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Dancing Queen

It’s been almost 2 weeks since my first and last on-stage dance performance. I never thought I’d enjoy a dance class like I enjoyed Latin Rhythms. The first day of class I was mortified and by the end of the semester I was dancing with a broom on stage in heels. My comfort level made a 180; a theme that seems to be prevalent throughout my semester abroad. 

The classes leading up to the performance were stressful. At that point in time, I was hating it. I was struggling to get the dances down and Susi wasn’t happy with our work. After a stern speech, we pulled it together just in time for the performance on Tuesday (Dec. 4th). The performance, referred to as “A Night on Broadway”, required that we be at the theater all day. 2:00-10:30 was a rollercoaster of emotions from excitement to nervousness. We’d spent all afternoon practicing, so you’d think that by 7:30 when the show started I’d be ready. That’s funny. I was too nervous for my own good. I mean, my confidence level was through the roof dancing in that spandex, sparkly dress and witch hat. I was glad that tango was my first dance; I knew that one best and at least I had Manny to lead me as my partner if I messed up. We nailed it. And I actually had a blast. The crowd loved it and my friends in the audience were yelling my name. A semester’s worth of dance lessons was paying off! There were times when I definitely wished I wasn’t in a dance class, but the performance made it worthwhile. I had a blast and a half dancing on stage. Didn’t see that one coming. As worthwhile as it was, I think it’s safe to say that was my first and last dance performance. 

Here’s the link to my tango performance: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dWRgmCp-vYk&feature=youtu.be

And here is someone else’s video of my whole class’s performance: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10152277750590324&set=vb.716435323&type=3&theater (I come in during the Tango, at the “Love is Wicked” song, and at the end of the wheel dance. I’m not positive the link will work.)

Now that it’s over and my Tuesday and Thursday afternoons are no longer spent at the dance studio, I kind of miss it. Ending that class was bittersweet. Whenever we go out dancing to clubs/bars now, all I want to do is break out my salsa, merengue, and bachata moves. 

Here’s to not letting the expansion of my comfort zone end with my Latin Rhythms performance. 

London, Finally

I’m sitting in the airport about to write about my trip to London last weekend while I wait to go to Morocco. Is this real life?! I can’t believe that this is actually happening!

Before we left for London, we got to celebrate an American Thanksgiving with a dinner through the university. After classes on Thursday, Jess, Alex, Rachael, Angela, and I went to the Thanksgiving theme decorated cafeteria near SLU. We had invited madre and padre to come, but they weren’t able to get there until an hour later. So we grabbed our plates of turkey, stuffing, peas, mashed potatoes, corn, and cheesecake before joining other SLU students at the dinner table. It was nothing close to the home-cooked Thanksgiving meal I get at home, but it was still a good feast. When madre showed up, all our friends got to meet her; it was great. Of course everyone loved her. When we were all stuffed to the brim, Jess, Rachael, and I went to go see SLU’s production of Tartuffe. It was a spur of the minute decision to go, I didn’t have anything  better to do, and it turned out to be pretty funny. The play ended and it was time to head back home so that I could skype my family for Thanksgiving. I had a blast and a half seeing everyone and answering their questions.

I started this blog in the Madrid Airport waiting to go to Morocco and now I’m finishing it in the Zurich, Switzerland Airport waiting to go to Berlin. My life is perfect.

I only got to sleep for a few hours after skyping with my family before hopping in a taxi to the airport to catch our 6:30am flight. We arrived in London and found a cute little café to chill and plan out our weekend. We started off with the famous wax museum, Madame Tussauds. It was so cool!!! I couldn’t get over how life-like the figures were. Since they were sometimes scattered on the floor, I mistook a few of them for real people. We walked around for a while posing with our favorite celebs. Naturally I got my picture with Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga, and the royal family. Other molds there were Robert Pattinson, Russell Brandt, Justin Timberlake, Obama, Hitler, Gandhi, Churchill, E.T, Marilyn Monroe, and a ton more. After our star treatment we went to go see a musical. Theaters were everywhere and there were a ton of advertisements for ½ price tickets. While we were riding the Tube, we saw and advertisement saying, “If you love Big Bang Theory you’ll love Loserville.” So obviously we went to go see it. It ended up being the most cliché, catchy, and generic musical out there. Other than a few Star Trek references and the overall theme of nerds, it was nothing like Big Bang Theory. Still, we walked out of the theater with all of its catchy songs stuck in our heads. Afterwards, we caught a glimpse of London’s nightlife as we walked around the city area.
Saturday we wanted to do the Fat Tire Bike Tour since we loved it so much in Barcelona. On our way to the bike tour, we passed the famous Tower Bridge; so we stopped there for our classic abroad selfies before meeting up with our bikes. So like London, it started raining when our tour began. Now I have done both of the bike tours in the rain. We plan on doing one in Berlin too because a guy on our ride in London said it was fabulous so I’m hoping the rain will hold out for our third and final bike tour. On our bikes we drove through 3 Royal Parks and saw Trafalgar Square, Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Parliament, Big Ben, and The Princess Diana Memorial. It didn’t quite live up to the greatness of Barcelona’s, but it was still a blast and a half. After riding for almost 4 hours in the cold rain, it was back to the hostel to warm up and get a quick nap in before going on a pub crawl. It’s funny when we go out in other countries because in Madrid we usually leave our apartment around 11:30/12:00. The pub crawl started at 7:30 and we just can’t handle that. The first bar we actually went to closed at 12:30. That’s unheard of in Madrid. Kapital didn’t even open until midnight in Madrid. So we left a whole lot earlier than we’re used to and were back by 1:30am. So weird.

Sunday was yet another early morning. Jessica had wanted to do the Harry Potter tour, so Rachael and I went to visit the London Tower instead. At the Tower we got to see the crown jewels and a lot of other royal paraphernalia. The grounds were impressive and we spent at least 4 hours walking around the museums and premises. Bedazzled by the royalty, next on our agenda was to shop around the Portobello Market. Apparently on Sundays it’s a winter wonderland. We were ready to pregame for our trip to the Berlin Christmas Markets. I expected the streets to be crawling with vendors. It was a baby compared to El Rastro. They had lots of cool vintage things and a variety of food stalls. We paraded around the area eating delicious food and drinking hot chocolate. It was an awesomely chill Sunday afternoon. When we’d hit up all of the shops, we walked to the British Museum mainly to see the Rosetta stone and meet up with Jess. Fortunately, they put the main attraction on the first floor: easy access. We admired the language inscriptions for a while. It was fantastic. I still can’t get over all of the things I’m seeing that I’ve learned about in the past. After the museum, we just casually strolled around the city doing some shopping. We headed back to our hostel at a decent hour so that we could get a few hours of sleep before we had to catch a bus to the airport at 5:30am. It’s going to be a great day when I can finally sleep in and not set an alarm for some ungodly hour. It was another one of those get in early in the afternoon and go straight to classes.

Overall, London was amazing. I could sit an listen to their accents all day. However, I could not study abroad there. The dollar to pound conversion was out of this world; it ended up being my most expensive weekend. Since we only paid 21 euros for our round-trip flight I guess I can’t complain.

What a weekend. 

Molly in Morocco: Day 3

No different from any other weekend, I woke up bright and early praying that this day excursion would make up for my cancelled 2-day adventure. We hopped on the minibus and drove for a while until we reached a Berber village. The Berber house that we got to tour was eye opening: dirt floors, no doors, and stone-age appliances. Our group followed chickens and children through the maze of rooms to the kitchen where the women were making tea. They showed us to a lounge room where we sat and sipped the traditional Berber mint tea and munched on bread dipped in honey, olive oil, and butter. When we were leaving, the Berber children followed us out of the house begging for dirhams ($$$). The guy in front of me had a hard time resisting their cuteness and eventually gave in. The second he pulled out a coin the kids seized the opportunity and dove for it. The fought each other, tackling the other kids to get the coin. It was mayhem. Someone else had given them a bag of chips and they freaked out, fighting over that too. While the guy was peeling kids off of him, one of them managed to stick her hand in his pocket and take some money. Our tour guide literally had to hold the kids back while we jumped back into the van on our way to the Berber garden.

The Moroccans who work at the garden told us about all of the oils, creams, and medicines that come from the plants they grow. And of course, at the end of the tour they offered us to purchase saffron, Moroccan oil, and other varieties of spices, creams, and medicines.

From the garden, we jumped back into the minibus for lunch. We pulled into this cute little restaurant and ate on the rooftop terrace. I enjoyed a traditional tangier berber. I was a little nervous as to what I had ordered, but turns out it was just chicken and vegetables in some kind of spice. Crisis averted.

Now that our stomachs were full, it was time to walk off lunch. We began out hike up the Atlas Mountains to see the waterfalls. It felt a little strange. The mountains were snow-capped and looked just like the Swiss Alps. It was nothing like the picture of Morocco I had in my head. Our tour guide took us on this crazy off-beaten path. We essentially rock climbed for an hour.  Hiking through the Atlas Mountains wore me out and I slept almost the whole drive back to Marrakesh. I never would’ve thought I’d have an easier time hiking in the Swiss Alps over the mountains in Africa. To me it didn’t feel like Africa. My image was so different and I was looking forward to riding a camel through the flat, somewhat warm, Sahara desert. My expectations definitely put a damper on things, but I think I had the best substitute for my cancelled tour.

When we returned, it seemed a little early to call it a night, so I went back to the square to see the nightlife. I walked around for a while, enjoying my last night in Morocco. I’d have to say it was one of my favorite trips merely because it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. The culture was so new to me as well as the environment. I had never been so uncomfortable and so ok with it in my life. I took quite a leap out of my comfort zone. It was also one of my hardest goodbyes yet. Maybe because it was my last RyanAir flight. Whatever the reason, I almost cried when I had to leave. Going to Morocco was such a big deal for me. I knew that I wanted to do it and I made it happen. 3 months ago I don’t think I would’ve ever had the guts to do what I did that weekend. It was a life changing experience that I wouldn’t trade for the world.

My flight landed in Madrid at 3pm. Just enough time to make it to my Latin Rhythms rehearsal at 4:30pm. After 2 hours of practice, it was time to go home and catch up on all of my homework from that weekend.

Tuesday came and we had the big general rehearsal with everyone for our performance that night. I was in the theater from 2-10:30pm. It was a long, exciting, fun, nerve-filled day.

I’ll blog about the performance after I finally catch up with London. Busy busy busy.

What a weekend. 

Molly in Morocco: Day 2

I woke up bright and early at 5:30am to be ready for my tour.  This was what I had been waiting for, my camel ride through the African desert!!! I nervously waited in my hostel for the tour guide to pick me up at 7am. The time came and no one was there. I didn’t think they’d leave without me since they’d picked me up from the airport and what not, so I waited a little while longer. Around 7:30 a group of people had gathered in the common room talking about the 2-day, 1-night desert tour and I assumed they were going on the same one I was. I followed the group out to the minibus. When people started paying, I told them I had paid the day before and showed them my receipt. Just my luck, I was with the wrong tour group. I panicked while the nice guides called the correct company and drove me to their office where I hopped on the right bus this time.

I couldn’t tell you how long we drove because I fell asleep, but it was long enough for me to get some significant rest. We abruptly stopped at this café because the road we were supposed to continue on was closed. Our guide explained to us that there was snow blocking our way to the mountains and that no tour group could pass. However, he told us not to worry because people were already working on clearing the snow and we should be on our way in an hour or so. I sat in this cute little café chatting with some friends I met on the bus while we waited for our tour guide to give us the go ahead. Unfortunately, an hour later he informed us that the entire 2-day, 1-night excursion was cancelled. I WAS LIVID. LIKE BEYOND LIVID. THIS TOUR IS WHY I CAME HERE. Utterly disappointed, we all got back on the bus to drive back to Marrakech. It was a long disappointing ride. I had no idea what I was going to do when I got back. Those 2 days were supposed to be spent riding camels and sleeping under the stars. There’s no way I would’ve come here by myself if I wasn’t going on that tour. What made me even angrier was that the company just kept telling us to rebook for tomorrow. Apparently they didn’t understand that some of us have flights to catch. They didn’t even give me all of my money back for the tour. Like I said, LIVID. As if I wasn’t upset enough, they wouldn’t drive me back to the hostel. I had no idea where I was.  I furiously marched through the big square on my way back to the hostel and stopped to look around all the shops and street performers. I spied some things that I wanted to buy, so I decided to go drop my backpack off before getting in too deep. What should’ve been a 15 minute walk turned into me struggling for an hour and a half through the maze that is Morocco.

When I had finally arrived in the hostel, I was exhausted, but I pulled myself together and headed back to the square. On my way, I stopped at the sandwich place I ate at last night. At the sandwich stand I ran into Cal, the guy I ate with yesterday. Cal and I ended up heading to the square together. Since I had just spent the past 1.5 hours lost in the Moroccan maze, it was so great to have someone walking with me who knew where he was going. We strolled through the big square and the souks around it. I don’t feel any sense of danger walking around.  The people are harmless; all they want is you to visit their shop and buy their stuff. As long as you firmly say no, they won’t bother you again. I absolutely love walking around the big square. It’s full of snake charmers, monkeys on leashes, henna tattoo artists, and vendors. They just walk around free-nilly with those snakes!!! I was mesmerized. If you stare and watch too long, they assume you want to take your picture with one and don’t hesitate to wrap a snake right around your shoulder. Horrifying. As Cal and I were making our way through the square a man threw his monkey on my arm. I was taken back a bit because I knew he’d beg for money afterwards. Cal sniped a pic and like I anticipated, the man demanded money. Cal was pretty strong headed and merely shook the man off and walked away, no harm done. We walked around some more before Cal had to leave to meet up with some friends. I decided to hang in the square and do more shopping; after all, my plans had been cancelled. When I got here I really wanted to get real henna, not the silly ones you get on vacation in Florida. So I found a lady in the square and sat down at her little booth. She started drawing the intricate flowers and designs on my hand. She even asked my name so that she could write it in Arabic. I was a little nervous that she was actually writing something other than my name like the classic Chinese tattoos. As it turns out she actually did write my name! How do I know? Because after that nearly every vendor was trying to get my attention yelling, “Molly! Qué guapa!” Fun fact: everyone here thinks I’m Spanish. Strangely, American is their last guess. Vendors were shouting “Hola” all afternoon. I kind of take it as a compliment. I think it may have something to do with the way I’ve taken to saying “no”. Speaking Spanish has become second nature to me. It’s the first thing that comes out of my mouth and I love it. With Cal’s directions, I began the short trek back to the hostel, goods in hand.

At the hostel, the common room is the place to be. Everyone is just hanging out chatting, smoking hookah, and drinking wine. It’s the chillest environment. While I was just sitting on one of the couches, a guy who just arrived was talking about how he was starving and wanted to go get food but was too nervous to go out on his own. So I offered to walk to the square with him and grab a bite to eat. We were chatting up a storm and he was so shocked when I told him I just got here yesterday. His words were, “And you’re ok with walking around already?!” It was obvious that he just got here; still stuck on the rumors of danger in Marrakech. It felt amazingly awesome to actually know where I was going and how to navigate the markets. Someone was following ME. That rarely happens. He was a pretty cool guy. The people you meet in hostels are always so interesting and have the best stories.

It’s getting time to call it a night and pray that my tour tomorrow doesn’t get cancelled.

What a day. 

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