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Cádiz: the sweetest four weeks I’ve ever spent July 7, 2011

Posted by Ariana Daftarian in Travel Log.
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Hola a todos!

I realize this post is long overdue and for that I apologize; however, it will be comprehensive…with lots of pictures!!

A little over a month ago, I arrived in Cádiz – the oldest city in Spain. My roommate Shivani and I were greeted by our mom, Elena Sanchez.

When we reached the fourth floor apartment, we met their 18-yr-old dog, Chula. The name Chula actually comes from the word chulo meaning pimp in Spanish haha. Elena explained that Chula is the woman in charge of the house, which is why the two of them don’t get along very well. Chula also wears a diaper and coughs incessantly due to her bad heart; Elena gives her regular medication 😦

The apartment we stayed at is extremely spacious and, as we soon learned, one of  the best living arrangements: wifi, unlimited showers, and individual keys…not to mention a beautiful balcony with a view out though our room window. Nevertheless, the best part of our living arrangement was our family. We absolutely love them.

Elena is a single mother of 3 boys. Her youngest Guillermo, or Willy as he introduced himself, is 26 and still living at home while studying and working (something like a co-op at Tech). He was a really fun older brother who was not afraid to poke fun at us or even lock me out of their apartment – all in good fun. Guillermo’s one response to absolutely anything is “suerte,” which means luck. He always means it in a sarcastic, good luck, you’re-never-gonna-make-it way. We made fun of him a lot as well; he doesn’t get along with anyone other than Chula.

I also spent many nights talking with Elena (in Spanish of course) about things ranging from healthcare in Spain to current events around the world; I learned so much from and about her. We seemed to agree on most issues and began to understand how similar our cultures are…like the golden lion on both the original Persain flag and Spain’s flag.

Now about the rest of the family. As soon as I entered the living room, I noticed this picture of Elena with a really good-looking man – her middle son, Pepe. He is beautiful and lives in Seville. Him and his girlfriend Ana stayed with us for a night. Ana looks like what comes to mind when I think of a Spanish girl; she is tall, lean, dark, and handsome with sleek, straight hair. Needless to say, they are a gorgeous couple.

Anyway, that night, Elena, Ana, and I talked for hours. We talked about boys (of course), love, and music!! Ana told me that her and Pepe have known each other since they were 16 when they dated for 4 years. Then, for 8 years they dated other people while keeping contact. They had reunited about 2 years ago. Everyone knew that, during those 8 years, they couldn’t fully commit to anyone else because they were still in love with each other. When I asked her how they met at 16, she explained that she used to live across the street and he would see her walking to and from school through the balcony. What a cute love story!

Also, at the time, I was obsessed with the song “Pokito a Poco” by Chambao; it’s very beautiful with meaningful lyrics. The gardeners at La Alhambra were listening to it on their radio and I later looked up the lyrics that were stuck in my head all weekend. I was listening to it when Ana exclaimed that she too loves Chambao. She told me to listen to “Duende del sur” by Chambao. I love it as well! Elena and she explained to me that duende means elf, but in this case, it’s referring the group of little people who live on the southern coast of Spain. So, for the next week, I listened to only Chambao and drove Shivani crazy because the music made her sleepy, which, on a couple occasions, did actually make her fall asleep. Shivani and Elena, on the other hand, bonded over music including some of Shakira’s new stuff and “On The Floor” by JLo.

To learn more Spanish, Shivani and I had class everyday at a school nearby (5 min walk). From 9 to 10:30 we had class with Marta Martín, a young, new teacher who taught us all about the Spanish culture. We then had a break before Dr. Labarca’s Spanish Healthcare class when we usually ate a snack outside and watched the little kids play.

Some other things we did in Cádiz:

-went salsa (it may have actually been bachata) dancing at a local restaurant called Islazul, one of the servers led the dance lessons – it was a really good time

-went to the local market and got ingredients to make gazpacho – I diced the cucumbers yumm!!

            

-took class visits to a spina bifida clinic, La Cruz Roja (the Red Cross), and La Torre Tavira – the highest point overlooking Cádiz

-toured the Casco Antiguo meaning “Old City” including the catedral (in the first picture) and ate monteditos or tiny sandwiches at a restaurant in front of it

-watched a flamenco show –  really fun, very different from anything I have ever seen or heard before

-watched fireworks on the beach for Los Juanillos (night before our finals actually) – a Summer Solstice celebration

-went to a festival on our last night where they had ships on display and live music!

The morning we left was tough because Shivani, Elena, and I had all thoroughly enjoyed our stay. She had told us earlier that we were the only students to whom she showed her family albums. We promised to keep in touch and we have! Elena started utilizing her facebook with the help of Ana; I still chat and e-mail both of them!!

Thanks for reading this uber-long post.

Besos ❤

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