Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I'm moving to Altea Hills. I had dinner tonight in the most gorgeous villa I have ever, or probably will ever, set eyes on and foot in. After a quick half hour drive along the coast I found myself in the middle of a little mountain range on the Costa Blanca in a casa set up high on the hillside. Standing outside on the terrace, I took in deep breaths of fresh sea air as I looked over the small city of Altea and the Mediterranean. I thought twice about taking my camera with me this morning and never have I regretted a decision so quickly. You should have seen the sun set behind the mountains.

Around the dinner table were ladies from Russia, Japan, Sweden, the USA, Cuba, Spain (and me, from good ol' Canada), and we dined on dishes from around the world - sangria, Russian salad, Swedish meatballs, miso soup, borscht, Japanese cabbage salad, Spanish jamon, Asian-Spanish-inspired stir-fry (compliments of yours truly), Spanish orange cake, and tea from Russia - it was truly the most International meal I've ever had. It was funny that though the conversation sat somehwere between English and Spanish, we could all laugh about the same things. Languages are funny that way - some things are just naturally beyond linguistic barriers; like food and music, or cute dogs barking and boob jokes. And did you know that the word 'prostitute' sounds nearly the same in Enlgish, Spanish and Swedish? I do now.

The last two weeks or so have been amazingly great - I feel more at home here every day and I'm realizing how short four months really is. Already I know that when it comes time for me to leave, I won't want to at all. In three short weeks, I've managed to learn more Spanish than I ever thought I would; I can go shopping by myself, I can buy inter-city bus tickets, order at restaurants, and get to the airport and back via public transit. Tri-lingualism, here I come!

My roomie from home just spent the last week with me and because of her, we got to do some amazing things. There's nothing quite like strolling along multiple beaches with the foamy sea lapping at your bare feet and having sangria and tapas and paella and wine with a good friend. We danced the nights away in various bars and discoteques in el barrio until morning came and found us eating kebabs on cobblestone streets. In Calpe, we hiked up the muy peligroso mountainside of El Penon d'Ifach (a solid one thousand feet of solid limestone rock) - I, in shoes that weren't mine - and believe it or not, didn't die. Having lunch at the peak is something that needs to be done in order to fully realize exactly how magnificent it is. We climbed down to gorgeous lagoons in Benidorm and played with the waves that crashed against the rocks, and walked along winding cliffside roads until we found ourselves overlooking the sea yet again. We got drunk off crappy pina coladas and made a mess of the dinner table and ourselves. In Elche, we played in the children's playground in the largest plam tree park in Europe, ran thorugh fountains and climbed nearly two hundred tightly wound steps to the top of the Basilica of Santa Maria to see the city from up high. Tonight, I fell in love with Altea.

I'm going to school, meeting new people and gathering names and countries, I'm learning to dance the bachata, I'm eating my way through cities. My next stop is Granada, with its teterias and restaurants in caves and flamenco dancing and Alhambra and general Moorish influence.

As if I'm ever going home.