Sunday, July 17, 2011

Good bye Dear Friend

This week I said goodbye to a dear friend--one that has been with me for more than 25 years--has been with me through thick and thin. This week, I said goodbye to my great toe nail on my right foot.

The picture above shows my toenail in its' former glory. Stable, thick, reliable and beautiful! I mentioned earlier that while I was vacationing in the Canary islands that I stubbed my toe pretty badly on some stairs. Well, the toenail finally came off! I miss my toenail. I am sad I have nothing to paint. My first solution was to cut some surgical tape out in the shape of a toenail and stick it on, but that takes too much time. Instead, I just place a square of white tape over the top of my toe and call it good.

but let me tell you a slightly disgusting secret (don't worry I won't post pictures) It was rather satisfying to remove it once it was dead and no longer caused pain. I maybe shouldn't say that on a public blog, but it was satisfying! Some people find satisfaction in peeling a sunburn or popping a zit. Maybe it is similar to that. TMI? yeah, I thought so.

Moving on..........

This week has been good. I have made some progress with Spanish and have communicated to strangers in stores and have asked directions. I say things wrong all the time but that is part of the learning process. This week I went to a couple family parties for Ulises extended family while he was at work. Every evening when he goes to work I am put in a situation where I have to communicate without my translator and this event was no different. This time, however, I had little kids to talk to. That was fun. I feel less awkward around them. I will have to talk to kids more! But, yeah-- I will continue to study more each day and improve little by little. But honestly, when I come back to Spain again next year, I think I will invest in language classes.

This week has also been good because I went out and discovered the city for myself. I really appreciate Ulises and his family and how they take care of me, but there is no way for me to learn my way around unless I struggle through it myself. So although they were worried while a 25 year old girl with no Spanish abilities went out to the big city on public transportation alone, It was a success! I took pictures, went to the park, ate a picnic by myself, bought a map and traveled around and even figured out how to get home on transit. I took buses metros and trains along with walking. I bought some bread in a store, asked some directions from a man in the train station and had a great time working it out. I'll have to post the pictures soon. I also got proposed to by an Indian man! I went into a gift shop outside a tourist place and when he found out I was from the states suddenly everything in his store was 50% off and then he invited me back from some Indian food. I declined and told him I had a boyfriend. He said if I changed my mind to come back and he would cook for me and marry me.

I don't know what adventures this next week holds. I hope to go to the beach again at least. I also plan on tricking Ulises into going to the Mexican restaurant I found on my run there the other day. There aren't many Mexican immigrants here in comparison to other immigrants so there actually is hardly any Mexican food. I miss it a lot! Ulises says he hates it but he just needs to give it another chance. I will either take him to this restaurant or make some myself!

I'll give you the update next week

hasta Luego

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Beach and other things

So as many of you know, Barcelona is located very close to the coast. I am living in a part of Barcelona called Castelldefels. Everyone says that Castelldefels is one of the most beautiful sections of the city because it is situated so close to the mountains and the beach. It only takes 15 minutes to run to the beach. I haven't done it yet, but I think the distance to the side of the mountain is probably 25 minutes.

The beaches are white and beautiful. The sun isn't too hot and the water sparkles! On windy days people get out their boats and their parachutes and ski on the water. While I mostly go to the beach to have my run, I have gone to the beach a few times to swim.

The beaches here in Spain are....different. People go to the beach with their families and they behave like they are at home! When I told my mother about the toplessness of the people she was absolutely shocked. She asked "Aren't there some beaches where they don't allow topless people?" and the answer is No. Its socially acceptable here and it would be strange to ask someone to put on a top (although many times I am tempted to do just that!). While I was 'weirded out' by it at first, now it is easier to ignore. Some things are still a little shocking though. It seems no matter how old or overweight you are, toplessness is acceptable. That is harder to ignore *shudder*

Can you believe some people even wear thongs? eww. That is never ok.

Yesterday we went out as a Relief Society to the beach to do Yoga. Niza (Ulises 20 year old little sister) and I were the only young ones. 4 other older women came. It was a lot of fun and we followed one of them as our Yoga instructor (Although I'm pretty sure she had NO idea what she was doing, it was still fun). It was surprising to me that even among the relief society sisters, string bikini's were normal (remember how I said they were old? and did I also mention overweight?) It was a little strange and to be honest, somewhat disheartening. Old habits die hard and many of these women are converts who bring with them old habits. But this isn't something insignificant or trivial. I want them to know this is one way we can really shine as a light to others.

I guess this situation with modesty has had me thinking a lot about how I will raise my children. While I think there is nothing indecent, wrong or sexual about a naked baby on the beach or kids running around without shirts, to avoid potential problems with my kids when they are making the transition from childhood to adolescents... I will just be sure they are always dressed appropriately.

if any of you have thoughts on the topic, please leave a comment!

So what else have I been up to?

Well, I am learning spanish slowly. I am beginging to get better at communicating with Ulises family. (but maybe that is because we are getting better at charades). I need to be more dedicated studying Spanish, that's for sure! Today Daniel (Ulises dad who is the bishop) told me that I will be speaking in church the last Sunday in August! I'll certainly need a little more Spanish under my belt to accomplish that! My theme?.... Temples and Eternal Marriage... ugh! Lovely, isn't it....
Members of the church when they see young couples are no more subtle here then they are in the USA

Other exciting things--Ulises and I went out dancing this Friday. We left the house at 2:00 am-- that's when the party starts here! It was fun. We went salsa dancing with some friends from his work. We didn't stay long but it was fun. It actually wasn't that different from the salsa dancing that was in Provo (well, maybe the girls were more scantily clad).

Ulises also took me shopping this week! He is great and always wants to make me feel loved and gets me some gifts occasionally. Just a week before I got here he ordered a dress for me that I had seen online. (I wore it to church today and love it. ) But this week when we went shopping.... it was a different story. He got me a T-shirt with Yogi Bear on the belly and then the ugliest pants I have ever seen in my life. First, the T-shirt isn't bad at all. It's just more casual than I am used to wearing. But it's cute..... But the pants... I have no idea how I let him get those!! He thinks I look amazing in them and (this I took a little hard) actually thinks they are better looking than most of the other clothes I own! (ouch) When he handed me the pants to put on, I thought it was a joke.... but he loves 'em! I let him get them for me because they were on a super sale. But it isn't just him...his sister and mom also say they look good (they are all delusional). So we will see. I might wear them here, but don't worry friends, you will never have to worry about me wearing them in the states. I don't want to offend the American People.

What do they look like?

take a look at this picture which is similar to what they look like:

mine are black but they have the suspenders and the pleats like this picture... but mine also have a fabric CUFF at the bottom of each leg... like the cuff on sweaters... yeah, super sexy I know.

ok well, I am willing to be totally wrong. Do the pants look as horrible as I think they do? Be honest. ( least they are modest....)

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Did you know....

Did you know that the Canary Islands are near southern Morocco? They are like... Africa! They are next to Western Sahara. I know, you probably already knew that. But I am an idiot! I didn't really realize where I was until I saw a map in our Hotel Basement showing where the Canary Islands were. I am a bit embarrassed to tell you where I thought the Islands actually were, but that isn't important anyway.

The point is, Ulises took some vacation days and we went to the Canary Islands to visit the beach of course, but also to go on a little hunt for Family History!

Ulises 2nd grade grandfather was born in the Canary Islands and we were trying to find the church and perhaps some records about him. It was a fun adventure! First, we spent the first day sleeping and resting in the nice hotel. The next day we decided to take the scenic route from the southern half of the Island 'Gran Canaria" to the north near the capital, to a city called San Jose where his ancestors are from.. While driving the curvy windy roads I couldn't think about anything else except falling and dying. The roads were only big enough for one car and it was a two way road with many bends and curves. Every turn we took Ulises honked the horn to warm others we were coming around the corner. A few times it was really close! But it was a beautiful drive.

We stopped in towns along the way and we even ran into a man who is perhaps a (2nd, or whatever) cousin of Ulises! Ulises had stopped to ask directions and the guy who helped him has the same last name of his ancestor--Morales (which isn't super common) and his grandfather also has the exact same name! And from the same town! So Ulises took his number and we will investigate more and get back to him. Kind of ironic, eh?

After we reached San Jose, we talked to a lot of people in a lot of government buildings that always directed us to other government buildings. I didn't understand any of it, but Ulises said that although we dont know exactly what church his grandfather was baptized in, he now has the information he needs to contact the right people to move forward with this. we took pictures next to the two probable churches that his grandfather could have been baptized in.

It's really exciting, Ulises' family history has a lot of low hanging fruit and there is a lot we can do with it. This was a great way to start, and also get excited about it!

While we were in Gran Canaria we also enjoyed free continental breakfast at our hotel and a great pool.

We also enjoyed the OCEAN (I think its one of the most amazing things in the world!) and lots of really cool historical places and natural sites. Grand Canaria is known as a little continent because parts of it are really humid and green, while other parts are like the Sahara!

We visited people who live in caves! They have updated them so that they contain electricity and plumbing, but these people have lived in caves for centuries! The guy we talked to was so proud of his natural air conditioning.

Ulises even got to try a jet ski for the first time.

It was a great vacation and we did a lot of things. I successfully stubbed my toe and will lose a toe nail. So that is also a great memory!

Now we are back to real life. While Ulises is hard at work as a waiter, I will begin studying Spanish on my own out of books. I will also be practicing charades and Spanish with his family to try and communicate. In the day time we are often with his family or working on projects. On the weekends when he is at work during the day and at night, I will update my blog, how is that?


P.S if you want to see the rest of our pictures, they are here: