Home, Wood, Food, Tuna!

>> December 8, 2010

Hello friends and family! We haven't been too inspired to post lately (for lack of material). But we wanted to catch everyone up until we come to California for the holidays. We have been fairly busy here but also we have been taking the time to enjoy the city. Their are lots of little special events that happen around this season so we have been enjoying some of the traditional Spanish fiestas. But of course we are excited to be back in California soon! We will land in San Francisco on the night of the 18th!
Our American neighbors and good friends, the Teagues, lucked out and had someone contact them about renting their apartment during the holidays while they are back in the states. We figured we would advertise our place and see if anyone would want to do the same with us. So after some cleaning and de-cluttering we snapped some pictures of our apartment. It has been awhile since we have posted any pictures of it so here we go!

We recently bought a rug for the salón. Rayas really appreciates it and it helps a little with the cold.

The front door with the stairs going up to the loft.

We bought the baby oven and put up spice racks in the kitchen. Sarah really likes the coffee station.

The curtains that we hung for the loft.

We use this picture on our couchsurfing profile to show people where they will be sleeping.

We have improved this bed a little with bed risers (thanks mom Lyftogt!) and some extra padding from Ikea. Still is nothing compared to our amazing Cal King in California. We grew some grass in the window for Rayas to eat.

New shower curtain and rugs (from Walmart). Spain's stuff costs twice as much.

Great for multi-tasking!

The patio

Word got around about my carpenter skills, and since nothing is made out of wood here people are afraid to work with it, so they called me. Marcos, our Cuban youth pastor friend, wanted a stage built in his youth room at the Baptist Church in town. The framing is made up of 3 raggedy wooden pallets.

Then one of the maintenance guys from the church asked if I could repair some old pews for them. He showed me the pew graveyard and I was able to scrap and glue a couple together. I was really interested in the organs I found in the back but they seem a little too far gone.

Sarah has been busy at the school but she also found time to host a merienda time (like coffee time) with our friends. The Spaniards always get really excited about American style treats because Spanish treats never taste as good as they look.

Brownies, Snickerdoodle cupcakes, banana bread, and there was a carrot cake!

This doesn't happen often, but it makes us feel at home.

Sarah was in charge of making apple pies for this years school staff Thanksgiving.

It was a big hit, but people were too full to dig into the other one.
I was happy we got to take it home.

We actually got to eat 3 Thanksgiving meals this year. On Thanksgiving day we ate with the entire school at a cuban restaurant Azucar de Cuba, who does a pretty good job with the food every year. Then on Saturday we ate together as the school staff. Then on Sunday we headed over to friend and coworker Ana Bello's house. I was definitely thankful that Spaniards embrace the Thanksgiving eating traditions.

Last night we headed out behind the catherdral to watch the Tuna bands sing to the statue of the virgin Mary to celebrate her immaculate conception. Wierd huh?

I don't know where they get the idea that Mary was immaculately conceived, but the music is fun. When it started to rain heavily we could't help but think it was a sign from God that he did not approve of the festivity. Once the umbrellas went up, we couldn't really see anything.

Different Tuna groups take turns singing to the statue, so when they are not there, they are singing in other parts of the city. We followed this group into our favorite little plaza for a more intimate show.

Lots of cool stringed instruments, good harmonies, and a guy dancing with a flag.

What is a tuna band you may ask. All I have heard is that they come from different departments in the local universities. I found this description from www.huntinspain.com which I really enjoyed.

The tuna is a consummately Spanish concept, which of course makes it virtually impossible to explain. Essentially, a tuna is a roving band of semi-professional musicians and singers, hardcore partiers, would-be womanizers (though a lot actually have steady girlfriends) and small-time con artists who dress up in costumes that date from the seventeenth century — black shirts with puffed sleeves, breeches and huge capes decorated with patches from various conferences and concerts and ribbons. Each patch supposedly represents the love of a chica.
Most of their songs are about women, drinking or being from a certain region of Spain (or Portugal or Latin America, as the case may be). About half are minor-key laments; the other half are up-tempo dance numbers, and there’s a handful of songs that are both or a mixture of the two.

It seems that most of the songs sung on this night were respectful songs to the Virgin Mary. My favorite part of the night was when one of the Tuna broke out into a (most likely inappropriate) song about a girl. People were starting to sing along but then another Tuna made him stop. He was pointing upward at the windows of the convent next door. I guess he knew that the nuns would not approve.

We hope to take some pictures of the Christmas lights around the city so that will mean one more blog post before we are in California!

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Video clips from "Noche entre amigos"!

>> November 9, 2010

Hello all,

Thought you would enjoy seeing a couple video clips from when we played at "Noche entre amigos" at the Baptist Church, here in Sevilla. We had a great time playing these 2 songs with our neighbor Wesley!

video
I Saw the Light


video
If Not for You

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Friends, Kitties, and Fiesta

>> November 1, 2010

A lot of our post are mostly about the trips we take, but we know its about time that we updated everyone a little bit about life here in Sevilla and it's about time we introduce you to our new friends Wesley and Emma.
We came into contact by email through friends of friends of friends as we were helping them with information about apartments in Sevilla. They got jobs to teach English in a pueblo outside of Sevilla but wanted to live in the centro like us. After a million (according to Wesley) emails we finally realized that they were finally in Sevilla and staying in a hostal until they found an apartment. We decided to invite them over to dinner to see if we could help them out at all....and then they didn't leave till 7 days later.

Here is Wesley demonstrating his nifty travel hammock off our loft.

It's fun for us that the apartment that they ended up in is in the same building as us, across the way and one floor up. Wesley is from Alabama and Emma is from Texas. They have been married for about 2 months now. Check out their blog HERE. They are also really good photographers. You can see their work HERE.
This is what we get to see from our door every day.



Sarah and I also decided to finally take the dive into pet ownership. After coming into contact with a good cat shelter, we made a visit and fell in love with Rayas. She was by far the most loving of all the cats that we met there.

About a week later after she had been checked out at the Vet, she got delivered to our door. We had to do a little bit of work on the apartment to kitty proof it, but she is at home now.

Emma likes to come over to visit her.

This has become her favorite place to sleep during the day.
We'll see what the couchsurfers think about it.

We were really excited with the news that Plaza España had finally be finished after years of restoration. We had always heard stories of how the moat around the plaza was once filled with water and you could rent row boats to float around in but it was empty even since Sarah was a student in 2006. We met up there with a few friends but unfortunately the boats had already closed down for the day. It was still just really fun to see it all restored to its original beauty.


Did you know a scene from Star Wars episode II was filmed here?


We also want to share about where we have been going to church on Sunday mornings. For a couple months now we have been leading at a church in the pueblo of Bormujos called Comunidad Aljirafe. You can check out their blog HERE. It has been fun for us to put together worship sets of all Spanish songs.

David Acton, on the right, is the church planter. He is originally from Miami, but along with his wife and 4 kids, also planted a church in Germany while living there for about 15 years. They were then called to Sevilla and have been here for about 4 years. Hendrik, on the left, is here with his wife as missionaries. They are both from German but crazy enough, I recognized his wife Maggie from when she went to college at Fresno Pacific University at the same time as me.

Here is another German from Wittenberg named Albrecht. He has recently moved to Sevilla with his wife Francesca to study. He has been playing percussion with us on Sunday mornings and even started helping us on Wednesday nights with our time of worship with the students. It is fun to talk to him because his Spanish is better than his English, so since we are both still learning Spanish we often have to get creative in how we communicate.

Here is a shot of the church building filling up. On some days the room gets pretty packed.

A few nights ago we headed over to Noche Entre Amigos (or night among friends) at the Baptist Church in Sevilla Este (the far other side of town from where we live) to play a few songs. It is the church were are good Cuban friend Marcos (which you can see in earlier posts) is the youth pastor. On the last Saturday night of each month Marcos asks a few bands to come and share some music. Wesley joined us to help bust out some 3 part harmonies on a rendition of Hank Williams "I saw the light" and then Sarah and I sang a romantic diddy by Bob Dylan called "If Not For You." The people seemed to really enjoy it, especially because it is a different kind of music that they usually see live. I was really happy to be able to bust out my mandolin.

Here is a picture of the little Halloween party we had at the school on Friday.

Sarah and I found a sweet thrift store (which until now we didn't think existed in Sevilla) to put together some pirate costumes.

Last night we had a little Halloween fiesta at our house. We couldn't get any Spaniards to go, something about dressing up and carving pumpkins makes them nervous. But we had a great time carving pumpkins and eating.

Theresa, another German friend, made some delicious pumpkin soup for everyone.

Sarah and I stuck with the pirate theme for costumes and pumpkin.

El Fin!

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Granada!

>> October 20, 2010

It is hard to imagine that the trip to Granada almost didn't happen. As Sarah and I were looking at our finances, it just didn't seem smart. Our hopes were rekindled when the professors gave us money for tickets to get into the Alhambra for my birthday. But there was still the concern for paying for a hostel and as we were looking at prices online it was not looking good. The decision was made when our friend Cecilia told us that we could stay in her husbands apartment. Her husband Enrique recently got the apartment in Granada for his new job. Not only were we going to be able to stay there for our whole stay, but Cecilia would be there for a couple days too.

Since we only had one night together before they headed to Sevilla,we had to go out.
Enrique and Cecilia took us on a paseo through the city.
They are amazing people!

The city is full of beautiful fountains. In the middle section you can see big pomegranates as part of the design. Granada is Spanish for pomegranate!

We love cities that are made for walking.

Sarah and Cecilia stop to smell some of the teas from Africa.

The cathedral looked pretty impressive from the outside.
We didn't get the chance to go inside of this one.

We found a nice tapas restaurant to sit down and relax. Notice the "pulpo gallego" on the table. It is octopus prepared in the style of the Northern Spain, Galicia area.

Sarah had a hard time with the texture.

Something told us not to eat here.

Christopher Columbus monument.

As we were walking towards the older area of town, called the Albayzín. We discovered a fairy tale kitty haven below the roadway.

Oh No!

Sarah wanted to find a way down to pet them.

The Alhambra was looking down on us.

We printed out a walking tour off of National Geographic website so we stared to follow the map.

The Alhambra was coming into better view as we climbed.

I put the long lens on the camera to get a shot at some of the people taking picture in our direction. These people are "inside" the Alhambra taking the tour.

Tiny Streets!

Gummy Bear break!

There she is! This is the view from the famous mirador Plaza San Nicholas.

On the way down we were digging the old houses and the architecture.

The street was a lot of fun and seemed to be the main street of the Albayzín.

We found "not so busy and touristy" coffee house and ordered some Pakistani tea and a gofre to share. What is a gofre, you may ask? Imagine a waffle with a scoop of ice cream, banana chunks, whip cream, and chocolate on top. Delicious!

We went back up to the Plaza San Nicholas to get a night shot of the Alhambra.
Photos don't really do it justice.

The next day we decided on a whim to head over to Granada's Parque de Las Ciencias.
Einstein was hanging out in front.

There was some cool exhibits, more directed to children, but we had a good time with it.

I think there was suppose to be ants in the bubble.

California?!? tsk tsk tsk

My little astronaut.

We also went inside their planetarium, which we both fell asleep in for small periods of time. We heard a loud noise on the dome and realized that it had started to rain like crazy outside. But once the rain stopped we headed out to climb up the observation tower.

There was a great view of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Yes, there are Sierra Nevadas here too.

The next day we headed back into the Albayzín to make our way up to the Alhambra.
Notice Sarah's "I want kitty" face.

The road up to the Alhambra was steep! Notice how crazy the bench looks.

I don't think we were supposed to enter in here, but it was open.
So we entered into the Puerta de Justicia.

We had time before our "appointed time" to enter into the Alhambra so we wandered around the Generalife, which is another palace right next door. We managed to balance the camera on some shrubbery to get this picture.

Patio de la Acequia

Imagine making this rock by rock.

It was finally time to enter into the Alhambra, so we got in line a filed in. It is amazing that so many people want to visit the Alhambra that they have to only allow a certain number to enter in every hour. You have to book your tickets in advance because it will sell out before your day to go. I still thought they let too many people in at a time and it made it difficult to take pictures.

The Alhambra is most famous for its intricate carvings and Islamic architecture.

They used lots of fountains and moving water to keep rooms cooler.

Unfortunately the famous, Court of the Lions was in the middle of some restoration. They had removed all of the lions and were fixing the water system. All of the lions were being displayed "fully restored" in another area, but photos were strictly prohibited.



When we got to the lookout point of the Alhambra (which I took a picture with my big lens earlier from the plaza) I put the big lens on to take a picture the other direction. So here is a picture of the Plaza San Nicholas.

This buildings call the Partal. Notice the punk kid in the red jacket.

We had some lady take a picture of us.
She was really nervous with the camera so the picture didn't turn out real clear.

Looking out at the city at sunset from the Alcazaba.
(right before we got kicked out by the guys who were closing up)

Thanks again to Enrique and Cecilia for letting us stay at their apartment.
Wall to wall accommodations! It was an amazing trip!

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