Saturday, December 27, 2008

Three Days and Counting...

With less than three days before I leave the panic mode has officially started to set in. I got a list of vocabulary and grammar to review before leaving and suddenly realized how difficult this was going to be. To give you an idea of how ridiculous the Spanish language is here are some words that I will likely confuse:
Cuchara- Spoon

Avergonzar- Embarrassed

Taza- Cup
Tiza- Chalk

You see what I have to deal with? I’m going to end up asking for cockroaches and chalk to put on the table and when questioned explain that I’m pregnant. Also there’s an entire grammar form I theoretically learned but never had to use because it’s specific to Spain and none of my teachers have been Spanish. But really, I’m fine. Excited even. Theoretically.

So the basic information is as follows: I leave on 31 December and fly to Barcelona via Heathrow. I’m not a big fan of New Years so the thought of spending it with the lovely flight attendants of British Air isn’t really all that upsetting. If I’m lucky I might even get some campaign out of it. Then I’m hopefully finding my way to a nice hostel (presumably after getting lost several times) and spend the first two days on my own. I’m meeting up with the rest of the kids from the program on Saturday and spending the first week getting to know the city. Then I move in with my 67-year-old host-mom and get started on classes. In Spanish. All of them.

Remembering where I was this time last year, I want to end this with a note of thanks. Though it isn’t the Jewish New Year, it is certainly a beginning of sorts. I’m demanding a better year than the previous one, which doesn’t seem to be asking for too much, but I’m also very grateful for what I have had. I could not have asked for a better community, better friends, or a more supportive network. May each of you have a wonderful, happy, healthy, and bright New Year.

On that note, I’m going to leave you with one of my favorite poems that is how I hope my travels will be:

Where the Sidewalk Ends

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

by shel silverstein

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The complicated metra system of Barcelona.  Let's just assume I'll miss my intended stop/get on or off at the wrong place at least once a day.  Maybe more.  Hurray!  Who's excited?

Starting off. Almost.

Hello to everyone I love and will miss dearly,

All the best novels begin with a journey.  My family knows all about journeys.  We seem to attract people that are going on journeys, returning from journeys, or just thinking about taking one in the distant future.  This has certainly been a year of journeys for me, and looking back I find myself in a very different place from where I was 12 months ago.

Last winter break I took a two week road-trip from Chicago to Orlando with two of my best friends.  Watching the country whiz by my window I gained an appreciation for and a surprising closeness with Elvis, coca-cola, country music, bowling, headlights, and the car dealers of Florida.  It seems strange to have lived somewhere for 20 years and seen such a relatively small portion of what it has to offer.

This winter break I will begin a somewhat longer journey to Barcelona.  On December 31st (an appropriate beginning for anything really) and I will leave the States to spend four and a half months in Spain and two weeks in Israel.  God willing (especially considering how easily I get lost) I'll return on May 20th with pictures, stories, and an obscene amount of crap.  Knowing how easy it is to overlook what is so close, I want to see as much of Europe as my little savings account and a europass will allow.

Because I love you all but am not particularly good at keeping in touch (also because I have no idea how much internet access I will have) I'm creating this travel blog.  The plan is to leave periodic updates of my travels, though I made need a nudging every now and then to keep from forgetting to write.  Being as I won't be able to say Kaddish for most of my time in Spain (a traditional Jewish prayer said during the time of mourning)  I will be trying to study a little mishnah while I'm gone.  Trying is the key word here, and I can't honestly pride myself in past consistency.  In any case, when I do study and make some grand conclusion I'll try to post that as well.

The next two weeks will be full of unpacking, packing, visiting my grandmother out in Washington State, unpacking, repacking, and saying goodbye.  Given this, I probably won't post again until I'm in good old Barcelona.  

Besos y abrazos,
Reina (The Spanish name I got in high school, it means queen, fitting, right?)