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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