Christmas is sneaking up on me here. Without the constant flow of festive cakes and cookies from my Momma back home, I've lost that sense of holiday belonging. Right now I would be back home, cozy and warm next to a fireplace with a glass of wine, indulging in holiday treats. But here, that warm feeling of festivities and family is fleeting. Sure, I find it hidden in the little grins of my students, and once in a while it takes me by surprise when I'm passing by little shops decorated in Papa Noel and the Three Kings. But mostly, it feels like a dream.
This weekend, however, I spent a night celebrating the season with my little pocket of friends here in La Linea. The party was an eclectic mix of Americans and Spaniards, and I was pleased (nearly shocked) at my ability to switch back and forth between the two languages. It was that "ahh hah!" moment you hear about.
And so, I dressed as festive as my humble wardrobe here in Spain would allow. We were asked to bring a gift for the White Elephant swap, so I brought a tetera (which is a miniature french press). Something practical, and not to mention, cheap! After a few glasses of wine, buttered rum, and pomegranate vodka, everyone was good and drunk...I mean...good and ready to play the White Elephant game. It's not a typical game here in Spain, but the Spanish people loved it.
Bekah with her gift: two packs of cigarettes and an assortment of condoms.
Becky with the tetera I bought and Carly trying to persuade someone to steal her tomato
Gonzalo opening a...cat planter? What the hell is that thing?
And Katlyn lost her Bart Simpson mug to Gonzalo for the Cat thing. Tragedy.
Marta and Maribel swapping gifts!
As the night progressed, we found ourselves lost in conversation, a little inebriated and full of the energy that the season offers. It truly felt like Christmas, even if for just a moment. I'm grateful to my friends here for making these occasions, which could so easily be lonely, full of love and laughter.
A few more glimpses of the night:
Me and Carly
And this is when drunk Becky dropped the tetera, and broke it. R.I.P.
random assortment of gifts: condoms and cigs, Jewish candle, and a ceramic puppy?
When my turn game around, I picked the gift that looked most like a book (yes, I'm nerd, but a proud one at that!). And luckily, it was a book! The best gift there in my opinion...100 of the Best Curses and Insults in Spanish. Thank God I've found a way to further my college education.
The past month has been a whirlwind of adventures. With so many people in and out of our home and so much planning for our holiday excursions, I've found myself abandoning my lonely little journal...and all of you in the blogging universe. But now, in the solitude of my kitchen on a lazy Sunday morning, I've found the time and energy to reconnect.
Here's a recap of the past month:
Rose stayed with us for a little over two weeks, and I must admit, we were sad to see her go. She taught us new Do It Yourself skills, jammed on the guitar every night, made delicious food from recipes she learned throughout her travels, and truly embodied the idea of community as she shared everything she had and let us give back in return. She filled our home with a vibrant creative energy that still lingers in her absence.
A week and a half into Rose's visit, we opened our home up to two more visitors: Amylin from Turkey and her boyfriend Dominic from New Zealand. They hitch-hiked down to the south of Spain in hopes of catching a boat to the Caribbean. Two days after they arrived, our friend Bianca took a bus to our place to visit for the weekend. That meant seven people in one tiny apartment. So we did the only thing we could do in this situation: we made tons of food for everyone and drank a ton of wine!
eating a traditional Turkish dinner with our guests
Amylin and Dominic
saying what we are thankful for
The last picture was taken on Thanksgiving day. Amongst the chaos of entertaining a bunch of guests, there was peace and familiarity in having so many people there to celebrate the day with. The day after Thanksgiving we had a huge celebration at our friends' apartment here in La Linea. In addition to over 20 Americans, we had friends from Turkey, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, France, Italy and Spain come to celebrate . Way too much food, way too much to drink and an overdose of laughter...it was the closest thing we could have found to home.
jammin' to some music and preparing our Thanksgiving day food
Zach slicing the ham for his ham wrapped dates
my banana date nut bread in process!
Hill's appetizer plate
my bread! the finished product
waiting for the turkey to cook
Caitlyn, the hostess, preparing her delicious food
checking the recipe!
Nate and Kylie showing off the turkey like proud parents
the best part: wine and desserts
chowing down! we had way too much food and beautiful people to share it with
drinks and conversation
The day after Thanksgiving, Dominic and Amylin left our place for new adventures, Bianca went back home to La Roda, and Rose made her way over to Algeciras to hitch a boat to Africa.
Rose, me and Bianca
good luck on the road!
Rose and Zach sharing some love
digging in on some Thanksgiving leftovers
Through the chaos and unpredictable circumstances this month has offered, I've learned more than I could have ever imagined about the beauty in sharing with others. Give and receive. Then you will find true happiness. I'm a recent member of couchsurfing.org, which I fully support and believe in 100%. A few days after our nest emptied, we hosted four girls from Poland for a night. What a perfect way to share your culture and learn about others in return! For an idea of how the couchsurfing organization works, you can check out my page here.
This month has been full of peace, deep self-exploration...
A couple of weeks ago, Zach received a call from an Arkansas girl who's been hitch hiking across Europe for two years. She needed a place to rest, so we opened our home to her...give and you shall receive. This is the most valuable piece of advice I think anyone can learn.
This is Rose: a compassionate human being who embraces the principle of community and loves people without judgment of any kind. While she's stayed here, she has never failed to thank us profusely, all while keeping our cabinets stocked and welcoming us home with her super tasty, innovative meals. Not to mention, she's a get-your-hands-dirty-don't-bite-your-tongue, opinionated feminist that has loads of stories to tell...and I have to admit, she has that rough, southern woman attitude mixed with an abundance of hospitality that makes me miss home.
So for the time being...until Rose gets the itch to move again and leaves us for uncharted territory, our little Spanish home is now an even four people. I will listen constantly, write down all of her wisdom in my journal, and get to working on all of those DIY (do it yourself) skills that are necessary for decreasing our footprint on the Earth and helping sustain the balance this world needs.
With that said, here are some current DIY projects we are working on:
making sauerkraut with leftover cabbage
making homemade books! this is Rose's little work station...she made a load of books in one week and has been teaching us the tricks of the trade.
playing the guitar! Hill is already a very talented musician, so she's been giving me lessons. I pay her in coffee and tea dates.
I encourage everyone to DO IT YOURSELF. It's rewarding and your brain will thank you for it.