Saturday, August 28, 2010

Long Time Coming

So clearly it has been a while since my last post. It's not that nothing is going on, it's just that most of my life here is really day to day stuff. Sorry to disappoint, but I'm not on vacation. I have a job to do here and that cuts into my adventures more than anything. I work really awkward hours and I'm not always in the mood to go out and travel around. But enough about that, now it's time to tell you about my new goal.

I have made a goal to get outside and see a new part of the city/country everyday for the rest of my time here. I feel less alone inside my house all by myself than I do out in the city with dozens of people around. So I fall back on that a lot and I decided last night to make a change. Someone said "Life is painful, you might as well get a reward out the pain." And I plan to do just that.

Today I walked to a new part of Utrera, new to me anyway, with Estella and saw some really neat places. One house was really cool; it was two story, had blue painted bricks and yellow scaffolding. I also saw the town center and some really cool shops. Most of my treks are going to be similar to this one, but if I see anything particularly cool I'll let you know. I also saw some rad shoes that I want to go back and see if they have my size. Doubtful, cuz I'm a giant compared to a lot of the people. Other than that, it's just a nice day outside and I had a good walk.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Flying Kites. Getting shot. Scaling buildings. Just another month in my life.

Alright people, geeze I'll write here. FYI, I just haven't been in the mood to write very much. Not my story and not here. BUT my mom is spazzing so here it goes.

A few weeks back I found a place in Tariffa, Spain that teaches Kiteboarding and has an English speaking instructor. So after a hectic day of trying to get directions and rent a car I finally set out to Kite for my first time ever. The drive was pretty standard until I got close to the town of Tariffa; then it turned amazing. Rolling mountains (bigger than hills) with jutting cliffs and rock faces, but still covered in green green grass. The trees are somewhat similar to the mesquite trees in AZ, but fuller. The road wound up and around for several miles and it made me a bit car-sick even with the windows down. It was a hazy day but I could still see the ocean and it was beautiful. Not like Hawaii, but still amazing. Finally I arrived at my destination on the beach. For those of you that are not familiar with kiteboarding, Tariffa is the kiting and windsurfing capital of this was a pretty big deal for me. My instructor was probably in his early thirties with long brown, sun-tipped hair. Everything about him told me that he lived the surfers life. We started off with basic kite control, the wind-window, stalling, relaunching, water-launching, and body dragging. After only an hour and a half I was in the water and he said most people usually spend all day on the beach and have to come back before they are ready for the water. The Mediteranean(?) was very cold at first, but after a while it became as comfortable as swimming in a pool. Unlike a pool, however, the water tasted a lot saltier. Oh, I forgot, the beach was very nice and mostly rock free. Anyway, so now I'm in the water with a 12m kite in the air and I start getting pulled. What a rush! At one point I was lifted 10' high and 20' out into the air and crashed back down. So cool and it didn't hurt at all other than the water rushing in my nose. After a few more of those I was ready to strap the board on my feet and become a real kiteboarder. Let me tell you, it may look simple, but the process is actually kind of complicated. You have to keep the kite in the air above you with one hand while trying to strap the board to your feet without being dragged away or pulled out of the water. Once you do that you have to orient your body the way you want to go, again without getting pulled out of the water. Then you push your back foot down as you drop the kite into the power window (stronger air current) and pull it back up to generate power; much like doing a figure 8 with a kite. Then you have to keep your kite in the desired position (sometimes straight out ahead, other times a figure 8), avoid hitting other kiters that also have 25m lines, keep your board up, watch the water, and don't get too close to the beach. So I got up for about 5 to 10 seconds a bunch of times, but never quite got the power behind the kite to pull me for a long period of time. I watched my instructor do it later and he did it just fine. Maybe I'm too fat. Anyway, it was awesome and now that I have my own stuff I am ready to go again on my own time and have fun.

So the squadron had this paintballing trip out in the middle of a frickin flower/hay field that killed everyones alergies. One guy got hives. I just sneezed every ten seconds and my eyes itched. Well we split up into 4 teams: Green, Yellow, Blue, and Red/Black. I was on Yellow and we stood out because our team was based on our jersey color. Green guys basically blended right in with the background. Now it wasn't just some dirty abandoned field, there were broke down cars and tires and barrells set up to make it a really fun course. So we start out and I get shot like the first five seconds into the first game. Freakin lame! Whatever. The next round was much different. My team's majority was on the left flank and they were bunkered down pretty good and keeping up the pressure. I decided to go the path less traveled and came up to the right flank. The green team had three guys (one was a girl) on that side and they kept me behind a large wheel for a good minute. I popped out and shot one of the people in the facemask and jumped back behind cover. I came out again and shot the another person in the arm and got them out. Well the third person by then had forgot about me cuz of all the pressure my team was putting on the left flank. So I jump across a small concrete river bed instead of using the bridge like they all think I will. Once across I was right aside of the person and shot them. Still the left side kept up the pressure and no one from the other team knew that I was taking them down. In the next 30 seconds I got another three people out, all of which had really good cover...if you were the rest of my team. I, on the otherhand, just stalked up right behind without anyone noticing. I got greedy at the end and bumrushed a guy and I'm over 200lbs so I'm not exactly quiet when I run. He turned and shot me. But he was the only one left and we still had pretty much our entire team. A few games later I rocked it up again by having a teammate create a distraction as I ran up on the enemy again. Anyone noticing a pattern here? I think in war-games or actual war I would behave the same way I do in Halo/COD; run up and kill a ton of people, but get killed in the process. Anywho, so I run up on this barrell where a guy is shooting at me. Instead of coming behind him though, I come up over the side cuz I'm so tall, point my gun in at what I realize is 4 people, and made them all surrender without firing a shot. Not gonna lie, I was totally the MVP of paintball. Anyone that was lucky enough to get a shot on me said "Man, I'm glad that I at least got to shoot you!" It's the hate that you love to get.

Scaling buildings:
Simple enough to explain. The houses here have doors without doorknobs, they just use a key to turn the latch and open the door. I accidentally locked my key inside while unloading groceries. Long story short (cuz I'm sure you're thinking "shut up already") I saw that my only option was to climb up to the roof and go through the back. My back "yard" (just a patio really cuz no one other than farmers has a yard) has an upper balcony that was somewhat accessible if you are tall and daring. So I climbed up using the bars on my windows to the second story in about 4 seconds. Hopped the railing and climbed a column-ish part of the house to get to the top of the roof, again like 5 seconds. Then I ran across the roof, flat with a bunch of rocks coverind the whole thing, and dropped down to a tall and narrow ledge seperating my yard from my neighboors. And the rest is just me walking in my back door. Seriously Braden, I totally felt like I was living Assassins Creed. If I was a thief, which I'm not...anymore, this place would be easy pickings.

Well I've written quite a bit today so don't expect anything for a few days. Later.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sevilla, Bullfighting, and Church

Sorry for taking so long to talk about the weekend, I've just been busy and wiped out. My body is still having trouble adjusting. I usually sleep like 4 hours a night without taking sleeping pills.

So Friday a bunch of people from base were invited to go to a bullfight in Sevilla and about 30 went. The bus ride took a long time because there is only like one freeway to Sevilla and it was rush-hour when we left. Along the way we saw this amazing Mosque, but the view from the bus was really difficult to get a shot with the camera so you'll have to wait for that. The road system is pretty similar to the US, but some signs are different. Also we saw a lot of graffiti and this one spot was amazing. It had a couple of faces and other cool things painted on the wall; probably professionally done.

We finally got to Sevilla and got off the bus in front of the stadium. The entrance was like 20ft tall and really cool. It only cost 34E (euro, I don't have a euro button so just assume E next to a number means euro) which is like $40. Think of the Colosseum and how it's a complete circle with stone seats, it was a lot like that. Everyone dresses very very nice. There was a 15 year old kid that was wearing a suit...I had on jeans and a Tshirt.

The Matadors wear very bright colors and very tight clothes. The bright colors are to attract the attention of the bull and the tight clothes are so they don't get caught on the bull's horns. The bull comes out with a small spear in the top of its back to make it angry and want to attack the Matadors. So there are three Matadors with capes/flags/whatever that they flail around in front of the bull to make it charge them. After a while there will come another Matador with two arm length spears that they jab into the bulls back. Once that is done a single Matador will be out there with a cape and sword. They yell "Hey!" at the bull and make these crazy stances when the bull charges literally inches from them and the Matador doesn't move at all when the bull charges. When the fight ends, the Matador stabs the bull in the spine with the entire 2ft sword, hoping to kill it. If it doesn't die, then another guy comes out with a small dagger and stabs the bull trying to sever the brain stem; if they hit the stem then the bull drops dead instantly. The whole spectacle is very bloody and violent, so it's not something that I would go to often but I wanted to experience it. One bull was stabbed in the lung through his back and he was puking up buckets of blood; it was sad.

Sevilla is large and beautiful. The city really comes to life at night with cars, trains, and people everywhere. They have McDonalds, KFC, and a few other American things around. I spent the night with 4 girls and walked around. We stopped at an ice-cream place kind of like Cold Stone. Lots of stores have windows that open up to the outside and people can come order right off the street. It's considered rude to enter any store without saying "hola". The Rio Grande in Sevilla is about two football fields wide and at one point there is literally a basketball court in the water...I'm not kidding. One day I want to go play in it. The architecture(?) is amazing. Everything is old and has shingles like in Arizona. I only saw the Cathedral from a distance and don't have a picture yet, but I will go back one day and get a few nice shots of it soon.

Church was pretty cool. It's held in a building in an alley, not it's own separate building like in the States. There were only about 60 people total and probably half of them spoke English. Anyone that spoke only English got to listen the lessons being translated on headphones. Emily, you would absolutely love this place. Singing hymns in Spanish is really fun and to my surprise, all the songs still rhyme. There are only a few singles around my age (meaning 18-30). The couple that brought me to church are American; the Carlyles. They are moving out of there house at the end of the month and I am going to be moving in after them. They cooked me and the Bishops family dinner last night and it was amazing. Apparently, according to everyone, the Spanish food is really bland so it looks like I'll be cooking a lot at home.

Well that's pretty much it for now. Later.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Day 3

Yesterday was my first day of work, although it was more of an introduction to where I am working than anything. Our base is small, with only one runway, and only a few hundred U.S. military stationed here. My job is going to be very very slow, even slower than Scott if you can believe it. However we do have a few times where it can get chaotic. For example, we are one of three abort sites for shuttle launches. Yesterday the Discovery was sent into orbit to resupply the space station and we went on alert as the primary abort site. It was very cool to watch the launch and know that we have something, even if only in emergency, to do with missions going to space.

I still can't sleep more than four or five hours straight. Last night I went to bed at like 1130 and I have been awake since at least 0430 this morning. I tried to go back to sleep, but it just did not happen. Hopefully I will have more energy than yesterday; came home from work and passed out for three hours.

I have some pretty cool ideas kicking around in my head for my story so hopefully I will have the motivation and energy to write today. Plus, I really need to work out cuz I'm getting pudgy.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Halfway around the world in one night

If you are reading this, chances are you are my friend or know me at least enough to give a crap about what's going on in my life. With that being said, you'll understand that I think your every day blogs are pretty friggin gay. Oh man, you popped your tire on your way to work today? Please oh please let me read about how fascinating that is.......stupid. Anyway, now that I have officially pissed off half of you reading this :) it's time to get on with it. (P.s. I'm in fricking Spain people, hence the "my blog might actually be interesting") Yeah, I'm a dick, but I've made peace with that.

So in the last 9 days I have been in flight for over 20 hours; not wait time in the airport or travel time to the airport, but my fat butt (edited for the mommy) has been on a jet for 22 hours. It all started when I flew out to Utah/Arizona to see my family before I left the country. I am very very blessed to have such an awesome family. For the most part I just go home to chill and feel like a normal person cuz I don't often feel that way. I got to play with the midgets and hang out with fatty. Almost got eaten by dogs on the golf course one day. Ripped an 8 inch hole in my pants cuz I got fat off all the food I ate out there. Had the best freakin dinner ever at my mom's: Glazed ham, Augrattin potatoes with bacon and spinach, and the best home made rolls ever. Then I had to come back to Illinois to leave. Had to go into work cuz they messed up some paperwork, but I got to see Val and Ms Black so I'm cool with it.

Now to the interesting part. I started by flying from STL to Chicago. Then to Brussels, it's in Belgium for those of you who don't know (I didn't cuz I suck at geography). Then to Sevilla. The flight to Chicago was boring. The flight to Brussels was about 8 hours long and went through the night. First time ever that I was given a free meal or movie on a plane. The food was mediocre, but whatever. The flight was barely full so I got to lay down across 3 seats, although the arm-rests dug into my back so I didn't sleep at all. Oh, first time ever that I talked with someone from Brussels. Didn't catch her name, but she was kinda cute. Speaking of good looking, holy crap are people in Europe hot. Or at least at the Brussels airport. Seriously, they all have fashion sense, most everyone has a great body, and they are mostly good looking. Even the janitor was hot; for all those who just made a gay joke, haha you are original...out of your system? Good. It was this little 5'3'' dark haired girl that was cleaning the bathrooms. Guess I'm just used to the American janitors being crusty old guys, so this was a pleasant surprise.
Lot's of Africans in the airport, or I'm guessing they were cuz they were black and wearing like Muslim robe things and hat/bandanna/dew-rag things. Most everyone spoke at least two or three languages which still impresses the hell out of me.

So then I got on the plane for Sevilla. There was one guy sitting next to me that spoke English, and since the plane is really loud I couldn't hear any accent at first so I asked him if he was American, he said no and that he was Italian...I was close...Anwho, so we talked for a little while. I asked him tons of questions about Europe and the people, where the best vacation spots are, how they like Americans, etc etc. Totally surprised me when he said that Naples, Italy sucks and is very very dangerous. He says they love tall blond men and I've very exotic since I'm those two things plus American :) Go me. But that Sevillian women are like Texan girls; traditional and a bit harder to get to know than other places. He said Barcelona is a crazy party town, where Madrid and Sevilla are more laid back. His name was Andy, fyi (was totally expecting like Frederico or Marco or something). Anywho, he also said to check out the Canary Islands, Ibiza, and Grenada while in Spain. Basically he said that each European capital is a must. So I'm half surprised, half not, that everything tv and movie related over here is pretty much reliant on the U.S. His favorite shows were Family Guy, Simpsons, Grey's Anatomy, and so on. Same thing with movies. He saw Avatar and a couple other things. Seems like they are just a little bit behind the release dates, but I'm not too worried.

As the plane was arriving in Sevilla I was glued to the window trying to see what my new home looked like. The olive groves here are like the corn fields of IL; freaking everywhere. Lost and lots of green and tons of palm trees. Small mountains here and there, sort of the size of Camelback in AZ. So far I only drove through Sevilla briefly, but from what I can tell it's pretty neat. Everything is in Kilometers and liters for driving. Don't know if all Spaniards are crappy drivers, but my taxi driver was pretty scary. Other than that the road systems are pretty similar to America. Drive on the right side, highways and small roads, lots of German cars, etc. Oh, totally surprised to see that tons of the Spanish here are straight up White instead of all tan like Mexicans. Yes, there are a lot that are really tan, but I just wasn't expecting so many to be white. I'll stand out, but not as much as I originally thought.

A girl named Leona picked me up from the Airport, which is good cuz I have no cell phone and didn't know the number to base so I thought I was boned. She works with me, but will only be here through the summer. She showed me around base and I asked her a bunch of questions. She doesn't have a car so she hasn't got out much, which means I'll have to pick someone else's brain about the life around here. For now I'm staying in a hotel and eating at the chow hall again; boo, but whatever. Hope my stuff gets here fast cuz I want to have a good meal instead of burgers and lame salad. Our job is very easy apparently and we don't have much to do all of the time so I'll have plenty of time for school, reading, and writing.

Went to sleep at 9pm last night cuz I wanted to try to adjust to the time difference. It's 0530 as I'm writing this, so I think I made an ok adjustment all things considered.

Final thought: I am amazed at humanity and it's innovations. Yes, I know we fly to the moon and have crazy inventions, but I am supremely amazed that in less than a day I can go halfway across the Earth. It's an amazing concept when you experience it for yourself.