I guess I’m not surprised that after two crazy nights in the past week at one of Granada’s hottest discotecas, Mae West, “Ai Se Eu Te Pego” is stuck in my head (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcm55lU9knw). Nossa, nossa, assim você me mata…the Brazilian singer Michel Teló certainly knows how to conjure up a supremely catchy tune.
My first experience at Mae West was a spontaneous one, following the Ruta de Tapas (essentially a tapas crawl) organized by the Erasmus Student Network last Thursday, Valentine’s Day. For the cool price of 6 euros, we went to two taperías at each of which we were given a drink (cerveza or sangría) and of course a tapa. My favorite tapa of the night was from the first place: I swear it tasted like chicken macaroni and cheese in a deep-fried, bite sized morsel, two of which were skewered on a kebab stick and served in a cup with delicious garlicky sauce at the bottom. Sounds weird, looks weird, but it was darn good.
Full from our tapas and bebidas, our group ended up back at Pub Gavanna again for the ESN-organized game night, which, with cheaply priced drinks, turned quickly into a dance party, complete with a limbo competition, more salsa, as well as group renditions of Gangnam Style and other dance numbers apparently hugely popular on YouTube (which I as of yet have never heard of nor do I remember the names of…I always tend to be behind on these YouTube sensations).
It was after over an hour of dancing that it dawned on a small group of us to head to a discoteca, and one of the Gavanna bartenders suggested Mae West, so that’s where we headed. I’m not much of a clubber, so my input on Mae West may not be trustworthy, but seriously I was SHOCKED at the size of this place. There are three separate dance floors in different rooms, all with creaky wooden floors and old carpeted hallways and staircases connecting bar and dance areas, and there were times during the night where virtually the ENTIRE space was packed tight with club-goers. And just like my good friends back home told me, the Spanish women were dressed to the nines: sky-high heels, tight dresses, makeup and hair all styled to perfection. I honestly can’t even begin to comprehend how they go clubbing and dance for hours in such get-ups. Suffice it to say I was quite content in my leggings and boots.
So my Valentine’s Day coincided with my first Spanish discoteca experience, complete with expensive cover, jam-packed dance floors, overwhelmingly loud music blasting from the speakers, and hours upon hours of dancing. The word that comes to mind to describe it is epic…but all in good (and safe, don’t worry mom and dad 🙂 ) fun.
And then came Saturday…EL DIA DEL PARTIDO. My first Primera División La Liga game between Granada and Barcelona. My friends Juan and Guido can attest to my outrageous enthusiasm up until, during, and after the match. I’d gotten to see Barça play once before when they came to Seattle to play the Sounders, but this was before I became more obsessed with the team overall and as such I wasn’t too familiar with the squad, other than Messi.
I sat alone in a corner seat (the three of us had purchased our tickets separately, and it was merely on happenstance at the Ruta de Tapas that we discovered we all had tickets and consequently made plans to meet up beforehand), but close enough to make out all my favorite players, including Messi, Iniesta, Jordi Alba, Dani Alves, Piqué, and so on. The big names David Villa, Puyol, and Xavi didn’t play, but as I ascertained from some spectators sitting near me, due to their upcoming Champions League game (plus Xavi’s injury) those three wouldn’t play, and likewise Iniesta only played the last 20 minutes. Barça won 2-1, but Granada really fought hard and the stadium went absolutely nuts when Granada scored first. I managed to restrain my enthusiasm with both Messi goals, but you could tell even the crowd was in awe of his prowess, especially with his gorgeous free kick and second Barça goal.
It was a dream of mine before coming to Spain to go to a football match…but I couldn’t have imagined getting the chance to go as early into my trip as I did, nor that my first ever professional Spanish football match would include BARCELONA of all teams. I am so happy I took advantage of the opportunity and went. The ticket was on the expensive side, but it was well worth the price.
Football was followed by Mae West again later in the night, the original purpose of which was to find Ida’s jacket which had somehow disappeared in the wee hours of Friday morning. What was supposed to be maybe an hour of dancing (to make the paying the cover to get in, worth it) turned into a all-out dance party between just the two of us, sans-alcohol, sans-group of other international students, just hours and hours on the dance floor. Let’s just say we stayed later than I’ve ever stayed at a club or discoteca, including my discoteca experiences in Quito, Baños, Cuenca, and Montañita, Ecuador…but of course we made it home safe, gotta love those night busses 🙂
Sunday ended up being a very special day, one in which we celebrated Alejo’s second birthday. Several friends and family members of Verónica and Fernando attended, a long with a couple of Alejo’s little friends, and it was a pleasant evening full of delicious pastries, excellent conversation, and frolicking along with Alejo and friends.
The funniest and cutest part was that my little hermanito couldn’t blow out the candles…when encouraged by his parents to soplar, to blow them out, instead of blowing out, the little bicho (bug 🙂 ) sucked in a bunch of air through his scrunched-up nostrils, but of course with the help of Verónica, Fernando, and Fernando’s brother, Alejo was able to blow out the candles after we sang a version of feliz cumpleaños…and then we repeated the process about ten more times, relighting the candles and shortening the various versions of feliz cumpleaños so that Alejo could delight in “blowing them out” again and again. Now THAT’S a way to have a good hard laugh.
And what followed this fun night of hilarity and celebration? The first day of school! Although we can’t register for classes until next week, we international students can attend and check out as many courses as we want. So, both yesterday and today I went to six classes, several of which didn’t actually come to pass as the professors didn’t show up…and apparently, this is entirely normal, as well as a frequent occurrence. Additionally, much to my annoyance, classes start and end late…there appears to be no such thing as passing period, in that the professors take their sweet time wrapping stuff up until a couple minutes past the next hour, which means all of us newbies are left to run around in a panic trying to locate our next class. But after a couple rounds of that, you get used to it, and you come to realize that EVERYONE is late, even the prof, so scrambling to get from class to class isn’t really necessary.
I’ve got a couple more courses left to check out tomorrow, then hopefully by Thursday or Friday I’ll have a concrete list of which ones I want to take. I need to take a minimum of three, but I will probably register for four, if not five, and in the event that becomes too much work I have as late as March 22nd to drop a course.
The transition is thus still in motion, as I’m continuing to get accustomed to bussing to and from campus each day, preparing snacks for the day, familiarizing myself with the Facultad de Filosofía y Letras building, and grappling with class scheduling and selection…but come next week, I’m looking forward to finally getting back to that school routine I know and thrive in, and from there, to start planning more sightseeing activities and weekend trips around Spain. To say I’m stoked would be an understatement.