Monday, September 22, 2014

Pamplona, I Love You

So much has happened in one week (oh my gracious I can't believe it has already been a week)! Instead of going through all the exciting details some of which I can't even share (super secrets ;)) I'll make this a simple list of what I love so far (minus a few hundred other things that my fingers got too tired for).

1. Small City

Everyone keeps saying "oh Pamplona is a small city" but for me, everything is new and exciting and SPANISH! A smaller makes it an exchange students dream, big cities can be intimidating for a newbie. When I got lost (just that one time!) I managed to navigate my way back to my house, even though I couldn't open the gate once I arrived, the neighbors helped me out. Which brings me to #2.

I've been saving the peanut butter but now that it's open I splurge! Look at this little spread of heaven.

2.  Nice People

I've been told that since I'm pretty and a foreigner, that's why everyone is nice to me but I don't buy that. It's not just my family and the people in school that have been nice to me but literally EVERYONE. The soccer team, the neighbors, strangers in stores, strangers in the plaza, strangers at the bus stop, I've received more compliments in one week than I have in a month of living in the US! I'm sure the more Spanish I get the less plentiful the compliments will come but for right now I'm soaking up the lime light.
Here I would have placed a picture with some of the wonderful people I have met but my new Spanish mobile device has decided to not work with my American laptop. I apologize for such an unfortunate political conflict. 

3. Running Routes

Exercise junkie, right here. I worked for my crazy legs but inherited my workout obsession from my parents. My brain is full of Spanish, English, names and memory, exercise clears my mind. Mountain side, river side, park side, the paths here are green and gorgeous. Story time! When I went running the other morning I stopped at the perfect spot to do some my favorite HITT workouts (found on youtube "BodyRock" check it out!) and after I finished the first round I noticed a little old lady had been watching me and she said in Spanish. "Such strength. You are lucky. I wish I could do the same." We both laughed, I thanked her, and she continued walking. I felt once again, like a superstar!

4. Singing Brothers

I really hope he doesn't see this (and if you are a friend to me you will not share it with him) but my host brother sings and I adore it beyond belief! I hear his American music playing and it doesn't take much to hear his sing-a-long cover as well. With an endearing accent it makes me think of home and my own dad singing, off key but still wonderfully.

The other bother, Alberto about to take the shot. And yes, they won!


No that wasn't a sneeze you just experienced. In Pamplona "Thirsty Thursdays" take on a whole new meaning. At night around 22:00 (10pm) everyone heads out to the streets for "unos pinchos y unas cervezas". Pinchos are these amazing little servings of food and cervezas, well it's beer. For 2 (about $3) you can have both! The most amazingly Spanish food entertained my taste buds. Jamón, toasted baguette with tomato, thinly sliced ham and topped off by a bit of olive oil. Simple right? But absolute perfection. First the crunch of the bread let's you know "mhmm this is going to be good" then the sweetness of the tomato says "just wait it get's better" and finally the ham, so delicate it virtually melts on you're tongue "you are welcome". (Sorry to any of you on diets who just suffered through such an epic foodgasm). Were we done? Heck no it's Pamplona! My sister Marie was so great reassuring me "You don't have to drink. If you feel tired just tell me. Whatever you like." I felt so relieved to have her there. But drinking, I'm an exchange student, a representation of Rotary and my country, responsible, independent -ok the Rotarians aren't looking now right?- I kid I kid! With school and soccer I really didn't want to go crazy. So Marie gave me "un zumo de uva". At first I thought omg how lame I'm having grape juice! But after the first sip I didn't care how lame it sounded. The juice was like a grape bursting in my mouth so fresh I wanted a gallon to take home! And onward we ventured into the late night lively streets.

In Spain we eat Pinchos on the ground. Get at us!

6. There is Life

No matter what time of day (well minus siesta time) there are always people out and about milling through the streets, biking to they're next adventure or crowding cobble stone streets into the wee hours of the morning. Oh the night life of Spain! Perhaps it's that I've been trapped in the box of American teenage society but I could not get over how many people go out at night. You'd have to lock arms with friends when passing through a forest of the tall and tan... can you guess my next one?

Again, I am an exchange student, not a tourist. So of course I took a sneaky video to capture the crowd. This was at about 10pm. Later, it got more packed!

7. Boys Where!?

Well yes it is me we're talking about here. *Fair warning to the boys reading this you may want to skip on,  just saying, it gets girly!* Being foreign and knowing little of how to flirt in Spanish I've spent quite some time practicing the wink (; When I'm in a new place the Guy-dar is on. Something I've noticed, not as many "jacked" guys here. Having been surrounded by this type of abnormally buff male species, I'm liking the leaner look. But of course these are superficial observations and we are above that ladies. In Pamplona the guys I've met, like everyone I've met are soo nice! There isn't much shyness about them (well since our 1st greeting is a half-way-to-1st-base double kiss on the cheek) but really guys don't lose interest when I'm messing up words in fact they've been helpful in maneuvering my way through the language, with nice accents and rolling Rrrrr's  that just make me heart skip a beat! Ok enough girly talk, for now.

8. La Bajera

To any of you prospect Spain Exchange Students, listen up because this is a piece of teenage culture you have to know. Basically a group of friends pools together some money and they rent what is ultimately an above ground basement. Like all good surprises, looks can deceive. The outside seriously resembles a place for hobos but on the inside... well it still looks like a place for hobos but with semi clean couches a tv and plenty more teenage antics. But it is also quite secretive,  so sorry I couldn't capture the inside glory for you all. What I like the most about it is, unlike most teenager's I've come to know, who just take having "nothing to do" with a side of potato chips, the people here actually do something. They rent a cement block and fill it with memories. That my friends is teenhood.
La Bajera, a super secret meeting place of only the coolest kids in Pamplona. And perhaps a passing hobo.

All in all Spain has a lot to offer and I to it. So together like tow best friends on the swings we will continue this journey through the up down and the spectacularly Spanish!


  1. Love reading about your adventures and love that you are so happy. Most of all, love YOU! Mrs. Henault -AKA Auntie