Saturday, August 25, 2012

Today I woke up in SPAIN!

Last night I could hardly sleep a wink. I think I finally went to sleep at one, woke up at five and then not again until 9:45. My internal clock is  TOTALLY wacked out! When I woke up at five I was totally sweating! It was so SO hot in my room. HOW DOES PILAR NOT HAVE AC? no idea. I have a hook behind the door with like 10 scarves hanging from it... Oh how I long for weather to be able to wear those in! I mean, I don't want Wisconsin cold or anything, but haven't I sweat enough in the past five months? I am ready for a little chill! Even Jerusalem got cooler at night than it currently does here. 

I am sure my body will adjust to the temperature and the time schedule soon enough! I woke up and hurriedly took a shower. Miriam blew a fuse with her straightener, freaked Pilar out... she was speaking so fast I could barely understand her! haha Gotta love trying to make American appliances compliant with European voltages and outlets... it scares me. I think she might have blown her straightener up. whoopsie! [she still is hopeful, but I smelled the smoke, I am hoping right along with her though.]
Anyways, I got dressed... Pilar made us breakfast: toast with nutella and warm milk with hot chocolate powder [actually it's just yahoo chocolate milk powder]. haha I am going to GAIN 50 pounds if i eat that every morning. I am pretty sure that every morning we'll have milk and one piece of toast, I asked for peanut butter and a banana. That's a pretty good breakfast, right? Pilar said she likes that too. Perfect. She noticed we both only ate one piece of toast so she's going to modify that! :) I really like her, she's a bit crazy, but fun. 

After breakfast I braided Miriams hair, blew dry [took my life in my own hands hoping that it wouldn't blow a fuse, luckily it worked fine] the top of my hair and we rushed out the door. We were still a little late, but hey... that was pretty good for waking up so late. 

We met our group at the plaza at 11 and took a little walking tour through Alcala. Oh it's just the cutest little town.

This is what I imagine when I think of SPAIN... it's real life, I took this photo. The people live above these little shops. Look at the vines and window planters!!

Here are some old city walls! I am kind of akin to those after 4 months in the Holy Land. The Arabs built these walls! I also saw the site of an old Jewish Synagogue. It made me really happy... I miss Jru. 

See the storks nest atop this wall? Alcala is FAMOUS for their storks. Their nests are EVERYWHERE at the top of buildings. I probably saw 20 today.
This photo describes perfectly this street we were walking down, I didn't edit it or anything. This man was getting creative right on his doorstep and the hugh of the whole street was red! So BEAUTIFUL. I love Spain!!

After we walked through the city and identified our school and museums and churches we should check out we went to the old Universidad de Alcala founded in 1492 by Cardinal Cisneros. It's beautiful. We learned that he was an old man and wanted the university built in his lifetime so he had it build with brick and mud. Later on it was given a stone face to make it more prestigious and beautiful. The church owned the school in that day. Students were only male and were to wear robes and only speak Latin otherwise they were thrown in prison for a couple day... ya, rough I know! Luckily the prison was right on site... so convenient. There are several courtyards to this beautiful building with old arches and gates and theater rooms. 
Our whole group in front of the University. Stole this photo from Julie's facebook... Thanks, Julie!

I am loving the architecture here.

Inside the first courtyard, these used to be classrooms and dormitories, now they're just offices.

Alex and I in front of the school...

Gate in second courtyard, back in the day it opened and led to markets [oh and the jail].

3rd courtyard. 

Arches in the 3rd courtyard, there is so much detail, look at the ceiling, it's so textured and pretty.

The ceiling in the room where they had shows and where PHD students defended their thesis... if they passed the three day examination they had a fiesta, inviting the whole town. If they failed... there was a public humiliation ceremony. ... these people didn't mess around.

Scale model of the city of Alcala... two weeks ago I was looking at scale models of Jerusalem... I can't believe I am here.
The school is not built like American Universities, it is spread all throughout the town. I like that better. Alcala is on the map because of this university and there are traces of it on almost every street! This is such a beautiful place. I feel so blessed to be here! Life is really good.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Saludos de Espana

Hey Everyone!

I am HERE! I am in SPAIN! In Dallas I met up with a girl named Hope from my group, but we weren’t sitting next to each other on the flight. Luckily, I sat next to the nicest girl, Meg, who was also going to study abroad. She is studying in Ohio at Dennison? Anyways, after the flight we went through border control, got our passports stamped, picked up our bags and whizzed past customs. Why did I think it would be so hard? It was SO easy. Really nice, new airport too.  I guess my only other experience would be Turkey and Israel and Jordan which were all hard and took forever. Our teacher and his wife were waiting outside for us when we walked through customs.

This was in the morning, look how cool the clouds look over the ocean! This is like hour 6.5 of this 8 hour flight.

Meg and I on the flight... I am SO happy I sat next to her. We def look like we were on a plane for hours and hours.

Hope and I riding the tram to get our luggage. We're in SPAIN!
We drove to Alcala to the Plaza and met our host families there. We are living with a nice lady named Pilar. She lives in on the second floor of nice apartments and guess what? She hates the elevator too… so we loaded it with our stuff and took the stairs. That’s my kind of lady. [It’s one of those small closet like elevators that they prefer in Turkey. Eek. No thanks.] She talks so fast. I try to catch everything, but sometimes I get nothing. My roommate, Miriam is really nice, but kind of mute. I actually think she knows more words than me, but she doesn’t understand too well. SO I feel like a missionary all over again. Seriously. I do all the talking. I am kind of struggling a little with their accents; I guess I will get soon enough. Sometimes I don’t know the word their saying, at all. But, I like it, it’s like figuring out a puzzle every time someone speaks… I said “ahorrita” about something when we were eating lunch and she asked me if I was from Mexico! Haha She said I speak like a South American. Whoopsie! She liked it though; she lived in Argentina for like 5 years. The word should just be “ahora” but in South America they use “ahorrita” to mean right this second, like now instead of when you feel like it which is more of the meaning of ahora or so I was taught.

We’ve unpacked and she made us lunch pasta and some salad with oil and vinegar dressing and some tuna in it] and now it’s time for a siesta… its 6 am at home [3pm here] and I haven’t slept since yesterday.  I was falling asleep eating lunch. I am a big fan of this siesta business.

I can tell I am going to like it here. It’s SO cute! Alcala is cute, our host is so cute, the people in general here are cute and so friendly with each other, the buildings are cute… cute, cute, cute.

On the way to her house, we walked from the Plaza to her apartment; we stopped at the grocery store to get some food. It was the tiniest little market. Miriam and I waited in the front with our luggage and we nearly blocked the entire entrance. Everyone said hi to us and talked to us, I felt like I was in the scene of a movie. Two little white girls completely submerged in this culture, standing out like sore thumbs sitting in front of a tiny little market. This guy that was checking out came over and told us he’s from Germany visiting his sister and that we’re going to be totally secluded because we’re living with Pilar and that he could hook us up with our own flat. Hahaha no. thank you. [he was cute though] He shook our hands and left.

Since I just came from Jerusalem I can’t help but compare how I feel. It’s so safe and warm and friendly and becoming here. I mean, I guess it feels more like home. And we’re living in a house, I love it. We have the tiniest little wardrobe on the planet. Remind me to never complain in Provo, again. We made everything fit, though. This apartment is really clean and she’s older so there is lots of art on the walls, paintings all mis matched and hung together and lots of knick-knacks. But, it’s cute. [have I overused that word yet?] There is a nice wrap around porch with a good breeze! Oh ya, and no air conditioning. I don’t think very many people have AC. Everyone has their windows open… I woke up kinda sweaty from my nap, but it wasn’t like uncomfortable, just a little warm. There is still a breeze. I bet it really cools down at night.

I bet you’re wondering why this email is so dang long? Well Pilar keeps saying she’s going to give me the password, then she forgets and starts doing other things. She just came in our room and told me that she’d give me the “clave” like 30 minutes ago. I came out to the kitchen, I am sitting at the table, she’s nowhere in sight. Haha WHERE IS SHE? HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE? She’s a really nice older lady and has had lots of students live with her. She loves us, loves to talk to us! [we’re tots  a captive audience] In like a month another student is coming to live here, she will be from Germany. I am excited for that, she’s going to live in the room right next to ours. Cool. [Pilar just walked by, told me her and the cleaning lady are cleaning the lights, she turned off all the power in the house. Hahaha She said, “Un minuto, un minuto mas” as she walked down the hall! GOODNESS GRACIOUS. There is no hurry here, none.]

I really can’t believe I am in Spain. I feel so grateful for this opportunity, I really do. I was sitting on the plane thinking about how two weeks ago I was flying home from Israel. WHAT? I’m Pamella Black, I don’t go to Israel and Spain! I loved my time in the Holy Land, it really was life changing. I am excited to learn new things here in Spain as well.

I love you all! I am grateful for you and for your support!

Love, Pamella
La plaza at night! Everyone is just sitting around and chatting or smoking! This was our first stop on our walk tonight, a great meeting place!

My roommate Miriam and I, we were SO tired and worn out, this was after our like four hour nap!

A different section of the plaza. People everywhere! It was late too, like 9:30 and people [infants to really, really old people] are just getting started!!! 

I'm Here... I am ACTUALLY in SPAIN. I honestly can't believe it. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Friday, June 29, 2012


“Dog People”

I’ve never thought of myself as a dog person. You know the type: the ones who love their dogs like children, buy them presents and let them have a chair at the dinner table. No, I am not like that.

We got a dog named Frosty for Christmas when I was in elementary school. She was the best; cute, fluffy, white poodle mix. I used to swaddle her like a baby and carry her everywhere. She took naps in our arms or in our beds with us [or in a shoebox in our cubby]. She slept with my sister, Brittany every night… occasionally I would snag her. She never left us… like a little comfort, we felt safe with Frosty. She was not a dog though, really. She was more of a human being than a canine. She moaned if you were in her spot on the couch and would grumble the whole time until she weaseled her way in to her spot, despite the fact that you were sitting there, she preferred the right reclining chair of our dark green sectional sofa. We were constantly dressing her up and on road trips we would play with her arms and pretend she was doing cheers for the football team, she put up with a lot. She made every move with us, had mood swings, an affinity for anything with marshmallow in it and a great memory. Until the day she died she never liked Rocky. I am thoroughly convinced that she remembered the times when they played cops and robbers when he was little, she was always the robber… poor Frosty! So if loving my little Frosty dog means I am a dog person, then maybe that’s so. But like I said, she wasn’t really a dog. Her need to saunter across the street ended her life one sad afternoon; but she was really old and died doing what she loved. We buried her in the back yard and I still miss her. I miss her especially at night or when I am sick, I just wish she was there to cuddle up to.

When we were living in Glendale my dad brought home a puppy for my brother. She was the cutest, fattest little Golden Retriever, puppy I have ever seen. I was disappointed in her at first, she just slept all the time, and grew; she grew so fast. If it’s true that you can tell how big a dog will be by how big their paws are as a puppy, then we should have known then that she’d weigh more than Rocky for most of her life. About the time she was big enough to jump around and scratch me and tear things up I did not like her. Her hair made me sneeze and she was a nuisance. I would take her for runs in middle school around our neighborhood and to the park [mostly because I was a scaredy- cat and she made me feel safe], but she practically drug me the entire way and just wanted to jump and play. 

When I was in high school I remember that she dug up our entire sprinkler system in our front yard, ate right through the pipes and flooded our yard and the neighbors, sending water gushing down the curbs of our street. I would tell Rocky all the time, “I hate that dog”, he would get SO mad. Even though I clearly established my opinion of her, I don’t like people or animals to suffer. If I noticed she didn’t have food or water I would nag him until he took care of her, but I  would never do it. I always complained when she was in the house and I just knew she amplified my allergies.

The older she got, the more she calmed down. Chloe and Sophie could get right in her face and she never snapped at then like Frosty would have. She wouldn’t hurt a fly, she only pretended to be ferocious when she’d run to the corners of our yard and bark at other dogs or people walking by. The mailman, the fed ex guy and the water meter reader were deathly afraid of her. Many times they’d bribe her with fruit snacks to get by her. What they didn’t know is she never intended on biting them, I don’t even know if she knew how.

While I thought all these things were endearing enough, I thought about times when we didn’t have to worry about what to do with a dog while we were on vacation or worry about her running in the street or eating food off the counter or cleaning up dog hair in the house.

This was pretty much my relationship with the dog when I left on my mission- clearly I am NOT a dog person.

One time on my mission my mom wrote me and said that Simba wasn’t doing so good and that if she got any worse they’d have to take her to the vet. I was pretty separated from it and just said that if that was the case I wanted them to do if before I got home, I didn’t want to be there for it. … but she bounced back and when I got home from my mission she ran out the door to greet me with the rest of the family.

I don’t know what happened that summer, but I fell in love with Simba, much more than ever before. I had always thought Rocky was cute with her and I liked her good nature, but to let her rest her head on my leg and breathe her hot breath on me was strange. My family thinks my heart softened in Wisconsin, on my mission; people do love their pets there, but I am not convinced. The only thing I thought when I went in to dog hair covered homes was, “I will never have a dog or cat [much less multiples], this is disgusting”.

I think Simba and I became buddies because I didn’t have anyone else. When I first came home Brittany’s boyfriend was leaving for his mission in like a month, they were inseparable. Rocky was in Maryland serving a mission and my parents went to work. I was a loner. All my friends were married and had babies and I was waiting to go back to BYU in the fall. April – August is a long time. So Simba became my project. I took her to the vet, to be groomed, bought her a cute [pink] collar and leash and took her on walks. I played with her in the yard and loved to see the girls [Chloe and Sophie] with her. Simba did not like it if I was just playing with them, she’d always box them out so I could only pet her or she’d jump on any bench or chair they were sitting on. She liked the attention.

I made sure she always had a swimming pool and convinced my parents to take her up north to the woods when we visited my grandparents. She slept in my room and followed me everywhere, my faithful shadow. Her joints were sore and sometimes it was hard for her to stand up so we started treating her with the appropriate medicines and she got so much better. That’s how she became addicted to pills! : ) Anytime she would here a bottle being opened, she came running. We gave her her vitamins and occasionally pain reliever with food so she knew if she heard the bottles, it meant food. If I didn’t get the pill hidden enough by the bread and she tasted it, she’d eat all the bread and spit out the pill!

When I was back at school in Fall 2010 my mom called me to tell me that she didn’t really know if Simba was going to make it, we cried together, then I took a shower and cried some more. I had no idea who to talk to about my dog, surely my roommates would think I was insane for crying about a dog. Simba pulled through like always though, the goal was to keep her around until Rocky got home from his mission.

My mom was organizing photos and THIS is where she decided to sit down! hilarious... always has to be the center of attention!
Last summer I worked at a daycare, but Simba was still my buddy. Brittany stayed in Idaho for school, Rocky was on his mission and my parents were at work. I would wake up and take Simba next store to grandma’s house for “day care” before I left for work. Everyday when I got home I would go get her and pet her and play with her a little in the front yard. She’d run and jump and try to get the ball or stuffed animal out of my hand, she was so spunky!

The dog could eat anything. I frosted a whole batch of sugar cookies to send to Rocky in Maryland and then left for a bit so they could dry. I knew she couldn’t get to them because she wasn’t moving around too quickly anyway and there would be no way she could get herself up on her hind legs. When I came home she had eaten every last cookie off the counter, even the ones in the WAY back part. I have NO idea how she did that. She moaned and grunted for hours after that! She MUST have been sick, that was a lot of cookies! From then no she favored my mom’s cookies [they’re my favorite too] and anytime she would here the Tupperware pop, she’d come RUNNING. I always shared.

If we didn’t close the pantry door she’d drag out things and eat them. She had the strangest habits; not only did she like eating things like powdered sugar and lunch-pack peaches in little individual snack-size bowls, she preferred eating it on the leather love seat in our living room which was explicitly off limits to her. She would make SUCH a mess. I love to hear my mom tell those stories, we’d say Simba was diabetic- she could never get enough sugar! One time we came home and I saw her sitting on the same little leather love seat with a big bar of bakers chocolate between her paws just eating away… she didn’t even stop or feel ashamed when we walked in the door, she just kept eating… like an ADDICT! We discovered she had eaten several bars. Isn’t chocolate supposed to kill dogs? Ya, not Simba, but she was really sick that night… for GOOD reason!

At grandma and grandpa’s house she could eat whole loaves of bread right off the counter. Sometimes she would make them crazy because they knew they had another loaf, or a bag of bagels… but really she had eaten them, all. Gone. They’d only find remnants of the plastic bag they were once in.

Simba could open any gate. She was like Houdini, she figured how to open our gate in the back yard… the gate opened in instead of out and you had to lift up the two little sides at the same time… she could do that in two seconds flat… and she could open door handles that aren’t round [you know, not the circle ones, like our front door. crazy.] My heavens.

We’ve recently been calling Simba “Hot breath” for the past two years or so because if she wanted something [what we were eating or to be pet] she’d just stand by us and breathe her hot breath until she got it. How could I not give it to her?

She was always half on this thing... she liked her face on the cool tile.
She would wake us up by coming and licking our hands and nuzzling her nose under us to get us to wake up and pet her and breathing her hot breath right on our faces. If we were petting her she would lean all her weight on us and if we stopped she'd lick us and push our hand up with her nose until we kept going... oh I loved this DOG!

Simba loved her bed, so she’d sleep wherever it was as long as it was in a room with people. If I was scared at night, when Britt wasn’t there and Rocky was on his mission, I would move it in my room and she’d sleep there all night and make me feel safe. She would always try to steal my stuffed animal or Britt’s off our beds. In the last couple years she has managed to successively get both of them, and chew their eyes out! She never does that, she’s a BIRD DOG! She usually just holds stuffed animals in the back of her mouth and sleeps with them, it was like comforting to her. I think she did it because she was mad at us for some reason, luckily we were both able to replace our animals, Britt is just barely starting to forgive her for eating Francesco!
She stole Thatcher and was sleeping with her!

Last night, right when I got home from Jordan my mom told me she needed me to call her. I knew right away that something was wrong. All week while I was in Jordan, Simba had been having a bad week and Wednesday night they decided, as a family, that it was time. She was breathing hard and not relaxing and always trying to hide. Rocky put her in the car and mom and dad took her in. It happened really quick.

The veterinarians office put her in a hard cardboard casket and made a paw print for Rocky. They dug a grave for her in the back lot and buried her as the dust storm approached.

It was so hard to hear. I cried, hugged my friend Mary and cried some more. I called every member of my family and cried with them too. We each have a relationship with Simba, we love her for different reasons [and the same] but we’ve all grown to love her at different times. I wish I could have said goodbye.

When I get home and she doesn’t come running out to me and I can’t pet her and say, “Oooohhh SIMBA, you’re a pretty girl, yes you are, YES YOU ARE!” I know I will cry. They buried her with Francesco and with her favorite soccer ball, she’s had that soccer ball for so long, I can’t even remember her not having it.

Playing in the yard.

Maybe I got so attached to her because Rocky was gone and it was a way I could be close to him, that was definitely part of it. The other part of it is she was just so pure and I could tell she wanted me to like her! Plus, I had fun with her. I just like the feeling of petting her and running in the grass with her and laying by her on the floor.

She was a good dog. There won’t ever be another Simba. [Just like there won’t ever be another Frosty.] She honestly never hurt a soul. She loved any and all types of food. She hated the groomers and the vet and wouldn’t ever get in a car for fear that’s where she was going. She loved going on walks and hated our goat Patrick. Grandma and Grandpa loved her just as much and took care of her so often.

Sleeping with us in the camp trailer, look how cute she curls up!
Losing Simba is going to be really hard. She’s so much a part of everything we do, and our daily routines. My mom has been making Simba her own plate of eggs in the mornings [that’s love] and she told me she’ll miss her every morning when she waters her garden and Simba isn’t there.

I feel like we were more than successful in keeping her healthy and strong until Rocky came home. We worked hard for that! I am glad she’s not suffering anymore, but I have thought about her for 24 hours straight… when I snuggle up to my Bunny, Thatcher, I think of Simba and how much she loved to put her in her mouth… I have almost worn my bunny out washing it because of the little slobber monster. I looked up at my little bulletin board above my bed this morning and saw that I have four photos of Simba up there.

I can’t believe she won’t be home! I am going to miss her so much, I miss her right now. I still cry at the drop of a hat and I plan on being like that for a while.

Am I a dog person? I just may be!

I love Simba. I will miss her.

I gave her ice cream in this cup and she's eating it like a lady! hilarious!

She had to get on the bench because they were!