Pilares

So I’m a bit more settled in at my schools now but I’m going to wait to write about it in the next post because here I want to write about Pilares. We have been off school since Wednesday and there has been a week long festival here just in Zaragoza called Pilares. It celebrates the patron saint of the city the virgin of Pilar so the festival is partly relies but also partly a week long festival with food, concerts, and all kinds of activities.

The first day of the festival we went to a Princess Nokia concert who is a New York rapper that we also just saw play a set at Afropunk in New York. We were right in front at the Plaza Justicia and it was really fun definitely the best music we saw during the festival.

One of the biggest days of the festival was Thursday when hundreds of thousands of people all dressed up in traditional outfits and paraded through the main Plaza Del Pilar with offerings of flowers. They made a pile of flowers the size of a building with a virgin on top. It was beautiful to see and took hours. Many groups sang and danced the traditional Jota in front of the flowers.

We also went to a bullfight. Don’t worry, I am not in favor of bullfighting but I figured I should see it once if I was going to be firm in my opinion of it. Also it seems strange to live in Spain and never see one. Turns out what they say is true, it was interesting but pretty horrible, bloody, and sad. The bullfighting arena is beautiful though and the costumes and everything are cool. Overall takeaway though was that I don’t need to see bulls slaughtered again.

This morning we went to the bullfighting arena again but this time for what they call vaquillas which means baby bulls or cows that they don’t kill. This was special for Pilares  and random people just go in the ring and run around trying to (not?) get hurt. It was really fun to watch.

Some teachers from one of my schools invited me out one night which was really nice of them and I’ve also been hanging out with several of the other Auxiliaries. It’s been a crazy and really fun little vacation and festival. Back to school on Monday, at least I have a Bici card now and can bike to work!

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My Spanish Is Latin American, Thanks

Finally getting this first post up! Hey, from Zaragoza, Spain where I have been for over a week now. The journey started in New York with Aidan and I getting some last drinks in Brooklyn with friends before our flight to Madrid, then a quick layover and a flight to Barcelona. We stayed overnight in Barcelona and it was an exciting time because of all the street protests for Independence that are happening daily. We asked our cab driver how he felt about it as we drove through crowds of people and he said, “I don’t care, I’m Pakistani.” I was like, you said you have lived inBarcelona 15 years, you really have no opinion? And he was just like, “no.” So anyways, that night we were out having dinner and there was a planned protest at 10 pm and everyone all across the city came out on their balconies and banged pots and pans yelling things like “Viva Cataluña!” So anyways it was an exciting arrival.

The next morning we took a quick train to Zaragoza. Zaragoza is the fifth largest city in Spain and yet no one in the US has really heard of it. I was pretty excited right away because it seems like a great city to live in. It’s big but really walkable and bike friendly. Tons of bike lanes and a bike share program. There’s also a good bus system and tram line. The old part of the city by the river is beautiful, Ill post a picture of the plaza.

Looking for an apartment was way more difficult than I anticipated. We spent several days running around looking at places that were all just not quite right. One was really cute but the ceilings were too low for Aidan to stand in places. We stayed in two different Airbnb’s, talked to a ton of realtors, then finally found our perfect apartment online for rent by owner and rushed over to see it. It it is located a few minutes from the train Aidan has to take to work and walking distance from where I will work. It is a new one bedroom apartment that is super nice and also has a large rooftop terrace. Ill post a picture or two of it. We went downtown to the landlords office thenext day, signed a lease and got our keys just like that. The whole apartment costs less than half of our bedroom in New York.

Dealing with everything we needed to set up has been a mission even though I already speak Spanish. I went into the electric company’s office and the water company’s office because it was too hard on the phone. We set up Spanish phones and bank accounts and the woman at the bank laughed at me because my Spanish is Latin American not Spanish. Sigh. I also really underestimated how different the Spanish is here. Foods have all different names and even some verbs are different. The first time someone texted me when they could show me an apartment they used the verb that means to teach in Latin America but they used it to mean to show. I was like thats rude, what are they teaching me? Anyways I have a lot of things to learn. We still don’t have wifi being installed until Monday but other than that we are all set and ready to start work next week!

Yesterday we met two of the other people in our program and that was really fun so I’m looking forward to meeting the rest and writing about what work is like here once I start.

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Pa’lante! I’m back

So it’s been a little while, but I am about to hit the road again and start blogging about it again (finally)! I finished school this past Spring and spent another fun summer in NYC chilling and working 4+ different jobs haha but now it is time to head out. I love this city and I will miss my apartment, friends, and general NY life but Aidan and I are moving to Zaragoza, Spain!

We applied a while ago to be English Language Teaching Assistants in Spanish public schools. We recently got our school assignments in Zaragoza, a large city situated between Madrid and Barcelona. We decided to go and applied for our visas. So here we are packing up and getting everything set for the move. We leave in about 2 weeks. I’m excited to keep you posted on what life is like working in Spain and wherever else we venture in Europe. So thanks for tuning back in 🙂 I’m excited to post pictures and stories.

Here is a picture of the city I got the other day. Use the link on the right to follow my instagram @maxineisland for my best travel pictures abroad.

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Guatemala otra vez

Aidan and I (somewhat) spontaneously planned a quick trip to Guatemala. We both took off a little time from work after the holidays and Aidan got an online winter class and we headed to Guatemala City. I hadn’t been there in nearly six years and Aidan had never been at all. It felt completely amazing to be back. Guatemala is a country that is endlessly beautiful, tiring, sad, inspiring, and lovely all once.

This is going to be a short post honestly because I’m still thinking about what exactly I want to do with this blog at this point but anyways heres a quick run down! We stayed in Antigua just outside Guatemala city over the new year, which is a nice, small, and beautiful town. The new year was really fun and we counted down in a crowded street full of people. After Antigua we went to Xela, the second city, where I used to live. I was so glad to be back and while some things have changed it’s relatively the same. I saw some old friends and we explored a lot, ate good food, and one morning went out to Chico Mendes (check it out, very cool reforestation project). We went to the lake, Atitlan, for a few days. We stayed in San Pedro which is kind of overflowing with expat hippies but we had fun and it is gorgeous. We returned to Antigua for a little bit at the end and I got to see an old friend/trip leader from my first summer in Guatemala who has a super cute new baby now 🙂 I love Guatemala and would recommend traveling there highly.

In not long I am starting my final semester of school here in New York. I don’t know for sure what I am doing after school but maybe it will be something I can blog about on here, we will see! Besos.

Israel and Jordan

Wow I got home several weeks ago now, but have been too busy to put anything on here because the morning after I flew back from Tel Aviv I jumped right into my first day of my last fall semester of school. The month I spent in Israel and Jordan was educational, beautiful, and hot.

I started the trip on a Taglit with a program organizer called Israel Experts. I would highly recommend this company to anyone thinking about Taglit because they are just a bit different than the average and super open minded. I made some amazing friends even though it was just ten days. We also had an amazing guide and group of young Israelis with us. We packed a ton into just a week and a half so it would be hard to describe it all but some highlights for me were hiking up mount Masada at sunrise, kayaking in the Jordan River, going to the borders of Gaza and Syria, the lectures we were able to hear, and the Bahai Gardens in Haifa which are gorgeous. I was surprised by just how much I loved the trip and how sad I was when it ended and I had to say goodbye to everyone.

After the trip ended I i was lucky enough to stay for a bit with some family who live in a city right by Tel Aviv called Givatayim. We went to the beach a bunch in Tel Aviv which has to be one of the best beaches on the mediterranean. We went to a Bar Mitzvah of my cousin’s cousin, and just generally went out and about in the city of Tel Aviv.

When I left my cousins I went on my own to Jordan. It took me nearly the whole day to travel from Tel Aviv to Amman. I crossed at the North border crossing near Beit She’an. The border was really quiet. I met two foreigners who shared a cab with me on the Jordan side to get to the closest city, Irbid, and take a bus to the capital, Amman. Amman was really enormous and quite an interesting city. Jordanian women are very modest, by my standards at least. I tried my best to dress appropriately but I still felt I stood out a lot which gets uncomfy after a while. I stayed in Jordan over a week and I really loved it but being a foreign woman alone there was frustrating. Jordan has a lot of incredible ruins and beautiful desert. Petra was of course a highlight and I spent most of a whole day exploring it which was incredible.

I left Jordan through Aqaba in the South. On the Israel side I was excited to comfortably wear a swim suit again and swim in the sea at the beach in Eilat. I travelled back to Jerusalem because I felt there was more to see there that I missed during Taglit. Jordan is one of the most fascinating and beautiful cities in the world I think. I spent a few days there, ate good food, wandered, and visited the dome of the rock, the old city, etc. After Jerusalem I was running out of time. I headed back to Tel Aviv for a little more time with family, the beach, and eventually my flight back to New York just in time for school.

This semester is crazy because I have a full course load, my jobs, work in a lab at school, and also I am running cross country. It’s a bit overwhelming but hopefully it goes quickly. No specific travel planned for me next at the moment but we shall see… mucho amor ❤ Oh and if you have any specific questions about travelling in Israel, Taglit, or Jordan message me. Here are a few photos: Dome of the Rock Jerusalem, Treasury in Petra Jordan, Dead Sea Israel, and with my cousins in Tel Aviv.

Summer in New York City

It is summer here in New York City but it really hardly feels like it because I am doing summer class and working. It is unbearably hot though so theres that 🙂 My summer class is called the chemistry of cooking. I am learning a lot about food structures. I can’t say it’s thrilling but we did make pretty good pancakes the other day with homemade jam. I’ve been working at the hardware store and babysitting lots. At least all the parks have the sprinklers on now which is refreshing. In the little free time I have I’ve been running a lot. I ran my first 5k race in forever the other day and it was super fun. I cannot wait for my summer class to end next week so I can enjoy the weather a bit more and maybe even head to the beach! Anyways the real reason I am posting is to let you know I do have some travel plans coming up for the end of the summer!! I am going to Israel where I have not been since I was about 14, I believe, and I am super excited. Additionally I plan to go to Jordan. Hopefully I will have time to write a bit about it on here so stay posted ❤ This pic is from last night on my roof. Super hermosa no?IMG_4910

Island Road Trip

I am back in the city for just a bit more school after a nice week in Puerto Rico road tripping around the West of of the island. Aidan and I flew into San Juan where we picked up a rental car and stayed in Condado/Santurce for a bit. We met some people at our hostel and a guy working there introduced us to some young people living in an apartment across the street so we hung over there and chatted with them all night which was cool. When we left the city first we drove straight through the middle of the island to Ponce. There is not a whole lot inland beside big gorgeous mountains. The drive is also surprisingly quick. Next we drove through Cabo Rojo which was a bit more rural and interesting of a drive. We stopped to see the salt flat and some other nice views. Then we got lunch in the city of Mayagüez. We continued on to Rincon where we stayed in an inn. Rincon is quite a cute town with a surfer vibe. We had a pool, the beach, cute coffee shops, a brewery/restaurant. We eventually continued up the coast to the city of Isabela where we had a great and cheap air b&b with an adorable puppy included. We borrowed our hosts snorkel gear and checked out some tiny fish at a beach in a town nearby called Aguadilla. We also ate some yummy fish.. When we left Isabel it was back to San Juan along the North coast. We stayed this time in Viejo San Juan where there is great food and also the oldest bar in San Juan. On our last day we drove out of the city to a town called Piñones to go to a gorgeous and very empty beach. The trip was a success and it was definitely rough to come back to some nice cold rain. Stay posted summer in the city is just around the bend. Besos. The picture is Jobos beach in Isabela just before a downpour!IMG_4715