Semana Santa Begins

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

Sunday morning was a procession that I watched for a short amount of time.  These processions start at one side of the city and end on the other a few hours later.  I snapped a few photos and went back home.

Monday, March 24th, 2012

This day there weren’t any major Semana Santa events.  At night, I helped Amissa put together an art project for her online 2-Dimensional Design class. Memories of what else happened those days are long gone.

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Miniferia del Vino

I didn’t wake up too well this Saturday morning. The night before was one that extended long after dawn. Nevertheless, Jumilla’s mini festival of wine was an event that could not be missed.  Located in the main park, Jardin Rey Don Pedro, you buy a wine glass for €3 and get to sample wines from most of the wineries in Jumilla. Starting at noon, we rushed over there an hour late. Amissa  decided to stop for coffee while I continued to the park. Half an hour passed by and Amissa was nowhere to be found. I found her twenty minutes before the event was over. We bumped into Alex and one of his student’s fathers. We were then introduced to Roque Baños, Jumilla’s adored Hollywood film score composer. We went home.

At night, there was a tamboreada that started from the Jardin del Caracol and ended in the Plaza Arriba. I followed the drummers and went home after they had reached the final point. That is all that can be recalled from that day twenty days ago.

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Mission Impossible

It’s been a long time since I last updated. I’ve stopped recording the days and catching up seems impossible. I will summarize briefly the notes I left in a rough draft.

One Sunday, somtime in mid-December, Amissa and I walked to Publo Nuevo in Jumilla.  After a nostalgic American breakfast, we set foot and walked to the southwest extension of Jumilla.  On the way, we stumbled across an interesting local walking his pet pig.  We had to stop and talk to him. We arrived at Pueblo Nuevo and visited the botanic garden.  Back in the city center, we decided to try a new bar, London City.  A little pricey but they probably have the best ensaladilla rusa.  We went to Panda, the chino store, and bought some Christmas decorations for our flat. That was that.

On or around Decmber 18th, our friends, Melanie and Nate, arrived at the Alicante airport.  They arrived late in the night and there would be no more buses to bring them to Jumilla or Murcia til the next day.  Fortunately, my colleague, Juan, was kind enough to drive me to the airport to pick them up.  We arrived in Jumilla.

The second day of their stay, we gave them a  tour of the city as well as a homemade feast of tapas and plates we learned to cook.

December 21st to January 7th was our beloved Eurotrip. We saw Barcelona, Avignon, Paris, Rome, Florence, Venice, Nice, Granada.  We stopped and pass through Valencia, Madrid, Montpellier, and Ventimiglia.  Christmas in Paris and New Year’s Eve in Venice.

On January 17th, our friends left Spain.

After two weeks of traveling, Amissa and I felt exhausted and spent most of our weekends in Jumilla. We had a lot of good Friday nights meeting new locals and learning Spanish slang at Sarao.

The annual Ruta de Tapa was excellent.  Wine, tapas, and gifts make for a great time out with friends.

This weekend I go to Valencia. The week after is Semana Santa. The week after that we plan to travel the north of Spain.  Well that’s all I got for now.

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Campo or Buffet?

Saturday, December 8th, 2012

Ines had invited us to her cousin’s campo for a family member’s graduation party.  The campo was 5km outside Jumilla in the middle of nowhere.  We brought two bottles of beer.  In an instant, we met around twenty friendly people — most of which were Ines’s family members.  We spent a few minutes outside with the dogs and chickens.  The campo was huge. Their olive trees went on and on.  We started with appetizers: gambas, calamari in tomato sauce, ensaladilla rusa, and frutos secos.  The main dish was paella with the best mejillones I’ve ever tasted.  For dessert, we had fruit, ice cream, and cake. I was shocked at how much we could eat.  We played a fun boardgame called dixit and a guess who’s the killer type game witha deck of cards.  We spent the whole day at the campo eventually having even more food during dinner.  The night ended with some ice cream and a shot of tequila.  We left around 11:30. I thought it was way earlier.  Amissa had a sociology test that night.

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Ants and Bars

Friday, December 7th, 2012

Amissa stayed home to do homework while me and Alex went out on a bug hunt. He was looking for queen ants and I was looking for anything with six legs. The grasshopper escaped though — good for him.  I rested at home for a bit until Amissa was ready to go out.  It was dark by now. We went to el Gamellon where we had tapas and drinks.  We wanted to go to another bar we’ve never been to before but just ended up at Sarao.  We had more drinks and saw that a band was going to be playing.  We asked for the showtime and decided to return later.  Upon our return, Sarao was extremely crowded.  The band was called Magic Bus.  I found out that the lead singer was Paco Lencina, Jumilla’s butterfly man.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to talk to him but I do hope to one day.  After Sarao, we went to Underground with some new friends and spent the night hanging out.

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Work Week #9

December 3rd-6th, 2012

This work week was short because of another puente.  Thursday and Saturday were national holidays so we only worked til Wednesday. Thursday was the day of the constitution and Saturday was a religious holiday.  Our plans to travel were ambitious, Portugal or France,  but we soon realized planning is essential.  We decided to save it for later when our friends arrive.  I spent two afternoons helping my friend Ines translate her cousin’s neurobiology thesis from Spanish to English — one of the afternoons included some good Chinese food.

Amissa and I took a long walk Thursday.  We visited our kitten friends up our street, walked on the outskirts of town, ate at Bar Delicias, and finally visited the Jumilla sign. Later, we went to Panda with Alex to shop for candles. We ended in that damn store for nearly two hours. Alex invited us to some of his burnt soup.  I made some mutant chili cheese fries dish. Before bed, we signed Amissa up for online classes.


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Picking Olives

Saturday, December 1st, 2012

We offered to help Ascen pick the olives at her campo.  They picked us up around noon.  We stopped at their house in the city to pick up their kids. After some piano playing, we headed to the campo which was quite far. We got a quick tour of the campo before starting work. The campo was huge and cozy — the kind of place you wouldn’t mind spending your last few days in.  Olive picking was simple.  First, you lay down a netting under the tree. After that, you just use your hands or a rake-like tool to pick the olives off and use the netting to gather them into a bucket.  The only downside to picking olives is that they become ripe in December meaning you’ll be outside in the cold for hours.

We went in for lunch about an hour into picking.  The food was great and plentiful as it always is in Spain.  We relaxed for a bit while we digested.  I played the piano again.  We then picked olives for another hour or two.  The work was simple but cold.  I helped Javier, Ascen’s husband, load about a dozen buckets full of olives before he took them to the Almazara, olive oil mill.  As a gift, Ascen gave us a bottle of olive oil and a dozen fresh eggs straight from her coop. We didn’t get back home til ten.  The day was spent playing wit the kids, eating, chatting, and playing instruments.  It was a really good time spent with a very nice family.

The next day, Sunday, was quiet and spent mostly at home relaxing.

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Friday with Principe Felipe

Friday, November 30th, 2012

I went it work this Friday to make up my sick day I took a few weeks back.  Juana, one of the tutors, was retiring and this was her last day.  The school had an impressive fire drill.  In all my years at schools, I have never seen so much effort put into a fire drill.  The drill rang, the kids lined up, we exited the classroom into the smoke filled halls (fog machines), the kids lined up outside, a teacher and student were stuck in a classroom, the damn firefighters came, they entered with hoses, and the other truck used a lift to evacuate the victims from the window.  All the while, the kids were cheering. It was quite a show.

After school, I attended a faculty/staff lunch to honor Juana and her retirement. The food was amazing as always — the best gambas I’ve had, pork and garlic mayo, fried cheese and jelly, clam stew, pork chops, and so much more.  We spent about three hours just dining and chatting.  The group decided to continue the party at a Bar Totem across from Sarao.  I told them I would meet them shortly.  I went home to pick up Amissa.  She had a quick bite at Doner Kebab and then we met them.

We spent some time at the bar mingnling until we got hungry again.  We headed down the street to Bar Levante where had some more tapas. We ended our night here.


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Late Night Out

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

For breakfast, we headed to Doña Cindas for some more Bolivian food.  We ordered salteñas, silpancho, sopa de mani, and chicha. Doña Cinda remembered me and brought us a free glass of another traditional bolivian drink. We spent the day roaming around Murcia stopping at various stores.  Amissa bought some shirts and a skirt at H&M.  I had a smoothie.   Harmon and Seonaid meanwhile put together a gift for their Romanian friend, Adrian, nicknamed “bellybutton.”

At night, we went to Adrian’s house for his birthday dinner.  I can’t even begin to describe the amount of quality food you are served here in Spain.  We ate so much good food — stuffed mushrooms, potatoes, fish, chicken.  Later, we headed to Music, a bar inside the plaza de toros.  We stayed here until 4am, the latest we’ve ever been out.

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Thanksgiving in Murcia

Friday, November 23th, 2012

Alex and I went to the extranjeria in the morning to pick up our TIE’s.  We returned to Harmon’s after picking up some bread and ice. Soon, guests arrived each with a contribution to the Thanksgiving lunch.  The table began to be filled with all sorts of appetizers.  Dave and Claire, chef/auxiliars, handled the serious cooking — the turkey and more.  We spent the afternoon playing games, chatting, drinking, and eating.  It’s all in the photos.

That night, we all went out. First, we ended up at Bar Atomic where we played a silly game of truth or dare. Then, we continued the night at a different bar.  Everyone would continue their night at another club but we could not hang any longer.  We were given a pair of keys to Harmon’s flat and parted ways with our friends.  We slept in Harmon’s room again.

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