Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Happily Abroad but Proudly American

Getting used to the news abroad has taken some time, but I have certainly been missing the nearly constant updates on Obama's whereabouts that are so typical of American news. While he is certainly mentioned on Spanish television it is not nearly as often as I would like, and I rarely get to hear him speak since not everyone here would fully understand. I think, however, that it made the inauguration speech all the sweet not having heard his voice in weeks. I must sound like a crazed lover, but he really is the best orator I've ever heard.

I went to the hotel Le Meredian with about 300 other people to watch the inauguration coverage, eat tapas, and drink champagne (and no, I still haven't gotten over the fact that I can get alcohol legally here...). Of course, the moment after he was sworn in one of the many reporters taking pictures of the people in the room tripped on the sound chord and we missed the first 3 sentences of his speech. Panic and chaos ensued until a hotel worker could come and fix the soundboard. It was worth the wait though, and I've certainly never felt as American as I did sitting in a French hotel in Spain with an assortment of Americans and Spaniards watching the presidential inauguration. The Spaniards sitting behind me weren't quite sure what senators did though, and their discussion about it was rather amusing.

I went to an amazing concert with a few friends to celebrate that night and had my first experience with a loop machine. The singer had his guitar and this machine on-stage and would play a few chords or beatbox or sing into his special microphone and then the machine would start to play it back in a loop so that he could create a choir of himself in up to 18 parts with several instruments. It was one of the cooler things I've ever seen in the music industry (not that I've seen very much...) and I am fairly certain every woman and half the men in the club fell in love with him after his first song.

To keep this short I'll just list several of the fun and interesting things I've been up to:
1. Started classes in Spanish. Yes, it is HARD. Yes, all I need is a C to get credit. Maybe, do I think it's possible to get that C in Philosophy of Politics. Yes, I would love help.

2. Apparently Spaniards don't believe in kleenex or napkins. They most often come in a form similar to tissue paper and rarely are adequate help for my sneezes or messes. Because I don't know if you know this, but I am a messy eater.

3. The beach is a beautiful place to go running and a great way to see locals and tourists of all shapes, sizes, and ages. Also, apparently, a great way to see naked old ladies. During my run on Sunday I turned my head to look at the Mediterranean only to notice several topless 70-year-old women sunning on the beach. I guess that's what all the excitement over nudist beaches was about. I still don't get the appeal.

4. There is a Chocolate Museum around the corner from my apartment. It offers several chocolate baking classes. Enough said.

5. On Friday night I went to yet another Chabad Rabbi's house for dinner and had one of the best challahs I have ever tasted. His wife, Genya, is no more than 28 at the oldest and runs the Jewish daycare center out of their apartment. When I asked if she could give me her recipe she invited me and my friend Linda over to bake with her on Thursday night. There is nothing more exciting to me than baking challah in foreign countries. Obviously I will take her up on the offer.

There is far too much going on to write about everything, and I doubt I can maintain anyone's interest for as long as it would take if I tried. But that just means I'll have things to talk about when I get back. Next weekend I'll be going to Lyon, France with Linda and her roommate Beth and I'm certain to have good stories on my return. Until then, eat, drink, enjoy the new presidency, and be very, very merry.

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