My break has officially begun. Yes, no more classes, no more assignments or projects to turn in, no more tests (well, just one more French test in January), and no more dealing with the disfunctionalism of the Spanish educational system!!! Life continues to delight me in so many ways, a wonderful surprise which I hope to continue as long as possible. One of the highlights of my time, surprisingly, has been the compliments I have received from several friends on how my spanish has improved, which reminded me of the subtle yet fluid aspects of this life. Though we may feel as if our life is stagnant, boring, or simply uneventful (although I can assure you this statement is not a reflection of my view upon my life as of lately), so many things in our own worlds are always changing and fluctuating, subtly flowing with the tides of time. I certainly can’t point out to you a precise moment over the past four months in which I can say “that’s the moment when my Spanish improved” or “that’s definitely the minute I finally understood European culture”. Enough said.
My life lately. Wonderful. Travel. I managed to sneak a three day trip into the beautiful city of Munich (München), where my good friend Carter and I plunged into the heart of Bavarian culture and all of it’s history, tradition and atmosphere. Everything from breakfast at the hostel to climbing the church bell tower that overlooked the city was fascinating, confirming everything I had ever imagined about Germany. The people there are so friendly and hospitable, and nearly all of them speak close to perfect English. This is representative of the high degree of excellence they expect from just about every part of life. Our time at the Haufbrau House was delightful. It was as if someone had filled a giant cauldron full of German laughter, lederhosens, and brass music and then invited us to plunge into the fun. Except it was a pitcher instead of a caludron. And it was full of beer. The Haufbrau House is the most famous beer haus in Munich and now I can see why. The place was teeming with life and you couldn’t help but leave with a smile and a new friend. It was so refreshing to see such a joyful environment with a beer mug in everyone’s hand WITHOUT the obnoxiously sad traces of the chronic colle kid love affair with drunkedness and everything associated with this particular scene. I felt at home in such a warm environment, and could picture the many differences I would experience in my life if I were to live in such a place. On the final day of our trip we took a sombering tour to the Dachau concentration camp, a emotionally thick and turbulent graveyard with thousands upon thousands of reasons why we must never turn an ignorant eye to the past atrocities of mankind. The empty bunks, open courtyards and ominous showers were far less entertaining than the mugs of beer we had held in our hand just the other night, yet their power and tenacity were far more moving than the latter. I left that place feeling just a trace of the life that was gouged from the face of the earth, but only what was emotionally possible for someone who had never lived through such a ghastly period in the world’s history.
On a lighter note, I am eagerly looking forward to my upcoming plans for the holiday. In just four days my friend Rachael and I will venture North to the Catalunian capital of Barcelona to celebrate Christmas day with my good friend Michael Raveling. After three days in Barcelona, we will traverse across the Atlantic to partake in the New Year’s festivities in the green paradise of Ireland. Following Dublin, I will skip across to Scotland for a quick two days, leap over to Norway for a quick jaunt, before bounding back to my current home of Valencia. Blessings abounding, and I again find myself behind the wheel of this machine I call my life. My helmet is on, goggles are up, and my oxygen tank is securely fastened nearby in case of excitement overload. Friends, this is a wonderful life.