- People really respect crosswalks here, especially ones with walk signals. Like cars turning will wait and let you go first. What a concept.
- The name Espana originated from the word Ispania which roughly translates to ‘land of rabbits’. So Spain is known as the land of rabbits. The traditional Valencian paella is made with chicken and rabbit.
- The word Paella comes from para ella, for her. In Spanish traditions, the woman does the cooking all week and on the
weekend, it’s the man who cooks the paella ‘for her’. Also it’s eaten for lunch, not dinner, because of the weight of the meal. Our city team leader says paella for dinner is unheard of, blasphemy!
- Valencianos, and I think Spaniards in general, LOVE fireworks. They can be heard regularly and in the middle of the day. The city team jokes that they use fireworks for every occasion. Having a baby? Shoot em off, Graduation? Fireworks, First communion? Pop pop pop. First full day here I heard them and got a bit concerned, not going to lie. Fireworks were not my first guess at 1pm in a quiet neighborhood.
- Instead of saying ‘cheese’ when posting for a picture, they say ‘batata’ (potato)!
- In addition to bike lanes everywhere, there is a separate lane in busy areas for taxis and EMT. This makes taxis the best way to get around. Generally cheaper and will get you to your destination faster. Couple caveats: you have to catch them on main roads so if you’re in a quiet area, Uber may be better. And, during the day there’s a 4 euro minimum, during the night a 6 euro minimum.
- There is no alcohol served at stadiums in Spain. Was surprised at first, but seeing as people get really passionate about football, they definitely don’t need alcohol to fuel the fire. Also no game clock or big screens for replay shown in the Valencia stadium we went to. Is this me being an uncultured American used to giant displays? Probably.
Things I’ve learned on Remote Year (just a few to kick off):
- I am an introvert in every sense of the word. I love people, love talking to them, learning about them, but I love my alone time. More importantly, I get really tired from big group activities and feeling overstimulated.
- Timelines of products (kinda funny how aware you are when you’re on the road):
- Toilet paper? Go through about a roll every week by myself
- Lotion? Still working on the same bottle, but getting low sooo about 4 months/bottle
- Concealer? About 4.5 months
- Shirt? TBD, but it’s been really satisfying to start wearing through a piece of clothing
- Shampoo/conditioner? About 1.5 months/12 oz. bottle
- Toothpaste? About 2.5 months if you brush twice a day
- I could care less about pop culture. Being away from America makes you realize how much time you used to spend caring about celebrities or TV shows or stupid memes. Don’t know any more what’s hip in the States, and don’t really care.
Week in Review:
- My first ever chiropractor appointment to try and help this back that it still giving me trouble, still not sure how I feel about the experience. The hardest part? Filling out the patient form that was written entirely in Spanish. No joke, had to ask the lady which sexo I was: V or M. I learned later that V stands for varón, a more traditional word than hombre. I’m an M.
- 100 day picnic in the Turia Gardens with Remote Year. Can’t believe I’ve been on the road 100 days.
- Positive Impact meeting- this month’s project is with a dance and music center that teaches kids how to play and dance flamenco! More to come when we go there next week.
- Work, laundry, grocery shopping…ya know, normal life things.
- Nice mid-morning walk in between gym and work
- Check out the ‘Taste of America’ store that is worth it just for the laugh. Filled with products you’d expect like Pop Tarts, Pringles, Stonewall Kitchen, Duncan Hynes, Betty Crocker, Crisco, every American candy, Hershey products, etc. Problem? It’s SOOO expensive. Box of Cheerios? 10 euros.
- Have a night in and actually watch a movie on Netflix…first time in 3.5 months.
- Lunch with our Program Leader. Was nice to touch base and connect with her, can’t imagine how stressful it is to handle 30 people’s complaints and travel at the same time…
- Chill night and workday
- Lunch with some Remotes at a café called Paniacos near the workspace.
- Work AND watch my brother graduate!!! UMASS livestreamed their graduate ceremony and I watched Cobi cross the stage from Spain. Gotta love technology. #proudsis
- Happy hour at the apartment of some remotes with a beautiful balcony overlooking the city. Delicious sangria and good chats. Some of the group is a good deal older than me, like over double my age, but I embrace it and am learning so much from their life experience. I feel like I have friends, mentors, and parents (the coolest kind) all in one group J
- TACO event at La Fabrica de Hielo (the ice factory)- a cool warehouse converted bar with live music by the sea
- Another late night in Europe when ‘one more’ turns into 3 hours
- Remote Year Tracks Day: Paella with Locals
- Bus out to a small town called Puig to the home of some locals. The woman was from Maine originally and met and married a Spanish man, has been living in Valencia ever since. Cute little family of 5.
- They taught us the proper way to make Valencian paella. Made the traditional with chicken and rabbit, and a vegetarian version. Like tajine, paella is paella for the dish it’s cooked in: a big, flat round pan, usually over open fire. Think of it like an American barbecue, except with local rice and ingredients.
- Critical ingredients: rice, meat (if using), vegetables (we had artichokes, asparagus, mushrooms, fava beans, long flat pea things, scallions, red pepper), saffron, and smoked paprika (that had to be added perfectly so as not to burn).
- Meat cooks first, then add veggies, then spices, then water. When water boils, add rice and let cook until rice is ready. The key is not to stir the rice while it’s cooking because it gets a nice sticky consistency that almost burns to the pan, but doesn’t.
- Snacked on the typical hors d’oeuvres also: potato chips, olives, charcuterie, etc.
- Then filled ourselves of paella. It was seriously the best paella ever, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to eat one at a restaurant again.
- As if that wasn’t enough, they then brought out ice cream for ice cream sandwiches. Unlike how we’d do it, this ice cream was in a box kind of like a jenga game, and the host cut slices with a knife and served it between two wafers. I didn’t have the wafer part but the walnut ice cream was delicious, and the whole process was so smart!
- To fully enjoy our food coma, we walked across the street to the Mediterranean Sea and laid on the beach. I mean c’mon.
- This was my best Remote Year Track experience so far because it was a smaller group, and it felt like a normal day in Spain as the locals would do it.
- Low-key morning and afternoon, complete with the midday fireworks to celebrate ‘Our Lady of the Foresaken’
- Attend a Valencia football game at Mestalla stadium, a walk away from my apartment! Glad I took the time to be in my happy place J Was joined by three other remotes. Valencia beat Alaves 3-1 and it was not without echoing cheering through the stadium. We sat pretty high, but the setup of the stadium made every seat seem not far.
- In true Remote Year fashion, ran into friends eating dinner on my walk back and rounded out the week with a long chat about life.
I am continuing to take time for myself and in turn, am learning a lot about my needs to function at my best. On that subject, this week I learned that the only pressure to do things and cram everything in is pressure I put on myself. At the end of the day, if I don’t have energy to be present in an event, I won’t enjoy it.
But seriously, still loving the journey and grateful for the people that continue to support me here and at home!