One Trash Can Full of Tissues Later…

I’ve pretty much been sick in bed all week. It’s been rough and I’m still not all the way better, so I’m taking it easy this weekend.

Last weekend almost immediately after I posted the previous entry I made a split second decision to accompany the other grammar class on a field trip. There are two different grammar levels and the class that I am not in were going to go to the hometown of their teacher, Vicky, who is from a town called Ontinyent. There is a photo album designated to this outing, which ended up being pretty fun…poorly organized, but fun.

Props to Mom who brought to my attention that many reading my blog probably have no idea when I post a photo album entitled merely “Ontinyent” that it is a town, and if they figure out it is a place, that there is only a very slim chance that anyone will know where it is. In an attempt to satisfy the curiosity of my mom and others like her, I will now attempt to utilize the function on this blog that allows the insertion of images directly into the text. I have not attempted this before because I was worried that it would increase the load time of my blog page which would render the reading experience slower and more frustrating. Please feel free to comment on this entry to let me know if this is the case. I will take this opportunity to mention that commenting on anything that I write is always welcome. See the bottom of any entry to locate the link that allows you to post.

First, this is where The region of Valencia is located in relation to the entire country of Spain (it’s the orange)

Click Here for my Google Map

As for the other places that I have been in Spain, Barcelona is North of Valencia almost all the way at the top. Madrid is inland in the very center of Spain and Andalucía is the entire region to the South of Valencia. Valencia is not just a city, it is also the name of one of the 17 autonomous communities of Spain…sort of like states. Ontinyent is located within the La Communidad de Valencia slightly south of the city and more inland. The following map has Valencia City indicated by the pink arrow and Ontinyent indicated by the green.

Click Here for my Google Map

The image quality appears to decrease considerably, but you can still see the pink and green. So hopefully now everyone is clear on where I have been.

Ontinyent is about an hour an a half outside of Valencia by both bus and train. Vicky’s family is one of native Valenciano speakers and both her grandmothers live in the house. They tried speaking to us in Valenciano but we didn’t understand very much. They were sweet though. Her whole family was too good to the twelve or so of us that went on the excursion. As soon as we got there we were greeted with cups of the most delicious hot chocolate any of us has ever tasted. There was a giant pot of it on the stove and it just kept coming. It was like drinking fudge. Vicky had full days planned for us and we took a tour of the city which was given in Valenciano. We tried to understand but mostly I think we ended up letting our minds wander and taking in the beautiful day. The tour ended at a bar that we called “La Cueva” (the cave) but I think it had another name. They gave out free samples of tapas and every person on the tour got a bottle of wine for free! We got to sample the wine at the bar as well and it is pretty delicious.

We returned to the bar that night to see what the night life in Ontinyent was like. It isn’t really a small town, it is actually a city, but the social life felt very small because it is apparent that everyone knows everybody else’s business. Everyone at the bar knew Vicky and we got some good Spanish practice. This is the point at which I discovered that I broke the LCD display on my camera. I was really upset, obviously, but Jacky made me feel better and took away my camera so I couldn’t look at it. I realized later that my camera has lasted me a surprisingly long time considering how much I put it through its paces. It’s lasted me for two and a half years of pretty solid picture-taking. The battery was shot and there are about seven newer models that have been put out since I bought it. Since my parents will be coming to see me in *less than two weeks* I ordered a new camera so I don’t even have to pay shipping to Spain. In a way, if I was going to break my camera, this was the best way to do it. I am going to Paris in less than a week and I will have to take pictures there with only the view finder, but at least my camera still takes pictures. I have to guess as to the battery meter and flash settings though as those require the LCD screen. Ah well. It’s only a weekend.

We stayed at a hostel in Ontinyent (my first time ever in a hostel) and the next day we hiked up to a river source in the countryside. It was beautiful but no one brought enough water or picnic blankets, so we were all dehydrated and had no where to sit because the ground was a mud-hole. It was still quite a good time and we took the bus home that evening.

I woke up on Monday sick as a dog and stayed in bed almost all week. I went to class on Monday and Tuesday but it was not a good call, so I skipped class on Wednesday and spend the whole day in bed watching episodes of Scrubs and House on the computer. I’m still really beat and need to rest a little more, but I am on the mend I think. This week I need to prepare for Spring Break so I have to get better. Here is the itinerary:

March 14: Break begins after my classes end; Flight to Paris with Amytza to meet up with Melanie, Karen, Brenna and Kait.
March 15-17: Ridiculously amazing time in Paris
March 17: Flight back to Valencia with Amytza
March 18-19: experience Las Fallas (there will be an extensive entry on this festival which is the loudest and craziest that Spain has to offer, so if you don’t know what it is yet you will in a little over a week.)
March 20: Sleep (Fallas requires all night partying)
March 21: Mom and Dad arrive.
March 21-23: Showing Mom and Dad everything I’ve been writing about in Valencia.
March 24: Ridiculously early flight to Italy to meet up with Mike and Lizanne!!!! (Australian Parents from when I studied abroad in high school)
March 24-30: Italy with Mike and Lizanne. We will be going to Florence and Orvieto.
March 30: Train to Rome, Flight to Valencia.
March 31: Party is over, back to school.

I really don’t think I need to say how excited I am to be doing all of this. I have a lot of loose ends to tie up this week before I go including matriculation into my classes! I’ll do my best to write about everything as it happens, but who knows. I think it will be crazy, but also really really fun. Right now in Valencia, preparation for Fallas has started in earnest complete with children walking around in traditional Spanish garb and firecrackers going off a few times an hour. Stay tuned for a description later. I don’t think I’ll really be able to explain it until I have lived it…and probably not even then.

I hear it’s getting warmer in Jersey! Congrats! Spring is not far off. Until next time.

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