Saturday, December 31, 2011


Today is the last day of 2011, new years eve day or Nochevieja.
On this day I really enjoy incorporating everything I'm looking forward to focusing on in the new coming year. I find it's a great day to narrow my attention to what can realistically be done in a day and ask in a million ways, 'what do I want this year to look like?' As an example, this past year I wanted to celebrate a lot so I blew out a candle on a cup cake. My year was reflected by many celebrations that I really acknowledged and consciously celebrated.  It's not about superstition so much as giving myself a full day to really think about what I'm going to make the year about.

Although... last year I made sure that the friends around me ate The 12 grapes, which is a Spanish tradition and now here I am in Madrid where that tradition started! So maybe I'm a little superstitious.

New years superstitions I've come across over the years...
- Take a suitcase outside (I actually helped someone cary in luggage by accident in 2011)
- Wear yellow underwear for I think travel or maybe just luck in general
- Wear red underwear for luck in love ;)
- Don't sweep, because you'll sweep out the good luck
- What you do on new years determines the rest of the year
- Dancing really crazy is just good for everyone involved and will help you laugh at yourself the whole year through

My absolute favourite tradition is this questionnaire that I've been copying out in my journal for the past 5 years
Questions for the New Year   
1. This year name one person that you will make the attempt to have a stronger relationship with?
2. This year what is one risk that you promise to take?
3. This year what is one aspect of your personality that you will be willing to change to make yourself more likeable?
4. This year, what is one daily ritual that you can commit to?
5. This year, what song could you choose to represent the year you are going to have and will you
download that song after reading these words?
6. This year, who is one civil servant that you will say hello to for the entire year?
7. This year, what is one body of water that you promise yourself you will swim in?
8. This year, name one person that you will truly thank who rarely gets thanked.
9. This year, what is an artistic experience that you promise to have?
10. This year, what is one argument that you will no longer have?
11. This year, what is one thing that you will do to give back to the world or community that you live in?
12. This year, what is one thing that you will learn?
13. This year, what is one thing you will let go of knowing you don't have the power to change it?
14. This year, where will your quiet place be?
15. This year, name three people you will surprise with a random gift?
16. This year, what is one thing that you will teach someone else?
17. This year, what is one fear that you will overcome?
18. This year, what is one food that you will eat more often?
19. This year, what is something wonderful about your personality that you promise to consciously appreciate?
20. This year, what will you do that you have always known you had to do?   

I've also started putting quotes on photos I've been taking and there's a special one for new

Thursday, December 22, 2011

♩♪♫♬ Mil Euros

Today was the craziness that is the Spanish lottery and from nine till noon you could hear the voices of children singing lottery numbers and their corresponding jackpot amount. If you want to actually understand it go here for fun facts.
This is what happens when more then 1,000€ is drawn...

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Ten days to christmas...really?

I have grown up with the North American Christmas craze. Every store beacons you to gaze upon it's glorious gifts. Going into a store can be dangerous because it ends up being 'one gift for you, one gift for me'. Decorations for every religion are piled onto everything as the Hallowe'en decorations are being taken down. Holiday tunes blare from everywhere putting you in the spirit or making you miserable depending on the day.

This year though I'm in a small city in Spain where the decorations aren't glittering with the same gusto. There are very pretty lights in most of the main streets. There is a giant tree outside city hall made of poinsettias and a big white and blue tree in another square. The stores have hardly any signs or lights or decorations but outside most store doors are pots of poinsettias.
Here children write letters to Papa Noel who begins the holidays AND the Three Wise Men who mean it's back to school time. I know Santa has Elves to help him with all his mail but I haven't found out who is secretary to the Wise.
The public television here has no advertisements, so no holiday cheer there. Then the channels that do have ads are predominately for perfume (which make me blush), ham legs (which make me cringe) and lottery (which leaves me confused). Where is their sense of over dramatized commercialism to show your love?
The lottery is what people turn to when they're old enough to know that Santa isn't going to be giving them a gift. People here say "Happy Christmas, Prosperous New Year" in the regular tone then very animatedly say "but good luck on the lottery!" and have a five minute conversation about their numbers and where they'll be. Tickets cost 20-23Euros depending where you buy them and people wait in line for up to four hours (in Madrid, Port de Sol) for their tickets, so says the Spanish news.

In other news, I'm at the only internet cafe in Almuñecar where I asked for a coffee with chocolate and they brought me this...
It's not a Spanish morning if there aren't a few heaps of sugar.
... needless to say it was a delicious-warm-coffee-chocolate-delight

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Immaculate Conception Day, Pasapalabra & Rum

This quote attributed to Winston Chrurchill was recently shared with me...
"Nowadays we have reduced the world to a twentieth of the size it was 100 years ago. People can rush about frantically through the air. They certainly do not see the beauties of the world, and it is surely their responsibility to show that they make it better. It is a delusion to think that being able to move rapidly about from place to place makes people happier or wiser. As for the advantages of travel, they may be greatly exaggerated. In order to know anything about a country you must walk through it. You must sleep on its soil, pluck its foliage with your fingers. You must light your fires by its fiords and streams, and watch the dawn break beyond strange mountains."
It fits beautifully with the way of life I experienced on the camino and the life I would like to strive for as I travel.

The past few weeks I have been relaxing here in the south of Spain. Spending a lot of time getting pushed around my Abuela's kitchen, having Spanish verbs corrected by cousins, and dipping my feet in the Mediterranean. This week has been especially busy, what with watching as the city workers tend to the palm trees, visiting a Medieval market set up near the beach, and observing two holidays! 'Constitution Day' a civic holiday that not everyone had off work and 'Immaculate Concepcion' day where the church bells rang and fireworks bursted.
Wednesday I dropped in on an acting class where I read the part of Dorthey Simple in the Tennesse Williams play, 'The case of the crushed petunias' it was a laugh and I learned a few Spanish acting warm-up games too! (I plan to go back every Wednesday I'm still in Almuñecar)
Also to help with my Spanish self-education I've been watching a game show called 'Pasapalabra' (pass the word) where two contestants compete against each other with two celebrities at their side answering word game related trivia questions to rack up time points. Then with those time points the contestants stand on their own and race the clock answering questions in an alphabetical order, saying Pasapalabra for the words they don't know and thus hopping over the letter of their alphabet circle. It's brilliant and I learn more words every episode. It's bliss when I actually understand the announcer (who speaks faster than an auctioneer) and can shout an answer at the tv.
To add to the busy week I've had a couple day trips. Yesterday I went to Malaga to visit family. Today I went to Motril, the city of the sugar cane. There I stopped at a museum and the Ron Montero where I tried their 'Superior Taste' Awarded rum with hot chocolate. It was velvety delicious and I can't believe as a cold Canadian I haven't always been spiking my hot chocolate!
Keep warm Toronto!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Friday, December 2, 2011

"...this is not about guilt. It is about taking responsibility for the damage we have inflicted upon others."

As a Canadian I enjoyed reading the following article on the David Suzuki Foundation blog.

Canada a moral guide to no nation
By Dale Marshall

There is a family of birds found mostly in Africa called honeyguides that will deliberately lead humans to bee colonies. After its human followers have found the hives and harvested the honey, the honeyguide will feed on the wax and grubs left behind.
A few years ago, a colleague with vast experience in international development said that historically Canada's role in international negotiations was to be the world's honeyguide. Any nations unsure of what position to take on an important multilateral issue could look to Canada to lead them—inevitably—to the moral equivalent of the honey pot. Continue Reading...