Right this very second, it is 10:10 on a hot rainy Sunday evening, and I am currently situated in my darkened room, surrounded by air-conditioning, Bon Iver, and denial.

Check it out:
https://smashleyinspain.wordpress.com/2012/01/07/today-i-feel-________/ I wrote that post on January 7, approximately 5 days before my departure, and my emotions were strong in every which way. Now, I stand on the other side, approximately 6 days before my return, and I feel nothing. My feelings, confused by the ambiguity of joy and pain stemming from the same sources, have decided the best course of action is to do nothing. They are frozen, waiting for life’s cues, numb.

I said goodbye to one of my intercambios and dear friend on Tuesday. My host mom began to cry during lunch yesterday thinking of my departure. And this morning saw us leaving our precious church family for the last time. So where are my tears?

They are not masked with jittery excitement, I can assure you. Though I have muchas ganas of returning home, my eagerness isn’t dominant, either.

I’m basically just so entirely content with where life has me that I don’t want to think about the abrupt and impending change. So, I won’t. I will pretend it’s not happening.

That strategy works wonders with my homework. I am currently willing 3 papers and 4 finals out of existence. If they’re not real until I think about them…why think about them?

(Obviously, the above is sarcasm, but so often people don’t understand my humor, especially through social media, so I’m taking a ridiculously long time to clarify this point.)

As it is Mother’s Day, let me take a moment to showcase my wonderful mommy. About a week ago, I was complaining–yet again–about all the work I have to do that’s preventing me from living a difficulty-free life, and in order to motivate me, this is what she wrote:

“GET TO WORK! (Do direct orders work better than cheers? If so, there you have it!) NOW!

Ok. That felt too mean. So, please go do some work. Get focused. Pretend you’re nowhere special (certainly not Spain!) and all you have to do is work, work, work in order to survive because if you don’t, this big, evil dragon is going to spew fire all over you and your family (ME!) and yet if you work really, really, hard and accomplish some very necessary work (i.e., papers, presentations), then the dragon will stay in his lair and leave you alone.

But you have to work.

Or I’m dead meat.


How’s that for motivation?!”

Need I say more? She’s really the best. And in order to repay her for all she’s done for me my entire life, I suppose I should get to slaying this dragon. Which I guess starts with admitting its existence. Forward! Carpe diem! ¡Pa’delante!

But first, a brief recap of my life during the past few weeks. After my parents left, I had to go back to school for an entire 2 weeks before our second Spring Break (a.k.a. the Feria, a huge week-long Spanish festival most popular in Andalucía where the women don Flamenco dresses, the men sport their best traditional suits, and everybody dances, eats, and drinks).

The weekend of April 13, we took an overnight trip to Granada, which was BEAUTIFUL! The weather tried to make our trip as miserable as possible by simultaneously soaking and freezing us, but we spited it and enjoyed exploring the city, going tapa-hopping (drinks in Granada come with a free tapa, a.k.a. cheap dinner), and touring La Alhambra, the impressive palace there.

The following week, we survived our classes, and Whitney, Eadie, and I spent time planning our upcoming trip to Italy! On Friday, April 20, we also went to a bull fight, which was actually pretty fun. Not nearly as violent as I’d imagined, and it was neat to partake in such an important aspect of Spanish culture. Sevilla’s bull fights are unique because the whole plaza goes silent when the bulls come out and when the torero is in the final stages of killing the bull, swishing his red cloth back and forth, daring the bull to get closer…closer…and each time the bull passes, the people breathe, “Anda,” a little louder each time until it breaks into a loud and approving, “¡Olé!” We saw one of the best fights of the year, as one of the toreros performed so as to attain some sort of special award (sorry, my cultural ignorance now shows through). The crowd carried him off on their shoulders after the fight, a rare honor!

All of a sudden, April 23 hit, and we were off to Italy! I could fill pages with our Tuscany adventures, but I’ll be brief here: we landed in Bologna Monday night, explored the city the next morning, then took a train to Florence, where we stayed 2 nights. On Thursday, we took a train to Rome, spending over 2 days there before flying to Madrid, Spain, Saturday night. We spent 2 days in Madrid before returning to Sevilla by bus on Monday, April 30.

Our trip was incredible–fun, relaxing, inspiring, and easy. Traveling with 3 flexible people means quickly made decisions and time enough to take it easy in each city. Bologna was charming, Rome was…Rome, but I think I liked Florence and its artistic ambiance the best. The river, the old bridges, the painters and sketchers filling every corner, the cheap gelato store we found right next to our hostel–it was the perfect city. Our trip’s theme was art: we saw Michelangelo’s David and other sculptures in Florence, his paintings in the Sistine Chapel and so many other famous pieces of artwork (including Rafael’s School of Athens) in the Vatican Museums, Guernica in Madrid, and countless others. By the time we returned, I just wanted to study art and learn how to paint and sculpt.

Mostly sculpt. How do people do that? How do they make marble look like velvet, stone look soft, blocks look feminine? I admire and appreciate all artwork, but it is these, the sculptors, for whom I hold the highest respect and marvel. Please teach me your ways.

We also wanted to visit Toledo during our second day in Madrid, but the rain and poor directions prevented our getting there, so instead, we found a chocolate shop and spent a cozy afternoon chatting with out waiters and eating amazing dessert. I haven’t even sorted through my hundreds of pictures from this trip, but I hope to get them on Facebook once I return:)

Since returning, school and classes have been my primary social life. I’ve tried to make my schoolwork secondary to spending my last weeks with my family and friends, and I’ve succeeded in this goal so well that at this point, it’s built up so high, I doubt I will be sleeping this week.

So, tomorrow is my grammar final and the time I need to write a paper due Tuesday; Tuesday brings my history and literature finals; Wednesday will find me frantically writing 2 papers due Thursday; and Thursday will be my politics final and social work paper presentation. We have a going-away party at Isla Mágica, the amusement park here, on Friday, and Saturday night at around 9, Lani and I will be boarding our first of 3 flights home.


I missed the Feria for Italy, but we still got to dress up and do a photoshoot in my host sister’s Flamenco dresses:)

Lovely Granada

Rachel and me in front of la Alhambra

Touring inside the walls of la Alhambra, which is like a city in and of itself

Bull fight stare down

Bologna from one of its towers

Beautiful Florence

River and old bridge in Florence

In front of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City!

Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. (Don’t tell anyone you saw this picture. It may or may not have been taken illicitly…)

The Colosseum in Rome


2 thoughts on “¡Pa’delante!

  1. Heather says:

    Wonderful pictures! I enjoy reading your writing.

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