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I'm spending all of 2012 learning and experiencing new things. This blog is my way of documenting it all, while keeping my family and friends back in the states in the loop. Here's to 2012. Check out my website- Kat Carney Photography

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sometimes I wish I lived in an Airstream

"Sometimes I wish I lived in an Airstream, homemade curtains, live just like a gypsy. Break some hearts, roll out of town. Cuz gypsies never get tied down. Sometimes I wish I lived on a mountain, drank from a stream instead of a fountain." Miranda Lambert

I literally looked into buying an Airstream for when I return to the States. That way home is everywhere I go, and everywhere I go is home. I told my boyfriend this and he just laughed. He said that is something you definitely don't want to lug around with you all over the place. Maybe he's right. But come on, there is something a little bit enticing about living in an Airstream.

Sometimes I wonder why life is so good! When "grown-ups" used to tell me never to be in a hurry to grow up because life as a grown-up is full of bills and problems. They were right about not being in a hurry. The best part is savoring those great, and sometimes fleeting, moments of awesome happiness that happen throughout the day. Then again I don't have any kids and I don't really have any bills either...haha. So it's highly likely that I am not grown-up yet. But those things are just a result of choices I have made up until this point in my life. I like to think they were smart choices. I had A LOT of bills during and after college. I didn't like having bills. So I worked constantly and paid them all off. And I have to admit that even though sometimes life sucked because I was working so much, I had a lot of fun doing that too. I worked jobs that I never thought I would...i.e. teaching Intermediate Algebra classes at NCCC for a year and a half. Even that turned out to be fun. At some point in life I'm sure I'll have kids, and along with that comes bills. But if I can have fun teaching Algebra, I'm certain I can have fun doing anything.

De las fiestas de Primavera


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Wild Places

I love wild places and open spaces. I mean wide open spaces, the kind with big skies, and nobody in sight for miles. I like the way it feels to be completely and totally alone. Nothing but the earth and the sky and you. I think that is why I'm so drawn to the mountains. The ocean has that lure too if you can manage to isolate yourself on a boat, but beaches are normally crowed and I get seasick easily.

I feel like some of my most vivid memories are etched in these places. When I think about Kansas I think of insane lightning storms and crouching in a field (stupid, I know) taking long exposure photos of bolts shooting across the sky and striking the ground. Or driving down dirt roads I had never taken before just to see where they went and then watching the sun sink low on the horizon as the endless fields of wheat dance and sway in the golden light. Kansas is so beautiful despite what many people say. They say that because they have only driven through. They don't know what Kansas is like any better than I know what China is like. Step outside and look. There is beauty everywhere, and people normally find what they are looking for. Also, nothing makes you appreciate home more than leaving it for a while.

When I think of Alaska I remember the last few steps of an exhausting climb and the first sight of what lies beyond the mountain I had just conquered...vast, open, and seemingly endless space. Well, that and more mountains. I remember being in a semi-grumpy mood because of sheer exhaustion but I put one foot in front of another for hours until I almost fell into an incredibly bright, blue glacial pool. My exhaustion and bad mood instantly disappeared and was replaced with pure joy. To this day that is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. When the sun finally started going down again I remember staring up at the sky and thinking I have never been so close to the stars before. They were so close, within reach it seemed. And then there was the night when I saw the northern lights flow like a bright green river from mountain top to mountain top. Alaska is the kind of place that can change a person and the kind of wild that most people only hear about and never experience because they choose to go to Cancun instead. Once you've been to Alaska, you will never feel a desire to go to Cancun again. Or maybe you will if wild and free isn't really your thing and you're scared of bears and moose.

When I remember my time in Arizona I think about laying on the beach at the very end of Navajo Canyon at Lake Powell and staring at the brilliance of the night sky when there are no lights around to impede on the natural beauty. The next day we woke up with the sun and a pack of wild horses galloped past my friends and I, so close I was actually very frightened. Then we found a hidden waterfall, a natural spring, and Anasazi ruins.

These memories are why I keep traveling. I keep looking for the same feelings of peace and joy in different places. When all the walls and barriers fall away leaving you and the open space. You and nature. You and God. I think that is what freedom feels like. To me, it's kind of a spiritual experience. Like maybe I know my purpose and I fit into the natural world. If only for a moment.

Here in EspaƱa I have felt that way a few times. But I live in the city, and although it is possible to feel completely alone in the city, especially a foreign one, it is a lot more difficult to actually be alone. I felt that way after a storm one day when I was out in the beautiful countryside of south Spain. A rainbow came out and I grabbed my camera and ran. I ran through puddles and mud. I ran past horses, over hills, and out into the open space where I could see forever in every direction. There was nothing but the earth and sky and me. I thought of nothing but breathing and being. And I was perfectly happy.

Glacial pool in Alaska 
Stars in Arizona

Dirt road in Kansas

Lightning in Kansas

The end of a rainbow and wide open spaces in southern Spain

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Crisis

A few days ago we were all sitting around the table outside in the warm Spanish sunshine after enjoying paella con verduras, caracoles, y conejo (basically spanish rice with vegetables, snails, and rabbit meat). It was my first time trying snails. They tasted similar to a clam of some sort. Anyway, the discussion turned to the economic crisis in Spain. At this point I realized I had been listening to people speak Spanish and more or less understanding what was going on. Not only that, but I was responding and adding input also in Spanish. One person said in order for the situation to improve in Spain, people are going to have to change the way they do things. No more siestas and four hour coffee breaks in the middle of the day. Others agreed. While we were enjoying a four hour lunch. Unemployment is around 27 percent in Spain. The average salary is 24,000 Euros a year. None of these people were unemployed, and it would be safe to say they can afford their four hour lunches because they make more than the average Spaniard.

I was in Madrid a couple weeks ago when my friend said something like, "There's an economic crisis here in Spain, you know? Don't really notice, do you?"

And I didn't really notice. People are always out eating, drinking, and generally being merry. Everyone takes coffee in the middle of the day after la comida. The whole process takes anywhere from 2 to 5 hours. I found it incredible and somewhat insane at first. I always feel like I should be doing something. Well, that and I didn't really drink coffee. I do now.

Americans think that we are in crisis mode with 7 to 9 percent unemployment (I honestly have no clue what it is now, I haven't seen, read, or heard very much American news since I came here about three months ago). But it is three times that in Spain, the land of four hour lunches and a place where everyone has both a home in the city and one on the beach.

In an earlier post I talked about the well dressed beggars here. I think that might be the only place I have noticed an impact of the crisis. There are many people on the streets that look like your average middle class person. Many of their signs read, "Tengo cinco hijos y no puedo darles comer." But every night most of these people go home and sleep in their bed. I often see them smoking while begging, and at times even texting. I think I would give up my cell phone before I took to the streets to beg. There is no doubt the culture and lifestyle in Spain is different from America and it should be interesting to see how these two nations and the rest of the world fare in the coming years.

Happy Easter everyone. This is from the Holy Week processions here. I'll write about these later.

Countryside after a "storm." They don't really know what storms are like.