Sunday, February 1, 2009

On the Streets of Toledo...

This week was a little bit boring until we went to Toledo for the weekend. Monday we walked home from school, and then did the usual Institute/FHE activities. Tuesday we went to the Archaeological Museum and the National Library in Madrid, but apparently the library isn’t “visitable” so we just went to the library museum. It was actually a sweet museum but we didn’t know exactly what was going on and lots of the lights were off with spotlights on random things and we couldn’t really understand everything. Wednesday a bunch of people went into Madrid but I had my EFY interview over Skype at 6:20 so we couldn’t go, and that day was SO boring. Before and after the interview we were basically just hanging out in our room and it was super lame. Pretty much, we’re never not going into Madrid again haha.
THURSDAY: Some girls set up a trip to the temple to do baptisms so a bunch of us went and it was really cool. There were so many of us that we had to bring our own priesthood to baptize us so the guys came and did it and it was a really cool experience. The temple president came down and gave us a little thought and he was American so he spoke English but then all the ordinances were done in Spanish and it was just really peaceful and really enjoyable. A bunch of the girls left while Emmaleigh and I were still getting dressed but it was okay because smaller groups are more manageable anyway. All the guys plus Emmaleigh, Tristan, Jenna and I got churros from a street vendor and then rode back together and it was fun to just talk and kind of get to know them more. When we got home we showered and were packing and everything for Toledo and Nacho [the 18-month-old son of our family’s daughter Ana—they’re all currently staying here because they’re renovating their house] decided that we were more interesting than anything going on downstairs so as I opened the door to our bedroom he just walked right in and proceeded to play with us for half an hour. He just got his first toothbrush I think and he was SO excited about it and I had mine out because I was going to brush my teeth so he was really happy about that and he wanted to touch EVERYTHING in our room and he is just so adorable. Then Raquel, the other sister, came and got him but he somehow found his way into our room again. He wanted to go downstairs so Emmaleigh was going to take him while I was reading Don Quixote but he wanted me to come too so he took my book away and made us both hold one of his hands while we slowly walked down the stairs. When we got to the bottom he sat down on the stairs and wanted Emmaleigh and I to sit down too, so we did, and then he wanted Irene, our host mom/his grandma to sit on the stairs so she did but the stairs were really crowded so we eventually exited. But basically we love him.
FRIDAY: We stopped at a palace in Aranjuez on our way to Toledo. Apparently the monarchy at one point just had palaces built all over so they didn’t have to stay in one place all the time so this was one of them. It was really cool but we took a tour which was kind of drawn out. Also, we couldn’t take pictures but some of the rooms were amazing. The detail that goes into those things is incredible! We walked around the gardens a little and then proceeded to Toledo. We checked into our hotel [three girls in our room!] and then went to see a cathedral and then we were on our own for the night. We went to one pretty boring museum [my tolerance for historical sites was getting pretty low] and then found a famous bridge and took some pictures, ate at an Italian restaurant for dinner, and went back to the hotel to call it a night. But actually, Courtney [roommate #1] and I and eventually Lauren [roommate #2] stayed up ridiculously late talking even though we were SO exhausted.
SATURDAY: Breakfast at 8:30 = a horrible idea. Courtney woke me up at 7:45 and I had NO idea where I was or why she was talking to me but luckily I got up and showered anyway. We went to a church to see a famous El Greco, The Burial of Count Orgaz, and then we had free reign until 3:30. Courtney and Ali and I went to La Iglesia de San Juan de los Reyes, which is the church Ferdinand and Isabel built to be buried in before they conquered Granada and decided to be buried there. That was super impressive, really huge and there was a cool courtyard with SCARY gargoyles and cute orange trees. Then we saw one of the three remaining synagogues in Spain, it was really small but filled with art? It was all about bringing Judaism and Catholicism together, which was pretty interesting. It was called La Sinagoga Santa Maria La Blanca, which is pretty indicative I guess of that union. After that our tolerance for important sites was pretty much shot so we spent the rest of the day just wandering around. We found this SUPER cool view by a random museum that we didn’t enter; we could see the river and then just a bunch of green hills towering above it. It reminded me of Ireland kind of, at least what I’ve seen in movies and stuff. It was really cool. We found some tire swings and swung on those, then just wandered around and realized how perfect life in Toledo would be. We ate lunch, got our luggage, boarded the bus, and went home. I was entirely exhausted but didn’t feel like I could sleep so I went out running for almost an hour while Emmaleigh relaxed, and after I showered we went shopping. Our logic is this: there are amazing sales going on right now [rebajas!] and they are only going to last through February, plus people are buying up all the good stuff, so basically we have to take advantage of whatever awesome, really cheap shopping we can. I bought a dress and a scarf, Emmaleigh bought a dress and shirt, and we were entirely satisfied.
SUNDAY: We got monthly passes for unlimited use of the busses, trains, and metros, but unfortunately Alcalingua messed up and didn’t give us our passes for February on Thursday when we asked for them, so we’re not getting them until tomorrow. We have to take two separate busses to church, and then the same two on the way home, and each ride is €1. We figured it would be worth it to save €4 each to just walk to church. Wrong. It was raining and really windy and FREEZING. We made it to church in about 35 minutes but I was miserable. Church was good, we learned about Virtue in Relief Society because they just added that to the Young Women values, and then Sunday School was about Martin Harris losing the 116 pages and I felt like I could have answered every question he asked if only I was fluent! The testimonies in Sacrament Meeting were good, one interesting thing I noticed is that it was almost all men bearing their testimonies, which is kind of the opposite of most wards I’ve been in. It was interesting though. After church we decided that we could sacrifice a Euro and ride at least one bus home because by that point it was raining pretty hard plus I was really grumpy about it. As we were walking to the bus stop it got SO windy and freezing and I threw a little bit of a yelling fit but luckily only Emmaleigh heard me and the bus came very soon after that. We walked the rest of the way home and I survived. We decided to start our fasts after lunch on Saturday because we thought it just might be unbearable to wait until 9 pm on Sunday to eat, and we told this to our family and were expecting lunch when we got home, because she said we would eat around 2. Wrong again. There seemed to be almost no signs of lunch by the time we got home at 2:30 and we were a little bit unhappy. Luckily only ten minutes later she came up and stated, “You guys are really hungry. The others aren’t eating until 3 but you can eat now.” Thank goodness! Over lunch we had a pretty interesting conversation with Ana about Mormon families, including the number of children and when couples get married. She was completely shocked, but I think we did a decent job of defending ourselves. We also talked a little about missionaries. I always think it’s funny when they’re completely shocked by something because I always wonder how it’s possible that they’ve never heard about it before. I’m just glad I’m learning so much about other cultures.
The week was good overall. This next week we’re going to southern Spain for five days, that should definitely be fun. The next week we have midterms, which will be less fun I imagine, especially considering the amount of studying we actually do [practically none]. I will update next week on the glories of southwestern Europe :)

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