Monday, February 27, 2012

Post 8

A famous basque tree stump
Apparently, Carnaval never actually ends in Bilbao.  It is supposed to be a celebration that leads up to the Lenten Season, but Ash Wednesday was almost a week ago and Carnaval is still being celebrated.  On a side note, I was a little surprised on Ash Wednesday to not see anyone with ashes on their foreheads because literally everyone here is Catholic.  I later learned that the ashes are actually put just above the hairline here and therefore no one sees them.

Last Friday, I went on an excursion with my university to Urdaibai, which is a biosphere reserve in the Basque Country.  I went into the day expecting to be exploring nature, but ended up spending most of the day in museums.  We went to three museums in total.  The museums were all about the history and culture of the Basque Country.  After all the museums, we finally got to experience some nature.  The wait was definitely worth it.  The Bay of Biscay is absolutely beautiful.  We went to the area of the Billabong Pro surfing competition and watched some surfers do their thing.  Unfortunately, we couldn't stay for long.  I guess I'll just have to go back to Urdaibai...studying abroad is soooo rough.
Me at the Bay of Biscay in Urdaibai

On Sunday, I ate lunch with eight members of my host mom's family.  The lunch was five hours, which is a little longer than I normally take to eat lunch, but it was definitely interesting.  One thing you should know about Spanish women is that they will always try to make you eat more.  I've had one too many stomach aches from this and therefore try to politely decline their offer of more food.  A lot of times they don't accept this and they might even yell at you or appear frustrated.  I immediately liked my host mom's granddaughter because she would tell her family to stop trying to force me to eat more.  She did it in a way that would have been rude for me to do, but that was okay for her to do because she is family.  She definitely got the point across and I left the five hour lunch feeling satisfied like I would have been from a fifteen minute lunch.

The docks in Urdaibai
Speaking of food, I can finally make my food a little spicy.  For those of you who don't know, I love spicy food.  I'm the type of person who will pop jalapeños into my mouth and eat them plain.  Spain doesn't do spicy.  They also aren't too big on seasonings.  Salt and olive oil are big, but other than that, the meat is plain.  Being the loving woman that she is, my mom sent me a mini Tabasco sauce bottle and spicy Montreal steak seasoning.  My life just got spicy again.  I also received some peanut butter, which is almost impossible to find here and is super expensive, and a change purse that has a picture of my family.  The package was definitely sent with love and put a huge smile on my face.

I hope all is well for everyone and that everyone at U of I has a fun and safe Unofficial!  Until next time... ¡Adios!


  1. Wow! You must be a great daughter to have such a nice mom!!! lol

  2. Thank you again for sharing your journey Brooke! Sounds very interesting and exciting. As I told Monica, I'm living vicariously through all of you studying abroad. Continue to enjoy! Caron