between the lands

Jessica and Andrew’s travel journal

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Adios Granada, Adios Espana0

Posted by Andrew in SPAIN (April 19, 2007 at 6:59 am)

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Esta es nuestro ultimo blog de Espana, y debo respectar mi promeso de deciembre.

Nos ponemos triste, no queremos salir de Granada—es una cuidad bonita.

No se por que, pero no tenemos fotos de nuestros companieros de casa Valentin y Daniel. Solo tenemos fotos de Lourdes, la companiera honoraria.
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Muchos Abrazos (y Besos) a Valen y Daniel. Vamos a veros pronto chicos…

He dado cuento que nunca hemos puesto muchos fotos de la casa y barrio. Entonces, aqui es un guia-video. Es en ingles pero con sub-titulos en espanol. (5 minutos)

Tengo mucha verguenza…mi ortografia no es bueno..pero es la culpa de la programa de ordenador, no se como cambiar los errors en los sub-titulos…lo siento a mi Buenos profesor@s de Don quijote!!!!

Por que tenemos demasiado fotos, ya no hemos puesto las de la Alhambra. Para la gente que no sabe, es una palacia del sieglo 12, cuando los arabis(moors) fueron los reyes del sur de espana. Es totalmente incredible. Possibilmente, el mejor ‘crib’ en el mundo.
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Antes de salir de Espana, fuimos a Jubrique una vez mas, donde trahabamos en la finca de Fina, y donde Enrique nos ensenar como construir una murallla con piedras, y sin hormigon. Trabajo dura—seguro!!

Fuimos tambien a Sevilla, por el spectaculo de Semana Santa. Es la semana antes de Pascua(easter), y hay muchisomas processiones con gente en gorros como el Ku Klux Klan, pero en muchos coloroes. Es un simbolo de pentinance???. No tiene nada que ver con el Klan de Estados Unidos – es religioso y no es violento.
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Muchos ‘props’ a Sevilla, que tiene edificios muy decorativos, y a demas ‘props’ a Jaime, quien nos dio su casa (unos dias) y quien fue un guena guia.
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Hemos puesto una semana en Portugal. Mas de esta viaje en un blog que viene!

Hoy por la tarde, vamos a Marruecos. Adios Europa, hasta pronto…
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Fallas = Fires = “fie-yahs”1

Posted by Jessica in SPAIN (April 10, 2007 at 9:19 am)

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Never in my life have I seen so many LITTLE KIDS running around UNSUPERVISED with fireworks and matches. OK, sometimes there was an adult present, but they were just there to re-light fuses with a cigarette if the little ones ran into trouble.
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Every year the beautiful Spanish city of Valencia transforms from a medieval gem of twisting streets into a seething, exploding firepit, with INCREDIBLE fireworks (official & street level), along with giant whimsical sculptures in the streets which are later BURNED to the ground in close proximity to houses, electric supply wires, and treetops.
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And they feed this with giant pans of paella cooked in the streets. It is wild!
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Las Fallas is a Catholic holiday, but we never figured out exactly how. We did see the giant figure of the Virgen in the main square.
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She started out a bit barren, but by the end of the week was completely decked out in flowers, (you could smell them across the square!), all hand-delivered by local Valencian@s who had carried them on foot across the whole city decked out in medieval get-up and very uncomfy-looking shoes.
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Each group had their own marching band. But where do the public burnings fit in…?
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The “Fallas?? are the giant sculptures they work on all year, just to BURN them down in a storm of FIREWORKS and GASOLINE on the night of March 19. They range from a few feet tall to several stories. They are usually ironic, and have little placards explaining the joke. Too bad we couldn’t read them in Valenciano, a northeastern dialect of Spanish.
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We also got to hang out with some Florida friends – Jessica Vaughn + Nilesh, and Mz Zoe + Txema. BIG THANKS to Txema for the use of his flat for a few more days after they went back to work! It was centrally located in the old part of town, which means there was a “quema?? – or street burning – a block away, AND we got to appreciate the 8am “despierta?? (alarm clock) – when lunatic Valencianos roam the streets with a marching band, dropping enormous bangers (fireworks) as they go. I miss you guys! XXXOOOXXXOOO
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Jess, Nilesh, and I (Jessica) took a side trip to visit the Aquarium, located in the Ciudad de las Ciencias, a field of buildings that look like spaceships from the movie Alien.CIMG0414 artcityscape.jpg It was COOL, except for the seals, whales, dolphins, and walruses – they were in tight quarters and grunted that they would really rather be out at sea. But the starfish really didn’t give a crap.
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Andrew finally got me out to a bullfight, or Corrido de Torros. Forget the romantic visions of a Man, a Bull, and the Spanish Sun… It’s 6 or 8 guys who taunt and tease the bull until it’s all tuckered out, and a 2 guys on armoured horses who stabs the bull really deep in the shoulders with a sharp pole. THEN the Matador AKA Mr Fancy-Pants finishes the bull off, sometimes quick and clean, other times messy, long and drawn-out, with the bull screaming. I didn’t like it so much. What’s so wrong with a quick, virtually painless death for food animals?
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ANDREW SEZ: if the pictures haven’t done it for you, click here for a MOVIE I made (7 OR 8 MINUTES LONG) It features a bullfight, day and night time fireworks, a chaotic episode where people were throwing fireworks at police, and of course, the burning of some fallas. Enjoy and remember not to play with fire…unless everybody else is.
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Lost in the Land of Jamon-Perdidos en la Tierra de Jamon0

Posted by Jessica in SPAIN (March 22, 2007 at 7:47 pm)

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We finally made it to las Alpujarras (Al-poo-har-as), a gorgeous area of several small pueblos nestled among beautiful mountains. The Alpujarras are well worth the nauseating 1.5 hr bus ride thru twisting mountain roads. Yee haw! Our friend Dino came, too. He’s mad cool y’all!
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We took the morning bus to Orgiva, the hippie conclave of the region.
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There we saw flyers for a protest that very day, in another town we weren’t scheduled to reach until sunset. Oh well, it was nice to see that folks were saying NO to developers. Spain has a lot in common with Florida………

ANDREW SEZ: CIMG0113 a up bannister.jpgYeah basically rich Spanish, English, Germans and others are buying up all the land, building condos and golf courses in the countryside or in ancient pueblos. Rent and the price of housing is now more than 10 times the average yearly salary, and there is a constant drought in a semi desert environment. You can click here to listen to a radio story I recently did about an anti-development protest in Granada.(its the last story in the show).

Pampaneira—-This town was SO QUAINT! ALL the buildings are painted stark white.
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Several towns in the Alpujarras have old-school public laundry stations where all the ladies used to… FROLIC… washing out their family’s underpants… in cold water over stone scrubbing platforms. In Morocco we saw women doing wash in an identical old-school setup. AL-ANDALUZ!!!
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Here’s where things got interesting. We decided to skip the bus to the next town and walk it instead! It was a beautiful day and the sun was smiling… we took the ancient footpath to Bubion. The view was fantastic, and the trail was just challenging enough to be fun.
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In Bubion there was a cool little folklore museum. Just an old house (500 YEARS OLD!!!) preserved in its last lived-in condition (1950’s). We could see the INTERIOR of a house of the region (CUTE) and see the typical tools of everyday life. This particular house belonged to rich folks, so they had the rooms for animals, wine-pressing, pantries for storing the fruits of the fields, etc. CIMG1084 winepress.jpg

ANDREW SEZ: These towns maintain some pretty slow rhythms..
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We strode easily to the next town, Capileira. Also gorgeous, and also all striking white on the side of a mountain.

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We loaded up on local wine, cheese and bread to get us thru the night. I also got a new belt and wallet at a very nice leather shop—they made the holes in the belt for me while I waited. My pants had been falling down so I was quite pleased.
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A night in Trevelez– THE JAMON CAPITAL OF THE WORLD!!! And MAYBE the highest point in Spain, although the claim is almost always qualified in some way that makes me suspect… CIMG1168 trevelez with clouds.jpg
Anyway, they make a shitload of Spain’s favorite snack – Jamon Serrano. Yes, it really is just a raw pig leg, salt-cured and air-dried. Then you slice it paper-thin and eat it up – every single day. And in Trevelez, they make the best jamon Serrano in Spain. There’s jamon legs hanging in every window and the stuff is literally pouring thru the streets! Those lucky dogs of Trevelez…
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We spent a nice night in Trevelez, drinking local wine – which was VERY STRONG! Then got up (hung over) with every intention of walking the 4 hours to the next town on our agenda – Busquistar. But, the fates were against us this day…….
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Unlike the other paths we had walked, this path had FORKS, had OPTIONS. And we, without fail, took the WRONG fork EVERY TIME. As it was Sunday, and the following day was a school day, we really needed to make the last bus back to Granada. But, we didn’t. We walked all day. It was beautiful, but we knew we were lost.
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ANDREW SEZ: in a bit of cosmic humour, we could always see villages across the giant valley, but there was no way to figure out how to get to them, or how many hours they were from us. The most poetic moment came around the time our bus was to leave, a rainbow appeared, and led directly to the town which we think was Busquistar: our planned destination.
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Finally, at sunset, we found the LAST trail to the FIRST village we could find that day.
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We took the trail in the dark, with help from a novelty lighter which some kind folks had given us along the way. We made it, at long last, 20 km and 8 hours after setting forth from Trevelez, to the blessed village of Portugos.
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And we found a hotel to let us sleep in beds. And we took the 6am bus back to Granada so we could make it in time for class in the morning…

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Carneval!!–Cant we have a little fun already?1

Posted by Andrew in SPAIN (March 1, 2007 at 3:25 pm)

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For those who are eager for a high-class travel journal entry, you may want to skip this one….we took a short break from the serious, cultured lifestyle…
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This past week, Carnevals are taking place all over the world–from New Orleans to Rio, to here in the south of Spain. We went where we heard was the best Carneval in these parts–a town called Cadiz, which is also possibly the oldest city in Europe.
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Its basically a huge street party for 10 days. One unique part about the Cadiz carneval is the costumes–which most people wear in coordination with a group of their friends. And then theres these roaming groups of singing, dancing and performaning artists(in matching costumes of course)–theyre called murgas.
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JESSICA SEZ: all the cadiz folks come out to party for this one. the young ‘uns fill the streets at night, and the less young fill them in the day, when it’s only slightly less crazy. sunday afternoon, the plazas were teeming with families, many in costume (at least the kids), and everyone was enjoying the murgas and taking in some sun in outdoor cafes. that’s what i call family entertainment!
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ANDREW RETURNZ: We drove down to Cadiz with some heads from the Spanish language school were taking classes at. Tremendous props to Evert for driving both ways, and Dino for taking care of Jab, among other things.
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Also significant about this weekend adventure, it was our first time touching the Atlantic ocean from the other side. The last time we were in the ocean was in New Jersey at my man Mike’s beach palace. So when we first got to town, we chilled and gazed at the water, looking for America.
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But Carneval belongs to the night, and so CLICK HERE TO WATCH A MOVIE I made showing some of the revelry, chaos, music and costumes. (6 MINUTES LONG) I left all the video clips in chronological order, and I think you can kind of get the taste of how things get more chaotic as the night goes on.
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We only went for one night. Debatably, it was enough; although the day time was pretty cool too, and a bit mellower. I got to eat some fresh sea urchins, cut open right in front of you. (Jessica sez: “they’re gross, i’ll stick to oysters thank you”)
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36 hours later, we were back in Granada. So fast, not sure if it happened at all…feliz carneval a todos!!!

The Snows Down In Africa3

Posted by Andrew in MOROCCO, SPAIN (February 7, 2007 at 6:02 pm)

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The title is true. Our first evening ever in Africa,(Morocco to be exact) and it was snowing. I guess it shouldnt be such a surprise(it snowed Granada the day before), but its just not what I expected.

What is there to do except make the best of it? After meeting up with my boy Rob,CIMG9311 rob looks up.jpg we hiked up a mountain and had a snowball fight with some local kids.
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The snowfall in Granada the day earlier was the first ever in jessicas life,(FLA. represent!!) but she demonstrated much skills in snowball packing and guerilla warfare tactics. [JESSICA SEZ: i had seen snow before but not while it was falling. and the truth is i got clocked in the head many more times than i made a hit of my own]
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Oh yeah..Morocco. We spent a few days in a Town called Chefchaouen. Its nestled in the Rif mountains a couple hours south of the coast.
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The entire town is painted White and Electric Blue.
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There are lots of artisans in Chefchaouen, and it also happens to be the kif production capital of the world.(as biggie said: if you dont know…..) Muy tranquila, si?
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Through our cultural ignorance, we also were not expecting to encounter the Djellaba (pronounced-like ‘Jalabi’)–a cool Star Wars looking tunic, which is a traditional outfit in Morrocco, and clearly keeps people warm in the winter.(although they have thin ones for the summer too.)
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Unfortunately, most of the young people in Morocco seem to be moving away from wearing the Djellaba.
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We stayed warm thanks to Rob, who buit a nice fire in our sweet guest house(using electric blue wood of course).
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Much love also goes out to Jaime, Nancy, and Hisham. Unfortunately, Jessicas Camera was sucked into the Moroccan vortex and we lost our only pictures of them.(if you guys are reading this, email us some pics!!). ***And if you are the person that took Jessicas camera–could you at least send us the pictures on the chip? And do you realize how stupid you are now that the proprietary battery has run out and the camera doesn’t work???***

I digress…So after a few relaxing days Chefchaouen, we had to check out Tangier for a night.
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According to our guide book, the fleabag hotel we stayed at is where William Burroughs stayed when he wrote Naked Lunch.. problem is, our book says he stayed in room number 9, and the rooms only go up to 8. While there is a chance that this bano used to be a bedroom, we cant be sure.
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But Im relatively positive that Burroughs chilled out on this patio at one time or another. you can just feel the history…
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Besides being a good cheap place to buy a new camera, one of the coolest things about Tangier, and Ceuta (a Spanish city on the African mainland where we crossed into Morocco) was how people are speaking, sometimes in the same sentence, French, Arabic, Spanish, and English. [JESSICA SEZ:It ‘broke our heads’ as the locals would say. I suffered from a wierd travelers aphasia - i’d open my mouth to speak in one language and some other language would come out, or it would be an unintentional mixture. Then my brain would just shut down and I could only laugh at myself.]
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After a boat ride back to Spain, where we gazed at the rock of gibraltar, we made it back to Granada after missing only 2 days of school.CIMG9892 gibraltar.jpg

Pero, en el barco, estudiamos muchos, por supuesto.
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A few days later, we finally made it to the Alhambra, but you will have to wait for those pictures and blog entry coming soon..suffice it to say–that thing is totally incredible. Stay tuned!!!
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Big Ol Mezquita0

Posted by Andrew in SPAIN (January 19, 2007 at 11:46 pm)

a belated welcome to ‘07 all

we spent our new years eve weekend in Cordoba, home of the MEZQUITA!!!
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It’s an enourmous Mosque that was built when the Muslims ruled the south of Spain. But wait, theres more..When the Catholics took back the town in the 1,200’s, they didnt tear down most of the mosques-they just made some alterations. In this case, they took out a huge section in the middle of the Mosque(Mezquita in espanol), and installed a giant cathedral.

Its quite strange to walk though this thing, which has a very Muslim feeel, and then there goes a big Christian thing right in the middle.
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Either way, its very impressive. Theres been some controversy as the local Muslim community is asking if they can use the Mezquita/Cathedral to pray, but so far, no dice..

There was a big celebration in the main town square for NYeve. CIMG1500 post midnight chaos.jpg

The Spanish tradition is to eat 12 uvas(grapes) at the stroke of midnight, and these are your 12 wishes for the new year, or something like that. Its hard, as you have to eat 1 each second as the clock strikes 12, and for all you folks whove never left the USA–you might want to know–they dont have seedless grapes here(or for that matter anywhere outside the US). But we did it nonetheless, and we lived to tell the story.
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Cordoba has lots of other old stuff, as does this whole part of Spain, from Muslim rulers, Jewish communities, and even the good ol’ Roman Empire.
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The city is also famous for patios inside the buildings, and there are lots of plants all over the place, even in the o-so-harsh winters of southern spain.
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JESSICA SEZ: cordoba was grand. you gotta see the BIG OL MEZQUITA!!
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all over the place in spain we see references to “los reyes catolicos” - the Catholic King and Queen. it refers to isabel & ferdinand, the ones who bankrolled christopher columbus, completed the ‘reconquest’ (taking back control from the muslim kings), and established the spanish inquisition. cordoba’s mosque-come-cathedral is a place where you can feel the tension of these 2 histories. this is where they met and today you can see both parts.
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we also checked out the GORGEOUS arabic baths at cordoba. it’s more of a spa then a bathhouse, but who doesn’t like a SPA?? day 1 of 2007, we washed away all the gunk that had built up in 5 months of travel, and started out fresh and ready for more!
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ANDREW RETURNZ: Were back in granada now, Jessica is taking classes tambien. In a humorous bit of injustice, she was placed in a level lower than me, but after making short work of a few of the 15 tenses each verb has in Spanish, she will be joining my class on Monday. im guessing she will jump to the next level, pronto, anyday now.
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They dont really give presents for Christmas here in Spain, instead they have the tres reyes(3 kings–the magi who brought gifts to lil’ jesus), who come and give gifts to the yungins on January 6th. There was a huge parade on the 5th, which as you can see by this video, consists largely of hundreds of children dressed in period costumes, throwing hard candies at the crowd, who dive all over each other in attempts to get as much as possible.

Click here to see the action.

Meanwhile, click here to check out this article I wrote for In These Times Magazine on the controversy surrounding the giant dam recently built in Iceland. It was just published this month, and the magazine may be at a newsstand near you.

Ive also updated my personal website, and finally started posting audio files of some of my news stories. Check it out at

were headed to Morocco for a few days next weekend..see you there!
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the duende of Granada4

Posted by Andrew in SPAIN (December 28, 2006 at 8:00 pm)

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alright now..enough stalling…the people want to know about our new (temporary) home. Weve been here in Granada, in the south of Spain for more than 3 weeks. We still havent been inside the Alhambra, although you can see it from all over town.
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Granada is a very old town. It was once ruled by the romans, and then for more than 700 years the arabs ran the show, before the Christians kindly asked everyone to leave around 1492.
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There is a really cool old neighborhood called the Albaicin, with winding narrow streets going up a hill towards the Alhambra.
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There is also an abundance of grafitti:
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For our first week, we lived with a sweet lady named Delores (Lola for short).
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Then for the past few weeks, we lived in a big old restored hotel with other students learning spanish. On Christmas day, we all made traditional dishes from our countries. Food from Holland, Sweden, Japan, England, Puerto Rico, China, and liquid contributions from Brazil and Germany, and Bangladesh made for a great belly stuffing evening.
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This week, we moved into an apartment at the end of this street, further down than you can see in this picture.
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Christmas eve was Jessicas compleano, and we stumbled upon a Christmas singalong in one of the few cafeterias which was open that day. The audio recordings may appear in a future post. Speaking of music, This part of Spain is the home of Flamenco. Weve seen several flamenco shows already.

Click here to watch a movie featuring some flamenco dancing, views of the alhambra, and other various scenes from Granada.

The food here is also very good. LOTS OF PIG!(and cow). And they use it all..believe dat…
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The tapas are also free with every drink(even soda)–you will more from us soon about this gastronomical tradition that is really only still going in Granada.
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For New Years, were headed for Cordoba, another old former Muslim city. We’ll have more pics of Granda next month. Happy New Year to all!
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Oh yeah..Spanish classes continue. Cada dia, yo hablo mejor. Pero a veces, yo no comprendo mucho, por que los Andaluces hablan muy rapido. Algun dia…

Jubrique - Jewel of the Sierra Nevada1

Posted by Jessica in SPAIN (December 19, 2006 at 8:10 pm)

(Jubrique is the swath of houses in the picture on the right side below:)
big rock on the road to jubriqueWelcome To JubriqueCIMG8121-pueblodistance.jpg
After our first week in Granada (more on that later), we headed right away to Jubrique to see my grrrls in da pueblo. We had to take the train as far as it would go, and then Finilla came to pick us up. (There’s no train station in Jubrique.) While we waited, this little bugger came by to say hello!

But there ARE sheep, even cute fuzzy baby ones - just look!

As I said, my friend Finilla came to pick us up, and she and her girl Marina put us up in Jubriqueno style. We hung out in Fini’s bar “Bajo el Arbol” Friday & Saturday nights, and wandered around the narrow spanish streets in the day. Tranquilo, Cabron!

One night there was some music and singing coming from the square. We scampered down to see what was going on. Click here for a movie showing what we found, plus some panoramic shots of Jubrique and some of the ambiance in my friend’s pub :

Jubrique is a tiny pueblo that goes back centuries. It was there when the Moors spread north into the Iberian peninsula. It was there when the Catholic King & Queen Isabel & Ferdinand kicked everybody else out and bankrolled the Inquisition. And it’s still there now. The church in the center of town has also been a mosque. Cars and horses use the same streets.

The architectural style has been maintained as a cultural heritage. There are some really cute little corners in this town. There is a small hotel and some casitas for rent from time to time. Or you can stay in a rustic cabin just outside of town. That is, if you’re ready to UNWIND…

As for the exotic animals, we did come across several kittens and some peacocks. OK, the peacocks were on the road back to the train station, not in Jubrique proper. They reminded me of my place back in Tampa.

That’s pretty much the story. We’ll be going back again during this 4-month stint. And hopefully my friends will come to visit us in Granada. We’ve got a guest room, so come on down y’all!! I apologize for the lateness of this update, AND for the lack of Granada info at this date. We have been here for just over 2 weeks now, and there’s been some drama. But things are settling down now, and as soon as I get the pics ready for you, you’ll be seeing the Albaycin, some really cool street art, and maybe even some live music… Ole!

PS - Andrew’s classes are going very well and he is starting to talk trash in spanish, better every day!

Si, yo aprendo poca a poco…

School is great, as are the free Tapas in Granada. Stay tuned for more!

…and in other news, click on these two links for an article and segments of an interview I did a few weeks ago, which has been published in the Creative Loafing weekly paper in Tampa. Its with Sameeh Hammoudeh, who was accused of aiding a Palestinian terrorist group, but was found not guilty on all charges after 3 years in jail.

barcelona–(almost) time to rest for a while0

Posted by Jessica in JORDAN, SPAIN (December 2, 2006 at 9:35 am)

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Flying out of Jordan, they always let you know what direction to face Mecca. Just in case… I’m gonna miss the call to prayer, even at 5am.

It seems like sooo long ago we decided to “go to Spain”, and then we did everything but. Finally we are here. Sort of – Catalunya is almost like a different country. But officially, it’s Spain. Barcelona is a gorgeous city. There are architectural wonders everywhere.

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My absolute favorite is the Gaudi cathedral Sagrada Familia.
CIMG7767 sagrada from front.jpgCIMG7664 sagrada from distance.jpgDepending on who you ask, it won’t be finished for another 15, 30, or 50 years, but it’s well worth a visit finished or not. I can’t believe this Gaudi guy was designing these things 100 years ago.
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We also visited the Park Guell, originally designed by Gaudi to be a village for Barcelona’s rich folk. CIMG7682 front of guell.jpgIt never panned out as a development, thank goodness, and now people can chill there anytime, soaking in the crazy rooftops and walking along the organic shapes of the “viaducts”. I think Dr Seuss must have been inspired by this place.
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We’re staying with Ms Kassandra, her 5-yr old son Aidan, and Ms Guilia. It’s a great view from the (almost) top floor – we can see the giant castle on top of Mt Tibidabo. Aidan says there is a monster inside, and I hope I don’t have to find out if he’s right.
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Yesterday was our big day – we were responsible for picking Aidan up from school, and getting him fed, bathed, and ready for bed in time for his mama to get home from work. This boy can run you ragged, let me tell you! He’s very considerate too – when he comes into the living room in the mornings (where Andrew & I are sleeping), he whispers while playing with his toys, just so we won’t be woken up. Nice try, kiddo. Clearly it’s time to get up.
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Tonight we will hop on an overnight train for the 12-hour ride to Granada. Andrew’s classes start on Monday.

I am looking forward to classes, just maybe not the early am wakeup. Im making a public pledge here to do a blog post en espanol eventually.

Barcelona was really cool, with art everywhere, old skinny streets, and plazas with benches for chilling on, which I especially appreciate.
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Extra props to Sarah for putting us up in Paris upon our return. Meanwhile, my radio story about building the radio station in the south of Jordan was on air Friday.
You can listen to it here its the last piece of the show..

Well see you all in the south of Spain…
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