Malaga bound

Today is the day! All my stuff is packed and luckily I wasn’t charged for going 5lbs over the limit! We’re flying with TAP airlines to Lisbon, Portugal and then Malaga, Spain. Once we arrive tomorrow, we’ll have 4 days to find an apartment, figure out our residency renewal and do all the miscellaneous things like grocery shopping, setting up Internet and figuring out our first lesson plan for our kiddies. I can’t wait to start another year with Lenny and see where life takes us in this new adventure.



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Less than 3 weeks until Spain!

Finally! I’ve been here for 3 months and I’m dying to get back to Spain. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family and the conveniences I missed while I was away in Spain but I am ready to go back.

Things I’ve missed while I’ve been in the States:

  1. Cañas and olives: Before I arrived to Spain, I would have sworn up and down that I loathed olives and olives hated me. But now I’m addicted to the green ones. And nothing goes better with olives than a nice glass of Cruzcampo.

    Photo courtesy of Ruby

  2. Modes of transportation: At $3.65 a gallon, I can’t afford to drive 30-60 minutes away to find entertainment on my limited budget. It was so much easier in Spain. If I’m bored, I can walk 10 minutes to the heart of the city or the nearest beach or park. If I wanted to go to another part of Malaga or another town, I’d hop on the bus or train and for less than €7, I could go about an hour away roundtrip. Amazing, isn’t it?
  3. People: Malagueños are super nice. They give crappy directions but they’re always willing to help you out. And I miss people watching especially when Lenny can look at a person and just know their life story.
  4. My job: Yes, I sorta dislike kids but MY kids are the cutest kids. Now that I have a little experience in teaching, I’m excited to go back and be a better teacher and teach them awesome English stuff. Plus, I totally miss making and spending monies!

    Some of my kiddies

    Some of my kiddies

  5. Travelling: I miss checking skyscanner, ryanair and easyjet for great travel deals. One of the great things about living in Spain is having the accessibility to explore the world so cheaply. Greece, Turkey and Egypt are on my to-do list this year.

    Best part of Malaga? The airport is only 10 minutes away on the train!

  6. Cheap fresh fruit and veggies at the fruteria: Fruits and vegetables are SO cheap in Spain! I usually spend less than 15 euros for about 10 kilos of fruits and veggies. Also, there’s so much life and culture at the market. When I’m buying my things alongside the people who’ve lived in Malaga for decades, I feel like I really belong in the community.

    Nom nom nom!

  7. Walking anywhere: There’s something strangely therapeutic about walking to a destination (this coming from someone who hates walking). It helps me get some exercise and also calms my mind from the little things Spain does that irritate me.

    Up in the mirador to get the best view of Malaga

  8. Not tipping: Maybe I’m just super stingy or I’d rather use that money to buy clothes, but I hate tipping. I never noticed how much we tipped in the USA until I returned. We tip for food, drinks, waxing, haircuts, etc. Even though I receive crappy customer service in Spain, I’m glad to return to my non-tipping ways.
  9. Clothes: Bershka, Mango, Pull and Bear, Zara, Stradivarius.

    My favorite store =3

  10. Tapas: I’m a born snacker and the most brilliant thing for a snacker is tapas! Normally under 5€, it’s the perfect snack, light lunch or appetizer. Nothing’s better than going with a group of friends and getting different tapas to share.

    Photo courtesy of

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Cash Converters

Up-coming and returning auxiliares: you are going love this!

  • Are you looking for DVDs that you can use in your European dvd player?
  • Need a bicycle or skateboard to get around town?
  • Do you need to replace that camera that just died or drowned in the ocean?
  • Did your hair straightener or blow dryer die?
  • Need extra cash until the Junta pays you?

Go and check out Cash n’ Converters. It’s a pawn shop that sells great cheap second-hand items. I personally haven’t sold anything there but I’ve bought things from there. My apartment came with a sweet European dvd player but sadly without any dvds. Our Australian friend Morgan told us about Cash n’ Converters after buying a second-hand skateboard for 20 euros. We took a gander and found cheap things like guitars, jewelry, blow dryers, cameras, blenders, tricycles, etc! We found dvds 5 for 4 euros. And no, not the crappy ones but ones like The Wedding Singer, Maid in Manhattan and Disturbia. We saw digital cameras for about 30 euros and DSLRs for 2-300 euros. Blow dryers and straighteners were being sold for 10-20 euros, definitely cheaper than buying it from El Corte Ingles. So wherever you are auxiliares, just check out their website and get cheap stuff to fill up your apartment or make your life easier in Spain!

One of the best finds in Malaga

[After reading this, I just realized it sounds like a cheesy infomercial. But hey! At least I recognized it haha.]

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You know you’ve lived in Spain when…

1) You think adding lemonade, fanta or even coke to red wine is perfectly acceptable. Especially at lunch time.

2) You can’t get over how early bars & clubs shut back home – surely they’re shutting just as you should be going out?

3) You aren’t just surprised that the plumber/decorator has turned up on time, you’re surprised he turned up at all.

4) You’ve been part of a botellon.

Be careful not to end up like this bro haha
Photo courtesy:

5) You think it’s fine to comment on everyone´s appearance. And to openly stare at strangers.

6) Not giving every new acquaintance dos besos seems so rude.

7) You’re shocked by people getting their legs out at the first hint of sun – surely they should wait until at least late June?

8) On msn you sometimes type ‘jajaja’ instead of ‘hahaha’

9) You think the precious aceite is a vital part of every meal. And don’t understand how anyone could think olive oil on toast is weird.

Photo courtesy:

10) You’re amazed when TV ad breaks last less than half an hour, especially right before the end of films.

11) You forget to say please when asking for things – you implied it in your tone of voice, right?

12) You love the phenomenon of giving ‘toques’ – but hate explaining it in English

14) You don’t see sunflower seeds as a healthy snack – they’re just what all the cool kids eat.

15) You know what a pijo is and how to spot one.

Pijos are the preppy posh people from up north like Madrid or Barcelona

16) Every sentence you speak contains at least one of these words: ‘bueno,’ ‘coño,’ ‘vale,’ ‘venga,’ ‘pues nada’…

17) You know what ‘resaca’ means. And you probably had one at least once a week when you lived in Spain.

18) You know how to eat boquerones.

boquerones en vinagre.. YUMM

19) A bull’s head on the wall of a bar isn’t a talking point for you, it’s just a part of the decor.

20) You eat lunch after 2pm & would never even think of having your evening meal before 9.

21) You know that after 2pm there’s no point in going shopping, you might as well just have a siesta until 5 when the shops re-open.

Photo courtesy:

22) If anyone insults your mother, they better watch out…

23) You know how to change a bombona. And if you don’t, you were either lazy or lucky enough to live somewhere nice.

24) It’s not rude to answer the intercom to your flat by asking ‘Quien?’ (or maybe that was just my flatmate…)

25) You don’t accept beer that’s anything less than ice-cold.

There’s nothing better than a Cruzcampo and olives

26) The fact that all the male (or female) members of a family have the same first name doesn’t surprise you.

27) The sound of mopeds in the background is the soundtrack to your life.

28) You know that the mullet didn’t just happen in the 80s. It is alive and well in Spain.

Torres STILL looks hot even with his mullet!

29) You know the difference between cojones and cajones, tener calor and estar caliente, bacalao and bakalao, pollo and polla, estar hecho polvo and echar un polvo…and maybe you learned the differences the hard way!

30) On a Sunday morning, you have breakfast before going to bed, not after you get up.

31) You don’t see anything wrong with having a couple of beers in the morning if you feel like it.

32) Floors in certain bars are an ideal dumping ground for your colillas, servilletas etc. Why use a bin?!

33) You see clapping as an art form, not just a way to express approval.

34) You know ensaladilla rusa has nothing to do with Russia.

Photo courtesy:

35) When you burst out laughing every time you see a Mitsubishi Pajero

36) You have friends named Jesus, Jose Maria, Maria Jose, Angel, maybe even Inmaculada Concepcion…

37) You know that ‘ahora’ doesn’t really mean now. Hasta ahora, ahora vuelvo…etc

38) When you make arrangements to meet friends at 3, the first person turns up at 3.15…if you’re lucky!

39) Central heating is most definitely a foreign concept. In winter, you just huddle around the heater under the table & pull the blanket up over your knees…and sleep with about 5 blankets on your bed!

40) Most women under 30 own a pair of those attractive ‘Aladdin’ style trousers with the crotch around the knees (you know what I mean!)

I’m a fan of these pants!
Photo courtesy:

41) Aceite de oliva is ‘muy sano’, of course. So you help yourself to a bit more.

42) When women think that clear bra straps are in fact invisible.

43) When it’s totally normal for every kitchen to have a deep-fat fryer but no kettle.

44) Te cagas en la leche….

45) To avoid that cheap Eristoff vodka you have to ask for ‘un esmirnoff’

46) When you know what a guiri is / have been called one

Photo courtesy:

47) When you add ‘super’ in front of any adjective for emphasis

48) When it’s completely normal for men and women to have at least one facial piercing

49) When you pay for something that’s, say, 8.50, you always ask, ‘Quieres el cincuenta?’

50) Blonde girls actually start to think their name is ‘rubia’

51) When you accept that paying with a 50 euro note is going to get you a dirty look if you’re buying something that costs less than 40 euros

52) If something is great, it’s ‘de puta madre’

53) You can eat up to 5 times a day – first breakfast, 2nd breakfast around 11.30, almuerzo, merienda, cena

54) You know the jingle for Los Cuarenta Principales…

55) If you see someone wearing a T-shirt with something written on it in English, you can almost guarantee it won’t make sense.

56) When you go into a bank/bakery etc, it’s standard practice to ask ‘Quien es la ultima?’

57) Who needs a dryer when you have a washing line outside the window of your apartment?

My worst nightmare

58) You know what ‘marcha’ and ‘juerga’ are. (Of course!)

59) You are more likely to call your friends tio/a, nena, chaval, macho or even tronco than their real name.

60) Love it or hate it, you can’t escape reggaeton.

I found this on Facebook and thought it was hilariously right! Thanks to for sharing!

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Better than Hallmark cards

My last week of school consisted of little 6 and 7 years olds saying/asking me, “No te vayas seño!”, “Quedate en España” and “Regresa el proximo año?”. Basically, “Don’t leave teacher!”, “Stay in Spain” and “You return next year?”.

One adorable student even said I could live in his room for the summer. Laughing at his cuteness, I asked him in Spanish, “You and I living together in your room?”. Blushing, he sheepishly told me he would sleep on the couch. My heart melted at his sweetness.

My last day, between hugs and kisses on the cheek, I reassured each of my 6 classes that I’m definitely coming back for another year and that I’ll miss them tons. And I do miss them. I miss their genuineness, their innocence and their ability to make me angry one second and then have me laughing and smiling the next.

As a goodbye gift, my students made me farewell cards that had me laughing, smiling and pondering at some of their drawings. Here’s a collection of some of my favorites:

Left picture: Paula in the sky with tears
Right picture: I think I’m the one with short boy hair and boobs standing under the American flag… I think?

Left picture: Do you think I could pull off brown hair like the one in the drawing?
Right picture: “The best teacher that one could have” <– Aww! Adorable, aren’t they?

Left picture: Oh hai there, big giant flower! Nice to meet you.
Right picture: [cue in Celine’s voice] My heart will go on!

Left picture: “I’ll miss you a lot Sarai”
Right picture: I swear in real life I’m only 5’2 ft on a good day, I swear!

Left picture: Myself with our imaginary school pet, Mr. Fox.
Right picture: Myself, Carmen and Mr. Robot.

Left picture: Do you think my students are trying to tell me I should go brunette?
Right picture: Guapa!

Left picture: I secretly live in a castle in Florida. I wish =)
Right picture: My kids have a hard time with “te quiero” = “i love YOU”. Just add the you’s where needed.

My personal favorite!
Left picture: I kinda look like a scary chocolate bear.
Right picture: I guess I’m Pocahontas’ twin.

My life in Florida with the boyfriend and our boat because that’s how we got to Spain from Florida. LOL

Beautiful words from my awesome kids ♥

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Staying in shape.. Amuurica style!

Holy crap was it easier to lose or maintain your weight in Spain! Of course there are yummy tapas, loads of drinking and obviously more drinking. But the great thing about eating and drinking in Spain was the ‘no guilt’. I never felt guilty for that extra caña or slice of tortilla española because I always had to walk everywhere. To go to my school, I walked 15 minutes to the train station, then another 5 minutes to my school in Benalmadena. Roundtrip that’s 40 minutes of walking just to work. Going to the grocery store, to the mall or to the bus station could be easily a 15-20 minute walk. On average, I’m pretty sure I walked at least 1.5 hours which was awesome!

Spanish tapas are amazeballs and cheap in Malaga
Photo credit:

Chorizo, Salchichon, lomo, morcilla, jamon serrano.. Can’t wait until I’m back eating you
Photo credit:

Healthy food like fruits, vegetables and seafood are disgustingly amazingly cheaper in Spain. I lived about 10 minutes away from the Atarazanas market so every Friday (our days off from work), Lenny and I would go and buy kilos (1 kilo = 2.2 lbs) of mandarin oranges, granny smith apples, strawberries, tomatoes, potatoes, cucumbers, olives, etc. for less than 15 euros. We’d have enough fruits and veggies to last us a week and a half!

I wish Florida had awesome markets like this one!
Photo credit:

SOOOOO cheap!
Photo credit:

Now that I’m back in the states, my family’s making my favorite foods, I’m eating at my favorite restaurants, and unfortunately I’m not getting any exercise. The closest thing I can walk to is my Publix and that’s about a 20-40 minute walk in the awful Florida heat with views of passing cars. At least in Spain, I always had something beautiful to glance at while I walked.

My little sister and I have made a pact to lose/maintain our weight this summer. We decided to do something unconventional and funny. She found this Harry Potter workout on and since we have all 8 movies, we decided to go for it! Today was our first day and we started with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. IT KICKED OUR ASSES.

‘Arry Pottah!
Photo credit:

We did: 110 crunches, 360 jumping jacks, 100 bicycle kicks, 25 pushups, 10 butt busters, 10 squats, 50 lunges.

It was pretty interesting. For now, we’re going to do the Harry Potter workout 3 times a week. Hopefully we lose some weight. If not, I’ll have to resort to walking through this heinous sauna heat we call Florida.

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All good things must come to an end

[It’s been 3 months since I last blogged. I knoooow, I’m sorry! Unfortunately my laptop decided not to work, so the blogging took a vacation while I appreciated my last 3 months in my version of paradise.]

I remember before I left the United States I was really excited  nervous (to the point where I had nervous diarrhea. Does that happen to anyone else?!). I mean, 9 months without your friends and family in a strange country sounds exactly what it sounds like: exciting, risky, insane, awesome, wild, adventurous. And all those adjectives exactly describe my life in Spain.

These 9 months have gone by faster than the time it takes to wash and dry my laundry, Kim Kardashian’s wedding and the Miami zombie attack (too soon?). Here’s a month by month recap of my life through pictures.


We found our apartment in Malaga!

We get our NIEs

Sniffing around the Malagueta for the first time


Making friends/getting drunk at our orientation

Up in the Gibralfaro in Malaga

Malaga’s version of Oktoberfest

Halloween spanish style is scary not slutty


Chillin’ in Cadiz

Jerez de la Frontera

Sherry tasting at Tio Pepe

Bicycle + canals = Amsterdam

The sign was too huge to get in one single shot


Who knew Morocco could look like this?

The Royal Palace gates of Fes

Riding on a camel through the Sahara Desert

Group picture at Asilah, Morocco

Christmas time in the Plaza de la Constitucion

Belem in front of the cathedral

Christmas party in our apartment!

Super cute ‘pueblo blanco’ called Frigiliana

Decorated windows in Frigiliana

Plaza de España in Sevilla

Inside of the Sagrada Familia

Baaaarcelona for New Year’s


Typical Porto food of francezhina, which is a sandwich with steak, sausage and ham, topped with melted cheese and smothered in some yummy sauce and fried egg. -Portugal

Sintra’s Pena Palace

View of the Atlantic Ocean from Portugal


Malaga vs. Sevilla soccer game

Malaga won! Puta Se-vi-lla, puta Sevilla!

Inside Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, Romania

Peles Castle in Sinaia, Romania

In front of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey

Inside a turkish market

Inside a squat in Berlin, Germany

Seeing history with my own eyes! Part of the Berlin Wall!


My little sister came to visit! Eating at Muelle Uno

Making chocolate oreo truffle balls

Around the Teide area in Tenerife

Garachico’s natural swimming pools

Playa Teresitas in Tenerife

Driving up the mountains of Tenerife

My favorite picture of the Canary monkeys


Semana Santa pastries

Sevilla’s feria

Traditional flamenco dresses

Cabo de Gata in Almeria

Los patios in Cordoba

Las Cruces in Cordoba

Another gorgeous patio


My brother, his girlfriend and our three other friends came to visit! We’re standing in front of the “Antonio Banderas” statue

SO moist to feed a Gibraltar monkey!

The monkeys are hoooongry

Cliff jumping in Nerja

Playing around in the beautiful water

Waterfall in Ronda

Ronda’s another classic “pueblo blanco”

In front of Ronda’s new puente

And that’s pretty much my year in a nutshell. It’s been a fantastic experience where I’ve grown, learned and explored. As I said, all good things must come to an end.. until September. Luckily, I’ll be back in Malaga for another year with my best friend/love Lenny.

I couldn’t ask for a better person to share this experience with ❤

And the countdown until September 26 begins Malaga!

Categories: Sarai Quiel, Spain, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Sevilla’s Alcazar

If I had an insane amount of money, I would have a time machine built so I can bring the people who created the Alcazar to do the roofs of my future house. Seriously, I am in LOVE with these roofs. We paid €2 (€8.50 for regular admissions and €2 for students) and we were delighted with the inside contents of this aged Moorish fort (now the royal palace of Sevilla).

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Malaga vs. Sevilla Soccer Game

“Pu-ta Se-vi-lla, puta Sevilla!” was the chant roaring through the Malaga crowd this past Sunday.

Lenny and I, along with our friends Cassie and Mark, bought the cheapest ticket available to us to watch our first Malaga game. For €35, we got seats in the ‘Fondo y Gol’, which we were stoked because we thought they had sold out the game. Lenny and I went all around town trying to find something “Malaga” to wear in support for Sunday night and we found a decent t-shirt for €3.

My €3 Malaga shirt!

Going inside the stadium, we were welcomed with lots of anti-Sevilla chants, paper confetti, and rolls of toilet paper. Sitting down in our nose bleed seats, we became Malagueños that night and cheered for our city.

The final score of the game! Malaga wins =)

Cassie, Mark, Me and Lenny

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La Vida es un Carnival

My job and life here in Spain is great. Phenomenal. Amazing. I swear. But I gotta be real and say that there’s lots of time that I really really really miss my family and their craziness. Whenever I get down or lonely or sad at being so far away from them, I hear Celia Cruz’s words and it reminds me how blessed I am for the life I’m living at the moment.

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