sábado, 30 de mayo de 2009

Pop culture phenom #147092b

As you know I'm generally shocked by the pop culture that defines the lovely city of Sevilla. In fact, this city is one giant juxtaposition: a classic, old, historical European city filled with people who look like they're straight outta the trailer park. I have written several blogs about my pop culture observations, but this one I find fun.

Remember that loser in middle school? You know, the guy/girl that everyone made fun of? He/she probably had greasy hair, zits, glasses, pudge, lame clothes, etc etc etc. But one key accessory that always made someone a prime target for verbal harrassment was that beauty he or she lugged around school... that sack used to hold books, pencils, Nano babies, lunch... that beauty made for ease of transport....

Oh yes, baby. I'm talkin about the rolly backpack.

I cannot believe how popular the rolly backpack is here. I, for one, REFUSED to carry one despite the fact that I literally had 50 lbs of books to carry to and from school in those days. Everyone who had one, no matter what their social standing, was automatically shunned to sit with the mutants at table 9 if they had one. 

But damn, they are popular here.

And it's not just little kids heading off to elementary school to finger paint, sing, scream, or do whatever other cool shit you get away with in kindergarten. No, I've seen high schoolers wheeling their backpacks with pride down my street on several occassions. This blows my mind. I always secretly thought a rolly backpack was a great idea and extremely convenient, but would I be caught dead with one? I'll give that a hell to the no. 

I guess the difference is the fact that students here actually walk to school. It's probably less of a coolness factor and more of an "I don't want arthritis" factor. However, it's hard for me to drop the stereotypes I've had since my days in middle school. 

Maybe someday when Americans stop being so damn lazy and start using their legs as transportation, the rolly backpack might come back into fashion. But for now, Spain's seemingly single-handedly keeping the market alive. 

Viva la rolly!

lunes, 25 de mayo de 2009

Party like it's 2009

Insanity. Sleeplessness. Creepocity.

I have been feverishly trying to gather my thoughts regarding a few night's out in Sevilla in the past week, and it's taken me this long to be fully ready and okay with everything I have to say. Sometimes, I'm not proud of my behavior, but then I realize I have no dignity so I don't really give a flying feck.

I don't know if it's impending departure or the arrival of summer people that has seemed to light a fire under all of SAS's asses, but everyone has been going out a lot these days. Whether we're trying to live up our final days in Spain or show the new people what's up, Sevilla nightlife has been the highlight of  my life for the past two weeks.  That's not to say I didn't go out this entire semester, but my newfound urge to go out nightly is definitely a new record. And for those of you achin' for a post about good, old fashioned creepin' on your dear friend Andrea, you're in luck.

It all started Tuesday night. After a delicious meal of tapas at Bar Rosita right near my house, we headed down to Fundicion. I usually despise of Tuesday nights, as Fundicion usually turns into a smoky room filled with 1 part American hos/Discover Sevilla groupies (for the most part; nobody from our group included), 1 part Calle Betis creepers from Spain, Morocco, or other country.  So yeah, I usually don't go out on Tuesdays to avoid this mess, but I went anyway because of the said fire lit under my ass.  It ended up being totes fun.  After watching Zach and Forest in an exciting round of Beer Pong, we all mingled.  Somehow, we ended up in our little circle right next to a group of crazy drunken Spanish guys.  One guy who was particularly blitzed, blodshot eyes and hot mess hair included, walked into me at some point and spilled his drink everywhere.  He then spent the next 5 minutes yelling at me, claiming that I had to buy him a new drink because I hit him and he dropped it.  No thank you.  I turned back to our group and started dancing, but his friends would not let go of the fact that I dropped his drink. Then, they just started talking a bunch of nonsense that I've since forgotten, probably inappropriate things in English that, while generally offensive, no longer phase me. Then, for some reason that I forget now, the one guy was like, "Can you come over here for a second?" I did. And in perfect, unbelievable and unpredictable creeper fashion, the group of 6 Spaniards circled around me in an unbreakable chain and just started humping me.  I wish I was joking. I was laughing so hard I was crying in the middle of the gang bang, and everyone else just watched.  Once I broke free, I thought it was over, but no; it happened AGAIN, and AGAIN everyone just stared.  Wow.  I guess I wasn't that mad about it, though, because I proceeded to take a picture with them.  But yeah, night 1. Creeper success.

Wednesday night, though, takes the cake on the creepiness that defines not only Sevilla since day one, but my luck with men in general.  First, though, I have to brag on myself a little.  We decided to hit up Casino, another sweet terrace bar, because it claimed to offer free consupmtion til 1:30. When we got there, we realized the frustrations of false advertising when free consupmtion only equated to one tinto de verano (half wine, half soda) or a beer. Lamesies. So, we ended up staying there only for a bit because of the aforementioned lameness. Right next door was another terrace party at the discoteca Bandalai. Now for the bragging part: There was an extremely long line outside of Bandalai, so I left my friends (Elizabeth, Olivia, Kathryn, Carolyn, etc) in line to check out what was going on in front. Being the cool and general genius that I am, I decided to use a little old trick called 'walking with intention'; I simply acted like I was part of a group of 5 spaniards and walked right into Bandalai without waiting when the bouncers let them in ahead of the line. Awesome, right? Well... awesome except for the fact that my friends were still in line and I had to wait a good 20 minutes for them to be let in. And I had to enjoy 'I'm on a Boat' actually being played by the DJ all alone. 

So yeah, once inside and on the terrace was when the fun began. Apparently, earlier in the evening, a huge brawl broke out in front of the doors of the club. Every bouncer left his post to break it up, creating a Jumanji-style stampede into the club. This explained the mass of people inside. I'm not kidding... you could barely move in there. And as they say, where there's smoke, there's fire; where there is a mass of people close, there are definite creepers breathing down your neck (don't know if that really works but go with it please). Within seconds, every Spanish guido, Saturday night fever wannabe, and general thug was looking in our direction. Whiffs of BO and cheap cologne surrounding us, we trapsed through the crowd to get a better view of the place. It's a pretty nice bar... lots of white couches and stuff. There was also a slutty girl dancing on top of this little stage in the middle of the dance floor, which we stared at for about an hour. We finally stopped at a little table in the middle of the "dance floor," which was really a conglomerate of caricatures of human beings. I'm telling you, people in Sevilla dress like nobody else I've ever seen. There is a new fad amongst young girls that I like to call 'Hammer Pants,' because they are exactly that: loose but tapered sweatpants at the bottom. Nice. Pair that with stilettos, a face so full of make-up that even Michael Jackson would pull out the remover pads, and a Marilyn Monroe face piercing, and you've got 50% of Sevilla down to a science. There was even a guy wearing a yellow cut-off t-shirt and matching headband who I named Hulk Hogan dancing in one of the little tents. I usually spend about 10 minutes everywhere I go people-watching and, subsequently, judging for this very reason. 

The first real exciting thing that happened was a bar fight that broke out between one dude who was clearly stoned out of his mind and a Spanish guy. I've never seen anyone get punched in the face before this, so that was awesome. The only bad part was being in the front row of the fight circle, because I did get a little drink spilled down my arm. Other than that, though, solid way to begin an evening.

The fight left a little clearing in the dance floor, so we took it and started to get our respective swerves on. I quickly noted a very special breed of creeper behind us. He was wearing a fully white suit with a pink polo. He also had Sam Eagle (of the muppets) eyebrows and glasses. Basically, he was nasty as hell, dancing like someone was electrocuting him. He started doing the point at me while he was dancing, and, in a stupid, thoughtless response, I pointed right back. BIG MISTAKE. I turned to Elizabeth in just enough time to say, "Remember that creeper from earlier?" when I felt an arm go around my shoulder. Dear God. I don't know if I eluded him in a Chuck Norris-esque escape tactic or if I simply convulsed enough for him to get the point, but he didn't linger for long. He did, however, keep staring, I guess hoping that by pointing at him in the heat of a song equated to me wanting to sleep with him. Sir... never.

Next up came another Spanish weirdo. This time, thankfully, he was a bit younger, but nonetheless gelled up and generally unattractive. Our dialogue went a bit like this (I am transcribing this word for word. Get ready for some hilarity):

"Como se llama?" - Him
"QUE?" - Me
"Como se llama?" 
"Oooh... no entiendo. No espanol." - Me (I thought this was a genius way to escape him)
"What...is...your...nayyyme?"
"FUCK"

Of course, everyone around burst out in laughter, but I didn't find it funny that my only escape tactic failed. I ended up telling him my name, and he acted all surprised that my name was Andrea and his was Andreu. After that I turned my back and just ignored anyone for the next hour because the first two were enough for anyone to handle in one week, let alone one night.

We mingled longer on the dance floor. Another unbelievable sight came in the form of a group of African guys standing in a line and choreographing their dance moves. It was unreal. I mean, they only had, like, the two-step with arm movements and things of that nature, but it looked cool. We tried to dance with them but got nervous. After seeing us hanging out near the black guys, this ASS HOLE came up to us and started talking to us/trying unsuccessfully to hit on us. When he realized it was going downhill, he started saying, "Oh, you like black cock?" or something of this nature. WOWWWWWWWWWW SIR. I was like, "No, but just because we don't want yours... STEP OFF." Uggh. Men are absolute pigs here. Sometimes, I can't wait to disappear back into obscurity in CH for this very reason.

The rest of the night really just consisted of watching people sneak into the dancer's box in the middle of the dance floor. Lots of girls in skirts got on it with little thought about the undergarments they were exposing (or not exposing) to the world. Eek. A personal highlight was the onslaught of gay men who took on the box (heh, the dancing box). From my experience, gay men are usually great dancers, and these guys fit the mold. Wow. I wanted to watch them all night, but sadly the bouncer started kicking everyone off of the box. By about 5 am, the smell of body odor was wafting towards us so strongly that nobody wanted to dance anymore. We headed home afterwards, sealing a great night with the thought that  we had no class the next day until 6:30.

The rest of the week consisted of Buddha (where I ran into a familiar face that I'd rather avoid... details if you're lucky enough to know the story of a certain king), running around Friday trying to find free drinks and failing, and Buddha again Saturday. Saturday night was a great one, but I can't really express my true feelings on this blog, as it might be read by those involved. All I can say is Olivia, Elizabeth and I are not only tanks, but lucky to have survived a ridiculous night surrounded by boys (note the lack of the word 'men'). So yeah, there it is. My life in parties. I sound like a socialite whore, but as my life stands at the moment it's not too far off base. Expect more stories as my time in Sevilla winds down, and as I visit such marvels as London, Barcelona, Madrid & Amsterdam. 


Hasta luegoooo

lunes, 18 de mayo de 2009

Why buy the milk when you can get it for free

I had quite the "cultural" experience leaving class today.  I will preface this story with the fact that I only got 6 hours of sleep last night prior to my first University exam, so I might have imagined everything I saw.  

To me, however, it was real. Real disturbing.

Okay, so I'm walking from the university alone.  Now, my path goes a bit like this: Leave the University, walk down San Fernando, cross Menendez y Pelayo & then cut up between the Palacio de Justicia (If you do not or have not lived in Sevilla, then just imagine I'm in a little corridor between two large buildings with less foot traffic than the regular path).  So there I am, sunglasses on, i-pod on, minding my own business.  I then look over to a woman who is walking (keep in mind that she is not standing still, but actually walking) towards me.  She is the prime example of what I like to call "Basura Blanca" (translation: white trash).  Here in Spain, there's a different breed: 

Swap the Nascar t-shirts for too-tight tank tops and white shorts, preferably with fat dripping over the edges.
Keep shiteous makeup and badly bleached hair.
Add gold chains.
Mullet optional.  

So yeah, there she was, a beauty in her white capri-ish shorts and green cami, both of which were bursting at the seems with her girth.  Not a good look.  Surprisingly enough, this woman had a child (why anyone would sleep with her, I do NOT know).  And I quickly noticed that, beyond this woman's utter disregard for how heinous she looked, she was carrying her child in the oddest of ways.  His poor little head was kind of smooshed into the one arm she was using to hold him, while his legs were sort of flailing as she walked down the street.

"That's a really weird way to hold a childOHMYGOD SHE'S BREAST FEEDING HIM!!"

That was my exact mental process.  This woman, in broad daylight, at prime time for foot traffic, heading TOWARDS one of the main pedestrian walkways, had her large and unattractive breast out of her cami for her young child to go at.  While she was walking.  I hope I didn't stare too long, because honestly, I was beyond perplexed as to how something like that happens.  Usually, women go off to a bench or a bathroom or, I don't know, DO IT AT HOME.  Nobody wants to see you walking around the street with your boob out. NOBODY.

The best part about this, though, is that as I got closer to my house, I saw YET ANOTHER ON-THE-GO BREASTFEEDER, doing the SAME THING.  This time, however, she was a classy Spanish woman.  WHAT THE HELL?  Another odd thing, she was wearing a v-neck.  Probably a bad idea.  But her child, like the first, was holding on by a tooth & sort of flailing around as well.

Has anyone else seen this phenomena elsewhere? Or is this, like so many other things, a special Spanish craze? 

**Sidenote

Sorry, gotta get this off my chest. It'll be short and sweet.

I don't know why people feel the need to continually remind me of a fact that I already know: Yes, I DID miss UNC winning the National Championship.  And after a week of pure depression and a few months of thinking I realized the following:

My semester, no matter what, kicks your semester's ASS.

I wouldn't even care if the god-damn Dalai Lama himself came to campus; I still feel like I made the best decision of my entire life doing this study abroad.  Seriously.  I absolutely DO NOT feel that I missed out on anything.  In fact, I would've missed out on much more had I done a summer or fall abroad.  You go on with your 3rd-degree bonfire burns, and I'll reminisce about my awesome new friends and life-shaping experiences in Europe (and a little bit of Africa, too). Okay? Leave me alone now.  

Bye.

viernes, 15 de mayo de 2009

jueves, 14 de mayo de 2009

iT's FeRiA

I would like to start out this blog with a short apology for the way I typed the title.  I love typing like this, as it brings me back to the days of middle school, but I know it's unacceptable.  And for that, my friends, I apologize.

Please also note that the title of this blog is to the tune of "Disturbia" by Rihanna.  Let me explain...

Many moons ago (in January, I believe), I was studying for the final exam in Rafa's class with some people, although I only remember Derrick being there.  Anyway, as we were cramming in the final minutes before the test, we were trying to remember that Feria = gloria, aka that Feria is the celebration of life while Semana Santa is kind of like the grieving for the death of Jesus. You know, that old chesnut.  So, in my true witty fashion, I quickly came up with the following:

It's FERIA, times were dark, this is the light (to the tune of Disturbia... it's f*cking genius, right?)

So yeah, that's how that all got started.

Feria, though, is second only to Carnaval in being a very unreal experience.  It's 1/2 extreme class and 1/2 redneck; it's like mixing a debutante ball & the State Fair.  You have these private casetas, closed and exclusive parties where the rebujitos (the drink of Feria) flow and the flamenco don't stop spinnin'.  You have women in gorgeous Flamenco gowns riding stallions with men in suits and top hats.  You basically have an old-fashioned party in the 21st century, and, hey, what doesn't say class like a night of dancing Sevillanas?

Crazy juxtaposition, however, is what defines Feria.  Because right down the road from this almost black-tie affair is where the hoodrats of Sevilla come out to play.  It's literally the NC State Fair, one of the most godforesaken things on this planet, lifted and dropped on my beautiful city.  It's kind of like UNC and Duke -- a heavenly oasis mere feet away from hell on earth.  Okay, the fair part isn't as bad as Duke, but you get the picture.  In my opinion, it didn't seem to fit in with the timelessness of the casetas and private parties.  

The sad part about Feria, though, is that you gotta have connections or a lot of luck to get into these private casetas, neither of which I had.

The fair it is, then.

I actually went to Feria on 3 separate occasions over 2 days.  That's pretty f*cking intense, especially because it's so incredibly far from Nervion.  Day one, I hit up Feria with Derrick, Casey, Angela and Jessica.  We literally just wandered for a good 2 hours, stopping in only at a public caseta (those were pretty lame) to try rebujitos.  We didn't go on rides or anything.  Just wandered.  We also quickly learned the problem of wearing open-toed shoes to Feria.  I forgot to mention that daily during Feria, rich families parade around in horse-drawn carriages.  As the old saying goes, where there are horses, there is horse shit.  That's not the worst part, though; they had street cleaners SPRAYING the roads, making liquid puddles of shit instead of just having nice AVOIDABLE piles in the road.  So yeah, lesson learned, note made.  No more open-toed shoes.

Another strange incident on day one involved one of those man-statue guys who painted himself silver and stood not-so-still in the middle of Feria.  In fact, he checked his phone, lit a cig, and completely dropped position in front of an entire crowd of people.  The worst, however, was when he blew a SNOT ROCKET in front of us.  Really, dude?  You're not a real robot, it won't hurt you to use a f*cking tissue or hanky or napkin or whatever.  That wouldn't even hurt you if you were are real robot.  Oh, the class that a fair brings.  

After walking to Feria on day 1, the next morning I had no plans of going to Feria again til later that night, when I planned to get appropriately sloshed for the event.  I ended up, however, going back to Feria with Carolyn & Coop, who had just returned from a lovahs getaway.  Awk.  But yea, the three of us, Three's Company, if you will, headed out to Feria to again just wander.  Glad we did.  We saw some of the most unbelievable shit I've seen at a Fair, and that's saying a lot (this coming from the girl who will pay to enter those "World's Smallest Woman" or "World's Smallest Horse" exhibits).  

1. The Ship: The ship was the shit. Literally. I think we sat there and watched this ride for about 10 minutes. First of all, it was run by an overzealous carnie who was just there to get the crowd going. I don't think he took a breath on the mic. But yea, the ship was comprised of a saucer-like apparatus with a row of seating lining the entire inside. In the middle, there was a mat. Why, you may ask? Well, my friend, I'll tell you -- for the duration of the ride, one could just run around the center of the saucer while said overzealous carnie pressed buttons to make the thing turn and jolt. This ended up making riders fall every which way, something that would scare the living shit out of US lawyers, parents... basically any right-minded person. Most of the riders were pre-pubescent boys who chose to wrestle each other on the mat and knock each other down.  I call THAT entertainment.  

2. Totem: Totem was another hilarious ride. It was similar to The Ship, in that it involved knocking around and abusing riders.  It was just two cylinders covered in foam and plastic with about 5 handle bars down the back.  Riders mounted (heh heh) the cylinders, held onto the handle bars, and the entire thing shook like a mechanical bull until all of the under-10 riders were ruthlessly projected onto the ground.  They then raced like crazy people to get back on top of the totem.  I still don't see the fun in this ride, and would never pay to be humiliated for 10 minutes.  Oh well, kids have no dignity.

3. Airbrushed Paintings: I'm not talking about those shitty t-shirts everyone seems to buy from the fair with Spongebob's face on them or some slutty Playboy bunny and your name.  No, the only airbrushing at Feria was on the rides themselves.  And boy, were they creepy and inappropriate.  My favorite was the one for a ride called "El Toro."  El Toro was the same as Totem, but, clearly, the art was uncalled for.  First, there was a man with a smoking gun that looked like a straight-up pedophile.  The other mural was of a woman wearing a cowboy vest, boobies exposed.  And no, it wasn't Carrie Prejean (heh heh pop culture humor).  It was wildly inappropriate!  And no more that 50 feet away was another set of airbrushed boobs, this time perched atop of a HUGE haunted house, probably visible for miles and miles.  If you are airbrushing boobs, you probably aren't getting any. 

4. EL TREN DE LA BRUJA: This was by far our highlight of the day.  Like I said previously, the Spanish must go to Feria to get abused, because that's all I saw on Saturday.  El Tren de la Bruja is by far the best example.  As we were walking, I saw something a bit out of the ordinary -- a carnie physically hitting riders on a little train, seeminingly for children.  I rubbed my eyes, but by the time they focused, the ride was over.  We decided, however, that it was worth the wait to see it again and make sure there was no carnie abuse going on.  So the three of us perched along the metal fence surrounding the ride, which basically was a little train that went in a circle.  It, too, had a few airbrushed paintings, but only of the witch from Snow White, as the name of the ride in English means "The Witch's Train."  The ride slowly filled up again (the fair's not as efficient as in the US, so it takes like 12 minutes for each ride to actually start) and finally, el tren was moving again.  

What I'm about to describe is absolutely unreal.

The carnie working on this ride next grabs a little brown broom that was leaning against the facade of the ride.  As the little train starts going in it's little circle filled with little children and their parents, the carnie begins STRIKING them with the broom.  I kid you not.  For the ENTIRE duration of the ride, this guy with more pent-up rage than anyone I've ever seen just smacked the living shit out of riders.  Oh, and you could tell who he didn't like.  He particularly pegged this little boy in the backseat who was riding alone.  I really thought he was going to draw blood by how hard he was hitting the kindegartener.  Un-be-lie-va-ble.  We were absolutely flabbergasted watching this, thinking, "WHY THE HELL WOULD YOU PAY TO BE ABUSED BY A FUTURE SERIAL-KILLER CARNIE?"  I really will never understand. 

Luckily for you, I got some video evidence:



Can you believe that guy? I remember saying when I saw him, "I do NOT want to be around when he snaps."  You should've seen the fire in his eyes when one of the riders grabbed the broom from him.  

So yeah, that was yet another great day at Feria.

That same day, we hit up Feria por la noche.  We rolled preeetty deep that night.  I don't remember the exact count, but it was over 1,000 (Ron Burgundy, anyone?).  We left from Nervion, got the metro and were magically at Feria in less than 20 minutes.  I was feeling pretty alright that evening... not going to lie, I enjoyed a Coke Light & Ron en route.  I basically ran around Feria that evening like a child.  I was scared to ride everything (I don't trust carnies to set up rides), so all I did was harass everyone around me with photos and videos.  My main target was Carolyn, who was brave enough to put on the Flamenco dress her senora gave her... clearly it needed to be documented.  I was also quite intrigued by a group of Canis (the guido-thug hybrid) who played this punching bag game for what seemed like an eternity.  Basically, they hit a punching bag and the game would rate how hard their punch was.  No prize was involved or anything, so they were basically paying to show off their non-existent strength.  I literally have 10 minutes of video of this shit, but blogspot.com assholes will only let me put one on here.  OOooh the irony.

I did end up going on two different rides -- the Haunted House & this really scary ride I would not have gone on without peer pressure.  The Haunted House was absolutely heinous.  No line usually indicates that it's a shiteous ride, but we didn't care.  Every turn revealed a plastic Frankenstein or bed-sheet ghost.  Clearly, it wasn't worth 3,50 euro, but we made it fun, duh.  On the other ride, I just screamed the ENTIRE time.  I have an intense fear of fair rides (if I haven't stressed that enough), so going on this spinny, swingy thing was quite a big deal for little ol' me.  

Before I knew it, it was 5 am and time to get the hell up outta Feria.  Luckily, the metro ran 24 hours this weekend (therefore redeeming itself after the Boat Party fiasco) so I didn't have to make the Trail of Tears back to Nervion.  I was home soon enough to fall asleep before the sun came up.  

Feria ended Sunday night, and it went out with a... bang?  I say it like that because it literally did and I'm just being punny.  Seriously, Feria ended with a sweet set of fireworks.  I am a 12-year-old, so I have no gauge of how good the fireworks show actually was.  I do remember, however, a few of the fireworks having a white exterior and a tan center, therefore looking like boobs and/or fried eggs.  I also recall a statement I made whilst watching the display: "I feel like I'm on Full House right now."  Not exactly sure what that meant, but I probably was just overwhelmed by how awesome my life is here... almost as perfect as that crazy Tanner clan.  

The end of Feria, however, did signify one big NEGATIVE -- the end of LSCS's time here in Sevilla.  Let the depression begin.  No, really... it's a whole new ball game without them.  It's especially strange for me without my one and only, Angela Ohlhaut, the best roommate and wife a girl could ever ask for.  I am so lonely in our room.

I do only have one month left in Sevilla as of today.  I vow to make it the best one yet.  And bitch, that's gonna be hard (that's what he said).  No, really.  I don't know how I'm gonna outdo months 1 - 4.  

I'll be sure to fill you in on how I do it. 

Night night.


martes, 12 de mayo de 2009

I know why the rum's gone

This blog is a cry for help... no, I'm not an alcoholic or anything like that, although that might be what it seems I am going for with the title and the first statement of this blog.  I am wondering, has anyone else in Sevilla seen the Johnny Depp look-alike? He wears the hat, the glasses, has long hair, wears trendy, J.Depp-style clothes, and boots.  I seem to see him everywhere, and just as I'm catching that fleeting glimpse of the beauty that is Jack Sparrow, he disappears.  Is this a mirage? Anyone? Anyone? 

viernes, 1 de mayo de 2009

Allah Back Youngin'

I got back yesterday from the Dirty South (at least in Spain), known to the rest of the world as Morocco. I spent 6 days there, an amazing fact in and of itself because I originally only wanted to go for a weekend and get the hell out of there. But the amount of time (and money) I spent actually felt worth it as I stepped off the bus at 1 am Thursday morning in Sevilla... I had an unreal time. Since it was 6 days, I have decided to chop this blog up into chapters. Read whichever titles tickle your fancy.

Chapter 1: BUS-ting my Balls

I went to Morocco with a local tour group, DiscoverSevilla. I didn't really know what to expect, honestly, because most of the people who work there are pure and utter tools, and I was dreading spending 6 days in a moderately dangerous place without a competent guide (I only picked them because the schedule was better than other tour groups). I lucked out, however, because the owner of the company was one of our guides... he's pretty much a genius, so that's good. But yeah, we ended up getting to the bus leaving for Tarifa, the port from which our ferry to Tangiers would leave, at 5:15 am last Friday, beginning an excrutiatingly long string of bus journeys. Don't get me wrong -- I'm so much happier I went with a group in which everything was planned for me. I did, however, HATE the people I was surrounded with on the bus.


I think I should've known immediately that the majority of our tour group consisted of toolbags. Since Angela, Elle and I were the last 3 on the bus, we had to sit kind of far apart. Angela and I got the second to last row of the bus, which seemed fine because we got to sit together. And, being that it was 5:30 am, I immediately tried to recline my seat and go to bed. I was surprised to find the chair would not budge because the girl behind me was pushing her legs up against it. BITCH! In fact, she saw me struggling and turning around several times to try and get the chair back and wouldn't move. Thank God about 3 minutes later, the bus broke down and we had to switch onto bus #2, where I was able to elude the group of d-bags who thwarted my efforts to sleep.

The next day we spent pretty much entirely on the bus, as we were on our way to Merzouga, our Sahara Desert destination. And of course, Angela and I ended up smack-dab in the middle of the d-bag group once more. I seriously was considering sacrificing my life to get away from these people. Let me describe:


1. The ugly PDA couple - He had a beer-belly and badly receeding hairline. She had a moustache. But nothing could stop these two from groping each other for a total of 8 hours. PDA seems to follow me everywhere as a constant reminder of my imminent "cat lady" status, but their nasty-ness made me think I would rather cozy up to a few felines than be like that.


2. The not-funny loud guy - There's always one. The guy who sat behind me continually made comments he thought were HILARIOUS, but just made him out to be a douchebag to the rest of the bus. He didn't realize the Dali Lama of humor was seated right in front of him.


3. The Obnoxious girls - Really, this stereotype needs no description. These girls DID NOT SHUT UP the entire time. My favorite was the one in front of me who felt the need to brag about her travels for 8 hours. Bitch, we're in Morocco right now. There is NO NEED to brag about your amazing trips because we're all in AFRICA for cryin' out loud. She also talked excessively about Twilight, so I hated her more.


4. The Biggest Douche - I know I have called those in the above 3 categories 'douches,' but this guy wins. He had a faux hawk, a hoop earring, one of those black leather necklaces with a silver pendant thing, and either wore t-shirts with alcohol brands on them or t-shirts with the sleeves cut off. Really? Does anyone do that anymore? Also, if you're projecting what brands of liquor you drink on your chest, you are really out-gaying yourself. No need to brag.


So yeah, we were stuck in the midst of this for about 8 hours total. Sometimes, I was so awestruck by the conversation happening around me, I recorded some quotes in my textbook:

Background for this quote: The d-bag group was playing that game where each person has the name of another, usually famous person written on a Post-It note and placed on their head. The guy behind me was given the following clues, as he was unable to figure out who he had:

1. She was black

2. Something involving a railroad


Hmm... that's a hard one. What black woman was involved with a railroad? An underground one, perhaps? I feel like you learn this in, what, third grade? D-bag, however, answered with the following:

HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.

Hmm... again... WOW. So, you're familiar with Uncle Tom's Cabin, but you're unable to conjure up the name HARRIET TUBMAN? His group was gracious enough to give him a second try. His response?


HARRIET TUGMAN.

I hate you.


Another personal favorite came from The Douche. As we were driving THROUGH THE DESERT, he makes the genius statement "We're, like, in nowhere town." Oh, really? Because I thought the desert was a bustling metropolis.

Finally, Obnoxious Girl #1 (the one in front of me), was talking about an allergy to gummie worms that she has. "Gummie things... my mouth and throat don't agree with them." I bet you haven't used THAT one before.

So yeah, the bus sucked. We did make some sweet stops along the way, including a cedar forest, where we were able to see WILD MONKEYS, and a valley that used to be a river, so it was filled with lots of trees. The long rides were worth it, though, as you will see later.




How we felt about the bus, taken on day 6.


Chapter 2: Slow Jams


This chapter will be short and sweet, but it's an observation I must make nonetheless. Moroccans LOVE them some mood music. All I heard all weekend was, like, Celine Dion and Bryan Adams. Even more awesome was walking along the beach in Rabat only to hear MICHAEL BOLTON blasting. The ferry also played some slow jams, including James Blunt. I was tempted to get out the massage oils and candles, but then realized I would just be enjoying them alone, as usual. *runs off crying*



Michael Bolton says: "Thanks for keeping me relevant somewhere."


Chapter 3: Turbie Twist


This next chapter will detail the first part of the day we spent in the Sahara. We arrived at night via bad ass 4x4s. I figured that we would just ride out to the hotel, but no. I had my first off-roading experience in the Sahara. So BAMF. Our driver was funny, too. He kept pretending to be dead, take his hands off the wheels, etc., just to get the crowd going.



So yeah, the first part of day one consisted of a visit to a Berber village close to our hotel. It was slated to leave at 10:15, so Angela, Elle and I headed out towards the dunes surrounding our hotel (!) to take pictures of us frolicking in the Desert. No sooner than we stepped out onto the sand were we accosted by a group of Berber men. First, we thought they were being friendly, offering to take pictures of the 3 of us. Then, they each insisted on taking a picture with one of us, like a couple shot. Hmm. After we were done, they immediately dragged us to try and sell us some of their handicrafts - fossils. I guess being in the desert, there aren't many trades one can take up, so these guys sell little plates made from fossils. They're actually very cool, and I got my first bargaining experience with Ibrahim, my Berber friend. Orange turban and matching teeth, he was quite the hottie. I bought two heart-shaped fossil plates from him for 150 Dirham (a little less than 15 euro), after he wanted me to pay 420. I guess that's pretty good. We sadly had to leave them, though, to catch our group heading off into this village.


Little did I know....



After spending about 30 minutes purchasing and putting on new turbans, we headed out into the Sahara, walking across the blazing hot dunes to a little village. I absolutely CANNOT imagine living there. It was really depressing, actually. I'm sure the people are used to it and might actually enjoy it, but desert living is not for me. Another aspect that killed me were all the little kids that were selling jewelry and other little crafts to us. It took me a lot to turn them down... I ended up buying this pretty weird camel figurine from a little boy with the saddest, Hush Puppy looking eyes ever. Maybe that's part of the game, but I fell for it. Gah, I'm such a softie.



But yeah, while in this village, purchasing a bunch of worthless shit from little kids, I was continually followed by Ibrahim (Berber guy). He first kept calling my name, "An-dreee-uh," just to say 'hello.' I just responded with an, "OH HEY!" and thought nothing of it. Then, he kept appearing. He first tried to convince me to buy something from one of the little kids. He then told me that he thought I liked him because I bought the heart-shaped dishes from him. Wow. I finally signalled to Angela (by pulling down my sunglasses and making the "I'm creeped out, SAVE ME" face) to rescue me. As we were walking away, he somehow managed to get on a bike and ride past me, saying, "Andrea, I want to make you my wife someday." I was absolutely dumbfounded. I was unable to say anything, really, and could only stammer, "Uhm, I have a boyfriend." He claimed he was just joking, but for the rest of my time in Merzouga, I feared that I would be kidnapped in the night and forced into marriage with brown-gummed Ibrahim.




IBRAHIM: Single & Looking. Would you hit it?



Chapter 4: Ridin' Humpback

By midday, it was time to get up on the camels and travel out into the SAHARA. This was really the part everyone was waiting for. We quickly lined up and got ready to mount those studly beasts. It's fun getting on a camel that's sitting down, because they stand up like a car with hydraulics - the back legs go up first, then the front. It's like a car from PIMP MY RIDE, minus X to the Z X-ibit. So yeah, that was fun to experience. Sadly, my camel was probably the fattest of the bunch, meaning my short and stubby legs were basically in a perfect split for 2 hours. The pain was numbed for a while due to the absolutely incredible scenery (Remember that part in Aladdin where he goes to the Cave of Wonders? That's what it looks like), but when the wind and sand started to pick up and I was holding on for dear life. At the end of the 2-hour journey, I couldn't feel my groin and I walked around like, well, yeah... like I had a lot of pain in that general vicinity. Still, it would've taken being shot, stabbed, etc., to make the camel trek not worth it.


Chapter 5: Climbin' Dunes...

Once you get out into the desert, there is shockingly not much to do. So, many people from camp decided to hot foot it up this monstrous dune that overlooked our campsite. The 3 of us got a late start, as we were chatting it up in our sweet Berber tent. After about 10 minutes of climbing, though, I realized that my ass was NOT going to make it up the entire thing. Have you ever tried climbing sand? It's basically impossible, especially up a dune that's at an almost-90 degree angle. I also made a decision, like an idiot, to bring my camera. Instead of struggling with one hand carrying the digicam, I placed it in the safest spot I could, my panties (because you know NOBODY'S goin in there). I felt bad for a second because it's my dad's camera and I'm sure he wouldn't appreciate it being in my underwear, but what the hell. It was safer there than in my hands, because I passed out in the sand about every 12 steps. I really felt like a big fat bum, especially after working out for, oh, the past like 2 years and not being able to climb a sand dune. Elle left Angela and I to climb the entire thing while we just rolled around in the sand, laughing about our inability to conquer the beast. Despite not making it up the whole way, we got a good ways up, so we were able to see out across the desert landscape. It was an unreal sight. We could even see the Algerian border off in the distance. As the sun set, we decided to head down the dune and join our group for another Berber music session. Of course, I was dared to roll down the dune instead of walk, and I did it. Nauseated, dizzy, and bruised, I headed back to camp. (Note: I still have grains of sand EMBEDDED IN MY ARM from rolling down the dune.)


Chapter 6: Midnight at the Oasis

As we made our way down to camp, the sound of drums echoed off the dunes. We knew it was time for a party. Everyone was gathered around while a group of Berber men played the drums and Berber spoons, basically little simbols. It was ridic. And, of course, I got dragged up to dance. Never one to shy away from an opportunity to put my hottness on display, I stayed up there for a while with the towelheads. It was great. They played a lot of songs that we had learned at a prior Berber drum sesh (I think all the Berbers do is play drums around a campfire). My favorite had the following lyrics:


Fiesta, fiesta
Yo quiero mas fiesta
Quiero divertirme y olvidarme todo

...aaaand repeat

We also had a heinous dinner in the Berber tent, consisting of some pretty bad rice (how can you mess up white rice?) and an odd dish involving red meat that I refused to eat. I was more interested in laying out in the oasis and staring at the sky. It was just incredible... I don't think I"ll ever see as many stars as I did that night. In fact, I made Angela spoon with me while looking at them. I'm sure she was glad to have her arm as my headrest for an hour... however, it was freezing, so our closeness did have its benefits. Our peaceful stargazing sesh was cut short by an attempt to bring the party outdoors, as the Berber guys lit a fire and started harassing us to practice Berber phrases. The guy I got stuck with was probably not a certified language teacher but was, of course, a certified creep, as he asked me for my e-mail address so he could send me Berber words. Instead of saying no, I sketched off to the bathroom and then tiptoed back to my tent in order to avoid seeing him. Even in the desert, I am not safe.

Chapter 7: Places my ass will never see again

1. Berber mid-desert bathrooms

Holy hell. The place smells just as awful as you'd imagine a bathroom without running water would. It was worse than the port-o-potties at the Fairgrounds, which is saying A LOT. I felt like I was in that part of Slumdog Millionaire, where Jamal is stuck in the bathroom that is just brimming with shit below. I wanted to cry/vomit/die/etc. I actually felt bad for exposing my ass to that toilet seat. I held my pee from then on, limiting myself to only one more trip to that nauseating restroom.

Chapter 8: Things that go EEEEEERRRRRRR in the night

At around 12, after enough stargazing for even Aristotle, we headed off to bed in our Berber tent. The little cots we slept on were surprisingly comfy and warm, at least for me. Like 12-year-olds, we had a lovely gossip sesh before turning in. The best part was really when our nextdoor neighbors in the tent to our right spoke up and acknowledged that they could hear us talking about, well, everything we'd been talking about. Awkward. 

But the title of this blog is not about the sex talk sesh that we had. Instead, it has to do with the crazy sounds one hears whilst sleeping in the middle of the Sahara. All night, either a camel or a donkey, I'm not sure, was MOANING.  Sadly, this was not a keep-it-to-yourself moan, but a "BITCH-I'M-PISSED-OFF-AND-I-WANNA-GO-HOME" moan that seemed to happen every hour. 

It went a little something like this:

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEERRRRRRRRRRRRRRHHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Along with the PMS-ing camel, I also heard a cat or other feline creature freaking out outside of our tent. You know that overly used track on TV of a cat screeching (REEERRR!)? That happened inches away from my face outside of our tent at about 3 or 4 am. And although my body, groin especially, was tired and weak from the journey to the oasis, I was somehow able to conjure up a resounding "Ew," before immediately falling back into a peaceful sleep. I hate cats.

We ended up waking up at about 6 am the next morning, much to my surprise. In fact, I thought our tour guide Jorge was joking when he kept telling me to wake up. We were the last 3 to get on camels and headed back out into the Sahara. The walk home was about 20x better than the first time around. My camel was normal sized, and, although my groin was undeniably sore from day 1, it would've been a LOT worse had I had a camel with a donk like my first guy. There also was much less wind, helping me get some amazing shots of the desert and, of course, of myself. 

After the camel trek, we finally got showers & real food. Soon, we headed back on 4x4s to our bus and made the loooooooong ass journey back to Fez.

Chapter 9: I don't know you but your... Fez?... is familiar?

Quoting Austin Powers above was the only way to appropriately introduce the last leg of our Moroccan journey, FEZ. Fez is the capital of Morocco, boasting a royal palace, sweet mountains, a very old, windy, and sometimes smelly medina, and about 1.5 trillion satellites. The city is actually pretty cool. We got there late on Monday and immediately crashed in order to prepare for the next day, a full tour of the medina with a knowledgable and able-bodied guide, Aladdin. Okay, not really, but I kind of wish that Prince Ali, fabulous he, would've been our guide, because much of our trip reminded me of that classic film. The markets in Fez, the desert, the little fez hat like Abu wears, that magic lamp I found and rubbed long and hard (I kid)... I could've stepped into the movie.

But really, Fez is pretty crazy. The newer part of the city is pretty normal... it's just the Medina that is absolutely outlandish. All the streets are narrow & windy. Oh, and did I mention that there are no street names? I can't imagine living in a place like Fez, but I guess you get used to it after a while. The first tip we got upon arrival in the Medina was to be aware if you heard "Atencion" or some Arabic word I don't remember because it means that either a hand cart or a pack mule is behind you carrying loads of shit into the city (the aforementioned narrow & windy streets make it quite difficult, aka impossible, to drive a car load of supplies into the Medina).  At first it was amusing, but slamming myself up against the wall in order to avoid a trampling by donkey loses its luster after about 17 seconds. This ain't no Indiana Jones, and there ain't no escaped boulder, so I shouldn't be forced against a wall. Rude.

I really felt like my tour group had pimped us out to several businesses in Fez. Our "tour" involved going to a leather tannery (where I bought shoes), a scarf-maker (where I spent like $100 on 6 scarves that I don't even KNOW what I'm gonna do with and it makes me sick that I spent that much), a Moroccan medicine place (where I sniffed a bunch of herbs, lotions, etc., and bought only one thing), and a Berber rug factory (where I was way out of my price range and my wallet was given a rest). It just felt as though we were carted from one business associate to the other, expected to buy luxurious Moroccan goods that none of us needed. 

I will say, though, that haggling for better prices is way too fun. The general formula of our haggling went a bit like this:

Andrea, Angela or Elle is haggling with shopkeeper
Remaining two either a) hysterically laugh or b) egg on haggler and encourage a walk-out for lower prices.

We all got in shouting matches with Fez shopkeepers. In one case, I was beyond the threshold of a store yelling back at the shopkeeper, who eventually dropped his price from 500 to 150 Dirham. I felt pretty damn boss. I did, however, have to tolerate him KISSING MY CHEEK 2x for my deal. It wouldn't have been so bad had he not resembled a terrorist and had a unibrow. 

So yeah, by the end of the day in Fez, I had acquired the following goods:

6 scarves (5 cashminas & 1 sparkly plain one)
1 pair of earrings
1 bangle bracelet
1 gift for Adam 
1 decorative item for Leambrose
1 pair of camel leather shoes
1 little bottle of perfume

I would say that's a pretty impressive load. A bit too impressive, as my wallet was completely empty post-shopping.

After the long day in the Medina, we again headed back to the hotel and packed for the next day's journey back to Spain.

Chapter 9: Beach & Bus-lympics

Day 6 found us back on the bus heading towards Tangier, the port that would take us back to Tarifa, the southern Spanish city from which we'd head to SEVILLA. At this point, I was ready to go back to Sevilla, although I liked Morocco a LOT more than I thought I would. We stopped of in Assilah for a bit, a little beach town outside of Tangier, to eat lunch and kill time before our ferry left. After a relaxing picnic on the beach, we decided to explore the much smaller medina of Assilah. I really thought Assilah was gorgeous, with its whitewashed buildings and blue and green accents. It was quite Mediterranean, reminding me of home a bit. 

Angela and I somehow ended up alone wandering the Medina. Of course, within seconds, we pass a creeper who says something to us, but we continue walking (at this point, we are WAY too accustomed to creepers to make eye contact). I only became alarmed when I realized that the creeper had TURNED BACK AROUND to see us yet again. I really had no clue what was coming. He walks up to me and extends his hand, turns it and opens it to reveal... a tiny leather shoe. 

"A souvenir from Morocco for you," he says
"Umm... no thanks," I say, afraid I will then be forced to pay. Gypsies have made me weary of this type of behavior.
"No, take it. It's free"

So yeah... we decided to continue walking despite this fairly creepy incident, finally arriving at a vantage point over the ocean with Assilah's lovely buildings in the background. Bored, and with several hours of battery life on our cameras, we decided to take severrrrrrrral pictures of each other on the walls of Assilah. Awkward for probably everyone watching, but hilarious to us. 

We finally realized that the bus would be re-opening soon, and we were ready to get back on with Sevilla as it's next and final destination. On the way there, however, I realized that I had to get rid of the final 2o dirham (less than 2 euro) that I had left in my purse. Like some kind of omen, a man dressed in a brown cape and sombrero appears with.... his pet MONKEY on a chain!!!!! I gave him the final dirham in exchange for 2 photos with his adorable pet ape. Angela went first, and I was able to snap a plethora of great shots with the monkey on her arm and head. Of course, luck would not be so great for me. I cradled the adorable beast like a child in my arms (world-class babysitter here)... however, unlike a human baby, this guy was NOT wearing a diaper and therefore, when he decided to RELIEVE HIMSELF, it went warmly all over my arm. Not one to get upset, I laughed hysterically as the monkey's owner wiped the warm peepee off my arm with his cape, assuring me it meant "good luck" and not that, well, I received a golden shower from an ape. 

The last detail about Morocco that I want to put in here is this weird tradition that teenage Moroccan boys have. I guess there is not much to do in Tangier, because lots of young boys crouch behind bushes and highway barriers, waiting for a passing charter bus. What do they do when the bus DOES pass, you may ask? Well, they decide to just run up and jump onto the back or side of the bus, hanging on as long as possible before they fall off, hopefully not in traffic. It's the weirdest thing. And, being seated in the back row of the bus, I got to see it all. I was even blown a kiss by a very strapping 14-year-old who had latched on. If someone could explain this obsession to me, I'd appreciate it. It wasn't like they were trying to sneak into Spain (that's what I thought at first)... they were literally just riding the back of the bus. Weird.

Chapter 10: Casa, Buena Casa

I LOVED MY RETURN TO SEVILLA (Mostly because I was in need of a hot shower and a hot meal and a nice, big hug from Mercedes. No really, that's all I wanted.... ). At 1 am, we got off the bus in Sevilla, and instead of walking home, we took a cab for the first time in as long as I can remember. It was great. We did, however, get raped by the cab rates during Feria, and ended up paying a whopping 10 euro from the river to our building, a trip that usually costs about 6. Whatever. 

As soon as we got in (about 1:40 am), we did something we had never done in Sevilla yet: make food. I figured Mercedes wouldn't care, as she knew we had just gotten back from Morocco, where I honestly found it hard to eat when all I expected the entire time was that I was going to get sick. So, we get inside, drop our things and head into the kitchen to make some PB&J sandwiches. As soon as we are getting the final touches on our sandwiches, I hear a cough down the hall and then footsteps. "OH shit, she's coming!" I whisper. "It's too late now..." said a very wise Angela. So Mercedes walks in to us, smiling in her kitchen at 2 am making sandwiches. Any other senora would probably be pissed, but she just laughs. I gave her a huge hug mid-convo because I really just missed her while we were gone. She had stayed up to make sure none of us were sick (cue resounding Full House "AWWWW!"). Nothing like coming home after a long trip.

----------------------------

In summary, Morocco was a great experience, and one that I most likely will not experience again. I didn't get sick either, which was a huge bonus. The best part about that is that they told us several times to eat very plain foods the first few days after getting home from Morocco in order to let our stomachs digest; that meant nothing fried, nothing fatty... just boiled, basic foods. Well, guess what our first meal back from the Dirty South was? Croquetas, fried balls of doughy chickeny spinachy goodness. And we didn't explode! 

Sorry for that detour. So, again, in sum:

-Lifetime experience
-No sickness
-Lots of souvenirs

I'd call it a success story. 
Congratulations, me, on conquering Morocco.