Wow. 210 is a big number and it's crazy to think I have been in this now not-so-foreign country for that long! I don't even want to think about how much things must have changed in my home in the time that I've been away. For example, my younger twin brothers started high school this year and through skype I can see that they're shooting up in height and their voices are getting all manly... I didn't give them permission to grow up! Ahh. Truth be told, when I left New Zealand it was like I pushed the pause button on life there and pushed play in another life in Spain. I just can't picture New Zealand any other way than how I left it... Which makes me quite nervous. I know that everyone else's lives have carried on and this makes me worry about how I'm going to fit back into the norms and routines, back into my kiwi life. But hey, there's a wee way to go yet and for now I can close the door to these niggling worries.
So what's been happening? I've been living a busy life here lately. Not only in my day to day schedule but with special occasions too!
Gee wizz, come to think of it, there's a ton of things that I could talk about! Where to start is usually the problem...
Hmm back in, I don't when, (maybe end of February) I went with my host family to a used-to-be hospital of Santa Creu and Sant Pau, which was absolutely beautiful. It was designed by a student of Gaudi (the talented man behind the construction of "La Sagrada Familia") to be a sanctuary for the sick . It was a fully functioning hospital until June 2009 but it is currently undergoing restoration for use as a museum and cultural centre. We actually got a private tour of the hospital, after hours, because my host dad had a friend that worked there and offered to let us in for free and show us around.
The following day we packed up some bags and headed to the old family house in Girona for the weekend. This is where my host dad's pride and joy is grown, the garden. Lots of friends and family had been invited to have a barbecue in the garden. Mind you , this wasn't a normal kind of barbecue, this was a traditional Catalan barbecue with calçotadas. Calçotadas are spring onions and are basically crimated on the barbecue until they're black on the outside. The hot onions are then eaten in an animal like fashion - you strip the outside off getting black all over your hands and dip the soft centres in a special orange salsa that has a little kick in it. I was surprised to find how delicious they were! Hoping to find the salsa in New Zealand and get my family in on the experience!
It was a nice weekend getting to stay in a very old and cute house and share quality time with these crazy Catalans I live with here :)
In the middle of March my host dad had his 50th birthday and so, to celebrate and do something a little different, we spent the day at the zoo! Barcelona zoo is really big and even though we were there for a decent few hours I think that we only managed to see half of the park. It was really cool as the park had just about every animal you could want to see, and I got to see new animals that I had never seen before too. It was great spending time with the family and actually feeling like they enjoyed my company :3
After the zoo we came home and had a lovely saturday lunch before heading to the regular Esplai group that I've told you about. This time in Esplai things got a bit crafty and included painting our group symbol on one of the walls in the centre. Not too shabby I must say.
The next day my host mum had invited all the family around for a birthday dinner and so I spent the afternoon helping cook and setting things up for the evening. I've discovered that I have developed a passion for cooking and I always enjoy helping my host mum out in the kitchen which will definitely benefit my family when I get home! I'm also sure that my host mum will miss my helping hands as having three sons it's not that often she gets a happy volunteer in the kitchen!
Just two weekends past we had another barbecue in Girona, another celebration for my host dad's birthday... And this weekend past my host mum also organised yet another dinner (this one a surprise) for his birthday. Bit spoilt I'd say, but he's such a great man and really appreciates everything so he deserves it! :)
Over the past few weeks I have been really busy, with school, the gym, friends and helping out kids with their English.
After having had hockey in Castelldefels and arriving here and having to stop playing, I felt really inactive and I really didn't like it. So I have joined one of the nicest gyms here, that's located basically on the beach, and have been regularly going with every opportunity I get. It's 15 minutes with my bike and I usually need a good 2 hours to fully make the most of it, so it's quite difficult to find time. I have loved being able to swim there as I had been missing my regular morning swims with my real mum back in good old timaru. It's just not the same without her but the beautiful sensations of swimming are still there. It's especially great when coming straight from the gym because the air-conditioning isn't working at the moment and it feels like working out in a sauna!
2 weeks ago I enjoyed a girls night out with my girls Žanete and Katerina and the both of them were able to stay the night at my house. It was great going out and experiencing the typically talked about "Barcelona nightlife". Even though it wasn't on the top of my list, this was one of the reasons why I wanted to come to Barcelona! :p
I've also been on some excursions with the school just recently, which are like wee class field trips. One for Catalan and one for economics. The Catalan excursion was to a museum and we studied the works of an artist. As much as it was great to be out of school, I can not say I enjoyed the 45 minutes walk back home after... I was wearing my new boots and they killed me, had to practically limp. If only I had known that my train ticket had expired and had brought money to get a new one, I also shouldn't have listened to the teacher who told me that it was only a 20 minute walk -_-
The economics excursión was quite cool, we went to a business centre that spoke about how to start a business and the way it works. We were all entertained during the break when two girls were just randomly dancing (like really going for it) outside the centre, there was a good crowd going.
On Sunday we went to the aquarium with free entrance as a relative of the family works there. It was really interesting but it kind of put me off scuba diving because of all the facts about the dangerous fish. We saw a big collection of different kinds of sea animals including seahorses, penguins, corals, crabs and sharks. It doesn't matter how protected you are from the sharks it is still terrifying seeing them up close! One of the sharks was really old and had a hunchback - I was thoroughly amused hahaha.
The school holidays begin at the end of this week and I can not wait to have more free time!! Plus, the weather is looking up! I have already started hitting up the beach (across the road) though its not warm enough to swim yet! I'm now counting down the days till I leave for The Netherlands, Holland for a 6 day trip :) I will be going to stay with my host family's family which will be great as they have a daughter my age, not to mention the fact that I will get to put The Netherlands on the list of places I've travelled to!
Today (I'm still finishing this entry on the 8th of April) marks only 80 days to go in Spain! But I will have to travel for nearly 2 days before my journey will come to an end. I am absolutely dreading the flights back!! Nearly died arriving here...
Anyway, I hope that sums up all that has been going on in this bittersweet life of mine! I guess I will let you all know how my trip goes and everything else!! :D
Love from Victoria
The Spanish girl :)