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Earth Day & Mission Churros

After being apart during Semana Santa I was so happy to be back in my favorite place with my people! We hung out and got drinks on Wednesday night 🙂 It was so nice to hear about everyone else’s adventures and tell them about my time in Morocco too! They hit up Amsterdam and Italy during the week.

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We started Friday off with a long walk with Kayla and Ashley’s host mom! She took us on a 7 mile walk down the river at 9am. It was good for practicing Spanish and we had been wanting to meet her for a while now. Kayla warned us that she walks really fast, and she wasn’t wrong!

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I sat outside for a while afterwards, the trees are getting greener and greener 🙂

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Then we had a cooking class with out program later that night!

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We learned about the Mediterranean diet and my group cooked the 1st plate. My job was cutting the fish for the salad which included potatoes, eggs, olive oil, fish, and oranges. I thought it tasted soooo weird and only had a few bites.

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The next dish was paella, which you can pretty much never go wrong with. They gave ginormous portions and we barely made a dent in it! There was a lot of seafood and chicken in it too.

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Then dessert, torrijas, tasted a lot like French toast with ice cream!

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We were incredibly stuffed afterwards, it was a lot of food! We didn’t feel good from eating so much, so we went to play some card games and called it a night.

For Earth Day, we wanted to go to Monachil for a hike! We have been wanting to go for a while now, and it was the perfect day for it.

We started off down a main road that the bus dropped us off at.

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Until we got to some cave like parts! The rock walls were in our way, so in order to not fall there were handle bars wedged into it.

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The hike is known for it’s rope bridges, we went over 4 or 5 of them! This one was the longest one, I felt a little nervous going over it even though I knew it would be fine.

IMG_4031IMG_4015We stopped for lunch after about 3 miles in a shady area. It wasn’t that hot out, but we just needed to get out of the sun for a little while!IMG_4053

Still loving my trusty backpack filled with water that Ian got me!

IMG_4127IMG_4123IMG_4100We finally reached the end! It was actually a pretty difficult hike and it was 6.7 miles long.IMG_4067IMG_4061The base of the mountain in Monachil was so humid and there was tons of water, the difference between the top and the bottom of the hike was so cool.IMG_4064IMG_4063

We had an hour and a half to kill before the bus came, so I ordered a coffee while we waited, and I apparently ordered some all-out kind of thing! Not what I was expecting, but it was really good.

IMG_4070The view was nice too and we got to sit in the shade!IMG_4069

We had big plans for Saturday night! We’ve learned that before you leave Granada, you have to to spend one whole night out and stay up all the way until the churros shops open, get churros and go to bed (or class). It’s a tradition for the students in the university here to do it, but we lovvve sleep and only wanted to do it once probably. Some people do it every weekend and I have no idea how!

We only have about a month left, so there weren’t any other weekends that would for all our friends together.

We all hung out at my apartment and left around 1am to start!IMG_4157Kayla let me borrow her overall dress, she’s a doll 🙂IMG_4142IMG_4133

We got to dance all night, it was so much fun!

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The first churros place opened at 6:30am, and we were there right when the doors opened. Success 🙂 I have never not wanted a churro so badly but hey it’s tradition! I took one bite and I was good.

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I got in bed at 7am, so my day has definitely felt weird, but I’m glad we did it (and I somehow had the energy to go on a run today too)! We agreed we would be mad at ourselves if we left Granada and never did the whole night to churros mission.

Next weekend I will be going to visit my cousin in Barcelona and I’m so excited about the whole trip! It’s also my first solo trip which I have been wanting to do at least once this semester.

Travel

Semana Santa (Granada & Africa!)

I haven’t really had the energy to write this blog post, I’ve done so much and it is really difficult to keep it all in order when you don’t have the chance to write it all down during the week. It’s also a little overwhelming going through all the pictures I took but I don’t want to get too far behind, I’ll probably write this post in moments rather than days. Semana Santa was so tiring in the best way possible. From Friday thru Tuesday I had Peter and Ella stay with me, and then I left at 4:30am on Wednesday morning to spend five days in Morocco. It flew by! Some of my days are a little mixed up in my head, but I’m almost positive I have everything in the right order!

Peter, Ella and I kept it super relaxing with tapas, walks, the beach, and going to see a few processions. We also fit in a flamenco show on Saturday night 🙂

Nerja was the beach of choice!

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It’s so odd I only met Ella for a semester, but we keep in touch so well! We don’t see each other often but when we do it’s always so fun.IMG_3701IMG_3696IMG_3684-402b158f5c047826

We finished off their visit with churros! Ella had to get some before she left.

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Then it was off to Africa! The first stop was Fez on Wednesday night/Thursday morning. On Wednesday they told us not to drink the water there, and that we would have to buy bottles water for the weekend. Nicole and I set off to find some before it got dark, and realized there are pretty much only men out. I think we saw only two or three women that night. We got our water and turned a corner to see a horse eating out of garbage. I had never seen that before, and definitely not in a city. Then a dog that was tied up and one that we couldn’t see barked and started jumping at us really suddenly, so we were outtta there for the night. That was enough of Fez on our own!

The next morning we went to see the Terraza de Tannerie which seemed to me like a viewpoint over the city. It was a really good view but it was really foggy that morning so I didn’t get many good pictures.

We also stopped by a pottery place to see how it was made from start to finish. I wanted everything!!

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Yep he was looking right at the camera!IMG_3754

The finishing products were beautiful.

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Our final stop in Fez was the market! It was crazy and so intricate. Once you entered the market you could get lost very easily, so they said if you do get lost- you should stay where you are and not move around so that they could retrace their steps and come find you. I stuck like glue to the group, although we did lose one guy and had to find him later. Anyways, there were dresses, scarves, candy, nuts, hats, jars, blankets, furniture, meat, and anything else you can think of. People were aggressively trying to sell you stuff and it was made up of such compact little streets!

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At the end, we went to the place where they make leather, the Chauara Tannery. At the bottom of the steps a man was handing out big mint leaves to everyone, and I was going to brush by him because I thought he was another seller. But we had to take a mint leaf because it was going to smell so horrible at the top. I thought they were being dramatic, but wow they were so right, it was the most awful smell I have ever encountered- Nicole and I ended up stuffing the mint up into our nose in order to survive.

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Ugh I don’t think I’ll look at leather in the same way ever again.

Then we were off to the next destination (Ifran I believe?) in an 8-hour bus ride.

We stopped at the King’s palace, but we couldn’t go inside so we just looked at the door, it was pretty but I wish we could have seen the inside!

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We spent the next day in the Sahara Desert! It was amazing, and looked just like it did in picture. We rode camels 2.5 miles into the desert to hang out and watch the sunset. Then we walked to our campsite once it was getting dark to set up. Walking in that sand is SO difficult, I called it my workout for the day 🙂 We had dinner with everyone for hours and talked about all of our respective places in Spain. I’m so glad I didn’t go to Barcelona or Valencia because they don’t even get to speak much Spanish there. They do in classes, but outside of that it is mostly Catalan.

After the camel ride I was so tired and managed to fall asleep in the middle of the Sahara- I was soo thirsty when I woke up. Would not recommend napping in the desert!

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The whole place did not look real- it looked a wallpaper that comes with a computer.ljhjhg

For supper, we ate rice with Sahara chicken and orange slices for desert! Afterwards we went outside and the stars in the sky were so clear. It was the most beautiful night sky I’ve ever seen and I was able to catch quite a few shooting stars!

We also met the Berber people, who are probably some of the happiest people on Earth- and they have next to nothing. The elderly man I was talking to told me that he focuses on life day by day, and it takes a lot of stress out of his life. I would obviously never be able to completely forget about the future, but I think that’s a cool idea to keep in mind.

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After dancing around the bonfire we went to sleep in the one of the tents set up! We were ready to be woken up for sunrise at 5am. Some people just stayed up all night until that, but I needed at least of few hours of sleep. These were my roomies for the night- two of them were college students from Romania!

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I don’t have any pictures of the sunrise, I didn’t want to bring my phone because I just wanted to enjoy it. I sat with three other girls, and it was freezing but that didn’t stop us from enjoying the beauty of it.

Then it was camels for 2.5 miles back! Okay, it didn’t hurt on the way there, but on the way back my legs were incredibly sore. Ow ow ow, but when will I ride a camel again?

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Throwback to Paul’s camel ride in the Sahara desert 🙂

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We made it back to the hotel after 2 hours so we could take showers and pack up. The hotel walls are literally made of clay, sand, grass, and water!

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We ate breakfast too, and the pistachio-cake-thing was my favorite by far, I didn’t even know what was a thing.

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We spent the last day near the beach in the town of Asilah! We spent the time spending the last of our Dirham and getting a good lunch. I got vegetable stew with a huge chunk of bread!

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We hung out at the beach for a while before it was time to get on the ferry.

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I learned so much in Morocco, and I’m so glad to say I’ve made it to Africa! I didn’t think I would end up going, but the trip with this group was so worth it. It is definitely a very different culture than Europe which was exciting to see. We got a LOT for our money, and having the stress taken out of each transition was so helpful. Crossing the Morocco/Spain border can be really tricky because a lot of people try to hide under cars to get across. I would have been so nervous to go through that on my own!

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“Afternoon” in Spain, Cold Brew Coffee, and the Alpujarras

All I have on the agenda for today is to wait for a paella lunch and then go out for a walk with my friends, doesn’t sound too bad to me 🙂

On Wednesday I tried to do some speedwork to switch it up a little bit, so I opted for a 2 mile warm-up and .2 mile x 5 to finish off. I still felt tired but it felt good to do something different than running long distance.

I made myself lunch since I taught the English class right afterwards!

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A sliced potato, a tomato, spinach, olive oil, and salt!ohk

Camila and I went to the park before dinner to sit and talk in the sunshine 🙂

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Then we had an intercambio at night and I was able to speak a lot of Spanish. Sometimes it’s hard because they want to practice speaking in English too, so you have to switch off. With one group we did 15 minute in Spanish, then 15 minutes in English and kept switching off. In the other group, I spoke in Spanish to them and they spoke in English to me.

On Thursday I didn’t run one bit since I didn’t really feel like it, and took a quick nap after lunch instead. I had an intercambio with someone at a tapas bar anyhow so I wanted to be rested! I told Mackenzie to come with me for it which took away a lot of pressure! We all got a beer and talked for about 2 hours. It went super well, I get so nervous beforehand but once I’m there sitting and talking the nerves go away rather quickly. When you meet someone new there is so much to talk about! I can think of thousands of questions meeting someone new so there is really never silence.

Our free tapa was three burgers and fries.

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Mackenzie got half beer/half lemonade that looked amazing.IMG_3504

Earlier in the week my friend from class and I were talking to our teacher who has 11-year-old triplets! They’re birthday party is today and she was talking about how she had to make a lot of lunch for all of their friends, apparently it was going to be a big birthday party! We told her we could help if she needed, thinking she would say no- but she was so grateful  and accepted very quickly 🙂 So on Friday afternoon after a slow 3 mile run I found myself and my classmate walking to a 11-year-old triplets birthday party to cook a lunch with our professor. Unfortunately when she said to come in the afternoon we though around 2:30 or 3pm would be fine. Apparently in the afternoon here means around 5 or 6pm all the way until 10pm so she was not ready for us at all! I felt so bad and she was embarrassed because here house was still “messy.” We stayed for a while anyhow and she sent us home with nice bottles of wine!

After than Julia, Joanna and I went to try an iced coffee place we’ve walked by a couple times. It was so good and so cold, that usually is not a thing here! The walk there was hot hot hot, so cold brew coffee was the perfect reward.

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It was the perfect pick-me-up before going up to see the sunset!

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My people 🙂

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We went to bed on the early side because we were hiking in the Alpujarras on Saturday!

There were two options: an easy hike or a medium/hard hike. Everyone chose the second except for one person because he was slightly injured.

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We started off here while our guide gave us some information about where we were. He said that you can explore the climate for any location like the rain forest, the West-Africa savannas, the desert, the tundra, or the Himalayas! The Alpujarras are famous for their variety of mini-ecology. How crazy is it that all of these climates exist in just one part of Andalucia?

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We could even feel the climate changes on just our 7 mile hike! At the bottom it was SO humid, there was tons of mud and very green plants. We kept having to put our sweatshirts on and take them off over and over because of the changes.IMG_3576IMG_3575

Some parts felt very New England-y to me.IMG_3567

Some parts not so much 🙂IMG_3566IMG_3564

We started at Capileira, walked through the town of Bubión, and would finish at Pampananeira. These towns are called the three jewels of the Alpujarras!

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We were headed to the last town!IMG_3593

We stopped at lunch and our guide told us more about the area.IMG_3581IMG_3584IMG_3606

My favorite picture from the trip:FullSizeRenderIMG_3602

This tiny government building, so different from the US!IMG_3597

We stopped at a chocolate factory on the way out, this is the main one but there is an outlet for it in Granada too! They gave out tons of samples and told us about the chocolate-making process in ultra-fast Spanish.

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Pampananeira was so cute!

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We also got a drink and some tapas before we left. IMG_3614

I got coffee as my drink because I hadn’t had any all day!IMG_3612

Beer, sangria, and my coffee hahaha 🙂IMG_3611

It was the perfect day trip and when we got back we felt exhausted but accomplished! I didn’t think we were going to do much, and we found the perfect bar to agree with us for the night. We found a board game bar, and chose to play uno with our drinks 🙂

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There were SO MANY GAMES. I want to come here every night.

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We actually ended up staying past midnight (later than we had planned) because our uno game would not end. Someone kept getting so close and then had to draw a bunch of cards. I wanted to leave but the others were intense about finishing- it was a 2 hour game!

I fell asleep as soon as I hit the pillow and felt extra motivated for a run in the morning. I went for 3.3 miles at 8:35 pace, not bad but not that great. I’m just taking it easy still and running when I feel like it. I walked after my run for 3.7 miles because it is so nice out today!

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Only one week of school before Semana Santa/April Vacation!