P.S. Sorry ,I have not written.~(the reality of homesickness)

FullSizeRenderAs I deal with another one of my insomniac episodes… I find myself listening to Oasis, “Stop Crying Your Heart Out” (I know I am a bit of a masochist) I finally got the inspiration to write again.  I have had to rewrite this post several times, but tonight after having a conversation with someone it finally gave me some clarity.

Why would I talk about this ? Reason number one, I met a lot of people the past month due to a job opportunity who are starting the same journey and I help guide them.  So this is for them…  Secondly, to just prove I am human… I feel a lot of people have this misconception that I live a really charmed life and everything is lollipops and unicorns.  Yes, I do but life is not perfect  sometimes you just  feel like $H*t.  However, before you decide to sell everything and move some where… far… far away.  Here are somethings I am going through and maybe this could help someone you know.

Number 1: Let it flow because it comes in waves.  I feel that some of my friends experienced homesickness early on. Yours truly on the other hand, homesickness reached an all time high when I finally got a place of my own place in Madrid. I believe it is the realization that this place could be a place I could live long term.  I have had to try to stop being so hard with myself and go ahead and let myself feel whatever emotions I feel.   I am usually use to saying everything is ok when clearly it is not.   If I was pissed off that day than just be mad … If you want to cry just cry. Lesson on this wave of emotions DON’T ignore it feels like you are riding a wave.  Well the last time I surfed I swallowed the ocean but whatever … Who is keeping track.

Number 2:Issues you may have are exacerbated.  When you are in your place of comfort some of the small things like getting into a disagreement with someone, breakup, death in the family, moving … or just anything that involves any degree of  change can feel 10 times worse.  On the flip side when you have moments of happiness, great conversation, drinks with old friends or new ones it feels like you are on cloud 9. Lesson on mission exacerbate: It’s NORMAL to feel such polar opposite emotions you are so far away from home and you don’t have a support system.

Number 3: Kisses Vs. Hugs.  This seems  trivial but important.  Greeting here with two kisses has its enchantment.  In fact, it was one of my favorite aspects of the culture.  Let’s face it when you go state side we hug family, friends, friendenemies,  and coworkers.  We even give that awkward side pat on the back hug sometimes. I realized that this quote stands to be true more now than ever. ” Maybe home is nothing but two arms holding you tight when you are are your worst”.  According to research we are suppose to hug.  Lesson on mission XO: Beyonce is right you should hug more…

Number 4: Face time and FACETIME is important.Face time with the people in your adopted country  important.  It sometimes can be difficult in Spain despite the misconception of openness.  I’m not saying they are not friendly but you have to understand that most of these friendships have happened since there were in the womb or grade school.  You do find yourself trying harder trying to infiltrate the spanish circles which causes at times exhaustion and social anxiety. In reality it never killed anyone to try harder.  FACETIME was an essential this summer!  I am eternally grateful to Steve Jobs being able to see  my friends and family has eased some of my anxiety.  Lesson on Mission FACE Time and FACETIME: stay busy in your adopted home and contact those at home.

Number 5: Last, but not least I’m calling this  the Guiri hang-up.  Guiri is a term for foreigners in Spain.    Guiri Hang-up in my opinion is this constant tug-a-war between two places. This puts you in a confusing place you yearn to be around what is familiar but you still have an impulse for the foreign.  Lesson on Mission GUIRI HANG-UP … will report back I am still trying to figure it out.

Just because I have been able to capture great moments it does not mean that my life is perfect.  I know I was an active participant in everything that has come my way.  If anything this has taught me to appreciate the good and the bad.  To try not to beat myself up when things  are not quite right.  Even though sometimes I feel straight up alone (not to be confused with lonely) the most I can do is be proactive and deal with it and keep riding the train.  Maybe help others along the way to say you are not alone.

 

 

 

Spainaversary 365

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So yes, a year ago today I landed in Madrid.  I thought well this will only be for a year… regroup and go back to the States.  Well, this is the classic case of planning and life is hell bent in saying, ” Your cute … this is what is really going to happen”…

I thought that I could really explain what this year has meant to me, but I figured the images I captured with my camera would speak volumes. Click here to watch the video.

Camels, Sahara, Berbers OH MY!!! Morocco Series Part 3

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To say “Todo, we are not in Kansas anymore” is a complete understatement of 2015 when talking about the desert (wait not just any desert the Sahara). Recently, I spoke about Chefchauoen and it is still my favorite city. However, my favorite experience would have to be the desert. Which most Spanish people would say here in Spain, ” es una pasada” (literally means it’s passed but translated as this is “awesome” ) .Most have been to Morocco will agree  that it’s a place where they have mastered the art of  encapsulating time.

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I am the first one

However, getting to this place easily resembles the journey the Three Wiseman took to give Jesus his gifts on January 6th.  We left Fez at the break of dawn from our fun-filled day before.  It was 6 hours to be exact with several stops and a bite of Moroccan style Mille-Feuille pronounced [mil fœj] it means in French a thousand layers of sweet diabetic goodness.

Then, Ta-Da there it was the entrance to the desert.  Quickly, I realized that my derrière and I  were relieved to get off the bus, but there is a sense of calmness that comes over you. Once we stepped out of our tour bus ,which I have coined the time machine, you would think I would smell camel dung.  Instead, I was surprised with an overwhelming scent of camomile, men with long colorful robes, and turban’s.  Before I knew it, I had a Berber wrap my head with a scarf to create a turban.  I know what you are thinking you put on the turban  for the photo-op or the Facebook profile picture.  I would answer to the cynics, ” When in Morocco” and really when will I ever get the opportunity to wear a turban. The truth is that the turban does have a purpose as Youssef, my berber guide through the desert stated, “Covering your head protects you from the sun and the longer part in the back is to pull it across your face when it gets windy and the sand does not hit your face.” (I am working on a post with Youssef alone… Alyshah will be pleased JAJAJ inside joke)

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The Berber guy who wrapped my head earlier said, ” You the leader…” I remember thinking not even in the desert do things change.  I quickly got reminded of Alexi, my childhood best friend.  She would tend to agree that I am not really a follower and remember thinking about her request for me to bring her some sand.  Then my loud mind suddenly becomes quiet and it sounds cheesy… Yes I  know, but it is a religious experience.  When you get to the top of the sand dune you feel a moment of stillness and silence.  Something I usually always try to strive for in my yoga class however, I always manage to fall asleep. Yet you know time is passing only because you are seeing the process of the sunset and the second miracle across from the sun you see the moon.  I feel that it is one of the most beautiful empirical moments of my life.  #bucketlistexperience112 check…

Click here to watch breathtaking views of the desert.

Chefchaouen… Chefchaouen… Why are you so Blue!

 

Chefchaouen… my first recollection of this city was about two years ago when I was in my cubical randomly searching through pinterest.  I would take a 10 minute break so I would not go cookoo  for coco puffs after answering phones and dealing with some disingenuous people.  I remember when I typed in the search box “Morocco” an image of this city appeared.  I remember thinking  ” I will be there someday”. Well this day finally came, it was last Saturday.  My second stop in Morocco did not mentally prepare my brain for how blissfully beautiful  this quaint city would be.  The ocean shades of blue, narrow minaret arch ways, intricately placed tile, without the children taking  notice of the splendor  they live in.

No one would know that this place was attack several times in its lifetime.  First, the Portuguese, then the Bereberes (rebellious tribe AKA Man of the Desert),  and the Spanish.  Due to these attempted conquest of this blue paradise city remained closed to all foreigners especially Christians from the 17th century until 1920 when the Spanish occupied the city.   So I do find it ironic that the place I would step foot in Morocco during Semana Santa (Holy Week) would be this one.
Chefchaouen is not just memorable because it was the first city we explored or the fact that I got proposed to for the first time (I will explain more later), but more importantly is where I got my first taste of Moroccan Food.  Most of all, my friends will tell you that I base my love for a place on how much I love their food.  After all, it is one of the life’s greatest pleasures to enjoy food.  After the food … discovering tiny alley ways,  and friendly locals. I would probably have to say it is one of the most photogenic cities I have ever seen.
I never thought this tiny alley way city colored in blue would leave a mark on my memory the way it has.  I know it’s a bit premature to say, however this  Moroccan City, was my favorite city. My Iphone and Sony camera have been blessed to have the honor to snap moments in this city.
I strayed away from the group to buy a traditional dress.  The shop owner asked,  “You are not from here, right?”  … “Yes, I’m not”  … He responded with ”  Welcome  to Morocco” .  This act reminds me of the reason why I travel because it is a constant reminder of how many good, kind people there are in the world and how I occupy such a small place in it.
P.S. Ouarzazate and the Sahara next
3,257 KM travelled,Three Marriage propsals,Third Continent visited(and Counting), officially got my first Girl Crush…  Morocco Series 1

3,257 KM travelled,Three Marriage propsals,Third Continent visited(and Counting), officially got my first Girl Crush… Morocco Series 1

When I decided to finally go to my third continent I knew it as going to be different, but I did not expect it to leave such an impact the way it has.   I booked this trip mainly because … Continue reading

180 days aka five months and some change

  

A 180 days ago, I kissed my parents at the airport with not an exact return date.  The only thing I remember  from my final hours in Houston were my father aka pitbull  with his go pro camera… (which might as well be attached to his hand) and my mother worried that two suitcases were not   enough for me to have everything I needed for a year. I have to say at the time I shared the same sentiments. However,  the woman at the checkin counter… Looked at my luggage and me and said,” You’re going to Madrid”. I heard her mumble to her partner “isn’t that a bit much”. I snarled at her at said ,”well I’m moving to Madrid for a year not that it is any of your business”… So she didn’t charge me for my lbs overage. I remember thinking I am glad my crazy eyes are good for something.  Then, I got on that plane and made a promise to myself once I step out British airways 12 hour flight that I was going to do everything differently. I was going to soak everything in with an open mind and more importantly an open heart.

  

So as I dedicated my yoga practice in class today.   I realized I have made a life  for myself here I can say without a doubt that I am a different person. I look at pictures and I do not recognize myself. I am sure my friends think the same. 

Most importantly, what I have learned about myself is to be in the moment. I use to always have a plan. I would have nauseating conversations with myself making sure I accomplished long term and short term goals. I never allowed myself to just get lost somewhere. Or just enjoy a view, sit and relax.  I am so internally grateful that I have had this time for myself. Now as I am 180 days in  I hope I get one step closer to what I have been looking for. That is to  trust myself. Be ok with not having a plan and appreciate the present.

Nochevieja (old night) aka New Year’s Eve

AHHHH So believe it or not I was just about to hit publish as i stepped away to see it on my tablet. It was completely erased. So you can just imagine how I felt at 1:43 a.m. I wanted to jump out of my balcony but realized it is only three flights and I would survive. So instead I went back to bed and thought I may or may not start this post over again.

So i woke up with a clear mind… (somewhat) thought no this is worthy of posting and it is a memory that I do not want to ever forget.

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Most of my friends have seen my Facebook post and think well the Spanish know how to party. Well yes they do, but what most don’t know is that Christmas and New Year’s Eve (especially) is spent with family. So when I got invited New Year’s Eve dinner I was not only elated and grateful.
click here to view video

So let me just say contrary to what some people may think that the spanish are late to events. NOOOOOOO they are not . When they ask you to be there at 14:00 hrs and you hear 12:00 hrs its best to be there early. So yes yours truly was late. However, it was not entirely my fault. The Metro is usually on time and I have to say one of the most efficient public transportation . This particular evening, New Years Eve the lines were not flowing as frequently and we had to switch lines… So my fellow Houstonians who are not aware this is not just an inconvenience it is also a huge pain in the A$$.

So yes dinner started at 9:00 I got there at 9:40 … Then they started with the appetizer… Yes a Spanish dinner is not a quick hour. No I do not think I can emphasize this enough but eating is minimum a two and half hour procession. (Which I love!!!) This meal seemed to be perfectly timed because by the time with got to dessert it was time to bring the champagne and Grapes. Yes, you heard me right “Grapes”.
WHY Grapes ? Funny you should ask… in 1909 Vinalopó a grape producer had an overproduction that year. So this company gave away grapes at the end of the harvest which happens to at the end of December. Ever since then the Spanish have started this tradition of eating 12 grapes, one for each month and this is called las doce uvas de la suerte. Did I mention there is a process ….Ah Ha yes a processes. Most normal people are at home with their families watch their version of “Ball Drop” in Time Square. Except this square is La Puerta del Sol. People (abnormal) camp out by four in the afternoon to get there spot for New Years. So right before the stroke of midnight and the grapes are distributed you have four consecutive chimes. This is saying ” On your mark set …Go” Then there are 12 chimes, on each chime you eat a grape. Keep in mind that there is only two to three seconds break in between eating. So you really don’t eat the grapes as much as you swallow them with seeds and all.

This has made me reflect that If i decide to go back to the states. I will not celebrate my New Year’s Eve with a Friends. I will make sure I am always with family. This experience made me reminisce of one of my favorite New Year’s that was when I was with my family in Panama in 2007.

Hospitality in Madrid

First, I know that is has been truly way over due, but I wanted to take a break and stop and be an honorary madrileña and just enjoy the holidays.  I can not deny that I have an amazing schedule. My main gig is at the cole short for colegio aKa School. I work from Tuesday thru Friday. Then I have my evenings occupied with private lessons.

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One of my favorite private lessons are a brother and sister combo  that I absolutely adore. Sergio and Sara they are half Spanish and half Moroccan. (YES, TOOOO CUTE!!!) Their mother is such a Sweetheart.  Since she knows that I am here for all intensive purposes alone, she is great at giving me tips on where to  find certain things or has been a great guide. Being from TEXAS, I have always been aware that we are very hospitable … but pleasantly surprise the   Madrileños  somehow know how to show us Texans, a bit more about hospitality.

Consequently, getting ready for the holidays are always a bit daunting.  Since my honeymoon phase with Madrid has come to a halt. December is a month that I have always had a love/ hate relationship.  You reflect on the good things, the things you would do differently, and hope that you do not make the same mistakes The following year. Then when you add the component of being in a different country it tends to complicate things. (Or how they say here tela marinera)

So when Fatima welcomed me to her home and wanted to have a  lunch in my honor  I almost fell out of my seat.  This three coarse meal (which is very common in Spain) made me realized more than ever, that you really never stop learning.  The family got to know a little bit about me not just as a teacher.  Most importantly I learned about them.  I don’t think the parents meant this, but I started to think deeply about it…That they are teaching there kids to be kind and grateful human beings.

As for me I realized that “I’m not just a Teacher” …click here for a short video of these two cuties!!!