Current Anxiety Level: 2
11.09.2014 - 13.09.2014 87 °F
My second week in Granada has officially come to a close, friends, and as it is Sunday morning and I am feeling no motivation to get up currently, I thought I would update the blog! Not only did I turn twenty one this week but I also hiked/ walked more than 10 miles on Friday in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and went to my first Spanish club (briefly) last night!
Turning twenty-one abroad was definitely weird and wonderful for a multitude of reasons. For one thing, the drinking age in Spain, as in most of Europe, is 18, so it takes the thrill out of ordering a glass of wine to celebrate. In the US, I will probably get carded regularly until I am at least 30, but here, the waiters and waitresses couldn't care less. The drinking culture is so different here, especially coming from a place like Wisconsin. The objective isn't to get as drunk as humanly possible so you can tell your friends, "Oh my god! Last night was so crazy! I barely remember anything!" Here, you have a glass of wine or two when out with your friends. You have a few drinks when you go out to a club to dance, but the aim isn't getting drunk so you can dance, you are just drinking a bit while you are dancing. (And this is all spread out over a period of like 6+ hours, because most Spaniards who go out do so from like 10:30pm until like 4:30am if not til later.) So for me, the transition to more relaxed drinking culture of Spain has been easy. (Trying to stay awake long enough to experience the night life? That is another story)
Overall, I had a nice low key birthday. My host mom surprised me with a gift and a card when I got home for lunch, which was incredibly thoughtful of her. Otherwise, it was pretty normal day. Jenni and I went out for tapas and a drink after dinner, and she pick up the tab for me, which is evidently Spanish birthday tradition. And then we were home by 12:30. I know. Very crazy. Watch out world. But it was nice. Not being home, it didn't really feel like my birthday, so I would have felt weird doing anything insanely extravagant.
Ironically, despite all this, I still missed class the next day.
I woke up Friday morning feeling perfectly fine but as the morning progressed I just started to feel awful. I felt achey all over and light headed and tired, and I had no idea why. The previous night I only had one drink and that was at 11pm and I had felt fine the rest of the night. I hadn't gotten to bed until 1 or a little after, but that was pretty typical of my nights in Spain and I hadn't had any issues so far…but for whatever reason, I was not feeling my best. I tried to push through it. I grabbed all my stuff, ate my breakfast, thinking that maybe with some food in my stomach the feeling would pass, and took some tylenol for good measure before Jenni and I started walking to school.
After the first half a mile, I knew there was no point in staying for class, but I kept walking because I wanted to let my professor know why I wasn't coming. Of course, she knew the previous day had been my 21st birthday, and I didn't want her to think that I was one of those people who got insanely drunk on a weeknight and bailed on class the next day. This combined with the fact that I generally hating missing class because I associate it with when I first started to have anxiety. (Side Note: My anxiety and panic disorder became more pronounce in high school when I started having panic attacks in my classes, so I would often need to leave or would end up not going altogether. So I only like to miss class when I have a really, really good reason. Like if my arm falls off, which luckily hasn't happened yet...But I digress)
I found my professor relatively quickly upon arrival and started to explain that I wasn't feeling well and maybe I would stay for the first hour before going home. Before I even got the last bit out, she interrupted saying, "Just go home, it's fine, it's fine." I explained a little further, at a loss to explain why I was feeling so gross, and she just said pragmatically sometimes these thing happen for no reason and I should go home and rest.
With that out of the way, I didn't feel guilty about going home. I got home a little after nine and slept another two and a half hours and just laid around in bed until lunch alternating between putzing on my computer and falling in and out of sleep. But lunch time I started walking around and moving to see if the feeling had passed because Jenni and I and a few other students had planned on going for a hike that afternoon and I didn't want to miss it. I gave it though lunch before deciding that the morning had been a fluke and combination of a bunch of things together like stress, lack of sleep, etc. So I decided to go.
After lunch, Jenni and I met up with our friends at one of the main Plazas so we could all find the bus stop together. The town where the trail is located is about twenty minutes outside of Granada by bus. Of course, what our program director hadn't told us when we asked is that the road to get to the trail is a steep, windy road that goes on for a bit more than a mile. So that was an exciting surprise. By the time we had found the marker that pointed us to the side road that lead us to the trail (another 15 minutes, but in the shade this time and not all up hill) we were all sweating up a storm. And we still had about a three hour hike ahead of us. Also it turns out that the map our director had drawn us was more than a little ambiguous ("Turn right by the restaurant and the farm but if you hit the parking lot you have gone to far"…Ah yes. The *one* restaurant and the *one* farm) so we did a far bit of asking to make sure we were going in the right direction.
Here are a few pictures of our view from the top of the road:
Once we made it to the actual trail, it was easy enough, aside from a few confusing places were the trail branched off in two different directions and there was no helpful scarecrow a la Wizard of Oz to point us in the right direction. So we just picked one and that ended up working out surprisingly well for us. The trail wound around next to a river that started off a small offshoot but grew as we progressed. A few of us decided to dunk various items of clothing or hats in to stay cool, and thus I passed the majority of the three hour journey with a wet scarf haphazardly draped around my head/ neck. Very fashionable indeed.
The trail itself was an adventure. At times, there was plenty of space on the path, but other times we were inching around a narrow path next to the river. The drop off was only about 5 or 6 feet, but still it wouldn't have been a fun tumble, so we alternately ducked, crouched, swung, and crawled through different parts of the journey. Different sections of the trail were connected by a series of 4 suspension bridges, which were about as cool as they were wobbly and vaguely terrifying.
Here are some of the bridges and the trail itself where aforementioned ducking and crouching occurred:
Although it was a long walk, it was beautiful. Because we came in the afternoon, we got to see the sun start to hang lower and lower on the rocks, radiating the most vibrant orange. At the end of the trail, there was a small waterfall where you could do a bit of swimming if you were so inclined. The water was about 40 degrees but I waded in with my shoes off and stayed soaking my feel til they started to feel tingly from the cold. We relaxed for a bit there, eating our snacks and talking before we turned around. The walk back was markedly faster, now that we, you know, knew were we were going.
We didn't get back to our homestay until nearly 9 pm that evening (after leaving at 2:15ish) so suffice to say I was exhausted. Also I really had to pee.
Saturday started off a bit later, which was nice because it gave us some time to recover from the previous day. Our host mom departed in the morning to spend the weekend with her brother and other members of her family, so we were left to our own devices. No, we did not set the building on fire. We are saving that for another time.
Around 3:30, we set out to meet some friends to go shopping. My roommate was convinced that there was an open air market in the old Arab quarters of the city, so we went on a wild goose chase to find it only to conclude that the open air market that we were looking for was the one we passed on the way up (20 minutes prior). So we retreated to look at the little chotchkies for a few hours. Also, Europe fashion alert: Hammer pants (or as my roommate calls them "Genie Pants") are back in. Or at least, they seem to be because they are sold everywhere in the open air market (I have a sneaking suspicion that they appeal so much to the tourists because they are the only pair of pajama pants you can wear outside your room with being socially exiled in Spain). But hammer pants on hammer pants on hammer pants. Enough to make MC Hammer swoon.
We returned to our homestay around 6 for dinner before we would reconvene for tapas at 10:30. And because our house-mom was out, we didn't have to eat until we were about to explode. It was a strange feeling indeed. We tapas-ed (it is not a verb technically but it is one now) for a few hours with our big group discussing important topics like our favorite spongebob quotes (If you ever need an ice breaker, i highly recommend it in all cases, ever). With our drinks, we got some sort of chicken covered in a sweet marinade on top of a piece of bread with some french fries and it was delightful, as free food generally is! After that, we all started walking to the club which was about 15 minutes away. When we got there we realized we were hideously underdressed. Part of the problem was that there was a wedding party that was going to the club as well so imagine us Americans, me in my shorts and Converse sneakers standing next to these tall willowy women in literal ball gowns and heels tall enough to make me wince. By some miracle, after some big guy asked us if we were on the list (I laughed at him before I realized he was serious), we were let in and us ladies didn't even have to pay. Now it was around 1am by that point and we made our way up to the patio that looked out on the Alhambra which was still lit up on the night sky. You would think 1 am would be a pretty hopping time to go to a club, but no. Typically Spanish party life livens up around 2 or 3 and dies down around 6 am. Yeah...no thanks. We danced a little bit before Jenni and I headed back home for the evening. We weren't out too late and I am sure one of these days we will make a real go at it and maybe manage to stay awake for the full nine yards, but we shall see.
Alrightey, I shall wrap this up! But again, I say it every post but I mean it sincerely, thank you so much for reading and caring enough to take a peek!
Thank you to the Helen Barr Rudin Grant for making this blog and my adventures abroad possible*