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: touristnetuk.blogspot.com/2011/03/spanish-tapas.html

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

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: members.virtualtourist.com

SOOOOO cheap!
Photo credit: photaki.com

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 imgur.com 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: imgur.com/a9lMt

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.

Categories: Sarai Quiel, Spain, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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.

September:

We found our apartment in Malaga!

We get our NIEs

Sniffing around the Malagueta for the first time

October:

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

November:

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

December:

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

January:

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

February:

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!

March:

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

April:

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

May:

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!

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Bună ziua Romania!

Lenny and I went to Romania for the first few days of our Semana Blanca. At first, I was terrified of going to Romania because of the weather. Being a Floridian girl, I don’t own snow boots or heavy jackets. So I went to my favorite cheap store in Malaga, Primark, and bought myself a jacket that looked like it would keep me warm from the cold and snow for €9!

My jacket was worth every céntimo!

I found Mountain Dew in Romaaania!

Here are some of the things I saw and did, as well as some random facts:

  • 1 eur = 4.35 lei (Romania’s currency. Depending on where you are some people call it ‘lei’ and some call it ‘ron’) Everything in Romania is cheap after you exchange your euros! You’ll soon notice!

111 Lei is about 25 euros

  • We stayed in the Kismet Dao Hostel and I HIGHLY recommend it. The staff was very friendly and informative. If you pay for 3 nights, your 4th night is free. Each night, you get a free bottle of beer, water or soda. There’s unlimited WiFi, free big lockers in your room, free use of towels, free use of kitchen, etc. We paid €9 per night and it was one of the best hostels I’ve stayed in Europe.
  • The language is a romance language. A lot of their words sound or look similar to Italian, surprisingly.
  • When leaving the airport, be wary of people who offer you taxi services because they’ll hustle you. One will say it’s 30 euros to the city center and no less. Another one will say 40. Just pass by that bullshit and look around the parking lot for taxis. Those taxi men will give you a better rate. You shouldn’t pay more than 20 lei (5 euro) give or take.
  • “Guided” taxi tour: For €35, we got a taxi man to drive us to Bran’s Castle, Rasnov, Poiana and back to Brasnov. It was nice because we had limited time and didn’t want to worry about transportation troubles so we took his offer. He was a really sweet man and we got to do everything we wanted in a day!
  • Bran Castle aka Dracula’s castle: For students, it’s 5 lei. The castle inside is pretty bare but the views are gorgeous.

Entrance of Bran Castle

Trying to find Dracula through his secret passage ways!

Views of the city

Isn’t the sky pretty?

MTV’s Cribs should do a show on Bran Castle

  • Rasnov: It was 3 lei to go up to the fortress on a bumpy tractor and 5 lei for students to go inside the fortress. The fortress, in my opinion, was pretty lame but the views of city were phenomenal. It was definitely worth the 5 lei to take those pictures.

They loved imitating California’s “Hollywood” sign all over Romania

Playing with the snow outside my fortress

Bitchin’ views

  • Poiana: Poiana is a ski resort and it’s reasonably priced. It’s becoming a more popular destination so the prices will probably sky-rocket but for now it’s a cheap destination for any international snow lover.

Raging on the slopes

  • Sinaia’s Peles Castle was built by King Carol I of Romania as a summer home in 1872. In more recent times, people like Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Muammar al-Gaddafi and Yasser Arafat have all been guests at the castle. According to Wikipedia, “Peleş Castle has a 3,200-square-metre (34,000 sq ft) floor plan with over 170 rooms, many with dedicated themes from world cultures. Themes vary by function (offices, libraries, armories, art galleries) or by style (Florentine, Turkish, Moorish, French, Imperial); all the rooms are extremely lavishly furnished and decorated to the slightest detail”. You have to pay around 30 lei to take pictures inside. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay and regretted not taking pictures of the inside.

Sinaia’s cemetery

RIP

Sinaia’s monastery

Peles Castle

Beautiful statues

  • Eating in Romania is deliciously cheap. For example: (2) soups with bread (2) beers (1) soda (1) chicken in mushroom sauce with rice dish (1) pork spare ribs with potatoes dish and (1) 10% generous tip all came out to 75 lei. That’s about 15 euro to eat a full meal in a super nice authentic Romanian restaurant.

Transylvanian sour pork soup

Romanians eat hearty meals during the winter and my fatass loved it

Lenny’s meal

  • The average monthly salary of a Romanian is about €360.
  • There are a ton of stray dogs in Romania (it broke my heart). Why? In the mid 1980’s, dictator Ceausescu wanted to make Bucharest rival any great European city so he demolished a huge section of residential neighborhoods to make his city greater. This left residents to abandon their dogs, leaving thousands and thousands of dogs to fend for their selves.

Poor things. Romania wants to euthanize thousands of dogs.

Save me!

  • Nightlife in Romania is fantastic. People are ACTUALLY dancing (unlike the Spaniards). The music is pumping through your body while you’re pumping alcohol into your system. It was sweet! Check out Lenny’s personal favorite Sweet Love. ß I think Lenny’s more obsessed with the smoking hot Romanian woman than the actual song haha.

I really enjoyed Romania and would recommend it to anyone who wants a cute cheap destination. I hear Romania in the summer is equally beautifully so I think I may persuade Lenny to go back next year before the snow starts to fall.

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VACATION!

In Malaga, we get Semana Blanca. What is Semana Blanca? “Semana Blanca is basically an extra week of holidays enjoyed only in the Malaga province of Andalucía to compensate for the fact that their main feria month is August, which is a non academic month. In other words, the region of Andalucía does not want to be short changed with their holidays”. Phenomenal, right?

Thank God for week long breaks! Photo credit to dailymail.co.uk

Since we have Fridays off, Lenny and I will be travelling from the 23rd of February until the 4th of March. And I’m SOOO moist for our itinerary!

23/02 – 27/02 : We’ll be in Romania, specifically in Bucharest, Brasov and Sinaia. We’re renting a car and driving through Transylvania. I’m jumping with glee that pretty soon I can say that I’ve been to Dracula’s castle! (<—Random fact about me: I love vampire books and films)

Unirii Square in Bucharest, Romania. Photo Credit to theodora.com

Dracula’s castle in Bran, Romania. Photo Credit to wallpaperweb.org

27/02 – 29/02 : We’re finally making our way to Turkey! We’re going to Istanbul and getting our kebabs on. We’re actually staying in a really cheap hostel but they have a terrace with the best views of the Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia.

Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo credit to visit2istanbul.com

Turkish Bath. Photo Credit to europebudgetguide.com

29/02 – 03/03 : Next, we’ll be in Berlin, Germany. Everyone we’ve talked to has told us that Berlin is definitely the place to be in Germany so I’m looking forward to it.

Berlin, Germany. Photo credit to dirtcheapberlin.com

City of Berlin, Germany. Photo credit to buzzvoyages.com

03/03 – 04/03 : We leave from Germany back to Malaga. Fortunately, we have a juicy layover in Oslo, Norway so we’re going to take advantage of it and sniff around Oslo until our flight back home.

Oslo, Norway. Photo credit to vacationreview.com

*Our flights in total cost a little over 200 euros from Malaga, Spain. We used Pegasus Airlines, Blue Air, and of course Ryanair. Pegasus and Blue Air were one of the cheapest airlines we found that flew into eastern Europe.

Categories: Germany, Norway, Romania, Sarai Quiel, Turkey | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 3 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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Barcelona Market

I LOVE markets. Markets in Europe are such a joy for me because I love the smell of fresh fruit, the vivid colors of produce and most importantly how much cheaper it is than the grocery store. Florida produce is so stupidly expensive I’d go broke if I bought a bag of oranges and apples every week.

The Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, aka La Boqueria, is a pretty large market from La Rambla. Because we couldn’t resist a market, we took a gander inside and it was amazeballs. I even found tamarindo, mangostin and mamon chino (typical fruit from Panama, where my dad is from)!

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Music at the clubs Pt. 2

*You need an account with Youtube to watch this but trust me, it’s worth the time to login.

**If you haven’t noticed, Juan Magan is the European Pitbull and it’s AWESOME!

 

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