It’s Thanksgiving today.
Living abroad gets easier with time and communication gets better with practice, but missing holidays will always be difficult. Today I have work and, actually, a gig! So it won’t be your typical Thanksgiving for me.
I remember last Thanksgiving feeling super weird. I had class in the morning, work in the afternoon, and came home to an empty house because David works nights. I Facetimed my family while I cooked a full Thanksgiving dinner at 9pm.
Chicken instead of turkey, of course.
It was an “off-year” back home last year, which is what we call it when half of the family spends the day with their in-laws. And it was smaller than an “off-year” too because my aunt’s family spent it in North Carolina. So when I called, my immediate family and my grandparents were at the table eating a pre-ordered Thanksgiving dinner. LOL. That never happens.
It didn’t feel right not being home for Thanksgiving. It's times like these when you really realize what you have.
Tomorrow we’ll be celebrating Friendsgiving with a couple of our Spanish friends as well as David’s brother who is here visiting. And my supervisor gave me the day off tomorrow so I am feeling extra thankful right now.
There’s about exactly one month until I’ll be flying home for Christmas, and let me tell you, I am so ready. I really need a reset button.
This semester has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I think “adult life” has set in a bit.
I entered my senior year of college planning and preparing for my senior recital, which was no small feat for me. After that, I went right into four months of student teaching, which was essentially a full time teaching position plus an ensemble and a seminar class, as well as working on the side for actual income.
I went from student teaching to graduation and from graduation to Israel, Greece, Malta, Germany, Italy, Austria, France, home, and to Spain to start my Master’s. I graduated from my Master’s this past July, traveled back home to release my EP, and spend some well needed time with family and friends, and back to Spain I went to start my fellowship year.
I’m finally slowing down, a little. And it just feels a bit weird. I think a lot of things that I put on the back burner during all the craziness have been bubbling up and it’s forced me to confront them because, well, I guess I have time now.
Most of all, having time to do what I “want” has been a strange feeling. I feel like I’m still kind of figuring out what it is that I want to do in my free time. I’m not a full-time teacher yet, so do I continue to work on my career? I’m living off a very small income, so do I work extra to make more money? Or do I continue to spend time making music and performing when most of the time it feels like a rollercoaster?
The point is, things are going well but I’m definitely in a weird part of my life where I’m trying to figure out how to navigate without deadlines. Cause I was actually really good at that.
I have something really special and exciting in the works for next semester. Until all the details are ironed out, though, I’ll keep it a secret.
Currently: Sitting in my favorite coffee shop in my home state of Delaware with my bestie
And just like that, the year has come to a close.
I put on my cap and gown, walked across the stage, and said goodbye to some people that I may never see again. This graduation was a bit different than the last. It hit me a bit harder. Maybe it was the fact that all the people I met were from different corners of the globe and that I seriously may never see them again. Or maybe it was that our artistry made us vulnerable to each other and taught us more about one another than I would’ve ever thought possible. It’s almost like the learnings and adventures of four years of undergrad were compacted into one year here for my masters. And maybe that’s what made it so intense.
All of these unique people, from different parts of the world, came together for the soul purpose of creating music. What is more beautiful than that?
So we spend an entire year collaborating with each other, inspiring each other, and pushing each other to be better artists. It’s almost like we are completely different artists from the ones we entered the program as. We’re a completely different group of people than the group that entered in September.
We walked across the stage, and that was it. We would no longer have a huge network of amazing musicians all in one building. We would no longer have incredible professors an office hour away. It was like the whole year, we had worked to create this beautiful body of collaborators and support systems, and at the end, the campus wipes clean and starts all over again.
Reminds me of Fallas. The way each neighborhood in Valencia works so hard all year to raise money and builds an amazing structure just to burn it and start all over again.
And somehow it just works. It has the energy to sustain itself.
I’ll be back in Valencia for the start of the next school year to watch it all happen again. I was lucky enough to have received a fellowship working in the International Career Center at Berklee for the year. So I’ll spend the next year helping students achieve their dreams, working on more of my music, and getting myself ready to teach some little musicians when I come back.
Right now I’m sitting in one of my favorite old coffee shops with my best friend with mixed feelings about heading back to Valencia tomorrow. I’m incredibly excited for this year and to be headed back to Berklee for another year, but I have no idea where I’ll be or what exactly I’ll be doing when I head back to the states. And that’s a little scary. But I’m rolling with it.
I’ve had the most incredible time spent at home this past month. I’ve seen as many friends as I could possibly fit into four weekends, went to Maine (arguably one of my favorite places), spent quality time with family, and released my EP!
I had big plans to play a bunch of shows and promote my EP. Big surprise… I didn’t get to all that. But I’m okay with it. I made family and friends a priority this summer, and I think that was the right decision.
I got really far with this EP. Farther than I’ve ever been on my own before when it comes to my original music. So if my mom’s the only person who listens to it, I’m okay with that too. Because I did the damn thing!
The day of my release, at the Ladybug Festival, my venue was packed with so many familiar faces but also with new faces, and that made everything worthwhile. People smiled and cheered and bought CDs and I was nervous with all of my new gear and buttons. But just a few months ago, when things were really hard, I couldn’t even have imagined my release day. It was a wonderful feeling, and still is.
I hope to get started on new music as soon as I get back to campus. I want to do it the right way this time. With enough time to give me more freedom in the creative process.
We will see how it goes.
Currently: Avoiding homework by working on my blog...
Fallas…. Hmmm where to begin. This might have been one of the craziest phenomenon I have ever experienced.
Basically, every neighborhood in Valencia has an organized group that works for the entire year to build a huge structure which is then burned down in mid-March. The structures are made up of what’s called ninots, big and small, which are essentially figures of people, animals, monsters, you name it. And some of these things are HUGE. Seriously. Like bigger than the buildings that surround them. They’re almost mystical.
And then they just burn… the streets are cleaned and the groups start working on next year’s Falla. It completely reminds me of the Buddhist tradition of sand mandalas, where they spend weeks creating amazing intricate pictures out of colored sand, then they just brush it all up and wash it away. The practice symbolizes the brief existence of material things.
In addition to the structures, the holiday is all about fireworks, everywhere, all the time. We had been warned about the fireworks during Fallas, but I still don’t think we were prepared for the mayhem of it all. Beginning around the last week of February, we began to hear traces of fireworks, mostly small ones. But as we got closer and closer to Fallas, the fireworks got louder and louder, and more frequent until it was almost a constant stream of fireworks. Some of these fireworks sounded like bombs. Actually, many of these fireworks sounded like bombs. And I’m really not exaggerating. Every time one of these larger fireworks would go off nearby, I would jump out of my seat and my heart would be racing. And this would happen while I was sitting on the couch in my apartment.
My friend, Hailee, visited right in the midst of it all, and I had to warn her before we exited the train station, that if she heard one of these bomb-sound-alikes that she didn’t need to duck and cover.
Along with the fireworks beginning to become more and more frequent, the streets were beginning to become more and more crowded with food trucks, tiki bars, and buñuelo stands. Buñuelos are a traditional Valencian holiday treat. Similar to Churros being native to Madrid. I would describe buñuelos as being like a funnel cake in the shape of a donut. So delicious..
Around the beginning of March, we went to a museum where each Falla group had submitted a ninot for the annual competition, and we were to vote on the one we liked the best. (And I believe that this ninot is saved from being burned.. but don’t quote me on that.) There were hundreds of ninots to look through, big and small, depending on the amount of money put into it by each Falla. I had settled on a Salvador Dali inspired ninot to cast my vote on.
Along with this competition, judges went around towards the very end of the festival and judged each of the structures in the neighborhood. It just so happens that the Falla right around the corner from my apartment got first place this year! And rightfully so…
So on Sunday evening, we went around to the top eight Fallas, voted best by the judges the day earlier.
The next night at 12am, the burning of the structures began. There happened to be a small Falla in the street right outside my apartment. (Small as in probably 30 feet tall.) So at midnight, we posted up on our terrace to watch.
They began by tying a string of fireworks around the entire structure. They then went around it drenching the entire structure in gas. We had been under the impression that there would be firemen all over the city while the structures were being lit on fire, but there were none to be seen on our street.. which was slightly concerning.
First, the fireworks went off, shooting up just above the structure before exploding. Then, the entire structure started to go up in flames, producing this wall of black smoke that went down the street and entered into our apartment through our open terrace doors. That may not have been the smartest thing to do because we spent the next morning wiping down all of our shelves of the soot that had accumulated during the burning.
Once the flame had died down, we hurried out of our apartment and down the street to see the number one Falla burn. This one was almost as tall as the buildings and very close to them. The fireworks on this one put the one on our street to shame. As soon as the flames started to build, firemen began hosing them away from the nearby apartment buildings. It was one of the spectacular things I’ve ever seen.
And the next day the streets were cleaned, the food trucks were gone, and there was no trace of Fallas.
It really amazes me that things like this go on around the world, and I wouldn’t have ever known about it unless I moved here. It makes me wonder what other crazy things are happening that we know nothing about.
As for me, I’ll be pushing through the last few months of my EP project. I'm not going to lie, this semester has been difficult. A different kind of difficult than I've experienced before. Putting the EP together has been a bit of a roller coaster. Some days I feel like I can't do anything right and other days it all comes together perfectly.
Lately, I've had to focus on the nitty gritty details of the project which isn't the fun part of making music. And with only a few months left, I'm really kicking it into high gear. I'm so ready to take a step back and see the project in it's entirety. Stay on the lookout for information about the release!
I just got back from Italy, and I really want to write a blog post about it. I also want to write about my road trip around Spain and my trip to Scotland back in the fall. Oh yeah, and about my crazy summer. I might be the worst blogger in the world.
So much to write about, so little time.
Currently: In the comfort of my Spanish apartment
I really had high hopes of blogging more often, but this year has been so crazy. In a good way! Since I’ve last posted an update, I’ve traveled to Scotland, got hired at (what I consider to be) my first real adult job, finished my first semester at Berklee, wrote a song that I LOVE, put on my first holiday concert as a music teacher, spent Christmas with my family in Valencia, road tripped around Spain, and cut my hair short! Yeah, that last one was big for me. So, no I haven’t had a lot of time to sit down and write about it.
But I’m trying something new. Getting my priorities straight. So! I am challenging myself to spend 5 minutes a day devoted to my blog. Yes, that means it’s going to be a really slow process but in the past week, I’ve made more progress than ever before. So in lieu of that… here’s an update on what’s going on over here on my end.
I have completed my first semester at Berklee! I never thought I would ever say that. Not that I didn’t think I would make it through but that never in a million years would I predict that I would be a student at Berklee College of Music, much less in Spain. I remember about a year and half ago just tossing around the idea to my mom and my aunt as just something crazy that MAYBE I would apply for.
In my first semester, I wrote so much music. I can’t believe how much music I’ve written. Most of it, not so good. But that’s not the point. It feels so good to allow my musical creativity to flow, something I really didn’t have time for in the last four years of undergrad.
The new software I’ve learned along with the collaborations I’ve been doing and the techniques I’ve acquired have totally transformed my music. But it hasn’t been that easy. Some days are good days, where the music just flows out of me and it’s amazing and I can’t look away for hours before I finish creating. Other days, are frustrating, where nothing works and I feel like I’m going backwards. But I never get discouraged enough to stop trying.
I’m in this transition period, going from completely acoustic songwriting to producing entire acoustic/electronic tracks on Ableton Live. I’ve shifted my method of songwriting completely. And with each song, I get a little closer and closer to where I want my music to be. The very last song of the semester, which I wrote for one of my final projects, was a huge step for me. I actually hated writing the song. I had come up with this amazing intro and some good production, but then I had no idea what to do after that. It was a new sound for me and it kind of made me stop in my tracks. But, seeing as the project was due two days after I had finished the production and I hadn’t even recorded vocals yet, I really needed to push through and write some lyrics.
So I stayed up late writing a melody and woke up extra early the next day to finish up the lyrics. Later that day I recorded the vocals and the next day I submitted the project. That’s kind of my style.. unfortunately. I cut it really close to the deadline but with something that’s really good. But because I was so rushed to finish this song, I wasn’t really thinking about the fact that it was actually sounding really good.
When I finally sat back in class and listened to it played over the speaker, I felt like I was on to something. I was finally getting into this new groove. That song, along with four others are going to make up my second EP that will be out summer 2018.
It’s going to be written, produced, and recorded by myself with help from my colleagues as co-producers and engineers. As of right now, I am fusing elements of soul and electronics into my music to create a more developed original sound and, in turn, to shape my voice as an artist. It’s really difficult to describe the direction I’m going in with this EP. In reality, I know exactly what I want it to sound like. But I don’t think I’m ready to say it out loud quite yet. However, I’m really excited to share sneak peaks of what I’m working on along the way. So stayed tuned to my Facebook artist page or to my Instagram!
Another huge thing that has happened recently is that I have been hired for my first real adult job, which I’ve been working at since November. Back in August, before classes began, I interviewed for a few on-campus positions. I was really hoping I would be chosen for one, since I had no idea how I would possibly find any other type of work while I am here. But unfortunately, I wasn’t granted any of the positions, and I was really lost as to what to do to make money. I haven’t been without a job for a decade probably.
But one day I was scrolling through, looking at job postings, and there it was. “Native English speaker needed to teach music at Valencia Montessori school. Application due at midnight.” I could not believe this miracle. So I had my application in by midnight on Wednesday, was called into an interview on Friday, and had the job by Monday.
So as much as I was upset that I wasn’t granted one of the on-campus positions, it’s almost like that happened in order to leave room for this amazing opportunity that I have stumbled upon. Life has a funny way of working itself out sometimes.
And you’re probably wondering about this language barrier thing, because, no, I am not fluent yet. Not even remotely close. The school is an English school. Yet, at least 60% of the students are Spanish and their level of English varies WIDELY. I was a little surprised, to say the least, when I went in to teach on my first day and got the feeling that most of the students only understood half of what I was saying, if even. Luckily though, we do more music making than talking in my class.
As of right now, the biggest things I’m focusing on are writing songs for my EP and figuring out my plans for next year. There’s definitely a strong possibility that I’m going to stay in Valencia just one more year. However, it hasn't been the easiest decision to make. Being away from home isn’t as easy as I thought it would be. On the one hand, I am living my dream. On the other hand, I’ve never really known being away from my family until now. Missing them is the hardest thing about living in another country, but what’s worse is the thought that they’re missing me. This is all to say that I am so incredibly blessed, to have an amazing family that misses me AND to be living out this dream. Really, how can I complain?
Sometimes it doesn’t even feel real. Looking back on photos, it feels like a lifetime since I walked across the stage and received my diploma just less than a year ago. But, what an adventure this past year has been?
Writing, writing, writing
Producing, producing, producing
Recording, recording, recording
Late nights in the studio
Currently: Sipping Chai Latte and eating a Nutella croissant at Dulce de Leche in Valencia, Spain
It has officially been two and a half months in Spain. And it's been filled with cafe con leche, la playa, manchego, croissants, sangria, futbol, and lots and lots of musica! That's about the extent of my Spanish, just kidding. But to my surprise, not many people in Valencia speak English (or maybe they just don't want to, which often seems to be the case.) . I've gotten by though, and I've learned that the best way to learn a language is the sink or float method that I've been experiencing.
There's so much to write about, but I mostly decided to finally sit down and blog due to a crazy adventure I had last weekend on a trip to Granada ("crazy" meaning "exciting relative to everything else in my life," so take that with a grain of salt.) . But I will get to that later...
On August 15th, I boarded a plane to Madrid with a large suitcase, a hiking backpack, and a guitar case (occupied by my guitar of course, and various other small items that my Mom and I could manage to squeeze in there.) . Packing for the year was almost like the question, "Your house is on fire, what three things will you grab before running out?" Except, it was more like, "Your house is on fire, what 50 pounds of things will you grab before jumping on a plane and flying halfway across the world?" I may have grabbed a little too many things before embarking on this trip... When your suitcase is too heavy for you to load up on the shelf of a train and the only words you're limited to under pressure are "Hola" and "Gracias," traveling from Madrid to Valencia can be a bit of a stressful experience.
After hopping off the train in Valencia, I found my hostel (easier said than done considering the blazing heat, my heavy bags, and Google Maps' lack of cooperation.) . A few hours later, after checking in, I was walking into what would be my apartment for the year to meet my landlord, who by the way is the sweetest woman and has excellent English!
The apartment is perfect, with two bedrooms, two terraces overlooking the neighborhood street, a kitchen with a window peering into the inside of a collection of beautifully run down Spanish buildings, a small living room, and bathroom. It only took me about 3 minutes to say, "I'll take it!"
So the next day I hiked all my bags down the five flights of stairs at the hostel, across town, and up another five flights to my new place. (Pro tip: don't be stubborn like me... get yourself a taxi!)
Fast forward two weeks, David arrives and school begins! Fast forward another month and we're planning our first trip of the year for a long weekend: Granada.
Okay so this is where the story begins...
When looking for hostels, David had his heart set on a hostel in a small village outside of Granada in the Sierra Nevadas. I, typically going for the cheaper option in the heart of the city, was reluctant. However, once I read in the comments that there was a dog at the hostel, I agreed to give it a try... I am a dog deprived girl right now to say the least.
So Saturday morning we headed over to the train station to pick up our rental car. My first rental car ever. I was so excited I actually screamed it out the window... "I RENTED A CAR!" We got on the highway without any problems, and the trip was off to an auspicious start. But not for long.
I vaguely remembered an odd comment on the hostel's page from a woman writing about which directions to take. She was saying that if you come up to the town from a certain side, you will have to drive along a steep mountain road... Hm, interesting. But David was in charge of the directions and had done his research so I trusted that we were in good hands.
We were told to follow our navigation until we got to the town of Beas, which was when we were supposed to switch to the written directions given to us by the hostel owner. So after about 5 hours of driving through the Spanish desert and a lovely lunch at McDonalds, we reached Beas. This was when David gave me the first written direction, which was, "Drive through the town of Beas until you find a small road leading up to the mountain"...... Great.
This was when the day took a turn. Or shall I say many turns and reverses.
So here we are, driving the rental car through this quintessentially Southern Spanish town with white concrete buildings and roads probably made to fit wheelbarrows.. or something of the sort. We were driving up a windy and narrow one way "street" with motorcycles and cars whipping around corners, going the opposite direction! But we eventually reached what was CLEARLY the "small road leading up to the mountain."
And we took it.
While the road was narrow and steep, David and I laughed it off and more or less got a kick out of this crazy road that we were driving our first rental car on. After about a mile, we reached the "main road in Quentar." ("Main road" to be used lightly. It looked like another version of the same road we were just on, but a little flatter.) We finally made it to the town, and we were amazed. It was a tiny authentic Spanish town, smaller than Beas, that was situated in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada. And it was beautiful.
So while we are marveling at the mountains, and the buildings, and the animals, I remembered that the next direction was a turn that was something like 50 meters from the left we took onto the "main road"... meaning that it was way behind us at this point.
David takes out his phone and tells me that he'll navigate us to the hostel. After all, the town is small, so how hard could it be to find our hostel? We start to maneuver ourselves off the main road and into the town, which is slightly farther down the mountainside. David's GPS is taking us deeper and deeper into this town to the point where I start to believe that a car may not be able to fit between some of these buildings, much less a rental car! (At this point, I'd like to mention that David's international insurance does not allow him to drive. So it was all up to me, a person who gets VERY nervous in situations like this and typically experiences what one may call a "freak out.")
One narrow passageway after another, we finally made it out to a wider street (my definition of "wide street" at this point is blurred) where the hostel was supposed to be. We pulled up aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand .... not the hostel.
The building said "colegio" which, by the instructions, was where we were supposed to park. But there was no sign of the hostel and no sign of a parking lot. We decided to check the other side, which, when you're on a mountain, means further up the mountainside. So we went up around the colegio on a road that met up with two other roads at the top. On the right was the main road of Quentar. On the left was an extremely steep incline that went back into the heart of town. David says, "Go left."
You've gotta be kidding me. I look David in the eye and say, "Are. You. Sure."
Halfway down this incline, we realize that not only is this not the right road, but that there would be no way for me to get around this car that was parked on one side of it. In desperation, I sit there. David says, "Alright, can you reverse?"
Not only am I reversing this Eco-friendly rental car up a steep road in the Sierra Nevada but there is, essentially, a CLIFF at the top of this ramp. I am reversing at a jerky snails pace, frantically looking left and right and right and left while David is trying to offer directional suggestions. It kind of reminded me of that time at Bonnaroo when my Mom was trying to park an SUV, trailer, and Grumman truck in a small rectangular camping lot with help from a few college girls and a couple of hippie's from the lot next door. Only, she had done meticulous planning, and I, on the other hand, was not expecting anything of the sort. And that's when the rental car decides it's going to go forward when set in reverse, hence... the freak out.
At this point, David decides he better take over. Probably a good idea. He gets in the drivers seat, takes a few calm breaths, turns the car off and back on.. and problem solved. Turns out the car decided that it wanted to be in manual. I didn't know I had rented a car with a brain, but okay that's that.
He manages to get the car back up the incline and onto the main road where I hopped in and immediately called the hostel. As David drove, I spoke to a hostel worker who essentially told me to go back to the colegio and park with the other cars. Not that I knew where those other cars were, but we headed back down the mountainside anyway. As we approached the colegio, we saw no parking lot. The only thing we saw was a steep incline (arguably steeper than the one we had just narrowly escaped) so naturally we assumed that the parking lot must be up that incline and around the corner.
David pushes on the gas and we speed up the incline only to get to top where there was a small lot which read "NO PARKING." But, we had found the hostel! So I decide to go in and ask a real living breathing person to tell us where to park. As I walk up to the tall fence where the door is, I am greeted by this sign.....
Alright this place better be heaven on Earth because at this point I am hating myself for agreeing to this. And, it was. After ringing the doorbell, the door unlocks and a woman yells for me to come in. When I open the door, I am greeted by a stone garden with beautiful hanging plants, the sound of trickling water, statues of Siddhartha, and a magnificent view of the Sierra Nevada. What.. is this place???
The hostel worker tells me to park the car down along the main road in front of the colegio. Apparently parking lots aren't a thing in the small towns of Southern Spain. So back down the ramp we go..
Not so quickly though. The small lot that we had managed to get ourselves in already had another car in it and a gate that made it quite difficult to simply turn around. So we came up with a plan to get out by backing up and driving into this corner to wiggle our way back to face the ramp. Again came the right and left and left and right and "cut the wheel!" and "slower, slower!" and "move the gate!" Luckily this time David was the one doing the driving.
We had just about gotten half way turned around when the car started to dip into an uneven part of the pavement that led out to the ramp. I walked around the car to watch the back of the car while David reversed. That’s when I saw it. The front of the car had leaned into the dip in the pavement and had lifted off of the back right tire..
Never in my 22 years of life experience had I ever seen a car on three wheels. My eyes widened and my stomach dropped and I was faced with a choice. Tell David what was happening back here or preserve any ounce of sanity he had left and quickly direct him to reverse, turn, and move forward in order to get the car onto flat land again.
I walked up to the passenger’s side where the window was open and said, “David.. uh the car is on three wheels so I really need you to reverse slowly and cut the wheel.” I said all this while nervously gripping onto the passenger’s side door as if I would be able to hold down the car and prevent it from flipping over, or whatever it was about to do.
David, seemingly unphased by this, calmly executed my directions and finally we were back on all fours. I let out a huge breath of relief. But we weren’t parked yet. I hopped back into the car and we creeped slowly back down the incline to the main road where we saw other cars parallel parked along the side. We rolled up into an open spot and turned off the car. I got out and frantically checked every side of the car.
Not a scratch.
We then mutually agreed that this car would NOT be turned on again until we had to leave Quentar on Monday morning.
Regardless of this crazy adventure, our stay at Fundaluscia Hostel was amazing. The view was absolutely breathtaking and the vibe was so serene. It was simply not enough time to only be there for two nights.
The host was incredibly friendly and suggested many things for us to do in Granada as well as around the hostel in Quentar. The next day we took advantage of these suggestions and went on a hike to the reservoir. Along our walk we saw dogs, donkeys, horses, observed the small mountain houses, and marveled at the views.
Transportation from Quentar to Granada was very easy by bus, which only took about 20 minutes and cost less than 2 euros each way. On Sunday, however, the bus comes less frequently. So, our hike was cut short in order for us to make the bus into Granada by 2pm.
Although we had a great time touring the cathedral, enjoying free tapas, and exploring the garden of the Alhambra, the most fun we had was just walking around the quiet parts of the city. Many areas of Granada are quite touristy; however, if you allow yourself to wander, you’ll find yourself in what feels like a movie set, with cobblestone alleyways and beautiful white buildings.
That night we took advantage of another suggestion made by the hostel owner and went to the Sacromonte Caves to watch flamenco. The Sacromonte Caves are where the Roma people (the preferred term for "gypsies") created a community when they migrated from India.
The excursion began with a short tour before we boarded up a bus that drove us up to caves. To be totally honest, the tour was a little lackluster, but, the flamenco show made up for it. Once the bus dropped us off at the caves, we walked into the restaurant where the show was and filed into the wooden chairs they had lined up for us. We were also given a complementary drink! My choice being sangria, of course.
I had seen flamenco before, but not like this. For some reason, being in the caves made it feel so much more authentic, and the dancers at this particular show were on fire. Everything about flamenco amazes me; the footwork, the passionate singing, the rhythms of the claps, the costumes. You can see on the dancer’s faces that this is something they are incredibly passionate about and that they are giving it their all, despite how many shows the have to do every night.
The show ended and the bus dropped us back off in the center of town around midnight where the hostel owner was waiting to drive us back to the hostel! (He does this for everyone who goes to the caves for flamenco due to the fact that the buses stop running before the show ends.)
The next morning we were headed back to Valencia. A short and hectic but well needed getaway to the south of Spain.
Next stop, Scotland!
Currently: Eating breakfast and sipping cappuccinos at La Petite Réserve in Aix-en-Provence, France.
Well it's been a crazy 7 weeks and my intentions to update this blog throughout my trip quickly flew out the window the minute we first touched down in Tel Aviv. Between graduation, dress rehearsals, beach parties, haunted monasteries, sing-offs, and wine tours I haven't quite found the time or energy at the end of each day to recount all the adventures I had come across. However, today Olivia and I decided to take the morning we had off from rehearsal to sit down at a cafe in Aix and practice "the sweetness of doing nothing," an idea introduced to us by Elizabeth Gilbert in one of our favorite books, Eat, Pray, Love. However, as I sit and reflect on my time spent in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Athens, Gozo (yes, that is a real place), Frankfurt, Salzburg, Vienna, Venice, Paris, and now Aix, I cannot even seem to mentally organize the events of the past two months. I suppose I should start at the beginning.
On May 20th I woke up in my apartment in Newark, Delaware only to graduate college, move out of my apartment, fly 11 hours across the world, and go to sleep in a hostel in Jerusalem. This day was not only the start of the UD Chorale's "We Can Mend the Sky Tour" but the start of a new chapter for me, one that would take me through the Middle East, Europe, back home, and off to Europe again. In the days leading up to "g-day" and throughout the tour, I got the feeling that there were only a select few of my peers who felt the same way about starting this new chapter as I did. Most were already grieving over the passing of the last four years and making a point to live it up during this little extension of college that we were lucky enough to have while on tour. For me, as bittersweet as it was to leave little old Newark, Delaware, I was ready. Granted, I will miss having my best friends at a five minute radius at any given point. I will miss washing down chips and salsa with margs in repose at Santa Fe happy hour. And I will miss making "chorale magic" every Monday and Wednesday evening from 4:40-6:40pm.
But, as I keep saying over and over again, I've got shit to do!
I've got music to make, food to eat, and a world to see. So on May 20th I walked across that stage with a smile, threw my cap, and haven't looked back since. However, if I were to take a moment to reflect, I couldn't forget all the mistakes I made and the bridges I burned. But I would also remember those bridges that rebuilt themselves with time. I would remember this chapter as the one that gave me the best friends of a life time. The chapter that would change my definition of what a "teacher" is and throw a twist into my plans of teaching choir immediately after graduation (hello Berklee!) It would change my idea of "making a difference" with music and, consequently, the course of my life in little moments and revelations.
So, after a rocky and emotionally exhausting ending to my last semester, I said bon voyage and crash landed in Tel Aviv, Israel. And, now, instead of prepping for interviews in Delaware, I somehow find myself enjoying the best breakfast I've had in MONTHS with a good friend in the south of France.. right where I'm supposed to be.
I didn't seem to get very far in telling the story of my trip.... but more to come later!
Next up on the docket:
Saying goodbye to the trip of a lifetime and the friends I shared it with
Finding an apartment in Spain
Packing up my life and moving to Europe (no big deal)