Wednesday, September 15, 2010

First Experience as a Server

I walked into Carino's, proud and gleaming to start my first day as an official server. My first guest, looking in his mid 40's sat down waiting for his wife to join him. As soon as I welcomed him to Carino's, he asked me about Pasta Points. On the front of the menu it says in bold letters "ask your server about Pasta Points." I'm sure my facial expression resembled that of a deer or elk in the dead of night when your car lights are blinding them as you screech to a halt. My immediate made-up response contemplated for my deer-eyes. After a brief false explanation, I told him I'd return after finding out more from my manager. My first fib, and I passed! He ended up signing up for Pasta Points, and he had no idea I was clueless.

As the night went on each table, I'm sure, saw the mistakes I made as I brought food out late, forgot to greet them in a timely manner, or checked on them too much. We can skip the majority of those table stories; however, there is one that iced the cake to finish off the night. At this moment I had three tables. These two ladies sat down, and I brought out their drinks as normal. I brought their salads ten minutes later. They were a little flustered, but they just ate their salads without saying anything. When they were finished, I told them, "I'm sure you're food is coming right out of the kitchen." When I checked, I realized I never put their order in. I scrambled to type it in to the computer and ran to the manager to get the cooks to fire the meals up. Finally, around 25 to 30 minutes after they had finished their salads, I dropped off their entreés. They were not at all satisfied. One lady said, "we won't be mad as long as you get us two coffees and dessert... on the house of course" (with a smirk at the end). I replied promptly with an agreeing confirmation. Half way through their meal I asked the ladies what type of dessert they would like, and they said Tiramisu with both regular and decaf cups of coffee.

I ran to the bar to get the coffees just to be sent to the back of the restaurant. There was only one pot of coffee. I brewed the regular coffee, and waited for it to finish before I could brew the decaf. When I was just about to start on the decaf, another server came up to me. She said that the ladies wanted to know where I was and they want their coffee now that they had their Tiramisu. She said she had told them, we only have regular coffee right now. They ladies said they didn't care they just wanted it right then. I rushed to their table with the two cups, and the only reply, "well, can we get some creamer?!" In my frantic state, I just started crying and with a cracked voice I said, "yes, I'll be right back with your creammmmmerr."

A man from the table right beside the table with the two ladies motioned for me to come over to him. He grabbed my arm as I bent down and he whispered in my ear, "you are doing a fantastic job. The food is wonderful. The service has been excellent, and you have made my night more enjoyable." After I cleared up from my emotional break down, I finished up my tables to end my shift. The ladies left me three dollars, while the man left me a $20 dollar tip.

I just realized that I am not immediately amazing at everything. I had to work at this job, and it was going to take some practice.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

MUST HAVEs

These are a few items that my little heart desires at the moment.

Drop handle bars for my bike
tennis shoes
photoshop
itunes card because I have a billion songs I want to buy
backpack
nook
otter box phone cover for my 4G iPhone
car mats
magic carpet
flight to Cambodia or Africa
James Avery bracelet
Rainboots
A lamp
Bike rack for my carrrr
Bed spread
French press coffee maker
Coffee bean grinder
tea pot
a machine to mold clay
guitar lessons
video camera of some sort
Microsoft Office 2007 for my mac (is that possible?)

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

MIND BOGGLING!

Wow- not only did I learn about the way technology and our world really works, but would you look at this artist in the video? What a great way to visually stimulate your audience. The perspective of this generation really is completely different from the baby booming generation.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

1st time answering the phone at work...gone wrong.

Schedule for June 24, 2010:

7am: wake up
8am: technology in pfp class
10am: technical writing class
12pm: pick up iPhone 4G
1:30-3pm: get ready for work
3pm: do homework for pfp class
4-9:15pm: work
9:30-11pm: team meeting to work on project

As you can see, my day was PACKED!!! I didn't realize that I hadn't eaten until I was walking out of the library at 11 and I was talking to my friend about food. Wow- ditz. Anyway, check out the video to get the details about how I did answering the phone for the first time. Apparently, names are important?

Kyle and I Practicing our Dave Barnes Accent.

So.... I'm posting this after the day is pretty much over because all the power decided to go out in Ama's house; therefore, no internet left to post this vlog! So... here ya go!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

GOOD DAY!

I'll Take the Ticket and Keep My Arms & Legs, Thanks

So can I vent? I mean this is my blog... I suppose I'm allowed to have a negative post every once in a while.

This summer session has been horrible. I'm taking two classes, technology in personal financial planning and technical writing. Both of my teachers seem to either #1 hate their life and it shows in their occasional smile and rare laugh or #2 they love their job so much that they think we do too; therefore, overloading us with hours worth of homework.  On top of that I am taking another online course, History and not to mention I was just hired as a hostess at Carino's. Let's not forget about having a boyfriend because that takes work too. Not that having a job and boyfriend is bad.. it is a blessing!!! After all these accumulate, however, the stress and pressure can be over-bearing.

I signed up for this knowing I wouldn't have a social life the month of June but I didn't think that my actual friendships would suffer from it. I just don't have enough time in the week to pour into and spend quality time with any of my girls.  I'm bitter/ they're bitter - it just isn't a good situation.

Josh and I have constantly fought about me not giving him enough quality time; therefore, he doesn't feel affirmed and neither do I. He is trying to support me, but when eating and driving time don't count as quality time- there just isn't a spare minute in my pockets that I have to offer right now.

Let me tell you about my weekend and today, Monday the 21st.

I spent my Saturday doing about 4 hours worth of homework for my technology class, working, and finishing off my night with frustration after doing 3 more hours of homework. I did, however, get 8 hours of sleep before I went to church where Andy gave a fantastic sermon over Father's Day.  I joined the Hurst's for lunch. I had an hour to spare before we ate, therefore, to no surprise, I did homework, and followed up lunch with 2 healthy hours of more technology work before I went to work. At Carino's, it was my first day on the floor and my shift lasted 4 hours. At 8:30pm, I grabbed coffee and went straight to the library to finish up my assignments due at midnight. Some weekend.

This morning I was eager to be awake and lively for my technology class. I woke up at 7 and drank a cup of coffee while getting ready. I even did some things that I needed to do before leaving for school. In my 8 0'clock I realized that I hadn't finished my memo for my 10 o'clock class. I spent about 40 minutes writing that out about my how-to paper.  Then the printer messed up, and the computer in the alternative lab took 13 minutes just to load up.  By the time I wrote and printed everything off, it was time to go.

I walked to my 10 o'clock.  I had my 4 page paper with my memo all ready in my folder when I looked at the girl sitting next to me and her project. I did my project over a crochet potholder and she did a 32 instruction how-to over drawing a portrait.  It was in a 3-ring binder with a cover letter and table of contents.  Each page was nicely placed into laminated page covers, and each of her pictures had arrows to describe each step more thoroughly. She made my project just good enough to throw away.

I talked to my professor and he didn't comfort me by affirming his comparative grading rubric, which means my classmate's paper is going to blow mine out of the water. I struggled all day to be in a good mood, and even after my quiet time I was down and it was noticeable. After work, I was putting my left shoe on to go work out while I was stopped at a red light and somehow how I let up on the brake and tapped the car in front of me. The man was so sweet and after he took my information he asked me, "are you okay?" Thats when the crying started when I told him I was fine before I headed home bypassing the gym.

At this point I needed to be loved and comforted by someone actually here in Lubbock.  Josh, his dad, Haley, and Michelle were all at Ceta Canyon with no cell phone service. Janey was busy with her mom being in town. Amy and Diana were at work. I had already vented to Kyle that day, and Ama was at the pool. I literally in that moment felt so alone and helpless. I went home and cried myself into a nap for 2 hours.

After meeting up with Kyle and Diana for coffee and hanging out with Ama before bed, I realized that all that happened today was that Satan saw doors to tear me down and destroy what I had declared that morning, "a good day."  I just watched this video, and this man showed me how little my problems really are, and made me so much more thankful that I have self-determination to get through this summer session, and that a little nick on someone's car won't cost that much.  Not having any arms or legs might change that mentality for anyone. This guy is such an inspiration.

Check this out.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Diving for Discs

Today, I tested out the opaque waters at Mackenzie Park. I had wanted to swim with the guys before finding discs, but I just never had enough guts to go all in. Well today Lauren Riggs and I plunged right in. It was disgusting!!! The floor of the "lake" or whatever you want to call it, was squishy and slimy. Dirty is a given.  We fished for discs for around an hour. I found 10 discs total not even counting all the ones Josh found! After I got past wanting to be pristine and clean, I actually enjoyed sweeping the pits of the swampy floor blindly searching for a long time to find a prize.

This reminds me of all those situations that I just won't put myself into even though I know it won't be all that bad. I knew the water would be welcoming, but I was scared of getting dirty, of possibly finding a snake, or anything else that would potentially hurt me.  The same is for diving into my community. I'm walking around people who I know don't know the Lord, but even though I am sometimes given the opportunity for that spiritual conversation, most of the time I take the most comfortable route and stick to non-religious topics as to not put myself in a sticky spot.

Once I did finally jump in that water and realize that I could find some gems in the muck, I was okay with the grimy situation. I want to start reaching out to those around me not with the Jehovah-witness style and telling people the faith that I believe is correct, but by diving in, finding the muck, the dirty, and the story behind that person's life to bring out the gem in them they might not have known they had through Jesus Christ.

The Christian I want to be isn't measured in the good deeds I've done, how many friends I can get, or how many missions I've gone on. No, I want my Christianity to be radiant and obvious when a stranger, an outsider, an observer sees my actions, my love for others, my compassion, and my obvious relationship with the Lord.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Birthday in May?

So as most of you close to me know that back on March 16th, my birthday, I didn't exactly have the best day.  After missing the early bus to Madrid and catching another bus and riding in it for 8 hours to catch up with the group consuming my entire day, I was pretty tired finally getting to our hotel. My only desire was to play the games Spoons and there was no one willing to play. After that recap, you can conclude that my day was the average drag.

Yesterday, I was lied to, manipulated, and left hanging for hours as I waited for Diana and Amy several different times throughout the day. All this to say, IT WAS ONE OF THE BEST DAYS EVER!!!!!

I walked into Zack Esgar's house to get a game board so that Kyle, Diana, Amy, and I could play the game  Aggravation.  I hugged Zack's neck and he said the board was in the back. I walked around the corner to nearly pee my pants I was so scared when around 30 people all screamed surprise. I didn't even have words because I was confused about what was going on, why they were in unison screaming at me, and why there would be a surprise party for me.  

Diana and Amy planned out the entire party a couple of weeks ago. They called all tech junkies that like Lubbock too much to leave to join in on the fun.  I got to see several people that I haven't seen in over 5 months.  I felt completely loved and welcomed back from Spain. Sometimes I did wonder if my absence made a difference, but last night gave me a sense being wanted and it was a great feeling. 

We danced, ate, slack lined, laughed, then around 11 a big group of us went out and played sand volleyball until 1 in the morning. This day was exactly how I had imagined being welcomed back and I couldn't be more thankful  to God to have the friends He has blessed me with.

Thanks again Di Di and Amo for the surprise!!!! 

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Venice and a little Treviso

The bench where I sat at in Treviso


I slept, or laid in bed for as long as I could listening to the trains until I decided to get going.  I took everything with just in case.  I was planning on heading into Venice, but I decided to catch a train to Treviso, where Giulio said he would love to retire to.  Well, that is exactly what Treviso is, a great to live in  not necessarily to visit. I arrived and realized there is absolutely nothing to do unless you had friends there. I took a walk along the river and after a while I found a bench where the river split in two and the bench at the point of separation.  I wrote and read just enjoying relaxing and soaking in the tranquility around me.

Around 1:15, I decided to head to the train station.  By 2:30 I was back in Venice.  Because I had turned left from the train station in Venice the day before I decided to turn right this time.  I decided later that left is better.  On the right-hand-side, the residence area and the not-so-polished side of Venice took me wondering for a good hour.  It was still beautiful, but instead of gondola's, there were motor boats- The Venecian "car."  This is the side of town where the schools, super markets, business' not based on tourism, and pharmacies were.  Finally, I walked far enough, I ran into the port where an enormous cruise ship blew its horn at me.  The sun was blazing at 3:30 and the Gelatateria was spilling out costumers with an icecream cone in each hand. I decided that was a good idea, I conformed into standing in the long line. I bought a double scoop, chocolate and mint chocolate- my favorite.

I made my way down the border and through some of the small streets to find Piazza Marco where there was a pier dock where a boat-bus would take me to Murano, the glassblowing island.

On m way, this gondolier, 22 years old, asked me if I'd like to go on a free gondola ride.  I asked him if he was serious, and he said it was no problem.  I wanted to go to Murano, but I just couldn't pass up another magical gondola ride for free!  He asked me to wait 30 minutes until he could take me... I waited at a near by plaza.

He took me around for 30 minutes telling me the history of some of the buildings.  We passed by several churches, and one place in particular, Mozart's house, that is now just an apartment complex.  The gondolier's name was Andreas.. the V.  He was the fifth generation and he was driving his dad's gondola.  He pulled it up to a different dock where he puts it at night.  he helped me out and then proceeded to cover it in tarps and secure cushions, floor boards, chairs, etc.. packed tightly together under the tarps.  Andreas told me I could stay in his motor boat, but after second thought I declined and decided just to stay in my hotel.

It was 6:20m and I still wanted to make it out to Murano.  All the glass making is in Murano now because the entire town of Venice kept burning down and it was dangerous; whereas, Murano is an island so that if a fire ever does break out, there is water all around to put it out. I took a bus boat 40 minutes around to Murano.  I walked around a bit, then I went into a glass blowing shop. The entrance had small show cases of their glass and it was covered with white canopies.  In the actual building, anything you could think of this company made and original design of it.  I bought Freda a blue glass tiny container.  I knew she'd love it.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Venenzia

After Tiramisu that morning and drinking tea with Giulio drove me to the train station.  I hopped on the train to Venice at 10:35am and the when the ticket man came around he said that it was a 50 euro fine for not having my euro rail pass signed and 18 euros instead of 10 for not getting the reservation at the station, but he said everything was crazy because of the volcano that he wouldn't charge me.  Well, he only charged me 10 euros for the reservation.

Tom, the guy I was supposed to stay with in venice apparently a total creep.  Giulio told me around 50 out of his 500 couch surfers that he has hosted that have stayed with Tom said its a horrible experience with him because is surch a perv.  He is said to hang all over girls and he won't stop even if you say no. Therefore, I took the safe advice in my gut and I didn't meet up with him.  I actually didn't mean to, but I missed the train station stop I was supposed to get off at. I was to stop at Mestre Station before the actually city of Venice, but I ended up going all the way to the little island. Because I didn't have a phone, I couldn't tell Tom that I missed the stop. I went to an internet café, and I found an ugly email from him, but I responded and said I was sorry, but my plans changed. I decided just to spend the day in Venice alone!
I bought a new backpack for 15 euros because my sad little backpack was about to die.  After i crossed this bridge I asked a gondolier if I could take his picture.  He said it was much better if I was in the picture with him and he asked someone in Italian to take it for me.  I asked Victorio how much the gondola ride would cost and he said if I came back at 6:30 he would give me a ride for free. I was ecstatic! I was trying to find a coffee shop to sit down, have some coffee, read my map, and transfer everything from my old backpack to my new one, but it was too hard to fine one that would let me sit down without ordering food let alone alone just coffee.  I finally found a place where I could read my map and drink a cappuccino for a whopping 3.95 euros. So expensive.  All over Venice there are stage looking platforms in stacks, but really they are an alternative sidewalk when the water rises and floods the streets.

I sat down on one of them and put everything into my new Italian bag. When I was finished I ran into these two men, Stephen, 55, and Jeff, 43.  I could tell they were American so I asked where they were from. I actually said, "Where y'all from," emphasizing the Texan accent.  "North Carolina."  They were on a business trip.  They asked if I'd like to join them walking to Piazza Marcus with them, and I gladly accepted.

I told them about my backpack and as I was putting it in the trash can, they said someone might want it, so I went to set it on one of the platforms and Jeff decided he needed it for his souvenirs. It was perfect! Jess was entertaining as he looked into every single window of each store and bought several random souvenirs for his family.  I was able to get some good talking time in with Stephen though.  He told e his daughter who just graduated from Ole Miss and is now living in New York is a Pi Phi as well! On the way, Jeff bought me an espresso shot and bought us all Persian chocolates... they had hazelnut and I thought I was going to die they were so delicious.

In the Piazza, we sat down beside a live band, and they ordered a special drink kind of like sparking champagne for all of us. It was called Spritz.

They each had two and I just kept it at a polite one glass. The tapas, or small bite size snacks, provided included croutons with olive oil and garlic, two kinds of chips, and another bit size snack.  The bill totaled up to 70 euros!!!  I about peed my pants, but I still asked how much I owed.  Stephen said not to worry about it, that it was on him.

Jeff came up with the idea that Victorio might let them come a long for the free ride, but Jeff actually kept insisting that I be smart about taking a free right and really just wanted to make sure I was going to be safe.   We walked all the way back up the Guglie Bridge for 40 minutes and found Victorio.  I was able to ride in a gondola!!! Something I never thought I'd get to do! And even more, I rode for free with two friends!!! The day was spectacular!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Milano

April 16-17

I was sweating trying to run from my school, home, and then to the train station where the bus stop to the airport was.  I wasn't able to find the bus stop. I looked for 40 minutes and finally, I found it in the easiest location, right smack in front of Santa Justa Tren Estación.  At 12:15pm I loaded on to the over crowded stuffy bus.  I watched a girl tear up as she was telling her Spanish boyfriend goodbye.

In the airport I waited in the wrong line, like always.  After I asked the counter receptionist, I realized i to stand in the line with 50 people.  I only had 35 minutes before my plane was to take off and they closed the gate 30 minutes before.  An American guy asked the lady the same question receiving the same answer.  He stood behind me in the new l ine only 3 seconds before we started talking. The receptionist told us to cut in front of everyone- and no one said a word as we slipped to the front of the line.  Our flight was delayed and we ended up sitting next to each other on the plane.  The American, Ricky, sat on my right and the girl crying for her boy earlier sat on my left.  Its funny, I remember being so excited that I found a cheaper-than-dirt flight to Italy, but I realized the price measured fairly to the accommodation and service.  We walked out to the plane, taking around 10 minutes, then cramming into a seat with barely any leg room. Keep in mind, I'm pretty short. Randy, 6'9", would have come out of that flight with no knee caps...

Ricky and me
The flight lasted two and a half hours and with the delayed take off, I arrived at the airport in Milan at 4:30.  The race begins.  Giulio's instructions were to take the bus to the center of Milan, and take a metro, two different lines, outside of Milan for him to pick me up.  I didn't have a phone, so he said that he got off work at 5:30, but he would wait until 6:30 for me to call him from a public phone and be in the meeting place.  The bus ride from the airport to the Centro took 50 minutes- 5:45pm by the time I found a bus and got to the center.  He said it only took 15 minutes to the meeting spot, but I was still nervous. I felt as though I was involved in a drug deal!

Ihopped on the green line in the metro, but I realized I was going the wrong direction.  By the time I got off found out how to get on the other side of the tracks and got back to the centro, I had waisted so much time, and 15 minutes had ticked by!  6 minutes later I found the stop to switch and hop on the red line.  I was literally racing the clock hoping that this guy, whom I've never met, would wait for me. With 20 minutes before 6:30, I was worried I wasn't going to be able to find a public phone; therefore, I asked a younger man standing next to me to borrow his iphone. He dialed the number..the wrong one. He redialed then handed me the phone. Giulio answered and he said he'd meet me in 10 minutes ouside the metro station.  The second I handed the phone back to the guy, the subway stopped and he was already half way out the door before I could say "gratzie a mile." It was perfect timing.

I only waited a few minutes before a man in a suit and tie rounded the corner and asked if I was Elise.  He took me in his car out to his house which is in Rho, a small town right outside of Milan.  He taught me how to make Tiramisu. He also taught me the meaning behind it. The name is Italian, and it actually means "pull me up," which, is fitting because it is made out of coffee, sugar, and more sugar. He told me that the biscuits or cookies, as we would say, were made to soak up coffee and the special biscuits that we used would be extinct, or wouldn't be made anymore, but those still making this tasty dessert, keep the business alive. Afterwards, he showed me how to make Italian homemade pizza. I was loving every second of it!
Giulio and his pizza


April 17th

This is an interesting day.  Giulio woke me up at 8:40 am and by 9 he was driving me to the Centro Tren Estación.  It only took around 45 minutes, I decided to walk around and see some of Milan while I wait for Natalie to arrive.  Her flight was supposed to get in at 11:30 am and it takes an hour for the bus ride so I told her at 1:15 pm I'd meet her at the big staircase right inside the train station.


When I started walking around I saw this man dressed in army pants, wearing a red thick jacket with an army vest to complete his puffy chest look.  Steel-toed boots and a Jewish looking crocheted hat topped off his homeless-ragged outfit. I asked him if he knew where the Duomo was and he asked if I'd like to see a church with him.  I agreed without any way out, he took me to the church.  It was beautiful, but nothing different from what I've seen.  Afterwards, he told me that it wasn't safe to be alone and he would show me around the Duomo and go to a museum before I had to meet my friend.  We took the metro out to the Duomo and instead of going in front, he led me to the side- the exit.  I told him that I didn't think it was the entrance, but he ignored me and kept walking.  The side doors were pouring out tourists of all nationalities.  I don't know how but the guards let us by and we made our way in, upstream.

Once we were out, he started walking to the Museo del Risorgimento.  It was the museum full of Italy's history.  They had basically Napoleon's belongings, his clothes, swords, hemets, etc..  Honestly, the whole time I moving as fast as i could through there.  This man, Brazzini Enzo, in his sixties, smelled like he had bathed in cigarette smoke.  The stench was coming out of his pores and I felt this starting to take over my own scent.  I didn't feel safe anyhow with him and I loathed walking by him especially when he lit his next cigarette from the butt of the one he was currently smoking. It was actually exhausting talking in dumb English for someone to understand you.  I told him I had to meet Natalie at 12, so we started heading back to the metro.

I bought a metro pass and he had a pass that was for a 24 hour period, but apparently his ticket had expired.  He wasn't able to get through.  He told me to wait while he went to get a new one, but I took the perfect opportunity to lose him.  I told him "nice to meet you! Gratzie! Have a good day!" He couldn't object - there was nothing he could do. He just told me in broken English to "take zee metro on zee right." "Ciao" and I was free!

The afternoon was a drag.  I waited outside the train station by the bus stop for Natalie for 3 hours.  Then I finally gave up and went to an internet cafe.  She had sent me a message at 9 that morning telling me that the ash cloud from the volcano eruption from Iceland cancelled all flights for the entire day.  I had waited for nothing!!!!

I decided to call Giulio, but he was busy so he told me to wait until 6:30 and to call him then.  It was 3:30 pm at the time.  I hadn't eaten lunch so I decided to go to McDonalds.  I bought a cheeseburger for a euro! I know how to travel cheaply.. I sat there for an hour writing and looking at my map.  These two ladies had been sitting next to me and when they finished their meal, one of them came up to me.  She was a Jehovah's witness and she started witnessing to me.  She told me about her beliefs, that the trinity is false, etc.. and I argued with her for about 20 minutes, but in the end I told her I would take her stupid false pamphlet so she would leave me alone.



I wondered around the train station for 2 hours watching people and taking pictures.  At 6:30, I called Giulio back and he told me to meet him at Famagosto metro station at 9:15.. another 3 hours.

I went down to the metro to check exactly how to get there, and when I was looking at the metro map I met Serkan Avci.  His flight had been cancelled because of the ash cloud and he had nothing to do so we decided to go have a good conversation and pass the time.


He was also in couch surfing in Instanbol, Turkey.  He bought me this weird Thai drink, it was so sweet I could only take 3 or 4 sips!  It was made with Basil seeds! He was a nice guy looking for company, but I just didn't like the feel of the situation.  After two and a half hours, I took the metro and met up with Giulio.  He brought his friend Oana from Romania and we went to this pizzeria where 20 of his friends were waiting for us.  We all ate a pizza to ourselves, the size of a large Pizza Hut pizza, but the crust was extremely thin, so it wasn't as much as it appeared to be.  Mine had tuna, spicy salami, corn, mozzarella, and tomato sauce... I think thats all!  It was 9 euros, but Giulio paid for me.  I had a blast talking with all of the Italians.  We didn't finish eating until midnight!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Away to Italia and Swisa

Okay this is the first time where I'm starting to get nervous. I haven't been until today, but it just hit me. I won't really be traveling alone because I'll be Natalie and then I'll meet up with Logan, Nadia, and Julianna in Switzerland so it won't be that bad, but still.  Ill be fine just say a prayer for me daily April 16-26th.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Matalascaña

I don't have any pictures to show, because this Saturday was for pure relaxation.

After our big Spanish test on Friday morning, it was nice to get away to a warm beach on Saturday.  We met up at Plaza de Armas, the bus station close to the river, at 9:00.  We were thinking that the bus would leave sometime in that next hour, but we were wrong. Apparently on weekends, the buses run less than on the weekdays.... weird. We had to wait 2 hours and 3 different buses came to pick up the herd of students, international and Spanish, to Matalascaña. The bus ride was only an hour long, and every seat was occupied. Matalascaña is a small town and the bus stop drops us off close enough to the beach that we simply walk down the sidewalk and BAM! There it is.

6 of us girls plus the couple, Courtney and Ricky, found a great spot on the edge of the crowded beach. We laid there for hours just listening to music, reading, and talking. Then Nadia, Hayley, Julie, and I got brave enough to get in the ocean. At first, I couldn't even stand it on my feet, but once I caught my breath and after Nadia made me go under I was fine. The waves got big just as we got in and riding those waves were a blast!

We laid out a little longer and then made our way back to the bus stop.  An hour later we were back in Seville!

My kind of a Saturday. Completely chill with no obligations and many laughs.

I just made Ranch and I'm pretty pumped about it... just sayin' (:

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Sift Through the Travel.

Sip brown addictive grains
melting into smooth milky comfort
release any burden ever thought of
and rejoice louder than roaring trains.

Take tightly the offering
to boldly receive a ticket to
the blue shades to be seen differently
through laughter and suffering.

Whether it is bicycle, bus, train, or plane
the companion is remembered 
not the food or the hotel room.
In the countries those will remain.

A pack cannot fit what money cannot buy,
but the ink remembers how the garden smelled,
how the waiter spoke beyond comprehension,
and how all those bicycles passed us by.

Vines lushly curl around desires
to return defeating reasons of this world
and turning those grains, bitter and strong,
into a comforting taste that one acquires.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

March 31 and April Fools day in Tarifa.


March 31, 2010
We woke up around 9 and walked around a little to find a café for café con leche and breakfast. Around 11 we walked for an hour along the beach. The tide was so long. I describe it in this way because of the 200 to 300 yards of beach and shoreline was that massive. The tide came at least 100 yards and rolled back into the mar, ocean. It packed the sand with every swishing of the waves so walking on the sand was easy. We walked clear out to the very tip of Tarifa, which is almost a like a tear drop shap connected at the tip to the rest of the land. We weren’t able to actually stand on the very edge of the coast closest to Africa because it was part of the government’s private property, and it was closed off.  Nonetheless it was incredible to see Africa’s silhouette across the crisp blue Mediterranean. The mountains in the distance tempted me even more to jump on a ferry and cross the border. We had decided earlier not to go to Morocco because of the corrupt government and with our small duo, clearly American, both with blonde hair, blue eyes, light skin, and a touristy camera, our entire aroma is a dangerous target, but knowing me, I would have risked the chance! I'm a happy camper to see my Jesus early! I can’t wait to go next March with Dad though. Its going to be such a blessing. I’m so excited for that trip! 

We started walking back in the direction we'd came from again along the coast.. we watched a couple surfers, kite-surfers, people jogging- several with dogs, and many just enjoying the calm atmosphere of Tarifa's morning. The breeze was a bit chilly, but Tarifa is known to be the capital of wind surfers because of the excess quantity of wind passing through the Straight of Gibraltar. The windier the better for those practicing this challenging sport. Their kites are not just attached to a surf board, how I thought of wind surfing; rather, they are large kites that they hold on to letting the kites soar 100 feet in the air, and their board looks like a snow board with straps for their feet. They control the kite until they are ready and they make their way into the ocean and let the kite pull them through the waves. The immense strength and control the surfers have to guide them makes it look like a joy ride, but God knows that it is pure skill.

Honestly, the rest of the day is kind of a blur. We ate lunch and had the best mint green tea of my life! We tried to siesta afterwards on the beach, but 20 minutes laying down on that sand with the wind blowing, our bodies disappeared into the beach. We walked a little and took a nap back in our hotel room after we cleaned up from the dust-bowl-afternoon.  We slept a little longer than we thought and headed out around 7:30 to eat dinner. We caught a few processionals of Semana Santa and after walking around for an hour and a half we found a restaurant. We ate. He went to watch the last half of the soccer game. I went back and went to bed. 

The next day we left at 8:30am. The end. The beach was nice, but way too windy.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

3.30 Gibraltar's family & monkeys





Rock of Gibraltar- North Side



Loved the British signs.

8:30 wasn't a bad wake up call to catch a bus at 11 for Gibraltar from Algeciras.  30 minutes later we were walking across a landing strip for their military towards an enormous mountain made up of white, rock, brush, and caves.  We had to pass through passport control.  The "secure check" was us walking by the guards with the ID page of our passports open. They didn't even look at them.  With a confirmed head nod of the guards, we were through. Walking through the town, the abrupt culture change from the Spanish lifestyle to the British signs, buildings, and language was apparent. They were speaking British English and all the signs weren't in Spanish for once. I was having a hard time going into stores asking for things in English. I kept forgetting and asking them in Castellano, which they understood.   There was a few instances where I would talk in Spanish and the response would be “huh?” and I would have to repeat myself in English. The UK’s flag was flying all over the place along with Gibraltar’s flag with its crest and the European Union’s flag was the third to fly.  It was so unusual to see this town. So incredible to see the diversity. Not only do you see Spanish people speaking proper English, but there were several immigrants from Morocco speaking Arabic, and several still speaking Spanish. Of course there were some tourists speaking German, but the people were not the entirety of this diverse town. To see the port in the ocean and not even a 100 yards beside the water to see a massive mountain is ideal for someone who loves the beach and the mountains. So amazing how God could make a piece of land with such breathtaking structure. 


            Looking for a place to have our daily coffee, we spotted a sign above our heads that said The Methodist Church of Gibraltar and another sign above it saying The Wesley House. This brought me back to Josh's family and all the people at the Wesley Foundation at Tech. My friends. Just to have a piece of home I made my way inside. We went up the stairs following this Spanish looking woman. I said hello and she asked if I was going to take a cup of tea or lunch in the cáfe. She spoke perfect English. She was a sweetheart. Her name was Peely, if thats how you spell it! She was Spanish herself, but her husband was from England. He is a pastor in Gibraltar and his recent project is launching another church on down the East coast of Spain not too far from Gibraltar. I told her all about the Hurst family. It was nice to be so welcomed. I'm not surprised though. We are family in the body and I felt so comfortable with them. At this point my sunburn had hits its peek rosy color and it didn't seem to phase them at all. I told them that I was embarrassed, but they told me not to worry and just to put some creme on it when I explore the Rock. 


Me and Peely



you can really see the burn on my right arm.
there is a distinct line!

I ordered their special, pea soup that had potatoes, carrots, and German sausage bits in it.  Greg ordered their other special, English breakfast with German whole-link sausages, mashed potatoes and gravy with a side of vegetables.  We both had a cup of coffee (American size!) with this hot apple pie/cake with vanilla bean icecream. Greg also got hot lemon tea with his dessert. His was definitely a flavor from home. The entire meal was beyond delicious. We were asked to sign their guest book and also a petition for one of their projects helping the orphans in Morocco. Their sanctuary was a simple meeting place with chairs and a place for the band and a section on the side closed off with curtains for a prayer room. They were so kind to show us around and they also let us leave our bags there for the day so that we could take the cable car up Gibraltar's Rock and hike down it looking at everything. 


I talked Greg into buying tickets taking the cable car up. I did not want to hike up that hour long windy hike so the compromise was to hike down it. We paid 16.50 euros total because we wanted to get into St Michael's Cave and the other historical landmarks that we probably would have had to pay extra anyway to get in to. The cable ride was maybe 3 minutes long. Completely worth it! With our package deal we got a head set telling us the history. I really appreciate history when its not shoved down my throat and I'm not asked to spit it all back up on an exam. 


Gibraltar Ape

We started out on the trail and the very first thing I saw, besides the incredible view of the port and the town, were two monkeys just chilling on this concrete ledge. People were walking by one after the other taking pictures getting extremely close and they were just chilling. As long as you don't tamper with them and you don't touch them they could care less and are completely harmless.  Greg didn't see one and walked right up to it to look over the ledge. He was less than a foot away from it and when he did notice I think he jumped like  2 feet. hahah they are kind of intimidating to be really close to. The ape didn't do anything except look at him. There was an instance where I was trying to take a close up of this one monkey and it was on a fence post and it looked like it was running to attack me but it was running past me to leap on to another fence and I screamed bloody murder turned to run and ran into another lady. haha. I quickly calmed down, but that was a weakness of Elise Peak right there!


We did see a guy that had just been bitten by a monkey.
There is a reason for these signs!

We walked all the way to the south end and looked out over the Straight of Gibraltar to see Africa's silhouette in the distance.  We also got to see this canon that was enormous. There is only one other canon that size in the world! The canon had to be operated by 35 men and the blast was so tremendous that the townspeople were told to open their windows to avoid them from shattering.  

Monkeys are literally everywhere! I loved them! Also, seagulls were a huge part of the Rock. They swarm the grassy areas looking for food. They make a horrible caw but they are so beautiful.


Kind of dark- St. Michael's Cave

My sunburn made this hike interesting. Because we were on a mountain and on the coast of the Straight it was really windy. The breeze was cold but it was sunny enough that hiking made me hot and sweaty. I wanted to take off my jacket but I didn't want to burn more and I was cold because of the wind but still had a burning sensation inside my humid rain jacket. The weirdest feeling ever. We hiked down to St. Michael's Cave. It was incredible and so big. I loved seeing how deep it was. But it doesn't hold a candle to Carl's Bad! GO DEIDRA! The legend has it that this cave is actually a secret passage way to Africa and that is how the apes came to be in Gibraltar, but no ones actually knows. There weren't any bats but there were several barred off sections that I could tell I could probably have climbed quite a ways in to. (Its probably good that I wasn't allowed to explore because I definitely wanted to!)  They had also built a small stage which was really neat. They were playing soft music through a system and it was a cool experience to hear how it reverberated off the walls. 


The Moorish Castle of Gibraltar

To get down the Rock, the fastest way was to climb down these steep narrow stone stairs. After walking down 4 long flights of them, my legs gave out and if it wasn't for the hand rail and my speed-lightning reactions I would have ate it, but thankfully I caught myself. We had to walk clear to the north end because the stairs stopped which led us to The Moorish Castle of Gibraltar. It was interesting to see how much they restored and preserved it. First built in 711 before it was rebuilt after much destruction.  

Finally, we made it downtown.  We found a hole in the wall café in an alley way off the main road. We both had a café con leche or I guess a cup of coffee with milk in a British accent.  And we ate a coffee cake to go along with it. We enjoyed a good 45 minutes of writing postcards and reading before we headed back to the Methodist Church.

We got our bags and headed back through passport control to the bus station. It was easy to catch a bus all the way to Tarifa and it was super cheap, only 3:85 euros. I would say the day was an absolute success. Me encanta Gibraltar. 

March 29th RRRRRRonda

Ronda


After our second night in Málaga we took an early bus out to Ronda. First I have to share our embarrassing story for those who care for a sole chuckle. We set the alarm for 6:45am because the bus to Ronda left at 8:00am and the next one didn't leave until 10am. Wanted to make the most of the day so we decided the night before that we were going to leave early.

6:45am's jingle came on Greg's phone and of course he turned it off. We slept in for 45 minutes later.  When we finally pried our eyes open Greg asked me, "what time is it?"

"7:30" I said closing my eyes again.

"If we get up and leave right now we can make it just in time," Greg proposed.

Not even 10 minutes later we had shoved every belonging into our backpacks, brushed our teeth, stripped our beds of the sheets we had to return and were scrambling downstairs. We grabbed a couple of muffins and raced out of the door.   We had around 15 minutes to get there which is exactly how long the hostel website told us it would take on foot to get to the train station.  They must've been running/ walking as fast as we were. My feet hurt so bad in my little TOMS shoes and one of the places where my sunburn hurt the most was the front of my armpits and shoulders, conveniently right where my backpack's straps sit.  I was trying to keep up with Greg juggling our muffins, a jar of jelly, and my back pack.  I hadn't taken a shower in 3 days more or less (don't judge me!) and I hadn't touched my hair since the beach the day before. I was looking rough walking funny as fast as I could holding all these things while trying to hold my backpack straps to save my skin the burning sensation!

Going straight down Heroe de Sostoa street we hit the train station, walked through it, around a corner, and finally to the bus station. Spain time means late time. They are always 5 to 10 minutes late because that is their unsaid custom. So we weren't too worried. As soon as we went to the ticket counter we were out of breath letting our Spanish flow out exactly what we needed. They said the bus leaves in an hour. We were in disbelief! We knew that we could probably still make the one at 8am!  We kind of argued saying that we wanted a ticket for the 8 o'clock bus not for the 10 o'clock and he said that we missed it by an hour. We thought he was crazy because he kept pointing at his watch. 

It finally dawned on Greg as he asked me "what time does your watch say?"

"7:58" I answered.

This was the "spring forward" day for Spain.  The clocks were to be changed one hour ahead during our sleep. The time on my watch and Greg's phone has to be manually changed and of course we hadn't changed it yet. That morning we completely blanked even though we had talked about it the night before. After painfully rushing to the station we could have taken that hour to take a shower, eat properly and comfortably walk to the station. It was actually 9:00. As I walked to the restroom these two men laughed hysterically at my red-lobster body. I was wearing shorts and a tank top and although they think I can't understand their Spanish gossip I understood every word! I went to the bathroom and gave myself to the best of my ability a sink bath fully clothed washing my face, arms, etc... These ladies stared at my face and arms for a good bit. Finally, I just laughed and said, "ay me duele mi cuerpo y mi cara!" (Ah! my body and my face hurts!)  That broke the ice and they asked if I had sun tan lotion or aloevera. They talked to me for a little longer while I tried to make my hair look less like a hobo's.

The 10 o'clock bus left with us in it. Ronda was only an hour away and it only cost us 4 euros. Carrie Thornton had told me about this beautiful pueblo, little town, but I didn't take her full word for it until I saw it for myself. The depth underneath bridge is breathtaking. The beauty of the canyon exceeded every expectation I had. We walked across one of the famous bridges, Puente Nueve, new bridge, which apparently is the newest. We unfortunately didn't make time to see Puente Romano or Puente Viejo, but I blame it on the rain. As we explored the New Bridge and the hiking trails around it the weather was perfect! From walking from the side of the bridge, over it, and on the other side, there was never a moment when we weren't peaking over the tall ledge to get a bird's eye view of the pais, country side.


The Bridge and the left hand side of the old town


The right hand side and a little bit of where we hiked.


We started down the stone pathway, around and down until we got into the tiny dirt paths that led closer to the bridge's waterfall.  It was a blast actually getting to hike regardless of the wrong choice of shoes I had to wear. I forget how much I enjoy outdoorsy activities. It was great to climb into several caves and look at how a city was built on top of an ancient city's water system that had been dried out. The Moorish aqueduct had several tunnels where the openings were found in these caves and along the cliff's side close to the waterfall. You know you are about to get some major cardio work out when it takes a good hour to climb down the mountain side and you are about to reverse and retract going upwards. The first part of the returning hike wasn't bad because it was mainly level gradually going up on the mountain side, but when that stone path began I about died. I could tell that I had been studying abroad and heavily slacking on exercising daily. The sad part was, I was taking it easy ascending, but my lungs could have cared less as I was sucking in the fresh mountain air.


Me with the Puerte Nuevo


El Puerte Nuevo and the waterfall


This is a view from beside the bridge looking at the houses above the cliff and river.


We splurged a little and ate a great meal close to the cliff side eating ravioli, olives, bread, and fried eggplant with honey. To enjoy the rest of the day we spent an hour waiting on the rain to die down as it had started after we ate. We headed to Algeceras, a dirty port town close to La Linea which is where we wanted to go the next day in order to get to Gibraltar. Our hostel was super sketchy and not clean enough to take a shower barefoot, but it was cheap and a came, bed, to sleep in. I was thankful.