Saturday, November 28, 2009


This blog entry requires immediate attention. More often than not I find myself slacking in the blog-writing department; today is different.

I went on an adventure with Rob, whos is currently visiting from back home, and Jen, a wonderful 3-citizenship-holding girl who seems to know all the secrets of Granada and surrounding area. We rented bikes and tore out of Plaza Nueva at 10:30. We rode for some time, an hour or so, until I stopped the line because I saw a very large bird in someon`s yard beside the trail. It turned out to be an ostrich. After snapping a few pictures, a few guys on bikes flew by. The ostrich was startled and bolted. It didn`t get far. One leg got caught in the handle bars (a full metal circle) of a teeter-totter and the bird went DOWN. It flailed wildly, only to get its other leg caught. We searched out help but no one was home at any house in sight. 20 minutes passed of ostrich self-mutalation until we decided we had to interveine. I found an old stick some 2m in length. Leaning over the fence I tried to pry its leg free... at this point both legs were already quite bloody. The stick was neither long enough or strong enough. Using my leatherman I sawed a living tree and fashioned a much more appropriate pry-bar. I guided the stick to the bottom of the ostrich`s foot and pushed hard: it fame free. It`s other leg was still caught, however not nearly as badly. Because of the ostrich`s position (laying beside the teeter-totter panting and terrified) I wasn`t able to force the other leg free. It was clear that the bird was exhausted so we decided to let it regain some strength and maybe it would free iteslf. After another 5 minutes it seemed a good idea to ask for help. A man walking with his toddler son approached and we explained the situation. Without much consideraiton, he hopped the fence and began pushing the ostrich`s leg with his bare hands - his toddler son watching all the while.

Knowing the capabilities of an ostrich let alone a trapped, scared, angry, and bloody ostrich was enough to keep me on my side of the fence. The man so close to the ostrich made me quite nervous, if not for his own safety then for ours: it would be a lasting scar in my mind, let alone his son`s, to see this man brutalized by kicks and head buts from such a large bird. Yet, this fearless spaniard was able to force our feathered friend`s other leg out of the metal ring with and happily hop back over to use his son`s baby wipes to clean the blood off his hands...

Aside from the bloody ostrich, we had a great bikeride in the countryside, visited a pretty small town, and bought some local cheese, sausage, bread, and 5L of their pueblo-branded wine :)

Monday, November 2, 2009

San Sabastián

I dropped the ball slightly on this post. It's been a month since this wonderful trip with my two closest friends here Alicia and Tati, but I'm sure it's not too late.

We rented a car, disappointingly a Ford Fiesta, and headed north to Pais Basque. We stopped the first night in Burgos to sleep and check out the Cathedral. It's pretty impressive. Spain continuously reminds me what an empire religion has been/is in the world. It has produced some gorgeous buildings to say the least.

The next day we went to our destination: San Sebastian. This city is near perfect. It's at the base of a mountain range, its built in the point where two ocean bays meet, a large hill (the one Tati and I are sitting on in the picture) blocks it from direct view of open ocean. It's no wonder Basque Country remained ethnically different for so long...

Nedless to say it was beautiful, fun, and very relaxing.

We saw/heard that France was a short drive away so we decided to take advantage. We did a day trip to Biarriz, a small surfing town on the Southwest coast. We slept on the beach most of the day...

We returned sad to be away from the lush green forsts of the north, but refreshed and ready to start the schoolyear.

Planning to Study Spanish in Granada?

I stumbled across this blog. It summarizes all the language schools in Granada and gives prices etc. Very handy, tell your friends.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bull Ring

The Bull Ring is a Crazy Thing.

I'm not much of one for blood and guts and gore (at least not live), but I am one for genuine cultural experience. Strangely, I really can't produce much analysis regarding my visit to the bull ring. I think I was just pulled in two different directions. A big part of me supported the protesters out front. A big part of me was excited to see such a seasoned custom. Either way, watching 6 bulls get slain by swords was really.......something.

Perhaps I shall give the chronology.

A bull comes charging into the ring. Word on the street is that it's testicles are twisted backstage then it's stabbed in the neck. An angry bull is a good bull.

The bull is then taunted by various torreros. Again, the idea is to get it as mad as possible.

Stage two is the spinal stab. The bull is taunted by a man on horseback. When the bull charges the fully armored horse, the picadora stabs the bull in the back.

Stage three is the 'decoration' of the bull. The bull is stabbed by a set of 2 tubular flags, 3 times.

Stage four is the dancing with the bull. The main torrero emerges with a red cape and a sword. After roughly 7 minutes of toying with the bull, he stabs it through the back of the neck. If the torrero is good, the bull dies more or less instantly. If the torrero is not good, like all but one of the ones I saw, the bull must either be stabbed again by a sword, or, if it collapses, stabbed in the top of the head with a daggar. If the torrero does a wonderful job and the crowd loved it, an ear, two ears, or two ears and a tail are removed and awarded to the torrero.

The fifth part is the honouring of the bull. Horses are brought out and the bull is hooked up by its hornes and dragged around the ring.

Splended. All of it.

Sometimes the bull gets lucky. Mr. Orange took a slight stumble and was plowed by the bull. Good thing its a machismo event; he continued on with the show, blood seeping from his leg, and landed a crowd-loving blow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I would have killed for Tapa Tapa...


Tapas is an incredible invention. You buy a drink (alcoholic in nature) and you receive a reasonable sized snack. The Spaniards know what's up.

After an unbelievably impersonal and frustrating process obtaining my visa, I left for Spain on the drop of a hat, but the fun didn't end there:

-Tuesday received a call saying my visa had arrived in Toronto. Partied with London peeps.

-Wednesday had a wisdom tooth pulled.

-Thursday received an e-mail from my university saying I could still make the Spanish Language course preceding the regular year if I got to Granada by Sunday night. Went to Toronto that night.

-Friday made the 10am-2:30pm window at the Spanish consulate to pick up the visa, was told I needed to hand in a flight itinerary to get my visa, was also told that the Consular General needed to sign the visa in order to make it valid (in which case how could I book a flight leaving that weekend if I wasn't sure I could get my visa Friday). Due to some questionable procedures on my and my older brother's part I got my visa at 2:00, booked a flight for 6:00.

-Saturday arrived in Frankfurt, Germany (the worst airport in the world). Flew to Madrid. Was verbally abused by an angry Spanish man in the train station for 10 minutes straight. Arrived in Granada at 9:45 (here). Took a cab to a hotel. Slept for the first time in almost 24hrs of straight traveling.

-Sunday the whole city was closed so I found my school then walked around with a Texan I met on the train. Watched a flamenco show in the Albayzin neighbourhood - the birthplace of flamenco.

-Monday went to class. Bought random stuff like apower adapter, got a cell phone.

-Tuesday went to class. Looked for an apartment.

-Wednesday went to class. Looked for an apartment.

-Thursday went to class. Looked for an apartment. Miraculously met a guy, Pedro Alvarez, while looking at my last apartment viewing of the night, who had an amazing apartment on the edge of Albayzin. I went to see it and loved it. It's a 5 minute walk to school, on the edge of both central Granada and old Granada, looks like an old Arab Cave/Palace. It has an incedible view of the Alhambrah and the city in general. Pedro is a great guy from outside Madrid who speaks very little engligh which is perfect. We're great friends. I slept on a couch that night.

-Friday I officially moved into my place, went out to a concert.

-Saturday I cleand the apt. with Pedro, spent time with his visiting parents who speak so fast I understand nothing unless they're talking to me directly.

-Sunday slept in. Wrote a blog.