I decided, that it is time to summarize the first two months I spent in the country. To be honest, it has passed by so fast, that I didnt even stop and took time to realize how much I've learnt. But lets just start with the beginning...
After two and a half months in Israel, I made a few friends and met some really amazing people who I still miss. It was the first time for me that I left my country and my group of friends for a longer period, and realized that the world has a lot more to offer. In the sense of beauty, values, friendship, love, and human relationships in general. To get to know these special people really blew my mind - the fact, that there are individuals thinking the same way, going through the same struggles and experiences, very far away from my home. It was hard to let this experience go, but now im here, Im definitaly more as a person and I still appreciate that part of my life.
My next stop was France, where I spent 3 weeks which you can read about in my previous post. I was more than excited about this new phase that was ahead of me, in Spain. I really wanted to settle down, i felt a bit exhausted even if few months of travelling doesnt seem too much, but believe me, if youre constantly moving around, it is. I wanted the same people around me for a while, with some consistency and daily routine. I was really tired of constantly saying goodbye...
I had this hungarian friend Noncsi, who told me about this opportunity. She is also a volunteer at this organization. Right now, im doing ESC (European Solidarity Corps), former EVS volunteering for 9 months, and I will finish in December. I live in a small place called Maracena, which is basically a part of Granada city. My job has a lot of variety, starting from making workshops for autistic children, visiting the retired people and making some fun activities for them, also some office work... it depends. Right now, we prepare for the Colonias, which is a 4 turn children camp for 800 spanish niños. I work for the city hall of Maracena, and they provide me accomodation and some money for food and other things. You can look for similar opportunities on the Salto Youth page or in facebook groups like Youth In Action, or Erasmus Projects.
|Daniela (Portugal) and emoji games that we still dont know the purpose of|
|Recycling workshop for old people|
|Lovely volunteers on the cultural café that we organized|
After this brief introduction, I will get to more personal things and how I lived this experience so far.
At the beginning (at the really beginning), I have to tell, I wasnt happy. My friends can tell, I was complaining a lot, but my head and heart were still in Israel and in France, so I think, that was a huge hindrance for me to relax and enjoy the moment. On top, I didnt like what greeted me. First of all, I got in a flat with an italian guy, who didnt really speak any language I do (did), so the communication between us was a disaster. I am really the kind of person who likes to live with others, I appreciate a good conversation and things like that, so for me it was disappointing. On the other hand, the other 3 volunteers were 3 girls, and they were already very close and I didnt feel like trying to get into that circle. On top, I didnt know anyone in Granada.
But! That was only the first week. That week really seemed long but just because I didnt do a lot of things, I was talking with my friends on the phone at least to get some emotional support. After that, I told myself that I had enough of this, I need to stop complaining because one thing that I've learnt during my travels is that I cannot live like waiting for the opportunities to fall into my lap. I decided Im going to do something which makes me happy, Im going to go to Granada to meet people from couchsurfing and explore. I requested a bike I went and met a local guy Richard, also some travellers who were really nice. As a small group we even went hiking together. Richard was very knowledgeable and eager to share everything he knows about Spain which I really appreciated.
|Hiking around Generalife|
Also, when I told him I like drum and bass, goa and psytrance, he advised me to go to Quilombo club, which is still one of my favourite place in the city. Thats how life started to get interesting here... this experience was like a snowball for me, because through couchsurfing and through Quilombo, I met more and more people, and suddenly I realized that now I have to think about making time to sleep.... filling my days with activities wasnt a problem anymore. Even though I wasnt always feeling like that, of course I had some ups and downs, when I felt alone and didnt get along well with the volunteers... that can happen. But these small phases went away pretty quickly, and luckily I could talk about this with my mentor.
|Día de la Cruce symbol|
|Beautiful fields around Maracena|
|I feel so happy that I can eat whatever I want finally haha|
I'm not going to write everything that happened in these two months but I will recall some of the highlights because there are a few.
First of all, when i started to go to quilombo I became really a fan. I met such strange people who were intriguing at the same time, with their own unique style. I had so much fun all the time I went there, and it made me realize how much I love dancing, enjoying those vibes and making connections. Lot of people told me to not go there because its a dangerous place and everyone is wasted there... but what this experience gives me is totally personal and if it fills me up with energy and happyness, then why not. For someone who doesnt share the same moment, its hard to explain, i know.
I think, through this, I became more confident with my body and letting go of my fear of dancing in front of others, because these people really dont care how you look like or what moves do you have... the only important thing is that you enjoy and I definitely enjoyed each time. Also I feel like dancing sometimes is an easier way to connect for me, than starting a conversation.
Thats how i met M, a guy who I liked from the moment I saw him. He was really immersed in the music each time, but one day when I was talking with his friend, he got involved in the conversation. We had really good connection from the beginning and I really enjoyed talking to him because I felt like our brains are wired pretty similarly. And the music was there so at the same time we were floating and enjoying the moment. We painted on each others faces which were very unique moments, but after a while I never saw him again.
Anyways, I know there are more places like this in Granada and I cannot wait to explore them.
|Its hard to get myself to sleep with this state of excitement after a party|
|Granada festival - La Semana Santa - procession|
Another nice experience which happened to me on the first week, was visiting Orgiva and Beneficio. Beneficio is a small place in the mountains, like a permanent rainbow gathering, people living in a community, sustaining themselves by stepping out of society. There I stayed with Asami and Giovanni, a japanese-italian couple who hosted me. I was amazed by their genuine love for simplicity and music. I also realized, i need more than that in my life. I realized i dont want to step out totally from the system because for making a change its not beneficial. Anyways, it was nice to see these peoples lifestyle and they definitely gave me some motivation to learn music because its such a beautiful and pure way of expressing.
|Giovanni gave me this to practice guitar|
|The fanciest "house" in the community|
I met Almud, a beautiful german girl, who is very much into yoga and nutrition, like me, and on top we had very similar experiences in life that we could talk a lot about. We met on a bus by accident on the way to the Bolonias, with a guided trip, and we spent a great day (few hours) there in the sand. She is coming back in september and i cant wait to spend more time with her.
I also met J., on a couchsurfing event, who is a cool british guy and we danced a lot in a reggae club, then in Quilombo. Another time, when M. was there, he invited me to his friends afterparty, which was quite interesting for me. These people are totally different from what I see day by day... their endless love for the beats is incredible, their unique looks capture the eyes and they are so open and accepting... lot of them dont have jobs but they enjoy the waves of music without any difficulty. I felt comfortable with them. We had one huge thing in common - the music. We didnt even have to talk or anything, in order to feel connected, that is what I really like about it.
But I would like to write a bit more about the spanish way of living, through my eyes. First of all, a few basic things which are obvious to everyone who is living here, but not for those who doesnt know anything about the country -
1. The capital is Madrid, not Barcelona (maybe I was the only one who didnt know, in this case ignore this point and dont judge my general intelligence based on this hahaha)
2. The country is huge and there are a lot of dialects, for example in Catalunya they speak catalan, in Valencia they speak valenciano which are very similar to spanish but different as well (for example they say that catalan is more like french).
3. People start to go out usually after midnight, at least the people I know :D And it was hard for me in the beginning, because I am used to a totally different rhythm with no siesta during the day, and with earlier nightlife.
4. There is a siesta every day from 2-5 pm because of the heat.
5. The heat is unbearable during the summer (now already I feel it is too much).
6. Andaluzian accent is different, than in the north of Spain because they leave the "s" letters from the end of the words (eg.: instead of todos, they say todo), most of the time (but I think its not much harder to understand).
7. As far as food goes, its definitely not a vegan paradise, not like Tel Aviv where I felt soo much in heaven in this sense... If I go to Mercadona (typical supermarket here) for something quick, it takes me like 30 minutes to find something which is not chips... and even then the only thing might be fruit which im not craving when Im hungry.
So, I dont want to generalize but from what I've seen and whats considered to be typical spanish breakfast is something sweet like bakery, with coffee probably, or baguatte and olive oil with tomato sauce... for lunch, I cannot say any typical because I never eat out at that time, but I can mention some typical spanish dishes like paella (fried rice and veggies with seafood or other meat), tortilla, spanish omelette (eggs and potatoes), patatas bravas, gazpacho, end so on... to be honest, I never really eat these because mostly I cook for myself to save money (except for dinners sometimes) and to remain vegan of course :D. For dinner, tapas is the most popular. It is a small portion of spanish cuisine, like patatas bravas (potato and spicy sauce), guacamole, gazpacho, seafood, jamón (ham) and bread, or any kind. Ive visited some vegan tapas bars and they had seitan sandwich, albondigas (meatballs from lentils) which is also famous in spain. Apart from that, taco tex, tortilla, bocadillas (sandwich) in every amount. In Andalucia, tapas is like that: you order a drink (beer or wine) and you just pay the price of the drink and get these small portions of food for free. Typical beers are Alhambra (which is produced here in the region), or Estrella (from Galicia), wine is mostly Tinto de Verano which is wine+syrup basically.. and of course Sangria - another sugary, wine mixture with fruit chunks.
|At the vegan tapas bar with Eu|
One tapas cost like 2-2.50 eur, which is a very good price. Andaluzia is quite cheap in general.
What ive learnt recently that tapas doesnt always come with drink, for example in Valencia it just contains the food.
Anyways, its partially good, because you can get drunk and have a full stomach at the same time, partially not because sometimes I feel like, joder, i dont want to drink that much beer or wine, i just want to have dinner... but its still a nice thing.
8. I met a japanese guy, Kenji, who was taking a language course and he told me that he had this idea about spanish people that they are always sleeping... I found it really funny, because that shows how the japanese work moral is different and probably from what he has heard from the country he thought that every spanish person is lazy. True, that spanish people take their time, but I think its nice and a useful habit to learn because in this way youre never in a hurry. But to be more serious, I think taking time for yourself is always beneficial and shouldnt be frown upon, its good for your health and harmony, and if its built into the culture thats even better.
|Emotion games for autistic children with the help of Goffredo|
|my italian flatmate eating italian pasta that he ordered from Italy|
|monodrama about the picture of a woman in the society|
|coolest bicycle ive seen (Barcelona)|
Being here makes me more hardworking in general. Im really happy here and want to develop myself, get some new skills, thats how i got the idea of making music - guitar, and electronic. I was joking at the beginneng, with learning how to be a DJ, when i saw that Quilombo is looking for one... but it really crossed my mind, how cool would it be to mix drum and bass and flamenco (flam and bass) and to play for others. I always wanted to experience how does it feel like. Anyways, this is one of the many projects I want to do, lets see. Another thing I plan to do is food rescue. I searched for local organizations and I finally found one in Granada which Im really happy for. I really want to continue what I did and learnt in Israel, because I think food waste is a really important issue.
What I dont like much is that during siesta, everything is closed, and my routine is like that: during the day, I run the errands, things like that, and the evening is for rest or socializing, but if I have to do everything in the evening, I end up leaving out something which is usually the rest. In the past few weeks, I especially have left sleeping out from my schedule. I originally have this fear of missing out if I dont go to a party or somewhere, and as my connection circle started to widen, I heard about more and more opportunities and parties, so I felt like I couldnt say no... on top, I attended my On Arrival Training near Barcelona last week, which was an amazing experience (next post), but then I also ended up with serious sleep deprivation. After that, I decided to take it a bit easier, because I started to feel that my body and brain doesnt quite agree with this lifestyle. Lot of times what I also miss out on, is the workout because the gym has a weird opening hours. But anyways, since I use my bike to go to granada, thats a good exercise, not to mention when I dance for 6-7 hours in quilombo... :D.
|love yourself - in quilombo toilet|
Let me tell you also about the nature and the must see's of Granada and the region as well. First and foremost, when you search for the city, Alhambra will pop up for sure. Alhambra is a huge fortress and a palace complex, built in moorish style. I visited it last september, with a youth exchange that was organized by the organization, im working with now. In general, it is hard to get into visiting the Alhambra, especially in the tourist season, and its kind of expensive as well.
You can enter through Albaycín, a historical part of the city, where you can see many unique buildings and design, influenced by arabics. In Plaza Nuevo, you can occasionally catch flamenco dancers as well. The highest point of the city is Mirador de San Miguel, where you can go with some beers and enjoy the view, the sunset. In the traditional neighbourhood, called Sacromonte, you can see cave houses where gypsies live, and they are very welcoming with the visitors. Taking beautiful hikes is also possible in Generalife Park. The funny thing is that I didnt take pictures about these because I thought I will have 9 months to take, but now it would be useful. I will insert some from Google to show you how beautiful it is:
|Alhambra from inside|
|Alhambra from outside|
But soon you can enjoy my pictures as well, hopefully.
The Sierra Nevada National Park is very close as well, where you can encounter beautiful nature and in the winter, ski slopes as well. I heard, that there are some huts where you can sleep for free in the summer.
The beach is on the other side of the mountains, 1-2 hours by car. Ive only visited Nerja, Salobreña and Almuñecar so far, and all of them has their own vibes which makes them so unique. During the summer the temperature is so high that it is impossible to survive without visiting the sea at least a few times.
Around Granada, there are some little villages, like Santa Fe, Trasmulas, and Maracena (where my current base is). In Santa Fe, you can encounter occasional illegal rave parties near the hot springs, which sounds really amazing, even though I havent been yet, because I dont know the dates. :(
|Daniela and Noncsi|
|Marci (hun) and Ainoa (Germany)|
About learning the language, I had this idea, that Im going to improve very fast, but the reality is that its not a straight way upwards... sometimes i feel like i know less than one month ago, which is definitely not true, I just have ups and downs regarding motivation and sometimes its not easy to recall what I know already. Although, I'm trying to motivate myself with writing in spanish (I created a blog for it as well --> here) and as I get to know more and more spanish speakers, I dont think its going to be a problem. Living with Goffredo is definitely a huge help, because I have to force myself to speak. Also, as my knowledge in the language started to widen, we had more and more conversations and I started to realize, he is a very fun guy.
To sum up, I feel myself very lucky for having this experience. I really like the other volunteers as well, I feel like we accomodated to each other and we get along very well, even though each of us has very different personalities. I like my dear flatmate, Goffredo, because he is a hilarious guy, and with him, Im never sad, not to mention Alari, whose sense of humour is unbeatable, Daniela, who we have similar experiences and I like that she always has new ideas, Noncsi, my fellow hungarian, who is my support if I have any difficulties. Special thanks to Jorge for taking care of us and being so motivative to take the best out of our EVS, thanks to Eugenia for having good conversations and giving extra motivation for learning guitar, thanks to Juanjo for having such a cool music taste and being such a good company. Next posts are coming soon! The journey continues.
|Teddy and Mr. Bean <3|
In general Thats for sure, that you have to be initiative, and go and look for the chances to learn, but that is part of the process. Of course, you can live through this 9 months only sitting in the house and noone will bother you to go out... but that is not the point of doing volunteering.
In the next two posts, im going to summarize a bit, what have I learnt so far, and also Im going to write about my On Arrival Training. Thank you for reading!