Wednesday morning we had our first midterm of the semester, and it was kind of a reality check—we’re still actually in school, not just on a three-month vacation. We had a study guide and more than half the group is in the World Civilization class, so we spent a lot of time studying on Monday and Tuesday. Monday after FHE we had a study group at the Browns house and I would just like to publicly declare that having your professor in your study group is the bomb. Basically all I did for two days was study and we were so relieved when we finally finished the test on Wednesday—except I have another, harder history test for Spanish History on Tuesday. But we had a little bit of a break, at least.
Wednesday Elder Bednar came to speak to the people of Madrid, along with Elder Robert Oaks, who is an Area Authority for Europe. Our Institute teacher, who is an Area 70 in Spain, was translating, and the whole fireside turned out to be one of the coolest experiences ever. Sister Bednar spoke first, just a little talk, and I could tell how nervous both she and Elder Lopez were. Then Elder Bednar came up and announced that instead of giving talks, they would be taking questions. There were some really good questions asked, and it was just so cool to be in such a small gathering with an apostle, to have the words translated from a language I understood into another language I understood, and to have a relationship with the translator. I got so happy for him every time he used a really good word, and so nervous for him when Elder Bednar or someone else used a word that I thought he might not know. It was an incredible experience altogether, and we all left very uplifted.
Thursday after school we bought plane tickets to Mallorca for this weekend, which is our second weekend of free travel, and I decided to go to the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. It’s a formerly private art collection that is now housed in Madrid and it was my favorite museum that I’ve seen. There were some older works that were normal [and by that I mean a little boring], but then all of a sudden there was room after room of stunningly beautiful paintings. It was really cool how they had random little Picassos or van Goghs and everything was just so amazing. I left that museum fully satisfied and remembering how much I love art.
Friday we had another day trip, but let’s just say that everyone wasn’t in the best mood for it. The majority of people are getting a little bored of touring, I think, and I wasn’t very excited for the things we were seeing. Plus Mark decided it would be a good idea to wear shorts, until his father informed him that they don’t let you into churches with shorts on, so Mark was wearing Professor Brown’s pants and they were huge and really hilarious-looking. First we went to El Escorial, which is a huge palace built by Philip II, but it’s known for being very austere—which means not very pretty. The size was impressive, and the organization [it’s a giant grid], but there just wasn’t that much to look at that was interesting. We went down to the dungeons, where there were coffins of several monarchs, and that was really cool, and he had an extremely fantastic library which we also saw, but overall it wasn’t my favorite place. Then went to El Valle de Los Caidos, which is a HUGE cross built up on this hill, and a basilica where Franco’s tomb lies. I was mostly bored by the basilica but LOVED being up in a mountainous area, where I could breathe freely, without pollution, and could see super far. Then we went to another castle and NO ONE wanted to get out of the bus but we were forced to, and forced to walk around this castle even though it was supposed to be closed, and the guards weren’t very happy, and Professor Brown wasn’t very happy with the actions of some of the students, and overall my life wouldn’t be very much different if we hadn’t gone to any of those places. But luckily a group of 24 bored students can make for some pretty funny things that happen, so I do have some good memories of this day.
Saturday Emmaleigh and I were tempted by a costume museum and a hiking trip in the morning, but we opted out of both and slept in. Well, Emmaleigh slept in and I read for my directed readings class in my bed. Then I went out for an intentionally long run, but I don’t feel comfortable running anywhere too far from my house in Alcalá because I’m always afraid I won’t know how to get home. I ran on streets I had encountered before, and I ran all the way up one street that I felt confident about, and then I started to recognize things and thought it was near my house, so I kept taking different turns until I found a park I had never seen before. Then I saw a group of four young men in suits, assumed they were missionaries and that they would speak English and know where we were. They were kind of far away and not slowing down, so I sprinted all the way over to them only to discover when I was right behind them that they were smoking and [hopefully] not missionaries. I had to really awkwardly just keep running around them and still have no idea where I was. Eventually I found my way home, showered, and studied until the afternoon. Becca Krahenbuhl was in Madrid for the weekend so we decided to meet at the Reina Sofia museum in the afternoon, when it’s free. Emmaleigh and I met her and three friends outside, talked a little bit, and then entered the museum and started perusing. We had been before, seen Guernica and most of the permanent collection and the temporary collection, so we started on the top floor, while Becca&co started on the Guernica floor and we decided to meet in the middle. Unfortunately, we never met in the middle and though we spent a good chunk of time looking all over the museum for them we never met them again. Our phone was out of money so we couldn’t call them, and we got a text from Becca that said something about the gift shop but we got it late and didn’t find them there either. We made a good effort though, and at least before we parted I told them some things they should make sure to do. When we got home we studied until dinner, during which Nacho entertained us with his antics as always. This, however, was one of his funniest moments. Earlier this week he was playing in our room when his mom found him, and as they were leaving she told him to give Emmaleigh a kiss. She put out her cheek, but he went straight for the lips and in her own words, “it was a little wet.” Saturday at dinner he was playing with some sort of cane thing, and then he came over to our side of the table and hooked my chair, and I, trying to be playful, took it and hooked it on a chair on the other side of the table and tried to get him to go over there. I guess it’s my own fault, then, that he soon lost interest and started grabbing everything, as he normally does, only this time his hand rested on my umm… upper-upper body. At first it wasn’t a big deal, it’s normal for young children to touch body parts, but then he didn’t move it and started… pushing. I shooed his hand away and then started laughing UNCONTROLLABLY. So did Emmaleigh, and then Irene, who hadn’t witnessed it, asked us why we were laughing and it was TOO awkward to explain. Then Nacho kept trying to lift up my shirt, and I kept pushing his hand away but I was laughing too hard to tell him to stop, so he wouldn’t quit it. The whole situation was extremely hilarious and partially embarrassing. When we got back up to our room Emmaleigh said, “I must admit, I would rather by kissed by an eighteen-month-old than felt up by an eighteen-month-old…” Then we laughed hysterically more.
We went to church as usual on Sunday. The lessons were interesting but I was having trouble concentrating, which made it hard to understand what they were saying. Mark and I invented a good game during Sacrament Meeting though—we went through the Spanish hymnbook and raced to see who could figure out what songs they were in English. I usually won because I know more Spanish than Mark, but I also know nothing about music so if I didn’t recognize the words then I had no way of figuring it out, but he could hum the tune and eventually get it. We got to hymn number 23 and plan to do the whole hymnbook in the five remaining Sundays.
Our breakfast this morning was a little small because there weren’t any of our normal breakfast muffins in the drawer so we had a few little cookies each and went off to church. This led to us dreaming about lunch even more than usual on our long sojourn home. Someone brought up lasagna, I mentioned that I had seen ground beef the night before, and we decided it would be SO great if we had lasagna. Miraculously, that’s what we had! The majority of the family was gone so we ate in the kitchen, and it was an all-around good meal.
After my last test on Tuesday this week should be more exciting, so expect a report about the flamenco version of Carmen and the weekend in Mallorca next time. Love!