Tuesday, May 18

GLOBAL ROAD WARRIORS (People Say We Monkey Around)

*This is insanely overdue (aka I wrote it weeks ago), but hey, I guess it's all news to you!

The decision to stay behind in Jaen as all of my friends planned wonderfully fun spring break trips to exciting places like Italy and the Canary Islands wasn't as difficult as it sounds. (On second thought, I'm in Spain, so it probably doesn't sound difficult at all... I may have lost my sense of reality.)

Aaaaaanyhow, my rationale was as follows: I've already spent a few wonderful trips all over Italy and deep in my heart, I know I will set foot on its luscious terrain again at some point in my life. Two, as usual, had to make the best financial decision. Only this time it wasn't just that I didn't have any money (my late nights teaching private classes are thankfully paying off, literally). Rather, it had been allocated elsewhere. I had plans to frolic on the rolling green hills of Ireland, but that's a different blog... let's just say I am not a big fan of volcanoes.

On one hand, I was looking forward to a quiet week in Jaen by my lonesome. I happen to be some of my favorite company :) I had much travel writing to catch up on, deep cleaning I was excited to attack and even several classes to teach, figuring it best not to lose out on available work.

On the other hand, I was delighted to find a solidly motley crew of hooligans roughing it locally like myself. With Jenny from Newcastle, England and Amy from Chicago as my wingwomen, we set out and had ourselves the most fun of all.

With equal parts of work and play, I took a vacay in Jaen, filling my itinerary with all the things I'd been meaning to do. I finally hiked up to the castle for a picnic with other extranjeros, as you already know if you humor me by reading this. I made good on an invitation to the countryside with my local friends for a BBQ at David's country house. We had only just a little fun ;) 

Jenny, half Thai as she is, shared not only some of her smuggled-in authentic green curry, but some of her Thai cooking secrets as well. Let's just say I'm excited to share my new knowledge on a plate with y'all when I get back - you know who you are! We shared our creation with some other friends and again, had ourselves a grand time.

After an enjoyable botellon at Amy's (we taught the locs how to play Flip Cup), it was off to the processions with us. The biggest one of Semana Santa, or Holy Week/Easter, is called El Abuelo. Massive crowds come out in the middle if the night to see this. I greatly enjoyed the 
comraderie of being on the streets of Jaen witnessing a centuries-old tradition with my people. If you care to read more on this, check out my NileGuide blog! It's pretty interesting stuff. 

I didn't realize just how much I would be crossing things off my list, so we figured now was as good a time as any to hit up the Spanish beaches, as well as the Rock of Gibraltar. We rounded up a rowdy group of five, adding Dustincito and Kendel, the new conversation at my school to the mix. These two hail from the south (Alabama and South Carolina, respectively) and their uncanny (and often shocking) Southern humor was a hootin' hollerin' good time on the road! 

For 20 a head, we rented ourselves a little silver hatchback and set out for adventure. Driving down the Costa del Sol was breathtaking. I may have set out to cross some places off my list, but I undoubtedly added twice as many in the process. We spent a few hours basking in the sun in the Mediterranean, had ourselves some Kebabs on the water (pretty much my version of heaven) and headed out for the Rock of Gibraltar.

Being on "The Rock" (must be Alcatraz's cousin hee hee) was SUCH an experience. First of all, we could see Africa, which was awesome. Secondly, hearing the Gibraltarians speak is NUTS. You know that word "gibberish?" Yeah, that comes from the Gibraltarians. Gibraltar has belonged to the U.K. for more than 300 years, yet it is located on the southern coast of Spain. This makes for an interesting dialect of British English with some Spanish slang thrown-in. It literally sounds like they are speaking gibberish. 

In essence, we went to play with the monkeys and play we did. These little buggers roam free on The Rock and only have brief phases when they enjoy sharing it with you (there seems to be a unmistakable coincidence to this and whether or not you bring them food). From Kendel being slapped by one to another trying to hop in the car with Dustin, the monkeys were well worth the visit!

Dinner in Gibraltar town was a very British fish 'n' chips, washed down with a ton of laughs and for dessert, a few hours on the road with sweet music and electrifying conversation.

This awesomeness is worth a peek at my album. These monkeys are too much for words :)

Never underestimate the power of a few things: time alone, saying yes to everything and finally, the wonder and marvel you can experience day trippin'.