teaching me unknown words that I hear or read. I have a book that is full of words and definitions. Glorious. David teases me saying that he feels used for his Spanish... I´ll take advantage of him all I can. :)

On Wednesday morning we headed off to Granada to see La Alhambra. We had already pre-ordered tickets for Thursday morning and needed to make sure that we got there. However, we changed our plans and instead of going to Malaga & Gibraltar, we´ll be heading back to Alicante for Friday & Saturday to celebrate la cremada of the hogueras. Despite wanting to be go to those two places, I am grateful for more precious time with my friends & also some more amazing pictures of Hogueras to be able to show my students. From there, we´re off to Seville for some famous flamenco & more yummy tapas (of course). :)

Anyway, all this to say that we´re having an amazing time. I´m so grateful for the opportunity to share this with Mike, to be able to live life with my Spanish friends again, and to experience new things. It´s been a fun adventure and wonderful to be in a country where I can actually speak the language (despite wanting to speak a little bit of Thai every now and and again). 

Pictures forthcoming. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Dear friends

We love you guys. You will be dearly missed.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Worlds Collide

Real conversations:

Californians: Have you guys ever gone ice blocking?
Minnesotans: Ice blocking? What's ice blocking?
Californians: You go to the store, buy a big block of ice and then go sliding down a grassy hill while sitting on the ice block.
Minnesotans: Yeah... we call that sledding.

*Google ice blocking and you'll find all sorts of information & youtube videos! :D

German: I stayed in a wood house. It was made all out of wood and it was in the middle of the woods.
Minnesotan: Uhm... that's called a cabin.

Market Run

On Saturday mornings, a few of us ladies would run about 3 miles to the market to pick up fresh (and cheaper than the grocery store) fruits, vegetables, juice, flowers, and whatever food tickled our fancy that morning. Tuan & Mike started to get into the habit of playing games on Saturday morning and then driving to the market to meet us & find some yummy food too.

It took a long time for me to finally want to join in on this routine because I kind of covet my Saturday mornings and enjoy sleeping in past 6:30 on a Saturday morning, but time with great friends, a quick little run, and the market drew me in.

At the fruit vendor

Yei... 15 baht orchids (and yummy, fresh-squeezed passion fruit juice... delightful!)

Nothing beats fried bananas & pretty flowers

Cute dimpled lady that sells pork & red sticky rice... so so good!

Half Marathon

4 of us ladies rocked the "Hua Hin Heavy Half Marathon" at the end of May. It was quite the feat, as "heavy" indicated ridiculously steep hills for about 1 km. K-dub placed first in under 2 hours (Crazy girl! I swear she's built like a gazelle). Krista trained it up hardcore beforehand and finished in about 2.5 hours (plus she ran about an extra km in the wrong direction and had to turn around!) And Gaby and I stuck together and trotted in at just under 2:45... neither of us did (hardly) any training, which probably was quite unwise, but we accomplished our goal of finishing while simultaneously not dying. I can check a 1/2 marathon off my bucket list now.

Extremely real  fear... what have we just signed ourselves up for?!
The ride up to the top of the massive hill where the half begins
Starbucks reward for finishing, thanks Tuan & Mike
I definitely don't look as tired as I felt... I was just happy to be done.

Yei!! We finished!
Happy to be done... and now, cue the 3-day soreness over SALT trip for Kdub & me, where stairs were our greatest enemy.


Kdub won this massively heavy trophy & a microwave.
The shirts they gave us were ridiculously ugly... so Gaby and I bought new ones that better represented us. Unfortunately, as it was the end of the year and everyone is busy returning home for the summer, we didn't get a picture of the four of us together in our new shirts, sorry Krista!

OMG, you're hardcore!

Can't seem to get enough...

This lovely dish has been a favorite around here recently. It's called, winged bean salad and it's eaten with rice and a hard boiled egg. The green slices are the bean that look like 4 pointed stars (or wings) and it is mixed with shrimp, purple onions, lots of spicy peppers & some yummy sauce. It's delightfully good and I think I'm addicted...

Thursday, June 9, 2011

New Doo

Mike has a new doo. It started last Saturday when we participated in a murder mystery dinner & he was, Sandy Beachbum , a surfer dude. I liked it so much that he has continued to keep it up.


We decided to try to get a picture of everyone jumping...

It was more difficult to do than we thought...

...but we kept trying anyway...

It's harder to coordinate 5 people than it looks!

We definitely didn't do well, but it sure was fun...

I got the giggles & we started getting really tired of jumping...

...but we knew we had to get a good picture eventually, so we kept saying, "Just one more time!!!"
So close!!!
Success! (After about 30 minutes & 50 pictures...)