Bueno, my CD drive has once again decided not to cooperate (aka, open), so I am unable to finish watching “El Pianista”—a movie which my friend from church lent me about two weeks ago when he found out that I play piano and am a fan of Chopin—as I intended to this evening. That left me with two principal options: 1) write the summary of the next chapter of Don Quijote for my “trabajo final” for my literature class or 2) finally write something for my blog. Perhaps I chose the latter option because reading six chapters of Don Quijote yesterday and summarizing one of them earlier this afternoon seemed to be enough school work for this my second spring break week. Perhaps I chose it because I had another stimulating conversation this afternoon with my intercambio which gave me some more fodder that may end up in what I write here. Or perhaps it’s simply because my guilty conscience finally won over and I realized how ridiculous it is that I have an entire week of vacation and yet it’s still been three weeks since I’ve written something for this blog.
At least two months ago I came up with the idea of writing out my week’s schedule so that those of you back home would have some sort of an idea of what it is I do to occupy my time over here in Europe. (Truth be told, I should admit that it wasn’t exactly even my idea: I saw it on another student from my program’s blog and concluded that it was worthy of imitation.) And now that I have a little more than three weeks left here in Spain, I’m finally going to do so.Let´s start with Monday mornings.
My Monday morning schedule is the same as every other day of the school week: Up at about 7:20 to the gentle beeping of the gold plastic alarm clock which I purchased for the equivalent of $5 in an Alexandrian grocery store with Gail Rohland’s help before I left for my adventure through Upper Egypt. I open the creaky wooden door of the “built-in” armoire in which my clothes are stored on the two top shelves and several hangers to pick out my clothing for the day. Having a limited wardrobe usually makes getting dressed easier, but sometimes (especially if the laundry is late in coming) I lament having to live with five pairs of pants (of which, as a typical woman, I only wear three). Even though the weather is typically in the 70s now, I still wear pants and long-sleeves. Perhaps this too should be attributed to my limited selection, but I like to think of it as a sign of my cultural sensitivity and success in “blending in” among the Sevillanos who still consider this to be spring weather in comparison to the 115-120 which it reaches here in Andalucían Augusts and dress accordingly. As my favorite professor said a few weeks ago: “If I were to dress like you Americans now in April, what else would I have left to take off in August?”
There´s also the periodic threat that the unexpected hovering gray clouds will bathe the city in showers during my twenty-minute journey to school and later travels throughout the afternoon, so I try to be prepared. I´m strangely proud of the fact that I lived through the rainiest Sevillian winter since only God knows when (seriously) without investing a couple of Euros in an umbrella. ¿Cómo? Well you see, one rainy Monday evening in February I went to Solidarios—the volunteer organization with which we visit the homeless of Sevilla and give them decaffeinated coffee, cheap cookies and some conversation companions to help ease the monotony of life in the street—and Antonio lent me his paraguas for the evening. The following week was a holiday for the Día de Andalucía, the week after that I surrendered to my overpowering headache and restricting congestion and I went home to sleep instead of traipsing through the streets from 21:00-00:00, the following week I was one of the three Americanas who were the only ones who showed up, and the next week I came over from the public library where I had been studying five minutes after Antonio had left. The following Monday—after nothing less than five weeks of using it throughout my treks through Sevilla, Granada, Toledo and Madrid—I proudly returned the umbrella to Antonio and congratulated myself on making the most of the situation and his generosity. It´s not that I had intentionally taken advantage of him; it´s just that I had his umbrella and I didn´t have his phone number and it was raining.
Although it´s rained sporadically since then, the fact that it´s nothing in comparison to the torrent that was February and half of March supports my resolve not to succumb to that periodic voice of wisdom which tells me that it would be worth three Euros to purchase a paraguas from a Chino. It helps that I have my SEVIci (a card-activated public bicycle transportation network with stations scattered throughout all of Sevilla, for which I paid 10 Euros in exchange for the ability to use any bicycle for a half-hour at a time), that the majority of my daily walk to school can be made along the sidewalk which is covered by the upper floors of the building itself and that others are generous enough to share half of their umbrella with me as we walk. Nonetheless, I couldn´t help but ask myself if I was taking advantage of chivalry last week when my German friend from church and I huddled under her umbrella as we walked through the downpour on the way to Carmen´s house for lunch after church with the three chicos whose clothing the torrents soaked. The streams which flowed from their plastered hair lessened when two of them ducked under the battered blue and white umbrella which they found en route next to a dumpster, but I still felt guilty. But then by the time we left OpenCor with the Mexican tortillas, flan mix, milk, and Naranja soda for lunch and walked the short distance to the bus stop, the clouds had nearly cleared and I determined that I would persevere in my umbrella-less state.
After dressing I turn to devotions while I wait for Rosa to call my roommate Nicole and me for desayuno. I´ve turned to a fairly consistent diet of scripture reading (without a devotional book as a guide) during this semester: John, Galatians and now Colossians, in addition to the occasional Psalm or other passage. Every time that I open the hefty NVI study Bible which Grandma Jonker gave me (at my request) several years ago I try to remember that I´m hearing personally from the Creator rather than simply practicing reading a good book in Spanish. In doing so I´m growing in my appreciation of the practicality of scripture: it´s obviously meant to be lived rather than simply studied. I guess that´s my most recent spiritual theme: this is about life in the here and now, the transcendent downloaded into the personal, dynamic, and wonderfully significant.