Friday, October 30, 2009

I have left Granada. ¨Punk Rock Alley,¨ my first landmark in the city, was painted over; Rachel went back to Barcelona; the coast was calling me. The last few days inGranada were lovely though. I got to know more of the cave neighborhood, the cave I was staying in became home to five really wonderful travelers. I really love the traveler communities that form while you´re on the road. Bonds are made over cheap food and swapping stories about cities, experiences or life back home. The last few nights in the cave there was one girl from Holland, another fromAustralia, two guys from Czek, a german and me. Once, when we were all walking together, two kids took our picture as a part of their homework assignment. hahaha. We were a bit of a hippy circus.
The morning I left the cave I had a beautiful travelers send off. Only the boys were left at this point. They all woke up with me and presented me with various sweets andpastries that they had recycled from the night before, all knowing that sweets and pastries are my favorite. We ate cookies and chocolate at 9am because, in the words of one of the Czeh fellows ¨you can´t travel on an empty stomach!¨ It was all very sweet.
I got to Almeria, the southern coast of Spain around 4 in the afternoon. My final destination was about an hour or so away but the bus didn´t leave until 830pm. I don´t like arriving in new places at night. It is too stressful to have to find a safe place to sleep, food, andorient yourself in the dark. As travelers luck my have it, I met a couple about a month ago that lives near Almeria. They gave me their contact info and told me to call if I was ever in the region. I was in the Almeria bus station, with their phone number in hand, standing next to the payphone....hoping they wern´t just being nice.
I called, Juan answered. We chatted. Whew. Next thing I knew I was on a city bus to their house in nearby Retamar. Retamar, as it turns out, is the suburbia beach town adjacent to the rapidly decaying Almaria. The houses are new, the streets are wide and well lit. Sprawl at its best.
Location aside, I was welcomed into the home of Juan and Mary. I washed my clothe in a washing machine, showered in a proper bathroom (although I do miss the clandestine fountain baths), ate an amazing three course meal, and slept in a real bed. I haven´t had this combination since I left the States anddefinitely not in the cave!
Mary is from Morocco and she makes her own pastries, which we ate while drinking delicious Moroccan tea. My plan was to only stay one night, however that had to change when I woke up to find that my clothe were not yet dry and that Mary was planning to ¨prepare the couscous.¨ I have made couscous before, you probably have too. I would never call it ¨preparing.¨It is simple...or so I though. I then assumed that this was big. Tasty big.
Yep. It was. A huge platter of couscous, veggies, chicken (yep, I ate it), garbanzos, caramelized onions and a tasty mix of Moroccan spices. Yes, this was worth sticking around another day for.
In the evening, we went into Almeria so Juan could run some errands. This left me two hours to andar through the town. I started by going to the ¨tourist zone.¨ Hummm..not so much. I spot the Plaza de Torros, where they have bullfights. With ample time and tourist desires to fill, I walk towards it. It is closed. But through the gates I can see young boys, maybe 12 years old, practicing to be bull fighters. I watch as they fling the red blanket around as a pair of horns, backed by another boy runs at them full speed. Then they take out a bull on wheels. One boy pushes the bicycle bull and the others take turns stabbing in the back of the head with two swords. I watch all of this until my presence becomesembarrassingly awkward.
I will consider this experience my official bullfighting experience and will never feel the cultural urge to go to a real one. Another cultural experience I can check off is seeing a real flamenco dancer. One day, while eating clementines at a friends cave, his neighbor came out and started dancing. She is a flamengo dancer in a tourist joint downtown and was practicing for her show that evening. It was pretty amazing.
So now the plan is to find the hippy beach near Cabo de Gata that everyone keeps talking about and stay there for a week or so. Then I´ll work my way north, poco a poco. Love!
ps i saw a store that sells manaquins. the display windows were full of naked manaquins. haaha

this is a bit outdated...ill update soon. xo

“Everyone here came for one night, went out to the bars and woke up seven years later,” a man in the park yesterday told me. He is from Italy. The caves, the Albyzin, the guitar music and the beautiful environment and stable, sunny climate bring people here from all over the world. Why am I here? I’ve been here for close to three weeks already. Generally, I follow a routine as follows: wake up when the sun is high enough to light up the cave, carry my sleeping pad outside to a flat spot on the hill which has just enough tree cover to nearly disguise the city below and do 30-45 minutes of yoga, stretching and pushups. Once I’ve warmed my body up, I pack my bag for the day, grab my hula hoop and walk down the trail to San Miguel. At the fountain in San Miguel I brush my teeth, fill up water, sometimes take a bit of a bird bath shower and then continue down the recently installed staircase to the Albyzin. Without stopping, this walk takes 30 minutes. The next task is to find a café to order café con leche (which I douse in sugar) and pan con tomate. At this point, sometimes it is late enough for me to order a cerveza and receive my free tapa, but I’ve never done this. I sit in the café, usually with Rachel. We usually try and track down all of their outlets to charge our electronics, ensuring that she has music to make jewelry to and I’ve got computer battery. At the café, I write and she draws and we talk about our lives back home. In the afternoon, it is off to the park or the Mirador, a tourist viewpoint where Rachel sells her jewelry and I hula hoop. We eat a light lunch of bread and banana. The sunsets are best spent in the park drinking liters of beer or at the cave making dinner with the last bits of daylight. By this time, we are usually both starving and we begin to prepare dinner using the beer can stove that I fashioned for us a while back. Dinners are simple: lentils and tomatoes, pasta and garbanzos, the occasional splurge of a can of tuna. Evenings are up in the air, sometimes we stay in the cave, sometimes we go back into town. It’s a one hour minimum walk back to the cave from the center of town and we always take this into consideration.
When I first got here, I felt restless with this routine. I didn’t feel like I was spending my time abroad wisely. I wasn’t exploring the country, having crazy experiences, seeing new things etc. I talked about this to Rachel and another friend. We discussed the upcoming months of my life: Copenhagen and Palestine. These will undoubtedly be very intense months where I will need to be in the best mental state possible.
I generally feel that I don’t have many emotions. That I am a very stable person. That I have the ability to block hindering feelings during times of stress or difficulty. This is generally an asset. It allows me to move more easily from one task to the next or juggle multiple at once thus, increasing my productivity. However, I am beginning to realize that this trait is good for in-the-moment occasions, but it often leaves me without the ability to fully process, understand and learn from the experiences after they have occurred.
And that is where the value of my life in Granada comes in. I am allowing myself, with the help of great new friends, to experience, feel and process my actions and emotions. In the upcoming months, I think that I will be very grateful for the time I spent in Granada.
I’ve also struggled with the privilege that I feel I have, especially during my travels. I fully understand that the opportunity to travel is very rare and I am very lucky to have it. Sometimes this leaves my feeling guilty…perhaps I should be doing more. I’ll never know the answer to this. I’m learning about myself, about the world, but is it at the expense of someone/something else? The Elliott State Forest is still being cut down, there is winter gardening to be done, an LNG pipeline that needs to be stopped.
While I was walking down the stairs today, I thought about these things. I tried to put them into perspective. By the time I reached the bottom (there are about 250 stairs), I came to the conclusion that I cannot. I don’t know all of the factors in the world, and even if I did, what about the unknowns? The forces of the full moons? When stars align? When people act out of pure love and spontaneity? It’s too much. I decided to fall back my time-tested mantra of trusting others to do what is right for them and the people they love and trust that each person is working in their own way to create the world that they want to live in and the happiness as a result of these actions will be enough to keep us going.
And that is where I’m at. I am coming to understand how I interact with the world now, and how I want to interact with it in the future. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to be here, to have the time to do this. I hope that I will do a better job of letting emotions in, taking time to experience them and in the end, learn from them. And that is why I am still in Granada.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Granada. Oh, Granada.
I’ve been here for about a week and a half and although I want to visit the beach and nearby hot springs, cannot bring myself to leave this city. I have moved out of the house of South American jewelry makers, and into a cave overlooking the city. Cave life is quite common in Granada. Once occupied by gypsies or used as hideouts during the Spanish civil war, these spaces are now available for squatting.
Life in Granada is more than leisurely. It is super easy to live cheaply in this town and they take their afternoon siesta and Sunday as a day of rest seriously. Not even the dogs bark at you on Sundays.
While there is sprawl in Granada, most of the places I go are centrally located. First, there is the Albyzin. This is the old city of Granada. The houses are all white, the streets are all narrow, 3 meters wide, at best. I never really know where I’m going when I walk through the Albyzin because it all looks the same. It is small enough that if you have a general direction, you are probably fine. The only way that I can tell where I’m at is by memorizing the graffiti, which sometimes spans whole blocks. For example, when I lived with the South Americans, I knew that if I went down hill at “punk rock ally,” an ally which was painted as a tribute to the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, I was almost home. The graffiti here is amazing. Beautiful murals and intricate stencils.
In the hills above the Albyzin is San Miguel, an asylum for young boys. The caves of Granada are also located in these hills. It is a strange relationship that would never be allowed to exist in the States. Cave dwellers use the communal fountain at San Migual to collect water, wash laundry and take showers. Their parking lot is also a favorite for late night partying and car camping. Many of the “established” caves are located along the newly installed, ½ mile staircase leading up to San Miguel. Some of these caves have, water, electricity, a postal box marked “Cuava No. ##“ and one even has a separate cave for the family horse!
To get to my cave, you go past San Miguel, past the new condo development (wtf!?!) up the path of the next mountain and you’re almost there. It is about a 45 minute walk from downtown to the cave. The cave I live in is near the top of the mountain, about 50 meters away from Zona Militar. A military base where I’ve heard they develop technology for the USA and Israel. It has a small entrance, about one meter x one meter. It opens up into a cave that is big enough to stand up in and goes back about 40 feet. The cave has been outfitted by all dumpstered goods. It is quite impressive. The fellow who resides there full time is named Mira, and he is a master recycler, as they call it here. Right now it is Mira, myself, my friend Rachel that I met in Barcelona and another friend named Shanti live in the cave. It is plenty big for all of us.
Some of the highlights of the past week in Granada have been: the amazing feast Rachel and I had at Taran’s house (a friend of friend from Eugene who is also living in a cave in Granada). Taran’s mother and her friend are visiting from Independence, Oregon and they invited us over for a small dinner party with them and a few of their friends from Granada. There was orange bread, hummus, prawns, spicy peppers, roasted red pepper soup, potatoes and homemade sangria. The best part of the meal however, was the Chula hot sauce that Taren’s mom brought him from the States. Apparently he has been missing hot sauce just as much as I have. Oh, the funniest part of the night was when Taren met us down in Plaza Nueva. I wasn’t sure if I would recognize him, since it had been years since we’d met (on the infamous midnight rafting trip, actually). But luckily, I noticed a fellow walking through the plaza in Chacos…the official shoe of Oregon. I, also wearing Chacos, walked up to this guy and it was, of course, Taren.
Another highlight of Granada life was the night that I was able to scale the 15 foot wall to reach the ripe pomegranate tree on the other side. I had been drooling over this tree since the day I got here. So many; so ripe. Then on one lucky night, Rachel and I were walking home and…a car! A car was parked next to the wall. Being just drunk enough to work out the details in my mind, I scaled the car and hopped the wall. We brought home about 50 pomegranates that night.
I’ve also improved my hooping skills a ton here. I met a woman from Argentina who learned to hoop in Mexico. She has taught me tons of tricks. I also found a shop in Granada to buy sparkle tape. Well worth the 8 Euro spurge. So now my hoop looks beautiful!
There are also a few really wonderful meet up points in Granada which Rachel and I, along with most other travelers and artisans frequent. One is the Mirador, a viewpoint for the Alhambra. And the other is a park, the most amazing place to watch the sunset. Granada is a mecca for guitar players around the world and in the evenings they meet in the park and play together. During the day there are drum circles which create a nice beat for hooping.
Alright, this seems to be the end of the report for now. Love.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

It is hard to find an appropriate time to sit down and write a blog update. I keep a travel journal too and have just started translating it into Spanish to (hopefully) improve my vocabulary and it takes a long time at each entry. But here I am, on a bus between Sevilla and Granada, I have just finished one of the most amazing books that I have every read (actually, listened to on my iPod): Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine. I will never recommend another book to anyone, unless they have read this one first. It begins to answer the modern day Ishmal-ian question of “how things came to be this way.”
Alright, so now I am Andulucia, or southern Spain. Where according to one guy I met “the people are so hungry that they eat their letters.” Meaning that they have the strongest lisp in all of Spain. I made the decision to leave Barcelona after spending about two weeks there sola and while I met wonderful people and really enjoyed myself, the juxiposition between the shadowed and narrow streets and the bright sunshine of the human-made Mediterranean beach was starting to get to me. In addition, I was craving place where I, as a fair skinned, red haired, young American girl, could be a little more inconspicuous.
The decision to go to Sevilla was made by Sara and Christian. They had heard of a psy-trance music festival outside of Sevilla and since they just ended the festival circuit in northern Europe and were craving more, we decided to go. I think I have made more jokes about psy-trance festivals than actually considered going to one so I was eating my past words a bit and trying to be more open-minded.
Nope. No need actually. The “festival” was horrible. One small music tent, one makeshift food vendor, no bathrooms and no running water. Plus, it was not “just outside of Sevilla!” As it turns out, you had to take a bus from Sevilla to Fuenteridos, about 2 hours away! Luckily, I had a very foreigner moment of confusion and just walked onto the bus with what I thought was a free ticket (actually a bus schedule) and didn’t have to pay the 7 Euros. You see, the website for the festival mentioned a free bus to the festival site. Since I assumed that it was close to Sevilla, I assumed that they had made some arrangement with the bus company to compensate them for all festival-goers tickets. What they actually meant was that once you get to Fuenterhidos, there would be a shuttle, sometimes, to the site.
I was traveling sola at this point so I didn’t have anyone to rescue me from my silly logic. Whoops. Hula hoop to the rescue!! About halfway to Fuentriedos (and Portugal btw), the guy in front of me asks what the blue sticks are in my pack. I tell him about the collapsible hula hoop I’ve made and my subsequent travels. As it turns out, he participated in some forest defense in Sevilla where they were trying to cut down trees in a Plaza to make room for parking. He brought this up first, not me. We swapped living-in-tree stories for awhile then he shared with me the actual details of the festival. I was surprised to say the least. He isn’t going to the festival but the kid in front of us is and we are introduced. He says to come with him in Fuenteridos, that his friend is coming to pick him up and can take me too. Sure, why not? So, I’m sitting in plaza in this tiny town, about 30 miles from Portugal with this guy I just met on the bus, waiting for his friend. To my surprise, someone shows up and introduces himself to me as a friend of the guy and points to the car. I get in and we start driving…and driving. The website said that the festival was very close to Fuentridos. Well, its not. And when we get there, police are at the entrance to the driveway, checking a car of dreadlocked twentysomethings. We don’t pull in. Instead, we keep driving, pull off about a mile away, I get out for a breather while the guys make some minor adjustments to their luggage, we get back in, dar una vuelta and drive past the cops. Whew. Apparently, the festival isn’t exactly permitted. In fact, it is in a natural reserve. And the cops show up a few times, and sometimes fly over in helicopters. Whoops.
All things aside, there were two highlights of the festival. The first was the site. I camped up on a hill, above and away from the festival, in a grove of cork oak trees (the kind used to make wine corks). They are beautiful and shed their bark naturally, exposing a burnt red skin below. The second highlight was meeting a really cool girl named Zeta. She is from Hungary, living in Sevilla and studying computer science. She, like me, is not impressed with the festival and we bond over this. I end up parting ways with the Germans and going back with her to Sevilla and staying at her house. We drink tinto de verano (red wine and lemon fanta) and go to a flamenco show.
The next day, I go tourist-ing with one of her very nice roommates, Roxanna, around Sevilla. We go to an amazing old government building called Plaza Espanya. I think photos will be up on facebook soon. Everything is closed across Spain because it is a national holiday so it makes it a little difficult, but we spend the afternoon walking along the river that runs through the city, practicing Spanish and stopping for photo opportunities.
Did I mention that it was 39 degrees Celsius? Yep. Take that. Actually, right now it is 9:30pm and 23 degrees, according to the bus driver.

Trip booked his ticket today for Copenhagen! I am very excited to be in Copenhagen, even more so with him. I have been thinking a lot about my role there. And have decided that since I feel like I have vested interest in the fate the global climate, and that the direction we are currently going in isn’t even curbing our carbon footprint, that it is important for as many people to act as possible so that the solutions, if any, that come out of Copenhagen, best reflect the values of the people. That said, there is a global day of action happening October 24th. It is going to be huge in the States and I have seen lots of ads for actions here too. Go to to see what you can do to make our voices heard.
The other thing that I’ve been thinking about a lot is Trip and mine’s three months in Palestine. We are gong to take a ferry across the Mediterranean after the Copenhagen to join Code Pink’s Gaza Freedom March. Joining the march is pretty much our only chance of getting into Gaza and helping/documenting the apartheid state. I think that Trip explains our motivations for going best, so I’ll just paraphrase what he said. Throughout history there have been horrible atrocities, acts of despicable, unthinkable injustice. When you learn about them, you can’t help but ask your elders “Where were you? Did you try and stop this?” I fear that one day, a younger generation will learn about Palestine, in the same way that I learned about South American coups and past wars. I fear that they will ask me those same questions and I will have no response; because I did not respond.

Ok, we are almost to Granda, where I will stay for a few days with some more South American artisans, hopefully to be joined by Rachel from Barcelona in a few days and we can go camping! I hope that everyone back home is doing well. Feel free to send me emails about what you’re up to, daily life is fine. I heard that the leaves are changing, I’m sure the Campbell Club (perhaps Lorax?) is prepping for the Halloween party and Students for Choice is tabling at the Street Fair.

Oh, the other thing. I’ve been having the most vivid dreams the past few nights. They have all involved family members and last night the coop family. I must be thinking of you all so much that you show up in my dreams too! Love!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I have been in Barcelona sola for almost two weeks. It has taken me until now to get into the rhythm of traveling alone and without a lot of income. At first, I was always worrying about not having a place to stay, or something to occupy my time. Living without a plan out of a backpack is very very new to me and very very difficult for a Virgo personality.
I have spent the past few days with the young couple from Germany. They just got off the Psytrance music festival circuit and are traveling with a friend of theirs in a big green caravan. Sara spins a mini staff (about 2.5 feet long) and Christian plays the drums. Those two, plus me hula hooping, were able to create a small show and perform for tips from tourists. From there, we met a bunch of street performers and jugglers and made friends with them too.
It has been fun getting to know the city with Sara and Christian. They are really good at making friends with everyone. A few days ago we went to Parc Guell and ended up drinking beers with the Kung-Fu guy and finding a place for me to stay via a conversation with a Colombian jewelry artist!
For the past few days I’ve been staying at this really cool house way beyond the center of Barcelona (about 30 minutes by train then another 30 minute walk uphill). The house is occupied by a handful or so of South American jewelry makers. It is a fun place to be. I’ve been sleeping on a mattress on the patio under the nearly full moon. In the mornings we make a Latin breakfast of scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions and bread. From there, I usually leave the house, where at this point they have all finished their first, sometimes second joint and have begun to make jewelry with the sounds of the scrambled Spanish television in the background. I don’t understand the TV thing. It is obvious that there is no reception and a lot of the time there is an iPod playing as well, yet no one thinks to turn off the TV.
Last night, Sara, Christian, another German named David and I set out to visit a squatted ecovillage. The squat is, like the house I am staying at, very far from the center of Barcelona. It is located in an old hospital in a Lepers colony. They have turned it into a beautiful community center, café, garden, and sustainable housing unit for about 30 people. We went because we had heard that Sunday’s they gave tours of the place and served a big meal. However, when we arrived we found that the tours had been cancelled due to a circus performance! So we ate huge plates of pesto pasta, salad and vegan cake and watched a really really amazing circus complete with clowns, trapeze, dancing, band, cabaret and hula hooping! I have put in an email to the squat to maybe stay there for a few weeks later this month. Everyone was so busy with the circus that I didn’t get a chance to find someone that actually lived there.
On Monday the German couple went south to prepare for another psytrance music festival being held near Sevilla. I spent the day with another pair of jewelry makers, this time two ladies. Monday night I lost track of the time and missed the last metro to where I was staying. So, slightly tipsey from a little wet from drinking wine on the beach with David, I went to their house where they let me sleep. I think I’m going to stay there for a few days.
Overall, I am loving being in Barcelona. I can buy a bottle of Spanish wine for .81 Euros, swim in the ocean, make small jewelries, hula hoop, eat warm baguettes and free “distressed” produce from the market. It is a very minute-to-minute lifestyle.
I think I’m going south soon. Perhaps to meet with the Germans at the festival or to some cave houses that people keep talking about in Cabo de Gata. Once November begins I’ll start going north to prepare for COP 15. After COP I think that Trip and I will go to Egypt for a CodePink march into Gaza ( ). From there, we will stay in Palestine for about three months. After our tourist visas expire, a new plan to either: go back to the States, stay in Palestine, or travel around for another month will be made.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Greetings! I´m still in Barcelona, staying at a really great house on the opposite side of Tibidaldo (where the chruch/amusement park is located). I´m going to visit an ecovillage just outside of Barcelona today! Lots of love.