The Birthday of A Lifetime and The Trip to Léon

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Jan. 18th 1988 was the day I was born Fatim Byrd. To be more correct, for about a couple of hours I had no name. I sat in some baby crib surrounded by other nameless or newly named babies. According to my mother, she didn´t name me until hours later. She was in so much pain that she decided to sleep before naming me. So for an uncertain amount of time, I was simply no one in a nominal sense. Those were my humble beginnings, a nameless thing.

Jan.18th 2011 was my birthday, which happened almost three weeks ago. I take no pride or interest in celebrating my birthday. I usually let it pass as if it’s a normal day in United States. Some people would call this sad or unfortunate, I just call it living my life. I am usually a very reserved and isolated person that enjoys solitude. My time here in Spain has changed a great deal of that lifestyle. Instead of my birthday disappearing in the sea of countless days, it was actually celebrated this time. My classmates and newly founded friends convinced me to do something special for it. I actually did something that is one of my most favorite passions: watching films. Films are amazing to me and they seem to be the most effective way of changing the world. No matter where you go in the world, there is probably someone out there who has seen at least one movie you have seen. There is also someone out there who can quote lines or even recognize actors that you may like. So I thought to myself, I am going out to see a movie and that’s what I did.

So I invited a few of my classmates out to see Tambien La Lluvia. This was an amazing film that starred Gael Garcia Bernal, who happened to star in a favorite film of mine called Science of Sleep by Michel Gondry. I thought Tambien La Lluvia was a great film and had themes that I enjoyed. It even had a sort of triple level plot. The film is about a director who is filming a film, while another film is happening right before us. It was like watching a film about film filming a film. It was a very interesting film, but not the best international film I have seen. That prize would go to Biutiful. I saw this film about a week ago with the amigos, and it was priceless. It stars Javier Bardem, one of my favorite actors. He was in a film that I loved called No Country For Old Men. That film was a classic and I’ve watched it about 50 times. Obviously, from that performance I was expecting another great one in Biutiful.

Did he disappoint me? Not at all!  His performance was the best I have seen in years and rivaled almost to none. There is a scene where he is fixing cereal for his kids and they are so poor that they are imagining that its something else. It was a very emotional scene that made me fall in love with the performance he was giving. Also, the film was in spanish with no english subtitles, so this was actually a chance for me to improve my listening and comprehension of Spanish. I understood about 85% of the movie, but Bardem´s performance was sooo good that even if you never been in one class of spanish, you still would understand him. The guy has a magnificent way of telling you the story of a character through his repertoire of facial expressions. He is a convincing actor. The movie itself was pretty well done and well-edited. It had an interesting and eerie supernatural element that complemented the sentiments and themes of the film well. It was a perfect story of a man trying his best to love his family. It was a sad film, and some of my friends in Spain said it was even depressing enough to have a drink afterward, but I still loved it. Sometimes the most tragic films are the best resemblance to real life.

Anyway, my birthday in Spain was the greatest. I also enjoyed the cake that my host mom made. It was delicious. It was a triple layer chocolate cake. One layer was cream, and two layers chocolate cake. She even bought me a present, which afterwards she said that she wasn´t sure if it fit me. If I were her, I would have felt the same way because Spain doesn’t seem to like clothing people of my size. In the summer when I was here, I walked into El Cortes Ingles, which is a very popular clothing store and mall, and I almost couldn´t find a pair of pants that could fit me. It was a very exhausting process. It took me hours before I could find something that was appropriate for my size. So I imagine that a Spaniard looking for a piece of clothing for me would be no easy task. I appreciate the effort and the shirt. I am really lucky to have a host mom of her caliber.

Last weekend, I went to Léon, a province of Spain, which is about an hour and a half away from Oviedo. It was a very uncomfortable bus ride going there, because thanks to our bus driver, we got lost. So we turned it into a three-hour bus ride. Like Spain in general, It has tons of churches and tons of history behind them. The trip to Leon was almost a disaster, but it actually ended pretty well. Before going to the city of Leon, we made some stops at other small sites surrounding Leon. One of them was the small town of Beirzo to see Las Medullas. It is an ancient Roman site where the Romans drained the mountains of the gold. We eventually went on a miniature hike up the mountains and saw some more spectacular views. The mountain was very muddy and I almost ruined my sneakers trying to walk up it.

 

Las Medulas

We then left and went to a small town called Astorga, but we got there so late that everything was closed. Although we didn’t get an opportunity to go inside Gaudi´s Episcopal Palace, I did get a chance to stand next to it. I did get to take a couple of pictures and buy some chocolate, which were very delicious. Their chocolate is supposed to be a big deal, but I kinda felt that it was only good. It wasn´t anything really unbelievably delicious, but I am from Pennsylvania—Home of the Hershey, so I guess I am used to the best.

We left Astorga at about 6pm and arrived in Leon. We got our hostel, and chilled for an hour. Me and some of my classmates/friends watched part of one my favorite film, The Fountain directed by Darren Aronosky. Then we headed out to for tapas and drinks. They had a crazy discount too. 1 euro for tapas and drinks for free. The night was amazing and tapas delicious. There were a ridiculous amount of tapas.

That night I had Patatos Bravas, Calamares, and Pincho Moruno. Outside of this experience, I have eaten Croquetas, which are an all time fav of mine, and Tortilla Espanoila, which is also very delicious. Anything resembling Chorizo, I try to stay away from. It tastes like salami, but has much stronger zing to it. It’s like a sour-tangy taste. After the night´s festivities, we all went on a tour of the city of Leon that almost went completely sour, if it were not for the Gaudi designed buildings and the interesting sites in general. We were supposed to go to a museum, but it was closed for the day. That event sort of put my spirits down, but It didn’t ruin my mood completely.

This Gaudi designed building inspired Walt Disney…..Can you see it?
As for my classes in Oviedo, Spain, they are wonderful. However, there are always one or two classes that drive me insane. This semester its called Hispano-America. I am not sure if it’s the teacher fault or the format of the class itself that sucks. I have not mastered the spanish mannerisms, personality types, or its general culture yet, so I will not speak about those things concerning the teacher. Nevertheless, I think it’s universally annoying to start a class with college students who have taken history in general with ¨What happened in 1492¨ for 4 classes in a row.

La Casa de Botines
Anyways, I enjoyed my time here in Spain. It has been so much more amazing than my last time here. It seems like surreal almost. I am only thankful for being alive, but I have so much more. If not a miracle, this whole thing is miracle-like.

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