Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hiking a stroll through the countryside

"Hiking? Here in Sevilla? But I don't see any mountains or deciduous trees? Where have my geography teachers failed me?"

My usual response when I was told I could go on a hiking trip with my university. Of course, we had to drive 2 hours outside the city.

After a long week of midterms and papers, the long awaited "senderismo" trip came this past Saturday. Carrying a backpack loaded with my camera, a bocadillo, and a sufficient supply of agua, I met my friends to join a group of university students and professors on a hiking trip in Grazalema, Espana. After an hour of winding through the narrow mountain roads, I realized I had underestimated the various types of terrain Andalucia offers.

After only a few minutes, I seriously felt like I was in Ireland (of course only comparing it to the movies I had seen.) The hills of green grass. The rocks. The random cattle. It was a pleasure!

What seemed to be a 10 km stroll with slight incline and decline became a hike unlike one I have ever done before. In Grazalema, the air was crisp and the rolling hills were open and clear, yet in the mountains of North Carolina through Wilson's Creek it is a luxury to have the chance to see an incredible view further than a few hundred feet as the towering trees often limit this. I cannot say that I would rather have the former, but it was wonderful to be able to see this amazing view, meet great people, and eat a bocadillo in the grassy patches of Andulucia's countryside.

Boone friends...please save up some hiking energy for me! It will be a necessary adventure when I return. (and of course my hammock is at home waiting for me as well.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009


A week at Bible Study...we have moved to a new location in a grassy area.
We didn't feel like taking over Starbucks would be the best thing to do every Tuesday.
Fiel es Dios, quien los ha llamado a tener comunion con su Hijo Jesucristo, nuestro Senor.
1 Cor. 1:9

(God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.)

My friends and I have come to the agreement that living outside the city produces a greater level of excitement for every opportunity we have to walk around downtown. Usually this happens once or twice a week.

After getting off the metro at el Prado de San Sebastian, we make our way towards the Torre de Oro, take in the river scene to our left, and eventually return past the grand Catedral illuminated by lights and the radiance of the moon. The reality is, every stroll...every glance...every night spent walking through the city serves as a way to depreciate the incredible fact that we are here, living in Spain. I remember my first metro ride as I sat wide-eyed, amazed by something as simple as a grocery store on the side of the highway. Now, I barely look out the window. Also, I used to take a picture of la Catedral every time I passed it. I now have 7 photos of it, but I have walked passed it many times more than this.

I am here, getting used to being here.

A friend reminded me this week that everything in life, everything of this world...even living in Spain, eventually fails us...our senses, our expectations, our needs. But, I don't serve a God created by human hands. As I learn more about what He is and the character which we know to define Him, that which is fleeting is incomparable to the growing desire found from knowing Him. He has called me into a relationship with his Son because He knows that the moment I taste and see that He is good, I will be starving for more. I see this happening when I watch people like my grandmother, who has been walking with Christ for many years, continues to have moments when she is overwhelmed to the point of tears by Truth and daily falls even more in love with who He is.

Yet, when everything else is fleeting, this concept is difficult to grasp...well maybe not to grasp, but to hold onto continously. This difficulty is manifested in the way I desire the world and put Him aside. But, how awesome it is to remember these Truths! "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart (and this world) may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73: 25-26

Monday, October 12, 2009

End of the World: Tour guides know what they are talking about.

The first break finally came. Yes, equivalent to our fall break with a lack of color changing leaves and wind. This past weekend, we headed on a bus to Lagos, Portugal, home of American, British, and Austrailian tourism, but well worthit considering.

After a long night of galavanting through the small town, we decided we needed to explore a bit further away from the hostel the following morning. The receptionist had shown us a map of Portugal and pointed out a very exciting stroll to the tip, which would only take about 30 minutes. How exciting to reach the end of the world! (If you know your geography, I hope your mind is processing the lack of facts in this already...If you don't, you have more credibility in understanding our unexpected adventure.)

Entonces, after an amazing free breakfast of bread, yogurt, ham, egg and cheese, juice, cafe con leche...I could go on...we put on our beach clothes, flipflops and all, and headed to la punta (the tip). After a series of questioning our route, we asked a tour guide, "Is this the road to Sagres?" (Sagres is the name of the lighthouse, something obviously found at the point of land)He assured us it was so but we avoided our doubts even though he added the words "but you need to take a bus, it's really far from here."

Ignoring advice from a semi-local, we continued onward. We began to see signs for Sagres. We saw the coast on our right and the coast on our left. The tip must have been ahead. Yet, in the heat of the day, after walking for an hour, we came upon the end of the sidewalk. This did not deter us. It should have though. Of course there was plenty of room to walk safely on the side of the highway, so we continued to do so. Two hours later, we turned a corner to see nothing but land in front of us. With the little inteligence we could scrounge up at that point, due to dehydration and loopiness, we inferred that the tip of Portugal was not ahead.

Yes, we finally turned around. We walked a while until we absolutely had to refuel with water and a snack. To our amusement, the only option was to stop at a classy golf resort. (Remind yourself as to what we were wearing...) With our burnt skin and tired legs, we sat down to eat a quick wrap amongst the many British wearing collared shirts and slacks. I asked the waiter, "How far are we from Sagres?" His reply: "Ha. About 40 kilometers." This is when we read the map. The first map we had received was only a map of Lagos. And to avoid ambiguity, the tip of Lagos is not named Sagres. However, Sagres really is the tip of Portugal. A much further walk than 3 hours. Fail on the receptionist's part. Fail on our part. But a grand and unexpected adventure nontheless.

We did actually find the tip of Lagos...the next morning. It was a 30 minute walk. Word of advice, listen to tour guides as they generally know what they are talking about.

Indicator to turn around numero uno.

The beach was beautiful!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I remember singing "I've got joy like a fountain.." on our way back from Caswell

Because I love trees. I love Spain. I love trees in Spain.

Outside the mezquita in Cordoba

Inside the mezquita...arch upon arch

Our poor attempt at timing the jump

Joys found in my life today...some hidden...some apparent...some longed for

the salvation I have been given through Jesus Christ. He is faithful when I am faithless. cool breezes through my open window. galletas de manzana con leche. the guy at the copisteria who greets me every morning with a kind smile when I have to print off my literature homework. the heladeria. seeing my family and friends faces through skype. hearing my host mom sing in the kitchen. watching her smile, close her eyes and hum while listening to a new cd. spanish conversations with my intercambio. mini dance parties while our host family is out of the house. walking. having an english teaching job. 40 cent espressos. facebook pictures. sitting amongst ten other believers in the grass near the prado. discussing 1 peter. cold water. having seen la mezquita y la synogoga en Cordoba this past weekend. the shelly moore band on myspace. giggling at the stories our host dad tells us. his attempt to speak with an american accent by deciding he would be from denver. my response as to why he had to choose denver of all places. el rio Guadalquivir at 2 am. podcasts from SWO about freedom in Christ. attempts at learning basic conversational words en frances y aleman. forgetting the words right away. wishing for peanut butter. knowing i could buy peanut butter but am too cheap to do so. being a tourist. learning words of "expression" in grammar class today. trying to be funny in spanish. prayer. abundant life.

my joy overflows....