Barstools & Dreamers

On Friday night, after watching Volver and eating pasta by my lonesome in my habitación, it got to be about 12:30, and some Erasmusvolk were having a good time at the Bar Negrito (after watching Crash dubbed in Spanish, “negrito” is their word for what Bull Connor would have called Martin Luther King Jr.). So I decided to amble on over through the Ciutat Vella (old city) and join them.

Some of the people who were bound to be at Fox Congo – not a place for me – were here at the Negrito, but left shortly thereafter. The remainders – Sarah from Madison, Stefan from East Germany, Vidar whom I went to see The Long Winters with, Ian from the Netherlands, and Vincenzo from Italy – remained and we talked about music, how Europeans don’t put a focus on lyrics but instead on beautiful women dancing to techno in the street (words attributed to a fellow nomad), the same old stuff, and what it meant for Italy that Prodi had asked to resign. Eventually there was only Ian and myself left.

Ian remarked that he was tired of the same old Erasmus gatherings, which were not exactly immersing us or expanding our boundaries. I agreed. We both live with Spanish people, and we agreed then that if either of us had access to a particularly cultural undertaking, that we would invite the other. It was toasted to and agreed.

Yesterday at four (an hour after I had awoken, I have GOT to wake up earlier) Ian called me. House fiestta in La Canyada, a pueblo outside of Valencia, to last all day. No question about it – soon we were on the tram line going all the way out to B-zone (that ain’t Valencia). When we arrived in La Canyada, it was about six-thirty. He called his compañera and she and her friend drove to pick us up at the tranvía. This is when we noticed something interesting. Both of them were dressed in unusual costumes and had on face paint. When we asked about this in the car on the way to the house, we learned that it was because the party had a theme, “fantasia.” So upon arrival we had to paint our faces and put on strange clothing, because these people went all out. And I believe that if you’re gonna do something, you better do it right.

The Spaniards had not only decked out in their costumes (or disfraz), they had also constructed considerable decorations for the room with numerous butterflies and a large holey board covered in colored translucent paper to make tinted light.

At first it was unusual, but as these things usually do at fiestas, they got more interesting. Before long we were playing a game called “Gestas” (which is just like “bitches, bitches” except with hand motions instead of vocalizations), and later on some of them began dancing flamenco. Also the Spanish are “cool,” as in “Hey, man, are you cool?” When dinnertime came, we raided the fridge tapas-style until there was nothing left and our hunger was mostly sated by circular hot ham-n-cheese sandwiches, ham-n-cheese pizzas, potato chips, and olive loaf.

When it was time to go, our driver (Ian’s roomate) spent thirty minutes driving lost through the neighborhoods until we finally found our way back onto the highway and back into Valencia. That was an interesting night. Even though I did not go to Paris or Madrid this weekend, I had an auk-cellent time with the Spaniards.

I did not figure out until this morning that we were all dressed up because everyone was celebrating Carnaval.


For My Brother

I was pretty useless this weekend except I went to see Valencia CF v. Barça Sunday evening across from my piso. The first half was uneventful but the second half saw Valencia score twice between the 50 and 55 minute mark, then there were some yellow and red cards because of two near-brawls, and then Barça scored late in the second half. So Valencia won which is awesome. Rooting for Barça when you live in Valencia is like rooting for the Yankees. Period.

All this sleeping and the Spanish lazy lifestyle caught up with me. I slept until about two or three every day for a week, because I just don’t have class after Wednesday, and not on Monday until five. Then on Tuesday, when I have to be at class at nine – which means I have to be in the shower no later than eight – I slept about two hours because of “too much” sleep. I guess my body needs it because definitely since the middle of December and probably long, long before that I have been way overworked, between preparing for WSC as an OC member and preparing for Mexico SDL as a faci, and actually being there and getting about three hours of sleep in a week, then having to wake up for class in Gandia for two weeks. Now I suppose is the time to get in gear and go all out for whatever I should go all out for.

A female friend from Barcelona told me a bad tale. She is on an Erasmus exchange in Maastricht, the Netherlands (birthplace of the EU) and there they have the best Carneval celebrations in the Netherlands. She was out with her friend from the US (another female), and according to the Barcelonan, the US girl was dressed “like a hippie” so like everyone else, indistinguishable. Some revelers asked her, “Where are you from?” and she replied “The US.” Then they said “AMERICAN WHORE,” and such, and began to push and shove her, and eventually kick her. The Barcelonan tried to intervene and became caught up in the same mess. Someone who took pictures of the attackers had their camera smashed on the ground by them. Then when they went, bruised and crying, to the nearest Dutch police car, they rolled their windows up and drove off. The next morning at the police station, the police said did not care again. Why does this happen? Sure we’re “the US” and all of that, but why would these people just attack her like that (especially Western Europeans?) and then the police not care at all? That’s a question that’s been with me since I heard it.

Anyway, I woke up too early on Tuesday having gotten so little sleep, and then there was no first class. How does this happen. It happened again this morning – my first class again. That doesn’t make me happy.

Tonight I saw The Long Winters with Vidar. Thanks to my musical and Alabamian comrade Matt Wurtele for heartily endorsing them one hour before the show because they were very good, and in an intimate setting. I wonder how many of the Spaniards there could understand the lyrics, because Spaniards as a rule probably don’t know much if any English.

I will post pictures from these events next time. I meant to write more but I’m tired. Looks like no Paris / Decemberists for me, maybe Madrid this weekend.



Last night I went with my roomate Joséluis and some of his Spanish friends to a ticket-entry open bar. I had eaten one doner kebap three hours prior to leaving. I also, at the behest of my roomate and his friends, promised to do it like the Spaniards: drink only whiskey- or rum- or vodka drinks.

I don’t usually play by those rules. Last night was quite fun at first, but after all that heavy alcohol in my not-so-full stomach, I felt kind of like old syrup by the end of the night – which was like six o’clock. I woke up today at three, still feeling bad from the lactic acid buildup.

Today was relaxed. Everything here is just relaxation. I asked Joséluis what he was going to do about going to work today and he replied, “Por? No pasa nada!” (Why? There’s nothing wrong!) He skipped work today – and that’s okay. This is the greatest culture in the world.

I also recall the two things that I ate at dinner that time. The tiny mussels are called tellinas, and the yellow liquor is called orujo.

The person who was going to go to see The Decemberists with me in Paris backed out. If I get a suite deal on some plane tickets the night before or something, I’ll pack up and go; but Paris aint’ a great town, and the weather isn’t so hot right now either, especially in Northern Europe. But I am absolutely certain I will be taking some kind of trip next weekend. Perhaps Barcelona or Madrid if not Paris. The next weekend I am going with my roomates to Grenada. And the Fallas loom ever closer.

We’re watching Clerks II right now in Spanish. Isn’t so easy to understand.

My birthday is Tuesday.


Just When I Thought I Was Out…


Our true enemy, has not yet, shown his face.


This is a parallel to how I felt Friday night when Georgia Tech kindly announced to me via email that all but two of the classes I am taking are worth credit. So I was mad.

And it was an even lower low, because I woke up on Friday, finally, to an email from the person responsible for AIESEC Valencia. He expressed that the stall in development is due to “legal issues,” but that these should be resolved soon, and that we should meet up later this month. Sweet. Also emails furthering the development between me and the professor for the one-on-one electronics class.

Which was one of the classes stated as simply “no credit.” I felt so angry and stressed that I ate at Burger King.

That night was a house party at Raisa’s. I spoke Spanish with a girl from Castelló, and I was confident in my speaking ability. I elected not to pay the ten euros to go to the discoteca.

Saturday was a good day. Jessica, one of the other students from GT, and I went to the Fallas Museum, which was nice. Then my roomate Raul took us to a restaurant in the Barrio del Carmen, the oldest part of the city center of Valencia. That was pretty cool, because Raul, being from the Valencian region himself (he hails from Alicante), knew where to go, what to order, and all that kind of stuff. Not having eaten out much in Spain (largely because it is so expensive), I learned a few things. For example, in the Valencian region, it is customary to order some small steamed mussels as your first tapas. I can’t remember what they’re called unfortunately. We split a bottle of Rioja wine, Spain’s most respected wine, between the three of us. We had about five tapas plates, all of which were delicious, and then afterwards we had some allsome desserts (it seems that getting dessert here is very common). Another thing I’d never have known about was that after the cena (dinner), as the very last thing you do (before talking for thirty more minutes before leaving) is to order this particular liquor, in shot form, to finish off the dinner and (I suppose) prepare yourself for the downward slide into the next six hours of revelry. That stuff was so strong, I’m surprised my stomach lining is intact. I also cannot recall the name of that drink (I learned a lot of words last night, only a few of them stuck). The whole thing lasted about three hours, and it cost sixty-five euros in total. That’s why you don’t eat out much in Spain. Which is also why I’m learning to cook.

After that, Raul showed us a pub in Barrio del Carmen called Radio City. We entered. That’s the first place since Bar Varadero I’ve enjoyed myself. Instead of high cover prices and indecent techno, it was no cover charge and some pretty groovy DJ mixing, most of the stuff didn’t have words or anything, and when there was a recognizable song, it was either sampled Aretha Franklin (RESP….RESP….RES..RES…) or Bob Marley. There will be returnage to this place.

Today I just walked around the Turia and began taking care of my final possible credit push. If this one fails, then uncharted territory has been entered: that of loss of insurance money and scholarship money. Which is obviously all my fault.

That’s why I’m up so late, in fact, because I had to find all the course information (one class I could find nothing for) and for two of the syllabi I had to translate them myself, and I was already tired.

There was a lot more I was going to talk about in this entry, I think, but damned if I can remember any of it now. But here are the pictures of my apartment you were promised.

The view from my door into my room. Pardon the mess.

View of the desk.

View up from the window. I’m on the eighth piso (floor).

View down from the window.
This is essentially the “entrance salon” or hallway.

This is the back part of the combined dining – living room, which is where we eat.
This is the front part, the living room.

This is the view looking straight out from the balcony. That is the shield of F.C. Valencia, on the Mestalla, which is the name of the stadium.
This is the view turned north on the balcony, up Avenida de Suecia.

This is the night we watched the match between Spain and England. From the left: flatmate Raul, Jose (Pepe’s amigo), and flatmate Pepe. The food was good.

And honestly, that’s all I have the strength for right now.


If You’re Comin’ to Look for Apartments, Be Sure to Wear some Mariscos in Your Hair.

I: I am now friends / conference-mates with two MCP-elects (and one former roomate by extension): the MCP-Elect of Austria and the MCP-Elect of Latvia. Congratulations.

II: My thoughts and my sympathies are with these people right now.

III: Today I went to Valencia after class for two apartment appointments. I arrived at four; the first was at six and the second at seven-thirty.
First thing I did was go to where the six-o’clock place was. It is in the city center (historical), which is close to a lot of stuff but not so close to the university. I wanted to get a feel for the area, however, so I walked around for two hours. I noticed that for about two blocks radiating out of my potential piso, everything was dreary and urban decay; and once you stepped out of that zone everything was delightful and “Valencian,” I might say in a kitschy way of foreign expectation of some kind of feeling that probably doesn’t really exist about a place that probably also doesn’t really exist.
Anyway, within these two blocks, I witnessed two police incidents within one hour. Both had three police cars at the incidents. I was also getting in general weird-feeling because I saw some shady-looking chicas around as well. When six came around, I called the person, and they explained to me (all in Spanish) that they had really meant jueves (Thursday), when the email clearly stated lunes (hoy, Monday). I argued for a bit, then they said not until jueves. I was 95% decided against that building (especially at €295 per month) when I asked an old feller in the street (again in Spanish) about having seen the police incidents, and if this street (Calle de Triador) was a safe one (specifically, if there was a lot of crime here). He answered me in his thick Valencian accent that had seen as least as much Franco as PSOE, “Eso es un calle de mujeres.” Whores. And as I left the area, I saw one more guy being pulled by a policeman, into a white police car.
The second, closer to both a metro stop and the school, was in a far better neighborhood, was quite a nice flat, and had a balance of two Italian girls and a French guy. They were “buscando solo chicos” (looking only for male applicants). I really liked the flat, and I was about to seal it – when they said “We’ll talk to you in two or three days. There are about 25 applicants.” What the hell am I supposed to do in order to make myself outstanding? At least I was only speaking Spanish. I really want that apartment though…I doubt they come much better.
I have two more tomorrow. You’ll have to wish me luck or something equally useless, if I have any elevated hope if things are like this each time.



I finally have a Nomadlife blog. I intentionally waited until I got here (from Atlanta, Georgia, USA to Valencia, Spain) in order to activate it because I wanted to be real xhardcorex and not be some kid typing just hanging in the same place.

I am an Anglo-Celtic Alabamian who attends the Georgia Institute of Technology. I am twenty years old, and will turn twenty-one in one month. Only one month of a break on the US’s progressive substance laws. I am a member of AIESEC there, I was a part of the group that restarted it in 2005 and I was VP People Development in 2006. I count December 30th, 2005, when I and a few others drove eight hours to Dayton, Ohio for the Winter Strategic Conference 2006, as probably the most important day of my life (unless you count September 9, when I learned about AIESEC).

The reason for that is it allows me to have a platform for my potential to develop, an amazing network of amazing people, and it gave me an excuse to flex my global muscle(s). I had always wanted to study abroad, but my experiences with AIESEC have certainly changed the way in which I would approach it.

Which is why I am now in Grau de Gandia, España, with about 100 Erasmus students (and less than 10 Americans and Australians) in an intensive Spanish language course for two weeks before we relocate to the Universitat Politècnica de València. If you want to see it, the coordinates on Google Earth are 39°28’32.90″N and 0°20’37.00″W. It’s near the platja (Valencian for beach).

The month leading up to this was extremely busy. After leaving work, I had to prepare and execute being OC VP Promotions for AIESEC US Winter Strategic Conference 2007, then almost immediately go to Culiacan, Mexico to faci for their national leadership development seminar. And four days after I got back from that, I flew to Spain, about 18 hours before my class began. So this is my first break for a while.

There are many things I could have written about had I access to the internet before now, but some of them have subsided, and now what I can say is that our apartment, which is on the ninth and top floor of the Apartamentos Turisticos Biarritz in Grau de Gandia, has an excellent view of the beach and ocean, and the sunrise. It is like a dream here.

The future will bring change.