The end of June

Wow, I´m terrible at keeping up with my blog. Although, I have been keeping a journal because Caitlin gave me one for my birthday right before I left. So, I never feel the need to write blog posts, and I don´t know how many people will actually read it.
So the last time I posted I think it was just before World Refugee Day, which was June 19.
It was a very good day, although strangely cold for Madrid. All the other interns and myself got there early to help set up and check people in who were attending. It was like a press conference, with Maria Jesus and Maricela from ACNUR, and a few others including the actress Elena Anaya and a refugee from Ethiopia. After they each took turns speaking, they showed the big documentary that featured Elena Anaya and her trip to a refugee camp. It was actually quite powerful and emotional and I really have just never realized the difficulties these people face and the conflicts and issues that lead them to become refugees in the first place. It is something that really interests me and I wish there was something more I could do to help. I think more people need to be aware of the situation, because I know before this I really didn´t know much about the UNHCR or refugees themselves. And doing just a little bit can go a long way.
After the event was over, we had to clean up and then the other interns and myself went out to lunch. Irene, Maria and I work in the PI department and then Lidia, Julia, and Astrid from the law department came with us too. They were all speaking in Spanish the whole time, and I can pretty much understand everything they are saying, but when I talk I just sound like a child and I know it´s frustrating for them sometimes because they try to include me in the conversation but sometimes I know it´s hard. But it was still fun to go out with them and mostly listen to what they had to say.  Afterwards I was exhausted and went home and took a great nap.
The next day Sheetal and I went with Nerissa and Hannah and some people who were visiting Hannah from Germany and got tapas at a cute little restaurant right by our apartment that I´ve never seen before. I really need to explore some more because there are so many things I haven´t discovered yet.
On Friday, Sheetal and I went to Retiro for awhile with our books and read for a couple of hours. We weren´t planning on doing anything that night because we were leaving for Toledo early the next morning. But we did decide to go out to dinner at this gluten free Italian place that Julia at work had told me about. It was fabulous. I even got gluten free bread with my pizza. It was such a treat. We had a long dinner just chatting about our trip so far and our lives back home. It was a much needed relaxing evening. Hannah thought something was wrong though when she came home that night and we were home, just watching tv. She was confused as to why we weren´t out on a Friday night. Oh dear, what must she think of us.
Saturday we had quite the journey to get to Toledo. It´s only a 45 minute bus ride away, but getting to the bus was the tricky part. We didn´t leave until around 930 and we were trying to catch a 10 o´clock bus. That did not happen. First, we took the longest way on the metro to get to the bus station where we had left for Granada from. Once we got there and we had waited in line for awhile, we decided to ask someone if we could buy tickets to Toledo in this line. The woman said we had to get back on the metro and go somewhere else to get the tickets. So back to the metro we went and finally found the right place, but then it took us awhile to figure out where to actually buy the tickets from. We finally got on the bus at 11 and got there 45 minutes later. Once we got there we also walked the completely wrong direction before asking for directions and then having to turn around and deciding to take a city bus to the center because we just didn´t want to get lost anymore. We went to the cathedral, had lunch, Rachel met us there, we ran into Rachel´s friend Brett and he walked around with us, had drinks, went to a monastery, and just sort of wandered around the city. It was a pretty hot day but it was nice to get out of Madrid for awhile and explore a different town. We stayed there until around 7 and then took the bus back home. We then made a nice homecooked dinner after getting some groceries at Dia. That night we had our first experience at Kapitol, which was very fun and then came home to our roomate´s friends at our apartment so we stayed and hung out with them for awhile.
Sunday Sheetal and I went to the rastro market again, and then ended up going to the public pool with Hannah and Nerissa and some of their friends from work. It was interesting to see what it was like and since it was a Sunday it was very crowded. Everyone just lays around on the grass and some people have picnics or read and then swim when it gets too hot. Oh, also, it´s not just beaches in Spain that are topless. Later that night we all watched a movie together and it was nice for all of us to hang out together.
Monday was a little bit of a fiasco for me because I had been planning on going to Berlin to visit Caitlin and Liz and had booked my ticket on Friday, or so I thought. But on Monday I found out that it wasn´t confirmed because of something to do with the bank. So, all day at work I was trying to figure it out and it just didn´t seem to be working. But, after work I went to Rachel´s house for the first time and I got to meet little Nacho, one of the boys she is a nanny for and we all went swimming together. Her apartment slash house is about 45 minutes from mine and much more out of the city. It was nice to feel like I was in a neighborhood, because that is something I miss from home I´ve never lived in a big city before and I miss the coziness of having your own house and yard and in a quieter space than in the busy city. The pool is shared by the surrounding apartments, so there were other people there as well. It seems like all the kids are accompanied by their nannies or housekeepers, which is interesting to me. But it was so nice to go to a pool that wasn´t crowded and full of people. After we left the pool, Amparo, Rachel´s mom, drove us to the library because we were going to get some movies and books. But, since she had something late, we weren´t allowed to. We got a little lost in translation because we thought the man was saying we had to pay 5 euros for each thing that was late for every day that was late. But he really was saying that if something was late for 4 days, then you had to wait 4 more days to check something out. So at least we didn´t have to pay a huge fee, but nothing for us. We were starving so we decided to go out to dinner before going back to my apartment. We just watched some Office and hung out for awhile before Rachel left. Oh the Office, what would I do without my seasons of the Office.
Tuesday wasn´t that busy at work so I had time to figure out what I was going to do about Berlin. I actually found a different flight that day and bought and cancelled the bus I was going to have to take with my other plan. It was such a last minute fiasco, but it actually ended up working out so well in the end. Although it was a little expensive, I got to leave Wednesday night and come back Monday, so I had a good amount of time there. I was so relieved to have figured that out. After work, Sheetal and I went to another MMDDMM, which was at Casa de Campo this time and was a kind of outdoor restaurant right by the lake and it was very nice. We met some new people, drank a lot of wine, and then stayed for drinks after, for the first time in all of our lunches. We ended up staying until around 8, but it went by so fast. Afterwards Rachel came over for awhile and I tried to get ready for my trip to Germany!
I realize I probably shouldn´t be boring everyone with my day to day accounts of my life here because that will take too long. So I will try to keep Germany brief!
I hurried home after work on Wednesday to have a snack and get my stuff before heading to the airport. I took the metro there and I found it just fine and everything went smoothly. I first flew to Frankfurt and then Berlin and got there around 1015. After a somewhat scary taxi ride, I made it to the hostel and could not have been happier to see Caitlin and Liz. Caitlin ran outside and we hugged and kind of screamed in the middle of the road like typical American girls but I didn´t care. It was all a blur because they were ready to go out as soon as I got there. We had so much fun together and it feels like a dream that I got to one go to Berlin and two see them while we were all just hanging out in Berlin. We did a lot of different things while we were there, like go to the zoo, do a walking tour, eat tons of kurrywurst and pounds of pommes – also with curry, went base flying, rented bikes, wandered around a street market, just wander around in general and also just giggle at nothing. I honestly haven´t laughed that much in a long time. They left early Monday morning, leaving me alone in Berlin for a few hours which was quite depressing, but then I went to the airport and had a smooth flight home as well and got back to the apartment around 9. It was an unbelievable trip and something I will remember for a long time. As Terri says, you guys can look back and say, “Remember that one summer we met up in Berlin and…”. Priceless.
Well, that´s all for now, I will try to stay more updated and will write more about this week later, as today is 4th of July!
And I promise I will upload some pictures very soon!
Hasta luego!
xoxo,
Al
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