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This has nothing to do with Spain but my baby brother turns 19 today. I haven't been home for his birthday in years, but I feel much farther away right now.

19 years ago my other brother and I were standing on our tippy toes peering into the glass as the nurse weighed and measured this screaming red baby. Adam said, "hmph. He cries a lot." I turned to him and said, "so do you." He pinched me and I started crying. I pinched him back and then all three of us were crying at the same time. It was really late at night and we wanted to see our mom but we were told she was tired. Adam and I somehow snuck to her room anyway but our dad quickly herded us out of there as Mom was pretty out of it at that point. We went back to Uncle Jon's house and fell asleep while talking about what it was going to be like having a little brother.

I have a hard time believing that baby is now 19.


Originally uploaded by elijahjack.

Originally uploaded by elijahjack.
This cathedral is about 2 blocks from my school. It is in a plaza near the wall that surrounds the city and in the old part of town. I walk by it most nights when looking for something to do.

Yesterday we went to Baeza and Jaen. We visited an old castle which is the biggest we've seen yet. After that we toured ancient Arabic baths that were built in the 11th century. It was by far the most amazing thing I think we've seen yet. The museum is mostly underground, because the baths were built beneath this old palace. The beginning is glass floors above the baths so you can walk and look down at the same time. The rest of the baths you actually get to walk around inside of. No cameras were allowed, so I didn't get pictures, but I'm going to see if there are any photos online because it was unlike anything I've ever seen before.

I received a care package from my girlfriend the other day that had a new book, a t-shirt from Cupcake Royale, my long-lost pair of glasses, and a cute note. It smelled like home and up until that point I hadn't experienced much homesickness. I don't really miss home much, but I do wish that my girlfriend and my cat were here.

Still sick. Going on 4 weeks now I think. I'm going to be pretty irritated if I'm sick the whole time I am here. I guess I don't feel so bad since everyone else is sick too. I think our bodies are adjusting to new diets and time schedules. Plus, we're all living in pretty close quarters and we just keep passing around new bugs. Ugh.

Apr. 18th, 2007

I think I am experiencing my first ever sinus infection. I managed to fumble my way through la farmacia with in my best spanglish and I walked away with some nose spray, codeine, and antibiotics. I'm feeling a little better, but still crappy.

In other news, I met a girl. Well, 6 of them really, because it turns out blond hair blue eyed guys are rare and coveted here. Gender cues and relations are so completely different here that I didn't realize right away what was going on. The men are very physically affectionate with each other here. In the U.S. you would definitely peg them all as gay, but here it is perfectly normal. Men don't touch women as much and it has been the men who have introduced me to the women. That just doesn't happen back home. But here men keep approaching me and saying, "excuse me, my friend over there really wants to meet you, but her english isn't very good. Do you speak spanish?"

At first I thought this was all just friendly, friendly chit chat, but I soon came to realize there was an issue when 2 girls started getting really upset with another girl chatting me up in the corner. I explained to all of them that, "yo tengo novia en los estado unidos," but that didn't seem to matter much. Acili is really sweet though, and we're supposed to meet up later this week so she can practice her english and I can practice my spanish.

I almost adopted a street dog the other day, but Seth talked me out of it. He was tiny, scruffy, and I fed him my sandwich.

If anyone wants to send me a care package, I am having a desperate craving for mac & cheese and reeses peanut butter cups.

I will bring you back a bottle of the best olive oil you've ever had in your life.

bad day

Today was scary and probably the first time I actually really felt homesick. I almost got punched in the face by my neighbor in my own kitchen. It was pretty surreal. Someone was ringing the doorbell this morning and my room is closest to the door. I wasn't going to get up because I am sick again and feeling pretty crappy, but the ringing wouldn't stop. I figured it was just a friend, so I didn't bother putting my contacts in. I open the door and out of the dark this man comes rushing towards me screaming. "Entiendo, entiendo?!" he's screaming and I'm stuttering and losing my balance because I can't see and the last thing I expected was this. "No entiendo!" I scream.

He grabs me by the shoulder and shoves me into the kitchen. He drags me to the window, grabs my neck, and pushes my head out the window screaming something and then, "nunca, nunca, nunca!" I am having a flashback to early this morning of Seth and Amanada tossing a cigarette off the balcony and I'm getting it now. He thinks I am Seth and that I tossed cigarettes onto his patio. I forget how to conjugate but he gets that I understand. He runs quickly back out my house, slamming the frong door leaving me standing in the middle of my kitchen in shock and alone and wondering where my flatmates are. Without a word, I crawl back into bed and pass out.

And then Wells Fargo charged me $400 for something that never happened and I'm tired and they aren't being helpful and I really want to go out for a drink with Andrew.

eli eating snails. baby ones.

eli eating snails. baby ones.
Originally uploaded by elijahjack.
I almost lost a pinky the other night. I had to eat a snail in order to keep it because I accidently promised it to some guy in the bar if I didn't eat snail. It was a problem. I should spend less time in the bar and more time at home studying my spanish. Directly after this photo I started gagging and almost threw up. Something I never expected: snail is crunchy sometimes. Sick.

I am really in need of a haircut but I'm afraid. Back home, I never make myself clear enough in english to get the haircut I want, how the heck am I going to do it in spanish?

grumpy mcgrumperson

Originally uploaded by elijahjack.
i've been sick and my bank is being a big confusing jerk. this afternoon an ATM ate my debit card and i had to frantically run inside and speak spanglish to the teller. somehow i was able to communicate clearly enough for her to understand and then i realized that my spanish is actually much better than i give myself credit for. i got my debit card back but then wells fargo charged me for a transaction that never transpired and i'm irritated, to say the least. i tried to call them, but it is a bit more difficult to get ahold of wells fargo via telephone in spain.

oh, this picture is of some random castle we passed by while driving to ubeda.

i need some personal space asap. i like the folks here, but i am used to having my own time. here i wake up with my friends, we get coffee, food, go to class, go out after class, walk each other home, repeat. i don't operate like that. i need time to spend by myself. i'm looking into bus tickets to granada or cordoba for a weekend.

culture shock

Originally uploaded by elijahjack.
When I say I have culture shock, I don't mean that I am freaked out or uspet by the culture I am encountering. Actually, the opposite is happening: every day I spend here, the more upset I become with my own culture. I am so disgusted with the way the people in my country live, waste, ignore, wallow, etc. This country is far from perfect, but there are things about it that I very much wish were in my country.

Although, I have to admit, I do very much miss the food.

My father would be proud: the other night I cooked dinner for 7 people at the spur of the moment. My roommate was hungry and broke and Angelina really wanted something other than meat. Flatmates started coming home from class with friends, and within half an hour, I had pasta with pesto for the vegetarians, pasta with carbonara for others, and fresh asparagus. Tomorrow I'm going to try to find some tofu somewhere in this town and make some curry. Hopefully.

On top of being sick, my back is acting up. I brought my muscle relaxers, but I'm not taking them because I'm afraid of being too zonked out for class. I met a stray dog which I almost brought home with me, but was able to resist.

I really wish one of my friends from back home was here. I enjoy the people here, but I miss the folks who have known me for at least 5 years.

this is not the kkk

Originally uploaded by elijahjack.
Semana Santa is over and the town has changed overnight. Everyone is taking time off and the town is sleepy and quiet.

I'm sick and that sucks but I'm dealing. The exchange rate changed since we've been here and we're all dealing with a nasty loss of money. Money from the United States is worth less and less every day.

This could easily turn into a pretty depressive journal entry, so I think I'll stop here and go watch a movie with Seth and Angelina. I'm having a good time, I'm just dealing with some culture shock and all that jazz.

angelina, seth, elijah

angelina, seth, elijah
Originally uploaded by elijahjack.
Yesterday we went on a field trip to places I never quite caught the name of. We did visit an old Islamic palace called the Baths of Al-hamma, where I almost passed out and puked as I tiptoed along a 1,100 year old ledge of a castle trying to get to a tower. Halfway across I thought, "I'm glad I invested in the ISIC card so my folks don't have to pay for my body to be shipped back to U.S. when I fall and spill my blood all over this wall." I am pretty sure my mother would havel passed out if she saw me cross this ledge.

But we made it and climbed up creepy steep stairs to the tower that overlooked the olive groves and town. It was fantastically beautiful and I had one of those, "I am actually in Spain" moments.

Two nights ago we stumbled into Mass. We seem to do that a lot -- come upon places and situations without realizing it. We walked into an enormous and ancient church packed to the brim with people. It was around 11 o'clock at night but this was part of the Semana Santa procession. I was originally creeped out because I don't have much of a religious background and walking into a dark church only lit by candles and people chanting in a language I don't know is... well... creepy.

But then there was singing and I melted.

Yesterday Seth, Sam, Ashley, and I came home and went directly to the bar we've been visiting every night since discovery. It is a small little mom & pop place right below our flat. Antonio is the bartender and Maria, his wife, makes the tapas. Antonio does the old man shuffle and sings to us as he gets our beer. Maria sits in the back watching TV until Antonio sends back an order. Occasionally their grandkids come running through and they kiss their cheeks and feed them tapas. Antonio has been testing us with tapas, which we've always consumed, regardless of the gross factor. I think he's really amused by us.

Last night Seth and I shaved our faces together. I was getting the 3-day scruff and Seth decided to shave his whole beard. No one ever taught me how to shave before, I've been sort of winging it, so it felt kind of cool to finally have another guy stand with me at the mirror as we shave. He's 29 and doesn't really know how to shave either, so I didn't feel so bad anymore about missing that boyhood milestone.

Oh, I'm gonna go grab some falafel before siesta starts!