Más se perdió en la guerra

I spoke too soon, I guess, and the (figurative!) bad weather finally hit last weekend during my program’s group trip to Toledo and Madrid.

Our first stop was Toledo. We only spent a few hours there, not even a full afternoon, but I really loved the cute, crooked streets and interesting history. We visited a synagogue-turned-church and a cathedral with a collection of 17 paintings by El Greco. Before departing for Madrid, we circled the city walls in our bus and got some nice views.

I was really looking forward to spending a short 24 hours in Madrid because I’d been in the city twice before on travel days but had never gotten the chance to leave the airport/train station and explore. When we arrived at our hotel, Kim, PRESHCO’s director, warned us: Madrid is a bigger city, so remember to be extra careful with your pockets and bags.

No problem, I thought. I’m from a city, I go to school in an even bigger city, and I’ve traveled a lot and I’ve never been robbed.

When Lucy, Alex, and I went walking through the packed streets later that night I kept one hand on my bag the whole time. Madrid had just spent 3 million euros on Christmas lights to illuminate the whole city and it was so pretty, but resulted in streets more full of people than Times Square. After we’d gotten our fill of fighting the crowds in the Plaza Mayor and the Puerta del Sol, we decided on a tiny little vegetarian restaurant for dinner.

I was really having the best time until I reached for my purse which I’d left at my feet and didn’t find it.

The restaurant was so small, at first it was almost funny to consider that it had been stolen right out from under our noses. Wouldn’t one of my friends or I have noticed? We were sitting at one of about three square tables had eyes on basically every corner of the restaurant. I checked the bathroom, checked to see if I’d wrapped it in my fleece jacket or scarf, checked every chair at our table and… nothing.

The title of this post is another dicho that I actually heard from Fátima more than two months ago when she left a little bag of pastries on the bench where we’d been sitting, at that point a 20-minute’s walk away. Bueno, she said with a shrug, Más se perdió en la guerra. At that time, I thought it was pretty hilarious, but now I’m realizing that it’s pretty true. The only thing of value that I lost was my wallet but, like an idiot, I had gone to the ATM the week before the trip and had about 200€ in there. Ouch.

But more was lost in the war.

I am fine, my friends are fine (and so wonderful and supportive, I would have totally lost it without them), and I still have my phone (the most valuable thing I own), my passport (the most difficult to replace), and my journal (priceless), now I have another story. I also feel so grateful to the PRESHCO staff. Kim and Encarni helped me fill out a police report online and then Encarni took me to the police station in the morning to sign it (yet another new experience). I’m so embarrassed by the whole situation and the fact that I can add the title Girl-Who-Got-Her-Purse-Stolen to my abroad résume (right below Girl-Who-Got-Locked-in-the-Facultad), and, needless to say, I now have a slightly different budget than I did before. Luckily, I only need to stretch it another three weeks; I leave Córdoba in just 20 days, which is still scary to think about.

Speaking of feeling grateful, a highlight of this week (aside from becoming a crime victim) was PRESHCO’s celebration of Día de Acción de Gracias. All of the PRESHCO staff and their families hosted a Thanksgiving dinner in the anexo for us and some Spanish friends. We ate a mix of Spanish cuisine and traditional Thanksgiving dishes (there were sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and a turkey) and danced to a mix of Spanish and English favorites. It was so fun and so festive… definitely the next-best thing to celebrating at home.

Also, before the drama of last weekend, I had a fun and full day on Friday. In the afternoon, Lucy, Alex, Zoe, and I went to the Feria de los Municipios with Encarni, Maribel, and Paco, our photography teacher. The Feria had booths representing dozens of pueblos in the providence of Córdoba and I sampled olive oil from 21 of them. Then, later that night, I had another choir concert. The whole choir drove an hour to Andújar, a pueblo in the province of Jaén, and sang a concert at a cathedral there. I got the opportunity to chat with some of the other singers and the whole experience reminded me of why I love singing in choirs so much.

This week I’ve also gone on two excursions with my geography professor. Monday we spent walking around Córdoba’s casco viejo and talking about the history of the city. I learned that the crooked, twisted streets date back to when Córdoba was the capital of Al-Andaluz and the Arabic population put more emphasis on private spaces than public spaces (like streets and patios). We visited the Patio de los Naranjos (“Patio of the Orange Trees”) near the Mezquita which my professor compared to the Wall Street of Córdoba in the 1200s. We even got invited into someone’s home to look around their open-air courtyard. Yesterday I went on a full-day excursion with one of his UCO geography classes and we visited two pueblos, a huge park, and the Sierra Morena mountain range. It was a long day of listening, which is something I consider a strength of mine in English but is comically difficult in Spanish (if my focus wavers for only a few seconds I can easily become completely lost), but I saw so many beautiful places and learned a lot about Spain.

Finally, yesterday Sergio came over and we decorated Fátima’s Christmas tree together; he handed me ornaments and I would put them up. It’s always fun to decorate for the holidays, but I was especially glad to do it this weekend, the same weekend that my family always puts up our tree at home.

I have a trip to Barcelona, a birthday party, and another choir concert coming up this week, not to mention the finals I need to study for and the 10-page research paper I need to write. The three weeks to come are sure to be full and fun!

P.S. PRESHCO has a newly active Facebook and Instagram which always seem to catch and post the worst photos of me! If you need some comic relief…

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