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Cádiz: Selfies, Surfing, Shopping, Scavenging, Sushi, and Spanish


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by George H. Selfies, Surfing, Shopping, Scavenging, Sushi, and Spanish…That’s a real mouthful (just like the atún rojo nigiri I had today). To mix things up I’ll go sans haiku this time. At the end of this first week, I’m just starting to feel like we have all figured out what we want to do and, seeing how fast this week went by, I hope we all have time to do it. I’ll start with the first item in the title: selfies. For that less Instagram-savvy, a “selfie” is a picture you take with your phone of yourself. I’m not the resident expert on this subject (ask the girls how it’s done) but three of us dudes decided to try one by the cathedral in Cádiz and it turned out pretty well:

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Next item: Surfing. Just yesterday the whole group took the bus down to Playa Cortadura: a long, beautiful beach with some fantastic breaks for both surfing and just swimming. It was unbelievably fun. The water was perfect, the sun was out, and we were, as we Californians say, “shreddin’ the gnar”. It was totally radical, brah, like out of this world–oh my, excuse me. I get a little carried away with the surfer lingo. Anyways, after surfing there was a general consensus that we would find time to do that again–just one more thing on a list that is slowing being completed yet slowly growing longer as we learn more and more about Cádiz, which brings me to the next item on the agenda… Shopping. Again, this is not my field of expertise, but the men have had our own little chances to wade into the maelstrom of discounts and fitting rooms that is so strangely lucrative to our female counterparts. I don’t want to spend too long on this subject–I’ll just share a quick picture of a product I DID NOT PURCHASE. Worry not, Mom and Dad. I’m not totally European yet. And yes, I know I have a tan line.

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And the next “S”: Scavenging. This wouldn’t be such a big entry if my roommate and I didn’t take an amazing first place on the Photo Scavenger Hunt across Cádiz. I haven’t run as much as I did that night in the past six months. I’m fairly sure we about tied Ibn Battuta in terms of distance traveled, but we managed a slim victory. Here are a few pictures we took as part of the hunt.

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Sushi The Mercado Central here in Cádiz has three main parts. The innermost is a fish market with every single kind of sea animal you could think of and more. Each stall has a different vendor with a different animal out on display–it is a Mos Eisely-esque place with a little Blade Runner spin (obscure science fiction references).

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The next shell is the fruit market, which I assure you has been frequented by AR’ers. With one euro, a coin about the size of  your eyeball, you can get a kilogram–count that–a kilogram of fresh fruit. In English, $1.40 gets you about 8-9 peaches. Of course, as soon as we learned that half the group bought themselves each a kilo of nectarines, peaches, you name it. But the real magic of the Mercado lies in the outer arcades. There is stall upon stall of sushi restaurants, Moroccan food, crêperies, pizzerias–every kind of snack food you could want. All of this contained in one market right next to the best churros in town–Cádiz just forces you to eat.

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Spanish.  Now, the real meat of the blog. Be forewarned: Abandon all brevity, ye who enter here. But worry not; I shall be your Virgil. This past week, we’ve had our actual Spanish classes. They’re devastatingly tedious and work-oriented–for example, today we discussed Cádiz slang and ate churros. So yeah, they’re pretty grim. In all seriousness, the class has been a great opportunity to be thrown back into Spanish. We’ve been focusing on a lot of idiom (things you can only really learn via knowing the language) which is super helpful because (be warned, technical speech approaching) verb-preposition compounds are totally different between the two languages.

For example, while we say “dream of” in English, the Spanish is “soñar con” which, literally translated, means “dream with”. And in another facet of idiom, we’ve spent time both in the Spanish class and the culture class discussing slang and colloquialisms of the language. Some of my favorites include: “Tener el pavo”, meaning “to fool around”, but literally meaning “to have the turkey”, “Es la leche”, meaning “really cool/good”, but literally meaning “it’s the milk”. We’ve also learned our fair share of Spanish, shall we say, criticisms. I won’t reproduce them here but I will say that there exists apoetic nature to Spanish profanity that is not nearly replicated in English.

We also got a chance to learn about “el andalú”, or the accent/dialect developed here in the South of Spain, or Andalucía. It is an accent, yet there are specific words and pronunciations that sometimes make it sound like you’re speaking Portuguese. From a linguistic perspective it’s incredibly interesting, but from a student who’s heard Peruvian Spanish practically his whole life, it is not easy to immediately understand. Classes have really been a pleasant surprise–initially, I thought “who wants to go to class over the summer” but now I find myself looking forward to class–both the Spanish and the culture classes.

Now, finally, READ THIS IF NOTHING ELSE: We’ve really settled down at this point. Spanish life is in full swing for me–from the late dinners to the meriendas to the siesta to, I’m happy to say, the heat. I feel like the trip is in full swing and the group has really had some great chances to get to know each other. Initially, I expected a wave of homesickness and boredom to sweep over us at this point, but, while I only speak for myself, I still feel like we’ve just dipped our feet into the water, so to speak.

I still want to go to group-wide tapas, I have to try to read my book by Gabriel García Márquez, I have to go to the beach again, I have to go practice my conversational Spanish, I have to get ready for our tapas-making contest, I have to have more churros, I have to play some soccer, I have to study up for the España–Chile game tonight, and I have to get on that all because we’re already 33% through the trip. That’s the bad news, but the good news is that we’re only 33% through the trip.

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