Sunday, August 2, 2009

I'm coming home...

Link to the photobucket page:

I’m actually going to be typing this while I’m at different airports. Basically to chronicle things as I go, to see if anything odd happens, if I think of something, or if I just want to type.

Before and after picture of Pico de Gallo, ingredients and the final product (delicious!)

I left my host’s place early this morning, the metro route from the El Carmen Station to Terminal 1, is a bit winding and I knew it would take a while. I eventually got to the airport at around 10:00 or so and my flight left at 1:00. Continental Airlines just happened to be the one on the other side of the airport, and the one with the line that stretched out for miles. The good news is that I found a group of people in line who were very friendly to pass the time with. They were with Teen Tour, a travel program that goes all over Europe for about a month to see the Continent. I started talking to one of them and then eventually the group (of 44 or so) got to know me. They looked at me wondering, “Who is this guy?” “Was he in our group?” and one came up and told me that I look like Nick Jonas… which I just found strange.

EXTREME PIG! Advertisement for sales at a mall in Alicante

They were a very odd bunch: all high school students going into their Junior or Senior year. The flight was about nine or so hours long but the time flew thanks to the videos and music they had for us. On a side note: if anyone has not seen Million Dollar Baby GO SEE IT! It’s much more than the generic fight film, it’s such a gritty drama that a lot of people can enjoy. After the flight I had to go through customs, and to my surprise they didn’t open my suitcase… they just let me pass. I didn't exactly look normal, I would've checked the suitcase of a man wearing mad scientist goggles and a fedora. I had finally arrived back to the United States, and it felt strange to be back, and not just because it was Newark. I looked around the airport found my gate and found some Internet to upload my last blog post about Alicante.

Alicante street at night

I logged on to check up on other things, say happy birthday to a friend, called home to say that I got here and check up on everyone. Eventually I looked at the setting sun on the Newark horizon and then realized something beautiful and strange at the same time. It was the fact that it was over, my study abroad had come into an end. It hit me harder than I thought it would, that I won't be able to wander through the streets at three in the morning without fear of getting mugged, that I won't be able to tan on a beach with people from all over the world, that I won't be able to be an interpreter for all my friends, and that I can no longer MAKE any more memories... that I could only SAVE them. Thankfully, I made as many as I could, so I don't have any regrets, doubts, or "what if"'s but rather a collection of stories and photos for the whole world to see. After letting that emotion swim around in me, warming me up a bit, I headed over to my gate, where my flight was leaving soon.

We found this poor guy in Alicante dancing OUTSIDE the club…

I decided to make myself stand out at the airport so I put on my mad scientist goggles (had them around my neck) and headed to the baggage claim. I waited out on the parking lot for a little while, people giving me strange looks. My family eventually drove up to find me and then saw the goggles. :D I went into the car the night draining us all of energy I finally got home to see my family again, my old home, and things were more or less back to normal.

I am exhausted from over 19 hours of traveling and waiting…

…and I declare these travels over.

It is not the hand but the understanding of a man that may be said to write.
-From Don Quixote

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Final thoughts in Alicante

Link to Photobucket page:

It’s strange really, I’m sitting here in the dark typing away at Microsoft Word, everyone is asleep and I still have homework to do, even though my classes are over. I would like to update while I’m here in Madrid but unfortunately my new host has no internet and I might have to do this a little late… as soon as I find a connection I’ll update the blog with this and then I’ll make two more: one on coming home and the second one as an information guide for people who want to learn all about Spain, Madrid, what to do in Alicante, and all that fun stuff.

Nicole and Maria juggling Poi.

The longer I stayed with my family in Alicante the stranger, crazier, and more interesting they got. Diego has a taste for black humor but is often a very quiet person, Nicole practices African percussion, boxing, poi, break dancing, and photography and is amazing at them, April hates you and then loves you for the slightest things, and Emilce is the most lovable person I know who jokingly makes death threats on a daily basis: "If I don't hear you speak Spanish at the table, I'll kill you."There is never a dull moment in Emilce’s home, always something crazy or with crazy people and I love them all. :D

Nicole playing with her instructor.

It seemed unfortunate that I left on the same day as I had an exam, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles and I didn’t get to do too much. Thursday night though, I made an effort to at least do something with my friends. It was Severin, Matthias, Jakob (a friend of Matthias from Austria) and I all went to the beach to watch the waves, relax, and ask me questions about the U.S.A. I told them the laws that we have over gun control, censorship, drinking, smoking, and other things like that. Eventually the conversation switched to more opinion based things like what’s the European view on America and vice versa, learning languages (they were all learning English, we were all learning Spanish, and I think German is interesting), music, and then a bit later on we went off to La Rambla to see what the rest of the city was doing. We met up with some friends; I said my goodbyes to most of them (some I saw the day after) danced a little and made sure that I got some sleep for the exam the next day.

(Left to right) Maria, Severin, me, and Jakob

I passed my exam that morning and had only one thing on my mind: go to the beach! Sure I’m already peeling like an onion, but when will I get to do this again? I met up with Maria and Vanessa at the beach and one last time I got to enjoy the warm air, hot sand, and the salty smell of the water with my friends. I said my goodbyes to the two and then I headed home to pack.

A drawing of all of the guests in Emilce’s home (plus April), held by April
From left to right: Amy, April, Natalia, Maria, Severin, myself, and Matthias

I got everything packed and I made sure to say my goodbyes to everyone, I gave my address to them in case they wanted to visit California to see the sights and everything. I sat on the Renfe train and somewhere in the back of my head something said in a tiny voice: “You forgot something…” and I asked it: “What?” and it replied: “No I’m not telling you” and I know it now! I left some food in the fridge! Ah well, they can have it, it probably only cost me about a Euro for all the ingredients anyways. I’d better tell Severin though, in case they forget. During the movie on the train, (Renfe has movies that play on its trips) I could tell how well my Spanish had improved. Usually when I watch movies in Spanish I have some difficulty on picking up words, definitions, and the subjunctive in general. I felt smart sitting there and understanding the movie without any help at all. It wasn’t exactly the hardest movie to follow (Bolt with John Travolta) but I still felt great being able to understand it.

Landscape on the way to Madrid from Alicante

I arrived at the Station in Madrid and from there took the Metro to my host’s place and then from there I started typing and here I am now. So now I think I will go to sleep, and enjoy the last night in Spain with sleep, I would do something more but I’d hate to miss my flight.

Jimi Hendrix street art in Alicante

I’ll see you guys in the States!

-Guillermo :D

We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand. If I don't seem as depressed or morose as I should be, I'm sorry to disappoint you.
-Randy Pausch