Well, I am living abroad...yet again. After Singapore, Spain, Turkey, Korea the Netherlands (and returning to Spain for a Masters) I've unpacked my backpack a little closer to home in Mexico. I live in Culiacan where I am trying my hand at teaching English to University and high school students. Below you'll find random updates as I go to festivals, explore my city or just feel like sharing a random story.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Monday, April 20, 2009

Day Three:

I had a SHORT day today! Only 13kilometers. Knowing this I woke up later and left around 8:15. The walk was still lots of freeway but not as much and really much prettier. I arrived at 11:45 to the small town of Villanieva de Campean. Most people walk through and head to Zamora but I had a little blister that was not happy times and wanted to arrive in Zamora refreshed and happy so I opted to stay in the Alburgue.

It was a newer alburgue that was still being built in the second story. The town was small, no store only a bar. I went into the bar and read the newspaper (great article about Picasso´s cubism being influenced by an old Bible he would have seen) and had the menu del dia (green beans, basket of bread, slice of meat with french fries, yogurt and wine). When he left the bottle of wine at my table I was unsure how much I was supposed to drink so I had about a quarter of the bottle. I was later told I didn´t drink enough :P

As I went to sleep that night an Irish pilgrim studying to be a priest came in the Alburgue at about 8:30pm or so. He had planned on staying in Zamora another night but the Alburgue only lets you stay one night so he had to bike to the next closest city. He and I exchanged a few stories and then went to sleep.

I have talked a bit about the alburgues that there are. They vary a lot, sometimes they are big with kitchens. Some alburgues are very small with hardly a bathroom. Sometimes therey are abandoned train stations that you can set your sleeping bag up wherever and sleep. The Irish-priest-to-be stayed there and blessed the rooms to make sure that nothing bad would happen as he slept.

MORAL: Better safe than sorry :P

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Day Two Lesson: Same Same...but different

I woke up at 6:30am and lazily watched as others began packing up their bags. I discovered I HATE packing in the dark. I was also a bit hesitant about the whole getting change part. So I took my jeans and shirt into the bathroom and changed in the dark (as the light was broken).

It was only 20 kilometers and since I ended up leaving around 7:30 the weather was just warming up as I started walking. The walk was mostly freeway but I still managed to get lost and ended up walking on the railroad tracks for a while. It was pretty, but definitely not where I was supposed to be. I headed towards the freeway and saw a French pilgram from the other day.

YAY! That means I am n the right track! Kept walking occassionally startled by a honking horn. At first I thuoght they were upset as I was basically walking on a very busy road but it turns out the honk is a sign of respect to the pilgrim...it´s like the car saying, "Hola, Bien Camino"

Arrived at Cubo de la Tierra de Vino at 12:30 and found the Alburgue. Went to the store and bought some tomatoes and tuna and made a makeshift salad. Did laundry (sink and clothes line) and read outside in the sun for a bit.

When I was outside some kids kicked a soccer ball and I stopped it and kicked it back. This prompted them to befriend me. It is funny that no matter where I am in the world when I talk to kids the number one question seems to be: "Do you have a boyfriend?" This is usually followed by other questions (such as do I shave my legs, whats my job etc). They were pretty funny. One person asked if they liked boys and when they responded that boys had cooties the man said, "oh so you´re lesbians".

They said that it might be better to like girls because girls are better at cleaning and ironing and cooking. Well...they obviously haven´t seen my house work. It is funny that even in this small town things are the same and yet so different.

Lesson Two: Same Same...but different. Even though the kids still write their names on the walls and believe in cooties and still want to know if I have a boyfriend, to them the woman belongs in the kitchen, and that´s it! I guess I have to remember that my point of view isn´t the only one the world has...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Camino Day One - Lesson: Just say it!

6:00am Woke up at 6:00am pressed snooze
6:10am Repeat
6:20am Repeat
6:30am Crawled out of bed. Packed bag. Got dressed. Put on my shirt, sweater, windbreaker, and other fun layers. Headed out with my directions and map.
7:00am Finally found out where the heck I was supposed to be going. The weather was good for being early, it had rained the night before but didn´t look like it was going to rain again right away.
7:15am Found my first yellow arrow!!! When you walk the Camino you follow these yellow arrows that point out the path to you.

Stopped keeping track of time :P

Entered my first town Aldeaseconde Armuña and bought a big water. Ran into some Germans who were trying to find a bus. They did the Camino last year and really enjoyed it. I helped them fnd their bus stop and they wished me luck!

I followed the arrows until I got to a fenced off river...judged that I had possibly miscalculated and retraced my steps. Found that maybe I should have gone a different way and tried that. Beautriful countryside rivers, gorgeous plants, everything was very green and not another person to be seen most the time.
Met up with my first pilgrims of the road Anton, Rahon, and Josh. They were German pilgrims (I´d later discover this is a common trend) who had walked from Salamanca! So they´d already been walking for a month! The walk went easier with them as I had someone to confirm the proper paths and talk about their days of walking. It was a pretty flat walk with LOTS of mud! To the point where my shoes became caked with it and lifting them up became an almost constant challenge.

Finally we arrived in Calzada de Valdunciel. The Germans were walking on to Cubo del Tierra de Vino but as it was my first day I chose to stop at the Alburgue. I was a bit confused (as my book doesn´t actually give directions to the alburgue) so I asked a very nice couple (after walking around lost for a while). Instead of asking for directions to the albrugue I wasn´t sure how to say it or if it would seem silly, so I asked about a bar that was supposed to be near. Then I went to the house where I could find a key to the alburgue. Finally some nice man asked me if I was a peregrina and walked me to the Alburgue.

Turns out this was where I had asked the couple in the first place! And they were the hosteleros (the people that volunteer to keep the alburgue running) so if I just would have asked them in the first place that could have saved me some time!

Lesson One of the Camino
Just ask people what you want to know. Being subtle has its time and place but for the most part in life if you want a simple answer then ask the simple question! beating around the bush might work sometimes, but walking around that bush takes a LOT of time and effort that is better spent doing something else!

The Alburgue was a small 8 bed set up with a kitchen, small common room and two bathrooms. It was paid by donation and they reccommended 3 Euros. It started raining about 2:00pm and I was very happy that I decided not to try to continue walking that day and instead opted to stay indoors reading and planning briefly. At night I huddled in my sleeping bag put a blanket over it and went to sleep with full intetnions of starting my walk early the next day.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Before the Camino...Salamanca

So I took a late night bus from Madrid to Salamanca and couchsurfed with a newbie surfer. This means she had JUST created the account and had virtually no infomration in it. Most people try to avoid staying with people like this...and that makes sense, but since I have been couchsurfing for such a long time and I am pretty good at getting out of weird situations I like to stay with people like this when I can to show them what couchsurfing is like, help them start their profile (with references) and explain things they may not understand. Plus, I think, it is easier for a girl who just starts out couchsurfing to have a girl with a fully filled profile stay the first time.

Anyways, Veronica was AWESOME! Met me at the train station took me to her apartment, her roomie was out of town so I got a bed and yummy dinner we stayed up talking and then I went to sleep. The next day I headed to this address where I was supposed to get my credencial. Turns out it was an outdated address. So then I headed to tourist information and got a new address. Headed to the seminary near the cathedral and paid my 50 centavos for my Credencial.

Your credencial is also caled the "Pilgrims Passport" and tells people that you are officially on the camino. Sometimes when you walk you stay at these hostels for a very reasonable rate (often just by donation usually no more than 6Euros) and you must show your credencial. It is also stamped along the way by churches you visit, Alburgues you stay in or Tourist Information Centers. At the end of the Camino you show your completed Credencial and you can get a Compestela (an official document issued by the Catholic church stating you´ve done the Camino).

I came back to Veronica´s place during siesta had lentil soup and fun conversations!!! Then armed with some suggestions of where I could get books headed back to the city center to find a guide for the pilgramage. Eventually I found an old but adequate guide and headed to the internet café to write in updated infomration (addresses, phone numbers etc.) I marked out the beginning of the route on the map set my alarm for 6am and went back to Veronica´s to get some sleep! Mañana Buen Camino!!!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Oi vey...month in review up until now

Well I am behind I know I keep waiting to download my photos to post but OK I guess this will have to do

In the last month (well since free hugs) I went to a North Kore vs South Korea Soccer game, had a goodbye dinner with friends, went bowlin´!!! had a goodbye night out, goodbye with the principal (yeesh lots of goodbyes right?)

Then left

Had over 24 hours in airplanes (over 36 hours in airports) and arrived in Madrid to meet my family

Did El Rastro, el Palacio and a few other cool things in Madrid then off to Salamanca. Back to Madrid with my sister to catch a flight to Venice!!!

In Venice we saw cool things, ate awesome food AND took a daytrip to Verona. Saw Juliet´s house and other cool tings, were dorks on a train etc.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Snack Bars the Korean way

You can see behind the counter an assortment of dried squid and other tasty treats