Friday, October 22, 2010

To eat a fruit.

Let me just start this post by asking a question: If you were on the street and someone handed this to you, what would your initial reaction be?

If you're anything like me, you may think it was some sort of weird cactus fruit that they had to cut the spines off of, thus giving it the little dents everywhere.  I thought to myself, "why would I want to eat that when I would just get some cactus spine stuck under my fingernails and then have to go to the hospital to get the spines removed so that my fingers will stop swelling?"

I don't pretend that this is a rational train of thought.  But there it is, nonetheless.  So, needless to say, I wasn't lining up to buy this mysterious fruit.

It wasn't until when, one fateful day, my friend Annie (pictured below) and I met up for lunch and she handed me this plastic bag that weighed approximately 10 pounds.

"What's this?"

"Open it!"

Lo and behold, it was a chirimoya.  That's what this fruit is called, apparently.  I had to look it up in my aforementioned visual dictionary to figure out what it is in English.  For those of you who were wondering, it's called a "custard apple."  Weird, I know.

I've always kind of thought that fruit and veggies were some of those universal common denominators among cultures.  For example (and remember, this is purely opinion), I feel that almost anywhere you go you'll be able to find apples, bananas, pears, peaches, lettuce, carrots, corn, peas, etc etc etc.  So, you can imagine my surprise when I saw this space fruit sitting there, neglected, between the bananas and the pears.

I took it to my school and my teachers all told me that it wasn’t ripe yet and that I should wait.  They also explained detailed and complex ways to go about eating it.  None of which I understood, but shook my head to fervently in excessive agreement nonetheless.

Eventually, in seeing the fruit ripen, it started to make sense what my teachers were telling me. 

I went straight to the Google and typed in, “How to eat a chirimoya.”

Thank goodness for the Internet.

I learned two very important things right off the bat: both the skin and the seeds are poisonous.  Don’t eat them.

The website also said that when the chirimoya is appropriately ripened, both the skin and the flesh will smell like vanilla ice cream.

I would just like to take this opportunity to say…false.  This is a lie.  At no point in my devouring of this space fruit did I encounter a wafting vanilla scent.  The taste, I supposed, could somewhat be construed as an overly sweet vanilla-y ice cream flavor.  But not really.

I also learned that the best way to eat it is to put in the freezer for about two hours so it gets a little frozen, then cut it half and eat it with a spoon, kind of like scooping out ice cream (maybe that’s why the author of this article thought it tasted like vanilla ice cream).

So that’s what I did.

Space fruit = Good.

Let this be a lesson to all of you out there.  When in doubt about something new, double check to be sure it's not going to poison you, then go for it!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Girl talk.

First of all, Garfield is the best comic out there.  While I also love Calvin & Hobbes, Garfield has played a more significant part of my childhood/adulthood.

Second of all, this comic sums up my current living situation, which shall be expounded upon after reading the following:

Welcome to my life.

Now, let me preface everything by saying I love my roommates.  Just this morning actually, I woke up, went into the living room to eat breakfast, and they were both sitting there drinking their coffee, pleasantly chatting, just passing the time.  I joined in and we talked for an hour or so, just sharing funny stories about whatever.  It's lovely.

As I've mentioned, I live with a guy, Julio, and a girl, Jennifer.  This is my first time living with a girl for an extended period of time, so there are certain things I was not expecting.  For example, as seen in the above cartoon, girls apparently have a seemingly unlimited supply of hair that manages to make its way into even the remotest corner of the apartment, not to mention most countertops, sinks, and, surprisingly enough, the fridge.  My good friends Shannon and Brandon shared an apartment their final year of college and Brandon would always complain about "Shannon hairs" left all over the apartment.  I always kind of thought he was just being dramatic, but now I understand.  It's really quite remarkable.  While Brandon was rather disgusted by all this, I mostly just find it impressive.  I think Jennifer secretly goes into my room when I'm not around and strategically places hair all over the place.

Also rather shocking is the amount of toilet paper used in this apartment.  Quite literally, every time I go into the bathroom, there's a fresh roll of toilet paper on the roll holder.  I've seen some of the girls in my program sneak toilet paper into their purses, just in case the bathrooms in bars or clubs aren't appropriately equipped, but I doubt my roommate does this as well.  My current theory is that she uses it as some sort of bedding in her room.  Maybe to stuff her pillows.  I have no visual proof of this, however, but based on the amount of toilet paper we go through weekly, it's the only logical explanation.

As I said though, I'm very happy with my roommates.  I keep trying to convince Jennifer to extend her studies through the end of the school year.  She's only scheduled to be here until February, but hopefully she'll push it back a while.  Plus, she's really the only one in the apartment that I understand 100%. I think that she has just as much trouble understanding Julio as I do, though we've both learned when to nod, when to smile, and even when to laugh.  It's amazing how much understanding you can feign when necessary.  The worst is when you've zoned out (which happens frequently), but remain on autopilot with your "ah's" and "de verdad's."  Then, he says, "No...I'm asking you..."  Oh, ok...well, I'll just be in my room from now on...

Saturday, October 9, 2010

An Update.

As I write this, I’m on a bus heading to a five-day festival in a town about an hour away from Granada called Jaén.   Festivals are always a good time, and Lord knows that the Spanish don’t need much of an excuse to throw a party.  While I’m excited to see the Spanish in full form, I’m also excited for the reason that there are about a dozen people from my 5-week program in Sevilla that are all converging in Jaén.  The 12 of us are spreading out between only two apartments, so it’s going to be a bit of a squeeze, but in a good way.  I brought a backpack of clothes and things, and then a suitcase that is completely full.  “Full of what,” you may ask.  One blanket, and one pillow.  Bedding is bulky.

I just finished my first week of teaching.  It was a pretty easy week.  My schedule still isn’t fixed, but it’s getting there.  This first week I just went to each class and introduced myself to everyone.  There are five different levels I’m working with, so that keeps things interesting.  For the two lowest levels I pass out a worksheet with really common phrases like, “how are you?”, “what do you do in your spare time?”, “how old are you?”, etc.  After we go through a bunch of questions and the appropriate answers, I draw a star on the board and write a word or number or something at each point.  The students have to ask me yes/no questions to figure out what each word means to me in my life.  For example, I’ll write “Chris” and the students have to ask me questions like, “Is your sister’s name Chris?”  “No.”  “Is your mom’s name Chris?”  “Yes!”  It’s a good time.

For the more advanced classes, I did the star first, without the worksheet, then moved on to stereotypes.  I always get the ball rolling by writing the word “Americans” on the board and then having them list a bunch of stereotypes they have about Americans.  You never quite know what you’re going to get in response.  The usual answers are “Americans are fat,” “Americans eat fast food,” or “Americans play baseball and basketball.”  There were a few that I was rather surprised to get though.  One was that Americans are rude.  This is the first time that I’ve ever heard this from a European.  It’s not that I don’t know that there are rude Americans; let’s be honest.  But in general, one of the things I pride myself in the most about American culture is that we’re pretty talkative and smiley folks.  I displayed my surprise on my face, wrote “rude” on the board, and then turned to the class and asked them if they all agreed with that.  The vast majority didn’t agree.  That made me feel rather good.

This weekend is what’s called “un Puente,” or “a bridge.”  A lot of holidays in Spain are placed on a Tuesday so that everyone has an excuse to take the preceding Monday off as well.  So this coming week, due to the fact that I have Fridays off, and owing to the fact that Monday and Tuesday are a holiday, plus my 2:15 pm appointment at the visa office on Thursday, means that I only have one day of school this week.  What to do, what to do...  Any suggestions?

Speaking of free time, you would think that with all this free time, I would have time to plan ahead for things like good friends’ birthdays, parents’ anniversaries, other important events and dates.  While it’s true I have the time, I just don’t quite have the brain for it.  This is just how I am.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t care about someone, I just happen to be quite incapable of keeping these dates in my little head.  Having dealt with this for a while, I’ve come to a bit of a compromise.  It makes sense in my head.  The way I see it, if I can mail something out at the very latest on the day of someone’s birthday, then it’s ok because it has the postage stamp with the important date on it.  And that makes up for the fact that it’s late.  It’s not my fault, after all, that the post office takes so many days to deliver a package internationally.  Right?

And speaking of birthdays!  One final thing I would like to say before I sign off is that this past week was the birthday week of my talented, hilarious, beautiful, and dear friend Sarah!  Feliz cumpleaños, joyeux anniversaire, alles Gute zum Geburtstag, and Happee Birfday, Sarah!  Check your mail in a few days, lol.