7 Months and Counting!

June 2, 2009

I realize I’m a bit late in writing one of my monthly recaps, but better late than never, which, on a side note,  is also clearly the mentality of the Spaniards!

Just when I thought life here was shaping up pretty nicely, along comes month 7 and wa la (as the Frenchies say), I had a lot of excitement. I’ll try to keep it brief…

1. I finally started seeing the fruits of my labor within my classes. I know what you may be thinking, my work is not really, well, laborious, but I have devoted a lot of effort into succeeding and it’s nice to see some results.  Within one week, at least 3 of my students drastically improved their English and I was really proud of them! I hope with more keep on keeping on, the improvements will continue.

2. I was able to mark off a city top on my list to see, San Sebastian, with a great friend nonetheless. I really enjoyed San Sebastian, then spending a few days in Barcelona with Aren and though he went home with a gross worm in his foot, I think he felt the same. Good thing the worm came from Africa and not Spain!

3. For the 5th time this experience, I went to France and every time I have gone has been fun, but seeing Julie and Jon added that much more to this visit. They were incredibly thoughtful, generous and overall good company. I hope they are enjoying the rest of their honeymoon (and not ordering the pan begnots any more)!

4. In month 5, I mentioned how Barcelona likely has a dent in its Coca Cola Zero supply thanks to me. Well, I have also developed a new love for Mediterranean/Lebonese food, more specically kebabs and falafels. I could live off those things (and probably have been doing just that)! The cooking is coming, just very sloowwwllly 🙂

Now, for the moment you have all been waiting for, a picture of little Neus, finally, and a few others!

A smiling and healthy Neus

A smiling and healthy Neus

Aren, almost trampled by the bulls

Aren, almost trampled by the bulls

Punt du Gord

Punt du Gord


Bonjour Julie and Jonathan!

May 27, 2009

Tomorrow, after a 9 hour bus ride to Marseille, France, I will be reuniting with Julie (aka Julzies) and Jonathan in the French Riviera. It has a nice ring to it, huh? This trip will mark my 5th one to France this year and just like hospitals and I are becoming like peanut butter and jelly, the same can be said with France! And yet, I don’t even speak a lick of the language, go figure!

Julie and I worked together in technology PR for about 2.5 years. She was my manager, but we were able to balance a friendship outside the office that continued to grow just like our PR team. When it comes to writing about her, I don’t even know where to begin. We have so many jokes, so many memories and so many great times together, many that include wine tasting, so I guess it’s only fitting we are going to be doing just that in France. I can thank Julie for this random Hoolia  fact: I have been to more than 30 wineries just last year.

Julie and Jon got married in October and I was fortunate enough to be at their wedding, in Napa (claro)! They are traveling in Italy/France on their honeymoon and invited me along for a small portion of it. I am beyond excited to see them, especially because I know Julie will drink her wine, I’ll drink my wine, then she’ll drink her wine and we’ll be alright!

Unfortunately, THB will be going on a short hiatus and shall return likely on Tuesday. Hang in there please 🙂

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San Sebastian: Not the Mediterranean

May 25, 2009

All of you failed the test from my last post and thus, you need to brush up on your geography! When I said I would be enjoying more steps in the Mediterranean this past weekend, I was surprised no one mentioned that San Sebastian is NOT on the Mediterranean, rather, it’s on the Atlantic. Got ya (wink wink)!

Friday morning, I ventured back to my second home, the airport, to meet Aren. I think I officially know all the Terminal A staff now 🙂 When Aren came out, I was surprised to see he had been “trying” to grow a beard for 2 months and thus, looked like a lumberjack. But, if he didn’t, there would not have been such a funny joke to carry us through the trip and my mission would not now be to find him a flannel shirt to complete the look. Anyway, we rented a car and off we went on a 6 or so hour drive to San Sebastian.

Aren was the driver and not fully accustomed to driving manual, he was quite proud, as was I, of how well he started off. But no sooner did he praise himself did he stall the car a few times and, inadvertently, crossed an illegal exit line that ultimately got us pulled over. The cop told him how he needs to “respect the line” and with a “lo siento” and “I’m from the US, forgive me” later, we arrived safely.

San Sebastian is a great little town with scenic views and an overall quaint environment. The weather held up for the most part and we were able to enjoy the pinchos, part what San Sebastian is known for, as well as the beach. We even met a couple who is from my hometown in the East Bay, which made me realize how small this world really is. On Sunday, we drove to Pamplona, the city famous for the “running with the bulls” festival. However, given that the festival is not until July, we entertained ourselves by running through Pamplona without the bulls. It was pretty cool to see where that festival takes place though and while reading roughly 4000 cool facts from an iPhone app to keep us awake in the car ride home, we made it safe and sound back to Barcelona, possibly even a little smarter.

Today and tomorrow, Aren will be checking out Barcelona and ya esta (that’s it). We have really enjoyed our time together so now it’s time to enjoy the next few days!

Always one to take advantage of lying by the sea!

Always one to take advantage of lying by the sea!

As well as a beer and pinchos!

As well as a beer and pinchos!

Aren actually swam in the water for a second

Aren actually swam in the water for a second

Whereas I did not, instead, I just waded as always!

Whereas I did not, instead, I just waded as always!

Running without the bulls (and without all the people for that matter)

Running without the bulls (and without all the people for that matter)

Let's go toros, let's go!

Let's go toros, let's go!


Bring Me 2 Pina Coladas and a Friend from Home

May 22, 2009

And that’s what will make up my upcoming weekend! On the tail end of his whirlwind tour across the world, Aren is stopping over in Barcelona to visit good ol’ me, myself and I. And considering I haven’t seen him since move out day in October, where he actually drove the UHaul and did most of the heavy lifting, I’m quite excited!

Aren took two months off from work and has traveled everywhere from Australia to Africa to India. He definitely worked hard for this break, so I’m happy he was able to take advantage of the world’s sites. Aren and I met about 1.5 years ago and have since enjoyed many adventures together, the most memorable being our trip last summer to Tahoe. We rented wave runners and he let me drive (scary, I know), which ultimately turned me into a mad woman on the lake. I was nuts, almost flipping us over a few times while fully accelarating.

More important though is Aren’s character. Yes, yes, the sap meter just went WAY up! He is a genuinely nice person who will always go the extra mile for a friend. When he arrives in a few hours, we are renting a car and driving to San Sebastian, on the northern coast, and it’s supposed to be one of the best seaside towns in all of Spain. Unfortunately, the forecast has rain in it, but as Jimmy Buffet referenced, with a pina colada (they do exist in Spain), a friend from home and more of the Mediterranean, what more could I ask for?

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Hoolia-A-Palooza

May 20, 2009

Just like Mitch-a-Palooza in “Old School,” I’m thinking I’ll throw one of those big bashes, with Snoop-a-loop and all, when I…MOVE! Ok, maybe that wouldn’t go over so well with the new roomies, but I am happy to announce that I am indeed moving on June 1.

In the past, I have, maybe in a roundabout way, described my current situation as less than ideal, and when the cleaning police arrested me yet again for something so insignificant, I decided to post bail and make a run for it, down the quad and through the gymnasium (ok, no more Old School references, I promise). In all seriousness, I am looking forward to a new apartment, seemingly chill roomies and an overall fresh living situation.

The new place is in my same neighborhood, but an even better, more central location. My room has a large window in it (hurray) and there is a terrace for sunbathing or just getting some fresh air. More so, I hopefully won’t be walking on egg shells every time I do anything in it, wondering what violation I will receive and what surprise will be awaiting me when I get home. Both roomies are from Catalonia, one being a doctor and the other a psychologist, so combined with an English teacher from America, it’s quite the mixed group.

The funny thing, and not so funny thing, is that when I moved here, I had two suitcases. Even if I do some “spring cleaning” with what I have accumulated, there is no way I can pack it all up and move with just two suitcases. Now that I have towels, an air bed, more books/DVD’s, bathroom stuff, food, etc. it will be interesting to see how I will manage to move it all. I guess it’s just another small challenge in the big adventure I am living-bring it on!

I will add photos of the new place once I have them…


Don’t Call Me, I’ll Call You

May 18, 2009

Actually, I take that back. You can call because the cell phone, rather, “mobile” situation here is quite different than in the States and I don’t love it. Not that I really gave it all too much thought in the past, but Europe seemed to be more advanced than the US in terms of mobile technology and mobile options. Well, it’s not true. Granted, I’m no expert on the market, by any means, but I”ll still grace you with my experience/assessment. So, take it for what it’s worth and with a grain of salt, while keeping in mind that I apologize in advance if I bore you to death!

I have a pay as you go plan which means that I put a certain amount of money on the phone every week and down the credit goes after every text/call. A text costs 15 cents and every time I make a call it’s 18 cents a minute, so the credit runs out pretty quickly. I have politely said “adios” to the days of calling people for a nice catch up or friendly chit chat, where I enjoyed hundreds of minutes, free nights and weekends, free mobile to mobile, etc. Instead, my phone is now more a utility, used for functionality and brief planning more than anything. Europeans can get contracts through the main providers (Telefonica, Orange and Vodafone), but as far as I understand, there is still a good amount of cost associated with a flat fee. Dios mio!

Additionally, I don’t see as many fancy schmancy phones here. About a month or so ago, my friend hacked my iPhone so it now works swimmingly, but PDA’s don’t seem to be nearly as prevalent here than in the US. I’ll spot an iPhone every so often or a Blackberry, but they aren’t as common as they are in say, for example, San Francisco 🙂 That’s because the costs and plans, especially for data, are so high!

Ya esta (that’s it). If you made it through this post, pat yourself on the back. I know, I know.


It’s One for the Money…

May 16, 2009

Two for the show, three to get ready and four to go, go, go! As is quite common in the Hoolia world, I have discovered a new interest and this time, it’s learning to play guitar. That’s right everyone, I will be playing “Blue Suede Shoes” and other songs on the guitar in no time, or so I hope. Hope being the operative word because if my success level when I learned piano many years ago is any indication of how well I’ll learn guitar, I might as well not even start!

Similar to what I explained in my Chef Hoolia post in January, I often get the itch to continue challenging myself and take on hobbies that initially seem crazy given my abilities. As I always say when it comes to dancing, I wasn’t born to boogie and the same really applies to playing music. I don’t think anyone in my family has a musical bone in their body, but that’s what drives my intrigue even further.  Even though I 100% failed at piano and music doesn’t come easy to me, I vow to be that person on the beach at the end of summer strumming her guitar among her loyal fans (aka, friends).

I even think I heard the guitar call my name the other day. When I was in a shopping center and passed a guitar in the window of a clothes shop, I stopped and stared in awe for a bit, thinking one day I will own a red guitar like that and one day I will indeed be able to play it!

The Chosen One

The Chosen One