:: puts on Sherlock Holmes hat/Dora backpack ::
07.01.2012 - 07.01.2012 12 °C
I thought I had learned my lesson yesterday, but it seems I didn't... Spanish people like to eat. A lot. Whereas I'm used to eating a bunch of one thing only for a meal, Spanish people like to eat medium portions of a bunch, a bunch of things. This morning we had a puree of some vegetables, but I didn't like that any and only ate just a little on some bread and shuddered at that because it tasted so strong and Carmen finally was like, "It's okay, you don't have to eat it if you don't like it." and then I had some pork in some kind of reddish sauce that was all right. She keeps saying carne but it seems more than anything that they eat a lot of pork here instead of carne automatically being beef of some variety.
Talking with Manolo after breakfast let me find out just where the leftovers in those bags I mentioned in my last entry go... to las gallenas in el pueblo muy cerca de aquí! Manolo goes each morning to feed our leftovers to some chickens in a nearby pueblo, only 6 or so kilometros. When Carmen and I left for the day, we went and discovered la Universidad-- which only happens to be like two blocks away at most! Score!-- and the park that surrounds it. From that moment and for the rest of the day I discovered just how much Spanish people must like dogs... or at least the people in Oviedo... because they're all over the place. People take them with them in public, to the parks, on the streets, through the crosswalks, and get this-- most of the time they're not even on leashes. How cool is that? The next dog we get, Jess, we're letting a Spanish person train them. I tried to restrain my American self from instinctively going "PUPPY!" then asking to pet them and then graciously loving all over each for a few minutes like they deserve, but I only succeeded in the latter.
From the university, we walked a few blocks away from the major roads and saw the iglesia that Carmen goes to every now and then. She's catholic, but she said she doesn't go very often. It was old and beautiful, and there was another, larger park behind that! They have them all over the place it seems. We made our way back past the house, past the fountain I mentioned yesterday (which I snagged a picture of, hell yes.) Carmen stopped me when I went to take a picture of the fountain and instead directed my attention to the mountain that you could see while looking down the street past the fountain. I sincerely regret that I don't remember its name, but it's large and beautiful and she said that there's a large statue of Christ up there that people come from all over in groups to see. (It was a little teeny tiny white speck in the far, far distance but I saw it.) I wonder if the giant black bull we saw on a mountain on the way to Oviedo is similarly visited?
Luego, fuimos al centro comercial! Shopping malls in Spain are just the same as in the US, except for the changing rooms. They don't have doors in the stalls, just curtains you draw across and change behind. There was all sorts of stores-- and not to mention prices-- and I guess today, this weekend, this entire month is one of the best times of the year to shop because of los Reyes. We get the after-Christmas prices... all month, or at least that's how I understood it. It's at least for the next week. They call them "rebajas" and some stores had places up to 70% off. For how expensive España, and Europa in general, is, that was badass. I bought two -nice- shirts for pretty much 20 euros, which was awesome no matter how you spin it. Also, I discovered how American stores are poorly translated but still used in Spain... Victoria's Secret = Woman's Secret, and Party City = Party Fiesta, for example.
Carmen ran into a friend of hers so I pretty much had free run of the place to myself. I discovered a little heladería and from there how awesome Spanish ice cream is (I got cookies and cream, like a boss. Actually, more just like me as usual.) and it was really cool. It was smooth, like soft serve, but it was still hard kind of like homemade. But it didn't waste any time in melting just like soft-serve and I nearly had a couple bad accidents with items I was picking up. There's also a cinema somehow connected to the mall that I made sure to take note of, but there's no movies right now I really want to see, except Sherlock Holmes and I'm still on the fence about that one. And now for a moment of bragging: All aside from the first store I went and inquired at, I pretty much understood and capably communicated with all of the salespersons I either bought from or asked questions of. \o/ I'm so psyched that I'm getting along that well, even in the complicated conversation about different prepaid phone options, especially since that lady was going a mile a minute. I'm still nervous for Monday and for school and the pre-semester proficiency test I have to take, but I'm slowly building up my confidence. At the very least, I won't get lost! La Casa De Las Lenguas is very close to home, and it also has a lovely sign sprawled all over the building with the LCLL logo all over it.
With friend in tow, we then went to a café close to the centro, where I met -this- fearsome fellow...
Aside from how fierce he was, the place was really cool. While we were there, I also got a taste of Sidra, the local brew, and its method of serving. I'd have taken a picture of the server while she was pouring it out in the special bucket thing you have to do it over because it splashes everywhere, but I didn't want to be rude. Basically, you hold the bottle up as high above your head as you possibly can and the glass as low as you can inside the tall, wooden, rolling splashguard you serve it with. Then you -slowly- tip the bottle until the sidra begins pouring out and only fill the glass up about an eighth. The pouring helps with the bubbles, I think. Carmen and her friend tried to explain what it does to the drink for me, but when the initial word they used made no sense to me, they just used more that I didn't understand. :P But overall, the drink is very light, pretty easy to drink, does NOT taste at all like alcohol (which is great, except for the fact that it is still like 6% alcoholic), and kind of dry.
From there, we went home and stopped at the grocery right next door to our apartment building and I discovered a few things...
Pepsi (which doesn't taste too different from the American version, I'll admit) and calzones! (Which definitely aren't your average DP Dough creation.) It was jamón y queso (ham and cheese) so it wasn't that bad, but it's nothing like the pizza-ish items back at home, and I don't know if the ham looked like the kind that Carmen showed me yesterday-- the dark, thin, fatty, dried-out looking meat-- because I ate it without looking at it so I -would- eat it because Carmen bought it, the Pepsi, and the cup of coffee I'd had at the café and I didn't want to be rude. >_<; Speaking of that, I discovered that milk here is different. It lasts for almost an entire month because it's just sanitized instead of pasteurized... it's still cow's milk, though, which is crazy. Manolo and Carmen get theirs 'desnatada' which is skimmed, but the full milk has more grease they say. o_O I'll have to see that for myself.
We went out again to a -different- centro comercial to return some mis-sized clothing and stopped and picked up Carmen's nieta, Doris, on the way. She's 12 and kind of adorable except for the part where she thinks she knows -everything- and similarly is dramatic about -everything.- She has a funny sense of humor and helped me to not get lost at the centro, because it was a lot smaller than the american-ish one we'd went to earlier, but still had just as many people in it. I kept losing Carmen and freaking out. Fun fact: College-ruled notebook paper doesn't exist here the same way it does in the US. It's either looking like tiny graph paper or has two line seperators and tall seperation between each one. It was fun talking with Doris because when we found a bookstore I gabbed with her some about books. We had a short, but spirited discussion about Twilight. End of story was she likes the movies and not the books, and I liked the books mostly, but hated the movie. I silently deduced that whatever actress had dubbed Kristen Stewart in the Spanish version... she must have been much more lively than the actual actress herself.
We stopped and got some fried bread-looking thing sprinkled with sugar on the way back that I didn't catch the name of but liked well enough, and when we got back to the house Doris stayed for dinner and I had my first real "home-y" experience since I got here, and didn't even know it was coming until the food was done cooking... The sopa that Carmen made was pretty much Mrs. Grass' Chicken Noodle Soup except for the fact it actually had little chicken bits in it, and I can't tell you how disappointed I was that that was the one time so far she accepted the fact that I eat little, so she didn't make much of it. :P
In the morning, I've got an early start and a long day so I'm going to be hitting the sack now. I'm sure that with orientation starting tomorrow at the Cathedral and consisting of another tour around town to get familiar with where I should (and probably shouldn't) be, I think it might be just as exciting as today was. :]